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THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND HOMOSEXUALITY

YEAR 2004 DEVELOPMENTS

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Developments in 2004:

bullet2004-MAY-18: Global South Primates issue statement: The Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion representing 18 Provinces with a membership of over 55 million, held a meeting in Nairobi on APR-15 & 16. It was chaired by the Most Rev'd Dr Peter Akinola, the Primate of all Nigeria. They wrote: "...we reiterate unreservedly our unequivocal opposition to the unilateral decision of ECUSA to proceed with the consecration of a divorced and practising homosexual priest as Bishop. This deliberate disobedience of the revealed will of God in the Holy Scriptures is a flagrant departure from the consensual and clearly communicated mind and will of the Anglican Communion. By this, ECUSA has wilfully torn 'the fabric of the communion at its deepest level', and as a consequence openly cut themselves adrift and broken the sacramental fellowship of the Communion." They made a number of recommendations to the Lambeth Commission which was created by the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss homosexual issues in the Communion. They recommend that the Commission:
bulletCall upon the ECUSA to repent and to reverse the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop
bulletSuspend and ultimately expel the ECUSA from the Anglican Communion if they do not expel Bishop Robinson.
bulletTo give "full Episcopal and pastoral oversight" to those dioceses who want to split from the ECUSA. 1
bullet2004-JUN-03: CA, DC: Two same-sex relationships to be blessed: The American Anglican Council (AAC), a conservative voice within the Episcopal Church, reported that two bishops are planning to preside at the blessings of high-profile same-sex couples:
bulletJon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, conducted a union ritual for the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, poet laureate of LA, and his long-time partner. Mark Thompson. 2
bulletJohn Chane, Bishop of the Diocese of Washington (DC) has stated that he plans to conduct a same sex blessing of former Michael Hopkins and his partner John Bradley on JUN-12 at St. George's Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale, MD. The ritual will coincide with Gay Pride Day in Washington DC. It will be Chane's first blessing of a same-sex couple. Hopkins is the former president of Integrity, a support group for Episcopalians who are sexual minorities, and is pastor of St. George's Episcopal Church in College Park, MD. 3

The AAC speculates that by taking a direct role in these union ceremonies, the bishops may have been "sending a message to the Primates." 4 The AAC did not consider the partners of Bruno and Hopkins worthy of naming.

