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Episcopal Church Takes Definitive Steps in Favor of Gay Rights

posted by aroan

(RNS)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church on Tuesday (July 14) overwhelmingly voted to lift a three-year-old moratorium on consecrating gay and lesbian bishops, despite warnings that the ban was necessary to preserve unity in the wider Anglican Communion.
A large majority of Episcopal bishops, priests and lay delegates gathered here for the church’s triennial General Convention asserted that “God has called and may call” gays and lesbians in lifelong committed relationships “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.”
More than 70 percent of lay and clergy delegates in the church’s House of Deputies approved lifting the moratorium on Tuesday; the church’s House of Bishops had approved it Monday by a 2-to-1 margin.
While the resolution clears the way for gay and lesbian bishops, it does not mandate that dioceses must consider them, nor does it guarantee that, if elected, they will receive the necessary ratification votes to serve.
“This is a day to rejoice for the Church — no, let me be more specific, this is a day to rejoice in the Episcopal Church, which once again has stood for the full inclusion of all,” openly gay Bishop V.
Gene Robinson of New Hampshire wrote on his blog late Monday.
Robinson also wrote that bishops who voted to lift the ban “will pay a price for opening their hearts, much as gay and lesbian people in this Church have paid a price for their exclusion. I applaud them for their courage and will stand with them in the consequences of their vote.”
Also late Tuesday, Episcopal bishops debated a resolution that would begin the development of liturgical rites to bless same-sex unions, and enable bishops in states where gay marriage is legal to change marriage rites in the Book of Common Prayer to be gender neutral.
The resolution, if passed by the bishops, would also need the approval of lay and clergy delegates before it could become church law.
Robinson’s consecration in 2003 caused a furor in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, which counts the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch. Many Anglicans, particularly in the rapidly growing Global South, say homosexuality is sinful and unbiblical.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide, warned last summer at a meeting of more than 600 bishops from around the world that the communion would be in “grave peril” should the moratorium on gay bishops be lifted.
Addressing the General Convention as it opened last week, Williams said, “Along with many in the communion, I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.”
Since Robinson’s election in 2003, every key intra-Anglican body — from leading archbishops to international councils — has warned the Episcopal Church not to consecrate or elect any more gay bishops.
Already, several archbishops, particularly those in the Global South, have severed ties with the Episcopal Church over its gay-friendly policies. In the U.S., four conservative dioceses and dozens of parishes have seceded from the denomination and formed the rival Anglican Church in North America.
The Anglican Communion Institute, a conservative think tank, said that “The Episcopal Church is already out of communion with the majority of the world’s Anglicans,” and predicted that more dioceses would leave the church.
Bishop Henry Parsley of Alabama, who voted against lifting the moratorium, said, “I long for us to be an inclusive church, but not a polarized church,” according to Episcopal Life, the denomination’s official news outlet. “We need to be part of the larger Anglican Communion in what we do in this matter.”
Urging fellow delegates to reject the resolution, Zack Brown, a lay youth delegate, said, “Please don’t vote in a way that makes more conservatives feel the way I do now: like I’m the only one left.”
The resolution on gay bishops also encourages Episcopalians to “participate to the fullest extent possible” in the Anglican Communion, and reminds the global church that the Episcopal Church contributed more than $660,000 — almost one-third of the budget — to funding the communion’s bureaucracy in 2007.
While some Episcopalians argue that their church never enacted an official moratorium on gay bishops, it voted at its last meeting, in 2006, to urge dioceses to “exercise restraint” by not electing bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
No gay bishops have been elected since that resolution was passed at the urging of the church’s then-newly elected Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, though several dioceses have considered gay and lesbian candidates. Jefferts Schori voted on Monday to lift the moratorium.
The Rev. Susan Russell, president of the pro-gay Episcopal group Integrity USA, said the resolution “was another step in the Episcopal Church’s `coming out’ process — and it sends a strong `come and see’
message to anyone looking for a faith community where God’s inclusive love is not just proclaimed but practiced.”
By Daniel Burke
c. 2009 Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • nnmns

    I say good for them; it’s great to see the US leading in something good.

