Skip to comments.Attleboro, MA: Final split in church [Episcopal church leaves TEC]
Posted on 11/03/2006 2:10:07 PM PST by sionnsar
ATTLEBORO - All Saints Episcopal parish has officially broken with its diocese and with the national Episcopal Church to align with orthodox Anglicans nationwide who are moving toward a formal split.
Calling itself All Saints Anglican Church, the Attleboro parish is now affiliated with the conservative Anglican Mission in America, an arm of the Province of Rwanda, and no longer considers itself part of the liberal Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the Episcopal Church in the United States.
The action comes just a couple of weeks after the diocese headed by Bishop Thomas Shaw denied the request by All Saints to allow its rector, the Rev. Lance Giuffrida, to come under the authority of another bishop and thereby operate the parish as an Anglican congregation.
All Saints has now taken that step on its own.
The parish has also asked Shaw if it could keep or buy the parish property, but the bishop has not yet responded to that request. For now, the parish is operating in buildings that are officially owned by the diocese.
A diocesan spokesperson did not return a phone call from The Sun Chronicle seeking comment on the actions by All Saints.
Division within the Episcopal Church, the American arm of Anglicanism, has been brewing for years over the authority of scripture and other theological points, but began reaching a crisis stage three years ago over the issue of homosexuality after the national church backed the appointment of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Church leaders also elected a liberal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada, this past summer. She will be installed at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., this weekend as the first woman to lead a national church in the 500-year history of Anglicanism.
The election of Jefferts Schori, who supports ordaining gays and blessing same-sex unions, was seen by conservatives as proof that the national church would continue heading in a liberal direction. Seven dioceses and a number of parishes nationwide have asked to leave the Episcopal Church, and have been mapping out a plan to create a separate conservative body in this country, even as the global church works to avoid a schism.
The break by All Saints in Attleboro became official at a special service Sunday when Bishop Thaddeus Barnum of Fairfield, Conn., received the leaders of All Saints, including Giuffrida, into the Anglican Mission. Barnum belongs to the House of Bishops of the Rwandan province, which has offered support to conservative Anglicans in this country.
Barnum also conducted several confirmations and baptisms Sunday, and asked the gathering of about 300 parishioners if any individuals wanted to be received as members of the Anglican Mission. Nearly everyone stood up, Giuffrida said.
"It was a great affirmation," he said.
All Saints is the only Episcopal parish in this area to take that kind of stand, and the only one in the diocese to officially break away, but Giuffrida said other orthodox parishes are preparing for similar actions. Eight of the 200 parishes in the diocese are official members of the Anglican Communion Network, which All Saints joined two years ago.
Parish leaders at All Saints asked Shaw last month to transfer Giuffrida to another bishop and allow the parish to keep or buy the parish property at an affordable price. The diocese two weeks ago sent Giuffrida a letter denying the transfer, but the request concerning the parish property is still under review by diocesan committees.
If the request is denied, Giuffrida said the parish will not fight the decision through a lawsuit, and instead would move to another building in the Attleboro area.
Similar issues over property are expected to surface across the country as other conservative parishes move to leave their dioceses and the national church.
Conservatives say the liberals in the national church are the ones who have left Anglicanism by adopting liberal views that cannot be defended by scripture and are not supported by the global church, which is heavily orthodox.
"The Episcopal Church walked away," Giuffrida said. "We have chosen to remain faithful to the Anglican Communion."
Members of All Saints did not attend the diocesan convention held last weekend in Boston, saying that any actions taken there are now irrelevant to them. Instead, a gathering was held at All Saints of 16 New England representatives of various Anglican groups that are part of the national effort to form a new Anglican province or church in this country.
"The split has happened," Giuffrida said. "Forming a separate province is already in the works."
The Anglican groups also plan to eventually start up new churches in areas that do not have orthodox parishes.
"We now have the opportunity to bring an orthodox presence into New England and give people a choice," said Ron Wheelock, senior warden at All Saints
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