Speaking hope to exiles

The Savannah Morning News describes a visit to Christ Church Episcopal, the congregation of Episcopalians who are exiled from their parish while others attempt to take the congregation and the church buildings out of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Georgia.

More than 250 worshippers attended the afternoon service of Christ Church Episcopal, which meets at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church at Waters and Washington avenues.

Leaders of Christ Church Episcopal and the national church claim to be the rightful owners of the historic downtown property known as Christ Church, the “mother church of Georgia.”

The current inhabitants, known as Christ Church Savannah, cited theological differences and broke from the Episcopal Church in 2007. The national church and the Diocese of Georgia are embroiled in a lawsuit against Christ Church Savannah over the property.

The service at St. Michael and All Angels marked the conclusion of Jefferts Schori’s four-day visit to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. Her choice to worship with Christ Church Episcopal was meant to send a message.

“It’s an important opportunity, not only to reassure the people, but to celebrate the fact that they’re Episcopalians and to say to the larger community that we’re all part of a larger whole,” Jefferts Schori said during an outdoor reception after the service. “Christ Church Episcopal matters a great deal to the Episcopal Church, and we’re all here to support you.”

Many Episcopalians said that message was well-received.

“We feel like we’ve been kicked out of our house,” said M. Daniel Suwyn, junior warden of Christ Church Episcopal and a former managing editor of the Savannah Morning News.

“She stays even and she stays true. And that was an inspiration to us because she showed us we don’t have to be in conflict in a way that’s rancorous,” he said. “She very much showed us a way to have these conversations without getting angry.”

Here is a video from the Morning News web-site showing Bishop Jefferts Schori answering questions from parishioners.

Read the Savannah Morning News account here.

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