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Episcopal policy on gay clergy will deepen rift with conservatives

July 15, 2009

The New York Times has reported that the Episcopal Church has changed its policy on the ordination of openly gay clergy.

By voting to affirm that “any ordained ministry” is open to gay men and lesbians, the Episcopal Church effectively ended what many regarded as a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops, which the church passed at its last convention three years ago.

As the article notes, this will certainly make wider the theological chasm and inflame the hostilities between liberal and conservative members of the worldwide Anglican communion to which the Episcopal Church belongs. But I think it’s an honest acknowledgment of where the church is today and where it is going, at least in the United States. Yes, there are plenty of Episcopalians who object to homosexuality and even more strenuously object to non-celibate gay clergy. And yes, it’s not only about homosexuality. Many Episcopalians feel that church leaders are abandoning the authority of scripture and becoming moral relativists. But I think the Episcopal Church has made controversial decisions before that reflect a new way of understanding both the Bible and the culture, and on this point the leaders are recognizing that gay people have a contribution to make. To prohibit them from full inclusion in the church would be wrong.

Of course, the future of the Anglican communion worldwide seems to point to a more conservative, more traditional approach. An excellent analysis can be found in Philip Jenkins’ 2002 Atlantic Monthly piece in which he explains the rapid rise of Christianity in Africa where the Anglican church is thriving. 

(NYT story passed on to me by the lovely and talented Melita Elmore. Hey, why doesn’t SHE have a blog?)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 9:04 pm

    I just read an article on CNN.com regarding unity in the Catholic Church without cultural uniformity (i.e., as Anglican congregations join while retaining their rites). The Catholic Church views this “homecoming” as the work of the Holy Spirit. I then wrote a post about the relationship of unity and doctrinal uniformity. In general terms, does unity require uniformity?

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