Divided opinion on the meaning of ECUSA stance on gay bishops

By staff writers
July 1, 2006

Divided opinion on the meaning of ECUSA stance on gay bishops

-01/07/06

While many in the Anglican Communion who oppose inclusion of lesbian and gay people within the full ministry of the church have interpreted the decisions of the recent Episcopal Church USA as ìfalling shortî of the demands of the Windsor Report for an apology and moratorium on consecrating gay bishops, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM] in the UK has ìdeploredî the ECUSA resolution as a ìretrogradeî step.

LGCMís chief executive, the Rev Richard Kirker, says that he believes the US church has been pushed into ìpander[ing] to the evil that persists in many Christian hearts against us.î

According to LGCM, the General Convention decisions will make it impossible for a partnered lesbian or gay priest to be consecrated a bishop. But others take a different view, pointing out that they have no legislative force.

The Bishop of Washington DC, the Rt Rev John Chane, has already indicated that he will not allow the GC statements to overrule the ìcareful considerationî of the local church on who to ordain and consecrate. And one diocese already has a gay person as among their episcopal nominees.

Meanwhile some conservatives within the Episcopal Church USA ñ which has come into the spotlight because of the 2003 of gay and partnered Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire ñ are asking the Archbishop of Canterbury for ìalternative primatorial oversightî oversightî because they are angry that the Church has elected a woman, the Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, as its next Presiding Bishop.

However, Mr Kirker says he believes that the Windsor Report commissioned by Dr Williams following the consecration of Gene Robinson was ìprofoundly flawedî and that it ìcontains the seeds of destruction for our Communionî.

He continues: ìOur Church does have a sickness, the sickness of institutional homophobia, but the illness has been misdiagnosed and the treatment will mortify that what is good and leave the disease untouched.î

Referring to the paper The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion, published by the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this week, which many say involves the Anglican Communion dividing into full and associate members, LGCMís Richard Kirker responds: ìI have no wish to see a divided Communion, this will not serve the mission of the Church as we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and it will increase the sense of rivalries with ever more contentious and bitter arguments over jurisdictions.î

But he believes that the plan laid out by the Archbishop of Canterbury will ìnever be completed as other forces in the Anglican Church take controlî, claiming: ìWe will indeed see a very different Church develop from our current divisions, but a large part of it will not be centered on Canterbury and the fall out to win unity and power will leave to those who remain with Canterbury a legacy they would not want.î

For lesbian and gay Anglicans Bishop Robinson is still a beacon of hope that they and their loving partnerships will one day be celebrated by their own Church, declares the LGCM chief executive.

He adds: ìRowan Williams has asked many to fall on their swords as he pursued his vision of unity. He is a Godly man and has suffered much for it, but in the end he will find the sword pointing at himself, I have no doubt he will do as he has asked of others.î

However other progressives in the Anglican Communion take a different view. Representatives of the church in New Zealand have indicated they believe that something like the ìcovenantî arrangement promulgated by the Archbishop, who has no regulatory powers over the 77 million-strong worldwide Church, could offer a way forward in dialogue.

[Also on Ekklesia: First female Anglican leader prepares to weather the storm 28/06/06; Archbishop sees covenant not contract as Anglican way forward 27/06/06; Ecumenism not hit by woman presiding bishop, say observers 23/06/06; US Episcopal Church turns down ban on gay bishops 21/06/06; Joy greets the first-ever Anglican woman leader 19/06/06; Don't practice divisive religion, UN man tells Episcopalians 18/06/06; Worrying new Anglican dispute about David Beckham 19/06/06 Inclusive Church reports on key US Episcopal gathering 16/06/06; Episcopal Church USA faces pressure on Anglican gay split; Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy; Conservative Episcopalians break away ahead of Eames report; African bishops say Windsor Report is offensive; Windsor Report does not call for apology; Episcopal bishop rejects Nigerian criticism on gays]

Divided opinion on the meaning of ECUSA stance on gay bishops

-01/07/06

While many in the Anglican Communion who oppose inclusion of lesbian and gay people within the full ministry of the church have interpreted the decisions of the recent Episcopal Church USA as ìfalling shortî of the demands of the Windsor Report for an apology and moratorium on consecrating gay bishops, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM] in the UK has ìdeploredî the ECUSA resolution as a ìretrogradeî step.

LGCMís chief executive, the Rev Richard Kirker, says that he believes the US church has been pushed into ìpander[ing] to the evil that persists in many Christian hearts against us.î

According to LGCM, the General Convention decisions will make it impossible for a partnered lesbian or gay priest to be consecrated a bishop. But others take a different view, pointing out that they have no legislative force.

The Bishop of Washington DC, the Rt Rev John Chane, has already indicated that he will not allow the GC statements to overrule the ìcareful considerationî of the local church on who to ordain and consecrate. And one diocese already has a gay person as among their episcopal nominees.

Meanwhile some conservatives within the Episcopal Church USA ñ which has come into the spotlight because of the 2003 of gay and partnered Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire ñ are asking the Archbishop of Canterbury for ìalternative primatorial oversightî oversightî because they are angry that the Church has elected a woman, the Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, as its next Presiding Bishop.

However, Mr Kirker says he believes that the Windsor Report commissioned by Dr Williams following the consecration of Gene Robinson was ìprofoundly flawedî and that it ìcontains the seeds of destruction for our Communionî.

He continues: ìOur Church does have a sickness, the sickness of institutional homophobia, but the illness has been misdiagnosed and the treatment will mortify that what is good and leave the disease untouched.î

Referring to the paper The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion, published by the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this week, which many say involves the Anglican Communion dividing into full and associate members, LGCMís Richard Kirker responds: ìI have no wish to see a divided Communion, this will not serve the mission of the Church as we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and it will increase the sense of rivalries with ever more contentious and bitter arguments over jurisdictions.î

But he believes that the plan laid out by the Archbishop of Canterbury will ìnever be completed as other forces in the Anglican Church take controlî, claiming: ìWe will indeed see a very different Church develop from our current divisions, but a large part of it will not be centered on Canterbury and the fall out to win unity and power will leave to those who remain with Canterbury a legacy they would not want.î

For lesbian and gay Anglicans Bishop Robinson is still a beacon of hope that they and their loving partnerships will one day be celebrated by their own Church, declares the LGCM chief executive.

He adds: ìRowan Williams has asked many to fall on their swords as he pursued his vision of unity. He is a Godly man and has suffered much for it, but in the end he will find the sword pointing at himself, I have no doubt he will do as he has asked of others.î

However other progressives in the Anglican Communion take a different view. Representatives of the church in New Zealand have indicated they believe that something like the ìcovenantî arrangement promulgated by the Archbishop, who has no regulatory powers over the 77 million-strong worldwide Church, could offer a way forward in dialogue.

[Also on Ekklesia: First female Anglican leader prepares to weather the storm 28/06/06; Archbishop sees covenant not contract as Anglican way forward 27/06/06; Ecumenism not hit by woman presiding bishop, say observers 23/06/06; US Episcopal Church turns down ban on gay bishops 21/06/06; Joy greets the first-ever Anglican woman leader 19/06/06; Don't practice divisive religion, UN man tells Episcopalians 18/06/06; Worrying new Anglican dispute about David Beckham 19/06/06 Inclusive Church reports on key US Episcopal gathering 16/06/06; Episcopal Church USA faces pressure on Anglican gay split; Lord Carey says ordaining a gay bishop verges on heresy; Conservative Episcopalians break away ahead of Eames report; African bishops say Windsor Report is offensive; Windsor Report does not call for apology; Episcopal bishop rejects Nigerian criticism on gays]

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