Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande: Congregation announces separation from The Episcopal Church

BB NOTE: With a membership of 3.5 million members in 1965 now down to perhaps 750,000 actually in church on Sundays, The Episcopal Church continues to bleed its members even as it marches triumphantly into it’s New Thing, confident that it’s going to do to the rest of the Anglican Communion what it’s all ready done to its own. Now a congregation the Diocese of Rio Grande adds to the list of laity and clergy who have had enough and are marching out. Last year the Diocese of Rio Grande saw it’s own bishop march out of the Episcopal Church and straight to Rome.

StandFirm has the press release from St. Francis on the Hill. Here’s an excerpt:

“Unfortunately, today in our Church,” said Munden, “many Episcopalians believe that the Church’s leadership has wavered from the core values of Christ’s teachings, creating confusion and division among parishes, dioceses, and the Church hierarchy itself.” Munden added, “Many of the churches within the TEC hung on throughout 2008, thinking that the Church would change, or at least allow them to practice their faith in the traditional Anglican manner, which we believe is founded on scripture. It is apparent that is not going to happen, and The Episcopal Church in the USA has firmly stated they are doing what they think is right — they are not changing. As a result, some churches and even whole dioceses are leaving. For us at St. Francis, we feel we cannot worship and pray in an environment that deviates from traditional church teachings, so we have broken away.”

The Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, Rector of St. Francis on the Hill, explained that his church has been concerned for some time that the Episcopal Church has strayed from such core doctrines as, “The uniqueness of Christ as God and the only Savior of the World, the authority and primacy of Scripture, and the death of Jesus Christ as the only path to salvation.” Fr, Orji also said, “What we have seen over the past three years is a concerted, planned effort by the TEC to ‘go someplace’ that is not in line with our thinking here. The Episcopal Church is in serious transition, and frankly, we believe that no matter how the TEC tries to explain it away, their beliefs today are vastly opposed to long-accepted teachings of the Bible.” Father Orji noted that the controversies surrounding the changes taking place in The Episcopal Church have caused a major decline in church membership. In 1965, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. had 3.5 million members. Today, that’s down to 2.4 million. “We even know of a number of dioceses that are leaving the TEC. What I have feared for some time is becoming a reality,” Fr. Orji said. “The Episcopal Church as we once knew it has changed so drastically to appeal to modern social and cultural trends that it is now unacceptable to many of its core membership.” He added, “If they are striving to become a popular church for today’s trends and culture, they may very well achieve that. But it will be a much smaller church. The Episcopal Church of the USA today has little resemblance remaining to the foundations of the original Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion.”

St. Francis on the Hill church leaders say The Episcopal Church of the USA and the Rio Grande Diocese may try to claim a right on the St. Francis church and property. “We have the title and deed to our property,” said Munden. Since the Episcopal Church passed a Canon, or church law, in the 1970’s that said all Episcopal churches’ properties were to be held in trust by the Diocese for the U.S. Episcopal Church, St. Francis on the Hill has denied this claim in official notices to the TEC. “As early as 2004, we let it be known that our by-laws clearly outlined how and why we owned our own property,” said Munden. “We built this church with money from our parishioners – not one dime came from the Episcopal Church or from the Diocese. This church and grounds belong to St. Francis on the Hill, and The Episcopal Church clearly knows of our unique situation here and our position on this matter.”

BB NOTE: Read the whole thing here and here.

Meanwhile, up at St. Luke’s Akron, 47 people from one parish will be confirmed at a parish of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). CANA Suffragan Bishop Roger Ames, Rector of St. Luke’s, will officiate at the service.

“This confirmation service is more evidence of the spiritual growth that is occurring within CANA churches,” The Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Bishop of CANA and member of the Common Cause leadership team. “There is no question that the orthodox Anglican movement is inspiring believers all over the country.”

Today there is a major ordination service at Truro in Fairfax who will be ordained by Bishop Martyn Minns. Here is a list of the ordinands:

The three ordinands for the vocational diaconate are:
David Freeland Case, Truro Church, Fairfax VA
Julie Esther Cate Kelly, The Falls Church, Falls Church VA
George Conway Eddins II, The Falls Church, Falls Church VA

The four ordinands for the transitional diaconate are:
Gerald Keith Almond, South Riding Church, South Riding VA
Wayne J. Buchanan, Tremont Church, Tremont ME
James Agnew Swynford, The Falls Church, Falls Church VA
Wright Northrop Wall, The Falls Church, Falls Church VA

The two candidates for the priesthood are:
The Rev’d Douglas K. Mussey, Good Shepherd Church, Harrisburg PA.
The Rev’d Harry K. Zeiders, Church of the Apostles, Fairfax VA.

Then coming up on Sunday, November 9 at The Falls Church, the Rt. Rev’d David Bena will ordain the Rev’d John Elgin Kurcina to the priesthood. Kurcina is completing his Ph.D. and serves as an associate at Christ the King in Alexandria VA.