Episcopalians Reach Point of Revolt over Homosexuality

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in an e-mail response to a request for an interview that such splits reflect a polarized society, as well as the “anxiety” and “discomfort” that many people feel when they are asked to live with diversity. “The quick fix embraced in drawing lines or in departing is not going to be an ultimate solution for our discomfort,” she said.

How ridiculous — and deceptive — it is that Ms. Schori characterizes the attitude of Episcopalians who are outraged at the denomination’s embrace of homosexuality as being uncomfortable with “diversity.” After all, we are talking about at least 10 percent of her congregants from the state of Virginia (home of the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War and birthplace to General Robert E. Lee) refusing her leadership, and instead freely placing themselves under submission to a Black African leader. We are talking about other American Episcopal congregations considering affiliation under the spiritual leadership of bishops from Rwanda and Bolivia.

No, it is not resistance to “diversity” that evokes Episcopalian anxiety. It is Ms. Schori’s false teaching, her determination to embrace and approve of homosexuality, that they find intolerable. And well they should. — Sonja Dalton

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From Episcopalians Reach Point of Revolt, by Laurie Goodstein, published Dec 17, 2006, by The New York Times:

For about 30 years, the Episcopal Church has been one big unhappy family. Under one roof there were female bishops and male bishops who would not ordain women. There were parishes that celebrated gay weddings and parishes that denounced them; theologians sure that Jesus was the only route to salvation, and theologians who disagreed.

Now, after years of threats, the family is breaking up.

As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.

In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans.

“The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.”

…The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is now struggling to hold the communion together while facing a revolt on many fronts from emboldened conservatives. Last week, conservative priests in the Church of England warned him that they would depart if he did not allow them to sidestep liberal bishops and report instead to sympathetic conservatives.

nigeria-akinola.jpgIn Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for [“gay”] men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant. Archbishop Akinola presides over the largest province in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion; it has more than 17 million members, dwarfing the Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million.

If all eight Virginia churches vote to separate, the Diocese of Virginia, the largest Episcopal diocese in the country, will lose about 10 percent of its 90,000 members. In addition, four churches in Virginia have already voted to secede, and two more are expected to vote soon, said Patrick N. Getlein, secretary of the diocese.

Two weeks ago, the entire diocese in San Joaquin, Calif., voted to sever its ties with the Episcopal Church, a decision it would have to confirm in a second vote next year. Six or more American dioceses say they are considering such a move.

In the last three years, since the Episcopal Church consecrated V. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives with his partner, as bishop of New Hampshire, about three dozen American churches have voted to secede and affiliate with provinces overseas, according to The Episcopal News Service…

At one of the four Virginia parishes that has already voted to secede, All Saints Church in Dale City, the tally was 402 to 6.

Continue reading in The New York Times…

This article was posted on Monday, December 18th, 2006 at 1:48 pm and is filed under Anglican/Episcopal, News, Religious Leaders. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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