In my December 25 post, “Christianity versus Practicing Homosexuality,” I made reference to what has happened the last few years in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with regard to practicing homosexuality. I wrote in that article:
The list of churches and denominations which have taken an “affirming” stance with regard to practicing homosexuality is not one that commands a great deal of confidence. The great majority of such churches and denominations have previously departed from one or more tenets of the Christian faith. And many of the denominations which have affirmed same-sex relationships have also, and rightly so, lost significant numbers of their dioceses, churches, and members in the process. Perhaps the most egregious example is the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA), led by the, at least nearly, heretical bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori (as well as her predecessor, Frank Griswold). The blessing of same-sex marriages, and the ordination of openly practicing homosexual priests and bishops has caused many dioceses and churches to leave the ECUSA and align themselves instead with other Anglican bodies, such as the Southern Cone, or Anglican bodies in Africa (Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan). And Bishop Schori, who has not been willing to defend and guard the faith of the church, has, nevertheless, been more than willing to aggressively and litigiously defend the right of the ECUSA to retain the properties and holdings of the churches who have seceded.
It was just a couple of days after that post that I became aware of the struggles of one particular congregation, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. The Rector of that church (actually, now the former Rector), Rev. Dr. Henry Jansma (PhD, Durham University), was a classmate of mine back in the 1980s when we both attended Westminster Theological Seminary. Over the past several months, Henry and the congregation have been in conflict with the diocese in which they are located over the issue of same-sex marriage. For simply inquiring about the possibility of realigning themselves with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA, specifically under the Province of Nigeria’s mission), the Bishop of the diocese came down with a fairly heavy hand. Henry, the entire vestry of the church (vestry would be comparable to a board of elders or ministry council), and their families left and decided to start a church plant under the oversight of CANA. I asked, and Henry has given me permission to refer you to his blog where, in a seven-part series, he provides his perspectives and reflection on this conflict. The reflections are very thoughtful and poignant, and also go into the hermeneutical nature of the conflict. The seven-part series is entitled, “Hello, I Must Be Going,” and may be found here. Be sure to read them in order; so you’ll need to scroll down a bit to get to the first article in the series. While you’re at the website, you might want to look at some of his other articles as well. Henry and the congregation would also appreciate your prayers as they are preparing for the official launch of their new church plant, All Souls Anglican Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 16. The new church’s website may be accessed here. Blessings on your new endeavor, Henry, and on the faithful members of your congregation.
January 11, 2014