US Episcopal body sends mixed message on gay issues

June 29, 2006

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The US Episcopal bodies concluded their triennial legislative meeting last week with mixed messages regarding sexual-orientation issues in the church.

After the controversial election of a gay-friendly female bishop to the church�s highest American office, delegates at the General Convention held in Columbus, Ohio, were faced with voting on a moratorium demanding that the church �refrain� from ordaining gay and lesbian bishops and to stop conducting same-sex unions.

The moratorium, pushed forward by ultra-conservative foreign bishops, was seen as a backlash against the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop – V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

According to a report from The Houston Chronicle, liberal delegates were angry with the measure�s wording because it obviously targeted gays and lesbians. Conservatives, though, thought "refrain" was too weak and demanded that "moratorium" remain in the resolution.

On the last day of the convention, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold presented a resolution to the moratorium, calling it a �compromise.� In his resolution, Griswold modified the moratorium into a request that dioceses �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 the communion." The subject of same-sex unions, however, was not addressed in the modification.

Despite continued opposition from liberals, Griswold�s resolution passed with a two-thirds majority.

"There are times when what may appear to be a step backward may be called for in order to go forward," Griswold said in an appeal to liberals.

In a press released issued by Rev. John Kirkley, president of GLBT Episcopalian ministry Oasis California in San Francisco, Griswold�s compromise was an attempt to prevent a schism in the worldwide Anglican communion, calling the document �unworkable� and �unworthy.�

"Once again, gay and lesbian Christians were sacrificed for the sake of the Communion,� Kirkley�s statement read. �Once again we see that no matter how great a sacrifice gay and lesbians make, we can never satisfy the ultra-conservatives who want to lead their own church."

Still, Kirkley remains optimistic about the debacle: "The good news for LGBT Episcopalians is [that] the convention rejected this extreme demand. The truth is that the Episcopal Church, including our new Presiding Bishop, really does desire the full inclusion of LGBT Christians in its life and ministry," he added "The other good news is that the entire deputation from the Diocese of California stood in solidarity with us. We are proud of our new bishop, who joined some 30 bishops in dissenting from this sacrificial compromise. Under his leadership, the Diocese of California will be a strong prophetic voice for justice." – Issued by Gay Link Content

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