panel of Anglican archbishops called on a gathering of
their conservative American counterparts Friday to split
from the rest of the U.S. Episcopal Church unless it
abides by traditionally antigay teachings. "Yes,
we will stand with you as long as you remain faithful,
biblical, evangelical, and orthodox," said Archbishop Datuk
Yong Ping Chung, who represents Southeast Asia.
archbishops from Africa, the West Indies, and Asia spoke at
the Hope and a Future Conference in Pittsburgh
organized by the Anglican Communion Network. The
network is headed by Pittsburgh Episcopal bishop
Robert W. Duncan. He helped form the group in 2003 after the
Episcopal Church in the United States consecrated an
openly gay priest, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New
Hampshire and gave tacit approval to blessing services
for same-sex couples.
archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola said bishops from Duncan's
group and others attending the conference must be
clear about their allegiance. "Many of you have one
leg in ECUSA and one leg in the network. You must let
us know exactly where you stand--are you ECUSA, or are
you network?" Akinola said, prompting a loud standing
Church is the Anglican Communion's U.S. branch. Duncan's
group represents a minority of Episcopalians in the 2.3
million-member American church, but his group's views
are shared by a majority of bishops in the 77
million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, said
Douglas LeBlanc, spokesman for Duncan's Anglican Communion
Network. The archbishops on the panel represent some
32 million parishioners.
conference attracted about 2,400 laypeople and clergy from
77 U.S. dioceses, LeBlanc said. Duncan opened the
conference, which runs through Saturday, by drawing a
line between the beliefs held by his group and the
leaders of the American church. "These departures are a
symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the
authority of Holy Scripture," Duncan said.
Supporters of the
American church's policy on gays, meanwhile, have
labeled Duncan and his backers as "neo-Puritan" Protestant
fundamentalists. Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive
Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, said the archbishops'
remarks "could be read as an invitation to leave" the
American church. Deimel called that worrisome but said
it was consistent with views he has heard expressed at
the conference, among them that the Episcopal Church "has
been taken over by a pagan religion" or is "the
enemy." "My preference is that we all stand together
and work out our differences and in some cases accept
our differences," Deimel said.
Drexel W. Gomez of the West Indies said that's difficult
to do because the American church is teaching a "new gospel"
that is unclear about God 's nature and affirms
cultural values even when they run counter to historic
Christianity. "Anglicanism is really now in a state of
flux.... We are being forced into this by people who are
teaching something new and something totally different,"
Gomez said. "I put the blame squarely on their
shoulders." Archbishop Chung said action, not more
discussion, is required. "A house is on fire," Chung
said. "How can we go and have a committee meeting...on
whether the fire truck can come or not?" (AP)