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The Episcopal Church's Second Strike

Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy

WASHINGTON, June 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church met from June 11–14 in Parsippany, NJ. It agreed with the House of Bishops' recommendation to reject the Anglican Communion primates' (i.e., leader of Anglican provinces) proposed pastoral scheme that partially aimed to meet the needs of orthodox Anglicans within the Episcopal Church. It did not recommend that, as requested by the primates, the House of Bishops provide assurances by September 30 that the bishops will cease authorizing same-sex blessings and refuse to consent to future consecrations of openly gay bishops living in same-sex relationships. The council instead passed a resolution with a paragraph asserting that decision making concerning the primates' requests rests with the church's General Convention, which does not meet again until the summer of 2009.

IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb released the following:

"This was strike two for the Episcopal Church's leadership. Last March, the bishops tragically recommended that the Executive Council reject the primates' pastoral scheme. Now the Executive Council has gone even further, suggesting in its statement concerning its 'commitment to common life in the Anglican Communion' that the primates had no authority to either set a September 30 deadline or make any 'demands' of the Episcopal Church.

"So far, the Episcopal Church's leadership has done nothing to curb those actions that the primates have asked the denomination to stop. Same-sex blessings keep occurring in dioceses. Some clergy refuse to bless marriages until same-sex couples can get married. Thousands of orthodox Anglicans continue to leave the Episcopal Church, and the denomination responds by telling them, 'We'll leave the light on for you,' and instigating lawsuits if they do not evacuate the church buildings in which they worship.

"Two rounds of responses to the primates' February requests have produced essentially the same result: words of devotion to the larger Anglican Communion without deeds—save those undertaken on the Episcopal Church's own terms. The story is not over yet; the House of Bishops meets again in September before the primates' deadline. The consequences of a third strike in this game largely remain to be seen, but it unquestioningly would increase the considerable damage done to the Anglican Communion by the Episcopal Church."