Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders

From the New York Times:

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 25 — Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself.

After nearly a week of talks at their semiannual meeting in New Orleans, the House of Bishops adopted a resolution that defied a directive by the Anglican Communion’s regional leaders, or primates, to change several church policies regarding the place of gay men and lesbians in their church. But the bishops also expressed a desire to remain part of the communion, and they appeared to be trying to stake out a middle ground that would allow them to do so.

Still, up to five American dioceses led by theologically conservative bishops may try to break with the Episcopal Church and place themselves under the oversight of a foreign primate in the coming months, said the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a conservative Episcopal strategist.

“We’ll have the chaos here increase as more individuals, parishes and dioceses begin moving,” Mr. Harmon said. “What will happen is that we will see more of the disunity here spread to the rest of the communion.”

In a voice vote, all but one bishop supported a resolution, called “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by Our Anglican Communion Partners.” Several conservative bishops who are considering leaving the Episcopal Church were not in attendance.

The resolution affirmed the status quo of the Episcopal Church, both theological conservatives and liberals said.

It states, for example, that it “reconfirms” a call to bishops “to exercise restraint” by not consenting to the consecration of a partnered gay bishop. It also says the bishops promise not to authorize “any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions.” Still, some bishops allow such blessings to occur in their dioceses. Both positions have been stated in past meetings of the governing body of the church, the General Convention.

The resolution also calls for an “immediate end” to the practice of foreign bishops’ consecrating conservative Americans to minister to breakaway congregations in the United States, a trend that church leaders believe undermines their authority.

The Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a prominent conservative group supported by the Archbishop of Nigeria, responded to the bishops’ resolution: “They’re offering business as usual. The communion asked them to make a change, to embrace the teaching of the communion about homosexuality, and there’s no change at all.”

Read the whole thing here.