Skip to comments.Episcopal churches brace for election of bishop
Posted on 05/02/2006 6:20:34 PM PDT by sionnsar
The American Episcopal church may be heading for a break with its historic mother ship, the Anglican Communion, and 12 Marin parishes are taking part.
Delegates from 81 Episcopal churches in the Bay Area will vote Saturday to elect a new bishop of the Diocese of California.
Three of the seven candidates are gay.
Election of a gay bishop will fly in the face of the conservative-dominated Anglican Communion, which ordered the national church to apologize for "inflicting pain" when it confirmed a gay, Eugene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, and asked its members to desist from electing any more gay bishops (at least until the national convention this June).
Robinson's election caused a major rift, not only in the global Anglican hierarchy but in congregations throughout the United States.
That decision "still festers," says the Rev. Chuck Gompertz of Nicasio, assistant pastor of St. John's in Ross.
Despite the hazards, Marin clergy and lay delegates to the Saturday showdown in Grace Cathedral are pressing ahead, looking for a bishop to suit their racially and philosophically diverse diocese, apparently uncowed by the potential consequences.
Most delegates are still making up their minds, helped along by Thursday's regional "walkabout" at St. Stephen's in Tiburon, at which the seven candidates appeared for public questioning.
All seven spoke passionately about "inclusion" as a goal and decried barring anyone from "Christ's table." All said they would bless gay marriage, although three suggested the church should get out of the official wedding business and leave it to city hall.
The walkabout, more than four hours long and attended by 300 mostly gray-haired people, focused on a range of issues, including diversity, church growth and looking for younger membership.
The church has faced radical change in the past, according to Gompertz, one of two Marin members of the search committee for a new bishop.
"Fifteen years ago, when the first women were ordained, many people thought it was the end of the world," he says. "Well - the world didn't end."
The nationwide search for a new bishop began more than a year ago, after Bishop William Swing announced he would retire after 25 years. Gompertz and Jay Luther, whose wife, Carol, is a priest at Church of the Redeemer, represented Marin on the 18-person search committee.
"We never set out to look at people in categories," Gompertz said. "Not gay, women, white or black. We wanted a match for a tremendously diverse diocese."
The final choices are "perfectly marvelous individuals," he said. "All of them will be bishops one day somewhere."
Four of the slate were picked by the committee; three others were nominated by direct petition to the diocese.
Candidates include two women - the Rev. Bonnie Perry of All Saints Church in Chicago and the Rev. Jane Gould of St. Stephen's Church in Lynn, Mass. - and five men: the Rt. Rev. Mark Andrus, suffragan bishop of Alabama; the Rev. Michael Barlowe, congregational development officer for the Diocese of California; the Rev. Donald Schell, rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in San Francisco; the Rev. Eugene Sutton, canon pastor of Washington, D.C., National Cathedral; and the Very Rev. Robert Taylor, dean of St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle.
Perry, Barlowe and Taylor are gay.
Despite diocesewide concerns, the Rev. Christopher Martin of St. Paul's in San Rafael says he is surprised his parishioners are "not that anxious" about the election outcome. Most clergy he talks to, on the other hand, are "mindful of the consequences, should a gay bishop be chosen."
Martin says leaving the Anglican Communion "would be a great loss," as its thousands of congregations offer each other counsel in religious matters and strength in addressing global humanitarian issues.
Jim Ward, rector of St. Stephen's, says he has not made up his mind how he will vote, but some weeks ago, commenting on "whether we should wait before we elect another gay bishop or go ahead and do it now," quoted Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," saying "justice delayed is justice denied."
Stafford Matthews of St. Stephen's, whose lay committee will vote at the Saturday election, says, "It's clear that members of the Anglican Communion would consider ordination of a gay bishop an irremediable breach in the relationship. Assuming that's true (and that a gay bishop is elected), the question for the national church is whether maintaining that relationship is more important É than to ordain a person irrespective of sexual orientation."
Marion Cedarblade, member of the selection committee from St. Paul's in San Rafael, says she would have no hesitation in voting for a gay candidate, should one prove her favorite. Yes, she worries about a schism in the church, "but the Anglican communion will probably cut us loose anyway."
Richard J. Anderson, rector of Holy Innocents Church in Corte Madera, says he isn't worried. "The church has weathered controversies in the past. It's been 2,000 years of weathering. We seem to lose sight of that."
Contact Beth Ashley via e-mail at email@example.com
I wish it was not so... but the ECUSA is now "so WORLDY and SO WITH IT!!"
Reading your tagline, I am reminded of St. John of Damascus's statement that "Islam is God's judgment against a faithless church." I charge any who vote for any of the unholy trio with aiding and abetting the enemy and the Enemy.
Think EAST TIMOR, LEBANON and Greece!! OTHERS TOO!!
Aye, like the martyrs of Armenia...see the thread I posted a week ago on their feast day.
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