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The U.S. Episcopal Church, trying to quell the storm it created by consecrating the first openly gay bishop in Anglican church history, was showered with calls on Wednesday to repudiate the action as well as pleas not to abandon gays and lesbians. "Are we courageous enough to recognize Christ in the lives of our gay and lesbian neighbors?" asked Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, whose elevation to the episcopate in 2003 set off turmoil in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, as the worldwide church federation is called. "I'm convinced I'm not an abomination in the eyes of God," added Robinson. "Please, let us say our prayers and stand up for right."
Robinson was one of dozens of church members, ordained and laity, who took the floor in a packed hotel ballroom at the church's triennial convention in Columbus, Ohio, to debate the fallout from his consecration at the last such gathering in 2003. He is believed to be the first openly gay bishop in more than 450 years of Anglican history.
Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, head of the Anglican Communion Network, a splinter group of antigay bishops, spoke just before Robinson and warned it may already be too late to repair any "damage." If the convention approves, as written, a series of resolutions crafted with the blessing of the 2.3 million-member U.S. church's leadership, it will send a clear signal that it has decided to "walk apart" from worldwide Anglicanism, he said, and that unity is no longer possible.
The forum for Wednesday's discussion was the meeting of a committee that is considering the package of resolutions written by a special commission formed by U.S. church leaders. The resolutions attempt to respond to the Windsor Report, a paper issued at the behest of the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, which demanded that the Episcopal Church apologize for the Robinson elevation, abstain from elevating any other gay clergy, and make it plain that it is opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions.
The committee will consider the testimony, perhaps reword the resolutions, and send a report to the two legislative houses at the convention. One consists of bishops, and the other is made up of diocesan representatives. Final votes may not come until Saturday. (Reuters)