  • JohnQ

    Yes, this the Episcopal Church that I know and love.
    Better to be following the teachings of our Lord….than those of mankind when the two differ. I am heartened that our Church knows the difference and is following the path of our Lord.
    Peace!

  • http://ecusa.anglican.org/78703_112035_ENG_HTM.htm anon

    “The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being.”
    - Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in opening address to the 2009 General Convention (full address in the link)
    The Episcopal church has become a strange cult. It doesn’t seem to be Christian any longer. No Salvation. Gay bishops.
    Bible has been replaced by “prayer book”
    Salvation has been replaced by “Baptismal covenant”
    Flee while you still have faith remaining! Go back to the source, read the bible! There is personal salvation in Jesus Christ!

  • cknuck

    JohnQ what teachings of Jesus included homosexuality? That’s right none, Jesus specifically defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Where did I miss your homosexual teachings in the bible.
    Coming out for the TEC huh? funnnie

  • robroy

    First off, there is no “right” to be a member of clergy.
    The Episcopal denomination (not even a church anymore) is and will die an ugly death. Other denominations take note. This what happens when yo allow people that choose a liberal secular cause over the Gospel in leadership positions.
    The TEC was already vying with the other liberal looney church, the UCC, for the fastest declining denomination. The TEC’s decline was accelerating. It had already announced dire budget forecasts and many dioceses have already implemented draconian budget cuts (like in “inclusive” New Hampshire! Why aren’t people trying to get in rather than heading for the exits?) So what to do? Put a brick on the accelerator and off the cliff, we go.

  • Salcia

    I like how they’re looking at this: “God has called them, so let’s not act like we know better than God whether they’re fit”. Good thinkin’.

  • JohnQ

    cknuck-
    JohnQ what teachings of Jesus included homosexuality? That’s right none, Jesus specifically defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
    Thank you for emphasizing my point. Christ did not (as far as we know) talk about homosexuality….nor, teach against it.
    This is why I am continuously wondering why so many people who profess to be followers of the teachings of our Lord focus in so intently on homosexuality.
    Christ did teach: Matt 22:36-40
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    Matt 7:1-3 “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother’s eye, but pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” —Jesus Christ
    As far as Christ having specifically defined marriage….his words were in response to a particular situation. He did not say anything to the effect that marriage is only_________.
    Peace!

  • PJI

    Again I find myself wondering how long it would take conservative cafeteria Christians to denounce Jesus if he returned to earth tomorrow. This is a guy who never got married, primarily hung out with twelve guys (one of whom was identified as the disciple who he “loved”), was identified by his male betrayer by a peck on the cheek, didn’t hunt, play sports, gushed on and on about love– even without the Catholic tradition of a disciple falling asleep on Jesus’ lap this guy was quite fey by modern standards. I am reminded of a convert I once knew proclaiming loudly and repeatedly that Jesus was “no pansy, no fruit!” Particularly in the wake of Ted Haggard, you begin to wonder if these folks are protesting a little too much.
    Folks, the standards of masculinity and femininity and sexual behavior have changed a great deal over time. Judging Jesus by the standards of our time– trying to recast him as a man with 21st century sensibilities, is ridiculous. He wasn’t opposed to gay marriage. He wasn’t in favor of gay marriage. He didn’t address the subject at all. His “for this reason [marriage] men and women were created” line was spoken in reference to divorce, a practice he loudly decries. Divorce, not gay sex, or marriage or anything else. Divorce.
    As for homosexuality itself, there was PLENTY of homosexuality in the ancient world, as Paul’s letters note. It had been widespread since the times of ancient Greece. That Jesus ignores it completely strongly suggests that Jesus wasn’t particularly concerned about it. Now, hypocrisy– that he decries a great deal. So too divorce (arguably because the practice screwed over women in Jesus’ day), greed, and judging others. Why pay attention to one single comment and ignore hundreds of others? Frankly it’s perverse. Do you really think that God will give you a pass for all the harm you’ve done as long as you aren’t gay? Are you so afraid that God will spurn you that you find it necessary to cling to the one sin you are pretty certain you aren’t guilty of?
    As for the rest of the Bible, homosexuality is directly mentioned approximately four times. Four. Want to guess how many times greed is mentioned? Now between the two which do you think is a greater problem in the world today?

