The Rev. Michael Carr knows his predecessor left abruptly because of a theological dispute. He knows his new church’s congregation is small because some church members also left. And he knows he is moving into an area where his denomination has been affected by a nationwide schism.
But all that is in the past. Carr said his focus is on the future.
“We’ll be worshipping together, praising God together, and making a joyful noise in the future,” said Carr, 50, about his plans at All Saints Episcopal Church in Vista, where he led his first service Sunday.
All Saints has had an interim priest since the Rev. Joe Rees left last July to form an Anglican church. Rees’ departure was just one of several incidents in North County that reflected a nationwide crisis within the Episcopal Church.
Churches in Fallbrook, Oceanside, Rancho Penasquitos, San Marcos and Vista were among those affected by a schism that divided the Episcopal denomination between what many describe as liberal versus conservative theologies. Conservative Episcopalians were particularly dismayed at church leadership in recent years when an openly gay minister was ordained as a bishop and a female bishop was chosen as leader of the Episcopal Church of the United States.
Some congregations and clergy, such as Rees, broke away from the Episcopal Church of the United States but remained under the umbrella of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide network of 38 autonomous arms called provisions, that include the Episcopal Church. Break-away churches aligned with Anglican dioceses in other nations to remain within the communion.