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The last straw?

"The last straw?" Continued...

Issue: "Soldiers in harm’s way," Nov. 15, 2003

"It breaks my heart to be here," he began. He said homosexuals should not be judged, but their behavior must be. He reported research findings about homosexual sex, including graphic specifics. With the audience sitting in stunned silence, Bishop Griswold, his face flushed red, cut him off. "We know where you are headed," he said. "Get to the substance." The Rev. Fox finished up, saying that people made in the loving image of God "could not rightly engage in, bless, or consecrate such self-destructive behavior."

Meredith Harwood from St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Ashland, N.H., was next. She said ECUSA had turned a deaf ear to Scripture and to Anglican leaders worldwide. "The clear teaching of Scripture," she declared, "is that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong for the people of God." If Jesus were here today, she said, "He would say to Gene Robinson ... 'Go and sin no more.'"

In a statement endorsed by 38 U.S. and Canadian bishops, Assistant Bishop David Bena of Albany said his group and most Anglican bishops across the world will not recognize the Rev. Robinson as a fellow bishop. He said the bishop-elect's "'chosen lifestyle' is incompatible with Scripture and the teaching of this church."

As Bishop Griswold had instructed, there were no cheers, applause, or boos from the audience. Just heavy sighs and rolled eyes. The three objectors left and went to a service at a church a mile away, where some 200 conservatives were gathered for prayer and mourning.

Bishop Theuner preached the consecration sermon. The audience applauded him twice as he defended the Rev. Robinson's commitment to gays and slammed "detractors." He will "bring into our fellowship an entire group of Christians hitherto unacknowledged in the church," the bishop said.

When the consecration concluded, the audience gave Bishop Robinson a loud and prolonged ovation.

Reaction came immediately. The evangelical-oriented American Anglican Council (AAC), which is leading the conservative preservation movement, announced: "Today is a grievous day in the history of our Church. Heresy has been held up as Holy. Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing."

"The Episcopal Church as we have known her will never be the same," lamented traditionalist Bishop Keith Ackerman of the Diocese of Quincy, Ill.

Said AAC leader and founding pastor David Roseberry of 3,000-member Christ Church in Plano, Texas: "The Episcopal Church has tragically fallen prey to the whims of our culture and refuted 2,000 years worth of biblical teaching." But out of the ruins, "an energetic new church will begin to arise," he pledged.

As for this new church, AAC leader the Rev. John Guernsey of Woodbridge, Va., told WORLD: "We must move ahead as promptly and resolutely as we can, while most of our people are hanging in there with us."

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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