An article in the Christian Post this week explored the increasing number of congregations that are leaving their more liberal denominations over a shift away from traditional teachings and reforming their identities either as independent congregations or by uniting with more conservative denominations. As a typical example, Warren Thrasher, leader of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia, said his congregation began to consider severing ties with The Episcopal Church when the denomination elected a practicing homosexual as bishop—Thrasher called it a “wake up call.” Then when the Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori said in an interview that “Christ was a vehicle to the divine and Jesus was not unique,” it put the final nail in the separation coffin. The CP article said The Episcopal Church sued Truro over property; Thrasher said the separation has “been a huge distraction from our ministry and costly for the congregation.”

Religion professors and researchers say this phenomenon of “endless splits, mergers, and reorganizations” are common throughout history. Timothy Beal at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland says “the splits always have to do with theology, property, or worship practices.” Dr. Jeffry Marlett from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York said conservative Christians “feel that it’s better to stand by their faith and not beome conformed to the ways of the world, which is why you see conservative congregations leaving liberal denominations and not vice versa.” And Douglas Jacobsen from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania commented that “Both liberal and conservative denominations across the board don’t have the kind of loyalty or connectiveness with their congregations that they had 20 or 30 years ago.” Jacobsen pointed to the more non-denominational names denominational churches are choosing for themselves, saying they’re more “embracing.”

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