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The American Episcopal Church (ECUSA) has rejected the sober warnings of the worldwide Anglican communion and is continuing its happy drift from orthodox Christianity.

On November 2, Gene Robinson, a non-celibate homosexual, was consecrated as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire in a service that the denomination's leaders blessed. Immediately, many leading Anglicans in Africa announced they were in a state of impaired communion with that diocese (and some with the denomination), and many American parishes and dioceses began separating themselves from ECUSA. These are but the first steps in a break that may take years to become permanent.

The Anglican primates (heads of the provinces) met in October to sternly remind the American church that Robinson's election does not represent the teaching of Anglicanism, and to warn that, if ECUSA moved forward with the consecration, "The future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy." (One Canadian diocese was similarly warned about blessing same-sex unions).

While emphasizing their "deep regret" regarding the actions of ECUSA, the primates essentially blessed a "divorce" from ECUSA by (1) allowing dissenting minorities to seek alternative bishops, and (2) recognizing as a foregone conclusion, maybe even a right, that provinces would declare themselves out of communion with the Episcopal Church.

The document called for a 12-month study to create a new polity that would hold the communion together. But there is likely no structure that would allow conservatives to stay in communion with provinces that openly bless same-sex unions and ordain practicing homosexuals.

This church split is particularly sad. This was Protestantism's longest cross-cultural effort at institutional unity. ...

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December 2003

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