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What's the St. James schism really about?

August 22, 2004

Regarding "Church drops 'Episcopal' from its name," Wednesday, the

Daily Pilot indicates that St. James Church withdrew from the

Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles chiefly because of irreconcilable

differences over their understanding of Jesus as a savior and a path

to salvation.

The paper reports that St. James has "no issues with ...

homosexuality," and Pastor Praveen Bunyan says that "we don't

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discriminate against anyone." But Wednesday's Los Angeles Times

article on the same subject cites homosexuality -- specifically, the

larger church's increasing acceptance of gay congregants, gay clergy

members, and same-sex commitment ceremonies -- as St. James' reason

for the split.

Which is it? Is St. James unclear about its position, or simply

reluctant to own up to it? Quotes from parishioners seem to suggest

that the church and its leaders aren't quite as warm and welcoming

toward gays as Pastor Bunyan tells us.

It seems to me that a church struggling to realize fully the

sometimes confusing, often challenging teachings of Jesus would do

well to err on the side of inclusion and compassion, even -- rather,

especially -- when that requires them to confront honestly their own

preconceptions and prejudices. What a shame that St. James opted to

take a hard turn in the opposite direction.

ELIZA RUBENSTEIN

Costa Mesa

This, in my opinion, is an inappropriate question for the Daily

Pilot to be asking readers to comment on.

Many denominations are dealing with serious issues that God-loving

people have differing viewpoints on. Each congregation tries to work

through the issues with discussion and prayer. Hopefully, they will

agree on a course of action.

It is none of our business, unless we are a member of St. James,

for any of us to comment.

PATTY HEALEY

Costa Mesa

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