- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2005

Leaders in the Episcopal Church and its parent body, the 70 million-member Anglican Communion, told nearly 1,600 Episcopalians in Woodbridge, Va., yesterday to prepare to suffer for their beliefs and perhaps even be ejected from their denomination.

“If you’re faithful to what Jesus calls us to do, you’ll have a very uncomfortable life,” said Anglican Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, which encompasses 30,000 Anglicans in five South American countries. “If you follow Jesus, an awful lot of people aren’t going to like you.”

Since the November 2003 consecration of a homosexual Episcopal bishop, the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church has split along liberal-conservative lines.

Those attending the two-day “From Surviving to Thriving” conference at the Hylton Memorial Chapel were given a list of recommended books, suggestions on how to elect “orthodox, faithful” Episcopalians to key diocesan positions and suggestions on where to “redirect” their finances to theologically traditional causes.

Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan said conservative groups within the Episcopal Church “cannot deliver a blessed thing” in terms of protecting beleaguered conservatives in liberal dioceses. For instance, he said, conservative clergy at six Connecticut parishes are being threatened with defrocking by their bishop.

“Brothers and sisters,” he said, “it will get worse for us.”

He also acknowledged feeling “despair” at a mid-March meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops in Texas when he and five other conservative Episcopal leaders were singled out by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold as being “evil.”

The six Americans — five of whom were speakers at the conference in Woodbridge — traveled to Northern Ireland in February to lobby a key meeting of 35 Anglican archbishops at the Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre.

The lobbying bore fruit. In a rare inside look at international Anglican politics, Archbishop Venables described how about 20 conservative Anglican archbishops outmaneuvered their more liberal counterparts at Dromantine.

About 15 of those archbishops, he said, refused to share Communion with Bishop Griswold and Canadian Anglican Archbishop Andrew Hutchison because they allowed same-sex blessings and for Bishop Griswold’s role in consecrating an openly homosexual bishop, the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in November 2003.

The conservative archbishops — most of whom were from Africa and Asia — announced that they would not concede any ground to the Americans and Canadians on issues of homosexuality and liberal interpretations of Scripture.

The Dromantine meeting was at an impasse, Archbishop Venables said, until he and Irish Archbishop Robin Eames brokered a compromise: The Americans and Canadians would withdraw from the Anglican Communion until 2008, while they rethought their positions on homosexuality.

The Americans and Canadians appeared to go along with this suggestion, he said yesterday, but since have hinted they might defy it.

Moreover, there is no way in worldwide Anglicanism to enforce the decision. The archbishop of Canterbury does not have papallike powers to enforce obedience, Archbishop Venables added.

“We now face a problem,” he said. “While the [archbishops] are met together, the authority seems to rest on them. But once they disperse, where is the leadership?”

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