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Grassroots petition seeks non-litigation solution to Episcopal Ch. crisis in SC

Grassroots petition seeks non-litigation solution to The Episcopal Church crisis in South Carolina
Far-flung support spans the globe, diocesan lines, and theological persuasions

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
January 12, 2013

A grassroots petition calling for a legal cease-fire between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church sprang up on the Internet Jan. 3. Bearing with One Another in Love: Toward Reconciliation in South Carolina is an appeal by a group calling itself "Concerned Episcopalians." The first signer, from Missouri, is the Rev. Jordan Hylden, a newly ordained transitional deacon who lists North Dakota as his native diocese. He is a 2010 graduate from Duke Divinity School and a published magazine writer who has written for The Living Church, First Things, Ichthus, Christianity Today, and the Christian Century.

The new petition draws together a mix of "...seminarians, clergy and lay members of The Episcopal Church, [we] hold a variety of views which are often in direct conflict with each other concerning the theological issues confronting The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion."

Bearing with One Another in Love goes on to quote the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the Bible in making its case to the Episcopal House of Bishops imploring the Episcopal bishops to "'be patient, bearing with one another in love'; and finally, to 'make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace' (Eph. 4:2-3)."

The petition reminds the wider church that "...we have been joined together through baptism into "God's family the Church" as "Christ's body" (BCP, 858), and we lament the sad divisions that have arisen among us."

The measured argument continues: "As such, in light of the recent escalation of litigious dispute between factions within our Church, we stand united in our plea that the case involving the withdrawal of the Diocese of South Carolina be settled without recourse to civil litigation (1 Cor. 6:1-11), lest our rivalries become a stumbling block and impede the ministry of reconciliation that our Lord has given to us (2 Cor. 5:17-20)."

Signers of the petition further pledge to "commit ourselves to prayer for the unity of the Church" and it closes with the Prayer For the Unity of the Church: "Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit ..." (BCP 818)

Authors of the petition hope for the signing of at least 1,000 names. As of Saturday afternoon fewer than 200 had signed although there are some interesting notable clerics woven through the signatures including: the Rev. Tony Clavier, vicar at St. Bartholomew's, Granite City, and St. Thomas's, Glen Carbon, Illinois; the Rev. Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG, rector, St. James Church Fordham, Bronx, New York; the Rev. Robert Hendrickson, curate, Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut, and director of St. Hilda's House; the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri; the Rev. Jonathan A. Mitchican, rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania; and the Rev. Yejide Peters, rector, All Saints' Church, Briarcliff Manor, New York.

So far, signers have come from many US states including: Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana, South Carolina, New York, Ohio, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Wyoming, Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Maine, Mississippi, Georgia, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, and points in between.

In addition, several signatories come from foreign soil including: The Rev. Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe Hall, Toronto, Canada; The Rev. Jesse Zink, United Kingdom; Tolga Suslu, Turkey; Mrs. Ela Gotkowska, Poland; Ms. Aliyah Khan, Trinidad & Tobago; and Bernard Ntahoturi, Burundi; Richard Kew, EnglandNigeria; and one unnamed signer from Taiwan.

The petition also encourages its signers to list their colleges or seminaries. A sampling includes: Regent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada; Union Theological Seminary, Manhattan, NY; Nashotah House, Wisconsin; Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC; General Theological Seminary, Manhattan, NY; Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA; Perkins School of Theology, Dallas, TX; Wycliffe College, Toronto, ON, Canada; Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL; Berkeley Divinity School, New Haven, CT; Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England; The University of the South, Sewanee, TN; the University of Alabama; the University of Connecticut; and the University of Kansas.

Several petition supporters also included remarks, sentiments and comments some of which state: "Embrace all our Christian brothers and welcome our differences" ... "Katallagete - be reconciled." ... "-our individual differences in what we believe should not divide us spiritually" ... "-we work together as brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of our disagreements" ... "Choose the posture of Abraham who let Lot choose his possession and depart in peace without judgment or rancor" ... "We may all have different views on certain theological issues, but we should work together as ONE Episcopal Church to spread the Good news of Christ." ... "A broken and bloodied Body of Christ is not the witness that our Lord asks us to make to build up his Body, the Church. We are a resurrection people. Let us leave the tomb behind." ... "It's time to sit down together and work out a fair and equitable solution. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me" ... "-any way to solve this outside the courts would be best" ... "I am appalled at the lack of compassion and the egos involved in failing to follow Our Lord's commandment to love one another as He loves us" ... "-just because I may disagree with some of the thoughts and feelings of some of the folks in the Diocese of South Carolina, I still love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ and it deeply pains me that we may forever break our bonds of affection" ... "To be Church is not to be of one mind on all matters" ... "-Hopefully, the United States and the wider world will find in the Church a witness to "better quality disagreement" ...

The complete petition and its signers can be seen at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/233/377/858/bearing-with-one-another-in-love-toward-reconciliation-in-south-carolina/

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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