Updated 1/3/2010

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WHY I JOINED THE EPISCOPAL FORUM

RESPONSES TO THE QUESTION: WHY DID YOU  JOIN THE EPISCOPAL FORUM OF SC?

I am an unabashed Episcopalian in a diocese that is severely weakening its relationship with The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina allows me to stay connected with other Episcopalians in this diocese and to have good information about and from The Episcopal church.

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I have been an Episcopalian since birth (or baptism) and active in one parish or another for much of my 54-year-old life. I love the church's liturgy and music, of course, but most of all I love its diversity, its breadth of vision, its open-mindedness, its spirit of inquiry. I have been surprised in the last few months by the strength of my love for those things. Without them, the Episcopal Church is not, for me, the Episcopal Church. Having recently moved to South Carolina from New York, I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings where matters of faith are concerned. I am seeking my right place--and for that reason have joined the Episcopal Forum.

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I became a member of the Episcopal Forum to do whatever is in my means to further the open discussion of church matters and to make my own feelings and opinions known. I am interested in obtaining as much information as possible in order to understand the position of the leaders of this diocese as well as fellow church members

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Reason for joining:  As a more esoteric (i.e. contemplative) Christian rather than one who is by personality more exoteric and focused on structure and discipline, I truly believe that we are all one in God's creation and love. For me, it follows that we need to focus on our mutual love of God and the Christ within rather than our perfectly valid differences, which I see, however, as primarily cultural and political. Staying within my parish, in which my theology is in the minority, is congruent with my opposition to our diocese separating itself from a majority with whom it does not agree. Becoming a member of the Episcopal Forum is a statement I can make without anger, criticism and dismissal of those who do not see the issues as I do. It is my hope that establishment of the Forum will truly encourage thoughtful dialogue and consideration of all points of view

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I joined the Forum because I was unhappy and concerned about the direction the leadership of our Diocese (Salmon, Harmon) seems to be taking us all. I am in agreement with the actions of the General Convention and hope that my own parish, Grace Church, Charleston, SC will be able to remain part of the mainstream Episcopal Church USA, and not part of the Network. I am quite sure that given a choice Grace Church would stay out of the Network and choose a different Bishop. I hope this becomes an option as the Network takes over our Diocese, and I believe the Forum is one of our only hopes to voice our dissatisfaction with our Diocese's current actions to the National Church.

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I joined the EFSC for several reasons, the first being "we need to do something to stem the tide of the Diocese of SC."

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Since the General Convention, the response from the Diocese (Salmon, Harmon, resolutions) has been presented as if it reflected a near unanimous opinion. I believe that people have a range of opinions on the actions of the GC. The stance taken by the Diocese has not allowed people in the middle and those in support of the GC any adequate opportunity to express their concerns/thoughts/etc. The advertised purpose of the EFSC is to help people gain access to a range of opinions and to tell people that having different opinions is good. 

In addition, I think it is important for there to be a group of people in touch with the National Church to keep our diocese (SC) in check. My biggest concern is that the Diocese of SC will leave the ECUSA and take our parish (Grace Church, Charleston) out of the ECUSA as well. 

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I am a member of the Episcopal Forum because:

1. I am deeply concerned with the division within the Episcopal Church and believe that just as one must accept the will of the majority in our political organizations, one must do so within our Church (or, simply leave the organization).

2. I am unpersuaded by the theological rationale of the "Network." There are many elements and actions, which were accepted or embraced within the old and new testaments that we as 21st century Christians reject. These include: the wholesale slaughter of prisoners of war including men, women and children; stoning adulterers to death; polygamy and slavery. While the Network appears to have a fair case that scripture rejects homosexuality, there is also a basis for counter-argument in the second commandment: to love our neighbors as ourselves.

3. I am offended by the use of the pulpit to rail against the evil of the Episcopal Church of USA. It seems to me that this is a matter of internal Church politics that belongs outside of our church services.

4. Review of Episcopal Church history shows that in years past portions of our Church has used theological argument to support slavery, oppose women's suffrage, labor unions and numerous other social changes. I can not help but wonder whether this is not yet another example of social conservatives using theology to oppose change. 

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Although I am inclined to be supportive of the majority view at the General Convention, I am also concerned and troubled by the actions of ECUSA in that it appears to have acted contrary to its understandings with the Anglican Communion.

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I became a member of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina because it is an arena where one can speak openly and honestly about topics I would not dare attempt to discuss in my own parish without fear of a hostile response. I am appalled by the poor leadership in this diocese; mostly I regret to say, among the clergy. And, even though not all people in EFSC agree with the actions of the General Convention, we are bound by a common desire to maintain unity in the Episcopal Church of the USA.

