Parish Principles

The policies listed below were adopted during the winter of 1999-2000 in order to assist with the affiliation process. They were subsequently presented to the Vestry for preliminary discussion, then printed in the parish newsletter. During Lent 2000 a series of parish debates brought the issues into a parish-wide forum, resulting in further revision. A final version was presented to the Vestry at its June 15, 2000, meeting and passed after affirmative votes at two consecutive Annual Parish Meetings, in 2001 and 2002, these policies were added to the church by-laws.

1) Prayer Book Unity

In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the holy Traditions of the ancient and undivided Church, and the historic Prayer Book witness, this parish upholds the principle of the inter-relatedness of doctrine and worship, with the consequent understanding that if there is to be one common and uniting set of beliefs then there must also be one common and uniting worship lex orandi, lex credendi (that which we pray is also what we believe). We hold that the historic Book of Common Prayer (1549-1928), as clearly stated in the Preface to the first English Prayer Book, expresses this constituting Anglican principle, and that a return to Prayer Book obedience is the only practicable means of restoring unity to a broken communion.

2) Christian Sexual Standards

In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the holy Traditions of the ancient and undivided Church, and the historic Prayer Book witness, this parish acknowledges sexuality to be one of the most powerful forces for good or evil in the lives of human beings, and that therefore the sexual relationship is intended by God to be confined to the safeguards of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. We celebrate the marital union between a man and a woman and accordingly maintain that sexual activity outside of that union, homosexual or heterosexual, is a violation of the 7th Commandment and thus intrinsically sinful. This parish adheres to the standard of chastity among its unmarried members, and opposes any doctrine which would have the effect of endorsing liaisons not in accordance with ural standards.

3) Divorce

In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the holy Traditions of the ancient and undivided Church, and the historic Prayer Book witness, this parish upholds marriage as intended by God to be a lifelong relationship, and is so obligated to teach its youth, those preparing for matrimony, and those whose marriages seem imperiled. Nevertheless, this parish also recognizes that the most sincere vows, whether those of ordination, monastic vocation, or marriage, will sometimes fail. In the ancient understanding of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, it may not be physical death alone which overtakes a marriage, but "spiritual death" as well. When a marriage has died, the Church must carefully and charitably weigh the eligibility of a divorced person to enter into a new covenant of marriage, not relying upon the casuistry of Annulment, but rather asking if a greater good might be realized out of the sin of divorce. Accordingly, and until a broader policy in this regard is imposed by affiliation, this parish will not conduct a marriage in which one or more applicant has been previously divorced unless 1) at least one party is a parish member or an immediate blood relative thereof, 2) the divorced applicant(s) can present evidence that a civil decree has been issued and that its obligations have been fully met, and 3) there is both spiritual and psychological indication that the future relationship will be a holy and permanent one.

4) Termination of Life

In accordance with the Scriptural witness this parish holds that the life force itself is God's possession, that the theology implicit in the Creation Narrative of Genesis delegates responsibility for life to human beings as a sacred trust under the aegis of the 6th Commandment, and that therefore life must not be willfully terminated save under the most urgent circumstances and for the most compelling reasons.

5) Ordination of Women

In accordance with the teaching of Scripture, the holy Traditions of the ancient and undivided Church, and the historic Prayer Book witness, this parish upholds the principle that it is God's will that the specifically apostolic ministry of blessing, consecrating, and absolving is intended to be exercised by whole, male, baptized persons who have been called to and trained for this holy vocation.

6) Denominational and Inter-Religious Relations

The Church of the Holy Communion believes that unity among Christian believers should be actively pursued in the spirit of the Lord's high priestly prayer,"... that they all may be one," and that opportunities of cooperative ministry should be sought wherever possible. Nevertheless this parish maintains loyalty to its Anglican heritage, and therefore holds as a basis for integral union the fundamentals set forth in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886). We further believe that while relations with non- or quasi-religious bodies should be marked by respect, there can no compromise with the Lord's assertion: "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

Explanatory Footnotes

1) It is not Prayer Book revision to which this parish objects. Faithful revision has always attended the mission of the Prayer Book since the days of the English Reformation. Rather it is multiplicity of rites, with their tendency to foster division, which poses an ongoing threat to Anglican fidelity and cohesion.

