What effect does the national Episcopal Church have on COTHA? None. The theological innovations promoted by some in the national church have caused conflict and strife in many places. While we have taken strong stances against these innovations, we have not allowed them to distract us from our mission as a conjuration. To fully understand COTHA’s position on situation concerning the national church, see our latest statement of position below. If you have further questions, please contact the church office.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you may know, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution allowing for the blessing of same sex unions at its most recent convention in July 2012. Our stance on such innovations has been consistent since the beginning of the national church’s drift away from biblical orthodoxy. We have boldly stated our opposition against such innovations. In many ways, the national church has helped us clarify who we are, what we believe and what we do at COTHA.
The most recent decisions of the national church have gone further than in the past. Now, in many dioceses throughout the United States, blessings of same sex unions are being allowed. What made it even more problematic was the decision of the Bishop of Texas to allow these blessings at two congregations in the Diocese of Texas. We no longer could simply make statements in opposition to this and other decisions that the Episcopal Church was making that stood in direct opposition to clear Biblical teaching and the traditions of the Church. We had to act in a way to keep such innovations away from the practice and teaching of COTHA.
In June of 2012, we met in a congregational meeting to hear from our leadership what our response would be. I made it clear that all people are welcome here, even those who struggle with same-sex attractions. We will never be a place where sinners are not welcome; this includes those who struggle with greed, materialism, lust, and so on. I also made it clear that while sinners are welcome, God never turns sin into virtue. These are times where sitting on the fence serves no purpose other than to confuse. We took our stand on the truth of God’s Word, on the witness of the tradition in both the Anglican Church and the vast majority of all Christian churches. We will continue to speak up when others claim another gospel. As Paul writes to the Church in Galatia: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
We recognize that our battle is not against physical forces but with the spiritual realm of evil and darkness. There are many who think that times have changed and we should just change our theology to meet changes in our culture. While recognizing that blessing same sex unions are more and more accepted by the larger culture and even in some churches, we believe that to embrace such error and sin is to walk away from the faith once delivered. Not only is that wrong, such heresy brings harm to those who embrace it. We will continue to stand on the truth of God’s word and face the criticism that that might bring. In order to keep such innovations from entering into the teaching and practice of COTHA, either directly or indirectly, we asked the congregation to vote on changing the Articles of Incorporation; which legally state what will and will not be allowed at COTHA. The changes related to the blessings of same sex unions include the following:
Neither the Vestry nor the Clergy of this Corporation (COTHA) shall:
(a) Conduct or participate in rites, services or ceremonies for the Holy Matrimony or blessing of the union of persons of the same gender;
(b) Sponsor for ordination or employ any priest or other clergy who is engaged in a non-celibate relationship outside of Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman, or be required to participate in any liturgy where such a non-celibate person is in leadership; or
(c) Offer any liturgies or promote any teachings inconsistent with those contained in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
The last change was to keep us from using any new prayer book that the Episcopal Church could adopt that might include the blessings of same sex unions or other theological innovations. The congregation of COTHA overwhelming voted in favor of changing the Articles. They now offer us legal protection to keep these innovations from directly or indirectly affecting us.
We live in trying times but I am acutely aware that God has called us to stand firm in a denomination that has time after time acquiesced to a secular world view, supplanting the truth of God’s Word with a “different” Gospel. It is a blessing to be part of this denomination, refusing to either quit or run from the truth. We can and are making a difference.
We have written the Bishop of Texas to register our opposition to his policy and the Diocese has accepted the changes in our Articles of Incorporation. Having dealt faithfully with this, we pray that we not lose our focus to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word to a hurting world. I ask your prayers in thanksgiving for the leadership of COTHA and God’s continued hand on all that happens in this place.
The Rev. Dr. Darrel D. Proffitt
Lead Pastor, COTHA