A leader of the largest movement of dissidents within the Episcopal Church has urged followers here to fight for their views from within the church rather than by dropping out.
"We have indicated that we are in the church and we are going to stay," said Bishop Addison Hosea of Lexington, Ky. Hosea is one of the leaders of the Evangelical and Catholic Mission, a movement of traditionalists within the church who oppose ordination of women to the priesthood and prayer book revision.
Addressing a gathering of about 50 persons from the Washington area last week, Hosea acknowledged that the position of "dissidents" has its disadvantage, since "they can take us for granted as a loyal, impotent opposition."
Nevetherless, he said, "I hope we can maintain this [loyal opposition] image . . . that they will not be able to drive us out."
Several thousand persons have left the Episcopal Church over questions of women priests, prayer book reform and the church's involvement in social issues.
Hosea said that by leaving, these people have forfeited their opportunity to effect changes, or to roll back the changes they don't approve.
In response to a question from the audience as to "what can be done" about the women already ordained, the bishop replied, "If we can remove the canon [authorizing ordination of women], the women who have been ordained will remain ordained, but that will not be a problem that 30 or 40 years won't take care of."
He added that "in many cases, the women have proved their point [by getting ordained] and then taken on part-time jobs." Citing recent studies that indicate that few women priests have secured full-time employment since their ordination, he said,
In response to another question about the possible election of a woman as a bishop, Hosea said "I think I would not be in communion with the bishop or diocese."
He predicted that final approval for the revised Book of Common Prayer, coming before the church's General Convention in September, "will (win) by 90 plus percent."