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Episcopal Convention Sees Painstaking Work on Sexuality Issues

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    Episcopal convention sees painstaking work on sexuality issues Anglican Journal News SOLANGE DE SANTIS, STAFF WRITER June 17, 2006 - Columbus, Ohio Issues
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 18, 2006
      Episcopal convention sees painstaking work on sexuality issues
      Anglican Journal News
      June 17, 2006 - Columbus, Ohio

      Issues concerning homosexuality will not be resolved at the Episcopal
      Church's General Convention before the election of a new presiding
      bishop, or national leader, on June 18, since members of a special
      committee wrestling with the issues have not yet agreed on the
      wording of key resolutions.

      Church leaders had said earlier that they hoped to have the
      controversial issues decided before the election.

      In a special 90-minute session on June 17, the committee passed two
      resolutions on the issues, sending them to the full convention, but
      two more key resolutions are still in the domain of the committee.
      The public deliberation session provided a window into the
      painstaking work being done by the 18-member panel, which is
      scheduling extra early-morning, midday and evening meetings.

      Of the two resolutions that were approved, the first concerned the
      language of "an expression of regret" that the American church's
      consecration of a gay bishop and acceptance of blessing ceremonies
      for gay couples caused pain to other Anglican churches in the world
      where homosexuality is not readily accepted.

      Members wrangled over whether the resolution should express regret
      for not having "adequately explained" the moves, then wondered
      whether that wording expressed a sense of American arrogance. "It
      could be misinterpreted as being heavy handed," said committee member
      Rev. Ian Douglas of Massachusetts.

      Other members suggested saying that the U.S. church "had not entered
      into a mutual discernment process" with the rest of the worldwide
      Anglican Communion and others said the wording should perhaps read
      "not sought the collective wisdom" of the communion.

      The committee chair, Bishop Dorsey Henderson of the diocese of Upper
      South Carolina, urged his colleagues to move things along. "I'm
      terrified we will get jammed up on the last day," he said. The
      triennial governing convention runs from June 13 to June 21.

      The second resolution asks the convention to endorse a plan for
      "designated Episcopal oversight" developed by the church's bishops in
      2004 that would allow bishops to cross diocesan boundaries to
      minister to congregations that disagree with their diocesan bishops.
      The situation has arisen generally where a bishop has liberal views
      on homosexuality and clashes with conservative congregations, some of
      whom have joined breakaway groups or sought the leadership of a
      bishop from outside the country. Ten of the church's 110 dioceses
      have formed a dissenting group, the Anglican Communion Network. An
      organization called the American Anglican Council (AAC), based in
      Atlanta, acts as a sounding board and source of advice for
      congregations wanting to break away from the national church.

      The committee added wording to the resolution that asked the
      convention to "urge continued maintenance of historic diocesan
      boundaries, the authority of the diocesan bishop and respect for the
      historical relationships of the separate and autonomous provinces of
      the Anglican Communion."

      Many Episcopalians have expressed resentment at pressure by other
      Anglican churches since each church in the worldwide communion is
      self-governing and not subject to a central authority such as the
      Roman Catholic pope.

      Bishop Robert O'Neill of Colorado noted that the committee needed to
      get the resolutions "into the system" because they could undergo
      further revisions in either of the convention's two legislative
      bodies, the house of bishops and the house of deputies (laity and

      Both were approved and the panel scheduled an early-morning meeting
      for June 18 to deal with resolutions that would address the fallout
      from the consecration of the openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson and from
      a 2003 decision recognizing that gay blessing ceremonies occur in
      some dioceses.

      In a brief interview outside the committee room, Rev. Susan Russell,
      president of Integrity, a support group for gay Anglicans, said the
      lengthy deliberations show that "these are people of deep faith and
      commitment to the Anglican Communion, with wide differences. They are
      giving their best effort."

      Conservatives, however, say they do not believe the committee, or the
      convention, will give them what they want � a ban on any further
      election of gay candidates to the episcopate, an strong expression of
      repentance for the 2003 actions and a ban on same-sex blessing
      ceremonies. Those moves are called for in an international Anglican
      statement called the Windsor Report.

      "If their resolutions are worded in Windsor words and convey the
      content Windsor is looking for, it would be unacceptable to the house
      of deputies and the house of bishops," said Canon David Anderson,
      president of AAC. "If they pass what is acceptable to them, it will
      not be acceptable to the primates (national archbishops)."

      As to whether the unresolved nature of several of the issues will
      affect the election of the presiding bishop, Rev. Sandye Wilson said
      she thought "people put too much stock in how it's going to affect
      the outcome of the election." Conservatives have already said that
      none of the seven candidates are acceptable to them.
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