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Episcopalian fissure focus of Anglican priest's talks


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POSTED: Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Anglican priest whose North Carolina parish is one of several congregations to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church will lead informational meetings on Oahu for Episcopalians contemplating a similar move.

The Rev. C. King Cole retired as rector of All Saints Church in Morehead, N.C., which chose to be linked with the Anglican diocese of Rwanda. Cole said the Rwanda Anglican Mission in the Americas is one of the splinter groups working to create an Anglican Province in North America.

Cole will speak at a 7 p.m. Monday meeting at the Kailua High School music room, 451 Ulumanu St. The meeting will be followed by a Eucharist service. A second meeting will be held March 22.

Cole will officiate at a Eucharist service at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow at Kailua Assembly of God, 669 Iliaina St., and again at services on March 22 and 29.

Acceptance of homosexuals, as ordained ministers and in same-gender unions, is at the core of dissension within the U.S. branch of the 77-million member worldwide Anglican Communion. Other autonomous provinces in the communion proposed severing the American church after U.S. bishops in 2003 approved the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

The more conservative elements within the communion believe in a literal reading of the Bible, insisting that Jesus is the only path to salvation and homosexual practice is a sin.

"The issue is not homosexuality," said Cole in an interview. "The issue is the authority of scripture—either it is true or it is not true. This is not just germane within the Anglican Communion, but is an issue for people in other mainline churches."

Cole, who was an Episcopal priest for 36 years, resigned and was then ordained as an Anglican priest, said he considers the Episcopal church "an apostate church. I believe the church left us."

He said he was invited to speak in Hawaii and is not here to lock horns with the local diocese, which has about 10,000 members.

"I am not a church stealer," he said. "I'm here to talk to people who are looking for an Anglican home, and to the unchurched. I do what I can to help people get focused," said Cole who has helped six churches make the split.

When Cole and 700 members of his former parish chose to sever ties, it led to a legal dispute over property which the Carolina Episcopal diocese won. "We gave up our building, our name and $400,000 in the bank," Cole said.