Bishop John Herzog insists that he doesn't take any pleasure in the widening cracks that threaten to split the Episcopal Church.
doesn't hold out much hope for the church in which he
grew up, either, and he
would advise those who can't abide the recent consecration of an openly gay bishop to do what he
"We do not rejoice in the splitting of the Episcopal Church
said."But we do rejoice that some will follow the scripture of Christ and go elsewhere.The Episcopal Church
is trying to be a political party instead of a church.Can't do it." When Herzog left in 1983, he didn't become an evangelical Christian or join the Roman Catholic Church.He
turned to a largely unknown movement of small, independent, traditionalist Anglican churches in the United States that began to take off when the Episcopal Church
decided to recognize the ordination of women as priests in 1976.
is presiding bishop of the American Anglican Church
, which includes a dozen parishes in seven states, including the one he
pastors, Holy Innocents Anglican Church
in Briarcliff Manor.They are part of a movement of about 450 traditionalist Anglican parishes in the nation that not only live apart from the Episcopal Church
, but do not recognize the archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the official, worldwide Anglican Communion.
These churches worship in a kind of parallel Anglican universe.They call themselves "continuing" churches because they believe that they, not the Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church
, are continuing to worship and live as early church leaders intended. "We believe that the Episcopal Church left us by going in an ultra-liberal direction," said Herzog, 71, a retired New York Telephone Co. manager who entered the seminary at 45, just as the debate over women's ordination began to heat up.
"While in seminary, I could see that the church had a feminist agenda rather than a Christian agenda." Herzog
is now watching from the sideline as the Episcopal Church
contends with perhaps its most controversial and divisive step, the Nov. 2 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.
Not surprisingly, Herzog
expects that some orthodox Episcopalians will find their way to the continuing Anglican churches.
"People come to us who are disappointed in their church," he
But the Rev. Eric Cosentino, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Divine Love
in Montrose and a longtime friend of Herzog's
, said the Episcopal Church
is almost certain to lose members, some to the continuing Anglican churches.
"There is no doubt that in the short run, the continuing Anglican churches will grow," said Cosentino, who is committed to stemming the Episcopal Church's liberalism from within."In the long run, my hope is that our grappling with these issues will shake things up.I even hope that someday the continuing churches will come back to the Anglican Communion.It's a shame that we don't have someone like John Herzog
, who is married, with three daughters and four grandchildren, offers the classic orthodox positions in an Anglican frame.He
does not take a literal reading of the Bible as evangelicals might, but says that deconstructing every passage can leave the Good Book as nothing more than a fairy tale.
"The Bible has to be read in totality," he
leads a small congregation of 25 to 50 people that meets in a former stable purchased in 1999.It had to be rebuilt from a fire several years before.An elegant, mostly white chapel is now located where horse carriages were once stored.Upstairs, there are bedrooms for visiting seminarians who come for training as throwback Anglicans. Herzog
periodically visits the scattered parishes of the American Anglican Church