  • Wannabe Theo

    PJI wrote: “As for the rest of the Bible, homosexuality is directly mentioned approximately four times. Four. Want to guess how many times greed is mentioned? Now between the two which do you think is a greater problem in the world today?”
    While I appreciate your support for same gender relationships, statements such as the one above are misguided. It’s not a question of how many times it is mentioned in the Bible or which sin is bigger. All sin should be denounced and redeemed. Any human relationship, gay or straight, can be destructive or constructive; people can use each other for their own ends, or mutually give of themselves in love. Gay relationships that are loving, constructive, and mutually self-giving are not just ‘harmless’ or ‘not that sinful’, they are GOOD, and should be celebrated and supported.
    Plenty of harm is caused by reckless sexual practices and demeaning, self-serving relationships, but responsible, loving same gender relationships are not a ‘problem in the world today’ at all. Trying to destroy such relationships, however, is a great evil.

  • Fuel to the fire

    When Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 we lost 1/2 of our congregation. Since then, we’ve leveled off and have not lost any additional members, we haven’t picked up any new ones either. We have a budget that just barely meets our obligations and if we don’t grow, we may be in trouble. Our Church had to be taken over by the Diocese in order to keep us solvent.
    I understand that there is an agenda to make Gays welcomed within the Church as members and clergy but we as a Church body cannot take another hit like this. I’m thinking that this will serve to do even more damage to our Church and the Church nationally. At this point, I wouldn’t be suprised if the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams decides to move forward with dropping Epsicopalians from the Anglican Communion. If they do, I may have to lock the doors and shut off the lights on my way out of the Sanctuary some Sunday soon.
    Gods Peace

  • PJI

    Wannabe Theo:
    To be clear, I didn’t mean to suggest for one moment that loving relationships are in any way problematic, only note how good people are at ignoring real sin by focusing on entirely imaginary ones. Reading over what I wrote I didn’t make that crystal clear.
    When Paul mentions “homosexuality” he’s specifically speaking of abusive sexual relationships (the Greek word he uses translates as close to “rape”), not healthy ones. There was some seriously exploitative stuff going on in his day, in straight and gay relationships. Paul decries this exploitation, and doesn’t care about the genders involved. Similarly, Jesus decries men who divorced women and left them penniless. Again, the exploitation bothered him; the genders were irrelevant. Frankly, I sincerely doubt that Paul would have any problem with gay marriage as we know it today, and I am fully convinced that Jesus wouldn’t.
    Meanwhile, as we obsess over what other people are doing in their bedrooms, as we deny formal recognition of the loving relationships of some people, as a culture we are awash in greed, often indifferent to the poor and the sick, and all too often warlike and power mad. That was true in Paul’s day as well. When he scolds the Romans, he complains that they are decrying their neighbors’ sexual practices when they themselves are guilty of far worse sin.
    Does that make more sense?
    Peace.

  • DAVID

    god doesn;t go for gays…..what is wrong with this church. i know this church doesn’t follow the BIBLE

  • Wannabe Theo

    PJI:
    Yes, thank you for the clarification. Too many people are under the impression that churches such as TEC and UCC ‘know’ homosexuality is sinful, but just don’t care. Liberal churches believe in good and evil: loving relationships are good and destroying such relationships is evil.

