Conflicts in Connecticut Six Case Continue

Relations between six dissenting Anglican parishes in Connecticut and their bishop are at a continued stalemate despite months of negotiations and talks.

In a recent statement released by his office, the Bishop of Connecticut blamed the six parishes of extending the dispute by rejecting his authority.

“We can disagree about many things, but we cannot disagree about the role of the bishop in his diocese. I cannot break my own vows as bishop, suspend the constitution and canons, and relinquish my authority because we don't agree on a given issue,” said Bishop Andrew D. Smith

In response, the six churches charged Smith of “tearing apart the Church” by departing from the Scripture truth and Anglican teachings.”

“His failure to conform his ministry to the clear teaching of Scripture, the Anglican Communion, and even to the official teaching of the Episcopal Church, is tearing apart the Church we love,” the six rectors wrote in a May 27 statement.

The dispute between Bishop Smith and the Connecticut six began in April 2004 but escalated in recent months. After nearly a year of fruitless talks, the six rectors decided to reject the oversight of both the Connecticut bishop and the national Episcopal Church. By April 15, 2005, Smith threatened to defrock the six ministers for “abandoning the communion of the church.”

At the heart of the debate lies a disagreement over the election of an active homosexual man as bishop – the same dispute that caused a wider rupture within the international Anglican Communion.

Smith was among the majority of bishops in the U.S. that confirmed the gay bishop’s ordination and voted for the blessing of same-sex unions.

“It is of particular and grave concern to our six parishes that the Bishop has fostered policies which effectively exclude from ordination all who follow traditional, catholic teaching on human sexuality,” the six rectors wrote in their statement. “Bishop Smith’s actions represent an abuse of power.”

The six rectors facing removal are: The Rev. Mark Hansen of St. John's Church in Bristol, the Rev. Ronald Gauss of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, the Rev. Gilbert Wilkes of Christ and the Epiphany Church in East Haven and the Rev. Don Helmandollar of Trinity Church in Bristol and the Rev. Allyn Benedict of Christ Episcopal Church in Watertown.