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Episcopal voters stay neutral on gay issue

MANSFIELD -- Representatives of Episcopal congregations in Massachusetts sidestepped a vote on whether to endorse a report that condemns appointments of gay bishops and calls on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to enact a moratorium on same-sex blessings.

Instead, voters at the 220th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts endorsed a neutral resolution that calls for more study of the Windsor Report.

At issue was the ordination of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, in 2003, and the subsequent divisions over homosexuality in the Episcopalian priesthood that have occurred in churches across the United States and the world since.

''I don't think we need to be anxious about the state of the Episcopal Church," Bishop Thomas Shaw, an outspoken supporter of gay rights, said in a speech to the 700 delegates representing 194 congregations across the state. ''The unity of the Anglican community is important to all of us."

The October 2004 Windsor Report, commissioned by the head of the Anglican Communion and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to consider the controversy over homosexuality, calls on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to put the moratorium into effect. It also asks conservative bishops to stop going into other dioceses to assist congregations with disassociating themselves from the Episcopal Church.

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