The article title is Challenges Await New Episcopal Pastor. Seems like the congregation. might be facing a few challenges themselves....Looks like a gain for Diocese of S. C. and a loss for Arizona to me. What do you think?
The Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican church, has been struggling with its response to homosexuality for years. In 2003, the Americans elected their first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, causing an uproar.
Since then, the church has continued to soften its stance on gays, and two years ago declared homosexuals eligible for “any ordained ministry.”
That and other rulings have threatened to split the Anglican Church, but Messier takes it in stride.
“In my 27 days or so here at St. Francis, I have not heard that this is an issue,” Messier said Thursday. “That doesn’t mean everybody agrees, but I don’t think it’s a big issue and I’m happy it doesn’t appear to be.”
The Rev. Terri Pilarski, St. Francis’ most recent permanent pastor, left shortly after an August 2009 interview with the Green Valley News in which she said the Bible didn’t condemn homosexuality. Pilarski, who had been at the church about 18 months, wouldn’t address whether her public stance on homosexuality led to her decision to leave. She now is a pastor at a church in Dearborn, Mich.
“Coming from a diocese in South Carolina, which is extremely conservative, where the bishop there was against it and would never give the clergy permission to perform same-sex blessings has been an eye-opener for me,” Messier said. “When I sat and met with the bishop in the Diocese of Arizona while interviewing for this position at St. Francis, my wife and I walked out after the meeting and thought to ourselves, ‘What a breath of fresh air.’”
“We need to treat all people, whether homosexual or heterosexual with the same respect and not brand them as we have branded other groups of people in the past,” he said.
“Looking at the church historically, there have been certain issues that have been supported by Scripture, and yet very anti-gospel,” Messier pointed out. “Slavery, for example. You could find support for it in the scriptures and then finally we realized one day that we needed to understand the context in which the Scripture was written. We don’t believe the enslavement of other human beings is a good thing today.”