two years before controversy began
Staff Writer – Sun Sentinel
August 11, 2003
LAKE WORTH -- The controversy over homosexuality and religion has long been defused at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.
Through a program called
Now the Rev. William Hamilton, St. Andrew's rector, said he is prepared to take the next step: join same-sex couples in holy matrimony.
Hamilton said he expected to discuss the matter Tuesday with Leo Frade, bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida, who has invited about 100 diocesan leaders to lunch at the church's
In a telephone interview Sunday from
At its national convention in
The convention also agreed that dioceses conducting same-sex blessings are operating within doctrinal boundaries. But in what was seen as a compromise with conservatives, church leaders stopped short of authorizing a common liturgy for celebrating same-sex unions.
Nonetheless, in an address to Integrity on Saturday, Nolan lauded the convention's vote on Robinson as "an extraordinary occasion in the evolution of the Christian Church. ... It is a moment not of winning or losing, but one of exceptional evolution," he said.
Still, the ecclesiastical battle over homosexuality is far from complete. At St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in
Among the aggrieved was St. Benedict's congregant Roy Aguilar, 69, of
Episcopalians are not the only believers roiled by the issue. In the wake of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down state sodomy laws, the Roman Catholic Church, several conservative Protestant denominations and President Bush have voiced strong opposition to same-sex unions.
Although public opinion surveys track a growing acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage over the past decade, a recent Gallup/USA Today poll shows some backlash among Americans since the high court decision. Respondents who said they support legalizing homosexual relations between consenting adults dropped from 60 percent in May to 48 percent in July.
In his homily to about 60 worshippers Sunday,
Over coffee and dessert in the social hall of St. Andrew's, established 89 years ago, Hamilton said that although the convention's closely watched vote was much on his mind, "I thought the most important thing I could do was not to make an issue of what we do as individuals. Our concerns are still what they always are: the poor, the hungry, the abused."
Indeed, for Vance Oden and other gay and lesbian church members, the fight for acceptance at St. Andrew's was won in October 2001, when Integrity was formed and a handful of parishioners walked out in protest. For many gay and lesbian church members, formal recognition of same-sex unions seems not to be a pressing issue.
"I am willing to wait on the church at large to get there," said Oden, 36. "I don't feel my relationship has to be blessed to be valid. Acceptance at this church is wonderful."
Staff Writer Sallie James contributed to this report.
Mike Clary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6629.
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