First, the New York Times published this news article on Christmas Day (in the paper edition it was a front-page story): At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian by Lydia Polgreen and Laurie Goodstein. Lydia Polgreen reported from Abuja, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.
It includes some interesting quotes from Archbishop Drexel Gomez:
…He [Akinola] has been chastised more recently for creating a missionary branch of the Nigerian church in the United States, called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, despite Anglican rules and traditions prohibiting bishops from taking control of churches or priests not in their territory.
“There are primates who are very, very concerned about it,” said Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the primate of the West Indies, because “it introduces more fragmentation.”
Other conservative American churches that have split from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Communion, have aligned themselves with other archbishops, in Rwanda, Uganda and several provinces in Latin America — often because they already had ties to these provinces through mission work.
Archbishop Gomez said he understood Archbishop Akinola’s actions because the American conservatives felt an urgent need to leave the Episcopal Church and were unwilling to wait for a new covenant being written for the Anglican Communion. The new covenant is a lengthy and uncertain process led by Archbishop Gomez that some conservatives hope will eventually end the impasse over homosexuality…
Second, there is an interesting article analysing the history of the Virginia congregations known as The Falls Church and Truro Church by Dr Joan R Gundersen: How “Historic” Are Truro Church and The Falls Church?
In the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about the two “historic” churches in Virginia whose congregations are among those that have recently decided to withdraw from The Episcopal Church. Both Truro Church and The Falls Church have been characterized as being older than The Episcopal Church. The Falls Church web site suggests that George Washington was once a vestry member of the church. The history on the Truro web site makes the same claim for Truro Church. Somehow, these historical assertions are supposed to make us feel that the decision to leave The Episcopal Church is especially poignant and important.
Let me be clear: I believe that any decision to leave The Episcopal Church, by an individual or a group, is a sad occasion. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation being distributed concerning the actual history of these parishes, however. Neither is the direct descendant of a colonial parish. Neither can claim George Washington as a past member of its vestry or its congregation. Both are “new” church plants from the 1830s and 1840s. In most places in the United States, founding dates in the antebellum period would be quite old enough to justify a claim of being “historic,” but these two parishes have sought the additional aura associated with George Washington and our colonial past. How “historic” are they?