Thursday, August 14, 2003

A New Beginning?

I'm officially in the market for a church. Non-Anglicans can stop smirking; I said a new church, not a new denomination. My first choice would be The Falls Church, an American Anglican Council-affiliated parish. It's also the largest in the Diocese of Virginia, and, together with Truro Episcopal Church and two others, is over half the population of the diocese. They're more than slightly miffed that our bishop, Peter James Lee, voted for the ordination as bishop of Gene Robinson and basically think he's been playing politics instead of following the Bible. Thus, talking with the lady who runs their bookstore and one of the rectors (who was formerly rector of the church where I'm a member but haven't been in over three years), I learned that while they're willing to wait until the meetings in Plano and Lambeth, it's thought that their parish will leave ECUSA unless there's some extremely dramatic turnaround in ECUSA's views.

I've got a few others next in line, should The Falls Church not work out. Church of the Holy Spirit, in Roanoke, is an Anglican Mission in America -affiliated parish that left the Diocese of Southwest Virginia due to their bishop supporting Planned Parenthood and being generally hostile to them. I don't know very much about Truro Episcopal Church, in Fairfax, except that William Sulik is a member there and that this church hosted the AAC gathering of bishops opposed to Robinson's ordination. Lastly, there's Church of the Good Shepherd, in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, which is technically part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (whose bishop denies the sinlessness of Christ and other basic Christian doctrines) but is served by clergy who've been taken in by African Anglican bishops and are overseen by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh. David Moyer, the rector, is head of Forward in Faith North America, and was in the news a few years ago for refusing to allow the Bishop of Pennsylvania to preside over services, as is Episcopalian custom. This last church is probably the one I'll be attending should I decide to become a missionary with World Impact and serve in Chester, PA, though I would prefer to remain a member of whichever church I choose in the next few days or weeks.

If any of these churches (other than COTHS, which already left) decides not to leave ECUSA (again, barring a miracle among Episcopalian leadership), I would transfer my membership elsewhere. I'm currently a member of Olivet Episcopal Church, as it's one of the closest to my house, but they're not a member of either the American Anglican Council or Forward in Faith, and the fact that the rector from while I was there left to join The Falls Church indicates to me that it probably wasn't a very conservative parish. I only went there perhaps a dozen times during my Senior year of high school, and actually stopped going very shortly before the rector switched churches. I haven't been back, mostly because I never really knew anyone there. I've never really had a "home church" before, and unless you count my Bibly Study leader from last year, I've never really had a pastor, either. I'd like to have both, especially if I decide to become a missionary. Luckily, there seem to be enough AAC parishes in the Diocese of Virginia and FiF parishes in the Diocese of Pennsylvania to give me a reasonable shot at finding a good church.

UPDATE: I was wrong in a statement in an earlier post. While their laity and clergy voted in favor of ordaining Robinson, Bishop David Bane of Southern Virginia, despite what looks to me to be a rather wishy-washy letter, voted against. I'm still a little suspicious of him, but I'm thankful for small favors.

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