UK gay Christians disappointed at American Church decision

By staff writers
26 Sep 2007

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) in the UK has expressed "disappointment" at the compromise on the Anglican gay row agreed by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States - saying it will not halt division or stop the ministry of LGBT people.

Responding promptly to a statement issued by the bishop on 25 September 2007, LGCM spokesperson the Rev Martin Reynolds declared: “Our disappointment with the American Church was profound when their General Convention outlawed gay bishops in 2006, that disappointment has now been reinforced.”

After nearly a full day of deliberations, the Episcopal House of Bishops agreed overwhelmingly by voice vote to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

They also pledged not to authorize public rites for same-gender blessings "until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action," according to the response. But they did not rescind previous decisions to consecrate and bless, and they reaffirmed their freedom to manange their own affairs as a province.

LGCM's Reynolds said: “We believe this attempt to suck up to the homophobes will come to nothing. They have already decided not to believe anything the leaders of TEC say and are quite happy to ditch Canterbury and go it alone.”

“The schism will continue and I predict by this time next year there every disappointed American cleric who wants to be a bishop will have his wish.”

“Lesbian and gay bishops, priests, deacons and lay people will continue to love and serve God in [the] Church while these bishops fall deeper into malice, we will pray for them.”

The Episcopal Church's decision has produced very different interpretations in the media. The Guardian's Stephen Bates has 'US bishops offer lifeline in effort to keep world Anglican church intact' Telegraph reporter Jonathan Petre says 'For now, US Anglicans give in to Archbishop'. The Times' Ruth Gledhill writes 'Bishops reject same-sex blessings'.

But the New York Times' Neela Bannerjee declares 'Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders', Associated Press' Rachel Zoll says 'Episcopal Leaders Try to Avoid Schism and earlier Bishops Pledge Restraint on Gay Bishops', and Chicago Tribune correspondent Manya A. Brachear announces 'Episcopals give ground on gay bishops' - while New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Bruce Nolan announces 'Episcopal bishops decline to roll back inclusion of gays'.

The impact of the decision, say analysts, will be to make it more difficult for conservatives within the 77-million Anglican Communion to kick the Episcopal Church out or to tighten their grip on its regualr work. But it is also a restraint on the freedom of lesbian and gay people's ministry within the church - which will not be able to grow further through ordained means in the near future.

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