Church leader tries to quell fears after recent actions
September 3, 2003
LAFAYETTE — The leader of Episcopalians in Western Louisiana on Tuesday preached patience to members of his diocese concerned with recent actions of the national church on gay issues.
Some 300 Episcopalians gathered at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lafayette to hear the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, explain the recent decisions which threaten to divide the church.
“We must not rush,” he said. “Meetings must be held. Decisions must be made on many levels.”
MacPherson spoke to the group about the actions of the church’s national general convention, held in Minneapolis nearly a month ago. During the two-week convention, the national church approved of V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as the bishop of New Hampshire. MacPherson voted against the confirmation of Robinson.
During the two-hour meeting in Lafayette, parishioners expressed emotions ranging from fear and sadness to anger and disgust.
Opponents of the national convention’s actions have said that they are not leaving the church, but rather through its actions, the Episcopal Church has abandoned them.
The national convention also approved of the blessing of same-sex unions, but left the ultimate decision up to individual bishops to decide for their own dioceses.
MacPherson has already stated in a pastoral letter to members of the diocese that the blessing of same-sex unions “has not been a practice in this diocese, and I cannot say clearly nor firmly enough, will not be.”
As president of Province VII of the Episcopal Church, an area covering seven states, MacPherson said he has called for a meeting of bishops to discuss the problems within the 12 dioceses.
MacPherson stated that he is uncertain if he will attend a conference hosted by a group of conservative Episcopalians angered by the national convention’s actions.
The group called the American Anglican Council espouses a fundamentalist view. The three-day meeting in Plano, Texas, in October, is being called “A Place to Stand.” MacPherson said if he does attend the meeting, “It would be in the position of an observer.”
MacPherson said he is not a member of the American Anglican Council.
“I have very clearly made a point of not aligning myself with any organization within the church that is not a product of the official action of the general convention,” he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has called for a meeting with the 39 primates of the Anglican Communion from around the world on Oct. 15.
The Archbishop is the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, of which the Episcopal church belongs. While he is not vested with the authority of a Pope, he is “first among equals” of 79 million Anglicans worldwide.