A leading UK network of Anglicans working for the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life and ministry of the church has welcomed the US Episcopal Church's affirming stance.
Inclusive Church says it "welcomes the clarity of the new resolutions passed at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC). They accurately and honestly describe the current situation, affirming that homosexual orientation should not be a bar to ordination as priest or bishop and recognising that same sex blessings are being performed in some parishes and dioceses."
The Episcopal Church is part of the 77-million strong global Anglican Communion. It has faced relentless criticism from conservatives within the Church for refusing to exclude or marginalise gay people. This has included a breakaway.
The dispute about human sexuality goes back many years, but was galvanised around the appointment of the Rt Rev Gene Robertson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire.
Hardline groups in Britain have even tried to whip up opposition to the popular Christian arts festival Greenbelt, because it has extended invitations to Bishop Robinson and other Christians supportive of gay people in its broad programme of events and speakers.
But Ekklesia understands that the move is backfiring. Greenbelt attracts over 15,000 people every year and has acted as a major bridge between thoughtful, engaged Christianity and the secular world - being praised by people such a the late activist Anita Roddick, who said it challenged her alienation from the church.
In its recent statement on the US situation and beyond, Inclusive Church says: "It is our wish that such honesty prevail in all current dialogues within the Anglican Communion - for example, recognising that within the Church of England there are a great many gay and lesbian clergy, single or in committed relationships and many churches offer blessings or thanksgivings for same-sex relationships.
"We equally acknowledge the costly lengths to which TEC has gone over many years to encourage the unity of the Anglican Communion, and note that the moratoria previously agreed regarding human sexuality have not been overturned.
"We urge members of the Communion to consider carefully what has actually been agreed at Anaheim. The Presiding Bishop has stated in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Primates "This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025. Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to Episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not."
"Inclusive Church believes that excluding LGBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin similar to the historical discrimination against people of colour and women. We value Anglican diversity and acknowledge that there is a breadth of views on questions of human sexuality. We salute the considerable efforts made to recognise and contain that breadth with TEC, and regret the attempts by others who have withdrawn to undermine the territorial integrity of local Anglican churches.
"Above all we pray that the slow and often tortuous process in which the Communion is engaged over these issues will, in the end, enable all the member churches to speak more prophetically and more clearly of God’s inexhaustible love and justice for the whole world."
For further information visit www.inclusivechurch2.net
Ekklesia's directors are supporters of both Inclusive Church and of Accepting Evangelicals: http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/