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Episcopal Church Vote Favors Gay Ordination

Meeting in California, TEC General Convention approves resolution by strong majority.

Starting last week, The Episcopal Church (TEC) has been meeting in Anaheim, California, for its General Convention. The convention is subdivided into the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (lay and clergy).

The big question coming into the convention was whether the convention would move to repeal so-called B033, approved at their last convention. This resolution B033 called for the church to abide by a moratorium for consecrating openly homosexual individuals to the office of Bishop. (In 2003, the openly gay V. Gene Robinson was named as Bishop of New Hampshire.)

Last night, the House of Bishops approved D025, a measure from the House of Deputies that will allow gay clergy to serve openly in all offices of the church. The Associated Press reports:

The Episcopal Church moved Monday toward affirming their acceptance of gays and lesbians for all roles in ministry, despite pressure from fellow Anglicans worldwide for a decisive moratorium on consecrating another openly gay bishop.

Bishops at the Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., voted 99-45 with two abstentions for a statement declaring "God has called and may call" to ministry gays in committed lifelong relationships.

Lay and priest delegates to the meeting had comfortably approved a nearly identical statement, and were expected to adopt the latest version before the meeting ends Friday.

Leaders of the Anglican Communion have been pushing Episcopalians to roll back their support for gays and lesbians since 2003, when the U.S. denomination consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. Anglican body.

During the debate, several conservative bishops spoke out, according to Virtue Online:

The bishop of West Virginia objected, "We need to face the fact that this is a repudiation of B033... now we're shooting the gap..." and will, he felt, do the very things that the Communion has asked The Episcopal Church not to do. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, agreed, "I do not believe it is right... sex outside marriage is inappropriate" and more importantly, he thought that what was at stake was "a perceived justice issue" over and against the "integrity of the Communion." The Bishop of Albany Bill Love spoke in the same vein, stating that "If this resolution passes, The Episcopal Church will cease to be what its always been." For him, passing amended D025 would "totally shred" the Communion... a loss to us and the wider Church." Others, notably Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina and Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida spoke powerfully against the resolution. But the tide of the House was against them and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had warned against such legislation earlier that day at General Synod.

The vote was hailed as a milestone by Integrity, the leading organization for supporters of gay ordination. Late yesterday, Integrity in a press statement said:

By a nearly 2-1 margin, the bishops of the Episcopal Church passed an amended version of resolution D025, which effectively ends the "BO33 Era" and returns the church to relying on its canons and discernment processes for the election of bishops. "While concurrence on the amended resolution by the House of Deputies is necessary before it is officially adopted by the church as a whole," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "there is no question that today's vote in the House of Bishops was an historic move forward and a great day for all who support the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ."

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