The campaign by liberal bishops for the ordination and marriage of practicing homosexuals suffered a striking setback in August at the historic Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England.

Anglican bishops from around the globe voted 526 to 70 with 45 abstentions for a resolution declaring that homosexual practice is "incompatible with Scripture." During the past year, several other major Protestant church bodies have issued statements either rejecting ordination and marriage for practicing homosexuals or affirming that sexual relations should be limited to heterosexual marriage.

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said, "I stand wholeheartedly with traditional Anglican orthodoxy. I see no room in Holy Scripture or the entire Christian tradition for any sexual activity outside matrimony of husband and wife."

INFLUENTIAL RESOLUTION: Once a decade, the bishops of the world's 55 million Anglicans, known in the United States as Episcopalians, gather for the Lambeth Conference, held this time at the University of Kent in Canterbury. The meetings are advisory in nature and nonbinding, but are nevertheless highly influential.

The debate over the place of sexually active homosexuals overshadowed much of the three-week-long conference's agenda. Early on, a controversial meeting between the Lambeth sexuality study group and homosexuals was canceled. Bishop John Spong of New Jersey, a leading advocate for homosexuals, was put on the defensive when he called African Christians "superstitious" and backward in their views on sexuality.

The bishops' sexuality study committee was drawn into intense exchanges as they drafted a compromise resolution. But two days later during a plenary session, bishops approved conservative amendments to the committee's hard-won agreement.

During debate, Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis told the conference that, in the past, the church had thought it had the correct answers to moral problems such as slavery but centuries later had to repent. She said, "Our call is not to correctness but to love."

After the vote, Bishop James Stanton, president of the conservative American Anglican Council of Dallas, said the sexuality debate has "sapped our energy from urgent tasks such as evangelism and justice for the poorest of the poor."

Liberal bishops stressed that they would not end their efforts on behalf of homosexuals. Scottish Bishop Richard Holloway said he felt "gutted, shafted, and betrayed, but the struggle will go on."

AFRICAN VOICES: The sexuality resolution may signal the most influence ever by African and Asian bishops. In a reference to the growing influence of African Anglicans, Stanton noted how "eloquent learned voices from other places around the globe" were powerfully persuasive at Lambeth. About 87 percent of Anglicans worldwide reside in eight countries.

The greatest growth has been concentrated in Africa and in a few spots in Asia. In Nigeria, for instance, the number of Anglican dioceses has increased 35 percent from 26 a decade ago to 61 this year. There are 5.7 million Anglicans in Nigeria. In the United States, by comparison, there are 2.3 million Anglicans (mostly in the Episcopal Church, U.S.A.).

Bishop John Rucyahana of Shyira, Rwanda, is one example of a new generation of church leaders from the developing world who have been tested by internal warfare, religious persecution, and poverty. Rucyahana told ct, "The church is losing the ability to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We don't like your First World way of speaking ambiguous words and not being straight on the issues. We don't feel it's time for more dialogue [on homosexuality].

"It's not the institution per se which we want to save. We want to save the ability to preach the transforming gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ability to convert the world to Jesus, not to the institution."

In other action, Lambeth bishops voted to oppose compulsion in ordination, lending support to four American bishops who refuse to ordain women.

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