It appears that the 400-member St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Denver is the first congregational casualty since the September vote of the triennial convention of the Episcopal Church to approve women’s ordination. St. Mary’s voted 197 to 79 last month to secede from the denomination. Declared rector James O. Mote who led the action: “I’m not leaving my church; it is leaving me.” Mote was suspended from his priestly functions by Bishop William Frey (who voted against women’s ordination at the convention), but the priest indicated earlier he no longer considers himself under Frey’s jurisdiction.

Frey, who was barred from the closed congregational meeting and had to listen to proceedings on a public-address system in the basement, said that St. Mary’s would continue as an Episcopal parish in his diocese. The Episcopal Church does not have congregational polity, he stated, so the status of a parish is not something only its members can decide.

A struggle was under way this month to settle the matter, but it appears to be headed for the courts.

More turmoil is ahead. Members of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, a coalition of sixteen conservative organizations and magazines in Canada and the United States, in a meeting last month in Nashville called for a congress to present “spiritual principles and ecclesial structure of the continuing Episcopal Church.” Set for St. Louis next September, it is for “all faithful Episcopalians” and members of other Anglican communions opposed to liberal trends who wish “to unite themselves with this continuing church.”

Presiding bishop John M. Allin, another opponent to women’s ordination, said he will urge dissidents not to attend the congress. The coming year “will be a distressing time,” ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.