Skip to comments.TULSA, OK: Church finds new home to go with new name
Posted on 08/26/2006 4:55:27 PM PDT by sionnsar
Fifteen months after Tulsa's Church of the Holy Spirit Episcopal became the only church in the state to cut ties with the Episcopal Church over the issues of gay clergy and biblical authority, the congregation has found a permanent rector and a permanent site.
"We're not angry, and we're not frustrated," said the Rev. Briane Turley, whose first Sunday service in Tulsa was Aug. 5.
"We want to have a positive message for this community.
"We have a very strong sense of mission; we want to reach this neighborhood for Christ. We want to reach out to people in all walks of life with the Gospel. That's what we're about."
Turley said he would not recruit for members among Episcopalians.
"We're not looking for sour relationships with Episcopal churches here; clearly we have our differences, but we don't want to be antagonistic toward them."
When church leaders voted to leave the denomina tion last year, nearly all of the congregation left with them, establishing the Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican.
The church has been meeting Sundays at St. Michael's Reformed Episcopal Church in Broken Arrow. It has purchased five acres at 12121 E. 41st St. with three buildings that are being renovated for worship, education and office space.
Turley, who has pastored a Nazarene church and an Episcopal church, also has been a college professor. Most recently, he was priest in charge of St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Kingwood, W.Va. He holds a doctorate in religious history and was a Fulbright lecturer in church history.
He said the Episcopal Church has been drifting from its traditional position for many years, but the crisis for him came three years ago with the approval of a gay bishop and same-sex blessing ceremonies.
"The church was moving in a way that was non-biblical," he said, "violating clear teachings about the holiness and sanctity of marriage."
The homosexuality issue in the Episcopal Church erupted in August 2003, when the Rev. V. Gene Robinson was approved as bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson had been living with his male partner for more than a dozen years.
Oklahoma Bishop Robert M. Moody was among the bishops who voted for Robinson.
In a series of meetings held around Oklahoma that fall to explain his position, Moody said he once was conservative on the issue, but changed his mind as he has had to deal with it.
He said that the word "homosexual" does not appear in the Bible and that only in the 19th century did an awareness grow that some people are attracted to other people of the same gender.
He said he is convinced that biblical passages forbidding a man to lie with a man as with a woman refer to heterosexual men carrying on erotic affairs with men.
"Is homosexuality a sin? No, it's a condition," he said at that time.
Moody has likened the church's struggle with homosexuality to its earlier struggle with slavery and with women clergy.
When the Episcopal Church approved Robinson, Turley almost immediately joined the Anglican Communion Network, which he defined as a "growing group of dioceses, clergy and lay people who are trying to maintain a genuine Anglican ethos in North America."
The network is seeking closer ties to the worldwide Anglican communion, a 77 million-member fellowship of which the Episcopal Church is the American branch.
The Church of the Holy Spirit Episcopal joined the network about a year before its decision to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church has 2.1 million on the rolls, but on an average Sunday, 790,000 are in church, Turley said.
Jenny Noyes, communications coordinator for the network, said it has more than 900 parishes and 2,200 clergy members, representing approximately 200,000 church members.
For Turley, the heart of the issue in the Episcopal Church is "epistemological . . . How do you know what you know?"
The Episcopal Church for centuries has held a three-part answer to that question, according to Turley.
First, everything has to be rooted in the authority of Scripture; second, there had to be broader consensus, and not just in the Anglican world, that what the church is doing has some authority over a long time, so that the apostolic tradition is passed along in the teaching from one generation to the next; and third, it must conform to human reason.
"The current epistemology of the Episcopal Church fails at the first level," he said. "We're dealing with issues that counter biblical teaching."
Instead, he said, the church is relying on human reason, or on the idea that "the Spirit told me."
"That leads to ecclesiastical mayhem," he said. "People can vote in new theologies."
The intent of the worldwide Anglican Communion has been to work with the Episcopal Church, to give it a chance to repent and to return to its original Anglican ethos, he said.
"And we applaud that. We think the Episcopal Church should be given every opportunity to clean its house, to return to its original teachings.
"In the interim, the network is seeking official recognition within the Anglican Communion as a province so that we have our own direct relationship with the Anglican Communion, instead of going through the Episcopal Church."
Traditionally, provinces are geographic entities, so if the Anglican network is recognized as a province, it would not fit into traditional patterns.
Turley said the network has been unfairly labeled as schismatic.
"It is the Episcopal Church which is being schismatic, clearly," he said, by rejecting its Anglican roots. "We're not. We're trying to get back into our community, and stay there.
"We're not trying to form a sect here. I'm a student of church history, and trust me, we don't need another sect."
Evidence suggests there is a good chance that the Episcopal Church will be asked to leave the Anglican Communion, Turley said.
They already have a diminished role, he said.
Almost half the Anglican provinces have declared broken or deeply impaired relations with the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church no longer is allowed to participate in the Anglican Consultative Counsel, a worldwide policy-making body, he said.
The Rev. Canon Charles Woltz, with the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, said a new church, Christ Church Episcopal, is in the old facility of Church of the Holy Spirit at 10901 S. Yale Ave.
The church recently has been upgraded to a mission congregation of the diocese, led by Vicar Rick Brewer, and is doing well, Woltz said.
Years ago, I visited the Church of the Holy Spirit, and that particular Sunday, the priest happened to give a sermon regarding his position on abortion. He had been challenged by a young medical student regarding ECUSA's stance on the subject. He confessed to having repeated ECUSA's stance, and then realized that he really ought to look more deeply into it in order to articulate it better.
In the process, he realized that abortion was a sin -- the taking of a human life -- and that no Christian should be able to support the "pro-choice" position in good conscience. The response seemed positive from the congregation, letting me know that it was not your average parish.
I'm glad to hear that they have found their way out of that mess, and I pray that they find stability. Glad to hear that the good folks at St. Michael's are helping out... They are, as those who remember such thing may recall, the parish that the then bishop of London (Graham Leonard) took under his wing when they and their priest were run out of the ECUSA diocese of Oklahoma, winning their court battle over property, but with the priest getting deposed (wrongly, in Bp. Leonard's opinion).
I'm not sure who is left of the old St. Michael's -- the priest was a casualty of the age, and the parish hit tough times, finding a somewhat uneasy home at first in first one continuing group and then another. They are obviously healthy enough to help another parish in need...
The Bible also forbids pigs to fly. Good thing God asks nothing hard of us, isn't it?
In their "wisdom" they have become fools. (or liars perhaps)
So, let me get this straight. The good Bishop believes that it is a sin for a heterosexual man to lie with another man, but it is not a sin for a homosexual man to lie with another man??
Maybe I am not following this correctly, but the action here is the same, is it not? It should not matter what a man's (or woman's) sexual orientation is, it is the act itself, and the lust thereof if you will, that is the abomination.
You apparently joined FReeRepublic today in order to demonstrate that you don't understand sarcasm. You have succeeded.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.