- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 12, 2005

PITTSBURGH — Overseas Anglican archbishops told about 2,500 Episcopalians meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday they might have to leave the Episcopal Church unless its leaders “repent” at the church’s General Convention next June for consecrating an openly homosexual bishop.

If Episcopal leaders refuse to back off from the 2003 installation of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the prelates said they might boycott the 2008 conference of the world’s Anglican bishops.

The mood at the David C. Lawrence Convention Center — the site of the three-day Hope and a Future Conference sponsored by the Anglican Communion Network — ranged from upbeat to dire as the foreign archbishops exhorted conservatives to hang tough.

“Bishops of the network must realize time is no longer on their side,” Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola told the crowd. “This is your … moment to make up your mind about what you want to do.

“Many of you have one leg in ECUSA (the Episcopal Church, USA) and one leg in the network. You must let us know exactly where you stand — are you ECUSA or are you network?” he said.

The way won’t be easy; in fact, Recife, Brazil, Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, ousted by his own archbishop for siding with American conservatives, called his listeners “my partners in martyrdom.”

He then compared the leaders of the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church to those guarding Jesus’ tomb after the Resurrection.

“In the deep of their souls, they are afraid, they are shaking,” Bishop Cavalcanti said. “They know that spiritually, they are like dead men.”

He concluded: “Don’t be afraid of your bishop. Don’t be afraid of losing your jobs, of losing your salaries. … Many times the law of men needs to be broken so the law of God is obeyed.”

Megachurch pastor the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., preached a similar theme.

“What is more important: your faith or your facilities?” he asked. “[Jesus Christ] didn’t die for buildings, He died for people. He died for people, not a steeple.”

About 22 Anglican archbishops — out of 38 total — have either partly or completely broken relations with the Episcopal Church over the Robinson consecration. Episcopal leaders have signaled they do not intend to renege on the consecration at the 2006 General Convention.

The conflict has thrown a wrench into the planning for the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, slated for the summer of 2008 in Canterbury, England.

“It will be up to us to try to sort out the mess,” West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez said. “Given our present mood,” he added, the General Convention “will be followed by some action. I will not comment on that action.”

South East Asia Archbishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung pointed out that the archbishop of Canterbury makes up the guest list for the convention in Lambeth.

“If the Episcopal Church does not repent and follow what the primates have asked … I think many of the [conservative archbishops] will have to assess their own position whether Lambeth 2008 is a place we want to be,” he said.

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