Conservative Episcopal Laymen Call for Church Trial of Top U.S. Bishops

Correction appended

A coalition of conservative lay Episcopalians is calling for a church trial of the denomination’s 35 bishops for installing a practicing homosexual bishop in New Hampshire and indirectly breaking apart the global Anglican Communion.

The Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC) launched the national petition drive last Wednesday to bring to formal trials top Episcopal figures including the Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold – spiritual head of the two-million-member denomination.

The ECUSA has faced severe criticism from the global Anglican Communion as well as traditional Episcopalians since the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003. The LEAC is among several conservative Episcopalian groups that arose in opposition to the gay bishop’s ordination, but is the first to call for a church trial of its highest ranking member.

According to the LEAC, the “target defendant group” has fractured both the ECUSA and the Anglican Communion by its “reckless pursuit of a gay agenda that is hostile to Scripture and to the historic order of the church.”

“Our purpose is to demonstrate the gravity of unilateral (non-Communion) actions already taken to advance a gay agenda in our American church,” the group said. “That our beloved church was hijacked by gay agenda promoters in 2003 must not be confused with the popular will of Episcopalians, which is predominantly in line with the worldwide Anglican Communion’s positions.”

In letters mailed out to all Episcopal bishops, the LEAC called on those who voted for Gene Robinson to “recant, repent, resign or retire” and those who voted against the gay bishop’s consecration to begin an indictment process against their fellow bishops.

“There is a great chasm. We believe our church judicial system should determine just where we stand canonically, for there is no doubt where our Episcopal rank-and-file in the pews stand spiritually,” the LEAC wrote. “We will ask for official judicial determination in America of the validity of the Scriptural and canonical rules we have always lived by.”

LEAC members held a working meeting yesterday at All Saints’ Church in Chevy Chase, Md., to discuss the national petitioning project.

Correction: Monday, April 17, 2006:

An article on Sunday, Apr. 16, 2006, about a national petition drive to bring top Episcopal figures to formal court trials for installing a practicing homosexual bishop mistakenly identified Mark S. Hanson as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA. The denomination's presiding bishop is actually Frank T. Griswold.