Episcopal diocese rejects gay bishop

Sept. 23, 2006 at 7:03 PM
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NEWARK, N.J., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Episcopal diocese of Newark, which covers most of northern New Jersey, passed over a gay candidate Saturday when it selected its next bishop.

The Rev. Mark Beckwith, now rector of All Saints Church in Worcester, Mass., was picked on the third ballot, Episcopal News Service reported. Beckwith, who has also served congregations in the Newark diocese, is married.

The other candidates included the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, now the officer for congregational development in the Diocese of California. Barlowe has a long-term relationship with a fellow Episcopal priest.

Newark is the second Episcopal diocese this year to reject gay candidates for bishop. The Diocese of California's list of finalists included two men and a woman in same-sex relationships.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Newark's bishop was John Shelby Spong, who became one of the church's best-known advocates of gay ordination. Spong said he did not pay much attention to the issue until he became bishop and discovered that many of the priests in his flock were closeted gays.

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