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Possible schism
over homosexuality a topic at Anglican conference

Possible schism
over homosexuality a topic at Anglican conference

Some 800 conservative Anglicans are expected at a Birmingham, Ala., meeting this week, including African and Asian archbishops who have warned of a possible schism if the U.S. Episcopal Church does not renounce its approval of gay bishops and blessing of same-sex unions. The Anglican Mission in America, a splinter group that includes many ex-Episcopalians, will have a conference Wednesday through Sunday at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. The Episcopal Church is the main U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion. Organizers say as many as nine Anglican archbishops, or primates, from various countries plan to attend. Church growth and mission work are the main topics of seminars Thursday through Saturday, said the Reverend John Richardson, host priest and the rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Mountain Brook, Ala. Richardson said he expects the sexual morality issues to arise "only indirectly" at the Birmingham meeting. The debate over homosexuality will likely heat up within the Episcopal Church this year with the approach of its General Convention, occurring June 13-21, the church's first governing meeting since an openly gay bishop was approved in 2003. The approval of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has been heavily criticized by conservative Episcopalians in the United States and by Anglican leaders overseas. "The controversy remains," said Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwanda, who played a key role in the founding of the Anglican Mission in America. The mission has used the authority of African bishops to ordain American bishops to oversee conservative Anglicans who have defected from the Episcopal Church. Rucyahana said the mission strongly opposes blessing same-sex unions and ordaining noncelibate gays. "It's against biblical teaching," he said. This week's Anglican Mission meeting focuses on evangelism, he said. (AP)

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