As Episcopalians meet, debate looms about their place in the Anglican world

Jul 5, 2018 by

by Jacob Lupfer, RNS:

As the Episcopal Church begins its 79th General Convention on Thursday (July 5), it’s a good time to take note of the state of the erstwhile official faith of the American Colonies that became a stalwart of mainline Protestantism.

News stories from the convention will likely focus on the denomination’s slow decline, as well as debates over same-sex marriage and the treatment of women, revising the Book of Common Prayer and whether to use masculine pronouns for God. But over these discussions looms a greater confrontation, one that will touch the lives of millions of Christians in dozens of countries.

In July 2020, the archbishop of Canterbury will convene the Lambeth Conference, a decennial meeting of the bishops who are spiritual leaders to the world’s 80 million Anglicans. Between this week’s General Convention and then, the debate about who can rightly claim to be the legitimate expression of Anglicanism will reach a fever pitch.

The controversy got a preview last month as nearly 2,000 conservative Anglicans gathered in Jerusalem for the third Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON, representing 50 countries and including 1,000 bishops and other clergy. Depending on whom you ask, GAFCON is either a conservative renewal movement within the worldwide Anglican Communion or a quasi-schismatic organization designed to undermine official church structures.

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