Two Groups Imply Money Loss for Church

Episcopal News Service. October 28, 1976 [76323]

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Two groups of Episcopalians have issued statements which imply that their followers will withhold financial support from the Episcopal Church in response to the actions of the 65th General Convention. A third group denied the authority of the Convention in the ordination matter, but did not address itself to possible repercussions.

A newsletter for the Tennessee-based Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer calls on its supporters to employ a financial stick-and-carrot technique to encourage use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

The letter, signed by Walter Sullivan "for the Society," states:

"It is clear now that our most cogent arguments and most eloquent pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Our only recourse is to make full use of the weapons that remain to us: our money and ourselves. If the Church is to be saved, the minority which now charts a disastrous course for her must be deposed. Where the Blue Book is used, withhold your money. If you can find a church where the Prayer Book is used, attend it. If your rector uses the Prayer Book only part of the time, pay your pledge only part of the time. And do not be misled by the argument that you are obligated to continue to give to God. Of course you must give back to God a part of what He had given to you. But there are many good churches and good Christian charities remaining in the world. Giving to God does not necessarily mean giving to your parish."

And in the Diocese of Los Angeles, a group calling itself the Society of Anglican Clergy states that surveys done in their parishes indicate that "our laity have given notice so that we shall be forced to reduce or entirely withdraw financial support from the diocesan and national church programs."

The Society is a group of 63 diocesan priests who, at an October 8 meeting, rejected the approval of women to the priesthood and episcopate authorized by the 65th General Convention of the Church in Minneapolis in September. Thirty-one of the priests are parish rectors.

Their one-page statement asserts:

"We love the brethren; we desire the peace and unity of the Church. However, in the matter of the General Convention's endorsement of the 'ordination' of women to the priesthood and the episcopate, we state publicly that we conscientiously object and will not acquiesce. We trust the Church to respect our conscience. "

In Mississippi, an ad hoc group which claims to represent 23 percent of the active clergy of the diocese met recently in Jackson to issue a statement of conviction claiming that the Convention action in authorizing the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate was beyond its authority and therefore not binding on members of the church. The 20 participating clergy and religious stated their intention not to participate in or recognize any ordination or priestly act involving a woman.

The only name attached to their circulated statement was that of the Rev. Osborne Moyer, rector of St. Columb's Church and convenor of the meeting. The statement adds that the group will continue to meet to discuss "many concerns over the grave errors being committed in the name of the Church."