Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Episcopal Clergy Back Rejection of Gay Unions Some See Church Split over Debated Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Episcopal Clergy Back Rejection of Gay Unions Some See Church Split over Debated Issue

Article excerpt

Episcopal clergy in Jacksonville say they are relieved their denominational leaders have decided against blessing same-sex unions.

"We did not want to see that happen," said the Rev. John Eason, assistant rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

At the national Episcopal Church convention, which ended Friday in Denver, the decades-old debate over the role of gays and lesbians in the church continued.

Bishop Stephen Jecko of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida and a majority of Episcopal churches in the area believe the Bible forbids homosexuality.

A measure to develop ceremonial rites for non-married couples -- heterosexual or homosexual -- was defeated at the convention.

Because clergy and lay delegates at the convention were almost evenly split over the decision, area clergy fear the church will eventually go that route.

"When that happens, there will be a split of the church, of what dimension, I do not know," said the Rev. Tony Ferguson of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, who said he would leave his post if that happens. "They have lost touch with Scripture. They are making it up as they go along."

Bishops at the convention approved a resolution calling on the church to minister to unmarried couples in committed, monogamous relationships that uphold church values. The resolution doesn't mention homosexuals, but it is widely seen as a response to a push for the church to bless same-sex unions, which is upsetting to area Episcopal priests. …

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