Skip to comments.UT: St. John's alliance with AMiA 'fit the bill'
Posted on 01/13/2007 11:53:07 AM PST by sionnsar
St. John's Anglican Church, a congregation established in May 2004 by former Episcopalians, announced Thursday its formal alliance with the evangelical Anglican Mission in America.
The decision makes the group, which meets weekly at Park City Academy, Utah's first AMiA affiliate. "We were looking for an authentic path in the Anglican world that we could join, whose goal was the same as ours," says the Rev. Christopher Seddon of St. John's. The organization's mission, one rooted in outreach to the unchurched and strict adherence to scripture, "fit the bill in so many ways."
AMiA, founded in 2000 and based in South Carolina, is an offshoot missionary movement of the Anglican Province of Rwanda. It currently has more than 14,000 members, 95 affiliated parishes and a new church coming on board every three weeks, the organization's spokeswoman, Cynthia Brust, reports.
The growth of AMiA stems from what Brust describes as "a crisis of faith and leadership. . .one that's been developing for over 40 years."
Both she and Seddon are adamant that splits from the Episcopal Church - the worldwide Anglican Communion's official American branch - are not just about the 2003 election of New Hampshire's openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson. Nor are such decisions mere objections to last year's ground-breaking election of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to serve in this capacity in the nearly 520-year history of Anglicanism.
It's about theology, about how one views and accepts scripture. In Seddon's world, and among his congregants, scripture is not something to be interpreted, something to be influenced by modernity.
"We see scripture as truly the word of God," Seddon, 50, says. "God is unchangeable."
The lawyer-turned-priest, originally from England, came to Utah a year and a half ago. He inherited a group of about 20 who had broken away, in 2004, from Park City's St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
Today, he says, St. John's members exceed 90. St. Luke's priest, the Rev. Charles Robinson, arrived in 2004 and says by the time he got to the Park City church the polarization was too deep and the opportunity for internal healing shot. He explains the difference between his viewpoint and that of Seddon's as a clash between "modern approach" and "traditional approach."
Robinson's church, which has about 300 members, allows for "historical criticism" and takes into account evolving scholarship.
"The question is, will we acknowledge the scholarship of the last 150 years, or will we reject it and say 'those scholars, what the hell do they know?' "
Robinson, 52, says and laughs. Seddon and Robinson may not see eye-to-eye on these matters, but they refuse to fuel divisions and harp on negativity. In fact, the two lunch together regularly.
"We are poles apart, and we don't pretend otherwise," Seddon explains. "But that doesn't mean we can't share fellowship."
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