Indiana opponents of gay Episcopal bishop want to join Illinois diocese

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2004

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) Some parishioners in the Episcopal Church's Indianapolis Diocese, upset over the denomination's approval of openly gay bishop, want to affiliate with a neighboring Illinois diocese.

Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick voted in favor last year of consecrating Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who is openly gay.

But Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Ill., voted no and helped organize opponents in the national Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The network is working to coordinate the efforts of conservative Episcopalians opposed to gay clergy.

The Rev. Robert Todd Giffin, a priest in Beckwith's diocese, is now commuting two hours to serve 60 Indiana dissenters in a satellite of his Illinois parish named Faithful Anglicans in the Heartland (FAITH).

FAITH is careful not to call itself a church to avoid opposition from Episcopal officials.

The dissenters meet in an Evansville inn, but expect to buy a former Presbyterian church building for $150,000.

In other developments:

Leaders of Forward in Faith North America, another conservative group, endorsed a new ''partnership'' with the Episcopal network. Though most network supporters allow women priests, the arrangement allows Forward in Faith parishes to maintain opposition to female clergy.

The Lambeth Commission, a panel of Anglican leaders trying to resolve the international dispute over gay clergy, asked Anglicans to avoid ''any precipitate action, or legal proceedings'' that would worsen tensions until it completes its work.

The top leaders of Anglicanism's Central Africa, Congo, Rwanda and South East Asia provinces assumed temporary leadership of parishes in Vancouver, British Columbia, that oppose their local diocese's approval of same-sex blessings.

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