Last week the Rev. Irene posted about the Episcopal Church's vote to lift the moratorium on gay clergy, and two pro-trans resolutions passed in this year's conference as well. This last Friday the leaders of the Episcopal Church voted to start consecrating same-sex unions:
(Anaheim, Calif.) Episcopalians on Friday authorized bishops to bless same-sex unions and research an official prayer for the ceremonies, capping a meeting that moved the church closer to accepting gay relationships despite turmoil over the issue in the Anglican family.[...]
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, head of the Episcopal Church, sent Williams a letter, released publicly Friday, saying that the actions of the convention were not meant to offend and did not mean that all - or any - diocese would necessarily consecrate a gay bishop.
"We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other churches across the communion," she wrote. "We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess and earnestly desire."
It'll be interesting to watch the global Communion respond to this one. The consecration of gay clergy is one thing, bless same-sex couplehood is a whole 'nother.
I haven't seen any response from the Church of England or the Archbishop of Canterbury, but a lot of people are talking schism. That seems to be a problem inherent with the way the Anglican Communion set itself up originally with each church able to decide theological issues on its own. Now there's a large gulf on these issues between the American, the African, and the British churches on these issues, although if schism does happen, it'll likely be instigated by conservative churches who will blame liberal churches for making them do it. A conservative in the Times of London said as much, and it's the conservative M.O. - destroy everything in their quest to have everyone agree with them and then shift blame away from themselves.
But Integrity, an LGBT Episcopal group, is interpreting it differently:
The July 15 episode of NPR's Morning Edition quoted a member of the Episcopalian GLBT equality group Integrity, pastor Susan Russell, who said of the vote to end the moratorium, "we did that for a time--for the last three years--and that time is over."
Russell seemed to indicate that had the moratorium actually helped stem the push toward schism, things might have worked out differently; but with parishes leaving the fold over the issue of gay clergy despite the moratorium on gay bishops, the denial of such status within the church to deserving and qualified individuals may have seemed merely wasteful.
As Russell put it, quoting from a popular song, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
The article quoted Russell further. "I think there's a tremendous sense of freedom and liberation in this church right now," she said.
"The mission of this church will no longer be held hostage to those who are threatening to leave."
Indeed. The Episcopal Church was bleeding members even with the moratorium in place. If the big goal is holding the member churches in and keeping members in the flock, there doesn't seem to be much motivation for keeping a moratorium on gay clergy in place if the conservative churches are going to leave anyway.
While everything I'm finding is from before the Church voted on same-sex unions, I'm guessing will be more extreme. I don't know if people in the Church or the Communion were predicting a vote like this, but it's taking a stand consistent with their principles, and, really, the way the Communion is organized they have the right to do so.