Skip to comments.South Riding [VA] Church Disaffiliates from the Episcopal Church, Joins Anglican Province of Uganda
Posted on 11/15/2005 3:52:36 PM PST by sionnsar
The Rev. Phil Ashey
(o)703-961-1983 (M) 703-963-3185
Mr. Paul Branch
South Riding Church Disaffiliates from the Episcopal Church, Joins Anglican Province of Uganda
South Riding Church, established in 2000 as a new church plant in Fairfax, Virginia, has ended its affiliation with the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and the Diocese of Virginia. The church is now under the jurisdictional authority of Bishop Kisembo in the Diocese of Rwenzori, Anglican Province of Uganda.
South Riding is a biblically faithful church committed to the authority of Scripture, traditional Christian teaching and the historic faith and practice of Anglicanism. The decision to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church was motivated by a commitment to biblical faithfulness and a desire to remain connected with the Anglican Communion. In a congregational meeting held yesterday, members voted overwhelmingly to join the Diocese of Rwenzori.
The Episcopal Church has abandoned those core values we hold dear at South Riding Church, and tragically, the Diocese of Virginia has supported actions of General Convention 2003, said the Rev. Phil Ashey, pastor of South Riding. Our church upholds the authority of Scripture, and the leadership of South Riding Church can no longer compromise our faith by remaining under the spiritual and jurisdictional authority of the Episcopal Church and this diocese.
At General Convention 2003, the House of Bishops failed to approve a resolution affirming basic tenets of Christian faith as well as the historic creeds and 39 Articles of Religion (B001). In addition, both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops approved two measures contrary to the Anglican Churchs authoritative teaching on human sexuality (Resolution 1.10, Lambeth Conference 1998). These actions precipitated an unprecedented crisis within the Anglican Communion.
Twenty-two of 38 Anglican provinces have declared either impaired or broken communion with the Episcopal Church, and the very position of the ECUSA in the Communion appears to be threatened. Subsequently the Episcopal Church has attempted to justify its actions in a document entitled Our Hope is in Christ rather than repenting and embracing the historic faith and practice of Anglicanism.
At General Convention, Peter Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, abstained in the vote to affirm traditional Christian teaching and voted to approve the election of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
We have been in conversation with the diocese hoping to reach some level of spiritual comfort or hope for the future, but diocesan leadership is not addressing the issues of this crisis, said Paul Branch, lay leader at South Riding Church. We cannot continue with our mission and ministry ignoring the fact that the Episcopal Church is in spiritual disarray, has embraced a false gospel, and has abandoned mainstream, Biblical Anglicanism. We are devoted to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and we have a deep desire to remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
This has been a difficult decision with which we have struggled for three years, said Father Ashey. We have reached the conclusion that in order to be faithful, we can choose no other path.
The Diocese of Virginia officially designates church plants such as South Riding Church as an unorganized church rather than a mission or parish. As such, the leadership has never signed a declaration of loyalty to the diocese and national church as required of all other congregations. South Riding Church does not own property or a building and has pledged to turn over assets purchased with diocesan funds during the time that it has been a part of ECUSA.
The congregation will continue to holds services at Little River Elementary School in South Riding. For more information on South Riding Church, visit its website (http://www.southridingchurch.org/index.html).
Good luck to them. I'm sorry this church is falling apart, but I see that like Luther said: they can do no other.
I find this confusing.
Are these people still part of the Anglican Communion?
Can Bishop Griswold in some way inhibit their communion with the Anglican Communion?
To me, it seems that, whatever its current difficulties, ECUSA is the current holder of the "exclusive franchise," if you will, of Anglicanism in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the United States. Although ECUSA's position is precarious, it has seemed that it is the final arbiter of who does and doesn't belong to the Anglican Communion in the US, at least for now.
But if these people declare themselves out of communion with ECUSA, while simultaneously putting themselves under the Province of Uganda... I have a headache.
Any light you can shed on this would be MUCH APPRECIATED.
In short: Yes, these people are still part of the Anglican Communion, albeit under "Alternative Episcopal Oversight."
