Every ten years bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion assemble in England for the Lambeth Conference. This summer’s meeting is much awaited in light of the 77-million-member communion’s highly public wrangling over the issue of homosexuality.
In 2003, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. approved the election of V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. That action galvanized many conservatives, who pointed to a 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that declared homosexual practice “incompatible with scripture” and said that the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of those in homosexual relationships are illegitimate.
As divisions have arisen in the Anglican Communion, some bishops from the global South have sponsored U.S. mission organizations that have taken in disaffected congregations and have ordained American priests as bishops in their own provinces—actions that the Episcopal Church deems highly irregular.