LONDON — The Anglican Communion voted on Thursday to place a temporary suspension on the fellowship of the U.S. Episcopal “church” within its global body over the apostate denomination’s support for same-sex “marriage.”
For the next three years, Episcopalians will be banned from making policy decisions in the 85-million member Anglican Communion as a task force will be formed to work to restore the relationship.
According to reports, the Global Anglican Future Conference had requested sanctions against the Episcopalian body during the week-long meeting led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and some even threatened to walk out of the meeting unless something was done about the matter.
In 2003, Episcopalians appointed their first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, and last year, the group voted to allow weddings between those of the same gender in their houses of worship, as well as to eliminate the terms “husband and wife” from the denominational rules on marriage. The developments caused friction within the fellowship, which is historically descended from the missional Church of England.
“This sanction is the ecclesiastical equivalent of being placed in ‘time out,'” said Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in a statement. “But the goal of ‘time out’ is to change behavior, and the Episcopal Church has clearly spoken that it will not deviate from its chosen trajectory.”
“The primates who have taken this step have cited three reasons for doing so: the lack of reconciliation between the Episcopal Church and their provinces, obedience to Scripture, and the admonitions of the Book of Common Prayer,” he explained. “For them it’s a question of faithfulness to Jesus Christ.”
Anglican leaders of what is known as “Primates 2016” also released a statement on the matter.
“Recent developments in the Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage,” it reads in part. “All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.”
The statement said that while unity is desired in the Communion, the Anglican Church cannot unite with those who hold to unbiblical doctrine.
“It is our unanimous desire to walk together,” leaders outlined. “However, given the seriousness of these matters, we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years the Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”