Anglican Primates’ “Pre Meeting”

Bishop Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana and president of the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice; Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and head of the Anglican Communion Network; Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate of the Episcopal Church; and I were asked to address some 38 Primates (heads of the various worldwide Provinces of the Anglican Communion) at the start of their meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, last week.

Our task was to share our various perspectives on the Episcopal Church’s response to the “Windsor process” and our hopes for the Anglican Communion in the face of deep disagreements on homosexuality, the ordination gay and lesbian persons and the blessing of their committed unions. After lunch with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his assistant, The Rev. Andrew Norman, to clarify our roles and tasks and to review the report of the Joint Standing Committee Report on its persective as to how the Episcopal Church’s General Convention responded to the requests of the Windsor Report, we engaged the Primates in conversation.

Bishop MacPherson expressed the concern of perhaps one-quarter of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops that the General Convention’s response had not been adequate and offered, on their behalf, these bishops’ services to provide oversight for congregations out of sympathy with their own bishops over these matters. Bishop Duncan asked for a “wall of separation” and protection (from church discipline and legal action) for such clergy and congregations.

I spoke of the concern of our ecumenical partners, certainly over the issue of homosexuality, but also that the Anglican Communion (the third largest Christian body in the world)  find a way forward together and not “deconstruct” over the disagreements. Finally, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori spoke of the forty-year journey the Episcopal Church has been on over these matters and her perspective that outside “invasions” of overseas bishops into the internal life of the Episcopal Church only exacerbated the problem and made it more difficult for us to find solutions as a national church.

After our brief presentations, we engaged the Primates in forty minutes or so of respectful and honest conversation on the issues. Images of a leaking ship, the need for some to rest on the “bosom of the deep” confident of God’s grace, and of others throwing life lines to those who feel like they are drowning all found their way into our discussion! Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori shared her concern about the violence of some of the images being invoked — drowning, violation, building separation walls, “lobbing grenades at one another.”

In his summation, Archbishop Williams shared his conviction that “building walls” is hardly what Christians are to be all about, according to Ephesians 2. He also spoke of his discomfort with the idea that the Episcopal Church has created a “new faith” (suggested by both Bishop MacPherson and Bishop Duncan). He spoke of his affection for the Episcopal Church and shared a memory of his experience at Trinity Church, Wall Street, just across from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

“For all we knew, ” he said, “those of us huddled in that room were about to die. Someone said, ‘I could peacefully face death in this company of people.’ I thought then — as now — ‘that’s not a bad definition of the Church,'” Rowan said. No indeed.

After a break tomorrow to share some reflections on Ash Wednesday and the begnning of Lent, I shall return to reflection on the Primates’ meeting.



50 Responses to “Anglican Primates’ “Pre Meeting””

  1. titusonenine » Blog Archive » Bishop Epting on the Primates meeting Says:

    […] read it all. […]

  2. TSK Says:

    thanks for the update and info. and thoughts on williams and the event. blog on!

  3. Ann Says:

    Did anyone speak FOR the faithful gays and lesbians who are suffering “real” violence in this church? Did anyone mention that 75% of TEC are happy with the direction of our church?

  4. evan miller Says:

    “Real” violence being suffered by gays and lesbians in this church!? Get a grip.

  5. Linda in Iowa Says:

    I can speak from my own lived experience — and from others close to me. Yes, there is violence being suffered by gays and lesbians.

    Please don’t be so dismissive — it makes you appear arrogant.

    The appropriate response to someone who tells you they are hurting is not “Get a grip.”

  6. Fiona Says:

    Not a word about homophobia, bigotry, prejudice, passe purity codes and taboos. These are the real problems that confront and divide the church, not sexual orientation. These are the things that violate the Great Commandment, the scriptures and the faith of the church and lead to scapegoating and violence against the souls and bodies of gay people.

    Just as the problem is not race but racism, the problem is not homosexuality but homophobia. Until this is faced, all the rest will only lead to further division and destruction. All further discussion of the Windsor Report means nothing until its homophobic foundations are exposed.

  7. Timothy Fountain Says:

    One can also speak of the harm done to the church by an affluent, single-issue faction willing to demonize absolutely any objection to its agenda.

    Even Lambeth 1:10 from ’98 calls for the “listening process”, which was not ignored in the current Primates’ meeting. “Homophobia” leaves no room for any objection to homosexuality. The LGBT movement in the church, with its emphasis on canons and control of the church, has become what it claims to hate.

  8. Linda in Iowa Says:


    I think that there is far too much emphasis on “canons and control of the church” these days, all around — there you and I might find common ground!

    And my hope is that we can all — ALL — step back from ‘demonizing’ one another. We are, after all, brothers and sisters by our baptism. That relationship is irrevocable, and we need to learn how to live with one another in a far more loving way.

    Charges, counter-charges, and bitterness cannot help any of us. For whatever hurts you have endured, you have my prayers. When any member of the Body suffers, all suffer together.

