The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida believes that it is moving closer to resolving questions surrounding the stated intention of the rectors and senior wardens of seven parishes and two church planters to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church, according to a statement added to the diocesan website January 18.
The parishes are Gloria Dei, Cocoa; St. Anne's, Crystal River; Good Shepherd, Maitland; St. Edward's, Mount Dora; Grace, Ocala; Holy Cross, Winter Haven; and Trinity, Vero Beach. The "church plants" are St. Philip's, Lake Nona; and St. Nicholas, Poinciana.
Meetings to discuss the issue began on October 18, when the rectors and senior wardens met with Bishop John W. Howe and representatives of the diocese to discuss the possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations might leave The Episcopal Church.
On January 18, the diocese released an update on the status of each parish:
Gloria Dei, Cocoa: Those wishing to disaffiliate will form a separate church and lease the existing church space from the diocese for the next three years.
Good Shepherd, Maitland: The rector and a portion of the congregation will be leaving in February. Good Shepherd will continue as an Episcopal church.
Grace, Ocala: The rector and those who wish to leave will develop a new church on property owned by Grace School, separately incorporated. Grace School and the new church will be independent. The diocese will place an interim rector at the existing Grace Episcopal Church.
Holy Cross, Winter Haven: The rector and a portion of the congregation have left as of January 6, with no claim on Church property. A new vestry is in place, and a retired Episcopal priest is serving as interim rector.
St. Anne's, Crystal River: The leadership had a change of heart soon after the October meeting and says their plan to disaffiliate is withdrawn.
St. Edward's, Mount Dora: The rector and a portion of the congregation have left as of December 31, with no claim on Church property. A former rector of St. Edward's is in place as an interim to carry the parish forward as an Episcopal church.
St. Nicholas, Poinciana: The church planter and congregation have disaffiliated as of January 1. No property is involved. They plan to return $25,000 given by the diocese to start the Episcopal mission in 2007.
St. Philip's, Lake Nona: The church planter and congregation have disaffiliated as of November 15, 2007. No property is involved. They have given to the diocese a $10,000 "tithe" of the start-up money they had raised.
Trinity, Vero Beach -- No proposal has yet been finalized.