In the fall of 1990, Barry Stopfel was ordained a deacon in the Diocese of Newark. Stopfel is gay and, at the time of his ordination, was living "in a sexual partnership" with another man. The assistant bishop of Newark, the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter (photo here), was facing a church court over his decision to ordain the gay man. On May 15, 1996, an Episcopal Church court dismissed charges against Righter. The Court held that neither the doctrine nor the discipline of the Church currently prohibit the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person living in a committed relationship.
A collection of sites related to the trial. Note that these are resources contained off the Anglicans Online! site and may or may not reflect the opinions of the Anglicans Online! webmaster.
a Human Face on the Heresy Trial
This brief story from Episcopal Life newspaper puts a human face on the Rev. Barry Stopfel and his partner, Will Leckie.
Crew's "Heresy's Corner" site
This pro-Righter site includes photographs of all the presenters and courtroom personnel, plus offers links to related documents. From the founder of the Integrity movement of Gay and Lesbian Episcopalians.
Heresy Trial Frequently Asked Questions
This is a single document, listing answers to the most common questions about the Heresy trial, written and published by a parish in Bishop Righter's diocese.
Time of Trial"
A document, sub-titled "A Resource for Understanding the Presentment", written by the presenters (bishops who began the action against Bishop Righter).
Righter Trial Information
Maintained by a lawyer in the U.S., this comprehensive page offers the full text of many of the court documents, including the May 15th decision.
Canons of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America
The complete text of the 1991 ECUSA national Canons, which governed the proceedings of the Heresy Trial.
Diocese of Newark
Drop by the website of the Diocese of Newark, where Bishop Righter is a retired bishop. This site has links to the FAQ file of the trial, in addition to a number of diocesan resources.
Righter Trial and Church Discipline
An essay written at the request of judges of the Court in the trial of Bishop Righter for clarification on the question of Church discipline
Herbert and the Crisis of the Church
A brief opinion paper with respect to the Heresy Trial. A quote: "The Walter Righter affair is not just about an isolated moral violation. Bishop Righter acted on behalf of another bishop who has called into question all the central mysteries of the Christian Gospel."
to talk about the decision?
Now that the decision has arrived, how do YOU feel about it? Did the court make the right call? This link to the LUBI mailing list will allow you to jump into a discussion group about gay issues in the church.
If you're new to the case, this section will get you up to speed on the relevant information, with links to specific texts of court documents, background details, and other materials.
The recent news section will serve as a repository of archived news items -- a good place to review if you're new to the case. The date following each item refers to the date of that story's release.
A NOTE ABOUT OBJECTIVITY
A few times a week, I get a friendly message from someone expressing their concern that they perceive this page to have an editorial bias. I've written this brief note to help address those concerns.
I can understand the frustration. But please understand that this website is not an official church document and I am not performing the role of a journalist. I have not sought to "cover" the trial, as much as offer pointers to others who are covering it. Think of this page, and indeed the full Anglicans Online! website, as an index to a book, not the book's content itself.
Perhaps the coverage which is out there is unbalanced -- it's a frustration I've felt as well -- but I only have time to point people to what's out there. If more resources become available
from the "other side" (blech, I hate calling these "sides") then those links will be featured along side of other views.
It's my hope that offering some of the more solid resources -- like the text of the presentment, official church news releases, and so forth -- that those resources would add value to the information on the site.
A side note: Of the messages I receive which offer concerns that the site appears to be unbalanced in opinion, the running total of people who think the site is left-wing and those who think it's right-wing runs about 50/50. Caveat reader.