  9. Dennis Says:

    Please tell me that someone spoke up for the place of ordinary christian gays and lesbians. My partner and I live in an ordinary house, go to an ordinary parish, worry about average things like repairs to the house. We aren’t monsters. We also aren’t members of some evil single issue faction, thank you Timothy. We have spent our years together watching our straight friends and neighbors divorce and break up and we have been there with a shoulder to cry on. We have paid our pledges, served on committees, cut the bushes in front of more than one parish church building and made the coffee and bought the cookies for after eucharist gatherings at church.

    All that we ask is to have our normal relationship recognized as something acceptable and our lives together blessed by our church. We aren’t monsters. I swear you would be surprised at how bland our life together is, along with the other gay couples we know. Why do the conservatives hate us so much? Why do they demand that our church be disciplined because we are included and because we might just possibly have our monogamous and loyal union of many years blessed. Our dogs were blessed on the feast of St Francis. Is our lifelong commitment not worth something? Are we that repugnant to you? How small your world must be.

    Do you wonder, Timothy, why we call you homophones and haters? Pull yourself out of your self-righteous shell for one minute and try imagining yourself as us. I know, you will come up with all sorts of arguments as to how you could never do so, and I’m sure that the imaginary ick factor will come into play. But imagine yourself in our home, in our lives, and see why we clearly believe that the religious right are homophobes and haters. Imagine being on the receiving end of the behavior of so many in the church.

    we aren’t activists, just average people who love the church and want to be recognized as human beings loved by God. Drop your hate and fear and see us as we are.

  10. Dennis Says:

    I have to laugh… I wrote homophones when I obviously meant something else. Perhaps the Freudians would say that I don’t like using the term.

    And I don’t.

    But I have a clear experience of hate from the Christian right, and I need some term to identify it.

    It was only when Americans in the deep South (where I was born and raised) became ashamed to be called racists that things started to change for African Americans. There has to be some term of reproach and rebuke that makes people ashamed to fight against equality. Homophobe is an ugly term, but the anger people on the right have at its use shows that it is doing some good. It is making it shameful to support second class status for gays and lesbians.

  11. Widening Gyre Says:

    Linda, I certainly can relate to your comment about “get a grip” albeit for different life reasons. I remember the response from many in my community after GC 2003 that the solution to the problem that I and other were having was simply that we needed to “get over it.” Get a grip or get over it–neither response is appropriate. Neither demonstrates the love of Christ.

  12. Linda in Iowa Says:

    Widening Gyre,

    I’m sorry to hear of how you were treated when you were in pain. You have my prayers. And I ask yours as well. May God create new hearts in all of us.

  13. Linda in Iowa Says:


    My partner and I also live a very “ordinary” life — and ask some of the same questions you pose.

    It is very difficult for me to understand why animals, fox hunts and battleships (!) can be blessed, but not the loving commitment I share with my partner. It makes no sense to me. And the exclusion and insults etc. do hurt. Badly.

    You have my prayers.

  14. rob roy Says:

    I am tired of homosexuals who are so willing to sacrifice the church to advance their political cause. The church is hemorrhaging. Suppose that we decide that everybody can sleep with everybody. Will all the homosexuals come running and save the church? Of course not.

    KJS in her tenure as of bishop of Nevada, the fastest growing state in the union, had the average sunday attendance drop 8.47% from 2001 to 2004. This is what the insipid liberal, feel good theology gets you. “If the salt loses it flavor, it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

  15. Fred Says:

    ROB ROY,

    I have two questions for you:

    1. I presume your congregation does not allow homosexuals to become priests, hold office, have their unions blessed? Do you allow them to be members or take communion?

    2. If any of the above prohibitions exist in your congregation, do you apply the same prohibitions to those known to be involved in adultery?

  16. Tony Says:

    In the post the PB expresses her discomfort with the violent language being used, and then in the comments we find what? Violent language being used. When one speaks about “real” violence, is this comment to be taken literally or figuratively?

  17. Linda in Iowa Says:

    Rob Roy,

    You have my prayers as well. That is my “agenda.”

    your lesbian sister in Christ,
    Linda in Iowa

  18. Phil Snyder Says:


    In my diocese I know at least one priest who was suspended after having an adulterous affair.

    Again, people, it is not that homosexuals cannot be ordained. It is that the Church lacks the authority to bless what we do not know God ot blessl. If I can be shown that God does not call homosexual sex “sinful” then I would love to read and understand. Further, if you can show me where, in scripture, God blesses homosexual sex, I will change my tune.

    As for now, I suggest we all stop carping and biting at each other. Those who supported SSB were happy and telling the traditionalists/conservatives/reasserters to “get over it” after GC2003 and GC2006. Now it seems that the TCR line of thinking is in the ascendency after Tanzania. We should not tell our LBTG brothers and sisters to “get over it.” We should show them the same love that Jesus shows them and we should support them pastorally. Linda and Dennis. I am glad that you have found some measure of peace and joy in your lives with your partners. However, I can’t ask or offer God’s blessing on you (for one, I am not a priest) because I don’t believe that God blesses your physical relationship.

