Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 11, 2007; Page A05
With more puzzlement than rancor, liberal Episcopalians are questioning why Jefferts Schori signed an international statement last month that, in their view, demands a halt to 30 years of growing acceptance of gay men and lesbians.
"The overwhelming response I'm hearing is, 'Wait a minute! We're not prepared to turn back the clock,' " said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
If the Episcopal Church rejects the ultimatum, it will face unspecified sanctions, such as a downgrading of its status within the Anglican Communion. But even before the U.S. bishops gather in Texas on Friday, more than a dozen of them, including Bishop John B. Chane of Washington, have indicated they are inclined to rebuff Jefferts Schori's recommendation and politely but firmly say "no" to the primates.
"We have to be very clear about where we are as a church. We have consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson, and we have -- the majority of dioceses in this country have -- allowed the blessing of same-sex couples for some time," Chane said in an interview.
"We have done these things, and the one thing we're not going to do, in my opinion, is we're not going back to Egypt," he said, referring to the biblical exodus from slavery. "These are positions that have been taken, really, at some cost to the unity of our church, but for the integrity of our church."
In 2003, Jefferts Schori voted with a majority of Episcopal bishops for Robinson's consecration. She also allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in her former role as bishop of Nevada.
She has made clear that she still supports the "full inclusion" of gay men and lesbians at all levels of the church. But she is urging the Episcopal Church to accept the primates' call for self-restraint, which she has compared to "a season of fasting," so that the U.S. church can continue to be a voice at the Anglican table.
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