Episcopal Bishops Balk at Anglican Leaders' Demands
Today's Top Five
1. "I would accept schism"
For a century, the fight between liberals and conservatives in the mainline denominations has usually meant that conservatives have broken away to create new denominations while asserting that it's the liberals who have truly departed from the church and its teachings. It has been difficult to convince the liberals that they're the ones who are schismatic. But while that story looked to be happening again in the fight between orthodox Anglicans and liberal Episcopalians, it now appears that something different may indeed occur. Faced with a unanimous ultimatum from the world's Anglican leaders to bar gay bishops and same-sex union blessings by September 30, Episcopalian liberals seem to be realizing that church unity is incompatible with their promotion of a new sexual ethic and rejection of biblical authority.
"I would accept schism," Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School, told The Washington Post. "I would be willing to accept being told I'm not in communion with places like Nigeria if it meant I could continue to be in a position of justice and morality. If the price I pay is that I'm not considered to be part of a flawed communion, then so be it."
Mark Sisk, the bishop of New York, is one of the most-quoted voices of rebellion this week. "Being part of the Anglican Communion is very important to me," he told The New York Times. "But if the price of that is I have to turn my back on the gay and lesbian people who are part of this church and part of me, I won't do that."
Notably, the gay and lesbian people who are part of Sisk's church say the choice is stark. Both the current and former heads of Integrity, the denomination's main gay organization, say there's no middle ground between approving homosexual behavior and staying in the Anglican Communion.
"The American church has been very skillfully and strategically painted into a corner where we really need to face a 'Sophie's Choice' of staying true to our understanding of the inclusive gospel or staying true to our commitment to being a constituent member of the Anglican Communion," Integrity president Susan Russell told the Post.
Even the debate is a problem, former Integrity president Michael Hopkins told The New York Times. Gays and lesbians are already leaving the Episcopal Church, he said. "People like me can only convince other people to hang in there for so long."
Boy, does that sound familiar.
2. Bones discovered at Christian hospital in India
In India, where gender-based abortion and infanticide are problems even in the Christian community, hundreds of bones and other human remains have been discovered on the grounds of Ratlam Christian Hospital, a mission hospital in Madhya Pradesh. The Church of North India's Bhopal diocese runs the hospital, and Catholic officials say there's a conspiracy at work. Diocesan spokesman Suresh Carleton says the hospital "was framed" and that the remains belong to stillborn babies.
"It seems to be conspiracy by some quarters like the Bajrang Dal to damage the reputation of the hospital and the Christians in the state," Bhopal bishop Laxman Maida told the Indian Catholic newspaper. "It is a ploy to defame us. I was inside the hospital when the Bajrang Dal activists were on a rampage, shouting slogans against Christians, that we convert and alleging feticide. We don't do abortions, and we don't even have the machine."
3. New Life Church issues report on Haggard
Last week, overseers at New Life Church disclosed some of their findings from their investigation of Ted Haggard and the congregation's current leadership. "Numerous individuals reported to us firsthand knowledge of everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships," Larry Stockstill, who pastors a church in Baton Rouge, told New Life during Sunday morning services. "These findings established a pattern of behavior that culminated in the final relationship in which Ted was, as a matter of grace, caught."
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