Friday, January 25, 2013

Myrtle Beach area congregations not spared pain associated with split of The Episcopal Church

From Myrtle Beach-

The Rev. Wilmot Merchant, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in North Myrtle Beach, said the worst thing about the fracture of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is the fracture of the relationships that went along with it.

People to whom he ministered for a decade, he said, no longer seek his counsel.
“I have been their priest,” he said of St. Stephen’s members who chose to side with the churches that disassociated from The Episcopal Church last year. “I have been the one going to the hospital, I have been the one sitting in conferences with them, I have been the one to laugh with them, to grieve with them.”

The fracture between a pastor and a congregant, though, is not the only one that separates The Episcopal Church from the Lowcountry churches that broke away from it.

There are fractures between groups of congregants and their churches, between one church and another and between groups of churches and The Episcopal Church.

Some still-committed Episcopalians who were in churches that left The Episcopal Church believe the breakaway churches made the decision to do so several years before it happened.

Three members of what is now called Trinity Church – formerly Trinity Episcopal Church – in Myrtle Beach said this week that changes at the church in the past few years should have been clues of an impending split. But Birgit Darby, one of the three, said she didn’t see it coming.

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