As for gay clergy, some liberal dioceses of the church have openly ordained them since the mid-1980s, and once-moderate dioceses like Virginia have even begun doing so (the December ordination service at the Falls Church included one openly lesbian priest, Jo Belser, who is the first openly homosexual candidate to be ordained by the diocese).
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“There are currently almost 30 people in the ordination process, a number that well surpasses the diocese’s current need for clergy for traditional parish positions.
In addition, there is a significant number of unemployed and underemployed priests in the diocese who are seeking to be called to stipendiary ministries.” To date, the diocese has not announced plans to resume discernment for ordination.
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The service partly filled the role of using the reclaimed church campus for diocesan purposes (the diocese recently relocated its Northern Virginia office from Goodwin House in Alexandria to the Falls Church.) The service also showed how a diocese that has suffered a significant drop in attendance over the past decade is not lacking for new priests.
Unlike steep declines in membership, finances, and number of parishes that have negatively impacted the life of the Episcopal Church, the denomination has seen a more gradual decline in priests, maintaining – in some areas like Virginia and Texas — more than enough to meet its needs.
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