Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Today America, tomorrow the Church in Wales?

You may or may not be aware that there is a schism in the Episcopal Church of America - what we would call the Anglican Church. It is affecting most if not all Dioceses, one example of which is the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. At the moment this is causing uncertainty about the future of the denomination and this is playing out with regard to churches and properties owned by the Diocese. Apparently more than half a billion dollars' worth of properties are at stake.

According to one website - Virtue Online (http://www.virtueonline.org) - public positions have hardened over time and reconciliation is not an option; the theological differences are too wide and too deep.

Two voices representing the polar views of what the Church believes, stands for, and what it should be proclaiming have come to the fore and Virtue Online has presented their views on its website which I reproduce below:

CHURCH SCHISM - By the Rev. Bob Donehue
Church building are symbols of our trust in God. They are more than must bricks and mortar. They are prayers written in stone that give voice to our deepest desire to offer our best to God. When we come together in church buildings as the people of God, we bring with us all of our joys, pains, doubts, fears, hopes, and longings. And we offer all of these things to God in the hope that our lives will be transformed by him.

Is it any wonder that there is such a strong feeling of attachment to our houses of worship?

It is understandable, then, that for Anglicans in South Carolina, our church buildings have become focal points for all of our anxiety. Sadly, the argument over what it means to the church had devolved into an exercise of mudslinging.
To our brothers and sisters who have been told they must choose between their buildings and true religions, I offer the following:

You may have come to believe that the Episcopal Church has abandoned the Christian faith. But this is simply not true. We believe in one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is still Lord, and we hope by his cross and passion to be brought to the glory of his resurrections.

Reread you Book of Common Prayer. You will find that the negative rhetoric does not stand up to scrutiny. Our common prayer is all the evidence needed.
I hope that you will consider the reality that the church buildings you call home are still very much your home.

So if you are an Anglican comfortable worshipping according to the Book of Common Prayer, then the message is clear: Remain in the building you call home.
That is what the Episcopal Church wants you to do.THE REV. ROB DONEHUE (Snowhill Drive, Conway, South Carolina) 

CHURCH SCHISM REDUX - By the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore
The Rev. Donehue of Conway has presented one side of the current church dispute between The Episcopal Church (TEC) and Anglicans. It was good to see his affirmations of some essentials found in the Book of Common Prayer, such as the Trinity and the Lordship of Jesus.

Unfortunately, it's not the Book of Common Prayer that's the problem. It's the denials in practice. As one who has been an ordained an Episcopalian for over 50 years, and helped found and lead one of its seminaries, I've seen the message change. Take a few denials:

TEC has denied that the Scriptures should be the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct and voted several times to reject that historic proposition. It has denied -- by neither objecting to nor correcting its bishops, particularly its chief representative, the Presiding Bishop -- that Christ is our only Savior. It has denied that marriage should be a life-long commitment between a man and a woman and will soon make same-sex marriages a required norm. It has denied that the first response to those with unwanted same-sex attractions should be pastoral -- assisting in the healing of disturbed or broken relationships. It has denied that a diocesan bishop should be the true governor of their diocese, and that without their expressed desire no other bishop should be welcomed therein. It has denied that "God made them male and female" and that a person's gender is determined by their biology. Instead it has enshrined in canon law a person's right to choose or change their own gender. It has denied the right of churches or dioceses to leave their parent body when serious doctrinal divisions emerge, as they have here.
These are not matters of indifference. They are cause for separation, and I, for one, am proud of the willingness of Anglicans who love their historic church buildings to leave them if necessary for the sake of a Gospel that speaks to the real issues that people struggle with in their everyday life.
THE VERY REV. DR. PETER MOORE, Dean and President Emeritus, Trinity School for Ministry, High Battery Circle, Mt. Pleasant, SC.

As we can see the lines are clearly marked. You are either for Orthodox Christianity as represented by the position taken by the Very Rev Dr Peter Moore or against it as seen in those represented by Rev Bob Donehue. The former tacitly accuses the latter of being schismatic, but in actual fact it is the Episcopal Church. If, as I believe it will, comes to the Church in Wales then what we see being painfully played out in the States will eventually played out here in Wales. We have been warned.

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