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Christ Episcopal members to vote on church schism [Overland Park, KS]
The Johnson County Sun ^ | 4/14/2005 | Emily Willson

Posted on 04/14/2005 7:21:40 PM PDT by sionnsar

Christ Episcopal Church of Overland Park members will learn Sunday whether they will separate from the diocese and the national Episcopal Church.

Christ Episcopal Church Parishioners for Unity wrote a letter to the congregation to urge rejecting the separation.

The status of the vote, which began April 3, is not known.

After voting ends Sunday, representatives of Hillcrest Covenant Church will tally ballots to reveal the fate of Christ Episcopal Church.

"There is talk of people leaving the church one way or another," separation opponent Terry Hoyland said.

Hoyland among others signed the letter to parishioners opposing the proposed separation.

"The church's leadership has become defiant of the diocese, by withholding most of its diocesan apportionment in 2004, and now, in 2005, proposing to separate altogether from the Episcopal Church USA," the letter stated.

Hoyland attributed what some parishioners characterize as the denomination's "defiance" to the announcement that the Rev. Gene Robinson had been ordained as bishop of New Hampshire. The move made Robinson the first openly gay bishop in the church's history. Hoyland said Overland Park church leaders disapproved.

"No matter what the people at Christ Church say, that is what started it," Hoyland said.

At Christ Episcopal, the Rev. Ronald McCrary, church rector, said Robinson's ordination contributed "very, very little" to the request for a split.

"Part of the heartbreak that I have as a pastor is that this church has always been a very loving, welcoming congregation where we just meet people where they are," he said. "Unfortunately what has happened to Christ Church is that we have gotten painted as a gay-bashing church."

Christ Episcopal attributed the proposed split to differences regarding theology, church government and authority.

According to Christ Episcopal, parish and diocesan representatives tried to reconcile.

"Our conversations have been anchored in prayer and have resulted in much anguish by all involved," McCrary said. "At this point both our parish and the diocese desire only success for each other as we continue to respond to our Christian callings but take separate paths."

Either separation or continued unification would mean changes for the church.

If separation wins approval, the church would claim no association with the diocese or the national church. A new entity, Christ Church, would assume the current parish's mortgage totaling $1 million over 11 years. McCrary would lead the church and continue to worship at 91st Street and Nall Avenue, and at the Mill Creek location in western Johnson County.

The bishop and standing committee of the diocese would respond by terminating the authority of some clergy associated with the church to act as priests or deacons.

McCrary said he is confident Christ Church would be recognized as a part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Obvious operational changes would result if church members decide to vote against the split, McCrary said.

"It is most likely that the rector and the vestry would be removed from the leadership of Christ Church. ... It would be a tremendous crisis for Christ Church and it would not be business as usual," he said.

If the vote passes, changes would be subtler, he said.

"From a day-to-day standpoint, the average parishioner wouldn't even notice that anything changed. ... Life at Christ Church would continue with great stability," McCrary said.

The disagreement should end amicably, he said.

"What I hope people will see here is the story of the loving resolution of a disagreement and that the unity of the church is much higher than denominational structures."

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost4; ecusa

1 posted on 04/14/2005 7:21:41 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 04/14/2005 7:22:14 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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