Wednesday, February 24, 2010

As Homosexualists Enter, the Sacred Leave Episcopal Church

While liberal leaders of the Episcopal Church USA decide how to usher in their new revelation (of sexual deviance), Christians, and their donations, exit the denomination -- often successfully taking church property with them.

-- From "Va. Episcopalians backpedal on gay unions" by Julia Duin, Washington Times 2/22/10

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has backed away from recognizing same-sex unions, instead voting over the weekend to form a panel of laity and clergy that will set standards for church-sanctioned blessings of such unions should they be approved by the entire 2-million-member Episcopal Church.

About 346 delegates to the diocese's annual council meeting at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria narrowly voted — by a show of hands — to form the panel, which will also include lawyers who specialize in church law.

The Virginia vote was in response to last summer's decision by the Episcopal General Convention, meeting in Anaheim, Calif., to pass resolution C056, which empowered the denomination to begin "collecting and developing theological resources and liturgies" for same-sex blessings. The denomination is expected to endorse some kind of rite at its 2012 meeting in Indianapolis.

Sixteen Episcopal dioceses — including four since last summer — already allow same-sex blessings.

Diocesan officials also addressed a $4 million line of credit — of which $3.5 million has been spent to date — that it has taken out to fund a three-year lawsuit against 11 conservative churches that left the diocese in 2006 and early 2007. When market conditions approve, the diocese will sell parcels of unconsecrated land to help pay the $3.5 million.

The diocese seeks to win back millions of dollars of property taken by the departing churches, which left over liberal trends in the denomination. After the conservatives won the lawsuit at trial, the diocese appealed. The case will go before the Virginia Supreme Court this year.

The departure of the conservatives, which reduced the diocese's membership by about 10,000, was referred to several times Saturday as causing much "pain" to the remaining Episcopalians. However, a last-minute amendment to form a "reconciliation task force" between Episcopalians and former Episcopalians failed for lack of time to consider it adequately.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Declining membership hurts Episcopal churches in Northern California" by Jennifer Garza, Sacramento Bee 2/22/10

Faced with declining membership and less money to pay salaries and maintain aging buildings, [Bishop Barry Beisner, leading the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California] is calling on staff and laity to come up with new ways of keeping their church doors open.

The bishop said he has no plans to close any of the 72 churches in the diocese. "But everything is on the table," he said.

Many congregations can no longer afford full-time clergy. Some are having trouble paying their bills. In a letter to clergy this month, a diocesan leader said changes must be made soon.

"There are those who feel we are on the brink of a crisis," said Canon Britt Olson in the Aurora Clergy E-News. "This is because this is a crisis – not only for the congregation, but for all churches in the diocese."

Like many mainline Protestant churches, attendance in the Episcopal church has fallen. In the United States, there are 2 million Episcopalians, 1 million fewer than in 1970, according to the Pew Research Center.

The average Sunday attendance throughout the Northern California Diocese, which stretches from Alturas to Galt, has dropped from 7,000 in 1998 to 5,782 in 2008, according to diocesan officials.

Typically, Sunday attendance at churches in the diocese hovers around 100.

Beisner attributes this drop to many factors, including less denominational loyalty, less church attendance overall and the controversy surrounding the 2003 ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to serve as the Episcopal church's first openly gay bishop.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.