“We’ve been torn””all of us,” said Diane Friend, a parishioner who voted to align with the Anglican Church and is leaving St. John’s as a result of the vote.
The Episcopal Church “has gotten away from the Gospel” and is interpreting scripture in a new way to support positions the Bible does not, Friend said.
“We’ve lost a lot of families in the last few years because of this issue,” Friend said. “More are leaving than coming.”
Within the congregation there was “a lot of agonizing, a lot of tears and a lot of flip-flopping as we got closer to the vote,” [the Rev. Rob] Eaton said. “When the vote came, I was just a mess, getting sick too. A lot of others were feeling a lot of anxiety.” Eaton, who describes himself as “a conservative, Bible-believing disciple of Christ,” said he did not want to align with the Southern Cone because he felt God was calling him to remain an Episcopal priest.
In a letter he wrote to parishioners on the church’s Web site in December, he spoke of “strident” voices in both the liberal and conservative camps of the U.S. church and said there is a need for a “clear and reasonable voice” from within the denomination.
“Perhaps this is part of why the Lord continues to call me to be a priest within the Episcopal Church…I know it’s not because He thinks this is going to keep my blood pressure down,” he wrote.
While Eaton felt God was calling him to stay within the Episcopal Church, he said others in his parish felt just as strongly God was calling them to leave.