Episcopal Church Faces Threat; Communion May Consider Expulsion over Discord

Article excerpt

Byline: Natasha Altamirano, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Episcopal Church, which recently lost 15 Virginia congregations over liberal policies, faces a possible expulsion from the worldwide Anglican Communion when the leaders of the communion's 38 national churches meet in Tanzania later this month, conservative Anglicans say.

A priority for this year's meeting in Dar es Salaam is dealing with the Episcopal Church, which has clashed with conservatives for decades over biblical authority and sexuality.

The debate reached a boiling point after the church's 2003 General Convention, where the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, was elected.

"The Episcopal Church is likely to get spanked at Dar es Salaam," said the Rev. Leslie Fairfield, professor of church history at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry near Pittsburgh.

The 38 primates, archbishops and other leaders of the Anglican Communion will evaluate the American church's response to the October 2004 Windsor Report, which was commissioned to address discord within the communion in the wake of the 2003 convention.

The report included a number of recommendations, such as the creation of an "Anglican Covenant" requiring national churches to consult one another for major decisions. The report also called for apologies from those who contributed to disunity.

The Episcopal Church passed several resolutions at its convention last summer in response to the report, including an apology for straining the communion's unity.

Still, some Anglican leaders say it's not enough.

"Those presently in control of the Episcopal Church are leading in a direction quite at odds with the rest of the Anglican Communion," said Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in an interview last weekend at his Fairfax office.

Bishop Minns is rector of Truro Church in Fairfax. He recently was appointed missionary bishop of CANA, established by the conservative Archbishop Peter J. Akinola of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which has about 15 million members.

Truro is one of 15 Virginia congregations that voted to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia under CANA. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is suing 11 of the breakaway congregations over millions of dollars of property. …