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.
As you aptly point out, the Catholic Church does NOT approve of ordaining active homosexuals, whereas the Episcopal Church goes beyond approval to active promotion and even in some cases enforcement.
I've been trying since 2003!
It's like the old Plain Truth magazine, once you got on their mailing list, you could never get off!
I'm a lawyer too, but I haven't sued them . . . yet. I was trying to figure out some less contentious way.
Someone suggested finding a sympathetic rector, transferring membership to his parish, and then dropping off . . . .
“Oh, no, the Episcopal scandals are already here, and have been for some time. They are just being swept under the rug by a complaisant media. I know, because I used to be an Episcopalian. Our (former) local cathedral is well known as a “meat market”, I am sorry to say.”
Yes, we have an Episcopal “church” here, next to the entertainment district, that is a well known hookup spot. Every Friday evening they have an after work dinner, and it’s known as one of the places you can find a new boyfriend for the evening, and then go out to the gay nightclubs.
Before all this liberal nonsense got started (back in the 50s and early 60s) it was a very nice church, but things started going downhill with Bishop Spong and Bishop Pike.
You would think they'd have to hit bottom sometime, but they just keep digging . . . . .
I suggest peppering the diocese with hard copy letters (firmly) requesting a response. They are a bureaucracy, and every one of those letters will have to be read and go in a stack; it's not so easy to delete a piece of paper.
If you really want to get results, address it to the TEC bishop, write "Personal" on it, and (politely) demand a written response. That should get you removed (see Luke 18:2-5).
And that would be absolutely correct, too. The real issues have to do with authority, including but probably not limited to the following:
1. The authority of Scripture, and how properly to address it;
2. the authority of bishops individually and as a group;
3. and also the authority of the Communion with respect to the individual provinces.
And let us never forget -- the most serious issue of all is the fact that the blame for this mess lies, not with the "liberals," who did nothing more than what they always do; but rather with us "orthodox" folks who have been -- and remain -- too blind and lazy to deal with this issue as it should be dealt with.
There was a concerted effort to use Episcopalians' good will and reluctance to "make a fuss" or to go to law, to infiltrate the church. The liberal feminists and homo-activists were openly discussing this while Louie Crew was still playing with dolls.
In my mind it started when they dumped the Book of Common Prayer and replaced it in 1979 with a Book of Assorted Services full of non-Christian theology. Especially bad was dumping the 39 Articles as part of that process, which among other things said it was unlawful for the Episcopal Church to do anything contrary to Scripture. Now the 39 Articles are merely an historical document. The result is today’s cult.
Once the individual could follow his own beliefs without reference to Scripture or Tradition, without penalty, then any crazy belief or "social justice" construct could be run into the church. First feminism, then homosexuality. What's next (shudder)?
And whose fault was that? You can't blame the liberals for the fact that the orthodox were too blind and lazy to recognize, much less properly deal with, the incursions of the nice folks you mentioned.
As Jesus Himself put it,
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Matt. 24:44-46
The unpleasant truth is that we are NOT ready, and haven't been for a long time. Were we truly ready, the liberals would never have stood a chance.
What's more, we need to recognize that the liberals didn't create the situation themselves; rather, they took advantage of problems that already existed. Could the liberals really have made such inroads into a vital, aware, and active church? I seriously doubt it -- I think the orthodox lost the bubble a long time ago. We became lazy, arrogant, and too focused on the things of this world. We lost the bubble ... and most (if not all) of the "orthodox" still haven't found it: this scurrying off to Africans simply reinforces the point that we're still not facing our own culpability in this mess.
It is quite true that the liberals are essentially peddling lies. But the best lies are the ones grounded in truth. The power of the liberal agenda is that it has a healthy dollop of truth in it. Their agenda addresses real problems that affect real people -- and folks respond to that. The orthodox response has generally been to preach against the liberals, rather than to address the very real problems the liberals (for all their faults) have been addressing.
The liberal solutions are, of course, wrong ... but that doesn't mean we're offering the right solutions. Just look at the typical "orthodox" responses, even on this thread. We tend to preach theology, and when folks don't respond we resort to dehumanizing real, troubled people to nothing more than a label or a political position -- look at the tired old joke about "queens and bishops," at the top of this thread, for instance. Or, for another example, how seriously do we orthodox folks really take our Christian duty to help the poor -- especially when we see it in opposition to our perceived duty to defend orthodoxy?
