Skip to comments.Raleigh church leaves diocese: Episcopal parish turns Anglican
Posted on 05/03/2005 3:20:28 PM PDT by sionnsar
RALEIGH -- The Church of the Holy Cross has left the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina to join a new and rapidly growing group of U.S. churches no longer willing to affiliate with a national denomination they say has strayed from its biblical roots.
Members of Holy Cross, which now calls itself Anglican, say the decision to leave has been brewing since the Episcopal Church USA consecrated an openly gay man as a bishop two years ago. The Rev. John W. Gibson, rector of Holy Cross, said the entire church backed the move.
"For us, the focal point was not the sexuality issue, but the theological drift away from the historic moorings in biblical orthodoxy," Gibson said.
Holy Cross' exit is another example of growing discontent in the 48,600-member diocese and across the 2.3-million member denomination. From Connecticut to Kansas, Episcopal churches are seeking to affiliate with overseas Anglican bishops, who are more conservative theologically than most of their American counterparts. These churches want to maintain their ties with the worldwide Anglican Communion by bypassing the more liberal American branch, the Episcopal Church USA.
Last year, several dozen members of Raleigh's Christ Church quit to form Holy Trinity Church. They were angered by the denomination's vote to consecrate V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop Michael B. Curry, who heads the North Carolina diocese, stretching across 39 Piedmont counties, voted with the majority to confirm Robinson, a divorced man who lives with his gay partner. He has since offered churches guidelines for conducting same-sex blessing ceremonies.
But the fissures over theological issues started several decades before Robinson's confirmation. In Raleigh there are now five Anglican churches -- each affiliated with overseas Anglican dioceses or independent Anglican organizations here.
The fallout has presented a deepening financial struggle. The North Carolina diocese's $3.6 million budget this year is identical to last year's and represents a drop from its $4 million budget in 2003.
The diocese recently sold its headquarters on St. Albans Drive in Raleigh for $3.8 million. It now rents offices downtown, where it expects to stay for three years. In January, the diocese also decided to sell its unprofitable conference center north of Greensboro, valued at $4.2. million.
Bishop Curry said the sale of the headquarters was not used to balance the budget and that the diocese had considered selling both properties long before the controversy over Robinson.
"We have our struggles," Curry said. "We're sad to see Holy Cross no longer a part of the diocese. But the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina is strong."
Curry said he has added extra confirmation services last month and this month and said many of those being confirmed were joining the church for the first time.
Last week, the diocese officially dissolved its relationship with Holy Cross. But under a unique set of circumstances, the church on West Millbrook Road will not revert to the diocese.
That's because last fall the diocese helped the church deed the building back to its mortgage holder when it faced a financial crunch. By March, when church members notified the bishop that they were leaving the diocese, they were able to buy it back under their newly incorporated title, Church of the Holy Cross Anglican.
The church is now affiliated with the North Kigezi Diocese of Uganda. Gibson said he planned to travel to Uganda yearly to participate in the North Kigezi's annual convention and possibly its clergy conference. But except for the overseas trip, members shouldn't notice much of a difference, Gibson said. The church uses the same liturgies and prayer book.
Jim Harding, a church member, said he was "ecstatic" about the realignment. "We're going back to our Anglican roots," he said.
Holy Cross -- which blends contemporary and traditional services -- was never one of the Episcopal diocese's biggest churches. It was formed in 1991 and has 150 members, many of them young professionals. From its start, it was a strongly evangelical church that sometimes felt at odds with the more subdued culture of the diocese.
Gibson said he expected to get back to the church's original goals now that the realignment is final.
"For several years, we have spent an enormous amount of energy dealing with an exterior crisis not of our making," Gibson said. "It's a great relief to redirect our energies to the mission and ministry we believe we're called to."
It's good to see that many are recognizing biblical principles and not postmodern tolerance.
Praise God that they have left the satanic cult.
It seems like a win-win: the American parish/diocese gets a good bishop, and in return can contribute financial support to the bishop's third-world home diocese which wouldn't be available otherwise.
It's nearly impossible to get the building from the Diocese.
Ha ha ha ha ha
Gotta go to Uganda to find a good bish .... ha ha ha .... just thinkin about the little old ladies missionary societies of yesteryear talking about Christianizing the savages ....
It's still happening. But the little old ladies...
It's still happening. But the little old ladies...
And the savages are in New York and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, perfectly orthodox, US-based dioceses go begging for funds and are now competed against.
Not really a good solution, all in all.
Ahh, the immense irony. What a sense of humor God has.
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