The consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson isn't just creating controversy. It's also creating new ministries.
In recent months, groups of orthodox Episcopalians in Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, and Washington state have left the 2.3-million-member mainline denomination. At least a dozen orthodox Anglican congregations have formed in the wake of the Robinson controversy.
The churches remain tied to the larger Anglican communion in some tentative form. The Georgia churches are aligned with the Anglican diocese of Bolivia.
In Versailles, Kentucky, St. John's Episcopal Church split after the diocese's pro-Robinson bishop refused to allow the congregation to hire David Brannen, a Robinson opponent.
Rather than fighting in court, the old board members started a new congregation—St. Andrew's Anglican Church, under the authority of the Province of Uganda. That meant abandoning 157 years of accumulated possessions—pews, prayer books, bank accounts, and buildings—worth $1.9 million.
"We didn't bring anything from the church. Not even the nametags," said Tom Thornbury, one of the board members who switched to St. Andrew's.
The first service, held in a home, drew 130 people. Within one month, the crowd had swelled to more than 200. The church moved its services to a community center.
St. Andrew's supporters have pledged $250,000 to the new church and hired Brannen as rector. Weekly Bible studies have started. A choir has formed, rehearsing each week in space donated by a sympathetic Baptist church. They have a newsletter and website. The first potluck was in March.
While St. Andrew's is growing, St. John's is working to regain its footing. On a recent Sunday, pews in the historic building were nearly empty. ...1
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