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I see us looking like the Pharisees in John 9. To them, the "man born blind" was nothing but a sinner -- his very condition confirmed it for them. Jesus, on the other hand, healed him -- and through that act revealed the true power of God ... and it wasn't "orthodoxy" in the sense that the Pharisees defined it. If one takes nothing else from John's Gospel, one cannot avoid his exposition of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, which was that they valued their doctrine far more than they valued the people around them. Jesus understood that theology is for folks who are comfortable -- it doesn't feed or clothe or heal anybody. If you read your Bible, you'll find that Jesus generally healed first, and the theology came later. That's a lesson that I think we orthodox have forgotten (if we ever learned it at all).
If we really want to get our church back, we need to reassess what our church really ought to be about. I've seen (from a more up-close perspective than I ever wanted) that the kind of "orthodoxy" being peddled these days simply is not it.
The problem with the Episcopal system is that it encourages laypeople ignorance. The denomination discourages any sort of Bible literacy, teaching instead you can depend on what your priests and bishops say, and that all you really need to know is the liturgy on Sundays.
This distinguishes Episcopalianism from other denominations such as Presbyterians and Baptists which traditionally put a high value on knowing and studying the Bible. (Although PCUSA and the American Baptists have been “dumbing” people down also over the generations.) Biblically literate people are called “fundamentalists” by TEC.
So a lot of Episcopalians were dumb sheep totally dependent on the shepherds to keep them safe, to use the Biblical analogy. And it turned out the shepherds were wolves and false prophets who are now eating the sheep. To continue the Biblical analogy. They didn’t know they were being led to slaughter until it was too late.
Even if they wanted to, I bet you at least 90% of the people in the pew in an Episcopal church couldn’t find the verses in the Bible that say homosexuality is wrong and an abomination to God, for example. They spout out all sorts of nonsense they have been taught by their wolves about “shellfish” and the Jewish “Holiness Code” that has supposedly been repealed by the New Testament so that sexual immorality is now perfectly ok, when any Christian would point out to you the first Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, which reasserted that the requirements of the old Testament regarding sexually moral conduct continued for Christians. (As well as the numerous other passages in the New Testament that emphasize the need for Christians to flee sexual immorality and to be sexually pure (i.e., chastity in singleness or monogamous marriage).) Nor could they find the other passages of scripture that contradict what the Episcopal Church teaches about being Universalist, that there is no sin, that we are all acceptable in the eyes of God, and all sorts of other non-Biblical and New Age heresies it has embraced. Other examples would be practices of witchcraft such as worshipping the Labyrinth, which has become very common as well as in other lefty churches, calling the Holy Spirit “she,” and the classic of course is the Presiding Bishopess’ invocation of “Mother Jesus.”
So in the end I blame TEC’s problem on spiritually corrupt priests and bishops. Unfortunately for them, scripture also says they will be condemned when called to account by the Lord as to how they shepherded, protected and taught the flock. None of these priests and bishops acknowledge the Bible expressly says they are going to Hell.
Says you. Sounds to me like you have a personal bias on the matter. The truth is rather different. For example, if one follows the Daily Office and/or the Lectionary (which is a prominent part of the Episcopal liturgy), one will end up reading a very large percentage of the entire Old Testament every two years -- and the New Testament twice per year.
Biblically literate people are called fundamentalists by TEC.
Again, that's your bias talking. Speaking from my own experience, I've found that Episcopalians are very often quite Biblically literate, and can argue very effectively using Scripture -- and those folks are generally not considered to be "fundamentalists." The people who are typically derided as "fundamentalists" are those who spend a lot of time quoting Scripture, but typically refuse to descend to the merely practical level of actually doing something. For example, a "fundamentalist" might correctly argue from Scripture that homosexuality is a sin, and simply stop there; and thereby fail to address the practical issue of how to minister to homosexuals -- which, again, is the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus did not ignore the messy practicalities of what He taught. We orthodox often do, though ... and I think the so-called "fundamentalists" tend to be among the worst offenders.
So in the end I blame TECs problem on spiritually corrupt priests and bishops.
Well... no. While it's true that there are plenty of spiritually corrupt priests and bishops, the fault does not lie with those people, but rather with those who place them in positions of authority; i.e., vestries and congregations.
Don't you wish that bishops kept their sins quiet like they used to? I think the Bible has a nice progression (Rom. 1:24-32) that some churches are leading down ending in, "they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."