In Connecticut, Parish Divide Continues

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Trinity Episcopal Church could be called a house divided: Its defrocked pastor led a heavily attended prayer and song service at the church Wednesday night, while Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith tried to muster parishioners to meet with a new pastor at a church in Plainville.

Smith promoted his meeting in a letter to parishioners last week as a way to discuss the dispute between Trinity and the Episcopal Diocese and "begin to identify new leadership for the parish so that we can move forward in our life in Christ within the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church."

But the message didn't draw much of Trinity's membership, which earlier this year joined Pastor Donald Helmandollar in a defection from the Episcopal Church, related to its 2003 installation of a gay bishop.

The bishop's session at the Church of Our Savior in Plainville drew a dozen people at most, and Smith refused to allow a reporter to attend, declaring it a closed meeting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Posted July 19, 2007 at 4:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Deja Vu wrote:

Geat reporting by Don Stacom of the Courant. And good work from parishioner Scarpa explaining the crux of the dispute:

Scarpa said the dispute is not over homosexuality, but over strict adherence to Scripture.
“It’s about being faithful to biblical belief. It’s not a gay issue - I have gay family members, and I pray for them as I do for anyone else,” she said.

But what does this means:

Scarpa also emphasized that despite allying with the Convocation of Anglicans, she has not renounced her role in the Episcopal Church.

July 19, 5:02 pm | [comment link]
2. Scotsreb wrote:

How is a meeting, called for by letters to parishioners, be then declared a *closed meeting*?

Unless it is a vestry board meeting in executive session, my understanding is that all broadly advertised church functions, are open.

Or am I wrong?

July 19, 5:39 pm | [comment link]
3. Milton wrote:

Reading the comments in the Hartford Courant article is quite revealing, though depressing.  A lot like reading the comments in a typical religion article in the Guardian or the Telegraph in England.  “When the Son of Man returns, will He find any faith left in the earth?”

July 19, 7:18 pm | [comment link]
4. Gary M T wrote:

To Scotsreb #2:
    That means that +Smith has sent out letters only to parisioners. In such letters he requests that members attend, BUT also says that only members and any staff that he brings - which may not be anybody - be present. He also requests that nothing said, especially what he may say, be talked about except with those present, specifically including being blogged or reported to any media. +Smith has had meetings closed in this way with parishes when parish or topic are liable to be contentious. +Smith is not the only the Episcopal to try to do it this way. Because any information that I may have about what went on at such a meeting was understood by all to be confidential, including clergy who deeply disaggreed with the bishop involved in the meeting(s) requesting that complete confidentiality if we were to attend or be told I won’t go into any details. All the cases that I know of involved reappraiser bishops, but that doesn’t mean such a approach is limited to them.

July 19, 7:43 pm | [comment link]
5. William Witt wrote:

Kevin Kallsen and I were there last night and interviewed Fr. Don Helmendollar, the Sr. Warden, and a parishioner afterwards.

After the prayer and hymn service, a member of Trinity who had attended the bishop’s meeting came back and gave her account.

According to her, there were seven people besides Smith and the new diocesan hopeful priest in attendance.

Two of the people (including the woman reporting back) attended together and were loyal to Trinity and CANA.  Two were former Trinity members who are now attending the new St. John’s, Bristol (the one where the locks were changed) and will not be returning to Trinity.  The actual Trinity members who might form the basis of a future diocesan congregation were two—an older man (in his 80’s) who had been a member of the parish all of his life, and whose primary loyalty seemed to be to the building, and another older woman (also in her 80’s), along with her son, who was not an Episcopalian, but a Methodist.

Smith tried to convince those who were willing to form a new congregation (two elderly people at most) to begin meeting with the new priest (possibly in a nearby Lutheran church), until the lawyers got the building back for the diocese.  Of course, the two are already attending services in the old building—where they are welcome, they have the same priest they have had for years, and where the worship and theology is identical to what it was before the congregation joined CANA.  Why they would want to leave that to worship alone with a priest they don’t know in a building with which they aren’t familiar to wait out a lawsuit that they might well not outlive is not obvious—at least to me.

July 19, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
6. vu82 wrote:

Pharaoh Smith,
Let Thy people go.

Or look like a fool….....

July 19, 8:14 pm | [comment link]
7. Scotsreb wrote:

WW, your #5 makes really sad reading.

But, I suppose that +Nutmeg will use that tiny number of two octogenarians, as sufficient reason to justify his actions and his need to continue digging.

Obviously, he is not delusional so the only conclusion one may reach is that in these matters, as far as +Nutmeg is concerned, it is all about politics and the power grab going on.


July 19, 8:22 pm | [comment link]
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