"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Are More Big Parishes Pulling Out of the National Episcopal Church?

A few days ago we saw what may be the largest parish in the Episcopal Church, Christ Church, Plano, Texas, announce its intention to leave the national denomination. Today The Washington Times reported that two more "Mega" parishes (by Episcopal standards) in Virginia have done the same. Truro and the Falls Church, however apparently have not made such a decision yet.

But the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, was just elected a bishop by the Anglican province of Nigeria to oversee the Nigerian Convocation in the United States. The new Nigerian missionary effort is being coordinated with the Anglican Communion Network, so they are not to be in competition.

Rev. Minns, in his announcement of his new position with the Nigerian church, had this to say about The Washington Times story saying that his parish was pulling out of ECUSA: "By the way, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. Thursday’s headline in The Washington Times was terribly wrong. The Truro congregation has not gone through its discernment process and so no decision has been made about our future plans. We are struggling to find a way to remain faithful Anglicans during these turbulent times in the Episcopal Church."

The Falls Church also says The Washington Times has jumped the gun. On their web site they say today:
"The Washington Times has reported that our church has informed our Bishop that we are leaving the Diocese of Virginia and leaving the Episcopal Church. This certainly is not true and misrepresents where we are as a congregation. It is true that we think an extended period of study, prayer, and deliberation about how we are to respond to the serious rift in our denomination is wise and we are hoping to engage in such a time this fall."

UPDATE: Bishop Lee of Virginia is not pleased. In a statement published on the diocesan web site he says of the Rev. Martyn Minns election as a bishop of the Nigerian chruch:
The election of the Rev. Martyn Minns as a Bishop of the Church of Nigeria with oversight of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an affront to the traditional, orthodox understanding of Anglican Provincial Autonomy. Archbishop Akinola acknowledges as much in his letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. How that situation resolves itself remains to be seen. However, the request by Archbishop Akinola that Martyn be allowed to continue as rector of an Episcopal congregation while also serving as a Nigerian Bishop seems to me, at this point, to be impossible. I raised this issue with Martyn when he and I spoke yesterday.


Anonymous Ron Turner said...

Randall, recheck this. According to the latest I've seen, both rectors of these VA parishes are denying that they are leaving the diocese.

10:55 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks, Ron. I will look into it. The Washington Times does occassionally get a bit ahead of the curve.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Derek the Ænglican said...

Here's how I read it: Both churches saying that they will be taking a forty day period of fasting, prayer, and reflection to arrive at a decision and that it will end in the mid to late fall. Does anyone genuinely wonder what these two congregations will do? No, it's not correct to say that they're leaving--yet. I read this as a) signalling to the congregants not to be to haste and jump ship--and b) providing a good reason for waiting until the autumn when the global response (and potentially even new ecclesial structures) will be far more clear then the muddle of news-flashes we're currently wading through.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Derek the Ænglican said...

p.s. Plano could pull out because they know what their bishop will do. These two are a more difficult and therefore interesting case because they know what their bishop *won't* do...

9:17 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

I'm pretty sure you are right, Derek. These two parishes are waiting until the Global South meeting in Sept makes it clear what kind of overseas support the Network will have before they act. Things will begin to happen rapidly around the beginning of Autumn, I suspect. The handwriting is on the wall. Its only a matter of time before the lawsuits start flying.

While in Fort Worth there is a pretty clear desire for an "amicable divorce," the comments by Jan Nunly yesterday make it fairly clear that 815 and the bishops who support it (like Viginia) are going to undertake a "scortched earth" strategy of litigating the Network into submission/abandoning their property. A very sad business.

10:47 AM  

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