By David Virtue, VOL
Virginia Episcopal Bishop Shannon Johnston ordained an avowed lesbian, Jo J. Belser, to the priesthood in the former parish of the Rev. John Yates – at the Falls Church, VA — even as he talked up "reconciliation" with ACNA priest the Rev. Tory Baucam in front of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Coventry cathedral recently.
The ordination included a number of men and women one of which included Belser. Belser is the lesbian daughter of a fundamentalist preacher who lives in Alexandria, VA, She said that she joined the Episcopal Church because "it's the only one that lets gay people grow spiritually without requiring that they stop being gay."
Her ordination was the most in your face act committed by a bishop in a former evangelical TEC parish that once resounded weekly with evangelical praise and worship along with a deep commitment to preaching Christ and His gospel. Today only the chapel is open for business.
Yates was forced out of the $20 million parish that once seated 2500 evangelical Episcopalians over the direction the Episcopal Church was headed in ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians and blessing same sex unions.
Truro Church is located in the city of Fairfax, about 15 miles southwest of Washington and attracts 1,400 people on a typical Sunday, making it one of the 10 largest Episcopal congregations in the country. On matters of morality, it is among the staunchest. Its assets are valued at $10 million.
The deal is viewed by Archbishop Welby as a model of reconciliation. In a meeting of the two men at Coventry Cathedral, they told their story of "reconciliation" which was roundly praised by the new archbishop.
Baucom and Johnston both admitted that the consecration of V. Gene Robinson was a defining moment in the life of the Episcopal Church.
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