U.S. Episcopal Bishops Hear Preliminary Report from Inter-Anglican Commission

A special commission created by the Episcopal Church to gauge the U.S. denomination’s relationship to the global Anglican Communion gave a preliminary overview of its work during the House of Bishops meeting in Hendersonville, N.C., on Saturday.

The Special Commission was created in November 2005 following an international backlash against the U.S. church’s unilateral decision to ordain an openly homosexual man as bishop of New Hampshire. Its official charge is to assist the church in “considering how to maintain the highest degree of communion within the Anglican Communion given the different perspectives held with regard to the place of homosexual persons in the life of the church.”

At the bishops’ meeting, Commission members provided a briefing of the work-to-date, but did not give any draft resolutions for consideration.

"We utilized this forum to hear what the bishops have to say," even though the Special Commission's final report is not yet in hand, explained Mark Sisk, bishop of the Diocese of New York and co-chair of the commission.

The commission’s report is expected to be made public on Apr. 10 – about two months prior to the opening of the ECUSA 2006 General Convention. The June Convention will likely prove to be a landmark gathering for the denomination, which has already been excommunicated from certain international meetings and asked to put a moratorium on ordaining gay ministers and bishops.

Bishops are crucial in determining the future path of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion at large since they hold the authority to ordain fellow and bishops.

According to Sisk, the bishops responded positively to the commission’s report

"There seemed to me to be a good spirit," he said. “I hope this will lead to some thoughtful conversation, and that the work will lead us into new and deeper ways of relating to the Communion at large."