Skip to comments.Episcopalians remain divided over issue of gay clergy
Posted on 08/03/2008 1:55:39 PM PDT by Graybeard58
It's not about gays.
Episcopalians keep insisting it's not.
But, as American Episcopal bishops return home from an international religious conference this week, it's clear that the "gay issue" is one that continues to split the Episcopal church. Since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, Anglicans have been divided over their approach to gay priests, gay marriage and who holds ultimate authority in the communion of 77 million followers around the world.
The once-a-decade Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, which ends today, showed no ability to suture those wounds. Although the conference was not intended to make binding decisions, the strife within the church was so deep that more than 200 conservative bishops from Africa, Asia and North America boycotted the meeting entirely, convening in Jerusalem instead.
While liberals offered a compromise to hold off consecrating gay bishops or accepting gay marriages, conservatives weren't buying. Many, like Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, said conservatives would not be pacified by delays. "We talked about marriage and said no marriage of the same sex," he said, referring to the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which decreed homosexuality incompatible with scripture. "But still they went ahead and consecrated somebody who was gay."
That "somebody" was Robinson, who arrived at this year's conference with a body guard, and whose election has sparked the secession of the "Connecticut Six" churches from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.
Those churches, including a group that split from Christ Church in Watertown, disagree with Diocesan Bishop Andrew Smith's insistence on accepting gay clergy. In January about 50 of them formed New Hope Anglican Church, which is now allied with the Cathedral Diocese of Nairobi, Kenya.
The Rev. Christopher Leighton of St. Paul's Church of Darien, another of the "Connecticut Six," said that Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury will not be able to hold the church together.
"What we'll see is the continued rise of the Global South leadership. The axis of power is shifting from the rich and the white to those who have less material resources, but have the spiritual resources necessary to lead the communion further," he said.
Nigeria, for example, has 18 million active Anglicans.
At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 80 percent of Anglicans lived in Britain, and only 1 percent lived in sub-Saharan Africa, reports the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Today, 55 percent of the world's Anglicans live in sub-Saharan Africa while only 33 percent of Anglicans live in Britain and few of those are in church most Sundays. In the United States, mainline Protestant churches like the Episcopal Church have been steadily losing members since the 1960s. The number of Anglicans in the United States, has declined to 2.2 million.
A shift to the Global South
Nigeria's Archbishop, Peter Akinola, has condemned homosexuality as an abomination against God's teaching.
"All these people brought Christianity to us, but now the church is growing here like wildfire," Akinola has said. "It's spreading everywhere while the Church in England is withering; while the church in the states is going (away) completely."
How that growth will affect Episcopalians in the United States 80,000 of whom live in Connecticut remains unclear. At Lambeth, Williams acknowledged that the church faces "one of the most severe challenges" in a history that dates back to Henry VIII. "It is not an option to hope that we can somehow just carry on as we always have," he told the bishops.
"In my view, the split has already taken place," David Steinmetz, an expert in Christian history at Duke Divinity School in Charlotte, N.C., told The Associated Press. "The interesting question still unanswered is how wide and deep will it grow?"
"The Episcopal church, as an organization, is changing its teaching and theology and is moving away from the traditions of the church," New Hope member Paul LePine said. "It's been slowly accelerating over the years and it picked up steam when they began blessing same sex unions a few years back," and that is driving conservatives to the African communion.
History of schisms
Although most believe England's King Henry VIII established the Anglican church after Pope Clement VII's refusal to grant his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, church historians insist Henry spent much of his reign challenging Rome's authority. The newly separated Anglican church began to gain structure in the 1500s under the reign of Elizabeth I. The Episcopal Church is the official name of the Province of Anglican Communion in the United States, and was formed shortly after the American Revolution in the late 1700s.
This is not the first time the Episcopal church has encountered division. It split over slavery and 30 years ago separated over the ordination of women, which the full Anglican Communion still does not universally accept.
The Rev. Jim Bradley, of St. John's on the Green in Waterbury, said homophobia seems to be acceptable discrimination.
"If it was a black person or women (in Robinson's place) some may be upset, but not say it out loud, but because he's gay, they say it out loud," he said.
Theology of Episcopal Church
Comedian Robin Williams once said the Episcopal faith was "Catholic light same rituals, half the guilt."
Episcopalians recognize freedom of conscience, which is defined as a person's moral judgment upon oneself. The religion is considered to be half-way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and has played a leading role in the progressive movement since the 1960s.
The Rev. Alex Dyer, a gay minister at Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, said freedom of conscience is what drew him to the faith.
"One of the greatest strengths about the Episcopal church is the whole diversity of views," he said.
"The Episcopal Church, in its history, has not been a very dogmatic church. It's been a church that's allowed people to question, to have doubts and fears, and all that, I think, is a part of a healthy and mature faith," Dyer said.
Bradley agreed. "We have never, unlike most churches, never defined ourselves by theology or doctrine, we defined ourselves by how we worship."
This too shall pass?
Balmer believes the debate over sexuality will pass.
