Sunday, December 17, 2006

The great Anglican crackup

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is splitting up along a progressive-conservative divide, with the seceding churches looking to be adopted by a conservative bishop from Nigeria:
For about 30 years, the Episcopal Church has been one big unhappy family. Under one roof there were female bishops and male bishops who would not ordain women. There were parishes that celebrated gay weddings and parishes that denounced them; theologians sure that Jesus was the only route to salvation, and theologians who disagreed.

The Falls Church in Virginia has been voting on whether to secede from the Episcopal Church and is expected to announce results on Sunday.

Now, after years of threats, the family is breaking up.

As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.

In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans.

“The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.”

Together, these Americans and their overseas allies say they intend to form a new American branch that would rival or even supplant the Episcopal Church in the worldwide Anglican Communion, a confederation of national churches that trace their roots to the Church of England and the archbishop of Canterbury.

Has there ever been a human practice more divisive than religion?


Blogger Oroborous said...

Yes - racism.

December 17, 2006 4:32 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Years ago, I worked with an editor who was a devoted layman, deacon or some such, in the Episcopal church. He would take any slight opportunity to explain doctrine, including the fact that the funerals were simple affairs, because 'we are all equal in death.'

Not in life, though, when it counts.

December 17, 2006 6:14 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


No, not racism.

That isn't to say racism isn't divisive, because it is.

There just aren't nearly as many races as religions.

And religions provide a way to divide a race.

December 17, 2006 7:38 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Has there ever been a human practice more divisive than religion?

Sure, family.


And religions provide a way to divide a race.

That's a problem for you, is it?

December 18, 2006 2:38 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Speaking of dividing, I'm reminded of this post from last summer:

Quantum Theology

Since that post I've discovered yet another obscure dimension on which evangelicals divide: continuationism/cessationism

December 18, 2006 2:14 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


That's a problem for you, is it?

Depends on whether you think the Sunni/Shia slaughterfest a feature or a bug.

December 19, 2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

They do divide the entrails down to the individual molecules, don't they, Duck?

Skipper: feature. Of all the inscrutable meanderings of Reagan foreign policy, rooting for an end to the Iran-Iraq was the weirdest. We need a word for the opposite of realpolitik.

December 19, 2006 11:06 AM  

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