Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sad ECUSA news...

Here's a press release from our diocese. It's greatly troubling; themissioner who was named here has been affiliated with the most conservative church in our diocese, as well as the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is also conservative, as I understand it. It seems this fellow is pressing the issue of canonical authority. I have also heard that the diocese will continue its plant in this community, even with this group leaving. We've had several large conservative churches withhold their diocesan pledges, but no one left until now. I think I'll go pray for a while.

South Riding Missioner Resigns, Congregation Leaves Episcopal Church
November 15, 2005

In an afternoon meeting, Monday, Nov. 14 with Bishop Suffragan David Colin Jones, the Rev. Phil Ashey, missioner of South Riding Church since 2002, announced his resignation as missioner effective Nov. 13, 2005. In that meeting and in his letter of resignation Mr. Ashey also stated that the congregation of South Riding had voted on Sunday, Nov. 13 to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Diocese of Rwenzori of the Anglican Church of Uganda, placing themselves under the Canonical authority of the Rt. Rev. Benezeri Kisembo.
News of the congregation’s vote was posted to an American Anglican Council Web site at 8:25 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14. This is the first congregation in the Diocese of Virginia to leave the Episcopal Church.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. Ashey also said he was “giving notice that I have been received by the Diocese of Rwenzori.”
“I reject the assertion that Mr. Ashey is under any Episcopal authority other than that of the Bishop of Virginia or any canonical authority other than the Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia,” said Bishop Jones.
In his meeting with the Bishop Suffragan Mr. Ashey returned the parish register, service book, a copy of the congregation’s 2004 audit and an inventory of all assets purchased from the operating funds of South Riding Church up to Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 which he acknowledged belong to the Diocese of Virginia. As a forming congregation, South Riding Church has no canonical status and did not file parochial reports. Financial and membership information could not be readily confirmed.
“I am saddened that a member of the body has chosen to break with the body and feel that our community is diminished for it,” said Bishop of Virginia Peter James Lee. Lee added that church membership is an individual choice and said he appreciated Mr. Ashey’s forthright manner in returning congregational documents and property.
Bishop Lee also reaffirmed that Mr. Ashey remains under his canonical authority and rejected the assertion of property rights made by Bishop Kisembo in a Nov. 13 letter to Mr. Ashey purporting to accept his “letter of transfer.”
“The Bishop of Rwenzori has no authority in the Diocese of Virginia,” said Bishop Lee. “Only a diocesan bishop has the authority to transfer a cleric from the Diocese of Virginia. Mr. Ashey remains under my canonical authority until disciplinary action is taken if any.”
Since beginning as a church plant in 2000, over $350,000 in direct financial support has been given to South Riding Church by the Diocese of Virginia. In 2001, the Diocese purchased 8.4 acres on Poland Rd. in South Riding at a cost of $680,000 for the intended benefit of South Riding. That property is titled in the name of the Bishop of Virginia. Mr. Ashey was the third missioner assigned to the plant in 5 years.
Mr. Ashey was named missioner of South Riding in 2002 after serving for 3 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Prior to moving to that diocese, Mr. Ashey was an associate at Church of the Apostles, Fairfax from 1992-1999. From 1988-1992 he served churches in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
The press release posted to the American Anglican Council blog site at 8:25 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, 2005, stated that the congregation will keep its name and continue to worship at Little River Elementary School in South Riding.
The Diocese of Virginia, organized in 1785, is a community of over 90,000 members worshipping in 195 congregations in 38 counties throughout one-third of the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Mary Beth said...

Heartbreaking, isn't it? The Tallahassee church that has been home to my mother's family for 5 generations has split. Very painful.

Songbird said...

What do you know about Anglican Mission in America? They're getting ready to start a church here in City by the Sea.

mibi52 said...

Songbird, here's their website:

Here's the little I know about them, except they challenge the rules of hierarchy and canonical residency in the Episcopal/Anglican Church by bringing in a bishop from Africa to run the "Mission." Its intent is to right the wrongs of ECUSA, whom they feel is heading down the path to hell by being welcoming to GLBT folk and by ordaining gays and particularly by elevating Gene Robinson to be Bishop of New Hampshire. The view is a very conservative one. The Bishops of Rwanda and Southeast Asia head it up. They believe in ordaining women as deacons, but not as priests or bishops. They believe gays are fundamentally disordered, much as the RC church does. They tend toward what we Episcopalians would describe as an Anglo-Catholic Charismatic Evangelic point of view. Mission churches in this group do not recognize the local Episcopal bishop as their spiritual leader, they recognize these two bishops from Africa and SE Asia, because their theological view is more fundamentalist.

There is another group which is unhappy with what they view as the overly liberal position of ECUSA, and that is the Anclican Anglican Council. This includes a number of Episcopal churches and leaders who are on the extreme right end of the Episcopal spectrum. They'll let gays into their churches to heal them but the only sexual congress that is allowed is between married folk (read a man and a woman). They are pro-life, anti-choice. They view ordination of gays as anti-scriptural. I suspect but have not been able to confirm that they are anti-women's ordination. They have, however, remained in ECUSA, though they usually do not send money into the diocese and in our case, they won't let the bishop come in to confirm people; they request another bishop more to their liking . Some of the more conservative bishops in ECUSA serve on the board.

In my observation, these groups are in some ways in competition with each other for the hearts, minds, souls, and dollars of folks in the US. The former is starting mission churches or is taking congregations and priests who wish to leave ECUSA; the latter seems to be trying to change ECUSA from within, although they have strong ties to third-world conservative bishoprics in the Anglican Communion.

I would tell any GLBT folk or women with feminist leanings in City by the Sea that AMA would not feel like a very welcoming place, unless they feel the need to be "healed."

St. Casserole said...

I'm so very sorry about this. What does the "church" mean if it can be rejected?
I'm catching up on reading your posts. You are traveling as I write this and enjoying yourself, I hope.