Many Episcopalians will be headed to church this weekend with their Book of Common Prayer, and a lot of questions as the church named its first gay bishop this week. Several Tallahassee priests plan to address the issue in the pulpit on Sunday, an issue as divisive as the vote itself.
St John's is Tallahassee's biggest Episcopal church, and its leaders are frankly stunned by the selection of Gene Robinson, the denomination's first gay bishop.
"It's just totally unprecedented. I knew there was a chance it would happen, but I kept believing and praying it wouldn't," says Brad Page.
Associate rector Brad Page has been getting more than 50 e-mails a day with opinions and questions about what this will mean for the church and its stance on gay marriage.
"The majority opinion of the church is no that can't happen, but unfortunately the majority opinion of representatives gathered in Minneapolis this week is that it can. That's why it's such a radical departure from 2000 years of Christian teaching and our
understanding of scripture."
Ron Bunting is one of many gays in Tallahassee saluting that departure. Pastor Paul Anway of the Gentle Shepherd Metropolitan Community Church says 95 percent of his parishioners are gay and most have been ostracized from other churches in town.
As Episcopalians in Tallahassee and the world over head to church this Sunday, they'll no doubt be asked to pray for church leaders as they deal with the winds of change. Friday the head of the Anglican Church called for a special meeting in October to try to better define the church's future in terms of unity, leadership and marriage.