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The Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese has defeated...

The Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese has defeated a resolution supportive of church blessings for faithful same-sex relationships.

The proposal presented to delegates at last weekend’s annual diocesan convention in Riverside avoided requesting specifically that ceremonies be held for committed gay and lesbian couples--a much-debated issue opposed at the denominational level.

The wording appeared to amount to the same thing, however, asking delegates to agree that the church “acts appropriately and for the good of the people of God when it upholds and celebrates, in the name of Jesus Christ, any two persons who are willing to make a lifelong covenant of fidelity and love with each other.”

Before the convention, Bishop Frederick H. Borsch of Los Angeles issued a statement saying that he lacked authority to sanction such blessings, but added that he has long worked toward that goal. “I believe that this blessing, together with support from the Christian community, can be strengthening for the couple, for their service and commitments, and for the larger society,” Borsch said.

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Borsch said that Christians “of profound morality and deep compassion” stand on several sides of this question.

The resolution was passed by the clergy, 91 to 55, in the bicameral convention, but lay delegates defeated the proposal in a standing vote by a 2-1 margin, according to a spokesman. Both “orders” of delegates needed to approve the resolution for it to be adopted.

The Rev. George Regas, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, early last month told his parishioners that he has decided to bless committed same-sex relationships at some future date despite the denomination’s current opposition.

Regas said Thursday that he has appointed a parish task force to “make our way together on the best way to do that blessing.” Regas said he and the bishop have discussed his plans, but the matter was left unsettled. “The bishop is supportive,” Regas said, “but he is also supportive of church policy that says we don’t do that.”

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Borsch was not available for comment, but a diocesan spokesman noted that Episcopal Bishop William Swing of San Francisco has also backed the idea of same-sex couple blessings, but disciplined a priest who performed one without diocesan authority.

In other convention action, the diocese became the fourth to protest its denomination’s decision to keep the July, 1991, triennial convention in Phoenix despite Arizona voters’ decision not to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a paid state holiday.

The resolution “registering opposition” also petitioned Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning of the Episcopal Church to change the convention site. Browning, however, previously announced that the church will stay in Phoenix to support residents who are seeking adoption of the holiday. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa will speak in Phoenix in an anti-racism rally the day before the convention starts.

Delegates also registered strong opposition to a military solution to the Persian Gulf crisis and defeated a resolution seeking “acknowledgement” of the traditionalist Episcopal Synod of America as a loyal body within the denomination.

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PILGRIMAGE

Archbishop Roger M. Mahony will leave Los Angeles today with 180 Catholics on a six-day pilgrimage to Mexico City. On Sunday they will participate in the first observance of the feast day of Juan Diego, who is celebrated for reporting an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1531 to the bishop and saying that she wanted a church to be built in her honor. Juan Diego was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit to Mexico this year. Mahony has been invited by Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada to concelebrate the feast day Mass with him and other prelates Sunday.

DATES

The Rev. Dumas A. Harshaw, president of the Los Angeles Council of Churches, will be the principal speaker at 4 p.m. Sunday in an Advent Ecumenical Worship Service at Eternal Promise Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Music will be provided by choruses from the host church and from Harshaw’s Trinity Baptist Church.

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Edwin Bernbaum, author of the recently published “Sacred Mountains of the World,” will lecture Sunday in Los Angeles on the lore and symbolism associated with certain peaks from the Andes and Himalayas to Mts. Sinai, Fuji, Olympus and Shasta. After the talk at 2 p.m. at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Bernbaum will sign copies of his illustrated book. Admission is $7.


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