Thursday, 16 July 2009

Episcopal Church and Gay or Lesbian Ministers

Episcopal Church and Gay or Lesbian Ministers

(You've seen the press, now read the text!)


Printed below is the text of the Resolution passed by our General Convention. (The numbering of the resolutions is mine, for convenience in reading)



(1) Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring,

That the 76th General Convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

(2) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks and relationships of the Anglican Communion;

and be it further
(3) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget;

and be it further
(4) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039);

and be it further
(5) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst;

and be it further
(6) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church;

and be it further
(7) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.

Even though I am in broad sympathy with the "intent" of the Resolution, I think that it is a bit of a "fudge".

It purports to be a "description" of where we are at in the Church, but it will doubtless be interpreted as a "prescription" of where we should be.

To my liberal allies in the Church I say: "Listening" (resolved 4) is simply inadequate if that listening is not in the context of intensive biblical and theological scholarship. And there is sufficient biblical and theological scholarship to support our point of view.

To my conservative friends in the Church I say: "If listening is our crucial criterion, then clearly you have not been heard". Maybe this is because of the malaise of institutional deafness. I think that resolved (7) is a gratuitous "tip of the hat" in your direction, which means nothing.

To my liberal allies in the Church I add: As a gay Priest I rejoice when the ministries of gay and lesbian Christians are welcomed, especially as they become a means of grace to the wider body. Nonetheless, we gay and lesbian Christians do not have a monopoly on grace, nor should we be given special privilege. All Christians are called to be servants.

To my conservative friends in the Church I add: Your participation in our common life is essential. I refuse to say that I have no need of you (see 1 Corinthians 12:21).

To whomever reads this I say: "I am a liberal Christian for strong biblical and theological reasons. But I am cynical about the obfuscation in this General Convention Resolution".

AS ALWAYS - COMMENTS ARE WELCOME. BUT NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL BE PUBLISHED

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