Two months after the Episcopal Church formally approved an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire last year, thousands of distraught conservatives gathered at a Dallas hotel looking for "A Place to Stand."
On Monday, they got their answer. They were told that to remain in the Anglican Communion they must also remain in the Episcopal Church, not outside of it.
A 17-member panel headed by Irish Archbishop Robin Eames issued a report that said the Anglican Communion should not establish a separate North American province for conservatives. It also called on overseas bishops who have aligned themselves with U.S. conservatives to "express regret" and no longer inject themselves into the American church.
To put it one way, if conservatives were sitting at a traffic light and hoping for a green light, they got a shade of orange more than a cautionary yellow, less than screeching-stop red.
More than anything, they were disappointed. "The prescription was less than the seriousness of the disease," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a South Carolina leader of the American Anglican Council, in a phone interview from London.
The report, Harmon said, called for "more patience and more perseverance but not for very long."
Conservatives were pleased that the report chastised the American church for allowing a gay bishop and, in some dioceses, the blessing of same-sex unions. They also welcomed proposals that would bind the worldwide Communion in a new "covenant" that would make it harder for one province to go its own way.
They were less satisfied when the report rejected attempts by conservative parishes to handpick new bishops beyond their diocese. The report said such arrangements should be "conditional and temporary" and involve the local bishop. ...1