From this week’s Church Times:
The first congregation in the United States to decide to withdraw from an Episcopalian diocese and join an Ordinariate under Pope Benedict XVI’s new provision has announced its intentions.
St Luke’s, Bladensburg, in Maryland, which has a 100-strong congregation, will come under the care of the RC archdiocese of Washington, until an Ordinariate is established in the US. The decision to secede was taken by the church’s vestry in January, and approved by the congregation last Sunday. Only one family is said to have voted against the move.
A statement on the church’s website said: “We look forward to continuing to worship in the Anglican tradition, while at the same time being in full communion with the Holy See of Peter.”
The Bishop of Washington, the Rt Revd John Bryson Chane, said that he had approved the decision, which had been made with “mutual respect”.
“Christians move from one Church to another with far greater frequency than in the past, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups. I was glad to be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people and priest of St Luke’s in a way that respects the tradition and polity of both of our Churches.”
Under the terms of a letter of agreement, signed last week with the diocese of Washington, the congregation of St Luke’s will continue to worship in the church under a lease, which also gives them an option to purchase.
Members of the congregation will begin preparations for reception into the RC Church later this year, while the Rector of St Luke’s, the Revd Mark Lewis, who is married, will begin the process to be reordained as a priest.
Leaders of the congregation told the Washington Post that they were not leaving the Episcopal Church because of the ordination of gays and women. Instead, they said, they were satisfying their longing for a clear religious authority by welcoming the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI.
The first Ordinariate was set up in England in January 2011, and its Ordinary is Mgr Keith Newton. The idea that it could use or take over C of E churches has received no official encouragement from either denomination.
The Vatican’s US representative for the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution providing for the new Ordinariates, Cardinal Wuerl, said: “We welcome St Luke’s parishioners warmly into our family of faith. The proposed Ordinariate provides a path to unity, one that recognises our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognising and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican Church.”