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N.C. Episcopal churches approve resolution on gays

N.C. Episcopal churches approve resolution on gays

Lay members and clergy from 75 Episcopal parishes in southeastern North Carolina have voted to endorse a report that, in part, calls on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to enact a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions. The resolution, which also calls on the two churches not to ordain sexually active gay clergy as bishops, was approved at the 122nd annual Convention of the Diocese of East Carolina held at St. James Parish on Thursday through Saturday. St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton offered the resolution. At issue was the 2003 ordination of New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the subsequent divisions over homosexuality in the Episcopalian priesthood that have occurred in churches across America and the world since. The Edenton church's resolution hinges on the Windsor Report, which focuses on reconciliation and "asks for all parties to the controversy (surrounding Bishop Robinson's ordination) to express regret for ways in which their actions have harmed others," according to the Episcopal News Service. The report, issued in October, calls on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to put the moratorium into effect while asking conservative bishops to stop going into other dioceses to assist congregations with disassociating themselves from the Episcopal Church. The Reverend Joe Cooper, rector at Church of the Servant in Wilmington, said the Windsor Report, "invites the Episcopal Church of America to regret the fracture it caused in the church. They're not saying what we did was wrong but that the global Anglican church isn't ready for it yet." The entire church won't vote on the report until the next general convention in 2006," said the Reverend Richard Elliott, rector at St. Andrew's-on-the-Sound Episcopal Church in Wilmington. During discussion about the resolution, churches from Fayetteville to Nags Head expressed concerns about disunity in individual Episcopal parishes during the debates. Members of the Edenton church decreased church tithing out of protest for the national church favoring a gay man for such a high level of church leadership. "We've taken a hit since the convention and have been scrambling for funding," said Earl Willis, a lay delegate for St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton, speaking to the diocese. "We're just trying to say that the American church being on the cutting edge is the wrong edge in this case." After the last general convention, 20 leading members of Reverend Bill Bradbury's small parish, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Washington, N.C., left in protest to form their own church, under the Anglican Mission in America. The rector said the controversy and division the bishop's consecration caused has torn his parish apart. "Some of the members of my church decided to stop doing business in town with the members who left, so there's still a lot of hurt feelings," he said. (AP)

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