CENTRAL FLORIDA: Brevard County parish that left Episcopal diocese buys church land
Diocese of Central Florida no longer interested in leasing
By Scott Gunnerson
May 24, 2012
A church congregation north of Cocoa completed its split with an Episcopal diocese in 2007 following a national feud in the Episcopal church over the Bible and sexuality.
The Glory of God Anglican Church bought the property the congregation has worshiped at since the 1960s from the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida for $875,000, according Beatrice Sorensen, church administrator.
The diocese had informed the church it was no longer interested in leasing the property at 3735 Indian River Drive, which was the site of Gloria Dei Episcopal Church before the amicable split.
In 2003, the Episcopal Church, a U.S. wing of the Anglican faith, became divided when the first openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, was consecrated.
Individual parishes left The Episcopal Church, and 115,000 people left the denomination between 2003 and 2005, at least one-third was attributed to parish conflicts over the consecration. Traditionalists said they believed gay partnerships violate Scripture.
The gay bishop issue was a symptom of a larger problem for the congregation of the former Gloria Dei Episcopal Church, but they wanted to remain Anglican because of their love of Scripture and desire to stay historical to the faith.
"We wanted to remain faithful Anglicans as we saw it," said the Rev. Paul Young, a Convocation of Anglicans in North America priest. "We want to remain faithful to the Christian historical roots, and really that is anchored in Scripture for us."
Glory of God wants to be relevant to today's culture and stand on timeless, mainstream Christian faith, according to its website.
"The reason most of the parishes that did leave and remained Anglican under different branches would be the love of Scripture and staying historical to the faith," said Young, who has led the congregation since 2005.
Jeff Marshall, who is an elder at Glory of God, was dismayed at how the denomination changed from what he was taught when he joined the Episcopal church.
"When I was received into the church, I didn't realize the church was turning its back on the things it had been teaching for a really long time," said Marshall, who was raised in a Southern Baptist church.
Glory of God's average Sunday attendance has dropped to 80 people, compared with 130 before the split five years ago, but the congregation remains active.
"Our core membership is highly involved in the church," said Sorensen, who joined the church with her family as a teenager in 1992. "The people that are here now really want to be here and are involved and participating."
Marshall credits the enthusiasm to a rekindled missionary tradition in the congregation of Anglicans.
"It has caused us to recapture the missionary spirit that took Anglicanism all around the world initially," Marshall said. "We in North America have somehow lost that missionary spirit."
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