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June 23, 2006

Episcopal convention rejects ban on gay bishops

Columbus--The Episcopal General Convention, which ran from June 13 to 21 in Ohio�s capital, saw clergy and lay delegates maintain the status quo on LGBT issues in a denomination that was sharply divided over the 2003 ordination of an openly gay bishop.

In perhaps the biggest move the United States wing of the Anglican Communion made, on June 18 they elected their first female leader, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, bringing mixed reactions from Anglican churches in other nations.

Only the United States, Canada and New Zealand�s Anglican wings have women as bishops, and Jefferts Schori�s election to the role of presiding bishop will likely bring nearly as much opposition from hard-line conservatives in Africa, Asia and South America as the ordination of V. Gene Robinson as the denomination�s first openly gay bishop did three years ago.

In one of her first interviews after being elected, Jefferts Schori told CNN that she does not believe homosexuality is a sin. Her reasoning is based on the differences in time between now and the time of the Bible.

"The Bible comes to us out of contexts that are quite different from our own, and people were asking different questions," she said. �The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear--there are rules in the Bible about those that we don�t observe today.�

On June 20, delegates to the convention rejected a measure that would temporarily bar the election of gay bishops.

According to Bishop Edward Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, who was on the committee that penned the ban, it would end the discussion of a moratorium if deputies rejected the ban.

The House of Deputies, one of two legislative chambers, approved two measures in response to the Windsor Report, an Anglican Communion document on the subject of Robinson�s ordination and the actions of the church in Canada and the U.S., both of which are more left-leaning than the majority of other national Anglican churches.

The Windsor Report called for an apology from the U.S. and Canadian churches for �breaching communion� with the rest of the Anglican Church, through the ordination of Robinson in the U.S. and for approving same-sex unions in Canada.

It also recommended the ban on gay bishops and a temporary halt on the development of official blessings for same-sex unions.

The first measure made good on the request for an apology, issuing a statement of regret, not for ordaining Robinson but for not consulting other Anglicans and for the �consequences that followed.�

The second directs �this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize� prayers for same-sex unions.

�No one is being asked to stop being different. No one is being asked to stop differently from others,� said Rev. Frank Wade, on the committee assigned to create legislation based on the Windsor Report. �The question is, how do we live together?�

Wade said that the Windsor Report should be viewed as a call for peace instead of as an ultimatum from the Communion.

Both resolutions were awaiting approval from the House of Bishops before they could be enacted. That approval had not come by press time.

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, has asked that her name be taken out of consideration for the bishopric of the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey.

Lind, one of the most prominent lesbians in the denomination, said that her decision was not based on her sexual orientation, but rather that she felt God has called her to serve Trinity Cathedral for a while longer.

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