Saddleback Pastor Offers Spiritual Refuge for Displaced Anglicans

david at david at
Wed Jan 14 22:08:38 EST 2009

Saddleback Pastor Offers Spiritual Refuge for Displaced Anglicans

By David W. Virtue 

In September 2008, Saddleback pastor and author Dr. Rick Warren wrote to VOL with a proposition. He would make his church available to any Anglican parish wanting to flee the Episcopal Church because of its non-biblical stand on faith and morals.

VOL was delighted to accept the challenge and wrote to Bishop John Guernsey of the Anglican Province of Uganda who oversees some 51 parishes in the U.S. and told him about the offer.

Bishop Guernsey wrote back saying he would notify a number of churches that might someday be in need of Saddleback's help.

This past week, St. James, Newport Beach, CA, followed up with Warren directly. The Rev. Richard Crocker, newly installed pastor of St. James, is a former Episcopal priest who transferred his ecclesiastical allegiance to the Nigerian Anglican Church (CANA) under Bishop Martyn Minns while he was the associate rector at Truro Church in Truro, Virginia. 

Since his arrival in Newport Beach, he has been deep in litigation with the diocese following the sudden departure of the Rev. Praveen Bunyan who was forced to resign from the parish over allegations of "inappropriate conduct" toward a female parishioner. Crocker said the congregation has no immediate plans to move out of its Newport Beach facility and will continue litigating for the property.

When he became the pastor of St. James, Crocker transferred his ecclesiastical allegiance to the Ugandan branch of North American Anglicanism and came under Bishop John Guernsey.

Warren has been extremely supportive of orthodox Anglicans since having come into touch with them through his AIDS work in Rwanda.

In a letter last week to Tim Morgan of Christianity Today, he wrote: "...  already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the TIME bio on Akinola.

"But since last summer... I've been on Gene Robinson and other's attack list for my position on gay marriage. ....  brothers and sisters here at St. James in Newport Beach lost their California State Supreme Court case to keep their property.

"We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County."

While St. James parish is not giving up its court case and is planning on further legal action through the Superior Court of California, Dr. Warren has repeated his offer to VOL that he welcomes church planters to his campus to plant churches.

Warren has thrown his full support behind the emerging North American Anglican province (ACNA). 

Pastor Warren's strong support of the Proposition 8 campaign to overturn the California Supreme Court decision permitting gay marriage was met with bitter antagonism from lesbian Episcopal priest Susan Russell. He has been blasted by New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson for his lack of homosexual "inclusion". Robinson says Warren "does not worship the same Jesus I worship."

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington, Bishop John Chane has written saying he was "profoundly disappointed" that Pastor Warren was chosen to give the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama.

In November 2005, Warren spoke to some 2,000 Episcopalians at a "Hope and a Future" Conference in Pittsburgh, organized by Bishop Robert Duncan. He called for Episcopal leaders to return to their biblical and doctrinal roots, but said Anglican priests should be prepared to forfeit their properties rather than stay in an apostate denomination.


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