More gay and lesbian Anglicans need to come out to help save the church, according to advocate Reverend Dr Elizabeth Smith.

Smith put the call to Anglicans following the church’s decision at last week’s triennial meeting of church delegates not to bless same-sex unions, ordain ministers in gay relationships or appoint women bishops.

In terms of the debate going forward in Australia, it’s going to take more gay and lesbian lay church members to be speaking for themselves in public debate, obviously at great cost to themselves, Smith told Sydney Star Observer.

In America they actually have members of their general convention standing up -¦ and saying I’m a gay person and God has called me to be a member of this church and I want you to take me seriously as a Christian, Smith said.

When you get people saying that sort of thing in the first person it does change the debate a lot. And we really don’t have a lot of that in the Australian church at the moment, she said.

The 13th Australian Gen-eral Synod concluded last week in Perth.

Despite a lengthy debate, delegates voted against the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy who were in same-sex relationships. Bishops supported the consecration of women bishops, but the bill was not passed as there were insufficient votes from the clergy and laity.

Smith, a celibate heterosexual, spoke during the debate because she wanted to see as many people enjoying being Anglican Christians as possible.

For myself, having struggled through 20 years of the women’s ordination debate, I cannot sit down, shut up and get on with my work, and allow another category of women, namely lesbians, to be remarginalised by the church -¦ Smith said.

And when I see the church saying no in such a loud voice to such significant categories of people in our community, I despair for the future of the church.

Homosexuality in the Anglican Church will be in focus on a global scale next week, with the release of the Lambeth Commission’s report on same-sex blessings.

The Lambeth Commission was initiated by archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to address a potential split in the church following the consecration of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop, New Hampshire’s V. Gene Robinson.

One possible outcome of the report would be to exclude the American church from the worldwide communion, a move supported by archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.

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