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Episcopal church won't let bishop preside at pulpit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — For the second time in a month, Episcopalian Bishop Charles Bennison Jr. will be seated in the congregation — but not invited into the pulpit — at a conservative parish opposed to his liberal views on issues like the ordination of women.

"We will not receive his Episcopal ministry," said the Rev. Philip Lyman, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Huntingdon Valley, about 15 miles north of Philadelphia.

Bennison, who is scheduled to visit the church Sunday, declined comment on the divisions in the diocese but said through a spokeswoman that he sought a dialogue with the more conservative congregations.

"It's a very diverse diocese," spokeswoman Meg Cave said. "We are bound to have divergent opinions."

St. John's Episcopal is the second of Bennison's 162 parishes to resist a regular visitation by the bishop, required under canon law.

Episcopal Church delegates at a convention last year passed a resolution acknowledging the existence of unwed Episcopal couples but rejected proposals for liturgies to support them. Though officially opposing same-sex relations, the church brings no sanctions against those who ordain actively homosexual clergy or conduct same-sex unions.