    Phil Snyder

  19. Dennis Says:

    Rob Roy, get a serious grip. We are not sacrificing the church for our agenda. We are asking to sit down and join you at the table. Nor are we asking for everyone to sleep with everybody. Where do you get this stuff? Do you not listen? There is the problem. You are listening to your fears and your anger.

    Why are we so scary to you? What stereotypes are you reacting to? I promise you that they aren’t true. Sure, you could go out and find some gay men who would scare the horses in the street. I could easily find conservatives and Christians who would shock you and everyone else, too. See the majority of us, the quiet people who make a life commitment, go to work, pay our taxes, pray to the Lord next to you in the pew and seek to live our lives ethically as faithful Christians. Let go of the fear and really try to see us.

  20. Andy W. Says:


    You and I exchanged posts on Fr. Jake’s website earlier. I have said a specific prayer for peace for you and your family. I will continue to hold you in prayer.

    To all (not just my sister in Christ, Linda): There is real difficulty for some of us who still believe that sex outside the bounds of marriage is sinful and not in keeping with Jesus’ teachings. Yes, all are to be welcomed in Church. It is for each communicant to determine whether she or he is worthy to be at the rail; obviously priests and pastors also must make that determination. I guarantee you that I am tempted to and succumb to sins of many colors and reflect hard on the invitation every Sunday; sometimes I only allow myself to receive a blessing because I am bearing a sin that has not be adequately repented.

    Without calling me a homophobe (but do if you must), what answer do you have as to how I can remain worshipping in a denomination that teaches as ‘not sin’ something I believe is ‘sin’. I like Fred’s example – adultery. If you consider that to be a sin and the denomination you have called home all your life re-defined it to be ‘not sin’, would you feel betrayed? Would you feel your children’s education could be trusted to them?

    Sincere questions, friends in Christ.

    Your Brother in Christ, Andy W.

  21. Dennis Says:

    Phil, then I am willing to pronounce the same thing on your house. You obviously are unable to see God in other people’s lives. Your heart is closed. I cannot see or say that God can bless any relationship that you have entered into, because of this, including your opposite-gender sexual behavior. But I would love to be shown otherwise.

  22. Dennis Says:

    Andy, if the church would offer marriage -or even blessed unions – then I would be right there with you. You say if we have relationships outside of marriage then we are in sin, but then fight against offering us that. Why do you want to have it both ways?

    Accept SSM and then preach against adultery and sex outside marriage and most of us would be right there with you. We value commitment.

    I dream of a day when gay kids are told to wait until they meet the right person of their own gender and then they can be loyal for life. I would love to see the bars and the businesses that prey on gays and lesbians go out of business because lesbian and gay couples had left the pink ghetto and joined society as equals.

    You have no clue how much so many of us value marriage. Why do you think we want it for our own relationships? No one fights so hard for something that they want to destroy. Accept same sex marriage, offer good strong counsel to those entering it on how to stay together for life, and support and strengthen those unions and we will be right there with you fighting for the same thing.

  23. Andy W. Says:


    I think you may have jumped right over the question I asked you, though. Please accept the hypothetical: The denomination you have been with your entire life re-defines for itself that which is sinful but you do not agree with its determination. What are you to do? Are you evil for trying bring the denomination back to the position it has held until its recent change? Do you leave and say, “Oh, well, that’s their problem?”

    Blessings, Andy W.

  24. Fr. Tony Clavier Says:

    First of all, it is true that gay and lesbian people suffer in all sorts of ways. But then they are invited to the Table, and have every protection and encouragement a church could give, except in the matter of partnered gays being ordained, and same-sex persons having their relationship blessed.

    While these are a burden and a singling out, our church hasn’t done its theological homework -officially on these two issues nor sought sufficiently, I think, pan Anglican and ecumenical input. If partnered gays and lesbians were denied the sacraments and the opportunity to offer leadership in every area other than ordination, it would be one thing. Yet the unity of the church is also vital. needs a new denomination. Surely no one wants us to become a new denomination?

  25. Dennis Says:

    I see the other side, Andy. My impression has alays been that we were an open and welcoming church, and I see the so-called conservatives trying to take over and drag our church some place else. GC has passed resolutions welcoming gays and lesbians into the church for 30 years, and the issue was debated 15 years before that.

    So to us it looks like a place that we know as home, that we have thought of as a safe and welcoming environment, is now being snatched away. Why? Aren’t there far and away enough conservative denominations in America that don’t welcome us? Do we have to see one of the few that always has welcomed us be dragged off to the unwelcoming camp?

  26. Phil Snyder Says:

    Dennis – I never said that I didn’t see God in you or at work in you. That is not the issue. The issue is, as Rowan Williams put it, what can a Church that seeks to be faithful to Holy Scripture bless.

