The Schism Begins

My best friend is Episcopalian. He’s also gay. Last night I was privileged to accompany him to a meeting at his church to hear the parish rector speak about the Episcopal Church’s recent General Convention in Columbus. The rector — male, heterosexual, and African American — had served as a deputy at the convention, which is held every three years.

In addition to electing a woman as presiding bishop (i.e primate) of the Episcopal Church in America, the convention also voted on resolutions in response to the Windsor Report of the worldwide Anglican Communion. That report had asked the Americans to “repent” from their action in 2003 of assenting to the episcopal consecration of an openly gay and partnered priest, Canon V. Gene Robinson. As the rector pointed out, the convention deputies chose not to express “repentance” for the 2003 action, as this would indicate that they now believe what they did then was wrong. Nonethelss, out of a desires to hear the voices of their fellow Anglicans around the globe, to be respectful of their wishes, and to remain in dialogue over difficult issues, the convention deputies approved a resolution expressing their “regret” for the pain their 2003 action has caused.

Now, however, it seems that some Anglicans both around the world and even closer to home aren’t willing to accept this statement of regret and continue the dialogue with their co-religionists. Led by the power-hungry and fundamentalist Peter Akinola, Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, these folks sadly are not willing to give to others even a small measure of what they had so strongly demanded for themselves.

It is sad that the prayer of Jesus himself (see John 17:8-26) calling for unity among his followers seems so far from the minds and actions of some shepherds entrusted with pastoral care for a part of God’s flock.

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