Episcopal Church considers same-sex rites

July 11, 2009 at 12:13 PM
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ANAHEIM, Calif., July 11 (UPI) -- Marriage rites for same-sex couples tops the list of issues at the national convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim, Calif., sources said.

Church leaders, gathered for their first national convention in three years, also were to consider repealing a de facto ban on the consecration of gay bishops, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

"It's important that we recognize the equal stature of all Christians in the church so that we model that type of inclusivity in civil society," Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California said.

Traditionalists warned more liberalized policies would further threaten internal unity and deepen a rift with the global Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church, with 2.1 million members, is the U.S. branch of the communion, which has 77 million members, many of them religious conservatives in Africa.

"If we are not extremely careful at this convention, we could find ourselves outside the Anglican Communion, and that would be a tragedy for all of us," Bishop William Love of Albany, N.Y., said. "My fear is that the Episcopal Church destroys itself."

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