Saint James Splits
Historic Saint James Church leaves Episcopal Church, joins S.C. Diocese
By Charlie Morrison
The Saint James Church on Camp Road last month became the latest of 30 formerly Episcopalian diocese throughout the state that have formally split from the Episcopal Church. The split, over differences of opinion in interpreting church doctrine. Saint James joined the original lawsuit, brought by the Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and 16 congregations. The suit, filed January fourth against the Episcopal Church, seeks to prevent the church from seizing Saint James’ property, both physical and intellectual.
The crux of the split between the Episcopal Church and the S.C. Diocese is the issue of the Church’s decision to ordain clergy that identify themselves as homosexuals, along with the Church’s acceptance of same-sex unions. The Episcopal Church has had a long history of taking a liberal approach to social movements, supporting the Social Gospel movement during the early part of the 20th century and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. And while controversial stances taken by overarching church bodies have long created off-shooting branches of the church, the row over the Church’s philosophy on homosexuality to be only the latest example. “Well, it’s a sad thing,” says the Rector of Saint James, Father Arthur Jenkins. “It’s an attempt to reform the church, and these are not bad people, as I try to tell this congregation. What we believe is that they’re trying to do a good thing, but doing it the wrong way? because they’re good folk,” says Jenkins.
“It is about how does healing, transformation, freedom from the hurts of life happen, it doesn’t happen because I read a good book or I care about someone, its because Jesus Christ has done something for me, that’s the split,” Jenkins continues.
According to Jenkins, this issue of the S.C. Diocese’s split with the Episcopal Church is far more complex than to be defined by a single issue.
“Everyone wants to make this about the sensationalist topic of homosexuality and its not about that. It’s not about that but that’s one symptom of it,” says Jenkins. “There’s a refrain of mine in which I ask the congregation, ‘Who’s welcome at St. James?,’ to which they respond ‘Everyone.’ We have members of the gay and lesbian community in our congregation, despite the fact that we don’t support the lifestyle. Here we support the person.”
The effect of Saint James’ action is that they are no longer recognized by official the Episcopal Church, however a large majority of the greater Anglican Communion, an international association of churches of which the U.S. Episcopal Church is but one member, still recognizes the S.C. Diocese and it’s recently elected Bishop, Mark Lawrence. It is Lawrence and the leadership that have initiated the split, and continue on with the lawsuit, allowing rectors such as Jenkins to continue with their respective ministries.
“My congregation, this is not something they want to deal with. That’s not why they come here to see us. They come here because they want healing, they want help, they want restoration, they want to have inspiration, teaching, that’s what they want,” says Jenkins. “They don’t come here to deal with politics or the law suit.”
For more information on Saint James Church, see the organization’s website at http://www.saint-james.org/
© 2013, Wiser Time Publishing, Inc.