More than 150 dropout Episcopalians crowded into an Alexandria motel room yesterday to launch the Anglican Church of Saint Margaret of Scotland, the first such rebel church to be formed in this area as a result of the current controversy within the Episcopal Church.
The congregation unanimously approved a slate of officers following a service of holy communion, conducted according to the old-style Prayer Book which yesterday's worshipers hold to be superior to the revised version tentatively approved by the Episcopal Church 18 months ago.
The new congregation will take its place as a part of the Anglican Church in North America, which has split from the Episcopal Church over the question of women priests, liturgical revision and social issues.
Jerry Loomis, of Alexandria, who has been the moving force behind the organization of the new parish and who was elected its senior warden yesterday, announced that a second breakaway congregation in this area would be formed soon in Washington.
The Rev. R. Michael Wynkoop, who is expected to serve the yet-to-beformed Washington congregation, speculated yesterday that the group might hold its first service by Easter, but added, "It all depends on what the Holy Spirit will do."
Wynkoop, who was on the staff of the Washington Cathedral until last month, said he did not know where the Washington group would meet.
Yesterday's communion service was celebrated by the Rev. R. Robertson Kendall, who wore a red and green Scottish tartan stole over his white vestments. Kendall is rector of the Church of the Ascension in Centreville.
Loomis expressed surprise at the number of people, most of them middle-aged or older, who turned out for yesterday's service.
"We have not pushed this thing." he said. "Nobody likes to be pushed." The church, which has an office at 112 N. Alfred St. in Alexandria, announced plans for services at the Ramada Inn in Alexandria for the next four Sundays.
An air of defiance of and at bitterness toward Episcopal and Anglican church authority marked yesterday's gathering. During a discussion of the validity of the consecration three weeks ago of bishops for the breakaway church, a senior member of the congregation voiced sharp criticism of the archbishop of Canterbury, the nominal head of worldwide Anglicanism.
"I see no reason why we can't come away" from the Episcopal Church, the representative body of Anglicanism, the man said. "The archbishop of Canterbury," he continued, "is praying to the pope to be reconciled" -- a reference to unity talks between Canterbury and the Vatican. "He's not really Anglican, he's more like a Methodist parson."
A woman parishioner explained to a visitor that the new church had to be formed because the changes made in the Episcopal church had taken it out of the Christian tradition. "It's not we who are leaving the church," She said. "They are the ones who have left the church."