- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

DALLAS — A conservative Episcopal bishop predicted yesterday that world Anglican leaders will rebuke the American branch of the church for its acceptance of homosexuality.

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh received a standing ovation when he told a conference of conservative Episcopalians that next week’s gathering of Anglican primates in London would oppose the planned consecration of an open homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire.

If the world church fails to condemn the election of Canon V. Gene Robinson as bishop, the result will be a schism affecting the “whole fabric of the Anglican Communion,” Bishop Duncan said.

Several conservative leaders emphasized their desire to remain Episcopalians. But Bishop Duncan said that if recent pro-homosexual edicts by the national church are not decisively repudiated, he expects to see the formation of a separate network of conservative Episcopalian dioceses and congregations.

A panel met at the conference last night to discuss legal aspects of a split, including property rights and clergy pensions.

This week’s meeting in Texas, sponsored by Christ Church Episcopal of Plano and the conservative American Anglican Council, originally was planned as a “strategy session” for 200 to 300 activists. But an estimated 2,700 Episcopalians arrived to develop a conservative response to the August convention of the national church, which confirmed Mr. Robinson’s election as bishop and also recognized “blessings” for same-sex couples.

The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, said the Anglican hierarchy cannot overlook the “miracle” of the Dallas conference. The turnout “just shows the depth of the problem,” said Mr. Minns. “The folks here think it is really a serious issue.”

Mr. Minns said he did not want to contemplate a split in the church.

“I hope we are a little wiser than stomping our feet and taking our marbles and going home,” he said. “I think we are trying to avoid that. We’re very deliberately not using that kind of threat.”

However, he said the recent rulings, “have put us in incredible places of torn loyalties.”

Today, the conference is expected to issue a strong message to the Archbishop of Canterbury in England, head of the international Anglican Communion, insisting that worldwide body of some 77 million members disavow and repudiate the edicts of Episcopal Church’s 74th General Convention.

A two-day meeting of 38 leaders of Anglican branches around the world will convene Wednesday in London. The American church’s divisions over homosexuality will be the primary issue discussed at the meeting, called by Archbishop Rowan Williams.

Archbishop Williams faces heavy pressure from both sides on the issue, said the Very Rev. Phillip Turner of Austin, Texas.

“It could result in nothing more than a mild rebuke of the Episcopal Church,” Mr. Turner, retired dean of Yale University’s Berkeley Divinity School, told the Austin American-Statesman. “Or it could wind up being a split in the Anglican Communion.”

If Mr. Williams does nothing, Mr. Turner said, “he really faces a big defection of the global south. If he does do something, he’s going to be in trouble with his own liberals.”

Mr. Minns said: “It is very clear that [the archbishop] is not going to ignore this. Now, whether he will move as quickly or as fast as we’d like, that’s obviously a challenge for us — but he’s already made a promise that he will not ignore this. This is a very serious issue.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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