Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why I left ECUSA, Part 1: A brief history

The first in a series outlining why my family and I believe it is time for us to leave the Episcopal Church

Part 1: My background in the Episcopal Church: A Hebrew of Hebrews (with all of the pride that St. Paul infers going along with that)

The information quoted below is from The Huguenot Church, organized as the French Protestant Church, Charleston, South Carolina, in their service bulletin for the Commemoration of the Three-hundredth Anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, April 21, 1985 (Huguenot Society President in 1985: Theodore Guérard, my father):

The H.M.S. Richmond

In 1679 René Petit, King’s Agent in Rouen and Jacob Guérard, a gentleman of Normandy, petitioned the Privy Council of England to transport foreign Protestant families to one of the English plantations, preferably Carolina, to establish there the manufacture of silk, oil, and wine.

This petition was referred to as the Carolina Proprietors and with their approval went next to the Lords of Trade, where, finally, probably due to Ashley Cooper’s membership on the Board, it was accepted by the King in council. The venture, therefore, received the personal approval of Charles II.

Accordingly, H.M.S. Richmond sailed from England December 19, 1679, bringing to Carolina the first contingent of the Petit-Guérard Colony and landing them at Oyster Point, Charles Town, in April of 1680.

Early records show that the following individuals and families were among the passengers on the H.M.S. Richmond.

Number of Famillies
. . . . . .
P. Guérard of Normandy with his Famillie

The French Huguenots, of course, soon became Anglicans.

I was
  • Born into the Mother Church, St. Philip’s Charleston

  • Received the sacrament of Holy Baptism “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

  • Confirmed by Bishop Gray Temple

  • Went on youth retreats at Camp St. Christopher

  • Had weekly EYC combined with St. Michael’s (where my mother’s family attends, and where my sister now goes, having married into a St. Michael’s family – ah, the rivalry!)

  • Had pre-marital counseling at The Falls Church (the only church in the D.C. area that the rector at St. Philip’s would accept as providing proper counseling – at the time I had no idea why he was so adamant about this)

  • Married (by the 1928 Prayer Book, of course) at St. Philip's (and finally lost the "Guérard" which no one outside of Charleston could ever pronounce or spell)
Father, uncle, cousins were senior wardens, vestry members, etc., etc.

Remember vaguely hearing discussions among the “grown-ups” about women’s ordination, but everyone seemed to agree that it was nothing to worry too much about in Charleston

Attended church intermittently in the D.C. area (yes, basically a C&E Christian, although I had discovered C.S. Lewis in 8th grade, so hope remained)

Moved to southern California, opened the phone book to find out where the Episcopal Church was in Carlsbad (because I figured that would be a good place to meet people), saw Holy Cross “a mission church” (what’s a mission church? I had no idea), saw St. Michael’s By-the-Sea (founded 1894) and thought, well, that sounds like the closest thing I’ll ever get to a Mother Church here.

We went to St. Michael's our first Sunday in California and continued for 14 years. God led us there, I am sure. And God softened my heart there as well to His Word.

It was my first Anglo-Catholic church, but still familiar since there was the Book of Common Prayer - even if we did have Communion every week and say the Nicene Creed (all 1979 prayer book innovations, in my opinion) and use incense, unlike growing up with Communion once a month and the Apostle’s Creed in the weekly Morning Prayer service (and no incense, please). Fr. Neal Moquin, the rector, is a graduate of Nashotah House and a Forward in Faith priest and the curate, Fr. Doran Stambaugh, also a Nashotah House graduate, was ordained by Bishop Keith Ackerman (Quincy).

My husband was received into the Episcopal Church by Bishop Gethin Hughes (now retired, San Diego) and our son was baptized at St. Michael’s. I have served on the Altar Guild and the Vestry, gone to the Mom's Group, the Women's Book Group, the Lenten series, been a delegate at two diocesan conventions, etc.

And I have felt the Holy Spirit there truly, in the people, in the place, and in my heart.

So, why leave and why now? Ah, that's Part 2.


Matthew said...

Thank you for posting your story. I very much look forward to finding out what has prompted your decision.

Judith L said...

My prayers, as always, are with you and yours, Anne.

young joe from old oc said...


We are very sad to see you go, but we look forward to hearing about where God will be taking you. I hope we can hear parts of the next chapter from you in person as well as on your excellent website.

Joe (and Laurie)

Anonymous said...


I too am looking forward to part II, in particular what the final straw was, and where you are going. At least where you are, I think there are viable continuing Anglican options.

Our family has recently made the decision to leave - in fact I have left already. I've taken a route probably few other ex-Episcopalians will follow: Eastern Orthodoxy (Greek).

Hoping you find a faithful new place to worship soon.

- Steve

Anne Coletta said...

Steve -

That's interesting - I know of two families from our ECUSA church that made the decision to move to the Greek Orthodox church. I also know someone who, years ago, saw the writing on the wall in ECUSA and went to the Greek Orthodox church while his family stayed in ECUSA - so know you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,

Interesting. I've met one person at the local GOC parish who spent her childhood in ECUSA (or whatever it was called in the 50s) because there was no Orthodox parish nearby. Apparently, once upon a time, the GOC permitted this as a pastoral response for those living in very remote areas. And Anglican converts were discouraged. Not any more.

There are (imo) a couple of high bars to the entry. One is the language and the unfamiliarity of the liturgy, the music, and the church calender. Where I go, the services are about 50-50 Greek/English, but only the liturgical part is predominantly Greek: the Gospel lessons, the Creed, and the Lords prayer are bilingual, and the sermon is always in English. The usual liturgy (St John Chrysostom) is in the pews and in both languages; after a while, the Greek part isn't too hard to read, and the number of liturgical/ecclesiastical words with Greek roots (not to mention philosophical and scientific terms) makes it a bit easier to follow along.

The bigger issue is accepting the Orthodox churches claims about herself. Here, I found reading Kallistos (Timothy) Ware, an ex-Anglican, very helpful. This probably is a show stopper for many looking for a refuge from the TEC, though. Despite that, I have heard that there has been a small boomlet of converts to Orthodoxy from ECUSA, mostly going to the OCA and the Antiochian churches, where the services are in English and in the case of the Antiochian church there is a western rite.

- Steve

Craig said...

Blessings, Anne.

By the way, I was confirmed in the famously high-church Diocese of Fond du Lac in the mid-1950s, and I can assure you that Holy Communion every week and the Nicene Creed were very much a part of my 1928 (i.e. real) BCP upbringing.

Joshua said...

where did you find the information on the HMS Richmond. My family came on that ship and I can find the ships logs but not more much than that.

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