  • cknuck

    JohnQ quote, “Thank you for emphasizing my point. Christ did not (as far as we know) talk about homosexuality….nor, teach against it.”
    The teachings of JohnQ is so forgetting or minimizing the fact Jesus’ quote was first a quote from Old Testament so it is not unique but a standard of what marriage is suppose to be, one man one woman, husband and wife. The church wants to ignore some of the teachings of Jesus to be more like the world which it is suppose to model holiness to. This is not the first time there has been homosexuality in the temples but will it be the last time people choose to dishonor God in such a way.

  • nnmns

    If the Bible is an instruction manual it’s one of the worst written ones ever. It’s subject to innumerable important disagreements about its meaning.
    Any company that wrote a manual like that would be out of business. Any worker who wrote a manual like that would surely be fired.
    So, do we conclude the Bible is an instruction manual produced under crushing incompetence or that it’s just a book of varied origins, written by a lot of different men. I know which is the sensible conclusion.

  • Mordred08

    cknuck: “This is not the first time there has been homosexuality in the temples but will it be the last time people choose to dishonor God in such a way.”
    Woah, pretty big threat there! Has your god got what it takes to carry it out, though? He’s been slipping a bit lately, what with all these punishments for homosexuality that just ended up killing a bunch of innocent straight people.

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “Any company that wrote a manual like that would be out of business. Any worker who wrote a manual like that would surely be fired”
    That’s just rediculous do you know how long the bible has been i business, be for real don’t let you passion and hate let you make statements that don’t make sense.

  • nnmns

    cknuck do you know how many billions of superstitious mothers and fathers have taught or beaten into their children that the Bible is not to be mocked? It’s child abuse on the widest possible scale.
    Of course the Bible is “i business” with a sales force like that. But that does not mean it’s well written or right.
    Think, cknuck, think.

  • JohnQ

    For those of you who suggest that the budget challenges that TEC is having are directly related to our acceptance of God’s gay/lesbian children should look around. Are you also suggesting that is why the Vatican and other churches are struggling financially? Are our fed, state, and local governments struggling financially because of gay/lesbian equality?
    For those that are so very focused on the 4-6 verses in the Bible that in some way appear to refer to homosexuality……..there is more to the Bible than those verses….and, more to Christianity than the Bible.
    For those of you who do not agree with the direction our church (the TEC) is taking…..fine, do not become members…..there are many churches that may better match your personal beliefs.
    For those of that wish to continue your ministry of prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry towards gays/lesbians…..this is a free country…..so, it you are willing to accept the consequences of your words and actions….have at it.

  • GodsCountry

    ..mass confusion here.
    Either God exists and humanity has accepted God’s revelation or God exists and humanity has not accepted God’s revelation.
    The Episcopal “church” is now a non-profit social club. The Episcopal church now leads people away from truth, not towards it, like myriad “churches” before it
    God’s community can no more accommodate activism against revealed truth.
    No more compromises.
    The world is degenerating and needs truth.
    Advanced degrees, personal experience and rhetorical devices do not truth make.
    God is truth. God is love.
    Love God, love truth.
    Love your neighbor, tell them the truth.
    The audacity of liberal disbelief.

  • GodsCountry

    …believe, mnms, believe!
    The audacity of liberal mockery!

  • nnmns

    GC: “Either God exists and humanity has accepted God’s revelation or God exists and humanity has not accepted God’s revelation.”
    As a statement of faith I guess that’s fine. As a statement of fact it’s utterly without foundation. As a statement of logic it’s gravely and obviously flawed. So, what was your point?
    Oh btw There is no god, and much of humanity are making expensive mistakes.
    “God’s community can no more accommodate activism against revealed truth.”
    Well as I demonstrated here; just read through the comments if you even read the Bible you can see the falsity of the claims often made that certain sections of the Bible justify harassing homosexuals. Every one of those Bible sections either did not refer to homosexuals or did so only alongside large groups of other people that your ilk are not persecuting, while you do persecute the homosexuals.
    Your “Biblical” crusade against homosexuals and their rights is a sham. You owe us an explanation: are you among those who realize the Bible doesn’t support this crusade but are doing it for power and spite, or are you among those who believe but are too lazy to read their Bibles and thus realize they are being misled and lied to?
    Just say “power and spite” or “lazy”. No further explanation is necessary.

