Episcopal Church's head advocates diversity, ignores conservatives' rebellion

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) A ''state of the church'' message from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold advocated tolerating diverse beliefs among Episcopalians on questions relating to homosexuality. It also ignored a challenge to the denomination's leadership.

Two days before the message was released Jan. 22, delegates from 12 of the Episcopal Church's 107 dioceses formed the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The protest group says the consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson violated biblical teaching.

Griswold said homosexuality ''is undeniably a difficult issue for many'' but Episcopalians ''live with divergent points of view regarding the interpretation of Scripture.''

He said the ''diverse center'' of the denomination accepts ''the tension caused by these different points of view'' as ''something potentially positive and creative rather than a threat.''

In other developments related to the divide over homosexuality:

The Dioceses of Central Florida (39,000 members) and Fort Worth (18,000 members) became the first of the 12 to formally join the new network.

Minority caucuses in six of the 12 dioceses issued a joint statement urging Episcopalians to ''repudiate'' the network and respect ''multiple viewpoints and biblical interpretations.''

Bishop Henry Parsley Jr. of Birmingham, Ala., who voted against confirming Robinson at a national convention last summer, denounced formation of the network as divisive and unfortunate.

Forward in Faith North America, with some 100 parishes, said it would consider joining the network at a Feb. 11-13 meeting and confer the following week with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the world Anglican leader. Forward in Faith believes women should not be priests while most network participants favor women clergy.



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