Past nagging conflicts will continue to dominate religious news in the coming year – GetReligion

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* The T in LGBTQ has gained new Methodist attention as Bishop of Pennsylvania Peggy Johnson, just retired, and her husband, a Methodist pastor, publicized the latter’s gender transition while publicly identifying himself as a “cisgender” man.

Last March, a large group of American conservatives announced their intention to leave the denomination and unite with former missionary churches abroad – primarily in Africa and Asia – to form the “World Methodist Church“, led temporarily by the pastor of Virginia Keith Boyette (540-898-4960). This new denomination will retain, on controversial questions in moral theology, the doctrines of the current UMC.

* Less noticed by Americans are tremors in the Anglican World Communion, which is said to have some 80 million baptized members in 47 national branches. With the will of COVID, all bishops will attempt to meet at the Lambeth Conference from July 27 to August 8 in Canterbury, England. This is the first conference since the 2008 meeting avoided decisive actions to modernize the church’s teachings on sexuality, as conservative bishops – mostly from growing Southern churches – gathered in Jerusalem to train the activist World Conference on the Anglican Future.

Will the Conservatives boycott the 2022 session? Will Lambeth establish a firm policy?

To date, Anglican branches in the United States, Brazil and Scotland have officially approved same-sex marriages. In Canada, Anglicanism allows dioceses to offer weddings without formally rewriting church law and has begun to try new rituals (.pdf here) which celebrate “gender affirmation and transition”. Blessing rituals without a formal marriage are permitted in New Zealand and, since September, in the Church of Wales.

Approval of such blessings, but likely not of marriages, is raised by an elaborate consultation within Anglicanism’s founding body, the Church of England. A sarcastic piece in “The World Ahead 2022” edition of The Economist said few Britons wanted to worship a “homophobe” or “Smitey Almighty” any longer. The weekly thinks the Church of England may well endorse the blessings.

But others report that the liberal victory is uncertain. Although a majority of bishops want a change, the legislation must pass separate votes by clergy and lay delegates at a general synod. Synod delegates began five-year terms in November “after the most fiercely contested elections in its 50-year history,” according to America’s Living church magazine. Conservatives warn that by the end of 2022, bishops could risk fury by completely bypassing Synod law and allowing homosexual blessings themselves.

Note two other things as well.

* The Southern Baptist Convention(June 12-15, Anaheim CA Convention Center) annual meeting to highlight efforts to address horrific scandals of sexual predation and accusations of misogyny and racial callousness, which are disrupting other sectors of evangelical American Protestantism . Will right-wing SBC pastors oppose these efforts?

* At the request of Pope Francis, Catholic dioceses around the world will spend 2022 formally discussing how to create a “synod church” with more open and collaborative government. This process culminates in a special assembly of bishops in Rome in October 2023.

Here are some key sources for monitoring Anglican developments.:

* For the seat of the Anglican Communion, Click here and the email address is aco@anglicancommunion.org. The official The Anglican Communion News Service is here. For more information on the Lambeth conference, Click here.

* The Church of England: www.churchofengland.org. Media contacts 0207-898-1293 or comms@churchofengland.org or press@lambethpalace.org.uk.

* British Church periodicals include the Church hours and Church of England Journal.

* (Liberal caucuses in the Church of England: Inclusive Church and Think anglicans. Conservative caucuses in the Church of England: Anglican futures and the Evangelical Group of the General Synod.

* Official news from the Episcopal Church of the United States via the Episcopal Information Service. Editor-in-Chief Lynette Wilson is at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org or 917-244-0143.

* American conservative media: Living church, and it’s online Commitment newsletter. See also the more biased site, VertuOnline.


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