New web address for this blog!

There are no more updates to this site - please continue to follow us at our new address:

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Connecticut Episcopal Bishop defrocks priest

Bishop Seabury would have a hard time figuring this one out.

What was this man of the cloth's crime? Did he steal from the collection plate? Or, perhaps, was he found drunk and disorderly on a public street, unshaven and snarling? Did he, one wonders, leave his wife and family for a man and begin a homosexual and very public relationship with him, expressing a desire for legal marriage between two men?

Actually no: in this priest's denomination, that last one qualifies you to be made a bishop.

The pastor in question is the Rev. Donald Helmandollar of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol. The Courant explains:

The pastor of a Bristol parish that voted itself out of the Episcopal Church in May has been removed from ministry by the Connecticut Diocese, and church members have been given until July 8 to vacate their building.

Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith said the Rev. Donald Lee Helmandollar "renounced his orders" and was deposed - the equivalent of being defrocked - on June 13 by the clerical members of the diocesan standing committee. Smith said he has since written to leaders at Trinity Episcopal Church informing them that the diocese intends to take over the property July 8.

The diocese's decision to claim the property was not unexpected: The same scenario is playing itself out in other parts of the nation as the Episcopal Church grapples with the fallout from the 2003 election of the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

That decision has united conservative congregations in the U.S., such as Trinity, with like-minded African churches that believe the Episcopal Church's liberal position on homosexuality goes against the Anglican beliefs inherited from the Church of England.

Trinity was the first parish in Connecticut to split with the wider Episcopal Church. The congregation voted in January to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a self-described mission of the conservative Anglican Church of Nigeria, but a formal announcement of the split didn't come until May 27.

Trinity has since hired a lawyer and intends to fight the diocese's order to vacate the property, Helmandollar said Friday. He also said he has continued to lead worship services in the church, despite being notified by Smith that he is no longer a priest in the Episcopal Church.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church says that the numbers of those leaving the Church is small. She is probably right. Many of those who are concerned over biblical orthodoxy left a long time ago for more welcoming shores. Those that are leaving now are those who felt led by God to hang in and fight to turn the ship around before it heads over the falls.

, , , , ,

1 comment:

Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

Go Father Helmandollar! There are many, many of us behind you!