December 18, 2006
As several of the largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia decide to break away from the Episcopal church, those close to home say there's no surprise to the decision.
"The larger of those congregations have pretty much disagreed with the direction the Episcopal church is going in for many years," Retired St. Paul's Memorial Priest Paula Kettlewell said.
At the heart of the decision, the acceptance of gay relationships, the consecration of an openly gay bishop, and, most recently, the installation of the first woman bishop as the head of an Anglican church.
"They think that the Protestant Episcopal church, the church that they have now removed themselves from, has erred, has gone away from what's taught in the Bible and traditional church," Professor of Religious Studies at UVa, Heather Warren said.
Those parishes now look to align themselves with a hyper-conservative Nigerian bishop, who views the acceptance of gay relationships "a satanic attack" on the church.
"It's an example of the growing divergence and tensions within the Episcopal church," Kettlewell said.
Meanwhile the Diocese of Virginia's bishop says he will actively seek to retain ownership of property at both churches, worth over 20 million dollars, but that he's also saddened by the split.
"I think there's going to be a lot of pain within the Episcopal church and also with these churches that have broken, away because its like a divorce," Warren said.