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Episcopal church reaches breaking point over homosexuality

There’s little possibility that there will a meeting of the minds over the acceptance of gays in the church. This is yet another effect of coming out. Once those who worship are visible, this church — and any church — must decide whether to welcome, accept, and affirm its gay membership or not. Both decisions, in the end, are valid, but it requires this clearly painful period of sorting it all out. (NYT):

In Virginia, the two large churches are voting on whether they want to report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant. Archbishop Akinola presides over the largest province in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion; it has more than 17 million members, dwarfing the Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million.

If all eight Virginia churches vote to separate, the Diocese of Virginia, the largest Episcopal diocese in the country, will lose about 10 percent of its 90,000 members. In addition, four churches in Virginia have already voted to secede, and two more are expected to vote soon, said Patrick N. Getlein, secretary of the diocese.

It will be interesting to see whether these churches want to align with gay-bashing Akinola. At stake in the Virginia battle is a lot of scratch — there will likely be a fight over church real estate, worth a combined $27 million, if those churches break off (70% “yeas” by ballot are needed for secession) .

At one of the four Virginia parishes that has already voted to secede, All Saints Church in Dale City, the tally was 402 to 6. But that church had already negotiated a settlement to rent its property from the diocese for $1 each year until it builds another church.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in an e-mail response to a request for an interview that such splits reflect a polarized society, as well as the “anxiety” and “discomfort” that many people feel when they are asked to live with diversity.

UPDATE: The two parishes broke away. (AP):

Two of the most prominent and largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly Sunday to leave The Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives forming a rival denomination in the U.S.

Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a “satanic attack” on the church.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding