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August 16, 2005

Episcopal congregation asks for the return of their church

From Agape Press..

A spokesman for an Episcopal church in Connecticut that was forcibly seized by its liberal bishop because of its opposition to homosexuality says members of the congregation want their building and property back.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith recently made an unannounced visit to St. John's Episcopal Church in Bristol and suspended its orthodox priest, replacing him with a pro-homosexuality female priest. With the help of 12 assistants, Bishop Smith dismantled the church's website, hacked into its computers, and gained access to financial records.

Dr. William Witt, a spokesman for the vestry, says members of St. John's are doing the best they can to stick together as a parish.

"The vestry and the parishioners have basically been locked out of the building [and] our bank account has been frozen -- so that makes it a little bit difficult," Witt explains. "But ... we have been worshipping with another Episcopal church on Sunday mornings -- Trinity Episcopal Church, also in Bristow, another one of the 'Connecticut Six' parishes."

A group of orthodox Episcopal bishops has threatened to take Smith to ecclesiastical court over his conduct towards St. John's and five other dissenting Anglican parishes in Connecticut. But Witt says members of St. John's simply want Smith to let them run the affairs of their parish as they have always done.

This is another argument for the Congregation form of denomination organization (for a better explanation of the difference between the Presbyterian and the Congregationalist structure read my post from June, Why Have Denomination?). Hopefully the orthodox Bishops can interceded and correct the abuse of power perpetrated by the liberal Bishop.

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 16, 2005 09:38 AM

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Just to clarify, Anglican/Episcopal churches use the Episcopalian form of church government, the Presbyterian form is a little different. The Episcopalian form is the one that starts with smaller regions and spreads out to larger regions, Presbyterian basically has the local church then the larger body, which is often called the general assembly. As far as I know, Presbyterian denominations tend to be the only ones using the Presbyterian form of church government, while the Episcopalian form is also used by Methodists, and is essentially identical to the form of government among Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Posted by: Chris Roberts at August 16, 2005 06:42 PM

Presbyter is the word for elder or bishop. As applied to denominational structure, the word Presbyterian (at least as I understand and use it) means that the local church is under the authority of a regional bishop/elder, who, with other bishops/elders are under the authority of a national leadership, which is in turn under the authority of a world-wide leadership (of that denomination). Essentially a top down structure v. a bottom up structure.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at August 17, 2005 04:10 AM

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