"I think we'll weather this. A lot of people make a lot of noise and I think in the end, people have a kind of attachment to the Episcopal Church."
Not according to Benedict. He is adamant that conservatives are willing to divorce from the Episcopal Church.
Kallsen agreed. "There is no mechanism in the church to help us discipline a branch of our church that is teaching and practicing heresy," he said.
In 2005, many members of St. John's Episcopal Church in Bristol left to join Trinity Church. They voted to separate from the diocese completely in 2007. Last year members of Christ & The Epiphany Church in East Haven followed Trinity's lead and left the diocese as did members of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton. St. Paul's Church in Darien is still in the Episcopal Church but is not contributing pledges to the diocese.
New Hope of Watertown, which left the diocese in January, is meeting at Gateway Bible Church in Oakville. The congregation has about 40 members and is seeking a rector.
They need to play more chess. Maybe then they’d know the difference between a queen and a bishop.
The Episcopalians are discussing admittedly gay clergy, while for decades, the Catholic church has hidden the fact of non-admitted gay and pedophilic clergy. Both are putting maladjusted people into positions of esteem and moral authority in their communities. I’m shaking my head.
Also, gravity still remains in effect.
Nothing devisive whatsoever about their scorched earth agenda.
“I think in the end, people have a kind of attachment”
Gratuitously posting a partial quote, and offering no apology.
The Episcopal church in America to this date claims over 1.5 million members. The true membership role is slightly over 600k.
My family and I left the Episcopal church over two years ago to the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), yet we are still on the Episcopal membership roles.
The new Anglican alignment, FEllOWSHIP OF CONFESSING ANGLICANS.
The Episcopal church is done. They have strayed away from the body of Christ and are no longer in communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide.
The Gay Church marches on in its mission to mainstream homosexuality and sexual immorality in America.
The heterodox American bishops (the primary source of the problem) are being cleaned out, and offenders are being prosecuted, laicized, or parked in monasteries with no contact with the public (those who are still alive or competent - most offenses took place 25 years or more ago).
And the Episcopalians are inviting them in. There is plenty of 'chickenhawking' going on in the Episcopal church, but apparently nobody cares (mostly because the media likes the very liberal Episcopalians, but hates the socially conservative Catholic Church.)
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
The Catholic Church may be cleaning house now, but its going to take a long time, and an even longer time to regain the damaged trust. Even now, long submerged cases of abuse keep cropping up.
I would agree that in contrast, the Episcopals are doing nothing of the sort, and indeed, seem hell bent on going in the opposite direction and proud of it.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is bigger, and the scandal has been brewing for years. The Episcopals seem to be earlier on the curve -- their scandals lie in the future, after the newly ordained gay leaders settle in.
It's just that you don't read about it in the news.
At this point, many of the 'long submerged' cases of abuse are either trial lawyers looking for a payday because the alleged perp is dead and can't defend himself, or folks with some mental/emotional problems (it is less and less believable as time goes on that these folks were 'afraid to come forward'). Unfortunately the ambulance chasers and the drama seekers tend to 'pile on' to notorious cases. This of course makes it harder for an actual victim to get help or prove his case . . . . but that is often true of stories that get big news time.
I researched this issue very carefully when we started looking for a new church home, because we did not want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. The abuse was largely confined to a relatively small number of dioceses, which were mostly headed by heterodox bishops who were busy undermining the Church in the name of "modernity" and "relevance" and "the spirit of Vatican II" (if they had stuck to the Church's teachings and policies on homosexual offenders, there never would have been a serious problem.)
Rev. Bradbury is speaking nonsense. There is a huge difference between skin color (something that you can't choose) and sexual orientation (something that you can choose). Furthermore, dissenters are not scared of homosexuals but rather very welcoming of them. We do believe that they have the right to make their choices; however, since homosexuality is considered a sin in Christianity, they may not serve in positions of leadership.
The left-wingers who have hijacked The Episcopal Church (and other mainstream brand names in our society) are Christianphobes, judging by their excessively hostile and angry acts of retaliation against dissenters in their midst.
Funny, my husband and I were just talking this weekend about this attitude of how liberals think to shame conservatives by giving them a name. And, he used your example of them having a phobia against Christians.
As for this topic, I don't think it's limited to the Episcopal Church. It's happening everywhere. This is not something the homosexuals should be trying to force on Christian churches. If they want to form their own church for homosexuals then so be it.
I tell people that if their church is teaching anything other than what's in the bible....RUN! I say KUDOs to those who broke away from the church that condones homosexuality.
It's just another example of the homosexual agenda.
Oh, we know full well the signs.
What a disgusting photo!
I led my family out of Sodom to the Ark of Orthodoxy three years ago. At that time we wrote and informed the local ECUSA bishop we had left and asked to be removed from the roll. We got a "with great sorrow" response. It recently came to my attention that we are still on the roll. I sent a to-the-point letter asking to be (really) removed this time. No response.
Since I'm a lawyer, perhaps I'll sue them in my spare time. Seems to be all they understand. Since TEC is no longer Christian, the prohibition of I Corinthians 6:1 does not apply.
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