The Wall Street Journal’s “Houses of Worship” column has printed a spirited review of the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church held 5-12 July 2012 in Indianapolis. The reporter’s style in “What Ails the Episcopalians” is engaging as is the ebullient energy found in his report on the church’s follies.
Yet, there is a problem — the author’s insights are largely superficial and the reader cannot rely on him as a guide to the deeper meaning of the things he describes. Silly things take place at Episcopal Church General Conventions — I have covered the last six — yet, the Episcopal Church and its presiding bishop are not guilty of the crimes leveled against them in this article.
Let me concede up front that this article is written as a commentary or news analysis piece, and as such, normally not subject to critique by Get Religion. However, the narrative offered to substantiate the opinions presented here “ain’t necessarily so.” This is an egregiously bad article, and that is unfortunate as the leaders of the Episcopal Church, along with those of many other mainline denominations, need to be shaken out of their complacency.
The Church of England delayed a vote on allowing women bishops on Monday after reformers rejected a last-minute concession to conservatives keen to keep the posts reserved for men only.
The Church’s General Synod voted to send back to their current bishops for further consideration an amendment allowing dissenting parishes to choose their male bishop as their leader if a woman is named to head their diocese.
That put off a final vote on the draft legislation, which most Church of England dioceses have already approved, until the Church’s next synod, or parliament, in November.
Along with the question of same-sex marriages, the consecration of women as bishops is among the most divisive issues facing the world’s 77 million Anglicans.
Women already serve as bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States but the Church of England, the mother church for the worldwide Anglican Communion, has been mired in a dispute between reformers and traditionalists.
The House of Deputies on July 10 elected seven lay and two clergy members to serve on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council. The bishops on July 11 concurred with the deputies’ elections.
Lay members elected for six-year terms are Joseph S. Ferrell of North Carolina, Anita P. George of Mississippi, Fredrica Harris Thompsett of Massachusetts, Karen Ann Longenecker of the Rio Grande, Nancy Wonderlich Koonce of Idaho, and John Johnson of Washington, D.C. One lay member, Elizabeth L. Anderson of Connecticut, was elected for three years to complete the term of a member who resigned.
Clergy members elected for six-year terms are the Rev. Susan B. Snook from the Diocese of Arizona and the Rev. James B. Simons from the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
General Convention does not elect provincial representatives to Executive Council. Earlier in the week, the House of Bishops elected David Bailey of Navajoland and Clifton Daniel of East Carolina to serve as the episcopal members of Executive Council.
The Episcopal Church, meeting for its 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, IN, is considering selling its headquarters located at 815 Second Avenue in Manhattan.
The House of Deputies, one of two legislative houses that make up the Episcopal Church General Convention, voted today to sell the property.
"People are not happy that we have a building in New York that takes millions of dollars out of our missionary operations," said Bishop Andrew Doyle, Vice Chair of the Committee on Structure. "They are not happy, and we have known that for years.”
The resolution to sell the church headquarters as well as home of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, now goes to the House of Bishops for ratification.
Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony this week to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.
At the Episcopal General Convention, which is divided into two voting bodies, about 80 percent of the House of Deputies voted Tuesday to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. A day earlier, the House of Bishops approved the rites 111-41 with three abstentions during the church meeting in Indianapolis.
Supporters of the same-sex blessings insisted it was not a marriage ceremony despite any similarities. Called "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," the ceremony includes prayers and an exchange of vows and rings. Same-sex couples must complete counseling before having their unions or civil marriages blessed.
Other mainline Protestant churches have struck down barriers to gay ordination in recent years or allowed individual congregations to celebrate gay or lesbian unions. However, only one major U.S. Protestant group, the United Church of Christ, has endorsed same-sex marriage outright.