A 15-member committee that includes the Archbishop of Canterbury recently rejected a proposal that The Episcopal Church be separated from the rest of the global Anglican Communion.
During closed sessions on Saturday, members of the Standing Committee acknowledged the anxieties felt in parts of the global body about sexuality issues but agreed that separation would inhibit dialogue on the issue and would therefore be unhelpful, according to the church body's news service.
The proposal was brought by Dato' Stanley Isaacs from the Province of South East Asia. It came months after The Episcopal Church – the U.S. body of Anglicanism – ordained its second openly homosexual bishop. The Rev. Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, was consecrated as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in May.
The move was seen as another act of defiance of Scripture and the 77 million-member communion. Anglican leaders had agreed to a moratorium on the consecration of bishops living in same-sex relationships a number of times since 2004. The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003.
While rejecting the proposal, Standing Committee members agreed to defer further discussion on the matter until progress on a listening project had been considered. Currently, Anglicans worldwide are participating in "The Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Project," which is intended to open the ears of Anglicans to the experiences of homosexual persons.
During the five-day Standing Committee meeting, which concluded Tuesday, in London, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, acknowledged that the credibility of some of the executive structures was being openly questioned and that criticisms were being directed at the committee itself.
Earlier this year, a number of conservative Anglican leaders resigned from the Standing Committee after expressing their discontentment. Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda wrote in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he disapproved of the participation of leaders from The Episcopal Church in the committee, noting that they are "the very ones who have pushed the Anglican Communion into this sustained crisis."
He also opposed the "enhanced responsibility" of the Standing Committee and the "diminished responsibility" of the primates – the chief bishops of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces. Only five primates are represented in the committee. Bishop Mouneer Anis of the Middle East had resigned in February saying his presence had no value and that his voice was "like a useless cry in the wilderness."
The Standing Committee meets at least once a year and oversees day-to-day operations of the Anglican Communion Office.