St. John's Huntingdon Valley Leaves ECUSA for AMIA

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Mon May 21 11:28:15 EDT 2001


Special Report

By David W. Virtue

St. John's Episcopal Church, Huntingdon Valley an Evangelical Catholic
parish in the Diocese of PA, and ninth largest in income, has formally
left the diocese and the Episcopal Church USA and joined the Anglican
Mission in America.

On Sunday, May 20 the clergy, vestry and congregation were received
into the Anglican Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (Africa) -
one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Provinces. The Rt. Rev. Charles
Murphy, AMIA bishop officiated at the ceremony of reception.

"Our parish is both grateful and excited to stand with the overwhelming
majority of the Anglican Communion in honoring the essentials of the
faith - the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible,"
said the Rev. Philip Lyman, rector of St. John's.

The church has a new name. It is no longer St. John's Episcopal Church.
It is now incorporated as St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. The
church has 300 members.

"There have been so many changes in the faith and practice of the
national church that it has been said that we now have two different
religions under one roof. For 80 years this parish has believed,
preached and practiced the essentials of the faith as held by the
Anglican Church," said Lyman.

The decision was made this past weekend, "after 12 difficult and
prayerful years of debate, discussion and discernment," said Lyman
adding, "that we can no longer continue within this [Episcopal] Church
without compromising our faith and conscience." This was not a rash or
easy decision, he said.

Senior Warden Bob Wisniewski said, "This action is not all-of-a-sudden.
For years many of us attempted reform. In January 1999 Bishop Bennison
advised us that the Episcopal Church was moving in a new direction and
that St. John's should consider leaving and asked us if we would be
interested in buying the church property from the diocese. After two
years of agonizing deliberation we agreed. The bishop then changed his
mind regarding the sale of the property."

"We pray that the bishop will transfer the property to the parishioners
of the new church."

According to the Rev. Dr. David Moyer, president of the traditionalist
ECUSA organization Forward in Faith, North America they are the first
FIFNA parish to affiliate with a foreign province.

Describing what happened at St. John's, Fr. Moyer said, "We are all in
agreement we just have different strategies in terms of how we deal
with The Episcopal Church," he said.

Bishop Murphy told the parish that, "You are the 36th parish to
affiliate with the AMiA in our short 10-month existence. We are now
coast to coast and growing as fast as we can handle...perhaps faster.
We welcome all believers who seek unity in the essentials of the
Anglican faith...Evangelicals, Catholic and Charismatic...three streams
flowing as one river."

"It is a joyful and humbling experience to witness such courage and
dedication to the essentials of the faith," exclaimed Bishop Chuck
Murphy, AMIA leader, as he received all of the clergy and vestry and an
overwhelming majority of the congregation of St. John's Episcopal
Church into the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda.

Recently the clergy barred PA Bishop Charles E. Bennison from receiving
Holy Communion when he appeared unannounced at the parish earlier this

St. John's is the second parish in the Diocese of PA that has left the
diocese and ECUSA. St. James the Less in Philadelphia departed ECUSA in
1999. The parish remains unaffiliated at this time.

Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison did not return phone calls.


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