6 Churches Await Decision on Oversight; Gay Issues in the Episcopal Church Prompted Request; Denial Could Mean Appeal

Article excerpt


Uncertain but prayerful, six conservative Episcopal churches might learn as early as today if Bishop John Howard will grant their request for temporary oversight from another bishop.

Howard, bishop of the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida, can approve or reject the request. If the request is denied, churches will appeal to the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said the Rev. Jim McCaslin, rector at All Souls Church in Mandarin.

The North Florida congregations, plus an emerging group called the Jacksonville Anglican Fellowship, made the request for "alternative Episcopal oversight" in writing and in a meeting with Howard on June 16 in Jacksonville.

They are alarmed that their denomination, the Episcopal Church USA, appears to be moving toward approving same-sex unions and ordaining active homosexuals.

Their goal is to be aligned with a bishop who holds their orthodox views and who will guarantee not to reduce their status from parishes to missions.

The priests and their congregations asked that Howard respond within a month, but he later said he would make his decision by today.

A diocesan spokesman said Wednesday that Howard's decision could come today or early next week.

"It's hard waiting," McCaslin said. "There's just kind of a pall hanging over everything."

The churches that made the request are All Souls, the Church of the Redeemer, and Calvary Church, all in Jacksonville; Grace Church in Orange Park; St. Michael's in Gainesville; and Community of Life in Tallahassee.

What's harder still, McCaslin said, is wondering if Howard will take additional action against the churches, such as removing their priests and dissolving their lay leadership councils. …


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