A Big Win for the Episcopal Church . . .

by Michael Potemra

. . . but it comes at the cost of years of spiritually damaging ugliness. I just learned from a Facebook post by Weekly Standard literary editor Philip Terzian that a court has ruled that the Episcopal Church in Virginia must be allowed to keep some of its churches, in the face of challenges by breakaway sects that have joined a more conservative Anglican denomination, the Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA), led by a Nigerian bishop.

Terzian writes that he is “gratified by the decision of the Court”: “If people want to abandon the Episcopal Church, they are free to do so; but they cannot take historic Church property with them, or deprive Episcopalians of their parish homes.” I share his view 100 percent, but want to make clear that I harbor no ill will against the breakaway groups, even though I disagree with the opinions that made them leave. They believe the true church must not allow some of the opinions expressed in U.S. Episcopalianism, so conscience demands that they leave their father’s house; but I think I’m not alone in believing that these man-made divisions are evanescent, and that we will meet again.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Falls Church parishioner Robert Bork Jr., via Facebook, here is a press release from that church, responding to the court decision. The rector of the church, John Yates, is quoted in it as follows: “The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’” That is a level of commitment that our forebears would be proud of — and from which we all might learn.

UPDATE #2: Megan Franko, who works with the seven churches affected by the decision, e-mails to let me know that CANA stands for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America. CANA is sponsored by the Church of Nigeria and led by Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns. I am grateful for the correction!