Bishop's Refusal to Sign Statement Bars Him From ConferenceBarring the way to the bishop of the diocese in which you are holding a meeting to plan schism because he won't sign a statement that would suggest Gandhi's eternal destination to be the fires of hell. What a very strange manifestation of Christianity these folks are.
Leaders of a conservative Episcopal gathering require those attending to agree that belief in Jesus is the only way to reach heaven.
By Larry B. Stammer, Times Staff Writer
The Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles was forbidden from delivering a welcoming speech at a regional meeting of conservative Episcopalians that opened Thursday in Long Beach because he refused to sign a statement declaring that belief in Jesus as savior was the only way to get to heaven.
By requiring such a statement for conference attendance, leaders of the conservative American Anglican Council said they wanted the meeting to be a "safe place" for Episcopalians who dissented from the U.S. church's liberal stances on biblical interpretation and homosexuality.
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno's presence would "create a sense of discomfort," said the Rev. William Thompson, an official of the American Anglican Council and rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Beach.
Bruno called the decision to bar him from the conference in his diocese "disconcerting to me at best."
"I had no intention of making an issue of any of my views," Bruno said in an interview, "just welcoming people to our diocese as they participated and discussed their issues of faith and Christianity in an environment they found safe. That was my intent."
The rebuff underscored sharp divisions within the six-county Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese and the 2.3-million member national Episcopal Church. The council and the new Anglican Communion Network have been preparing to create a church within a church made up of what they describe as orthodox Episcopalians.
Bruno has been an outspoken advocate of the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church and, in an action criticized by conservatives, blessed the same-sex union last month of a prominent gay priest and his partner. But Bruno and conservatives said that it wasn't his views on homosexuality that prevented him from addressing the two-day conference, attended by an estimated 800 people from Western states.
Instead, it was a sentence in the group's faith statement.
The sentence that gave Bruno problems declared: "I believe in and accept Jesus as Savior and Lord and that He is the only way into the heavenly kingdom." Conference organizers said the requirement to sign the faith statement was set before Bruno asked to attend.
Bruno said that line "basically excludes all people of Judaism, Islam and Buddhism as being within the love of God. I'm not willing to say that God has made that decision. I know that Christianity is the way for me, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. But I cannot say that God will make that decision on the last day. I don't know what God's decision will be"...