Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans: A church divided by belief

Several African archbishops have severed ties with the American church over issues of sexuality, and more may follow. In the United States, many conservatives have defected. Some have formed a theologically conservative group called the Anglican Church in North America, which does not allow women bishops or sexually active gay clergy.

Resoundingly rejecting calls for restraint by global church leaders - including Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury - American church leaders voted to end a moratorium on consecrating openly gay bishops. (The church allowed the consecration of its first such bishop in 2003.) The General Convention also authorized a commission to develop rites for blessing same-sex couples.

The move to further liberalize the American church seemed strangely defiant, especially amid membership and budgetary troubles. It may now be more difficult for President Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori to defend her opposition to the Anglican Church in North America's bid for full-fledged membership in the Anglican Communion.

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