Episcopal Church Sees First Defection; Others Expected to Follow All Saints' after a Week of Parish Voting

Article excerpt

Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

All Saints' Episcopal Church in Dale City, whose members voted 402-6 on Sunday to leave the Episcopal Church, has become the first Northern Virginia church to flee the denomination out of several expected defections.

The 500-member church was one of nine churches to vote last weekend whether to leave the Episcopal Church over disagreements on biblical authority and the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual.

All Saints' vote ratified an agreement its leaders had struck last month with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to cede their property to the diocese, then rent it back for five years until the church completes a new 800-seat sanctuary near Potomac Mills Shopping Center in Prince William County.

"We are heartened by the congregation's vote to move forward with our mission to be a church overflowing with God's love and healing power," said the Rev. John Guernsey, rector of All Saints'. "We are grateful to the diocese that we were able to reach an amicable settlement and we pray that this may be a model for others in the [Episcopal] Church."

Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee released a statement yesterday mourning the loss of All Saints'.

"As the first of several churches to vote, I am disappointed with the result at All Saints' and I sincerely hope that the result in the other congregations will be different," he said.

The remaining eight churches are

keeping their polls open throughout the week and will announce their voting results Sunday.

At Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, a sign proclaiming "God's Church, Our Future, Your Vote" was posted by the front door on Sunday.

At the Falls Church Episcopal in Falls Church, parishioners gathered in a sun-filled downstairs reception area to cast their ballots into yellow boxes covered with daisy patterns.

Roped-off aisles led into the voting area, which resembled a precinct polling spot with election volunteers seated at multiple desks. …