- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2007

Gay bishop hopes to attend Lambeth

LONDON — The first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, whose 2003 consecration has moved the Anglican fellowship to the brink of schism, says he remains hopeful Anglicans can stay together.

“I think we need each other,” said New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, in an interview with the Times of London, published July 27. “We need to learn and grow with the presence of each other. I think it would be a terrible loss to all of us.”

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the world Anglican Communion. Theological conservatives are demanding that the American church pledge by Sept. 30 not to consecrate any more homosexual bishops or face losing full membership in the communion.

In an attempt to ease tensions, Bishop Robinson and Bishop Martyn Minns of Fairfax, who leads a network of breakaway conservative Episcopal parishes, have not been invited to a once-a-decade gathering of the world’s Anglican bishops. The meeting, called the Lambeth Conference, is set for next year.

Still, Bishop Robinson said, “I have great hopes that I will be officially included in some way or another.”

“It’s not over,” he added. “I have great hopes that a way can be found for me to be present and for the most conservative provinces of the Communion to be present.”

Conservative Anglican leaders in Africa and elsewhere are considering boycotting the assembly.

Separately, in the United States, the conservative Diocese of Pittsburgh has created a Web site asking parishioners to weigh in on whether they should leave the Episcopal Church over its liberal drift. Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, a leading theological conservative, said he’ll step down if the diocese ultimately decides to stay.

Methodist publisher cuts staff as costs rise

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Publishing House has laid off 30 of its 1,000 employees due to declining sales and rising production and labor costs.

Also, 20 or so vacant jobs will not be filled to save money, according to Neil Alexander, chief executive of the publishing house.

Sales have been dropping for several years, while health care and other costs have increased. Also, an outside actuary made a mistake in estimating future pension expenses, leaving the agency with a bill $700,000 higher than expected, Mr. Alexander said.

Manufacturing costs have also risen, as have expenses for the publishing house’s Nashville office, its distribution center and its 70 Cokesbury bookstores.

Among the agency’s products are Sunday school, vacation Bible school and Scripture study materials, along with church and clergy supplies.

Russian Orthodox head consecrates bells

MOSCOW — Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II has consecrated 18 newly cast brass bells destined for Harvard University in a trade that will return the originals to Russia nearly 80 years after they were saved from Josef Stalin’s religious purges.

The originals have hung for decades in the towers at Lowell House and Harvard Business School’s Baker Library in Cambridge, Mass.

American industrialist Charles R. Crane bought the bells from the Soviet government in 1930, saving them from being melted down in purges that left thousands of monks executed and churches destroyed or turned into prisons and orphanages.

He called the replica bells a “worthy replacement” for the original ensemble.

The original bells were cast in the 18th and 19th centuries and are decorated with etchings of Jesus Christ and Mary, as well as saints and angels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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