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Episcopal Church's Kansas diocese reaffirms bishop on blessings for unwed couples

Posted: Friday, November 01, 2002

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Delegates in the Episcopal Church's Kansas Diocese narrowly defeated a resolution that would have questioned Bishop William Smalley for recognizing unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples with blessing ceremonies.

The proposal would have said Smalley's new policy ''does not reflect the mind of the diocese'' and asked him to reconsider, the diocesan newspaper reported.

The Kansas policy and a similar action in Vancouver, British Columbia, have sparked intense debate internationally in the Anglican Communion.

The resolution needed separate approval from two categories of delegates, clergy and laity, with abstentions having the effect of a negative vote. The clergy vote was 31 yes, 38 no and 7 abstaining; the lay vote was 60 yes, 52 no and 12 abstaining.

Smalley, who is retiring next year, said delegates had shown they could ''deal with our differences with respect and cordiality. The entire discussion was wrapped in prayer.''

In another Episcopal dispute, a task force informed the church's national Executive Council that dioceses based in Fort Worth, Texas, Fresno, Calif., and Peoria, Ill., still disagree with the idea of ordaining women. The issue will be revisited at next summer's church convention.

Episcopal women gained the legal right to serve as priests in 1976, and the task force said roughly a fourth of clergy now serving are women.

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