More than a year after the confirmation of an openly gay Episcopal bishop, who recently admitted he was not 100 percent sure he did the right thing, church officials say the denomination has not broken apart or fallen victim to a fatal drop in finances.
The most popular names of Episcopal parishes in the U.S. are in a virtual three-way tie between churches with the word Christ (527), St. John (524) or Trinity (520) on their signs, according to a Michigan priest who recently launched a computer-aided search through the denomination’s annual Red Book.
OtisCharles, an Episcopal bishop who came out as gay at age 67 in San Francisco after retiring as bishop of Utah, has been prohibited from adminstering sacraments by San Francisco–based Bishop WilliamE. Swing. The action was taken after Charles went against Swing’s decision and “married” a male partner of two years on April 24.
Episcopal church leaders have reacted sharply to what one called an “unauthorized and clandestine” service in Ohio at which five retired conservative U.S. bishops, joined by a bishop from Brazil, confirmed 110 persons without the permission or presence of the diocesan bishop.
The Episcopal Church has seen a 7 percent drop in contributions from local dioceses since it voted last year to approve an openly gay bishop, but officials say it may be premature to link the two developments directly.
Progressive Episcopalians have begun test-marketing a revamped version of the popular Alpha course that organizers say can harness publicity over an openly gay bishop to bring people into the church. Some 15 Episcopal congregations across the country were the first to use the “via media” (middle way) eight-week curriculum in February.