When these problems are viewed together, they embody a significant theological shift in the denomination away from orthodox Christianity and biblical Anglicanism. This is evident more in some parts of TEC than others. It may not be immediately recognized because of the veneer of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship that overlays it.
This shift is evident in the Episcopal churches in the part of Kentucky in which I am now living. It represents a radical change from what I heard preached and taught in the same churches over 20 years ago when I first began to visit the area. The message is not just one of the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church but of universalism, pluralism, and social and economic liberation. At the same time the worship in these churches can be characterized as traditionally Anglo-Catholic ”“ candles, eucharistic vestments, elaborate ritual, processions, chanted prayers and other liturgical texts, incense, vested choirs, organs, standard hymns and anthems, and Holy Communion on weekdays, as well as Sundays.
Of the five Episcopal churches in the area, only two give any appearance of real vitality. The latter can be attributed in part to their location, one in the downtown district of the region’s only city and the other in a university town. The area had six churches but the sixth church was closed in 2005 and its congregation merged with that of another church. One of the remaining five churches gives all appearances of being slated for closure at some future date: it is little more than a preaching station.