Virginia Episcopal Bishop Ordained Avowed Lesbian at Former Orthodox Falls Church Parish
Truro ACNA priest Tory Baucam and TEC Bishop Johnson talk reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral
Baucam invited to Archbishop's Enthronement. ACNA Archbishop and Bishops not invited
By David W. Virtue
March 5, 2013
Virginia Episcopal Bishop Shannon Johnston ordained an avowed lesbian, Jo J. Belser, to the priesthood in the former parish of the Rev. John Yates - at the Falls Church, VA -- even as he talked up "reconciliation" with ACNA priest the Rev. Tory Baucam in front of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Coventry cathedral recently.
The ordination included a number of men and women one of which included Belser. Belser is the lesbian daughter of a fundamentalist preacher who lives in Alexandria, VA, She said that she joined the Episcopal Church because "it's the only one that lets gay people grow spiritually without requiring that they stop being gay."
Her ordination was the most in your face act committed by a bishop in a former evangelical TEC parish that once resounded weekly with evangelical praise and worship along with a deep commitment to preaching Christ and His gospel. Today only the chapel is open for business.
Yates was forced out of the $20 million parish that once seated 2500 evangelical Episcopalians over the direction the Episcopal Church was headed in ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians and blessing same sex unions.
Truro Church is located in the city of Fairfax, about 15 miles southwest of Washington and attracts 1,400 people on a typical Sunday, making it one of the 10 largest Episcopal congregations in the country. On matters of morality, it is among the staunchest. Its assets are valued at $10 million.
The deal is viewed by Archbishop Welby as a model of reconciliation. In a meeting of the two men at Coventry Cathedral, they told their story of "reconciliation" which was roundly praised by the new archbishop.
Baucom and Johnston both admitted that the consecration of V. Gene Robinson was a defining moment in the life of the Episcopal Church.
According to sources, Welby then invited Baucam to attend his upcoming Enthronement. Archbishop Duncan and his fellow bishops, as well as Bishop Martyn Minns and Bishop Julian Dobbs, have not been invited.
This has not gone down well with ACNA leaders who view their failure to get an invitation to the enthronement as a snub, especially as Welby is an evangelical with whom they fully identify theologically.
"It is ironic that Archbishop Welby had discussions with Johnston and Baucam when he should have been having discussions directly with Archbishop Robert Duncan," a source told VOL. The "reconciliation" talks have raised considerable angst in conversations across the ACNA, the source also told VOL.
If Welby is serious about reconciliation, why not put Archbishop Duncan and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori together in Coventry cathedral and see what they come up with.
Former Virginia Bishop Peter Lee adopted an explicit statement that "the normative context for sexual intimacy is lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage." However, Lee became one of 62 bishops who voted to confirm V. Gene Robinson, a homosexual living with his partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire.
Johnston has followed the liberal bell curve of the Episcopal Church in faith and morals, which makes what Baucam, an ACNA priest, has done, a smack in the face with his own bishops and archbishops.
The four top orthodox congregations in Northern Virginia with their combined 5,000 congregants are evangelical in outlook, stressing a personal relationship with Jesus. All four have declared themselves independent of The Episcopal Church.
The deal cut by Baucam is being viewed as a betrayal by his fellow ACNA priests and bishops. Baucam can expect a pastoral call from his bishop, but it is not known, at the time of this writing, what will come of that. There is a deep sense of betrayal, said the source.
A fish or cut bait moment might be at hand. The Law of Non-Contradiction cannot be lifted on the basis of a false reconciliation. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) came into existence precisely because of the heresies and apostasies of The Episcopal Church. The co-mingling of the two in Coventry Cathedral only blurs the very real differences and distinctions between TEC and the ACNA.
As blogger Don Warrington noted, "Seeking such accommodation defeats the reason for the ACNA and the Anglican revolt. What was the point of secession, of the cost of litigation and for most of the losers relocation, when you're just going to throw in the towel? And, to get back to the key issue, what's the purpose of a church whose beliefs are little different from the world around it?"
What is at stake here is not whether relationships can be made to work across a great divide or even if they are viable. What is at stake is truth itself; truth will not be compromised no matter how hard the new Archbishop of Canterbury tries.
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