Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Conservative group leaves Episcopalian parish in Paradise Valley, AZ

From The Arizona Republic:

About 15 percent of the members are splitting from a prominent Valley Episcopalian parish and affiliating with an African church because they say the conservative congregation here is not conservative enough for them.

The departure is one of many across the United States by former Episcopalians who believe the church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has turned its back on its own traditions and become too liberal.

A leader of the group that left Christ Church of the Ascension at the end of August says the decision had nothing to do with a statement issued Tuesday by American bishops attempting to appease fellow church leaders on the gay issue.

Christ Church of the Ascension, at 4015 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, is one of the largest and most prosperous Episcopalian parishes in Arizona. The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, who donated some of its land, worshiped there, and his ashes are interred there.

The church has approximately 1,000 members. Christ Church Anglican, the breakaway group, has about 150 members who will worship at a church at 20th Street and Bethany Home Road. The first service will be at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 7. The gay issue was "inconsequential" in the breakaway group's decision, said Jane Allred, a leader of the new church. Instead, she said, the motivation was respect for traditional Anglican values.

"We are leaving to follow Christ's call as we understand it," Allred said. "We want to be part of a Scriptural church that is biblically orthodox, and the Episcopal Church is no longer teaching the basic and ancient truths."

The rector of Christ Church of the Ascension, who also is leaving the parish, agreed that the gay issue is just a part of a bigger issue that could divide the Anglican Communion from the Episcopal Church.

"The gay stuff is minor," said the Rev. Ken Semon, who declined to lead the breakaway group. "It's about the Episcopal Church failing to acknowledge the authority of Scripture."

Semon said he will move to Santa Fe to lead a conservative parish that remains affiliated with the Episcopal Church. "Since I have friends on both sides of the divide," Semon said Tuesday, "I decided that this would not betray anyone or hurt anyone any more than they already have been hurt."

Read it all.
H/t to Anglicans United.

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