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social sciences

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Anglicanism / Episcopal Church  
page: 1  2  3  

[Continuing Conflict

In response to the Episcopal Church's consecration of Bishop Robinson and to the practice of blessing same-sex couples by some congregations within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, the Archbishop of Canterbury appointed a commission to find ways to prevent schism within the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality. The result was the "Windsor Report," which called for dialogue on the issue and sensitivity to the differing positions within the Communion.

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However, the report's spirit of compromise was soon violated when the Primates of the 38 Anglican provinces met in 2005 and in effect ejected the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada from the Anglican Consultative Council, suspending them until they "repent" their actions and apologize for them.

In 2006, at the Episcopal Church's General Convention, tensions were exacerbated with the election of Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, as Presiding Bishop. She became the Episcopal Church's first female Presiding Bishop and the Anglican Communion's first female Primate. Inasmuch as only a bare majority of the members of the Communion ordain women priests and only a few have consecrated women bishops, the election of Jefferts Schori was considered provocative, especially since she supported the consecration of Bishop Robinson and favors blessing gay and lesbian couples.

However, at the 2006 convention, in an effort to respond to some of the demands of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church also passed resolutions urging dioceses not to elect bishops whose "manner of life" presents a challenge to the wider church and not to develop same-sex blessings. These resolutions disappointed gay men and lesbians in the Church and did little to placate the conservatives.

In the aftermath of the 2006 convention several individual congregations and dioceses of the Episcopal Church announced that they would sever their ties with the Episcopal Church and seek alliances with African or Southern Cone primates. Other actions by conservative members of the Episcopal Church have led the Church to the point of schism, with a minority of Episcopal clergy and congregations refusing to recognize the authority of the Presiding Bishop and the national church itself.

The attempts of the Episcopal Church to accommodate some of the concerns of the conservatives have been roundly rebuffed. Although outright schism was avoided at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the North American churches were isolated and Bishop Robinson was banned from participation.

With the realization that conservatives were not likely to be placated, the Episcopal Church in 2009 rescinded the moratorium on electing gay and lesbian bishops and on developing same-sex blessings.

In December 2009, the Los Angeles diocese elected the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool suffragan bishop. Her election--and approval by a majority of the church's other 110 dioceses--made her the denomination's first openly lesbian bishop.

In announcing that Glasspool's election had been approved by a majority of the Church's dioceses, Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno said that the approval shows that the Episcopal Church "creates no barrier for ministry on the basis of gender and sexual orientation," while conservatives predictably decried the action as "grieving the heart of God."

The Episcopal Church now seems irrevocably committed to recognizing gay men and lesbians as full members of the denomination. In taking this position, it has braved the alienation of other constituent members of the Anglican Communion. The Church's position within the Communion will likely remain ambiguous, particularly given the failure of leadership exercised by the current Archbishop of Canterbury.]

Randal Woodland

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social sciences >> Overview:  Commitment Ceremonies

Similar to heterosexual weddings, commitment ceremonies of same-sex partnerships are legally recognized in some countries, but generally not in the United States.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay and Lesbian Churches and Synagogues

Spurred by the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s, a number of religious groups--including specifically gay-oriented churches and synagogues--have been formed to address the needs of gay and lesbian believers.

social sciences >> Overview:  Islam

Despite religious prohibitions against same-sex sexual relationships, Islamic societies generally extend tolerance through a pattern of collective denial.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lutheranism

Lutheranism is riven into numerous denominations, which vary widely in their attitudes toward homosexuality and in their acceptance of gay men and lesbians as full participants in church life.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

social sciences >> Overview:  Presbyterianism

Attitudes toward homosexuality within Presbyterianism vary greatly from denomination to denomination, though there has recently been movement toward acceptance and inclusion by the largest and most influential church bodies of Presbyterianism.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Spirituality

Today's glbtq spirituality movements must be seen as part of a long history in which gender-special people were considered sacred to their tribe or family because of their obvious spiritual gifts.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada has been instrumental in the increased acceptance of glbtq rights, including same-sex marriage, in Canada.

social sciences >> Boyd, Malcolm

In 1977 Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest and prolific author, became the first prominent openly gay clergyman in a mainstream Christian denomination in the United States.

literature >> Holleran, Andrew

The pseudonymous Andrew Holleran has placed his homosexuality at the center of his commercially and critically successful novels.

social sciences >> Kirby, Michael

Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, is respected not only for his legal acumen but also for his devoted commitment to the cause of social justice in his homeland and also around the globe.

literature >> Maupin, Armistead

A sharp social critic, novelist Armistead Maupin places his gay characters within a large framework of humanity, creating a social history of San Francisco during the tumultuous decades of the 1970s and 1980s.

social sciences >> Robinson, V. Gene

The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be consecrated a bishop of the Episcopal Church, has earned strong support from members of his diocese, but has become a lightning rod for conservatives within the Anglican Communion.

literature >> Rossetti, Christina

Her sexuality repressed by religion, Christina Rossetti wrote poetry that included highly-charged erotic female-to-female affection.

literature >> Waugh, Evelyn

Evelyn Waugh, who had homosexual affairs while at Oxford but later led a heterosexual life, treated homosexuals both nostalgically and contemptuously in his novels.

social sciences >> White, James Melville "Mel"

Mel White spent over thirty years serving the Evangelical Christian community; after struggling with his homosexuality for many years, he broke his ties with anti-gay religious leaders and became a glbtq activist.


Boyd, Malcolm. Gay Priest: An Inner Journey. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986.

_____. "The Rev."

"The Episcopal Church: Welcome!"

Heyward, Carter. Speaking of Christ: A Lesbian Feminist Voice. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989.

"Integrity Home."

Moroney, Muffie. "A Conversation with Carter Heyward, Pioneer Episcopal Priest." Women's Journal 9:1 (Spring 2002):

Shand-Tucci, Douglas. Boston Bohemia 1881-1900: Ralph Adams Cram. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.


    Citation Information
    Author: Woodland, Randal  
    Entry Title: Anglicanism / Episcopal Church  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated March 18, 2010  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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