Leaders of the US Episcopal Church rejected a proposal by conservative Anglicans to ban the ordination of more gay bishops during a vote at the church’s general convention on Tuesday.
On the same day, leaders of the US Presbyterian Church voted to allow gay and lesbian clergy.
The Episcopal House of Deputies, made up of 800 clergy and lay leaders, debated the proposed moratorium on gay bishops for two days before voting it down. However, the issue may be revived by conservative leaders before the convention finishes this week.
The controversial vote came after the church’s first female leader, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said homosexuality was not a sin and that gay men and lesbians were created by God.
The election of a woman this week -“ and a gay-friendly woman at that -“ has further angered conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion who were already threatening to leave the church over the ordination of gay bishops.
President of the Australian Anglican Church League, Mark Thompson, warned that Schori’s election was a decision not shaped by the teaching of the scripture and would worsen the rift amongst Anglicans, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Schori, when asked on US television if homosexuality was a sin, said, I don’t believe so.
I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us, she said, Reuters reported.
Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender.
Schori, who is married and has a daughter, supported the ordination of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, a move which has created division amongst Anglican leaders ever since.
The Presbyterian Church voted to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy at a meeting of 500 church representatives on Tuesday, with 298 in favour.
The church was previously against the ordination of anyone not in a heterosexual marriage or living a chaste single life.