    I believe that we are working with a reverse of the old Donatist heresy. Donatism teaches that God can only work through those who are morally upright (well, there is more, but this is a limited forum). Donatists say that if sin is active in your life, then God cannot be active in your life (and I have heard at least one preacher declare that in person).

    The reverse of this seems to be true for the reappraisers. They see God active in the lives of homosexual men and women (and I agree that God can be and is active in their lives). What I understand them to say is “since God is active in your life, then your homosexual relationship must not be sinful.” It is the logical reverse of Donatism.

    Dennis, God is active in your life and I take as my evidence your posting on this blog and mention of active Church membership. However, it does not flow from this activity that your lifestyle is not sinful.

    I know God can be active in the lives of sinners because He is active in my life and I am a misserable sinner. But I am rescued by Jesus Christ and He will make me a righteous person.

    Phil Snyder

  27. Dennis Says:

    And I believe that I am rescued by Jesus Christ too, and he will make of me as he will. I may act sinfully in my life or my relationship with my partner but you have absolutely no right to call my relationship with my partner inherently sinful. You and I have argued this before over at Fr Jakes and you will not change your opinion. Nor will I. I will continue to believe that your heart is hardened to God and to other Christians and you will think of me what you will. But we used to have a church where we could still worship together. The sad thing is that has now been fractured by the pharisees of the day.

  28. totaltransformation Says:

    The Word (accurate doctrine) should not be compromised- no matter how many people it may please.

    “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear,” 2 Timothy 4:3

    With regard to homosexuality, men (and women) cannot claim to be in communion with God and live in outright rebellion to his word. Rationalize it all you want to make sinful actions seem harmless and acceptable, but a Christians walk should be marked by an aversion to sin- no embracing it.

    I understand that homosexuals can’t be changed, that they will continue to be homosexuals, but acting upon those lusts is sinful. I support Christian brothers who admit they struggle with homosexuality and that it is a sin they can’t give it up. But those who refuse to even consider that what they are doing is sinful- they should be rebuked.

    -J. Kaiser

  29. Andy W. Says:


    In order to be defined as “open and welcoming” is it required that the church re-define what it considers to be sinful behavior? If so, I have to say that the Episcopal Church did not become open and welcoming until quite recently in my 45-year tenure.

    If that is not the definition of “open and welcoming” then you and I may wholeheartedly agree on where the denomination should stand. I am convinced that it should be open to you and me equally, both sinners in need of redemption. It should not affirm any my many sins by calling ANY of them ‘not sin’. Though I might feel more comfortable sitting there without being confronted with my sinful self, in the end it is not a true welcoming.

    Blessings to you, Andy W.

    P.S. I guess pharisee is somewhat better than homophobe.

  30. Doubting Thomas Says:

    Dennis and Phil- fascinating dialogue and a micro view of the debates that have continued for 30 years. Dennis, the arguments from the GLBT faction invoking thoughts of Armageddon for your ’cause’ because of the actions of the Primates invokes the image of ‘chicken little’. No, the sky is not falling on faithful christian homosexuals. The Primates are not Pharisees anymore then homosexuals are all heretics. Your statement that “we used to have a church where we could still worship together” invokes nothing but pity. It’s the same church to which you have always been welcome. If you know longer feel so, look to yourself, not to others.+

  31. Linda in Iowa Says:

    Andy W.,

    I appreciate your prayers very much. And I promise to continue to hold you in mine as well.

    I hear in your question the difficulty I have heard in others who have asked a similar question, though perhaps not as articulately as you have stated it. My heart aches for all those who find change painful or dismaying. It is not my wish, nor intent, to cause anyone pain. However, one needs only to look at the history of the church over the past two millenia to see that its structures, teachings, disciplines and customs have not been static throughout. It is not hard to imagine that changes all along the way have been difficult, even painful, for some. But God is always faithful, even as we stumble around.

    I don’t advocate change for change’s sake — please don’t misunderstand. You raised an important and challenging question – what to do when faced with a change, or even a possible change, which causes distress and/or which you consider wrong. This is not an easy matter, nor should it be. It is important to consider such things very carefully.

    I would suggest that a good course for any of us to follow might be to undertake a serious investigation into the matter, getting past rhetoric, caricature, or prejudgments. In this particular instance, that might mean getting to know some of the “ordinary” same-gender-partnered Christian folk such as Dennis or me or others who have posted here and elsewhere. “By their fruits shall ye know them,” Scripture tells us. Get to know us, and see what fruits we bear — for ill, or for good? As Dennis has said, one can readily find ‘bad examples’ among any group of people (LGBT, straight, male, female, any race, etc.) The trick is not to be fooled into believing that these define the entire group.

    At the same time, a good amount of self-awareness/examination is needed: what are my emotional responses to this idea? where do they come from? what are all the influences which have shaped my thinking about this sort of thing? etc.

