Updated (see below the fold).
It appears that the American Bible Society might have inserted itself into the Anglican family squabble by dropping the Episcopal Church from its list of denominations able to use their web-site building service called ForMinistry.
We don't know if this is by accident or on purpose because the people who have discovered this omission have asked The American Bible Society about it and have not yet received an answer.
The folks over at The American Bible Society are good people. That's what everyone tells me, and I'm inclined to believe it. After all, they are in the business of spreading the Gospel. The Episcopal Church has supported the work of the American Bible Society since its foundation. So I suggested to our parish that we use ForMinistry to host our church website. ForMinistry is a website builder and host domain for churches and church organizations. The committee decided on a different web host, but I used ForMinistry to start a small website for a parish outreach ministry, which I updated regularly.
So here's the problem:
When I tried to update my ForMinistry webpage recently, I was denied access, saying the account was inactive. The tips they suggested on the host site for reactivating did not work, and emails to the ForMinistry administrator were unanswered. I told our parish webmaster, who said that he had heard of similar problems. The board of The American Bible Society had just welcomed a new member from the breakaway Anglican diocese in Pittsburgh, he said. Perhaps TEC was being squeezed out? Hmm, I thought, sounds like a conspiracy theory.
But anyway, I checked the list of denominations served by ForMinistry. Previously, the website had listed The Episcopal Church and several Episcopal parish websites. Now, ForMinistry only lists Anglican as a denomination, not TEC!
Just to be clear about the nature of the problem: there was already a web-site hosted by ForMinistry that listed Episcopal but drbones cannot now access it because The Episcopal Church no longer appears as a denomination on the ForMinistry list. TEC was not forgotten by the designers of the site but taken down by the administrators. ForMinistry is owned and operated by the American Bible Society.
Holland decided to write Tobias Haller, who keeps the blog In a Godward Direction, and he wrote the following letter:
Autumn Black, Director of Public Relations American Bible Society email@example.com
Dear Ms. Black,
I was surprised this evening, on visiting the ForMinistry website operated from your Virginia offices, to discover that The Episcopal Church does not appear in the Church Directory.
I note that when one enters "Anglican" as a general denomination (there being no entry for "Episcopal"), a number of other Anglican churches appear as possible choices, but not The Episcopal Church, which is, at this time, the only U.S. church recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion.
I hope this oversight will be corrected. It is shocking to think that The Episcopal Church is not listed in this directory, considering that one of the American Bible Society's founding member and first president -- John Jay -- was an Episcopalian.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I am sharing a copy of this note with the Bishops and Deputies of The Episcopal Church.
(The Rev.) Tobias Stanislas Haller
Our problem is not with the representation of denominations that claim to be "Anglican" or "Episcopal" in their name. But we do wonder what prompted the removal of the Episcopal Church while preserving the presence of the Anglican Church in Canada, not to mention other denominations from which there have been conservative off-shoots such as the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church, and the United Church of Christ as well as the ELCA, which is listed alongside their conservative Lutheran cousins. In particular, we wonder also about what happened to existing Episcopal websites hosted by ForMinistry which, like drbones, have apparently been taken down.
Let us know, in the comments below, if your Episcopal website is hosted by ForMinistry and if you can still edit it or if you have been kicked off as well?
See the comments below for the letter that was recieved from Ms. Black of the American Bible Society to Fr. Tobias Haller. Substantially the same letter was sent to the Cafe. We appreciate and echo Tobias' reply.