At a special session of the US House of Bishops on Sept 18 called to discuss the Lambeth Conference, the American bishops voted 87 to 35, with four abstentions to defrock Bishop Duncan, removing him from the ordained ministry for propounding the view that a diocese may withdraw from the Episcopal Church.
The bishops had worked “carefully and prayerfully” and their “conversation was holy” US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. However, Bishop Duncan’s “actions over recent months and years constitute ‘abandonment of ‘the communion of this church” and that he should be deposed,” she said.
The American action was a source of “deep regret and profound sadness” Archbishop Ernest said, and was seen in Africa as being politically motivated. “We are sad because you are obviously viewed as a threat to the survival of a dominant order, and the actions are more appropriate to totalitarian governments than to an Episcopal leadership professing our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
The African church had been “hopeful that after Lambeth, [the Episcopal Church] would at least exercise legal restraint and also sensitivity to the indignation expressed by the rest of the communion at their continued resistance to pursue an agenda which are not conformed to the biblical teachings we all vowed to uphold,” Archbishop Ernest said.
He commended Bishop Duncan for his forbearance, likening it to martyrdom. Citing Justin Martyr, Archbishop Ernest observed that “strangely the power of the gospel is even more evident when persecution arises” for when “numbers of persecuted Christians held fast their confession, the more others in larger numbers become believers.”
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