GRACE CHURCH AND SAINT STEPHEN'S PARISH
A DECLARATION OF ANGLICAN FIDELITY
From the vestry and leaders of Grace Church
WHEREAS, four centuries ago our spiritual forbears brought to this continent the Christian faith as expressed in the Anglican tradition, led by the Rev. Robert Hunt, the first Anglican mission in America celebrated Holy Communion on the Third Sunday after Trinity upon the banks of the James River shortly after the landing of the Virginia Colony in 1607 A.D. So began our unbroken religious heritage in the New World.
WHEREAS, the Church of England in America was our foundation, nurse, and protector for many generations, its greatest gifts to our faith were an unrivaled English translation of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. In the course of Divine Providence when our country became politically independent of Great Britain, the American Church became ecclesiastically independent of the Church of England. So began the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
WHEREAS, in continuity with the faith received from the Church of England, the Episcopal Church adopted the apostolic doctrines and disciplines of the Church of England as reflected in the Book of Common Prayer and incorporated the Articles of Religion into its Canons. In this shared faith and practice the Episcopal Church remained in communion with the Church of England as an independent province within what eventually became the worldwide Anglican Communion.
WHEREAS, tragically today the American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common not only to Anglicans, but to all believers, some Episcopal leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry subjecting it to fashions of deconstructionist literary criticism.
WHEREAS, revisionism has permeated and fatally contaminated the Episcopal Church, its leaders now openly deny what their faith once believed and celebrate the heresies that Christians in previous ages have gone to the stake to resist.
WHEREAS, Episcopal revisionism abandons the fidelity of faith, the Hebrew Scriptures link truth to a relationship with God. They speak of apostasy as adultery -- a form of betrayal as treacherous as a husband cheating on his wife.
WHEREAS, Episcopal revisionism negates the authority of faith, the "sola scriptura" doctrine of the Reformation church has been supplanted by the "sola cultura" heresy (by the culture alone) of post-modernism. No longer under biblical authority, the Episcopal Church today is either its own authority or finds its authority in the shifting winds of intellectual and social fashion of the day.
WHEREAS, Episcopal revisionism severs the continuity of faith; cutting itself off from the universal faith that spans the centuries and the continents, it becomes culturally captive to one culture and one time. While professing tolerance and inclusiveness, certain Episcopal attitudes toward fellow believers around the world, who make up a majority of the Anglican family, have been arrogant and even racist.
WHEREAS, Episcopal revisionism destroys the credibility of faith; there is so little that is distinctively Christian left in the theology of some Episcopal leaders. It is no accident that orthodox congregations like Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish are growing and that in the last century great converts to the Christian faith have been attracted to biblical orthodoxy, not to revisionism. The prospect for the Episcopal Church, already plainly evident in the Diocese of Colorado with its recent closure of its churches in this city, is inevitable withering, decline, and death.
WHEREAS, Episcopal revisionism obliterates the very identity of faith; when the great truths of the Bible and the creeds are abandoned and there is no limit to what can be believed in their place, then the point is reached when there remains little that is identifiably Christian. Would that Episcopal leaders showed the same zeal for their faith that they do for their property. If the present decline continues, all that will remain of a once strong church will be museums - empty buildings kept going by the finances, though not the faith, of the fathers.
WHEREAS, recently the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops has spurned the Dar es Salaam Communique of the Anglican Communion's Primates by declining to accommodate a pastoral scheme for orthodox clergy, congregations, and dioceses in the Episcopal Church; we see no future for orthodox believers in the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop's recent nullification of Fr. Mark Lawrence's election as Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina is further evidence that orthodox clergymen, congregations, and dioceses in the Episcopal Church have no hope of perpetuating their faith, witness, and ecclesial life in the Episcopal Church.
WHEREAS, these are the apostasies we protest and lament; these are the infidelities that drive us to depart from the Episcopal Church in order to remain faithful to Christ, the Bible, and our received Anglican tradition; these are the reasons why we seek to affiliate with an orthodox and mission-oriented community of congregations who remain in continuity with our great spiritual heritage.
WE, the vestry members and officers of the corporation, DO HEREBY RESOLVE on this 26th Day of March in the Year of our Lord 2007, that Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish will leave the Episcopal Church but remain in the Anglican Communion.
We resolve to leave the Episcopal Church because it first left the biblical and historic faith and us. Here we stand, our consciences held captive by the Word of God. We cannot do otherwise. God help us. Amen.