Conflicting Identities: An Ethnographic Account of Conflict and Schism in an Episcopal Parish

in Ecclesial Practices
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This paper draws upon a congregational study of an Episcopal parish in the United States in conflict over sexuality issues. Based on ethnographic research, the paper tells the story of a small Northern Virginia church’s internal struggles, schism, and continuing post-schism conflicts, in the context of its changing external social and religious landscape. A practical theological analysis of these conflicts explores the existence of different theological and political ecclesiologies shaping the conflict, as well as utilizing the work of peace scholars Marie Dugan1 and John Paul Lederach2 to consider conflict’s multidimensional, interacting features.

Ecclesial Practices

Journal of Ecclesiology and Ethnography




In May 2004, the senior warden’s column in the parish newsletter notes that non-vestry members asked the vestry in its April meeting ‘how we intend to respond to tec’s vote to affirm the consecration of Bishop Robinson and to the position of the American Anglican Council (aac), an emerging organization of individuals and groups who understand themselves as “orthodox Anglicans.”’ He went on to say that Father Henry appointed a person to head a small group looking into the aac, noting that the vestry’s decision to not to join the aac currently should not be taken as endorsement of the General Convention’s action.


 See Povliko and Longino 2004, pp. 1–15; Inglehart Inglehart, R., Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) pp. 315.


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