Sixth Parish Flees Diocese of Colorado for AMIA

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 2 00:19:20 EDT 2001


By David W. Virtue

St. George's Episcopal Church in Cherry Hills Village, Denver, has left
the Diocese of Colorado for the Anglican Mission in America. This is
the sixth parish to leave the diocese under Bishop Jerry Winterrowd.

The new parish will be called Resurrection Anglican Fellowship and they
will meet at Colorado Community Church, Cherry Hills Village two miles
east of the St. George's. They will meet Sundays at 6.30pm. About 65
percent of the parish is expected to attend.

The rector, Phil Eberhart, 47, said the final straw was the passage of
Resolution D039 passed at last year's General Convention which affirmed
sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage.

"The loss of the moorings of Scripture and the continuing erosion of
Biblical Faith in The Episcopal Church left us no room to stay," he

Eberhart, who has been active in the American Anglican Council, (AAC)
the evangelical wing of The Episcopal Church, said he wanted the AAC to
boldly act at their December board meeting and to stand with Southern
Cone Primate Maurice Sinclair when he came to Rosemont, PA to confirm,
but they wouldn't.

"I wanted the AAC to make a public stand against ECUSA. We have been
passing resolutions and sending out press releases and petitioning the
Primates to act on the book To Mend the Net, but the petition was
clearly not strong enough. That was the final straw. The lack of action
at the primates meeting at Kanuga, said to me that there was no hope
for the disciplining of ECUSA. I got tired of sitting on the fence. I
want to go where someone was taking some action."

Eberhart said he began the process of educating his parish nine months
ago, and wanted to see what would happen. "I began to educate my parish
about what I saw were the problems in ECUSA."

"My problem was not primarily with Bishop Jerry Winterrowd but the
direction of the national church and its policy on human sexuality and
the loss of Scriptural moorings, an ongoing problem in ECUSA."

Eberhart, who was ordained in 1994, said he met with Winterrowd in
January and told him about the discernment process and shared his
concern over the direction of the Episcopal Church. "I knew it was only
a matter of time before we would leave."

Eberhart said that all but one of the vestry is moving with him to the
AMIA and about 65 percent of the 100-member congregation is going as

A deacon, Kevin Spencer will be ordained a deacon and serve in the new
congregation, said Eberhart.

Eberhart said he left the check book on the table and turned the keys
over to the missioner.

His parish will be received into the AMIA today.

Eberhart said there was a negative side to leaving. "There was a lot of
pain in leaving
people in the parish who did not particularly want to take a stand. "We
presented the facts and let people make up their own minds. It's been
gut-wrenching, one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life."

"There are lots of good people in the Episcopal Church. The people are
not the problem. As Michael Hopkins, the gay activist priest said, "the
trajectory of the Episcopal Church is clear- it is towards the blessing
of same sex unions. That's the end of ECUSA. It is the only time I have
ever agreed with him.

Other parishes that have fled ECUSA include Christ the King, Monument,
St. Philip the Evangelist in Cortez, Co; New Hope Church, Littleton Co;
The Light of Christ in Denver; Church of the Savior in Bueno Vista, Co.
and now St. George's in Cherry Hills Village. There is one new plant;
Wellspring a Gen. X congregation under the direction of the Rev. Billy

"Other new plants are in the works", said Harry Griffiths, Executive
officer for the AMIA
in Pawleys Island, SC. Adding that some 32 clergy have been received
into the AMIA. Further ordinations are pending, he said.

Bishop Chuck Murphy is in Denver to ordain Billy Waters to the
priesthood. A Gen-X Wellspring Community that is already up and
running. The Rev. Eric Goldy will be ordained to the diaconate  and he
and wife Lynette, along with Fr. Paul Hinson and his wife Monica will
also be received into the AMiA. They have begun the Anglican Community
of ACTS (a church-to-be plant from ACTS, Buena Vista) in Pueblo West,

Also being received into AMiA is Fr. Ken Ross and his congregation --
Hope Anglican (formerly St. Nicholas EC, Littleton, CO);  Fr. Larry
(Ft. Collins) and Fr. Michael O'Donnell and Fr. John Pennington, Green
WY, a former ECUSA priest.

A fellow priest described Eberhart as a "significant loss to the
diocese. He is widely known and respected for his broad leadership in
music, and was a diocesan youth leader for years. He was a very
effective rector and active in Denver city-wide evangelism.

Robert Franken, a diocesan spokesman, said the bishop is always "saddened
when someone leaves the diocese."


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