May 17, 2004
Conservatives in the New Hampshire diocese led by the Episcopal Church USA's first openly homosexual bishop have left to form a breakaway parish.
About 40 parishioners of the new Anglican Church of the Resurrection are using facilities of the Durham Evangelical Church. New Hampshire Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson, who has lived with his homosexual partner for years, was elected last year, but his consecration has led to a rift in the Episcopal Church USA and worldwide Anglicanism.
Richard Ellwood, a spokesman for the Church of the Resurrection, says for many lifelong Episcopalians the Robinson controversy was "the straw that broke their religious back."
"We migrated together, in many cases not knowing one another, with the same feeling that God was calling us to establish an alternative parish that would hold scripture as dear as God holds it -- and not water it down, like has happened so continually not only in the Episcopal Church but in some many other denominations," Ellwood says.
As Ellwood puts it, the new church is essentially "inventing the wheel." He says the congregation now faces the obstacles that come with being the first newly-created parish to have episcopal oversight from an alternate national organization.
"There's also within the country an obvious situation where the national Episcopal Church and most of its respective bishops are exerting an enormous amount of pressure on existing bishops and priests, as well as us lay people, to conform to the leftward-moving scriptural misinterpretation."
The new parish does not consider itself part of the New Hampshire diocese. It has joined the national Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. According to Ellwood, some members are driving as far as two-and-a-half hours each way to attend the new church on the state's south coast.
Episcopal Church USA (http://www.episcopalchurch.org)
Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (http://www.anglicancommunionnetwork.org)
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