ECUSA has been dragging its feet in not acting on the petitions of many parishes who have asked the panel of reference for just this thing. When a parish has a disagreement with the bishop, the people and the vestry (elected governing board) can ask for alternative oversight. The priest would essentially transfer his allegiance to another bishop whose views/standards are more in keeping with the gospel. Frank Griswold must have legal grounds on which to inhibit any priest - but as we have seen elsewhere (CT six) any bishop can just trample on the canons and seize church property, fire the vestry and inhibit the priest. There are no due process guarantees in the Episcopal Church, and precious little respect for its own law.
African bishops and archbishops have been receiving numerous requests for affiliation from bewildered and beleaguered Episcopal parished for several years. Many parishes have been accepted long before the Windsor Report was drafted.
Personally, I would prefer to be out of communion with heresy, wouldn't you?
Okay, so if the bishop in CT inhibits a priest, and the archbishop in Nigeria picks the fellow up as a priest - to serve in CT - well, what's his status? Is he in communion with the bishop of CT?
What would happen if the bishop of CT recognized and took under his aegis a heretic homo priest in Nigeria - to open an "Anglican" parish in Nigeria under the auspices of the CT bishop and the ECUSA? Is the fellow in communion with the Nigerians or not?
At the current moment, both bishops are in communion with that funny looking fellow over in England - the Archbishop of Canterbury. But each has taken actions to effectively break off communion with the other.
It doesn't seem that logical categories apply anymore.
But remember that there is *no* over-arching authority in the wwAC. The Archbishop of Canterbury is simply "first among equals"; as the leader of "Mother Church" he is accorded special respect.
This is a system that works only if all members voluntarily stay within the guidelines they have set for themselves. ECUSA was the first to violate the guidelines. And here is where Anglicanism's history works against it -- we are well accustomed to living together despite differences, thanks to our history (the Elizabethan Compromise). So we are less sensitive to the rise of heresy than the Orthodox, and slower and much more hesitant to act.
With ECUSA and others having broken some of the agreements, the rest are effectively broken too. Thus you have churches affiliating with Nigeria, Uganda, Colombia, and so on, not to mention the African mission of AMiA. If the people in another country cry out for aid because their national church has become willfully apostate and in violation of the agreements, should one abandon them? The Global South has said no.
Neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA have any say, any longer, about who is in the wwAC and who isn't.
But all this muddies the definition of "communion." In the wwAC these days, it is being redefined as "association" by the self-professed "inclusives." For obvious reasons. For the more orthodox, the sense of communion is being heavily strained by the effort to repair the breach -- is a cloth torn in two when the rip has gone only halfway? What if the ripping is still in progress with the separating forces still on it? The situation is temporary and will resolve itself.
The question of communion with ECUSA via Uganda is a good one, and one that has been raised. Perhaps the best answer is that some on one side of the ripping cloth have severed their ties to their original side (Global North) and attached to the other (Global South). They have declared where they will be when it is all done.
" Personally, I would prefer to be out of communion with heresy, wouldn't you?"
"Even if one should give away all his possessions in the world, and yet be in communion with heresy, he cannot be a friend of God, but is rather an enemy" +Theodore the Studite
"But all this muddies the definition of "communion." In the wwAC these days, it is being redefined as "association" by the self-professed "inclusives."
With all due respect to the Africans and other orthodox Anglicans, they are liable to the charge of being in communion with heresy themselves by remaining in communion with, for example, the AoC or that fellow Eames. The Fathers are crystal clear on this one, S.
My experience tells me that it's risky to apply a static analysis to a transitional (and thus dynamic) situation. (I'd rather be standing unmoving three feet away from a cliff than to be thirty feet away and sliding fast.)
Unserious question: If one has hesitated a year after learning of the apostasy of another ton one had declared (believed) one's self to be in communion with before declaring one's self out of communion, are you subject to the charge? A day? An minute? A millisecond? What's the allowable delay before the instantaneous transition between rigidly-defined states? (Can you tell I'm an engineer? *\;-)
A more serious question: In Orthodoxy, is there leeway for trying to pull someone back before declaring them out of communion, or do you declare first and pull later (if at all)?
