In a courtyard of the Wyndham Anatole hotel near downtown Dallas sit two tall, graffiti-strewn panels from the former Berlin Wall. ACT UP! NOW, says a spray-painted slogan on the left panel. SMASH NORMALE POLITIX, says the right panel.

Smashing normal politics, at least those of the Episcopal Church, has drawn nearly 2,700 Episcopalians to the Wyndham Anatole for a meeting that began at noon Tuesday and continues through noon Thursday.

"A Place to Stand," a conference sponsored by the American Anglican Council, is part unofficial church convention, part communiqué to the 38 primates (archbishops with national or transnational duties) of the Anglican Communion, and part pep rally for orthodox Episcopalians.

The Episcopal Church's General Convention, meeting in August, approved Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as the bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire, and decided that "local faith communities" are functioning "within the bonds of our common life" when they bless same-sex couples. Conference speakers did not make frequent reference on Tuesday to those presenting issues, but criticisms of those votes met with thunderous applause and some standing ovations.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and House of Deputies President George Werner unsuccessfully asked to send four observers to the gathering, along with a letter Griswold had written to the gathering.

"We have had those who've tried to make this an official meeting by sending representatives or observers, and we've said no thanks," said the Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

The Rev. David Anderson, AAC's president and CEO, wrote to Griswold that anyone attending the conference must register as a participant, which ...

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