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ECUSA Has Chosen to Walk Apart


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

WEST CHESTER, PA (2/9/2005)--Episcopal Church leaders reiterated again this week that they would not change their minds about the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop to the Episcopal Church, nor do they have any intention of reversing themselves on the church's present direction.

In a nationally syndicated televised news broadcast with Jim Lehrer, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told a reporter that while he regretted the pain he caused by consecrating V. Gene Robinson to the episcopacy and the rift it was causing, he went on to say, "I think the regret we can offer wholeheartedly and as a unified body is regret for the consequences our actions have had in other contexts. But that does not mean that we necessarily regret the action itself. Certainly, I, having participated in the ordination of the bishop of New Hampshire, do not regret having done so, though I recognize the complexities that that action has had in other places and regret the pain that it's caused other people."

Griswold's position was echoed by Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno who faces lawsuits from three parishes who have left his diocese and the national church over sexuality and authority issues, when he said, "I think that fundamentalism is the reason for this schism." Bruno said the interpretation of scripture must be flexible and evolutionary. "We're making assumptions that our way is the right way. We even did that with, in this country, with slavery, when we tried to prove the importance of how the white majority had privilege because it was intended by God. But I do believe that the worldwide consensus of fundamentalism that's having a rise is a major problem. If Jesus gave us memory, intellect, and reason, shouldn't we use all those things and not just go by a book, road map that is so rigidly interpreted by some people that it leaves a gulf between us?"

His position was echoed by a third revisionist bishop Charles Jenkins Bishop of Louisiana when asked if he would repent of the church's position: "Well, now, we are repenting for the hurt that we have caused one another."

Pressed by reporter Jeffrey Kaye, "Are you repenting for the consecration of Bishop Robinson? Are you repenting for blessing of same-sex unions? Jenkins said "no, that was not what we said."

The only orthodox bishop on the show, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh) expressed himself thus: "Many of our people in the non-network dioceses are just holding on by their fingernails. And the more that this house of bishops could have said, the better they'd be able to hang on. The fact that we have said we're sorry, that will be some encouragement to us and to the rest of the world, but it's actually not -- it's not enough to hold our people to stop this hemorrhage.

Bishop Bruno remained unrepentant. "Repent means turn around, walk in a different direction and say that the acceptance of people who are gay, the acceptance of women, the acceptance of people who are divorced, the acceptance of people because of differing ethnicities is wrong. I refuse to do that. I think that God has room for all of us in this world and in this church."

But that was not the opinion of the Rev. Praveen Bunyan, rector of St. James, Newport Beach who said that tolerance of homosexuality represented a symptom of a larger problem: What he sees as the Episcopal Church's increasing failure to adhere to biblical orthodoxy.

Said Bunyan: "I pray for Gene Robinson. I pray for all the people. And it is nothing personal. I do not hate anybody or I do not dislike anybody. I pray for all people. But as a church, are we upholding the authority of scripture? Are we upholding the lordship of Jesus Christ? And from these two basic tenets the Episcopal Church has been going astray and going away, while the rest of the Anglican Communion had remained faithful to this historical teaching."

Some of his parishioners agreed with him. Jim Dale of St. James Church said his spiritual home was Uganda. "Our bishop is Bishop Kisekka. Our archbishop is Bishop Henry Orombi. We are part of the diocese of Luweero, and that's home."

Another parishioner, Jill Austin said, "In the scripture it says in Hebrew that 'He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.' I began to ask: Why all of a sudden are things changing? What was good 2,000 years ago is not the same today."

Said Dale: "If Christianity is going to move to the culture and flow with the culture, it's not Christianity. It's not Christianity. There is nothing left here now. So let's look overseas. Let's look at the growth and vitality and excitement of Christianity in Africa or the southern hemisphere where Christianity is growing and exploding because we took the bible to those countries, and they believed it. And they have put that to heart and they have seen the power of the bible and the power of the gospel transforming lives in those countries. And we wanted to be a part of that."

IN an odd touch of irony the National Church's World Mission Sunday had as its theme this year, 'Treasuring the Communion' with Margaret Larom, Director, Anglican and Global Relations declaring "it's a good time in the life of the our church to think what we value, and how we express our commitment to what we value. The Episcopal Church believes in the Anglican Communion."

This is laughable. The Episcopal Church has no commitment to the communion only to Rowan Williams its leader, because he alone guarantees Griswold a place at the communion table. So what does Griswold and his fellow revisionist bishops really value and treasure about the communion? Certainly not the peace and theological harmony of the Anglican Communion enough to repent of its schismatic actions.

Griswold made it clear to the whole country that when he goes to the Dromantine Center in 10 days he will not back down, he will offer a pathetic "regret" for the pain caused but he will not repent, and therefore the only question that remains to be addressed by the Primates is, if the gulf dividing the Anglican Church is unbridgeable then they must part, there is no other recourse. Anything else only prolongs the agony and the inevitable.

The Episcopal Church has chosen by its actions in embracing pansexual sin to walk apart and for that they must pay the ultimate price - suspension from the Anglican Communion.


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