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MISSISSIPPI: Seven orthodox clergy protest NC bishop visit to diocese

MISSISSIPPI: Seven orthodox clergy protest NC bishop visit to diocese

By David W. Virtue

JACKSON, MS (9/24/2004)--Seven orthodox clergy in the Diocese of Mississippi have written a letter to their bishop Duncan M. Gray, III expressing their concern over North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry's visit as featured speaker at the annual presbyter's conference in October, and they have requested that the invitation be withdrawn.

The seven priests say that Bishop Curry has given his go-ahead for same-sex blessings and that is unacceptable to them. The six priests are: Mary Berry, Chris Colby, Sandra DePriest, William Senter, John and Ruth Urban, and George F. Woodliff III. All six clergy are resident in the Diocese of Mississippi.

The Urban's have since affiliated with the Province of Kenya coming under the spiritual and ecclesiastical authority of Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

In a pastoral letter to his diocese, Bishop Curry stated; "From my perspective as bishop, the blessing of the committed life long unions of persons of the same gender is one way our community can live the Gospel through faithful and loving pastoral care and spiritual support for each other."

Bishop Gray said that the invitation to Bishop Curry was made over a year ago, before the current crisis in the Episcopal Church had erupted. He has indicated that it would be "inappropriate" to withdraw Curry's invitation now.

At a meeting held on September 2, 2004, George F. Woodliff III, president of Stand Firm, an organization of orthodox clergy and laity in the Diocese of Mississippi, hand delivered a letter to Bishop Duncan M. Gray III of Mississippi, expressing their deep concern over the invitation to Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina, to be the keynote speaker at the annual presbyter conference on October 4 - 7, 2004.

The letter requested the withdrawal of the invitation because of Bishop Curry's decision to authorize same sex blessings in his diocese, thereby ignoring the pleas of the Anglican Communion not to take any precipitate action before the Lambeth/Eames Commission has issued its report.

The priests were concerned that having Bishop Curry speak at this critical hour in the life of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion would give at least tacit approval of his divisive actions.

Although it is believed and initially reported that Bishop Gray voted against the approval of the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Louie Crew, a leading ECUSA homosexual layman lists him among those who voted for the consecration of Robinson.

Gray did vote for C051 which approved of those living in monogamous, non-celibate unions outside of heterosexual marriage.

Bishop Gray, in his letter to the diocese said that Bishop Curry would be speaking on the issue of preaching and would not touch on the issue of blessing same sex unions.

Bishop Gray, a moderate bishop, has expressed his support for Stand Firm, an orthodox group of clergy and lay in the Diocese of Mississippi.

In other news, the Diocese of North Carolina is also suffering a severe budget crisis. It faces a shortfall of over $1 million caused largely, critics say, by the policies Curry has chosen to pursue and the way he has chosen to implement them.


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