2) In an age of sexual promiscuity, when the most vicious pornography is being made available to youth on the basis of First Amendment rights, when children are being systematically corrupted by the popular media, the Church has a solemn obligation to remind its members of the incalculable dangers to soul and body which accompany permissive sexual norms. These include: the spread of incurable or disabling diseases, the birth of unwanted and often diseased children, a distorted preparation for a faithful marriage union, conditions which abet child abuse, divorce, the breakdown of families, the dehumanization of women, the perversion of adolescents, and the degradation of the family as grounded in marital fidelity. In recent years homosexual practices have become increasingly tolerated on the unproven theory that people are born that way," a hypothesis which has no basis in fact, having, e.g., been disproved by genetic analysis of identical twins; further -an accompanying prejudice holds that homosexual orientation is unalterable, whereas current studies indicate that it is far more amenable to therapy than alcoholism. In parish discussions, while members have disagreed on issues of approach," the great majority stand united in opposing the sexual permissiveness which has overwhelmed western culture, and remains committed to upholding traditional Christian moral values.

3) At present virtually no discipline is attached to divorce and remarriage in the Protestant and Catholic denominations. Conservative religious convictions seems to make little difference. Annulments in the Roman Catholic Church tend to be bought and sold. In other denominations there are little to no sanctions. The most Biblically fundamentalist are by no means immune. A survey conducted by the Barna Research Group in the 48 continental states finds that divorce is more prevalent among conservative Baptists than atheists, that the rate among "born-again" believers stands at 27%, with Roman Catholics and Lutherans hovering in the 21% range. The rigorist attitude that divorce is the "unforgivable" sin hardly reflects the Gospel message of repentance and restoration. This parish in general holds that the Eastern Orthodox spiritual death solution, represents the most ancient Christian discipline in this area.

4) Recognizing that the qualifying terms "urgent circumstances" and "compelling reasons" can be interpreted so broadly as to compromise the intent of this statement, and further cognizant that varying points of view may be held by equally committed Christians, the parish nevertheless wishes to express in principle its opposition to abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, as well as reservations about capital punishment and militaristic endeavors which run counter the traditional Christian doctrines of a "just war."

5) At issue are not legitimate concerns about equal opportunity and even-handed justice for women, nor does this parish possess reservations about the competence of women to exercise church leadership generally. Rather the question is whether or not a woman can function as a "father," for herein lies the crucial symbolism of the priestly office, a symbolism which is ontological in nature, which is to say integral to its very "being." In presiding at the Altar, in conferring godly blessing, absolution and consecration the priest symbolically conveys the Biblical understanding of God and how He interacts with the faithful through worship. By his gender, and by wearing the church's sacramental garments, the priest portrays God's self-disclosure through the patriarchs of Israel as well as the patriarchs of the new Israel, the apostles. He represents Christ ("I and the Father are one") who truly presides over the Eucharistic table. He reflects the reconciling work of the heavenly Father in bestowing pardon, blessing and peace. The symbolic-specific nature of this ministry falls under the varieties of gifts category set forth in the 12th chapter of I Corinthians, and is in no way to be considered as "superior" to any other exercised by faithful men and women alike in other areas of the Church's life; it is rather separate office C unique, intended to reinforce basic ural teaching about the nature of God and His redeeming love. When the symbolic character of the priesthood becomes amorphous, the faith itself grows confused. It is no coincidence that pagan notions of the "goddess" and related New Age theories have accompanied the effort to confer a symbolically fatherly office on women. Also, few seem to recognize the extent to which the ordination of women proved the catalyst which at once led to the abandonment of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer by ECUSA and at the same time lay the groundwork for the gay agenda with its implication that gender is an irrelevant or indifferent factor in the human spiritual experience. Finally we must bring to bear the judgment of the Lord that any human enterprise is to be judged by its "fruits." When the innovation of women's ordination first presented itself, its proponents predicted that admission of women to the priesthood would result in a "whole ministry," that a long-standing injustice would be eliminated and the Church able to flourish as never before. But what have been some identifiable results? Unparalleled divisions, bitterness, recrimination, splinter movements, loss of membership, unresolved doubts about the validity of sacraments, isolation from the venerable churches of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy, a blot upon the character of earlier Christians, a pervasive sense that the Church has become weak and rudderless, possessed of a leadership incapable of dealing with hard issues brought about by cultural challenge.

6) At present the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) is preparing to enter into a concordat of in inter-communion with the Lutheran Church (ELCA) which would seem on the surface of it to compromise the historic episcopate as well as Prayer Book doctrines, more especially in areas of authority and justification. Simultaneously there has come a concerted effort from the radical wing of the Episcopal Church to erase all Christian distinctiveness into a blur of syncretistic world religions. Among the latter may be cited the United Religions Initiative (URI) and The Center for Progressive Christianity (TCPC). While the Church of the Holy Communion respects the spiritual convictions of others, it cannot accept non- or quasi-Christian religions as having an equal or alternative status.