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Episcopalians Confer on Homosexuality

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

U.S. Episcopalians meeting in Ohio debated late into the night on Wednesday over whether to apologize to Anglicans worldwide for electing an openly gay bishop in 2003. They're also considering whether to hold off on creating an official ceremony for blessing same-sex unions.

Chicago Public Radio's Jason DeRose reports from Columbus.

JASON DEROSE reporting:

Conservative church members say an apology is necessary if the denomination is to remain united. Reverend David Anderson of the American Anglican Council is urging the church to repent for its election of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.

Reverend DAVID C. ANDERSON (President, American Anglican Council): It has departed from conventional, historic Christianity and there's just no way to cobble that back together with Christianity, unless the Episcopal Church leadership really does repent, reaffirm the historic faith of Christianity, and roll back the decisions of 2003.

DEROSE: Anderson also argues electing Robinson damaged the church's relationship to Anglican elsewhere in the world, especially in the more conservative Southern Hemisphere. However, Bishop Robinson himself says Episcopalians in North America are carrying out a necessary ministry to gays and lesbians.

Bishop GENE ROBINSON (Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire): No one is saying that Nigeria has to change its mind and raise up gay and lesbian people and ordain them priests or consecrate them bishops. We're just saying that this is where God seems to be leading us in our context.

DEROSE: The General Convention is also considering a resolution to hold off on creating an official ceremony for blessing same-sex unions. The wording of that resolution would still allow for individual congregations and priests to sanction such relationships. But it would prevent a rite from being published in the denomination's official Book of Common Prayer.

Those on the right and the left say they're displeased with both resolutions before the U.S. Episcopal Convention. Final votes on the measures are expected by Saturday at the latest. Episcopalian Church leaders hope to complete work on these divisive issues before Sunday, when they'll elect a new presiding bishop.

For NPR News, I'm Jason DeRose in Columbus. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.