Anglican Episcopal Churches Wrestle with Role of Gays

Written By Anne Szustek
Last updated: February 13, 2023

Traditionalist bishops plan to skip a decennial policy conference next month over what they perceive to be excessive liberalism in the application of the doctrine.

30-Second Summary

Some Anglican and Episcopal churches have quietly accepted church blessings of same-sex couples for some time. And in 2003, the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, ordained openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire.

The role of gays was a main topic of a meeting of 160-odd Episcopal bishops last September in New Orleans. In a move to assuage conservative dioceses, the clergy pledged to “exercise restraint” and not instate more gay bishops or formulate a liturgy for same-sex matrimony.

Episcopal Church presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the agreement “lessens the possibility of schism.”

But the London church union of Westminster Abbey priest Peter Cowell and Waikato, New Zealand priest David Lord has put the issue of gay clergy and marriage to the forefront as the church prepares for July’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting held every 10 years where Anglican Communion bishops discuss church policy. The 1998 conference ruled that gays should be embraced as members of the church, yet it “cannot advise” the ordination of homosexuals or bless gay marriages.

But these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, says the Rev. Dr. Martin Dudley, the priest who officiated in the ceremony. Insisting that it was a “blessing” rather than a marriage, the BBC said that Dudley finds it “hypocritical that the church accepted civil partnerships, but not just in church.”

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, expects that this will be a heated topic during this year’s conference and plans to keep discussion varied. But 200 traditionalist bishops are boycotting over the issue, and plan to hold an alternative assembly in Jordan.

Headline Link: ‘Anglican Church in Meltdown over Gays and Women’

As many as 500 Anglo-Catholic priests are gearing up to resign “after failing to secure the concessions that they had sought over women bishops,” reports the U.K. paper The Times. Bishops in the Church of England, the U.K. branch of the Anglican Communion, are giving the red light to a proposal to create traditionalist dioceses. “Plans to consecrate women bishops will be put to the vote at the General Synod in York next month, with the safeguards for opponents enshrined in a voluntary code.”

Source: The Times of London

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Video: ‘Anger at Church “Gay Wedding”’

The Rev. Dr. Martin Dudley, who presided over Cowell and Lord’s ceremony, is now insisting that it was “a blessing” rather than a full-fledged rite of matrimony. But the BBC said that Dudley found it “hypocritical that the church accepted civil partnerships, but not just in church.”

Source: The BBC

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Background: Lambeth Conference resolution on gays, Church curbs gay ordination

Anglican Communion bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Resolution agreed to “uphold faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union,” however “recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation” and “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation,” however the Church “cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

Source: Lambeth Conference

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In addition to curbing the ordination of gay bishops, Episcopal bishops disparaged parishes that sought to disaffiliate with the decidedly liberal U.S. central church in favor of joining Anglican dioceses based in the developing world, which tend to be more disapproving of same-sex relationships. One such example is of Massachusetts’ Rev. William Murdoch, who joined the clergy of the Anglican Church of Kenya. His congregation left its Episcopal-run building and bought an old Catholic church. The church is now officially affiliated with the Kenyan branch of the Anglican Communion.

Source: The Boston Globe (free registration may be required)

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Related Topic: ‘The Vatican Puts Its Foot Down on Female Priests’

The Vatican announced on May 29 it would excommunicate anyone who attempts to ordain a female priest, as well as the woman herself. Catholics who are excommunicated cannot receive the sacraments.

Source: findingDulcinea

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Reference: The Anglican Communion

Anglicans are associated with the Church of England, established by King Henry VIII following a dispute with Pope Clement VII regarding the dissolution of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Episcopalianism is the strain of Anglicanism that developed in the United States. The Anglican/Episcopalian faith boasts about 70 million adherents around the globe and is thought to fall somewhere in between Catholicism and Protestantism on the theological spectrum. FindingDulcinea’s Web Guide to Protestantism includes sites to further explore the Anglican Communion, the umbrella organization for the Episcopal and Anglican churches.

Source: findingDulcinea

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