, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 31, 2007

All Saints reopens in Amesbury

AMESBURY — All Saints Anglican Church will open its doors for its first worship service on Sunday, Sept. 9, making its break from the Episcopal Church complete.

The church, formerly All Saints Episcopal Church in West Newbury, is relocating to the former Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The property was part of the Holy Family Parish, but church officials were forced to sell the church and its accompanying buildings due to debt and financial burdens.

The Rev. William Murdoch, pastor of All Saints, returns next week from Kenya, where he was ordained as a bishop in the Anglican Church on Thursday.

“The West used to send missionaries to Africa and the Third World,” said Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi as he consecrated Texas priest Bill Atwood and the Rev. Murdoch. “But now the Third World is sending its missionaries to the West.”

The Rev. Michael Morse, assistant rector at the Amesbury church, said he hasn’t communicated with Murdoch since his ordination but that he expects the pastor is “very pleased and very excited.”

Murdoch left the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, because it allows the ordination of gay priests. As a Kenyan bishop, he and Atwood return to the United States to minister to 32 congregations under Nzimbi’s jurisdiction.

The issue has a heightened significance for Murdoch, whose brother is a gay priest. After his consecration Thursday, Murdoch said: “My brother and I love each other and we always will. ... The difference of opinion we have regarding this issue will not distract us.”

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, had asked African archbishops not to consecrate U.S. priests to help avoid a schism. Nzimbi said there had been no direct communication with Williams over Thursday’s ceremony.

Williams has no direct authority to force a compromise because each Anglican province is self-governing.

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