- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blessings of same-sex marriage and removal of an informal ban on gay bishops are expected to be the top items at the upcoming 10-day meeting of the Episcopal General Convention, which starts Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif.

Since the 2006 General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, the number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage has increased to six.

Bishops from those six states - Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Iowa and Connecticut - have put forth a resolution asking a “generous and flexible response” to same-sex couples seeking to be wed in these states, according to Religion News Service.

Episcopal marriage liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer refer to the couple as a man and woman.

Washington Bishop John Chane is in favor of the resolution, according to his spokesman, Jim Naughton. The diocese prepared a same-sex liturgical rite in 2004, then put it on hold until the denomination officially approves the practice.

“There are going to be so many different attempts to do something on blessings or studying same-sex marriage, it’s not clear what will come to the floor of either house,” Mr. Naughton said. The denomination is structured like the U.S. government in that all successful resolutions must gain voting majorities in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

The Washington bishop is also working to pass a resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will attend the triennial meeting for three days, starting Tuesday. His activities will include a private meeting with eight gay deputies to talk about “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in the church,” according to Episcopal News Service.

It will be “an opportunity to meet with us … not just talk about us,” the Rev. Susan Russell, president of the gay Episcopal caucus Integrity, wrote in an e-mail.

Deputies and bishops will also consider repealing B033, a resolution passed in 2006 that asks for restraint in ordaining bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church,” referring to noncelibate homosexuals. The resolution was passed to avoid further splintering in the worldwide Anglican Communion that occurred when the Episcopal Church in 2003 consecrated the openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Deputies are expected to meet Thursday and Friday to decide what to do with B033, which was urged on the 2006 convention at the last minute by retiring Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. If Episcopalians did not agree to limit themselves as to gay bishops, he told them, they would not be invited to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, which is held once every 10 years in Canterbury, England.

The resolution was passed and the American bishops were invited to Lambeth with the exception of Bishop Robinson and a handful of newly minted bishops from several breakaway Episcopal/Anglican groups.

Diverse voices have warned Episcopalians against revisiting B033. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori told Episcopal News Service she’d rather the convention “say something significant about where we are in 2009.” And West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez warned Episcopalians against ordaining more gay bishops, saying such an action would further imperil the 77-million-member Anglican body.

The Episcopal Church has lost an undetermined number of members over the issue. In late June, the more conservative Anglican Church of North America, a group of 28 former Episcopal groups or dioceses claiming 100,000 adherents, formed its own “emerging” Anglican province that claims to represent the true voice of Anglicanism in Canada and the United States.

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