Virginia schism leads to answered prayers

From a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

As the representatives and allies of four Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Virginia met in Fredericksburg last month, I was reminded of something Lincoln said: “We must settle this question now: Whether in a free government, the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose.”

The Episcopal Church has weathered many storms, and emerged intact. Despite the Civil War, issues like slavery and segregation, the impact of cultural change including divorce, birth control, and the emerging role of women in society, the church existed as space where people could lay aside differences and worship together as one.

In 2003, after the general church voted to consecrate an openly gay man as the bishop of New Hampshire, the capability of the church to accommodate various views was strained. In 2006, a small minority of parishes in the diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church, yet moved to retain Episcopal Church buildings.

While the court decides property issues, those who voted to remain Episcopalian in those parishes found themselves briefly without places to worship. Some are celebrating services in shared space with other denominations, while one is worshipping in a church abandoned by a former Episcopal congregation.

The delegates to the Fredericksburg meeting came from as far away as Arlington and Ashland, from Colonial Beach to Richmond, east from the Northern Neck, south from Falls Church and Herndon. There were priests, deans, region presidents, senior wardens and our bishop coadjutor–all present to reaffirm our commitment to the Episcopal Church, tell stories, and share the support we’d received through the generosity of friendly congregations.

Read it all here. The author is Bill Mehr, a member of a continuing parish.

A conference for continuing parishes is being held this fall. More details here (pdf).

Past Posts