One of the most visible denominational skirmishes will occur in July, when leaders of the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church consider proposals at their national convention in Anaheim to sanction a religious rite for blessing same-sex unions and ease restrictions on the ordination of gay and lesbian bishops.
If approved, the steps could further alienate theological conservatives, giving them reason to join four Episcopal dioceses and hundreds of parishes that split last year to form a separate church.
Few denominations have been as torn by the issue as the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, a 77-million-member fellowship. Theological conservatives are a minority in the Episcopal Church but a large majority among Anglicans worldwide. The conflict between church liberals and conservatives escalated in 2003 with the consecration of an openly gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Amid pressure from traditionalists within the U.S. church and Anglican officials elsewhere, Episcopal leaders agreed at their last General Convention in 2006 to urge local church authorities not to consecrate any bishop "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church." Still, 700 conservative parishes in the United States and Canada defected last year and formed a new church affiliated with overseas Anglicans.
Now, as Episcopalians approach their July convention, dioceses around the country are submitting resolutions to ease restrictions on gay bishops and to authorize same-sex marriage blessings. The issue of blessings is now left up to local Episcopal authorities.
The convention's host, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, has tried to send a message by approving a policy at its December convention that gives local priests permission to officiate at rites of blessing for same-sex couples.
"I think it's about time we get about the business of having marriage equality in the church," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese. "I am waiting with bated breath to see what happens" at the Anaheim meeting.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Episcopalians and CA/H8
In the LA Times, this and "NO2NOon8" linked...