By Nancy Jane Moore
Here's something crucial we all need to recognize about the recent actions of the Episcopal Church: They haven't just elected their first female presiding bishop -- something that shouldn't even be controversial at this point. They haven't just reaffirmed their commitment to consecration of bishops who are in committed same-sex relationships -- that is, not just gay bishops, but gay bishops who are in active relationships.
But they have done both these things while threatened with serious disapproval from the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion and possible schism within the U.S. church. By taking these actions, the church is setting itself up for some difficult times ahead. New Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has her work cut out for her.
A report by the Episcopal Church news service shows that much of the debate over whether to continue to approve gay bishops was focused on strategy -- that is, arguments that perhaps it was not the time to push the issue, not arguments over whether it was right or wrong. But the delegates to the convention decided to hold firm.
And it could cost them, in dollars, people, and worldwide connections. Make no mistake, they're taking a risk.
You can support the church in this difficult time. If you are a Christian whose church is not as inclusive as the Episcopal Church, check them out. You might find a better home there.
If you follow a non-Christian religion, or aren't religious at all, you can still show your support financially. The Episcopal Church maintains a relief and development fund that provides disaster and other kinds of assistance. They do good work and can be trusted to spend your money wisely.