    All of this needs to be bathed liberally in prayer, and nourished by the Word and the Sacrament. We must approach one another in great humility, and a willingness to listen, to speak honestly from our own hearts, to admit we might be wrong, to seek forgiveness when we hurt one another, and to grant it when others seek it from us.

    And in all this consideration and discernment, we should take time – often – to be still. Listen for God’s voice. If the change is for ill, I believe God will show us that. If for good, I believe God will show us that as well. And either way, we can follow without fear — which is, after all, the opposite of faith.

    Linda in Iowa

  32. Susan Peterson Says:

    Dennis and Linda,

    What we have here is a clash of radically, fundamentally different world views.

    The traditional Christian worldview believes that God created this world and His intentions can be read from His creation. We also believe that He revealed the Scriptures and we have to conform ourselves to His truth which is revealed there.

    So we read that “Male and Female He created them” and we accept that these are the two categories of human beings, and that they are essentially different but oriented towards each other; woman was made for man. We hear God telling them to be fruitful and multiply and we know that the bringing forth of new human beings is something commanded and blessed by God. We see that males and females are made in a complementary way for sexual union, and that in the ordinary course of events, this results in the birth of new human beings. We believe that the sexual union of a man and a woman is blessed by God with the primary purpose of the birth and raising of children, and a secondary purpose of mutual help and support.

    Even if there were not words in the Scriptures condemning homosexual activity, it would be clear by reason within this world view that such activity does not fulfil the proper end of sex. Two men or two women are not shaped in a complementary way, are not made for each other by God, and can never create a new life together. Such a relationship cannot be Christian marriage, cannot be a sacrament.

    We also believe that the human beings whom God created rebelled against Him, in the event known as the “Fall” of Man. Since then our reflection of the image of God is distorted and there is fundamental disharmony within each human being and in the relationships between human beings. This is original sin, and even after baptism we retain the inclination to sin. We are all tempted to sin, to many kinds of sin. Some are more tempted by one kind of sin, others by other kinds. We are all intrinsically disordered. Our pride and the inclination to strike out to defend ourselves when attacked in words, is intrinsically disordered, and giving in to that inclination is sin. The desire to eat more than is healthy for us is intrinsically disordered, and surrendering to that desire is sin. The quick rush of desire of a man for any attractive woman who walks by is intrinsically disordered, and giving in to it, even only to the point of deliberately prolonging that lustful look, is sin. And among the many many intrinsically disordered inclinations of human beings, is the inclination to engage in sexually stimulating behavior with someone of the same sex (or gender if you prefer) as ourselves. Many people feel this inclination, some only a little bit, and some a lot-just as some people are much more troubled by lust or gluttony than others. However we are tempted, God expects us to resist temptation, gives us help in resisting it when we ask, forgives us when we give in to temptation and then repent.

    In our worldview, there is no such thing as a “gay” person; “homosexual” is not an entity.. There are only men and women, each of whom has his or her own set of besetting sins and temptations, each of whom has his or her own cross to carry. All men and women are called either to marriage or to chaste continence and celibacy. Some women will never meet a man who loves her and wants to marry her. This is a hard lot, a cross to bear, one to be born with God’s help, to be offered to God. (as in the words in the Prayer Book liturgy ‘we offer our selves, our souls and bodies to be a true, perfect and living sacrifice’ ) The lot of a person who cannot feel any sexual desire for a person of the opposite sex, but only for one of the same sex, is similarly difficult. I agree that the difficulty can be aggravated by a feeling of ” Why did God make me this way-is there something wrong with me?” The truth is that there is something, many somethings, wrong with all of us. It would be homophobia to think that what is wrong with people with homosexual inclinations is any worse than what is wrong with the rest of us; it is not.

    This is the world view of historical Christianity. God made men and women for each other and ordained marriage for the procreation and raising of children, for the mutual help and support of a man and a woman, and, indeed, also, for the relief of concupiscence. He did not make men and men or women and women for each other, and no such relationship, no matter how subjectively satisfying, how exemplary in many ways, can be called marriage and can be celebrated as a sacrament. (This business about blessing dogs and warships is not what we are talking about; we are talking about saying a relationship is a sacrament like baptism, like holy orders.)

    It may be that some people who oppose “gay marriage” feel that the besetting sin of homosexual desire is worse than the sins which beset them and feel superior to those with this temptation. They are wrong.
    They may have a need to feel superior; they may be expressing an attitude of their culture.

    However those who are insisting that we must maintain the historical Christian worldview about the meaning of human sexuality are not all speaking from an ingrained cultural attitude. Most of us feel that we have no right to oppose the view of sexuality which is clear in Scripture, which has informed all of Christian tradition, and (for some of us) which is also suppported by reason rooted in natural law philosophy. We don’t have anything against you personally. We are not disgusted by you. We don’t think you are bad people, any more than we are. But we cannot accept your account of yourself, your self identification according to your particular sinful inclination, your belief that your relationships are the equivalent of Christian marriage. We know you feel that way, we hear what you say about how you experience yourself, but it doesn’t square with our root values, our worldview. We start with God, what He has said to us, and we believe that the Scriptures, Christian tradition, (for Catholics the teaching of the church) and reason rooted in the belief in a created and teleological universe, all tell us what God intends for our sexuality.

