Anglican Communion Suspends the Episcopal Church in the U.S.

Canterbury Cathedral (Wikamedia)By Walter Fenton-

The Anglican Communion, which represents 44 national churches, voted this Thursday to suspend the Episcopal Church in the U.S. from full participation in the worldwide body. It cited the denomination’s aberrant teachings on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay bishops and priests as the reason for the suspension.

Word of the suspension came in a statement issued during a gathering of primates – leading bishops from each of the national churches – convened in Canterbury, England at the behest of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The statement also reiterated the Communion’s belief that the “traditional doctrine of the church, in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”

The three-year suspension means the U.S. church will not have voice or vote on “any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion.”

The suspension is a blow to the prestige of the church, and it could be extended if the church fails to reverse its unorthodox teachings on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy.

After the 2003 consecration of the openly gay priest Gene Robinson, the rift between liberal and conservative Episcopalians widened and eventually led to the creation of new denomination called the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, was in attendance at the Canterbury meeting, but the new church has yet to be formally recognized by the Anglican Communion.

This past summer the Episcopal Church redefined its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Its priests are also allowed to preside at same-sex weddings. Since its consecration of Robinson and the adoption of its liberal stands on same-sex marriage, the church has lost over 20 percent of its members and average worship attendance has plummeted.

It is highly unlikely the church will reverse its newly embraced understanding of marriage and ordination despite the Anglican Communion suspension. It is also likely to become a more isolated and much smaller denomination as well.

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and an analyst for Good News.



  1. Hear, hear . . . it is refreshing to see a church governing body with some biblical backbone!

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