A lesbian Episcopal priest who was recalled by a diocese in Sudan for her remarks regarding homosexuality has been invited to lead worship at a historic Virginia church.
The Rev. Lauren Stanley, who has frequently argued in favor of LGBT causes in The Episcopal Church, was invited by The Falls Church Episcopal to lead worship next Sunday.
Jeff Walton, Anglican staffer for the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post why the Sudanese Diocese of Renk had her recalled from her position.
“Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak specifically told then-Virginia Bishop Peter Lee to recall her because of her statements at Diocesan Council insisting that the Sudanese didn’t care about same-sex relations,” said Walton.
“The Episcopal Church of Sudan has been very clear that they adhere to orthodox teaching and are against the normalization of same-sex unions in the Anglican Communion.”
The Falls Church Episcopal is a “continuing congregation” of The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Earlier this year, the Virginia Diocese won a years-long legal battle against the departing Falls Church Anglican congregation over possession of the church property.
Falls Church Anglican had broken away from The Episcopal Church over its increasingly liberal theology, namely its growing acceptance of homosexuality. The Falls Church Episcopal congregation is the smaller remnant of the congregation that remained with the Episcopal Diocese.
After years of court battles, the property of it as well as six other breakaway congregations were given to the diocese. Falls Church Anglican, led by the Rev. Dr. John Yates, celebrated its last Sunday on the property in May.
The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, Chief Operating Officer of the American Anglican Council, told CP that the move to invite Stanley was an insult to those who were removed from The Falls Church property.
“The Rev. Dr. John Yates graciously expressed the hope that The Falls Church would continue to be a place where biblical, orthodox Anglicanism would be preached and taught,” said Ashey.
“If Bishop Shannon Johnston really wanted to honor that hope and build bridges with departing Anglicans, he would not have permitted such a divisive person to come and preach. This is nothing short of a poke in the eye to departing Anglicans.”
Regarding the property legal matters, Walton of IRD told CP that there still remains the question of the approximately $2.8 million in The Falls Church’s bank accounts.
“The money is currently held in escrow by the court pending the outcome of the appeal. TFCA argues that the funds were earmarked by donors to not go to the diocese or Episcopal Church,” said Walton.
“Most pledges at TFC were ‘restricted’ at least since 2003, meaning the donors instructed that none of their money be forwarded on to the diocese or national church.”
The Falls Church Episcopal congregation did not comment by press time.