    You have a very very different worldview. You may think it is different only in a minor point about which we are stubborn, but when you start to reason you will realize that very different assumptions underly your arguments.

    This is why this is not just forward looking people insisting on justice and backwards people being slow to catch up and needing to “listen to your stories” etc etc. so they will understand. We are coming from fundamentally different places.

  33. rwk Says:

    I would remind all that the Anglican Communion did not close off the possibility of change. In part , that is what the listening process is for. Personally, I think the Episcopal Church overreached — out of a sense of justice — but quite frankly ignored the clear call from the rest of the communion to slow down. There was a degree of self-righteousness in those actions and to the global south primates, a certain tinge of American cultural imperialism. When you are part of a Communion you sacrifice your autonomy to that of the whole — that was one of the key teachings in the Windsor Report.

    I personally think the reappraiser/revisionist/progressive (please, feel free to choose your term of choice) advocates in the church have acted in ways over the last 30 years that have shattered the trust of the reassert/traditionalist/conservative (once again). It certainly does not help that +Spong was in the vanguard of this movement and his writings are clearly anti-thetical to historic Christian teaching. It created a situation where the Presiding Bishop could use the “right words” but some just don’t believe her. The “extra-canonical” ordination of women was another issue of breaking trust. Once again, an action taken out of a sense of justice — but unilateral nonetheless.

    For those who will ask…I have gay friends. The GLBT movement has influenced me over the years. My views have evolved. I do believe in equality in the civil sphere — I voted against the marriage amendment in my state, I am less convinced of that in the life of the church. I would hold our leadership to a higher standard, and that includes divorced bishops. I’d be happy to engage in “listening” with any person who is willing to listen to me as well.

    This whole process has been very painful for lots of people. No side has survived this unscarred. We will need time to reflect and heal.

    God Bless You All

  34. Andy W. Says:


    I appreciate your post. Change for change’s sake certainly is not good. Change that needs to be made but is resisted only because it represents change is equally bad. I am completely with you to that point.

    In time with personal contact I am confident I would grow to know and like you quite a lot. [I hope you will understand if I reserve judgment on Dennis for now. His anger may be hiding who he is or revealing who is — I cannot yet tell.] You [and yes Dennis] are my fellow Christians; members of the same body. I like that and welcome that. Does that recognition mean that I must toss aside my views of what Scripture clearly proscribes?

    I think you would like me if you got to know me in person. I am fun, have a quick wit, am reasonably well-read, and can quote sitcoms from the 70’s with ready ease. You should not, however, be willing to except [correct spelling] my sins from what you know are proscribed by Scripture just because I (an otherwise great guy) commits them. I will tell you that I am guilty of some doozies, in the past and ongoing. Yet the fruits that are evident from my life testify to a very gracious God; 4 terrific kids and other blessings this blog is not big enough to record.

    When I recognize my sin, I struggle to repair what I have wrought but I still fail. If I did not have the standards of Scripture to keep me coming back to the path (that is, to help me recognize that I have strayed, on what do I rely? I believe that Jesus loves me as much as He loves you. I believe He died on the Cross because I am not good enough to earn the grace without him. I still believe with all my soul that He and His Father demand that I strive to turn away from my sins, even with the gift of grace.

    The real kicker, Linda: if I was behaving in a way that your reading of Scripture taught you was sinful would you be showing me more love by saying, “It’s okay, Andy, God still loves you and so do I” or by saying, “Andy, don’t you think you can do more to attain the standards Scripture holds for us? But it’s okay if you don’t get there because God still loves you and so do I”.

    Hard issues but well worth wrestling with together.

  35. Linda in Iowa Says:

    Susan Peterson,

    As I am neither a Roman Catholic nor a biologist, I will not attempt to engage in an analysis of “nature” or natural law. I would only make a fool of myself, and I can do that easily enough on a daily basis.

    I do want to clarify one thing, though: I’m not talking about marriage as a sacrament. I’m far too “Protestant” for that! 🙂 (For the record, I only regard Baptism and Eucharist as sacraments.)

    Most of all, I want to say this: as baptized Christians, you and I are sisters, not by our own choosing, but by God’s. I will not presume to pronounce you or your life as “evil” or “disordered” and respectfully request that you refrain from doing so about mine. As they say in the civil service, that decision is made far above our pay grade.

