Some days, I hate being right. I was pretty sure this would be the press spin:
Role of gay priests splits St. Andrew’s
Philosophical differences over the role of gay priests in the Episcopal Church has divided St. Andrew Episcopal Church in Livonia.
Fueled by the resignation of the church’s former rector, the Rev. Allen Kannapell, some 200 members of the congregation left the church on Hubbard near Six Mile. The dissident congregation was to gather today, Jan. 15, for the second time at the Holiday Inn at Laurel Park Place for a service led by Kannapell.
Ed Sulick, a Livonia resident who has been a member of St. Andrew’s for 35 years, was among those who left the church.
“The Episcopal Church elected a gay bishop out east and are installing gay priests throughout Detroit,” Sulick said. “People are very concerned about the Church ignoring parts of the Bible.”
“It’s been tough for all of us.”
Despite the departure of some 200 members, services proceeded as normal last weekend at St. Andrew’s under the Rev. John Henry, who was appointed temporary priest in charge. Some 80 people attended last weekend’s three services.
“That was nothing out of the ordinary,” said Karen Bota, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, which serves 96 churches and university chaplaincies in southeastern Michigan from Detroit to Hillsdale.
“The church still has members who are committed to staying.”
Disagreements between the Rev. Wendell Gibbs Jr., bishop of the Michigan Diocese, and Kannapell have reportedly brewed for about a year. Kannapell asked the bishop to place St. Andrew’s under the jurisdiction of a more conservative bishop. Sulick said they wanted to be tied to an Anglican community, but Bota said that could not be done according to the canons of the Episcopal Church.
Kannapell, Bota said, refused oversight by any bishop of the Episcopal Church so Gibbs ordered Kannapell and his 11-member vestry, or church council, to leave St. Andrew earlier this month.
“We tried to give them a bishop with a theological view closer to theirs,” Bota said. “It was an amicable parting of ways.”
Let me be as clear as I possibly can: the vestry of St. Andrew’s was unanimous that the difficulty was not any particular bishop. Rather, it was ECUSA‘s transformation into a Scripture-optional, Jesus-optional “Church of What’s Happening Now!” which precipitated this split.
“Would the resignation or presentment of V. Gene +Robinson have any effect on our decisions?” was explictly asked. And answered — “no”.
It’s Not About Gene™.
Minor quibble: the numbers for attendance are off. I know we didn’t quite have 200 at either service so far of the Anglican Church of Livonia. And reports I had from those attending the St. Andrew’s services say that the numbers were closer to 50 than 80. But I suppose this is all within the margin of newsprint.
Major guffaw: “That was nothing out of the ordinary,” said Karen Bota. Oh my. This is priceless. A priest inhibited and charged with abandonment of communion, the entire vestry dismissed, and depending on whose numbers you use, 70-80% of the parish following to found a new Anglican church — all within 48 hours and this is “nothing out of the ordinary”? Things must be more exciting at the Diocesan Center on Woodward than I knew.