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Wolves in wolves clothing

The Episcopal Church of the USA versus the Anglican Church of North America as told by Mollie Hemingway of the Wall Street Journal (via Gene Veith).

When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.

The congregation is one of hundreds that split or altogether left the Episcopal Church—a member of the Anglican Communion found mostly in the United States—after a decades-long dispute over adherence to scripture erupted with the consecration of a partnered gay bishop in 2003. But negotiating who gets church buildings hasn’t been easy. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she’d rather have these properties become Baptist churches or even saloons than continue as sanctuaries for fellow Anglicans.

The Episcopalian congregations that want to break away are part of a larger movement of Anglicans world-wide who are concerned by the liberalism of the official New York-based Episcopal Church on sexuality and certain basic tenets such as Jesus’ resurrection. Of the 38 provinces in the global Anglican Communion, 22 have declared themselves in “broken” or “impaired” fellowship with the more liberal American church.

In 2009, breakaway Episcopalians in the U.S. and Canada formed the Anglican Church in North America, which now reports 100,000 members in nearly 1,000 congregations. This group has been formally recognized by some Anglican primates outside of the United States.

Bishop Jefferts Schori says this new Anglican group is encroaching on her church’s jurisdiction, and she has authorized dozens of lawsuits “to protect the assets of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the Episcopal Church.” The Episcopal Church has dedicated $22 million to legal actions against departing clergy, congregations and dioceses, according to Allan Haley, a canon lawyer who has represented a diocese in one such case.

Now the Episcopal Church has upped the ante: It has declared that if congregations break away and buy their sanctuaries, they must disaffiliate from any group that professes to be Anglican. . . .

“We can’t sell to an organization that wants to put us out of business,” said Bishop Jefferts Schori, who added that her job is to ensure that “no competing branch of the Anglican Communion impose on the mission strategy” of the Episcopal Church. Indeed she has no complaint with Muslims, Baptists or barkeepers buying Episcopal properties—only fellow Anglicans.

One wonders what exactly is the "mission strategy" of the ECUSA?  Answers below...


0 thoughts on “Wolves in wolves clothing

  1. James Pedlar

    This is just too sad. You couldn't write a script like this because no one would believe it. The bald-faced vindictiveness of their approach to these brothers and sisters in Christ is an affront to the gospel. I'm not sure what the "mission strategy" would be - my assessment is that they are seeking to use everything in their power to punish and silence dissenters.

    I'm not completely up to speed on these issues, but do you ever read the material from the Anglican Communion Institute? My dissertation director is involved.

    His article on another site from a while back seems even more appropriate today, given the ongoing battles:

  2. Si Hollett

    one wonders why 'liberal' Christianity is so-named - it's far from liberal when dealing with Christians.
    has a quote from Schori on this "Our forbears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forbears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."

    The article goes on to give 'the obvious response': "Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be run by people like Katharine Jefferts Shori and used to marry people of the same sex and employ heretics and skeptics."

    I feel the author misses the real ironies - if the endowments weren't given with the intent that they'd be consumed by litigation, why start litigation against these churches? If church were built with the intent that they stay with the Episcopal church, why sell one for a bargain basement price to someone who then turned it into a Mosque - even if the donors held the presiding bishop's views that Muslims don't need Jesus to be saved, they'd spot that it's a far worse thing than to sell it at market price to some episcopalians who worshipped there for years and don't want to 'move forward' with the church leadership and so have been kicked out of the communion.

    It seems that the mission strategy of ECUSA is to make all Anglicans think like they do - that conservative Anglicans are the greatest evil on the planet. Muslims' are more Anglican than them, Baptists (despite her famous attacking of Baptistic soteriology as heresy and idolatry) are more Anglican than those who were in the ECUSA a few years ago, and moved to a body recognised by a larger swath of the Anglican Communion as being in full communion with them.

    I have no idea how the ECUSA can remain in communion with most of Anglicanism - has it recognised the broken communion with a large number of provinces? And surely those provinces are like the ACNA - less Episcopalian than Muslims and Baptists?

  3. Derek Smith

    'We can't sell to an organization that wants to put us out of business.'

    There you have it. They're scared that they'll lose the Anglican franchise. Remove that and they'll just be another dying sect full of false teachers.

  4. John B

    ECUSA's "strategy" is more of marketing than of "mission". It's a bold strategy, but one that I think will prove to be very fruitful in the long term, in a business sense. They're trading in their old customer base for a new one with better prospects. They're redefining their market focus to establish their new niche.

    The venerable church properties are important symbols of tradition that help to validate liberal thought. Impressive old architecture, classical church music, high church liturgy, and ecclesiastical hierarchy combine in a powerful blend of symbols. They're important to liberals raising families, who don't want to pass on a faith that is rootless. And they're important to liberals who are single, as they seek to morally legitimize sexual relationships outside of traditional marriage.

    If ECUSA ever sells stock, I'd be bullish on it as a long term financial investment. But they need to hang on to the real estate. And in cases where they can't, they need to divest it of its symbolic value. Remaining within the Anglican Communion is important during this intermediate period of repositioning. But in the long run, ECUSA will be able to go it alone. I'd rate it a Strong Buy.

  5. Phil

    The true issue at hand is that the core group has embraced sin in all it's fullness and tossed out any portion of the Bible they disagree with. It is condoned by Christ that the members should attempt to correct those that have moved from the truth. Once those trying to correct those that have fallen away have down as instructed by Christ, they must follow the teaching of His teachings, shake the dust from their sandals and move away from the unbelievers.

  6. theoldadam

    We in the ELCA ( Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) are facing the same thing.

    We wish to leave the ELCA but fear they will take away our property .

    In actuality, they have thrown out God's Word and left us.

    We are exploring other options.

    'Liberalism'... we are reaping a whirlwind in the church and in society for good intentions gone bad.

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