    You are my sister in Christ, and I am yours. We can choose to treat one another lovingly or not. I believe God will be more pleased, and our witness to Christ improved, if we behave lovingly, no matter what disagreements we may have. I appreciate the calm tone of your post; you are correct that we are not in agreement about everything you wrote. But you are my sister, and I am yours. I believe you are faithful. I hope that you believe that I am as well. I do not wish to quarrel with you, nor to try to win some kind of debate. I wish for us all to drop our weapons, beat them into plowshares, seek one another’s forgiveness for the hurt and harm we have caused, and let go of our fears.


  36. Andy W. Says:


    I am off to assist with delivery of mounds of Girl Scout Cookies (my assistance consists of staying out of the way and keeping the rest of the kids away as well). I am glad to have met you and am glad we are in the Body together.

    In Christ, Andy

  37. Birds31 Says:

    Is this a gay blog Yuk

  38. Gawain de Leeuw Says:

    Phil, scripture does not bless: people do. They do because they have authority to do so. I bless cars and restaurants, and there is no warrant for that.

    I do so because God has described the fruits of the spirit: self-control, charity, generosity etc. It seems to me that if someone is living out their life in such a way, that they understand God’s blessing.

    What you offer isn’t celibacy – which is actually a gift from God. As Paul noted, it is better to marry or burn.

  39. JCF Says:

    …and yet another blog will discover the *imperative* for MODERATION! ;-/


    On-topic (I’m actually very concerned w/ what +Christopher wrote, particularly about Bp. MacPherson believing TEC has a “new religion”. Say wha??):

    It never ceases to amaze me, that conservative anti-gay (-affirming) Christians don’t seem able to speak in “I statements”. As if, they know that their argument wouldn’t have a SHRED of persuasiveness to it, if it were “I think…” “I believe…” “In my opinion…”

    Instead, it’s always “2000 years of unbroken Christian tradition teaches” “We who hold to biblical morality have always insisted” “Lambeth 1.10 is none other than what the Anglican Communion has always believed” yada-yada-yada.


    C’mon, speak in “I Statements”!

    If your logic holds—if you’re really teaching from “Scripture, Tradition and Reason”—then even the most pig-headed “reappraiser”/”same-sex lust-besot sinner” will be able to recognize your wisdom, based on *your* authority alone.

    But if not, NO AMOUNT of “The Church has always taught” (i.e., “God’s on MY side!”) is going to make a difference in bringing us TEC apostates around to your side.

    A blessed Lent to all—

  40. Linda in Iowa Says:

    I hope that Bishop Epting will post an answer to the question raised near the beginning of the thread about whether anyone spoke for the faithful LGBT members of TEC. If no one did, I will be very sad indeed. We are the ones being asked to bear a great burden — a greater burden than others, in my opinion — by the Primates. I hope that someone spoke for us there.

    Back in my days in the ELCA – where similar disagreements are also taking place — I remember hearing a heterosexual ally suggest that all those (presumed) heterosexuals seeking to enjoin celibacy involuntarily on their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters, should graciously “go first” and show everyone else how it’s done. Tongue in cheek, but it made a point. It seems somewhat presumptuous to me for any of us to demand a different, more stringent, standard for another than we might be willing to take on for ouselves.

    Tomorrow, we begin the Lenten journey. On the lectors’ rota in my congregation, it is my turn to read. The passage I will be reading is from Isaiah 58. It includes these words: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” It will be my prayer that I might offer to God the fast God chooses, and that the Church will do so as well. The passage assures us: “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually….”

    Peace be with you all

  41. Phil Snyder Says:

    Bishop Epting,

    On Titus One Nine and on Drell’s Descants, they employ a wordpress (I believe it is WordPress) feature that asks a simple math question. This eliminates spam comments. I’m sure that either Mr. Drell or Canon Harmon would be glad to share what they know about this feature.

    Now, on to the topic.

    Gawain: Can you bless a divorce? How about blessing a war? Can you bless a theft or adultery or a sexual orgy? I submit that you don’t have the authority to bless these things because they are not in God’s will. Divorce or war may be the best option available in a situation, but that is because all the other options are worse than these. But you still can’t bless them.

    I submit that homosexual unions are in the same category. It is better for a homosexual man to live in a life long union with another homosexual man than it is to be sexually promiscous. But it is best to live a celibate life. That is the teaching “as this Church as received it.” It is what the Church as always taught and if I am in error, then please show me – citing scriptural or traditional authority.

    Phil Snyder

  42. Alex Milner Says:

    Hi Linda,

    Didn’t the Primates hear from a delegation from TEC (which included Susan Russell, from memory) specifically to hear the basis for the TEC’s actions at one of their previous meetings? Remember too that this was a meeting of all the Primates, including a number of quite liberal Primates – so I think we can assume that a full range of perspectives were canvassed (but I’m still interested in Bishop Epting’s response here too!).

    You wrote: “It seems somewhat presumptuous to me for any of us to demand a different, more stringent, standard for another than we might be willing to take on for ouselves.”

