1 April 2013

Liberia: Local Episcopal Church Still Divided

A local parish within the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia, Saint Augustine Episcopal Church still appears to be divided with the men's department on one hand and the Preist-in-Charge and the vestry (Church administrators) on the other.

The St. Augustine Episcopal Church located on Bardnersville Road is engulfed with crisis despite the intervention of Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart.

The President of the Men's Department Prince Bolden told this paper last evening that he is preparing his letter of resignation from the Church.

He said his resignation as president of the men and member of the Church stems from the manner in which the Priest of the St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Rev. Nyema Harmon is administering the parish.

Bolden stated that Bishop Hart did little to resolve that ongoing crisis in the Church.

Recently, Bishop Hart set up a special investigative committee to look into the crisis at the St. Augustine Episcopal Church. The committee has completed its work and findings have been submitted.

The committee recommended that the election of Rev. Harmon as Rector of the St. Augustine Episcopal Church is null and void because, according to them, the procedure leading to such process was not properly followed.

The committee also suggested that the current vestry (church administrators) remains in charge until next year when an election will be held.

Additionally, the committee recommended that Rev. Harmon serves as a reconciler in the Church.

Report reaching this paper says Bishop Hart has already endorsed the committee's recommendations to keep Rev. Harmon as Priest-in- Charge, a decision which majority of the St. Augustine men opposed.

However, in the wake of the recommendation from the probe committee, Mr. Bolden and several men are considering leaving the parish to move to the Anglican Church or another Episcopal Church in the diocese.

Bolden said Rev. Harmon is part of the conflict in the Church; therefore, it would be difficult for him to reconcile the parish as recommended by the special investigative committee.

He commended the committee for the investigation but maintained that the findings and recommendations will prolong the conflict.

If there is a breakaway in the Episcopal Church, it would be the second under Bishop Hart. It can be recalled that some members broke away from the St. Stephens Episcopal Church on 10th Street and established the Anglican Church which has been recognized by the Anglican Church in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church of Liberia is expected to convene for a three-day clergy conference at the Broomly Mission in Brewerville, outside Monrovia.

During the Clergy conference which runs from April 3-5, 2013, changes are expected to be made by Bishop Hart wherein some priests will be reassigned.

The clergy Conference followed a failed diocesan convention last February. The convention could not be held due to the lack of funds to facilitate the event.

Inside sources has hinted this paper that Bishop Hart might likely reassign Rev. Harmon from the St. Augustine Episcopal Church to another parish to avoid another breakaway in the diocese.

A prominent Episcopal Clergyman told this paper on condition of anonymity that the best way out of the ongoing conflict at the St. Augustine Church is to reassign Rev. Harmon.

He said from what he has heard and observed in the Church, Rev. Harmon cannot unify the members.

The Episcopal Clergyman said if Bishop Hart allows the conflict to prolong, he would be setting a stage for bad legacy.

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