Some of what it is like on the ground

--From an east coast parish and shared with permission--KSH

We have been two churches in one body. This has been our trap and our sin. My own congregation has for the past 15 years taken pride in the DIVERSITY of our membership. We had a very loving and close community of worshipers who sincerely loved each other and prayed for each other and supported each other, regardless of theological viewpoint.

However, neither Liberals nor Conservatives were FREE to defend their positions on any controversial issue of theology, political or social concerns! We might offend someone we loved! We were always reticent and fearful of disrupting our community. We might break the loving fellowship that bound us together!

The resolutions of the GC finally forced us to deal with our infidelity! Yes, infidelity. No-one was really true to their beliefs! We were guilty of a corporate sin of accepting anything and questioning nothing! As our congregation began to really discuss our viewpoints on the resolutions our true divisions were forced to the surface.

Three things happened during the course of one week.

1. Our vestry decided they had to each publicly publish their own personal views and how they would have voted for the GC resolutions and the confirmation of Bishop Robinson. This was sent to all parishioners and showed that they were evenly split.

2. Our rector publicly stated her position which was that she would probably have not have voted for the resolutions but would do nothing to oppose them. 3. Our parish had a parish wide meeting composed of round-table discussion groups where members were encouraged to share their personal beliefs with each other.

The results were traumatic. The two different and incompatible world-views that we had sheltered for so long finally were made manifest and mutually exclusive! Those who were of orthodox beliefs in the nature of sin and human sexuality based on biblical truths vs. those who wanted to re-write the doctrines and ignore all scripture on the issues of homosexuality found that the divisions within the body of our congregation could not be kept together in one assembly any longer.

As the scales dropped from our eyes many of us saw our sin. We had made our "wonderfully diverse and loving congregation" our idol. We had been a nice and safe and comfortable house of worship. This was finally gone. The comfort and safety were no-more. We had to finally confront and stand for the truths we really believed.

The divorce has been horrendous. Two weeks ago we celebrated the 40 anniversary of the founding of our congregation. Many former parishioners returned from around the world to participate in a reunion of the faithful. For our conservative brethren the service was a funeral, not a celebration.

We are physically dividing now. Some 25-30 orthodox families are now meeting with a Christian group counseler to help us heal and pray and seek God's guidance as we await his new path for our flock.

The rector is in a state of shock and denial and anger that she failed to convince the orthodox members to remain and preserve the congregation as it used to be. The liberal members of the congregation view the conservative group as bigoted, uncaring, closeminded fundamentalists. The conservative orthodox members are unable to worship under the authority of a priest who will support the ECUSA establishment.

I went to the parish for one last service yesterday. I was amazed at the state of the congregation. September and October are usually peak seasons for attendance. Many newcomers to the area shop for churches and the pews normal assembly would be about 100+ adults at our 10:30 service in this season. At the sermon there were only 60 adults in the pews plus 15 choir members and five serving on the alter. Of those in the congregation I personnally know of seven who have announced their decision to leave, including the senior warden.

Let us cease worhiping at the idol of our church structures. I care not for the political issues that the ECUSA has mired itself in. The Anglican tradition is, to many members of this list, just as much an idol as my congregation was to me.

What has happened is that God is separating the Goats from the Sheep. We must rejoice in the victory of the Lord and weep no more. What God will make of this change will be a good thing!

Praise the Lord!

(Thank you, Kendall Harmon, for distributing this article.)

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