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Orthodox Episcopalians should stay in the church, bishops argue at AAC conference

[Episcopal News Service]  Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh told a region conference of the American Anglican Council (AAC) meeting in Akron that biblically orthodox Episcopalians should stay in the church 'where we can do the most good.'

Admitting that there have been times when he wished he were not a bishop in the Episcopal Church, Duncan said that 'this is where God placed me, and I can do more with the flock that God has given me than with the purity of disassociation.' As evidences that they should take hope, Duncan pointed to an increase of young people being called to ministry and signs that orthodox Episcopalians are now thinking creatively. 'We are thinking outside the box,' he said, pointing to the move by Bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth, Texas to provide pastoral care and oversight for Christ Church in Accokeek, Maryland, in its struggle with the Diocese of Washington over calling a new rector.

Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield (Illinois) said in his keynote address that he has a grave concern that the Episcopal Church is in a state of 'freefall.' Using an analogy about parachuting, he said, 'Up to a certain point you can open your chute, and you can land safely, but there comes the point when it is too late.' He made it clear that he does not believe that point has been reached yet and that orthodox Episcopalians should be encouraged. 'I am convinced that the AAC is the best hope for the Episcopal Church.' Beckwith is one of the newest board members of AAC.

'The Episcopal Church is God's church-and it is messed up, but that is his concern. We simply need to be prepared. And we need to be willing to suffer if necessary in standing clearly for the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the authority of Holy Scripture and the full Gospel message,' said the Rev. David C. Anderson, president of AAC. He urged orthodox Episcopalians to connect with those who have opposing theological convictions because such conversations provide a way to show a human face to one another.

'It keeps us from demonizing each other,' he said.