Episcopal Body Gives Final OK to Scrap Gay Ordination Ban

The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies passed a resolution Tuesday that declares the denomination's ordination process open to all individuals, including practicing homosexuals.

In concurring with the House of Bishops' decision two days earlier, the House of Deputies effectively gave the final approval for Resolution D025, which was created in response to a 2006 resolution that urged restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion.

The 77-million-member Anglican Communion has been splintering since 2003, when The Episcopal Church elected its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

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Ahead of the U.S. church body's General Convention, which started last week, Anglican leaders overseas warned The Episcopal Church against rescinding the 2006 resolution or passing any resolution that would further put the American church body at odds with the larger Anglican Church.

The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, the Archbishop of the West Indies and chairman of the Covenant Working Group, said in May that if the General Convention rescinds resolution B033 and removes any barriers to persons involved in same-sex relationships, it will "imperil" the work of the Covenant and will have an impact on the rest of the communion because of the responses others will need to make.

Despite the warnings, the lay order of the House of Deputies voted 78-21 in favor of D025 and the clergy order voted 77-19. A simple majority – 55 votes among laity and 56 among clergy – was required for the resolution to pass.

Introduced by the Rev. Gay Jennings of the Diocese of Ohio, D025 affirms that ordination is available to anyone in the church through the discernment process outlined in the Constitution and Canons of the church. It also states that God's call to ordination is a mystery and reaffirms The Episcopal Church's participation in the Anglican Communion, while noting that the communion is not of one mind on this matter.

The Rev. Ian Douglas, vice chair of the Committee on World Mission, noted that the committee chose not to propose a straight-forward repeal or support of B033 but instead chose this language as a more comprehensive description of the church's current reality.

Jennings similarly said Sunday said that D025 is simply a "statement of where the church is now" rather than a repudiation of resolution B033.

At this year's General Convention, which started last Wednesday and concludes this Friday, a total of 13 resolutions addressed resolution B033. Of those 13, six included language calling for a direct repeal of B033, while six called for a reinstatement, restatement or strengthening of non-discrimination canons on respect to ordination.

D025 was the resolution that was ultimately advanced at The Episcopal Church's triennial conference.

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