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Alpine Episcopal rift confirmed by separate worship services
The Connecticut 6 ^ | 12/19/2005

Posted on 12/19/2005 7:30:10 PM PST by sionnsar

ALPINE – There are two churches, where there once was one.

In the morning chill of East County, the two congregations gathered separately yesterday, a mile apart. Each had candles marking the final Sunday of Advent. Each had Communion. They even sang the same hymn.

NANCEE E. LEWIS / Union-Tribune
The remaining members of Christ the King Episcopal Church worshipped yesterday at their church in Alpine. The bulk of the congregation left with the Rev. Keith Acker, who resigned Monday.
But they are divided now, the first local casualties of a theological debate over homosexuality that is threatening to fracture the U.S. Episcopal Church, along with its historic alliance with the international Anglican Communion.

The battle hit home last Monday, when the Rev. Keith Acker resigned as rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church, taking the bulk of his congregation with him to form the Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity.

Yesterday morning, Acker stood in front of this fledgling church that has aligned itself with a conservative, evangelical branch called the Anglican Province of America. About 65 people sat on metal folding chairs in the auditorium of Alpine Elementary School as he prayed for those who had stayed behind at Christ the King, "that they might show forth and follow Jesus Christ in their lives."

The Rev. Frank Pannitti, an Anglican priest who will be co-pastor of Blessed Trinity, also prayed for the other congregation.

"We regret that they have chosen not to walk with the greater Anglican Communion, but we still love them," Pannitti said.

Later in the morning, about three dozen people gathered at Christ the King for a worship service presided over by two priests sent by the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

"Christmas represents a new beginning," the Rev. Andrew Rank told them in his sermon. "You and I, us together, are at a time of new beginning."

What is prompting this new beginning is the not-so-new battle over homosexuality and the Bible.

A watershed moment for the 2.3 million-member Protestant denomination came in 2003 with the election of the first openly gay bishop, the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The vote drew the wrath of much of the 77 million global Anglican Communion. U.S. churches and clergy who consider the practice of homosexuality to be a sin began pulling away from the Episcopal Church and aligning themselves with more like-minded Anglican groups.

Until last week, San Diego was largely unaffected, with some clergy saying they weren't going to do anything out of deference for Bishop Gethin Hughes, who was in the process of retiring.

Then came a series of extenuating events at Alpine's Christ the King Episcopal Church, already regarded as one of the most traditional in the county, that would trigger this split.

In June, the new bishop, the Right Rev. James Mathes, took a clergywoman with him when he officiated at an Evensong service at Christ the King. Hughes had never done that because some folks in the congregation objected to the ordination of women, which the Episcopal Church has allowed since 1976.

Parishioners also were upset when Mathes told Pannitti, an Anglican who had been helping out at Christ the King, that he needed to be properly licensed with the Episcopal diocese if he wanted to continue.

On Nov. 20, when Mathes returned to Christ the King for another visit, protesting members conducted a separate service at the school – and a new church was born. Acker made the split official with his resignation Monday as rector of Christ the King.

Mathes, who was ordaining a priest in Chula Vista yesterday morning, said he is saddened by the departure and would welcome Acker back.

Acker said yesterday he has no regrets.

"It's not a them-and-us kind of thing," Acker said as his congregation watched a video about others who have moved away from the Episcopal Church.

Parishioners at Blessed Trinity said they felt they had to leave to support Pannitti and because the denomination is straying too far from its Anglican connections.

"I wanted to follow Christ," said Louise Laws, 56, of Pine Valley. "I just didn't feel that was happening there."

If there is hostility, it was kept below the surface. The two congregations are even sharing an organist and choir director.

"They will always be friends and brothers and sisters in Christ," said Ron White, 61, at Blessed Trinity.

Rosemary Miller, 81, who remained at Christ the King, said she still considers Acker to be "grand."

Kim Beckett, who also stayed at Christ the King, remembered how the congregation got its start in her grandparents' home in the 1970s. This separation has been tough, said Beckett, 37.

"I just have to accept people. I think that's what the Episcopal diocese is trying to do – not shun people," she said.

"The reason I stayed is because I'm an Episcopalian," said Nathan Astleford, 67.

At a meeting after the Christ the King service, Astleford and four others were elected to the new vestry, or board of trustees. All but one member of the previous vestry have left the church.

The Episcopal diocese will continue to send priests for services. The church also needs to sort out its financial situation.

"I do not know what the future holds," the Rev. Jenny Vervynck, a staff member for the diocese, told parishioners. "The future is in your hands and the hands of the diocese."

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: ecusa; fallout; homosexualagenda; homosexualbishop; schism
[Interesting to see the roped-off pews. Why, I wonder? To force the remainder to the front for the photo shoots? I've been through a "split" (a long time ago) and nothing like that took place. Then again, it wasn't newsworthy then. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 12/19/2005 7:30:11 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; ..
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 12/19/2005 7:30:54 PM PST by sionnsar (†† || To Libs: You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azadi)
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To: sionnsar

"The reason I stayed is because I'm an Episcopalian," said Nathan Astleford, 67."

Nathan, it's Christian first... Episcopalian second.

3 posted on 12/19/2005 10:31:36 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: sionnsar
a staff member for the diocese, told parishioners. "The future is in your hands and the hands of the diocese."

That is right, God has nothing to do with it.

4 posted on 12/20/2005 4:27:49 AM PST by Raycpa
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To: sionnsar
Later in the morning, about three dozen people gathered at Christ the King for a worship service presided over by two priests sent by the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. My count is 22 people, including clergy. I guess that's about three dozen in the MSM.
5 posted on 12/20/2005 6:37:42 AM PST by superdad
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To: sionnsar

Between the Catholics with their pedophile Priests and the radical Liberals with their homosexual agenda, the Christian Church has suffered greatly. This is how the islamofacists are able to increase their numbers so rapidly. It is also why the vast majority of the people in this country are "unchurched" and rarely attend.

6 posted on 12/20/2005 6:45:39 AM PST by The Sons of Liberty (Former SAC Trained Killer - "Nuke 'em Till They Glow!")
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To: sionnsar
I attended an Anglican Church in London back in the late 70's where a Priest had roped off the rear pews, to force folks to the front. I found it hysterical!

I discovered that the Church didn't have a really good PA system and the Priest was tired of having to yell, so he got out the rope and roped off the rear pews.

OTOH, I find in charismatic, evangelical Churches in the Episcopal Church, everyone seems to "fight" for the front. No sitting in the rear at those Churches.

Sunday evening, I attended a Cantata at a local Methodist Church and was reminded of the "rush to the rear". Very few folks sitting down front. Since I try not to sit behind children as I'm easily distracted, I headed down front. I'm just used to sitting in the front pews.

Just thought I'd offer up these thoughts.

7 posted on 12/20/2005 10:36:49 AM PST by TruthNtegrity (Tony Snow: Fighting for the full release of the Barrett Report.)
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