From Jacksonville, Florida:
Episcopalian sects seek new bishop
Convinced their salvation is at stake, six of the most conservative Episcopal congregations in North Florida, plus one that is being formed, have asked Bishop John Howard to help find another bishop to lead them.
The move is meant as a way for the congregations to further distance themselves from their denomination. They believe the Episcopal Church USA is increasingly moving toward approving same-sex unions and ordaining active homosexuals.
In other news, it is reported that some conservatives believe that objects dropped from tall buildings start increasingly moving toward the ground.
Is there anybody out there, on any side of the current “dialogue,” who doesn’t believe that ECUSA has already moved and is running full speed toward approving same-sex unions? And ordination of active homosexuals is old news.
The Florida group is part of a growing number of churches and individuals across the nation seeking to use the new protocol set forth in the Windsor Report and by the primates, said the Rev. Bill Swatos, an Episcopal priest in Illinois and executive officer for the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Religious Research Association.
A group of six congregations in Connecticut made a similar request of their bishop last spring, Swatos said.
“And I know of other situations where individual clergy and congregations … have asked for alternative oversight,” Swatos said. “In some cases they have received it, in others they have not.”
According to Lebhar and McCaslin, Howard has several options. He can grant the request, simply ignore it or even take punitive measures against the congregations involved.
I’ve yet to be clear on how taking punitive measures against such clergy and parishes counts as “tolerance,” “celebrating our differences,” or “remaining in dialogue,” but I guess I just don’t have enough theological education to be that “nuanced.”
Whatever happens, for these parishes and others nationwide the theological situation is getting worse, not better, making the need for them to leave ever more important.
Conservatives were appalled recently when the Episcopal Church issued a report suggesting Robinson’s election reveals that same-sex unions are a manifestation of God’s love.
“Might Christ the Lord, unfolding the mystery of his redeeming work, be opening our eyes to behold a dimension of his work that we had not understood?” the report said.
The document proves the denomination is moving further away from its biblical and Anglican roots, said the Rev. Sam Pascoe of Grace Church in Orange Park.
“They not only think they didn’t make a mistake, they feel like what they did was prophetic,” Pascoe said.
Even so, Lebhar said seeking alternative oversight gives the congregations little joy and was a tough decision to make.
“The major emotion is sadness that we have to even consider such a process as this,” Lebhar said.
My source for this story points out that Grace Church, Orange Park is historically the 3rd-largest giving parish in this diocese, which means that whatever happens, espect the Diocese of North Florida to show up on ECUSA Dollars sometime soon.