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Where do your loyalties lie?

AS EYE SEE IT: Where do your loyalties lie?

By The Rev Keith Acker

The events of General Convention and subsequent consecration, the meeting of the Primates, and a number of others, have struck deep at the heart of many Episcopalians. As a lifelong Episcopalian, I defined my faith not by the institutional church, but by the Anglican expression of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Body of Jesus Christ. Being a member of an individual congregation, of a diocese, of a national church has always been grounded in the Church, not a local expression of it.

The 74th General Convention has placed the Episcopal Church over and above the worldwide Anglican Communion by choosing to go its own way in the blessing of relationships outside of marriage and elevating a non-celibate homosexual to the office of bishop. This was done against the admonition and agreement of the Primates, contrary to the agreed statements of Lambeth, and even the pleading of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Many of the faithful see these actions as a clear abandonment of the Anglican Communion. It has been reinforced by the impairment and excommunication of the Episcopal Church by leaders representing the majority of Anglicanism. Many are torn by the division it is creating in our local churches and dioceses, and find our loyalties being challenged.

"To whom do we belong?" It is not to the institutional church, it's canons, and it's buildings. We belong to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word of God, revealed in the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures, and who brings salvation through His sacrifice upon the Cross, our adoption by grace, and new life in the Body of Christ Jesus. At the heart of our new life in Jesus Christ is our Lord and His Church.

Unity is not about an institutional arrangement, as evidenced in the Episcopal-Lutheran agreements. It is about being one in Jesus Christ. It is about proclaiming the One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism. Those who took action at the 74th General Convention and those who participated in the subsequent consecration have done so apart from the Body of Jesus Christ. They have acted alone and apart from the Anglican Communion. They have defied and denied the unanimous witness of the Primates of the Church. They have set themselves apart.

So now we are being asked, "Where do our loyalties lie?" The Primates are asking us. The Anglican Communion is asking us. The Church is asking us, in our local congregations, in our dioceses, and in the Episcopal Church.

How shall we answer? I have expressed my disassociation from these actions against the unity of the Church. My congregation has disassociated from these actions and is no longer in fellowship with those who participated in the consecration, and now we put this question before the 30th Convention of the Diocese of San Diego: "Where do your loyalties lie?"

To affirm the actions of the 74th General Convention is to stand with Three percent of Anglicanism. To disassociate from its actions is to stand with the majority of our Sisters and Brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion.

The question is asked because it is imperative for us to follow our One Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and no one comes to the Father but by Him. The question is asked because the General Convention, Presiding Bishop, and co-consecrators chose to bless what God has not blessed and to uphold that which is not upheld by undivided Church, proved from Holy Scripture, and lived out in the life of the faithful in all times, in all places and by all.

The question is asked because explaining away the difficult words of Holy Scripture by ignoring them rather than hearing the inspired Word of God speaking the truth to our present day is not living by Faith in Jesus Christ. And the question is asked because no one challenges these leaders of the Church to instruct us where the undivided Church affirms these actions, instructs us where to find in Holy Scriptures God blessing these actions, and where this has been upheld as living the life of witness to Jesus Christ.

The Reverend Keith Acker is rector of Church of Christ The King, Alpine, Diocese of San Diego.

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