Tuesday, November 13, 2012

South Carolina Episcopal Parish Members to Convert to Catholic Church

(The Post and Courier) The breakup in the Episcopal diocese has led some members of one local parish, the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Holy Communion, to make a move of their own.

Five families will follow the Rev. Patrick Allen, curate at Holy Communion, into the arms of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Dow Sanderson, rector of Holy Communion, will remain part of the Episcopal Church, along with most of the congregation, and strive to be neutral as the drama plays out, he said.

The fracture comes as no surprise; worshippers at this historic downtown parish at 218 Ashley Ave. have long preferred to uphold Catholic traditions.

Holy Communion adheres to the Oxford Movement’s assertion that the Church of England (and other Anglican Church bodies) has been, and is now, an apostolic church, a direct descendant of St. Peter’s church, a true inheritor of the word of Christ.

Protestantism, instead, holds that there is no “one true church,” that individuals have the authority to forge a personal relationship with Christ and don’t really require the aid of an institution.

The 19th-century Oxford Movement asserts that the doctrine of apostolic succession accommodates “One True Church” with three branches: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Its ideas were promoted in a series of pamphlets called “Tracts for the Times” (1833-41).

Allen said the process of becoming Catholic will take several months.

“I will continue to serve as curate at Holy Communion through the end of the year,” he said. “Of the families who are making this move, several adults are involved in ministry and leadership positions here, so they will serve out their terms.”

In January, Allen and the others will join the congregation at St. Mary Catholic Church on Hasell Street to worship. Allen said he hopes to be confirmed as a priest in the Catholic Church by late spring or early summer.

“At that point, we will begin having our own ordinariate (Catholic community of former Anglicans) and Mass,” he said. The group will share St. Mary’s.

More than a year ago, Holy Communion, as a parish, considered opting out of the Episcopal Church and joining the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, but that possibility faded, according to Allen, who addressed the matter in a Nov. 7 letter to the congregation.

With the split in the Episcopal diocese, Allen saw a new opportunity to pursue his goal, though the controversies were not central to his decision, he wrote.

“Mine is a move forward to the Catholic Church, and I am nothing but grateful for my own years in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina,” Allen wrote.


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