The Rev. Dr. Frank Larisey, pastor of Orangeburg’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, said “Theologically, we are on the same page with them. But we have no intention at the present time of going anywhere. We have not changed. We have not gone anywhere. We are the heart of Christian orthodoxy.”
Instead, Larisey said he, along with the diocese, will continue to speak out against the “liberal” and “unbiblical” trends in the hope that changes can occur.
Four Episcopal dioceses, plus individual churches, announced this week that they would leave the U.S. church to form a rival, conservative North American province.
But Larisey said for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, “Our strategy at present is to remain within the Episcopal Church bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel and confronting the Episcopal Church on issues which we strongly disagree.”
He added in his estimation, most of the Episcopal Church has succumbed to “liberal revisionism.”
The split comes on the heels of long-standing theological controversy within the Episcopal Church. The controversy peaked in 2003 with the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. At the time of his election, Robinson was openly living with a same-sex partner.
“That is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said the Very Rev. John F. Scott, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. He said the liberalization of the U.S. church began with the teachings of a bishop who “denied the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Scott, who attended some of the discussions in Illinois about the split last week, described the atmosphere as “reenactment of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost when the church was being rebirthed.”