    With respect, does this argument take you very far? Each of us have different kinds of temptations (of differing intensity) – but that doesn’t make giving into temptation any less a sin (cf James 1:13-15). There isn;t a different standard – it’s the same one: perfection in Christ.

    One of the great things about Jesus is that he knows what it’s like to be tempted and to suffer:

    “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:17-18)

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)

    Hi JCF,

    I think there’d be plenty of people willing to set out the basis for the orthodox position on human sexuality (hopefully persuasively!). But can you give me some help here and let me know what your starting framework is? Is it “Scripture, Tradition and Reason” or something else (eg Scripture first)? If I know this then we’ve got a starting point for discussion.

    Kind regards

  43. Gawain Says:

    Phil, that you so easily compare a promise between two men to a divorce, war, a theft or adultery or a sexual orgy merely demonstrates that you don’t think much of gay men.

    it may be best to live a celibate life, but this also goes for straight people. We expect straight people to make a promise and keep it. Why do the rules change for homosexuals?

    You also, of course, assume that church teaching – simply because it is old – is always correct teaching. You might want to check teaching about usury or the sabbath, both of which are circumscribed fairly rigorously. Still, we have chosen to modify them for our own benefit.

    I have cited scriptural authority: it is better to marry or to burn, as Paul said. Second, the criteria for blessing is if it, we believe, will follow the fruits of the spirit. Your response is that only celibacy is blessed, it seems.

    Scripture, of course, also affirms that the earth is the center of the universe. It is fairly consistent about this. There is little scriptural authority for any other view. Still, we adhere to a different view, one which the church resisted. that you need scriptural authority demonstrates a stubborness, an unwillingness to use your own mind. who do YOU say Jesus is, is far more important than who Peter said Jesus is. In the end, you have to make up your own mind.

  44. Alex Milner Says:

    Dear Gawain,

    I think you are being quite unfair to Phil (remember that your examples were blessing “cars and a restaurant” for which you claimed to have some authority). Phil’s quite right to ask whether you believe your “authority” extends to “blessing” things that God doesn’t approve of (surely the answer is “No”).

    Is it correct to say that you see both Scripture and “Tradition” in favour of Phil’s position, but you believe your take on “Reason” trumps the rest? That’s how I read you response.

    Kind regards

  45. rob roy Says:

    To answer Fred:

    Our parish would not endorse a non-celibate homosexual or heterosexual for ordination (the diocese does the rest of the ordaining process). It does not bless heterosexual or homosexual non-married unions. It does define marriage as between a man and a woman. It does welcome all baptized sinners (myself included) to the altar for communion.

    To answer Dennis:

    As for this very tired concept of homophobia and my being “scared” of homosexuals: A phobia is a psychological term for an persistent and irrational fear. The term homophobia is just a poorly veiled ad hominem attack on those that disagree with the homosexual political machinery.

    What does scare me is the collapse of the institution of the Episcopal church. I have long argued that only in the TEC, of all the protestant denominations, is the path to the holy and merciful God so well laid out. I have never wanted to “take off my sandals for this is holy ground” in any other denomination’s church. But Sunday after Sunday, I do feel the urge because of the combination of the beautiful music and liturgy (which I resist out of respect for my sharers of the pew!).

    I would ask Dennis to “get a grip.” KJS oversaw an 8.47% drop in the average Sunday attendance over her three year tenure of the diocese in the fastest growing state of the union. If she brings that kind of “leadership” to the national level (and all evidence so far suggests that she is) then my fear for the ready demise of the TEC could not be described as a phobia.

    The crisis is the TEC is a direct result of the homosexual community trying to ram their political agenda down the throats of the majority and disenfranchise those who disagree with them. We have always had homosexual side (Malcolm Boyd, Spong, etc.) as well as the conservative side with the middle roaders benefitting from dialogue. In the past 10 years, the left has gained the political hand and forced out the conservatives voices, howling “Schismatics” as they go. Now because of the heavy handedness of the left, the middle roaders are saying “enough.” It is interesting to note that Susan Russell of integrity is threatening to break away now (see transcript of interview of her and Kendall Harmon at the PBS website.) Will the TEC sue her when she does? What about the cry of schismatics then?

  46. rwk Says:

    Gawain, I would disagree. It is God who blesses and curses. I turn your attention to Balak and Balaam in Numbers. Blessings and curses are under the authority of God, not man. That is the dispute here, whether the Word of God blesses same-sex unions or not. I have always disagreed with blessing things which God has not blessed in scripture — be they pets or battleships.

    May God Bless Us All

  47. ecubishop Says:

    Thanks for (most of!) the comments above. Shall we give it a rest on Ash Wednsday and focus our next conversation on either my Ash Wednesday reflections (coming later today) or my next post on the Primates’ meeting?
    The Ecubishop

  48. totaltransformation Says:

    A very interesting discussion. Took me almost half an hour to read through all this.

    -J. Kaiser

  49. CaNN :: We started it. Says:

    […] +EPTING BLOGS on Primates meeting … […]

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