Since 2004, eight Episcopal congregations have split apart or left the Central Florida Diocese because of the direction of the national church body. Mark Pinsky, the Orlando Sentinel's ace religion reporter, wrote that 500 members and the ministerial staff of Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach are leaving their historic church building to form a new congregation separate from the Episcopal Church. Much of the article deals with the logistics of the split -- how the diocese at first accepted a $5 million offer for the building before deciding to keep the church building for the remaining 200 members. But from the headline on down, Pinsky also emphasizes "gay issues" which he says are the reason for the split:
Those who are leaving insist the issue is about adherence to biblical principles, but the precipitating events revolve around the denomination's positions on homosexuality. They opposed the 2003 consecration of openly gay the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, and what they say is the national denomination's permissiveness toward congregations that bless same-sex unions.
Read that first line again. Why use the word "but" there?
The group of people publicly "insist" that they are leaving for a certain reason. Is the reporter disagreeing with them? Does he know better than the sources why they are picking up and starting a new congregation?
If that's not the case, I'm still confused by the use of the word "but." I assume that those who are leaving might view the denomination's positions on homosexuality as somewhat related to adherence to biblical principles. Perhaps Pinsky, who is a great religion reporter, could ask those who are leaving which biblical principles they differ with The Episcopal Church over. That's how Barbara Karkabi of the Houston Chronicle handled her similar story last month about a breakaway parish. She interviewed Rev. Stan Gerber and highlighted his last sermon at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tomball:
From an "orthodox" point of view, Gerber said, "The culture has begun to influence the church, rather than the church influencing the culture."
Conservative Episcopalians point to 2003 as the breaking point. That's when V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest living with his male partner, was confirmed as the bishop of New Hampshire by the church's General Assembly. ... Robinson's appointment was a trigger that caused people to start examining the church and its beliefs, said departing vestry member John Pegues.
"For most of the people here in this congregation, the key issue really revolves around the authority of Scripture," Pegues said. "Is it the word of God? Or is it written by man and therefore can be reinterpreted or set aside in favor of a better understanding?"
In his farewell sermon Sunday, Gerber said he could "no longer stand by and adhere to false teachings of the leadership of the national church."
Karkabi's story shows that the departing Episcopalians see the church's recent significant changes on the issue of homosexuality as an example of how the church is being influenced by the culture instead of the authority of Scripture.