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “Of course the Bible is “i business” with a sales force like that. But that does not mean it’s well written or right.
    Think, cknuck, think.”
    I’m thinking you just called a whole lot of people stupid and you of course superior in intellect so I’m thinking why don’t you write a book that will do as well.

  • PJI

    Wannbe Theo writes:
    “Too many people are under the impression that churches such as TEC and UCC ‘know’ homosexuality is sinful, but just don’t care. Liberal churches believe in good and evil: loving relationships are good and destroying such relationships is evil.”
    Too many people are under that impression and also under the inaccurate impression that the Bible condemns homosexuality. Further, folks believe that churches which condemn homosexuality are being true to the Bible and God and thus are more “authentically Christian” than the UCC and TEC.
    In reality, the UCC’s (as a UCC minister I can speak only for them here) acceptance of anyone regardless of sexual orientation is the result of wrestling with scripture and the Holy Spirit. Far from being casually swayed by worldly attitudes we have rejected current biases, fears and prejudices and, having wrestled with our consciences and our faiths, have chosen the difficult path of inclusion, acceptance and love that we believe God calls all of us to.
    To quote a UCC preacher:
    “Confronted and gifted by these baptized persons [gay clergy and laity in the UCC], members of the United Church of Christ have been challenged to read the Bible again with new eyes and listen to the Holy Spirit with new ears. We have had to reexamine long held assumptions about those few passages of Scripture that appear to speak about homosexuality in the light of transforming interpretations from widely respected Bible scholars and teachers, and we have begun to recognize how our fears of those who are different, and our society’s deeply entrenched bias against homosexual persons has often distorted and nearly silenced the Bible’s liberating and inclusive voice.” http://www.ucc.org/lgbt/now-no-condemnation.html
    Having wrestled with our faith and our scripture we can only arrive at one conclusion. Is homosexuality a sin? No. Is distorting the Biblical message with hate and prejudice a sin? Yes. Is muting God’s message of inclusive welcome while insisting that there are limits on God’s love and closing church doors to one particular group a sin? Yes.

  • nnmns

    cknuck: “I’m thinking you just called a whole lot of people stupid”
    I didn’t say anything about anyone but you, and I told you to think. Poor cknuck, yearning for martyrdom as long as it’s not painful.

  • cknuck

    in your passion you must be losing it nnmns here is you quote which includes people not just me
    “those who believe but are too lazy to read their Bibles and thus realize they are being misled and lied to?”

  • nnmns

    Oh, well they insult themselves by acting that way. I just pointed out it’s a bad way to behave. I guess you’ve never pointed out people were behaving wrong?

  • GodsCountry

    …darkness, utter darkness…
    Those who deny God shudder in the intensity of truth’s light. Shining into the darkness (the only thing they’ve known), truth looks like it will destroy them.
    Truth will not destroy you.
    God is truth.
    God is love.
    Enter into the light.
    There remains hope for those lost in the dark.

  • nnmns

    So, GC where is all this light-filled truth you natter about? And beware of saying it’s in the Bible because people who claim to know it lie about it right and left in order to hurt others. And don’t say it’s in the RCC because the RCC, and it’s popes, have protected and hidden child molesters from justice over and over.
    No, we have to all judge what’s true for ourselves and we’re better off and our nation and the world are better off if we judge based on evidence, not faith.

  • GodsCountry

    My works are evidence of faith.
    Some works are evidence of a struggle against death.

  • GodsCountry

    ” No, we have to all judge what’s true for ourselves ”
    The bottom line of contemporary liberal thought.
    This is the way Episcopal leaders are thinking, too.
    Good luck with that.
    Luck, however, is the secularists faith.
    So I’ll say “have faith!”.
    And I mean that in more ways than one…

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