Monday, February 20, 2006

Conservative Episcopalians Struggle Not Unlike Evangelicals in the ABC

My, this sounds familiar. Actually, I met Ron Jackson; we had him as a guest to one of our association pastor's meetings. I have often compared the ABCUSA to the Episcopal Church in that they are denominations that stand astride historic gulfs: in the case of the ABC, between the mainlines and evangelicals, in the case of the Episcopal Church, between Protestant and Catholic. However, the old ways are breaking up...all over.

LA CRESCENTA, CA: St. Luke's Flees Diocese and ECUSA.

Aligns with Uganda
Bishop Bruno Vows to fight for Property

February 14, 2006
News from St. Luke's of the Mountains Church

La Crescenta, Calif. - Feb. 14, 2006 - St. Luke's of the Mountains, a biblically orthodox church for over 60 years, affirms its membership in the Anglican Communion and will no longer be affiliated with the Episcopal Church USA or the Diocese of Los Angeles. St. Luke's is now under the jurisdictional oversight of the Anglican Province of Uganda in the Diocese of Luweero, which is a member of the mainstream of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Since its founding, the members of St. Luke's have remained steadfast and loyal in their commitment to the Holy Scripture, the historic teachings of Christianity and the Anglican Communion. However, the Episcopal Church USA has chosen a path that no longer reflects the membership's steadfast faith. "St. Luke's is a biblically orthodox church that accepts Jesus Christ as the Only Lord and Savior, and acknowledges the Bible as the authoritative Word of God," said Dr. Tim Kelly, a congregational leader. "Our loyalty is to God, not a religious hierarchy. Thus, when the hierarchy strays from the historical faith, it is time for change. We are simply remaining faithful to our historic beliefs and values, by aligning ourselves with the orthodox faithful in the Anglican Communion."

The church members and board of directors (called the vestry) of St. Luke's made this decision with the support of their pastor, The Rev. Dr. Ron Jackson, reflecting the desire of the church to stand firm on its religious convictions.

"It is only after much deliberation and fervent prayer that we came to this conclusion, but it is our only recourse if we are to stay true to the historic faith and teachings of the church," said Fr. Jackson, St. Luke's Rector.

"We have worked very hard for many years to reconcile our differences with the Episcopal Church USA and the Diocese of Los Angeles, both in our own hearts and through extensive dialogue. Unfortunately, however, that effort cannot bridge the theological chasm between us or bring the Episcopal Church back into communion with most of the Anglican world that has severed ties with the U.S. church."

"The members of St. Luke's wish to move beyond this issue so we can concentrate on our core mission: To glorify God, and to follow the teachings of Christ in the Holy Scriptures," concluded Fr. Jackson. "This includes reaching out to those in need around us and sharing the Gospel."

The worldwide Anglican Communion has churches in 164 countries with about 77 million members. In the past, the Episcopal Church USA has claimed to represent about 2.5 million members both here and abroad, which is only about three percent of the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Province of Uganda represents eight million Anglicans, more than three times the membership in the entire Episcopal Church USA. St. Luke's has had a close relationship with the Province of Uganda for many years. For example, numerous St. Luke's parishioners have served as missionaries in Uganda. St. Luke's built a school in a remote rural area of Uganda which feeds and schools 400 children, and built a clean water system for a Ugandan village of 5000 people which has significantly reduced disease and infant mortality. Also, St. Luke's is involved in building a community college in Southwest Uganda to provide training for young people to build the economy of this economically poor area.

St. Luke's has been a separate, California nonprofit religious corporation since 1940, and it will continue to hold worship services in La Crescenta.


LETTER from Bishop Bruno to Clergy and Diocese of Los Angeles
To the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Los Angeles:

A statement from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles:

I have received word this afternoon that the congregation of St. Luke's-of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church, La Crescenta, voted on February 13 to sever its ties with the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and align itself with the Diocese of Luweero, Uganda.

I am deeply disappointed in the actions taken by the congregation and its clergy. We have worked in the past to resolve differences between the rector and parishioners of St. Luke's and the diocese and the national Church. It is a painful matter to me to know that they have abandoned all attempts at reconciliation, which is at the heart of our Christian witness. We still hope and pray that we may come together again with our brothers and sisters of St. Luke's Church.

The congregation's claim on the property of St. Church is Luke's clearly illegal according to the canons of our diocese and the national Church and to the laws of the State of California. It is my pastoral and fiduciary duty to this diocese to protect its property rights, and we will pursue this matter.

The Episcopal Church is a church of thinking people, and it is inevitable that its members will think differently about many matters of faith and practice. Dissension will not undercut the great work being done by Episcopalians here in the Diocese of Los Angeles, which is a vital and growing branch of Christ's kingdom, bringing abundance to the people of Southern California.

I'm just glad that Baptists own their own property, or the Valley Forge execs would be licking their chops the way, doesn't Bishop Bruno sound a little like Roy Medley, "the keeper of the covenants"? Lord, have mercy...


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