As the debate over gay marriage makes its temporary recession from the floor of the U.S. Senate, the debate will reappear on the floor of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, scheduled to begin June 13. The Episcopal Church first called on the government to institute civil unions at its convention in 1994, and in 2003 the church ordained its first openly homosexual bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson.
The outcome of the 2003 convention has neither been good for the Episcopal Church in its relations to laymen nor in its relation to the larger Anglican communion in the world. Conventions are held every three years, and next week’s gathering promises to be full of chaos. It is more likely, from the way things have been going, that the Episcopal Church next week will have its funeral than its renewal.
For decades, the Episcopal Church has been declining. A recent Gallup survey shows that Episcopalians are the least likely Christians in America to attend church regularly. Only one in three Episcopalians attends church weekly. Quite simply, the Episcopal Church is so politicized, so politically correct and so confused about its identity that its members aren’t interested in participating.
Most Episcopal churches on Sunday mornings will feature the liturgical service with feminized readings and recitations and the open Eucharist. When it comes time for the homily, politics often enters in full array, even if only for the three minutes that the rector took time to prepare. Perhaps the Very Reverend womyn, thoroughly indoctrinated at Berkeley Divinity School in the late 1960s, will deliver a preachment against the pro-life movement. Or if the rector happens to be a white male, he might speak about the church’s need to be more inclusive of minorities. Looking around the Episcopal Church though, one finds it to be among the least diverse groups of people in the community. The typical Episcopalian is an older woman; and there is a good chance she is divorced and has few kids.
At the Episcopal church I attended on Sunday one could have predicted the lineup of cars outside the church: Cadillac, Lincoln Towncar, Buick. Sitting in the back, I looked out over rows mostly empty. Those filled included the gray curls and baldness of baby boomers and retirees.
At another Episcopal church I attended the previous Sunday, the rector was a woman accompanied by an altar girl, a gender confusion in the larger denomination dating back to the 1970s. I listened to a sermon on the need to find middle ground as the church seeks its identity. For lack of purpose and identity, the Episcopal Church certainly doesn’t attract men, or young people.
What’s more, the Episcopal Church has fallen out of favor with the global Anglican community. Its insistence on homosexual inclusion at the 2003 Convention, as well as the decision to bless homosexual unions in a Canadian Anglican diocese, resulted in the 2004 international Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, demanding that the Episcopal Church stop, and repent of, its hasty advances toward the homosexual movement.
Recently, the archbishop of Canterbury repeated the warning to the Episcopal Church that its refusal to back down on the homosexual agenda will have severe consequences within the global Anglican community. The archbishop, Dr. Rowan Williams, said, “The cost of carrying on with this particular set of unilateral developments is very high. It might mean that they may not be welcome at the next Lambeth Conference.”
At the Lambeth Conference, an international gathering of bishops held every decade and scheduled for 2008, most bishops are orthodox. Not so the American bishops, who have made homosexuality a leading item on their approval list. At the last Lambeth Conference in 1998, Resolution 1.10 declared homosexual behavior biblically incompatible while calling on Anglicans to consider other perspectives on the issue. The Lambeth Conference bishops stated that the church could not “advise the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same-gender unions.”
The decision of American Episcopalians to rebel against Resolution 1.10 by ordaining an openly homosexual bishop (and of Canadian Anglicans by sanctifying gay marriage) does not override the international resolution. It only indicates to the Archbishop of Canterbury that repentance is in order to bring American Episcopalians back in line with the global communion. He said in an interview that “it is something for which they ought to repent, not just express regret.”
If the Episcopal Church Convention decides to uphold its commitment to homosexual radicalism next week, it will alienate itself from global Anglicanism. And it will continue to marginalize itself within the United States.
Next week’s Episcopal Convention will be worth watching. For the latest, visit the orthodox Episcopal news and commentary website Virtue Online.
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