The first AP headline after Church of England leaders yesterday made women eligible to become bishops was this:
England church backs women bishops, risks division
Risks division? Really? What else is new?
It seems that every story about the Anglican world or its Episcopal branch warns of possible divisions or schism. Indeed, Episcopal dioceses and parishes have been splintering off because of the consecration of an openly gay bishop. And several Anglican bishops are boycotting the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, which opens in eight days, because bishops of the gay friendly Episcopal Church will be there.
So now what?
The Church of England’s decision to allow the consecration of female bishops will further anger traditionalists. Many expected the English church to set up some sort of separate structure for Anglicans who do not want to report to female bishops, but this was not done (Archbishop of Canterbury Roman Williams — that’s him — opposed the idea.)
The Roman Catholic Church, which won’t ordain female priests, let alone bishops, will certainly be less anxious to sit for ecumenical talks with Anglicans.
For the Episcopal Church, this is a happy day. The national church is already led by a woman, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. And the Diocese of New York is already home to a female suffragan (assistant) bishop, Bishop Catherine Roskam, who in 1996 became the fourth female bishop in the Episcopal Church.
My family went down to suburban Atlanta to visit my parents, who retired down there. I purposely avoided religion news all week — we all have to clear our heads — but couldn’t help craning my neck to see all the churches.
They have the big non-denominational churches off the highways, and little Baptist churches (like the one in the picture) that were there long before the suburbs grew around them. Pretty much wherever you are, there’s a church close by.
I started off my week this morning with a visit to a Christian Science family in New City. I’m working on a feature about how Christian Science parents raise their kids in the suburbs without doctors. It seems to me that the Burbs are increasingly pediatrician-centric — with all the vaccinations, school physicals, worries about ear-infections and allergies, etc., etc. — so I wanted to see how Christian Scientists live their lives.
I think their stories will make for a real interesting feature.
Having gone through a few hundreds emails so far, I see that the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA) did indeed approve an amendment to church law that would remove the controversial “fidelity and chastity” requirement for ordination. (I really didn’t read religion news all week…)
Now the denomination’s 173 presbyteries have to each vote on the change. A majority will have to support it for the amendment to hit the books.
Twice — in 1997 and 2000 — General Assemblies have approved proposals to remove the “fidelity and chastity” requirement, which makes gays and lesbians ineligible for ordination. But both times, not enough presbyteries supported the move.
We know that the gay-friendly Hudson River Presbytery, which includes PCUSA churches in the Hudson Valley (thus the name), will approve the change by an overwhelming margin.
For a local summary of the GA, you can read the Rev. Chris Shelton’s blog here.