Va. church demands bishop repent

Jan. 23, 2006 at 8:34 PM
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FALLS CHURCH, Va., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Leaders of the largest Episcopal church in Virginia have demanded that the bishop of the diocese "repent" his vote to elect an openly gay bishop.

The letter was sent to Bishop Peter J. Lee in October but only released to members of Falls Church Episcopal Church this Sunday, The Washington Times reported. The letter was signed by the parish's senior and junior wardens, the top lay leaders.

"A Christian does not approve of sin, or purport to declassify it," the letter says.

Lee, with all but one lay delegate from Virginia, approved the consecration of the Right Rev. Gene Robinson as the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop in 2003. Lee later defended his vote, saying he believes homosexuality is a sin but has voted in the past for other bishops he believed to be sinful, like those who had divorced and remarried.

The Falls Church rector, the Rev. John Yates, last summer confronted the bishop with 20 other priests and in November said that Lee's attitude towards homosexuality could mean a "major schism."

If Yates and parish leaders try to leave the Episcopal Church, that is likely to set off a court fight since under canon law parish property belongs to the diocese, the newspaper said.

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