Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

EPISCOPAL CHURCH ; US Branch of Church Not Ruffled by Restrictions

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

EPISCOPAL CHURCH ; US Branch of Church Not Ruffled by Restrictions

Article excerpt

The worldwide Anglican Communion's recently imposed restrictions on its United States branch, the Episcopal Church, will likely not change anything for local Episcopalians, church leaders say. The Anglican Communion's different provinces are largely autonomous, Bishop Michie Klusmeyer said.

"I dare say many of the Episcopalians don't really take notice of what the national church is doing, let alone what the international church is doing, Klusmeyer said.

Anglican leaders last week restricted the Episcopal Church from any policy-setting position for three years over the U.S. church's stance on gay marriage. In a press conference Friday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was careful to refer to the communion's actions as "consequences, not sanctions.

Last summer, the Episcopal Church's general convention voted to allow clergy to solemnize marriages of same-sex couples.

"That is a departure from the traditional understanding of holy matrimony because holy matrimony has traditionally been defined as a union between a man and a woman, Klusmeyer said.

Tension over gay relationships and women's ordination has been building in the communion for years. That tension reached a tipping point in 2003 when the New York-based Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.

The contention over same-sex relationships largely comes from churches in the African countries of Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania, Klusmeyer said.

"[They] are the three churches that are the most upset about this, he said. "Other parts of the communion around the world may not agree with what we've done but they won't necessarily pick up their marbles and walk away or cause problems for the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Melissa Remington, rector of St. Christopher Episcopal Church on Edgewood Drive in Charleston, said she, like other clergy, was saddened by the communion's decision. She's hopeful about being able to continue the conversation on the issue, though.

"I feel like it just takes time for people to understand each other and their differences, Remington said.

Remington's congregation, which is the result of a merger of four Episcopal churches in Charleston, is very diverse, she said. Thirty percent of the congregation is black, she said. Remington said she couldn't speak for all of her church members' views on gay marriage, but the church honors and respects all voices.

"I hope and pray there just needs to be time to understand each other's life reality and cultural reality, because they're very different depending on where you are in the world. [Jesus] was the one who went out and raised up those who were marginalized in society, and we have a responsibility to do that.

St. John's Episcopal Church, on Quarrier Street in Charleston, has a long history of supporting gay rights. …

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