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Community of St. Mary, Southern Province, responds to Eastern Province joining ACNA

Community of St. Mary, Southern Province, responds to Eastern Province joining ACNA
We do not understand or agree with this decision. It is grievous and misguided

April 16, 2021

Earlier this week the Sisters learned of the decision by the Eastern Province of our Order (New York) to leave the Episcopal Church. Well, we do not understand or agree with this decision, we certainly grieve for the Sisters of the former Eastern Province.

Be assured, however, that we, the Sisters of the Community of St. Mary in Sewanee, remains steadfast in our commitment to the Episcopal church. We are proud of and will continue our ministry and witness as the oldest religious community for women in the Episcopal Church.

Here is the Official Statement for our Community on the recent decision of the Eastern Province

As some of you probably know, the Eastern province of the community of St. Mary recently announced their resolved to leave the Episcopal Church. We ourselves were only told the day before by email and have been going through some initial stages of grief over that reality. Sadly, we are not totally surprised by their decision; they have been unhappy in the Episcopal Church for some time. And while we consider their decision grievous and misguided, we also accept that they are not likely to turn away from their present course of action. We write, then to assure you that we, as a community of St. Mary, will remain faithful to our calling within the Episcopal Church.

The Community of St. Mary, was founded in 1865 when Harriet Starr Cannon, and a small group of women, sought the Church's approval to found a religious community within the Episcopal Church. Bishop Horatio Potter, then Episcopal Bishop of New York, supported the Sisters' efforts and facilitated that approval as well as the Community's consequent founding. It was the first Episcopal religious community for women in the US.

The Eastern Province's decision saddens us because our founder rooted our Community in the Episcopal Church. For 156 years the Community has prayed and served within that context. Now, by deciding to join the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word and the Anglican Church in North America, these sisters set aside that tradition and heritage. We will not. We stand with Mother Harriet and the Episcopal Church. Indeed, we are honored to carry on our communities long and rich ministry of prayer and service within the Episcopal Church.

We will grieve for the Sisters, who formally composed the Eastern Province of the Community and assure them of our prayers as they discern the future.

In the Risen Christ,

Sr. Madeleine Mary, CSM
Prioress, The Community of St Mary's, Sewanee
April 15, 2021

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