It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Bishop Jack Spong. According to the Church of England Newspaper report of 21 August, the former Bishop of Newark has rejected Presiding Bishop Katharine Schori's contention that nothing had changed as a result of the 76th General Convention's votes on gay bishops and blessings. Writing in the Newsweek on-line report of 8 August, Jack Spong wrote:
The battle over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church is over.The vote at the last General Convention was overwhelming. The sacred unions of gay and lesbian people are to be blessed and enfolded into liturgical patterns in the same way that the sacred unions of heterosexual people have been honoured for centuries.The ministry of this church is to be open to gay and lesbian people who are qualified and chosen in the process by which this church makes such decisions.
I find Spong's candour a refreshing change form the usual obfuscation of bishops in TEC. Spong has campaigned for this development for over three decades. Readers may remember when Bishop of Newark in 1989 he presided over the first publically recognised ordination to the priesthood of a practising homosexual deacon. In September 1990, Spong's assistant bishop, Walter Righter, ordained an active homosexual man as deacon. This action brought about the so-called Righter Heresy Trial. When the trial was finally completed in 1996, Bishop Righter was exonerated on the basis that there was 'no clear doctrine" in the Episcopal Church which would prohibit the ordination of a practising homosexual. By 1996 Righter had not only been elected Bishop of Iowa but had since retired! The deacon he ordained was a parish priest in the Diocese of Newark. While it was another seven years before the first practising homosexual was consecrated a bishop, the line of progression is clear for all to see.
Why can't the leadership of TEC publically recognise this? The game is over. They are going their own way and while they want to stay a part of the Anglican Communion (for this is intrinsic to their constitution and the retention of their property), they have not only spurned the Anglican Church from which they were brought forth, they have spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified and outraged the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29).