Author archives: Suzanne Bowdey

Judge: This land is your land…

by Suzanne Bowdey

October 20, 2008

It’s been five years since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, but the shockwaves are still rippling through the national church.  Across America, congregations have exploded in protest.  Despite pleas from many in the 2.2 million-member church, Episcopal leaders stubbornly refuse to back down from their liberal, pro-homosexual theology. 

After months of negotiations failed to bring the denomination back to its conservative teachings, a band of 11 Virginia churches took the unprecedented step to sever all ties and realign under the Anglican Church of Nigeria.  Together, these congregations made the courageous-and costly-decision to separate from a denomination whose American roots are more than 300 years deep. 

But the stand for Biblical truth has come at great price to the faithful in Virginia.  They face financial hardship, eviction from their property, and a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Episcopal headquarters. 

Since early 2007, the Diocese of Virginia has attacked the churches in a vicious suit that threatens to confiscate their church homes.  With almost no resources, the 11 churches banded together in defense of their land, resulting in the largest property dispute in the history of the Episcopal Church. 

At every stage of the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia court battle (now four rounds old), Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows has ruled in favor of the breakaway churches.  Last week, Judge Bellows rounded out this series of victories by ruling that Truro Church-the second largest parish-“could retain ownership of land sought by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.”  In a story of true David versus Goliath proportions, the news continues to stun the mainstream church.

But despite how far the Virginia parishes have come, the Episcopal Church shows no sign of giving up.  Its national leaders have vowed to fight these decisions all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.  In a press release, the Diocese says it “will continue to explore every legal option available” to seize these church homes.  Despite the mass exodus this month from parishes in Pittsburgh and San Joaquin (see George Will’s Sunday column “A Faith’s Dwindling Following”) and the impending rift in Fort Worth, the Episcopal Church leaves no doubt that the legal battle has just begun.  In fact, it could continue for years.  

If you’re interested helping the churches at “Ground Zero” in the Anglican crisis, please log on to Truro’s website  and consider standing with them for biblical truth.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

by Suzanne Bowdey

December 21, 2006

In Baghdad, the blackened cars outside churches and abandoned houses where people once worshiped point to an even greater emptiness in Iraq. Since the war, Christians have faced great persecution and hardship, all signaling a new era in a country that was once the cradle of their faith. While it may be home to the ancient cities of Ninevah and Babylon, Ur and the Garden of Eden, families of God are fleeing Iraq—afraid for their lives and the daily threat of terrorism. Frightened by a future where they would be hunted or outcast, thousands of Christians have fled for safe havens.

In the past few years, the fragile peace between the country’s Christians and Muslims has been shattered. God-fearing Iraqis have watched helplessly as their brothers and sisters in Christ fall victim to bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and intimidation. In the face of great suffering, the shrinking population still searches for asylum. By record numbers, nearly half of what was once considered the world’s oldest Christian body has disappeared. As one religious leader said, “The situation that is in the country will not allow us to practice our services freely. It is not safe to go [out] from home. We are meeting every Sabbath, but it is very difficult. We expect an explosion at any time during the day.” Like every Iraqi, he prays for a better tomorrow. “We hope that things will change,” he said. “But no one knows except God.”

Two thousand years ago, the fate of the world hung by a similar thread. A virgin birth. The innocent manger. A promise of salvation. All were endangered by a Middle Eastern tyrant who slaughtered millions in hopes of killing the rightful King, Jesus Christ.

…After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have observed his star and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened… Then Herod secretly called for the wise men… and sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage… When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising… When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. They saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage… And having been warned by a dream… they left for their country by another road… Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up and take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt… for Herod is about to search for the child and destroy him.’ (Matthew 2:2-3, 9-13)

Just as the Savior is born every year within the hearts and minds of His people, so too are the modern Herods, armed with angry troops and deadly weapons. But I am grateful for this side of the nativity story, because we learn that in the face of evil and corruption, the Messiah still finds His way.

Though suicide bombers threaten and war tears many apart, the faithful have clung to the Light in a world that seeks to destroy it. While the course is difficult, and fear and darkness often cover our path, history tells us that somewhere behind these horrors are the stirrings of peace and goodwill. On the other side of this manger is the Kingdom of Heaven. We celebrate with the poet T.S. Eliot, who wrote of the Magi, We returned to our places / But no longer at ease here / in the old dispensation / with an alien people clutching their gods / I should be glad of another death. This season, may the world be grateful “of another death” that brings new life in Christ.

From everyone at FRC, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a restful New Year!

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