In the Anglican Church tradition, of which the American Episcopal Church is a part, the Lambeth Conference is held every ten years, the last one in the summer of 1998. Next month in Canterbury, England, at the University of Kent, Lambeth 2008 will be held. It will be attended by the more than 800 bishops of the Church, who will come from throughout the world, representing some 73 million congregants, the vast majority of them outside both England and the United States.
A 20-day affair, the conference will have as its focus these elements: Biblical interpretation / Hermeneutics; Ecumenical Management; Anglican identity, the role of bishops; Issues of Covenant; Listening Process (within the Communion); Engagement with other faiths; Evangelism and Mission; Gender and Sexuality; Relationships, Social and family relationships; HIV/Aids; Millennium Development Goals.
According to the BBC of 14 February 2007, the head of the Anglican Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has said that he fears that the Church may split over the row sparked by the appointment of openly gay US bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. Robinson is the bishop for all of New Hampshire. He and his "partner" were also "united" on 07 June in a civil ceremony, followed by a church celebration, the obvious implication being that they are now married, notwithstanding both biblical and legal principles obtaining that marriage can only be enacted by one man with one woman. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that homosexual behavior is deemed by Robinson to be both biblically and legally sound.
Katharine Schori, the presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church, is publicly on the record as approving both same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexuals to ministry. Churches and even entire dioceses are currently aligning themselves with overseas arms of the church, particularly with bishoprics in Africa. They have to accept the loss of church property to do so, notwithstanding that congregations have paid in part or in whole for these properties and their maintenance. Such are the legalistic entanglements endemic to hierarchal governance of religious entities.
The 1998 conference was marked by dissension so profound as to be palpable over the homosexuality question. Especially the African bishops, representing 38.6 million congregants, more than on any other continent, including that of England, where it's the official state church, made it clear then that same-gender marriage (goofy as a possibility on biological grounds alone, notwithstanding scripture edicts) and ordination of homosexuals, a clear consequent adjunct, would not be acceptable. Thus, the die has been cast for the meeting in July – stormy.
Roiling the ecclesial waters will be Robinson, banned understandably from attending the conference officially, who plans to be in Canterbury as an outside observer of some sort, thereby calling attention to himself as the highest-profile bishop there, anyway, and to the profligacy he represents. This will antagonize the Africans all the more, but it mainly says a lot about Robinson as a representative of the militant, hard-core homosexual community in this country that constantly demands attention all out of proportion to its importance, not to mention the perversions it represents as perfectly normal. Then Joint-Chiefs Chairman Marine General Peter Pace caught a fury of criticism from the mainstream media last year when he used the term "immoral" to characterize homosexual acts.
Six of the eight democrat president-wannabes (Dodd and Biden declined) appeared before some sort of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual group for a full debate a few months ago to glorify the homosexual way of life and promise everything from gay marriage to out-of-the-closet homosexuals in the military. Predictably, the republican candidates wouldn't touch that outfit with a ten-foot pole. This, however, is indicative of the inordinate drive in the country, now overseen largely by the hippy-dippy boomers, toward a weird political correctness that violates even the obvious physiological attributes of human beings.
The other mainline denominations that have allowed the homosexual question to demand a fixation on the problem of affirming the homosexual lifestyle or not, notwithstanding its total condemnation in both biblical testaments, have seen their memberships riddled since 1960, during a large part of which time the homosexual question has overshadowed everything the church should be doing. Since 1960, the Episcopal denomination has decreased in membership by 48%; the United Methodists by 25%; Presbyterian (USA) by 44%; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by 74%, Evangelical-Lutheran by 31%.
By contrast, in the last 48 years the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon, Mitt Romney's church), which adamantly condemns homosexual behavior and insists that those addicted to it can be "healed," has grown in membership by 243%. The Southern Baptist Convention, in which the homosexual question is considered unworthy of even a thought, has grown by 76% to a membership of more than 17 million, according to the National Council of Churches statistics for 2007.
So…will Robinson (especially in light of this in-your-face "civil union" nonsense) make his point in Canterbury and probably cause schism, the penultimate act of self-interest and indication of super-ego? It remains to be seen, but hopefully the time will soon come when the inordinate drive toward some sort of weird political/social correctness in this country, the ugliest aspect of which is the attempt to normalize sexual perversion, is short-circuited and the relatively few left in many denominations can start rebuilding.