Diocese stands up for gay rights in bishop nominations

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The Diocese of Newark defied the Episcopalian church’s recent decision to prevent LGBT clergy from becoming bishops by nominating a gay priest from San Francisco as a bishop candidate.

“By nominating an openly gay priest from San Francisco as one of four candidates to become their 10th Bishop, the Diocese of Newark has reaffirmed that our church does not discriminate against LGBT people,” Oasis President Reverend John Kirkley said.

Newark’s Standing Committee included the Very Rev Canon Michael Barlowe, Congregational Development Officer for the Diocese of California, among candidates selected by Newark’s Nominating Committee. A North Carolina native, Cannon Barlow has been partnered for 23 years with the Reverend Paul Burrows.

Canon Barlow’s nomination follows a bitterly contested resolution passed by the national Episcopal Church’s General Convention last week urging diocesan committees to exercise “restraint” concerning election of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) clergy as bishop.

On Tuesday the Archbishop of Canterbury called for creation of a two-tiered Anglican Communion with national churches that welcome LGBT people holding a lesser place in that Communion.

The American Anglican Council, an orthodox umbrella group, told the New York Times, “We are shocked that just one week after the close of General Convention and one day following release of the archbishop of Canterbury’s statement on the Communion’s future, the Diocese of Newark has sent a clear and defiant message nationally and internationally that there will be no turning back.”

Newark is only the second, after the Diocese of California in San Francisco, to have gay nominees, said Jan Nunley, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church Centre, the church’s administrative office, in the Times article.

“We commend the Diocese of Newark for refusing to cave in to pressure to discriminate against nominees for bishop based on sexual orientation,” Mr Kirkley added. “Unlike our General Convention, the Diocese of Newark refuses to lie about the Holy Spirit’s presence in the ministries of gay and lesbian clergy.

God can not and will not be restrained but continues to raise up leaders whose manner of life challenges the intolerance, bigotry, and fear now poisoning the Anglican Communion.”

The Reverend Susan Russell, president of Integrity, a gay and lesbian advocacy group in the church, told the Times that she praised the nominations. “For the Diocese of Newark to come out so quickly with a gay man in its list of candidates is a strong statement that this is not a church that is willing to be blackmailed into bigotry,” she said.

The bishop will be chosen in September.

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