- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2001

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. Four newly consecrated Anglican bishops yesterday defended their decision to bolt the Episcopal Church, saying its liberal leadership has strayed too far from the teachings of the Bible.
"A church divided over the essentials of a faith cannot stand," said Bishop T.J. Johnston of Little Rock, Ark., at a press conference here. "What the Anglican Mission has done is given us covering to step out from under a faith that was deeply divided on the essentials of faith."
Bishop Johnston was one of four former Episcopalian clergy consecrated Sunday as bishops in the 20-month-old Anglican Mission of America, a conservative offshoot of the Episcopalian Church.
In a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 cheering well-wishers at the nondenominational Colorado Community Church, red-and-white robed archbishops from Africa and Malaysia presided over the historic ceremony.
The Anglican bishops said yesterday they had no intent of forming a new church, only to create the kind of "overlapping jurisdictions" that the Episcopalian Church has tolerated in the past. Even so, the rise of a traditional conservative alternative to the liberal Episcopal Church U.S.A. has already raised the specter of a formal schism.
Last week, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, leader of the Worldwide Anglican Movement, urged the archbishops to reconsider, calling the consecration of two Americans last year in Singapore "highly irregular and at worst simply schismatic."
"You are becoming perilously close to creating a new group of churches," said the archbishop.
But the breakaway Anglican bishops said they could no longer countenance the Episcopal Church's liberal interpretations of Scripture, most recently its pledge last summer to provide "support, encouragement and pastoral care" to homosexual relationships.
While the church's liberal stance on homosexuality has received the most attention, Anglican bishops said yesterday they were more concerned about the Episcopalian Church's willingness to entertain wide-ranging viewpoints on the truth of the Gospels and Jesus Christ. They pointed to statements made by the Most Rev. Richard Holloway, former leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church, who said in April that Jesus was an "extraordinary man" but not the son of God.
"And he has not been rebuked; he has not been challenged," said Bishop Thaddeus Barnum of Pawleys Island, S.C., one of the four newly consecrated Anglican bishops.
Still, the Anglicans were careful to avoid antagonizing the Episcopal Church. Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung of Malaysia, who gave the sermon at Sunday's consecration, said yesterday that he prayed daily that the archbishop of Canterbury would "unite us."
"But unity must be in the truth of the Gospel and without compromising," said Archbishop Chung.
He added that he was not angry at the attacks because "when we do things according to God's will, there will always be people who do not agree and we respect them."
Founded in August 2000, the Anglican Mission in America has already made sizeable inroads among disaffected Episcopalians. The mission now counts about 8,000 and 75 clergy among its 37 congregations. For some reason, Colorado has seen the most defections, with six congregations leaving the Episcopalian fold.
The Episcopal Church U.S.A., on the other hand, has lost 1 million members in the past 30 years and now counts 3.2 million among its membership.
The most prominent defector so far is the Rev. Alexander "Sandy" Greene, former pastor of the Christ Episcopal Church in Denver. He estimates that about 150 of his former church's 800 members would follow him to his new church, the Anglican Church of the Covenant.
His new church lacks the lavish and historical surroundings of his old one, to put it mildly. "We're meeting in this hotel," he said, referring to the Hilton Hotel here. "Our room looks like it used to be a disco."
But he's fine with that. "We decided the message was the gospel and not the property," said Mr. Greene. "And to allow ourselves to become attached to the property would be to turn our back on the Gospel."

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