It looks as if patience is close to running out and the worldwide Anglicans are likely to split

[The worldwide Anglican Church is going to split. The liberals have dug in their heels and conservatives have had just about enough. Apparently more of a split would’ve already happened were it not for legal disputes over who owns Church property and real estate. The actual split, it would seem, has indeed begun: congregations “throughout the country” have already moved to leave the U.S. Church and place themselves under the authority of conservative foreign bishops. In view of the fundamental incompatiblity of the two sides a split turns out to have been inevitable all along, I would judge. I predict the split will go to completion and in the coming decades the liberal branch will dwindle to extinction along the lines of what’s happened to the Unitarian “Church,” and the trad branch will thrive.]

By Neela Banerjee
Published: November 12, 2005
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 11 – Conservative leaders of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. and their Anglican counterparts from overseas intensified their warnings Friday about the possibility of a schism in the Anglican Communion if the Episcopal Church did not renounce the consecration of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.

About 2,400 Episcopal Church and Anglican bishops, clergy members and lay leaders from around the world gathered here Thursday for a three-day show of solidarity in preparation for a general convention of the Episcopal Church next June in Columbus, Ohio.

While Episcopal and Anglican conservatives have warned before of the possibility of a split in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion over these issues, powerful primates of national and regional Anglican churches from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean said Friday that a break was all but inevitable if the Episcopal Church did not vote to change course at the Columbus meeting.

“The primates will decide” if they consider the response of the Episcopal Church “adequate,” said Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez, primate of the West Indies. He said, however, that he expected no change in the stance of the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the Anglican Communion, when it comes to gays.

If that is the case, “given our present mood, the convention will most certainly be followed by some action,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We have worked too hard, too long, to leave it like that.”

The Episcopalians and Anglicans were joined by well-known American evangelical Christians, most notably the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.” Mr. Warren gave encouragement to conservative church dissidents who are trying to break with the Episcopal Church but who have often been stymied by disputes with their dioceses over ownership of church property.

“What’s more important is your faith, not your facilities,” he told the crowd at the Convention Center here. “The church is people, not the steeple. They might get the building, but you get the blessing.”

Mr. Warren was warmly received, but a panel of foreign primates elicited several standing ovations for sharply criticizing the Episcopal Church.

Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung, primate of South East Asia, said, “We will stand with you as long as you remain faithful, biblical, evangelical and orthodox.”

Tensions between the Episcopal Church and Anglican churches in the developing world, and within the American church itself, have simmered for years over issues like the ordination of women and the interpretation of Scripture. But for many conservatives, the last straw came when the Episcopal Church consecrated the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

To avoid a split in the global communion, an Anglican commission issued a report in October 2004 urging the Episcopal Church to apologize for creating division by its consecration of Mr. Robinson. But the church did not renounce its actions, and impatience with it is boiling over, conservatives said.

“There’s no way for these two conflicted faiths to live under the same roof,” said the Right Rev. Robert W. Duncan, bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese and the moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, a group of 10 dissident dioceses in the Episcopal Church. The network organized the conference in Pittsburgh.

An Episcopal Church U.S.A. spokeswoman, the Rev. Jan Nunley, said the tensions voiced at the Pittsburgh conference were not new.

Ms. Nunley added: “We’re trying not to get ahead of events. We sit, watch and trust God, and hope for the spirit of reconciliation.”

Though it has lost members and even congregations in the past over issues like the ordination of women, the Episcopal Church has managed to stay together because of the autonomy it gives dioceses. “We basically have a long history of working things out,” said Lionel E. Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, who also attended the conference but did not support its views. “But this is the most serious thing to happen to the Episcopal Church, and it has mobilized people on both sides.”

At the convention in Columbus, the church is expected to issue a response to the October 2004 report. In the meantime, conservative congregations throughout the country have moved to leave the Episcopal Church and place themselves under the guidance of foreign Anglican bishops.

Conservatives and liberals agreed that any split within the church would be complicated by feuds and lawsuits over property and assets. But the thought of such disputes did not seem to weigh heavily on those gathered here, who said they were eager to resolve their major disagreements with the church, even if it meant a break from it.

“We definitely get the sense that there is something on the horizon,” said the Rev. Mike Besson, 40, assistant to the rector at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Tomball, Tex. “The church won’t be the same shape and form as before. We just don’t know when or where that will occur.”

4 thoughts on “It looks as if patience is close to running out and the worldwide Anglicans are likely to split”

  1. And about freaking time…
    And about freaking time… It’s true that it’s sad that it’ll break not only the evil liberal-conservative coalition that is Anglicanism, but also the conservative portion will fraction into Reformed-leaning, evangelical-leaning, Charismatic-leaning, and “high church”, Roman-Catholic-leaning (as has already happened in terms of “non-communion” movements which have already left), instead of preserving those elements under one big Anglican tent. But let a thousand traditionalist conservative Anglican flowers bloom out of the rotting, festering mess of current-day Anglicanism, I say…

    Up next in church schisms: the Calvinist/non-Calvinist split in the Southern Baptists – stay tuned! We live in exciting times, for mostly bad but also sometimes good…

    • The Big Tent
      The “big tent” theory of Anglicanism died with liberalism. Liberalism is not a big tent; it is a very small tent and drives out everything else. Only a conservative Anglicanism could maintain a big tent.

      Liberalism made Anglican orthodoxy optional, and once orthodoxy becomes optional it is soon proscribed and condemned. I think Neuhaus’ aphorism is: “Once orthodoxy becomes optional it is soon prohibited.”

      Within liberal Christianity, there is only one orthodoxy, and that of course is Liberalism itself. Liberalism—in whatever territory it successfully invades—will always trump Christianity, and the Word of God, and tradition, and even survival itself. Think of liberalism as a tumor. In whatever institution it invades, it eventually drives out all competitors, even at the price of death.

      The orthodox Episcopalians should leave ASAP, and leave the liberals to consume each other.

      • MD’s comment just hits one bullseye after another.
        MD, that entire comment (11:08 am) was extremely well put from beginning to end! Thank you for it! (Will S’s, above, was also excellent! Thanks for that too!)

        Long live free Flanders!

        • what Fred said
          I’ll echo Fred’s comment about MD’s comment – spot on!

          (And thanks Fred!)

          Neuhaus’ observation shows that “O’Sullivan’s Law” (any organization that isn’t explicitly conservative from the get-go will in time become liberal) applies not only in politics, but, alas, to churches, as well…

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