Episcopal Church Suspension Spells Problems for Iowans

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - A decision by the Anglican Church is impacting thousands of Episcopalians in central Iowa.

The Episcopal Church faced a suspension Thursday for its stance on same-sex marriage.

Iowa's Bishop Allen Scarfe told KCCI outside St. Paul’s Cathedral downtown it means "real pain" for many church members.

In June Episcopalians voted to change church law, allowing same-sex marriage and adopting new wedding rights to be used by gay or straight couples.

The Anglican Communion in England handed down Thursday a suspension in response.

“Continual pain for those who are gay and lesbian, especially those who are members of our church, but those in the community at large,” Scarfe said. “How much more do they have to suffer from discrimination?”

For three years, the Episcopal Church will not be allowed to participate in many internal decisions or represent Anglicans in meetings with other faith-based groups.

“For example, our conversation with the Roman Catholic Church, they don’t want an Episcopal member,” Scarfe said. “Any Episcopal members would probably be removed or step down for three years.”

The Episcopal Church is largely known as the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, dating back to the Church of England.

Scarfe reacted to the suspension Thursday, saying they have been down this road before.

“We are one, and we have to work out these differences of engagement of culture,” Scarfe said.

He said the Church and its 9,000 statewide members overwhelmingly support equal marriage rights.

Episcopalians elected an openly gay bishop in 2003.