bullet2004-JUN-24: DC: Blessing performed for same-sex couple: According to the Independent newspaper in the UK: "The Archbishop of Canterbury's office has described as 'extraordinary' a decision by the Bishop of Washington to carry out a 'blessing' service involving a gay priest and his partner of 12 years....More than 100 people witnessed the Bishop of Washington DC, the Reverend John Chane, bless the union of Father Michael Hopkins, 43, and his partner, John Clinton Bradley, 44, at a service at Father Hopkins's church in Maryland on June 12. Lambeth Palace was reported as saying: 'Given the stage at which the commission working with Archbishop [Robin] Eames has now reached, it is extraordinary that such a development has occurred'." 5
bullet2004-JUL-14: USA: Anglican Communion Network's (ACN) Day of Prayer and Fasting: The ACN has called for a day of prayer and fasting on 2004-AUG-5, a Thursday. This is the fist anniversary of the confirmation of V. Gene Robinson, the first sexually active homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. 7
bullet2004-JUL-16: CT: Bishop Andrew Smith summons priests: Six Episcopal parishes in Connecticut --Christ Church in Watertown, St. John's Church in Bristol, St. Paul's Church in Darien, Trinity Church in Bristol, Christ & The Epiphany Church in East Haven, and Bishop of Seabury Church in Groton -- are trying to remove their churches from the control of Bishop Andrew D. Smith, who leads the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, and become part of a network of conservative churches opposed to equal treatment of gays and lesbians. They have been asked to meet with the bishop. 8
bullet2004-JUL-23: CA, NC, NV, UT, VT: Same-sex blessings authorized: According to AgapePress: "North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry recently told churches in his diocese they were authorized to bless homosexual unions. His announcement follows similar moves by Episcopal leaders in Nevada, Utah, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Vermont. American Anglican Council member Dr. Kendall Harmon, who serves as Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, says Curry is the first southeastern bishop to okay same-sex blessings since the denomination's General Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 'It's discouraging,' Harmon says, 'because a lot of his diocese is opposed to his vote, and now he's not simply voted for the New Hampshire election, but he's going further than that. And it's going to further divide the diocese'…" 6
bullet2004-AUG-17: CA: Two Episcopal Church leave diocese of Los Angeles: All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. James Church in Newport Beach, CA announced that they have broken with the Episcopal church over the issue of homosexuality and have placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a conservative Anglican bishop from Africa. 9
bullet2004-AUG-19: BC: Parishioners abandon church: Most of the membership of St. Timothy's Anglican Church, about 80 members, walked away from a mortgage-free building and a $600,000 endowment fund and have started a new church that meets in a warehouse. The issue that generated the break was the Anglican Church of Canada's failure to ban the practice of blessing same-sex relationships. The group has joined the newly formed Anglican Communion in Canada (ACiC) which is separate from the Anglican Church of Canada and is under the episcopal oversight of five Primates in Africa and southeast Asia. Paul Carter, ACiC spokesperson, said: "They could see no future within the Anglican Church of Canada and that's when some of them said, 'We want to stay Anglican, but we we're going to go the circuitous route to Canterbury via the ACiC and licensed priests from the Province of Rwanda'." 10
bullet2004-SEP-03: UL: American Episcopal bishops meet with Archbishop of Canterbury: Four bishops, Rt Rev Thomas Shaw (MA), the Rt Rev Robert O'Neill (CO), the Rt Rev J Clark Drew (OH) and the Rt Rev Don Johnson (West TN),  flew to London to talk with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. They have been disturbed at rumors that the Lambeth Commission may recommend that the Episcopal Church, USA be excluded from policy making and shunned. This could include the next Lambeth Conference in 2008 as well as annual meetings of the primates. 11,12

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References:

  1. Peter J. Akinola, "April 16 Statement by the Global South Primates," 2004-MAY-18, at: http://www.americananglican.org/
  2. "RevSusan," "On being blessed by a blessing," Every Voice Network, 2004-MAY-24, at: http://www.everyvoice.net/
  3. "Episcopal Bishop To Perform Blessing Service For Gays," Associated Press, 2004-MAY-28, at: http://www.thewbalchannel.com/family/3358790/detail.html
  4. Cynthia Brust, "Statement by the American Anglican Council Regarding Same-Sex Blessings," Update from the American Anglican Council," 2004-JUN-03.
  5. Andrew Clennell, "Gay blessing by US bishop defies advice from church," The Independent, 2004-JUN-24, at: http://news.independent.co.uk/
  6. Jim Brown, "Anglican Leader Warns ECUSA Conservatives: Prepare for Changes. Says Lambeth Report May Bring Structural Change or Division in Its Wake," AgapePress Christian News Service, 2004-JUL-21, at: http://headlines.agapepress.org/
  7. Cynthia Brust, "The Anglican Communion Network Declares Day of Prayer for Episcopal Church," 2004-JUL-14, at:  http://www.anglicancommunionnetwork.org/
  8. Frances Taylor, "Six Episcopal Parishes Seek Conservative Ties," The Hartford Courant, 2004-JUL-16, at: http://www.ctnow.com/
  9. Larry Stammer, "LA Times Reports on Churches Leaving Diocese of LA," LA Times, 2004-AUG-18, included in the American Anglican Council weekly update, 2004-AUG-20.
  10. "Dissenting Anglicans start new 'biblically-based' church; Ex-St. Martin's members put faith ahead of property," St. Timothy's Anglican Church, undated, at: http://www.st-timothy.com/news
  11. Jonathan Petre, "Anglicans to shun gay-row bishops," News.telegraph, 2004-SEP-03, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  12. Jonathan Petre, "US bishops fly in for 'sanctions' talks," News.telegraph, 2004-SEP-09, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

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Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-SEP-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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