Posted by: mollyrossiter | July 17, 2009

Episcopal Church lifts ban on gay, lesbian bishops

A “large majority” of Episcopal bishops, priests and lay delegates, gathered in California this week for the church’s triennial General Convention, voted to lift a three-year-old moratorium on consecrating gay and lesbian bishops.

The move was surprising as many had warned that the ban was necessary to preserve unity in the wider Anglican Communion.

More than 70 percent of delegates at the convention voted to lift the ban, asserting that “God has called and may call” gays and lesbians in lifelong committed relationships “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.”

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., has long been a supporter of the ordination of gay and lesbian bishops, a belief that created controversy in her appointment as bishop two years ago.

In a visit to Cedar Rapids in 2007 Jefferts Schori addressed the issue and said leadership is something each person has an obligation to carry out.

“Leadership is motivating people to change something that is unsatisfactory,” she said. “Each one of us has an opportunity to be a leader at some point in our lives and to make the world a better place.”

Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was the first openly gay man appointed bishop in the Episcopal Church. After the vote Tuesday he wrote in his blog that the bishops who voted to lift the ban “will pay a price for opening their hearts, much as gay and lesbian people in this Church have paid a price for their exclusion. I applaud them for their courage and will stand with them in the consequences of their vote.”

In a related story, the bishops also voted to approve a prayer for same-sex couples during the General Convention.

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