Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Warren tells breakaway Episcopalians to love all

From the AP

Christians must show love to all people, even if they don't support their values, evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren on Tuesday told breakaway Episcopalians and other Anglicans splitting from their national church over gay clergy and other issues.

"We are to love the people of the world no matter what they believe; we are to not love the value system of the world. And the problem today is lot of Christians are getting that reversed. They love the value system and hate the people," Warren told the crowd of 800 under a large tent on the lawn of St. Vincent's Episcopal Cathedral Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Bedford. "God has never met a person he didn't love."

This week's meeting is the first national assembly for the Anglican Church in North America, formed by theological conservatives as a rival to the U.S. Episcopal Church. On Monday, delegates approved a constitution and church law for the new group.

Warren, who opposes gay marriage, sparked a protest by gay-rights supporters after President Barack Obama selected him to deliver a prayer at his January inauguration.

Warren did not mention gay relationships or other issues that caused the conservatives to break away, but he said he "jumped" at the chance to speak to the assembly and called it historic. He encouraged the new group and offered advice on how churches could reach out with ministries.

"The church — God's family — is going to go on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever," Warren said. "If God has called you to serve in a local church ... don't you ever step down to become the president of the United States or anything else for that matter, because nothing matters more ... (than) the privilege of guiding and guarding and shaping and sharing and encouraging and helping the flock of God."

Warren has extended support before to conservative Episcopalians and Anglicans and has offered space to seceding Episcopalians at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. But his appearance Tuesday, at a key organizing meeting for traditionalists, was his highest-profile statement of solidarity with them so far.

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