Florida diocese rejects gay bishop
September 22 2003 11:00 PM ET
The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida has voted to repudiate a decision by the denomination's national convention to confirm a gay man as bishop. The central Florida diocese on Saturday also rejected a decision by the General Convention that said same-sex blessing ceremonies are consistent with church teachings.
Other dioceses have rejected the decision to approve Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a bishop, but the central Florida diocese was the first to do so in a formal diocesan convention after a vote involving several hundred delegates.
The 400 clergy and lay delegates also voted to ask the world's Anglican leaders, or primates, to intervene during a meeting next month to be held by the Archbishop of Canterbury. "We don't accept those decisions. We distance ourselves from them," Bishop John Howe said.
The delegates also decided to withhold sending funds to the national church, unless a congregation specifically requests that the money be sent, and deleted the words "Episcopal Church" from a statement pledging unity to the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion. It was unclear what effect, if any, the move would have on the church and the diocese.
During a sermon before the vote, Howe emphasized he had no intention of leaving the church. Other diocesan ministers said removing "Episcopal Church" from the unity statement strengthens the movement to divide the church.
The vote by the Diocese of Central Florida came a month after Robinson became the first openly gay man to be approved by delegates at a national convention in Minneapolis. Dissenters from the decision plan to meet next month in Dallas to discuss a response to the decision that many believe could fracture the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.