"Unserious question: If one has hesitated a year after learning of the apostasy of another ton one had declared (believed) one's self to be in communion with before declaring one's self out of communion, are you subject to the charge? A day? An minute? A millisecond? What's the allowable delay before the instantaneous transition between rigidly-defined states? (Can you tell I'm an engineer? *\;-)"
An unserious answer...a millisecond after the appropriate actions have been taken. Can you tell I'm a lawyer? :)
Seriously, here's an answer for you from +John Chrysostomos' Homily VI on Titus:
"By contentions," he [+Paul] means, with heretics, in which he would not have us labor to no purpose, where nothing is to be gained, for they end in nothing. For when a man is perverted and predetermined not to change his mind, whatever may happen, why shouldest thou labor in vain, sowing upon a rock, when thou shouldest spend thy honorable toil upon thy own people, in discoursing with them upon almsgiving and every other virtue?
How then does he elsewhere say, "If God peradventure will give them repentance" (2 Tim. ii.25); but here, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself"? In the former passage he speaks of the correction of those of whom he had hope, and who had simply made opposition. But when he is known and manifest to all, why dost thou contend in vain? why dost thou beat the air? What means, "being condemned of himself"? Because he cannot say that no one has told him, no one admonished him; since therefore after admonition he continues the same, he is self-condemned."
You know, S, there is little new under the sun and the Father's dealt with just about everything...especially heresy.
Very good and enlightening answers! Thank you very much.
You are very welcome!
Your quotes of the Fathers are not in modern English (or American). Why? I am quite certain they did not write in a language that wouldn't even form for many centuries yet -- Is there a "definitive" translation here?
Most of the translations of the Ante and Post Nicene Fathers which I have are from a 38 volume translation done in Edinborough in the 19th century, by Anglicans I presume. These are the "definitive translation" thusfar, but I understand from one of the Latins on FR that a new translation is being done, though it isn't complete.
Interesting! Again, thank you! (38 volumes.... why, that just speaks... volumes!)
"(38 volumes.... why, that just speaks... volumes!"
Now that you mention it, it does. Winters are long up here!
No, the "relative newness" isn't what's so different. Phil Ashey has been "removed" or gotten in trouble with his Diocesan's before this.
I'll be candid in saying that I never did hear the "whole story" of why he was so available to become an Assistant Rector at Church of the Apostles in Fairfax City back in the mid-90's, which itself has been a mission church from Truro some 27 years prior!!
Phil Ashey's Father was an Episcopal Priest, but Phil's history with the Church has been different and shall we say, spotted. He was an Assistant DA in Ca (LA County I believe) and well known for getting rid of gangs by getting Judges to push harsh prison sentences that seemed to "scare straight" the rest of the kids on the street. His prosecutorial skills were widely known in the legal field before he became a Priest.
No one, including myself, has ever had a doubt that Phil experienced the call to be a Priest. He is brilliant, liturgically and doctrinely Anglican. He is the most Orthodox of Priests, along with several others I could name.
But if any one of the Priests in the Diocese of Virginia was going to leave, I would have expected it to be Phil.
He left Apostles in the 1999, I think. Went to a Church in Pittsburgh, but "ran into trouble again". The trouble I think was that he is not going to countenance anything of the sin of ECUSA, is very charismatic while also being very Anglican. He loves the ancient rites of the Church, and at Christmas and Easter, at Apostles, I loved him for bringing back services that I hadn't seen celebrated since I left the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, LI, NY, including the ancient rite of Easter.
Next thing I knew - he was back in the Diocese of VA, having transferred out of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and doing "Church planting". Mostly he did a lot of substituting for vacationing Priests.
I question the date of 2000 as the year that South Riding was planted. If it is correct, then time has fled even faster than I can remember!! If asked, I would have said 2003. Maybe he is not the first to have been with that congregation. I'm racking my brain to remember if David Jones or someone else started with them.
However, remember - they don't have any property, they've been meeting in an elementary school, and I doubt that there is much in the way of "property" that has been supplied by the Diocese. Phil would have been very leery of indebting himself to the Bishop of VA.
One weekend a few months ago, our music director contacted me to tell me that the church copier was broken and asked if I could make copies for the service. At the copy center, the clerk took a keen interest in the worship materials I was copying. I struck up a conversation, and we had fine Christian fellowship for a few minutes, until I asked what church he went to.
"South Riding...er...episcopal...Church", he said with obvious discomfort. "We're not like some other Episcopal churches!" he hastily added: "We believe in the scriptures and the traditions!"
It tore my heart to see this brother in Christ afraid to admit what church he belonged to! I reassured him that I understood the plight of true believers in his church. I am glad to see that he no longer has any reason for embarassment.
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