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I chose to become a member of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina because: I found myself in a very small minority in my diocese that supported the ordination and consecration of Bp. Gene Robinson. Not only did my priest and the majority of my fellow parishioners find Bp. Robinson's ordination unacceptable, their rejection of the General Convention's vote was expressed with a level of anger and intolerance that I found overwhelming. Instead of experiencing Christ's love in my church, I felt surrounded by people who held themselves up as morally superior, and I no longer felt that it was safe to express my views openly. In joining the EFSC, I have found a place where I can openly explore the meaning of the great commission, support ECUSA, and join together with Christians of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

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I decided to become a member of EFSC because I concur with its stated purpose to maintain the unity of ECUSA while continuing to discuss, debate, and pray over issues about which there is disagreement. I would rather have had the Diocese itself taking this position and providing the opportunities for discussion, but unfortunately the Special Convention expressly rejected this position.

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As a cradle Episcopalian, I have been nurtured spiritually by an inclusive church, the church's leaders, and the wisdom contained in our unique prayer book. To have the Episcopal Church held hostage by promoters of an "exclusive" group that wishes to advance an agenda of their own making is, frankly, dismaying. The Church has a long history of dialogue of competing views, yet comes together at the Altar. I pray that will continue without dissention. If not, and the "exclusive" group wishes to leave the ECUSA, then they should be allowed to do so for we who remain will only become stronger. There is a spiritual need for our inclusive church. 

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I became a member of the EFSC because I don't want schism in the Episcopal Church. And I cannot accept that there is no room for dialog. The church has weathered other controversial issues and survived as a stronger institution. I believe if we can openly discuss our differences, eventually we will come to an understanding. I believe that loving thy neighbor as thyself should be the starting point, and I think that is where the EFSC is starting.

The other reason is that it seems that the discussions that have been held have been held among clergy, with lay participation discouraged. The Forum is a place for lay and clergy to get together and try to understand the different sides and to try to reach some sort of working truce...agreeing to disagree for now, with the hope of reaching a level of compromise or understanding down the road.

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I joined EFSC at its inception because of a feeling of outrage at what appears to be the hijacking of our church by a group of extremist clergy and a sense of helplessness about what I could do about it.

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I chose to join the Forum to express my solidarity with the Episcopal Church USA, and those who desire to uphold our tradition of freedom of thought about cultural issues.

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I did not join to give equal respect to the Network, whose mission is political in nature and exclusionary.

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The Theological Charter of the Network and its repudiation of those who disagree with literal scriptural interpretation of certain scripture passages is frightening to me. I am afraid that there will not be an Episcopal Church that I can attend in this diocese. The careful selection and grooming of ultra conservative clergy has driven away most of the moderate and liberal clergy. The ones that are still working in this diocese are hesitant to speak against the bishop. This is spiritual tyranny. Without the Forum I would be alone. I need to be in dialogue with people who are like minded 

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I became a member of EFSC because of the pain I had experienced from statements which were  made to me when I disagreed with a member of the ultra-conservative clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina.  Because I disagreed with the clergy's interpretation of the Scripture, I was told that I was spiritually dead.  I was also told that the outreach which I believed to be living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ was social work and not a part of what should be going on in the church.  I can't believe that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is excluding those people who question the authority of the clergy.  We are not given a chance to voice our opinion anywhere but at the EFSC.  I am happy to have found a group of like-minded Christians who are working to bring Christ's love and healing to all people.

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For me, the Episcopal Forum of SC is a source of information and affirmation reflecting the Broad Church and Via Media of the Episcopal Church I know and love...the North Star on a stormy sea.

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The Episcopal Forum of SC is a place where being an Episcopalian in SC still means something.

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How thankful I am for The Episcopal Forum, and for the opportunity to join hands with others in affirming the gift of being an Episcopalian.

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When first considering whether to join this group, I hesitated. unsure yet whether it might be too radical or negative in its approach. Joining The Forum has proved to be a very right decision. one that could be an essential life raft for those of us who want to remain Episcopalians.

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During my 25+ years as a member of the Episcopal Church, I have experienced the abundant and life-saving grace of God. In recent years, however, the leadership of this diocese began to take steps in a different direction. How unimaginable to fear that the wide tent, rich worship, and sound teaching I have received in the Episcopal Church would no longer be an option. I am grateful to know that through the courage, support, and faithfulness of The Episcopal Forum, the grace-filled Episcopal Church will continue to open its doors and thrive here in this place.

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