Episcopalian Convention Kicks Off In Columbus

Tom Riley plays “Seek Ye First” on the saxophone in the exhibition hall at the Columbus Convention Center. Riley is part of Faith Alive, a ministry within the Episcopal Church that offers weekend retreats for church groups of all ages.

“We focus in on the vows of baptism and how to live a life that’s pleasing to God. We have a music team that comes in. We all come in at our own expense and we just share little snippets of our faith journey,” Riley said.

Riley’s exhibit is one of dozens that Episcopalians perused on their first day of the Episcopal General Convention.

While some visitors were deciding which new book to purchase, bigger issues that could ultimately split the church were looming.

The Reverend Vicki Zust of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio is at this year’s convention. Zust said while other topics like children and youth will be discussed, she said the hot issue is homosexuality.

“Obviously the one everyone is talking about is the role of homosexual persons in the life of the church and how we live into our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being while maintaining a strong authority of scripture,” Zust.

The Episcopal Church became divided three years ago when New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson’s election was approved at the general convention. Robinson is openly gay.

Right now there’s a resolution calling for a moratorium on same sex unions. Zust said a committee will be presenting that resolution to the convention Wednesday night. She said there’s a chance it could be changed before it makes it to the House of Deputies for a vote.

Church member Edward Chapman from Maryland is waiting to hear a response to the world church’s report that was made following the approval of Bishop Robinson. Chapman said he’s not hopeful about the future of homosexuals within the Episcopal Church.

“I do not think we will consecrate another openly gay bishop for decades,” Chapman said.

Barbara Palmer from Michigan, is working at an exhibit. She said love is the main focus of the convention. Palmer, who was wearing a rainbow sticker symbolizing gay rights, said when it comes to a person’s sexuality she’s not concerned.

“We are made in the image of God, and therefore there should be no problem of anybody’s sexuality,” Palmer said.

Sunday the church will be voting among seven nominees for the 26th presiding bishop.

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