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Monday, July 25, 2005

Episcopal Bishop Cans Conservative Priest

Some time ago, I wrote about a storm brewing among Connecticut Episcopalians. A handful of conservative-ish priests and their parishes objected to their bishop, Andrew Smith, participating in the consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003. They requested to be placed under the ecclesiastical supervision of a more conservative bishop, as an alternative to being under Smith's oversight, something that Episcopal polity allows. When Smith refused to allow that, six congregations began withholding their offerings to the national church.

Well, here is what happened next. I'm here summarizing an article in the latest WORLD magazine. In March, Bishop Smith suspended the six priests. But they rejected his discipline and continued to minister to their congregations. Further, they protested Bishop Smith's oversight by asserting that he would not be welcome to preach or administer the sacraments in their parishes.

Then at 9:30 a.m. on July 13, Bishop Smith and his stormtroopers raided St. John's Episcopal Church in Bristol, Conn., the church of Rev. Mark Hansen, one of the six dissenters. They pried open Father Hansen's office door, confiscated all church records, shut down the congregation's website redirecting traffic to the diocesan site. They changed the locks on all the doors and announced to the congregation that Hansen was no longer their pastor and a Susan McCone would now be in charge. To add insult to injury, Rev. Hansen is forbidden to set foot on the church property or even to communicate with any of the church members.

Bishop Smith claimed that the dissenting priests had "abandoned the communion" when they protested against his spiritual oversight of their parishes. Now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle every shade of black.

Every 10 years, the worldwide Anglican communion holds their Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops which governs the church. At the last Lambeth Conference, in 1998, the bishops voted overwhelmingly that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Scripture." Add to this the fact that the Anglican primates (chief bishops) met recently and scolded the Episcopal Church USA for consecrating an openly gay bishop and placed a suspension on the entire EC-USA. If the EC-USA does not repent of its action, it may very well be booted from the Anglican communion entirely.

So let me see if I have this straight. The primate bishops of world Anglicanism condemned the consecration in which Smith participated and which Hansen protests. And the most recent meeting of the highest governing council (Lambeth) in Anglicanism declared homosexual practice to be contrary to the Scripture. These are decisions that Rev. Mark Hansen and his congregation agree with. Yet, Bishop Smith says that Hansen is the one being divisive? Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.

This just goes to prove, that in liberal Christianity, everything is tolerated...except conservatives.

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The Cubicle Reverend said...

I do not consider myself a conservative (or a liberal for that matter), but I do find it interesting how the people who claim to be so open minded tend to be anything but.

4HisChurch said...

I think these priests are brave for standing up for what God teaches. I don't think we've heard the last of this issue with the Anglican church.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...


I agree with you. For reasons beyond comprehension, homosexuality is dominating the mainline protestant church scene. The Enemy is hard at work.

JBOC said...

Hello Pastor Stiegemeyer,
I no longer attend a LCMS church but one of the things I did admire about the system of church structure and polity in the LCMS was church ownership at the congregation level. In the Anglican Communion church ownership is in the hands of the Bishop. So sadly the Bishop was within his rights to toss out Father mark. Two fellows I know had similar adventures.

Polity is a small matter next to doctrinal authority. The Episcopalians hold that authority comes from the Church while the LCMS at least somewhat holds to the ideal of the Bible as source of authority.
Best wishes,
Barry O'Connell

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hello Barry,
Thanks for the clarification. I understand this difference in polity. And I wasn't disputing that the bishop had the authority under church polity to do what he did. He didn't do anything illegal. Doesn't mean he did the right thing.
Best wishes in return.

JBOC said...

Exactly! Without the solid rock of Law and Gospel our Episcopalian brothers are going over to the evil one. Bishop Bennison of NJ said recently, "We the Church wrote the Bible, we the Church may change the Bible".
Best wishes,
Barry O'Connell

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