Episcopal Church Releases Candidates for Top Position, Sparks Criticism

The Episcopal Church named four candidates to be its new leader Wednesday, a list that included the first female nominee and one candidate who opposed the consecration of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop. Orthodox Episcopalians said they were “deeply disturbed” by the choice of the nominees.

The nominees for presiding bishop are Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of Las Vegas; J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta; Edwin (Ted) Gulick Jr. of Louisville, Ky.; and Henry N. Parsley Jr. of Birmingham, Ala. Of the four, Parsley is the only nominee who voted against approving V. Gene Robinson to be New Hampshire’s bishop at the 2003 General Convention. However, none of the nominees participated in the openly gay bishop’s consecration – an event that provoked widespread protest from conservative Anglicans around the world.

Integrity, a pro-gay group within the Episcopal Church, said its members “commend the work” of the nominating committee and look for the next presiding bishop to continue efforts toward “full inclusion.”

However, conservatives criticized the list of nominees, saying that it “does not include and candidate who is representative of orthodox Anglicanism.”

“If the Episcopal Church had any intention of repentance, candidates would clearly adhere to the authority of Scripture, affirm the apostolic faith, and commit to the immediate cessation of ordination/consecration of non-celibate homosexuals as well as the blessings of same-sex unions,” read a statement from the conservative Anglican American Council.

The council also said that though Parsley voted against Robinson, his actions in Alabama “belie his claims of orthodoxy.”

The new presiding bishop will succeed the retiring Frank Griswold, and is scheduled to be elected June 18 during the ECUSA’s General Convention for a nine-year term.