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The Virginia Churchman, January 1977

The Virginia Churchman, January 1977

It may or may not be a representative sample, but here are some of the lines from the Virginia Churchman of January 1977. (This publication of the Diocese of Virginia is now titled The Virginia Episcopalian.)


… Before Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner married in Middleburg they went through all the standard procedures for remarriage for divorced persons in the Episcopal Church…

… Headline: Four women will be ordained…

… Letter to the editor: … By accommodating every odd ball in humanity [the leadership of the church] have ignored the needs of their own constituency. The Blue Book is the culmination of their efforts. … Why are they so preoccupied with social injustice to the exclusion of spiritual and moral values?

… Eleven bishops and a number of clergy and laity from Coalition for the Apostolic Ministry (CAM) signed an agreement in Chicago Dec. 2 which calls for a new “supportive ecclesial entity within the Episcopal Church. The meeting … produced a statement which said they would “not accept the sacramental acts” of the “new ministry” of women in the church, since they believe that women priests could provide “no assurance of Apostolic authority for eucharistic consecration, ordination, absolution, and blessing.” … Suffragan bishop of Dallas Robert E. Terwilliger said he understood the new group “not primarily as a political operation, but rather the beginning of the Apostolic and Catholic life within the Episcopal Church. CAM’s leader James Watley echoed Terwilliger: “We feel very strongly that this whole thing (concerning ordination of women to the priesthood) is the result of the great softness which has crept into the Episcopal Church.”

… Mariner’s Church in downtown Detroit has voted to give nothing to the diocesan budget, and to refuse entry to the church by Michigan’s bishops. The rector … is … a signator of documents calling for establishment of a separate Episcopal Church. Issues bothering the Mariner’s congregation are ordination of women and revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

… At least six clergy … are sponsoring a resolution asking [Annual] Council to “renounce” the “so-called Christian Yellow Pages.” The project, which was begun in Richmond and is planned for Northern Virginia, purports to list “born again” merchants and, the resolution says, “invites Christians to boycott businesses run by other Christians who are not ‘born again’.”

… Unlike most of the other Anglican churches in the world, particularly in the Third World, the Episcopal Church is decentralized and more-or-less democratic.

… Blanche Powell … will be one of the first and few U.S. women priests when she is ordained January 8…. One of the first rebuffs came from the Wisconsin seminary, Nashotah House, which refused her permission to audit its courses. Later, she said, when it was obliged to admit women it shunt them into a condensed curriculum not leading to a divinity degree and giving no credentials for ordination.

… Bishop William Frey of Colorado has told the secessionist rector and majority of the congregation of St. Mary’s, Denver, that they do not need to continue to hire round-the-clock security guards to keep loyalist Episcopalians from trying to re-claim the building.

… By the Rt. Rev. Samuel B. Chilton [bishop suffragan] … Among several million people of the Episcopal Church, there is a great diversity of opinion about what the Church needs and what is helpful. I believe the thing for us to do is work together, and to pray that the Holy Spirit will correct any errors we may make and gradually lead us in the way that’s right. In the Church we need leadership, but not clergy who dominate. I think that to drive people into doing things is the wrong approach in the Christian life. I’ve been disturbed by some clergy who seem, perhaps without realizing it, to say, “All right, you go your way and I’ll go mine. I feel that always, when people are opposed to you, they should have the right to be heard, and shouldn’t be left off committees, boards, etc. And above all, I feel they are people to whom we should minister.


Posted by John B. Chilton


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Professor Christopher Seitz

Neither 1977 deja vu nor la meme chose:

Average age — 57
Average size — 61
Money spent on litigation — 50M
35% of Dioceses — 3000 ASA or less

I entered Virginia Seminary in 1977. TEC was a different world entirely.

JC Fisher

Well, it’s all relative, Christopher. I entered adulthood (i.e., I was confirmed, in TEC) in 1977. Things are SO much better now. Alleluia!

JC Fisher

I was wondering re the Yogi Berra pic, then I remembered his quote: “It was like deja vu all over again!”

The French, famously, also had a phrase for it: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more things change, the more they stay the same”).

Ann Fontaine

thanks JCF — I was pondering the photo and associations.

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