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Lay Group Pleas for Prompt Action and Unity Among Orthodox Groups to Fill 'Vacuum' Caused by Episcopal 'Desertion' -- Offers Interim Plan

Contact: James Ince, Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC), 240-485-7357, info@layepiscopalians.org


WASHINGTON, Mar. 26 /Christian Newswire/ -- An "urgent plea for immediate, pan-Anglican readiness after the U.S. Episcopal Church's desertion from Anglicanism last week" was made today by a national organization of orthodox Anglican laypersons.  It advocates rapid, multi-group development of "The Anglican Church of the United States of America" as a new province-in-waiting.  Announcement would be immediate, with operations following swiftly.


"Faithful Anglican groups with shared interests are needed, such as the Anglican Communion Network and already-defected organizations which have melded shared interests in Common Cause Partners and the Federation of Anglicans in the Americas.  At long last their goal of a unified Anglican church in the U.S.A. that is faithful to Christ can become a reality," Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC) said. 


"We should create the new unified product now -- up and operating as soon as possible, not next year or the year after -- in order to stop the hemorrhaging of our Anglican lifeblood.  That's a great challenge and awesome change of pace for church people, but we can do it.  We should selflessly engage our can-do American spirit rather than the casual, no-hurry, wait-and-see mode with which we have been all too comfortable.  A new cultural dynamic is needed to give actual solutions in saving our debilitated Anglicanism highest corporate priority. 


"LEAC has been working on the "province-in-waiting" for several months and will offer its organizational ideas and work product as suggestions for a way forward to a new pan-Anglican church in the United States.  It will provide administrative and coordinating help as desired.  Our progressing work is benefited greatly by consultation with leading bishops and laypersons, among whom is Bishop John R. Rodgers, retired Episcopal priest who headed the Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry and was a founder of the Anglican Mission in America. 


"There is similar work in other quarters.  Hopefully it will be accelerated with broader-based teaming.  Our only interest is collaborative restoration of Anglicanism here and accomplishing our missionary obligation to advocate interests of the laity in their hopes for restoring and sharing in the protection of a healthy denomination in Christ.


"You can be sure that if the captain of an ocean liner announced that the ship would sink at sea on September 30, there would a great demand that lifeboats and release systems are in order.  Already-committed laypersons want the lifeboats in order now to move toward a post-TEC Anglican landscape and bring in other, often confused, even disparate faithful together in a new, safe church," LEAC explained.  "There should be urgent engagement of diverse, cooperative resources, maximizing our common beliefs and working through differences to arrive at an optimal denomination for all.   


"There is too much relaxation in the idea that everything is in the hands of the Anglican Communion.  Of course that's true, but the Communion is beset by its own difficulties, diverting its sharp focus from urgent needs in this country. More importantly, the formative task is now ours as tragic losses in our faith cry out for disciplined, sustained action to prepare an operating province-in-waiting.  That American work is obviously not the communion's.  We need the new operating church as soon as possible, ready to receive additional faithful groups later when and if the worldwide group invites us in to replace TEC and it seems appropriate to do so, we'll be ready," the Washington-based organization said.  "We can start very soon with standby commitments from those dioceses, parishes and individuals who are now ready to step forward into a Scripturally reliable new church."


Announcement now of that readiness "will forestall further Balkanizing of our national orthodox resources and the disastrous flight from the pews experienced in recent years," LEAC said.  Average Sunday attendance at U.S. Episcopal churches has shrunk about fifty per cent since liberalism took firm control nationally in the early 1990s.  Only conservative parishes are growing, most of them in at least impaired communion with the international Anglican denomination but awaiting Anglican rebirth in America.


"These conservative parishes will grow even faster once they are freed from the crippling oppression and intimidation of The Episcopal Church," adds Hudson Barton, who is LEAC's province-in-waiting coordinator.


LEAC said it is contacting leadership organizations and individuals asking them to share in organizing additional roundtable discussions. 


Last week the House of Bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church (TEC) rejected a proposal by the primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion which might have brought the U.S. church back into active status internationally.


Primates representing more than half of the Anglican Communion's communicants have declared various levels of impaired relations after consecration of an openly homosexual bishop and refusal to prohibit church recognition of homosexual partnerships.  The U.S. church was given until September 30 to reply to a demanding proposal, but several foreign primates have said the action last week served as an answer.


LEAC said there is need for readiness to replace TEC as the national church when the communion disposes of the TEC problem and is open to a new Anglican province.


"That whole process may take years, but most leadership U.S. Anglicans agree that their future is coming into sharp focus very quickly, requiring real-time solutions," said James Ince, founder and member of the steering committee of the one-year-old LEAC.


"With help from some of the most experienced bishops and laypersons, we have prepared a schematic structure, a collaborative Statement of Anglican Faith, a proposed new constitution and canons and a timetable for introductory operation on All Saints' Day, November 1, 2007.


"The most critical thing we can do right now to halt the destruction of Anglicanism as a robust denomination in our country is announce authoritatively that there very soon will be a new, phased-in Anglican church, shortly ready to receive immediate membership, with provisions for standby or transitional memberships committed but awaiting a provincial declaration by the Anglican Communion.  That can only be done by cooperating, collaborating groups with a powerful, demonstrated sense of commitment and mission in that work," LEAC said.


LEAC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation, a national advocacy organization faithful to the authority of Christian Scripture and the Anglican Communion.