TENNESSEE: Leaders of two parishes resign; remaining Episcopalians continue services

January 23, 2008

Leaders of two parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee resigned effective January 7, according to Bishop John C. Bauerschmidt.

The Rev. Frederick Richardson Jr. resigned as vicar of Holy Cross Church, Murfreesboro, and has disaffiliated with the Episcopal Church. He now serves as rector of Faith Anglican Fellowship, which is affiliated with the conservative Anglican Communion Network of Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP) and the Common Cause Partnership of North America as a part of the Church of the Province of Uganda.

The Rev. William Midgett resigned as rector of Trinity Church, Winchester and has disaffiliated with Episcopal Church.

In both cases, several parishioners have also chosen to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church while remaining Episcopalians are currently discerning their future and continue to hold services.

"We will insure that pastoral care continues at both churches," said Bauerschmidt in a statement on the diocesan website.

The actions at both parishes, Bauerschmidt said, were taken without prior consultation with him. "I was not offered an opportunity to confer with parish leadership at either Holy Cross or Trinity Church about these weighty matters," he said.

Bauerschmidt met with Holy Cross' parishioners and supporters on January 20 and with parishioners of Trinity, Winchester, on the evening of January 14. He was quoted in The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal as saying: "In any situation, where there's loss, there's grief. This is an opportunity for the church to develop new leadership and new programs. With this kind of challenge, there's an even better opportunity to focus on the mission of the church, reaching out to the unchurched."

Parishes remain part of the Episcopal Church even when local leaders and/or a number of parishioners opt to leave the denomination as a matter of personal choice. A parish continues within the Episcopal Church and the local diocese, usually with a newly elected vestry.


-- The Rev. Lisa B. Hamilton is Episcopal Life Media correspondent in the dioceses of Provinces I and IV.

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