Anglican Primates’ Meeting II

When I left the “pre meeting” of the Anglican Primates in Tanzania, I was encouraged because the Joint Standing Committee had deemed the Episcopal Church’s General Convention response to the Windsor Report adequate — the one exception being a lack of clarity on the status of the blessing of same-sex unions. General Convention has not authorized such blessings, but they are being done in some dioceses.

I also felt that the four of us from the Episcopal Church — Bishops MacPherson, Duncan, Jefferts Schori and I — had done a reasonable job of laying out before the Primates the breadth of opinion in the Episcopal Church on the matter of homosexuality and whether it should, or should not, be a church-dividing issue among us. When I learned that the Primates’ meeting had moved on to talk about theological education in the Communion, the Millenium Development Goals, and a “hermeneutics project” (studying the various methods of interpreting Scripture), I was encouraged that we might finally be getting on with the mission of the Church, for a change!

However, it now seems clear to me that the Global South Primates (and this is a recognizable and self-identified group, not some generic term to include everyone who lives south of the equator!) had come with their own bottom-line and were simply waiting until the formulation of the final Communique to hold the rest of the Primates hostage to their agenda.

So we now have a proposal for a “Pastoral Council” (the majority of which would be appointed by Primates outside the Episcopal Church) to work with disaffected congregations and dioceses in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church.   And we have a request for the House of Bishops to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention” and “confirm that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consents.”

We will now take those requests under advisement, at least initially, I assume, at our Executive Council meeting next week and at the House of Bishops meeting in March. I hope we will take the requests seriously and find a way forward, but I have to say they are hugely problemmatic! To give such authority to a Pastoral Council which is a totally extra-canonical body made up of those not subject to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church seems very dangerous to me.

And, while I would hope the House of Bishops could agree to a covenant not to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges (while preserving the right of pastoral provisions to minister to gay and lesbian people as the Windsor Report itself allows), I would guess there will be bishops and dioceses who will not agree to this. Therefore, we are set up for some kind of vote which will divide and not unite us. Once again.

I also believe it is unnecessary, and unhelpful,  for the House of Bishops to begin “confirming” or re-affirming actions of General Convention. We have passed B033. All that remains is for us to live up to its provisions. So far, we have.

It seems to me that the development of an Anglican Covenant is still the best way for us to define the Communion for the future and stay together. We are committed to that process, but it will take time to develop and to get the necessary buy-in across the Communion. In my view, the Primates are trying to function as though that Covenant was already in place and its provisions agreed to. 

Join me in this Lenten season of “prayer, fasting, and self-denial” for the gifts of wisdom and discernment across our Church in the days and months ahead.

3 Responses to “Anglican Primates’ Meeting II”

  1. Linda in Iowa Says:

    Is anyone at 815 talking TO gay and lesbian Episcopalians, rather than just ABOUT us? I wonder if anyone there understands the depth of pain and terrifying sense of betrayal so many of us are feeling.

    I was drawn to the Episcopal Church (from the ELCA) in great part because I was exhausted from years of being treated as an “issue” or “problem” rather than as a child of God. I thought I had found blessed relief, and a place in which my faith would be nurtured and I would be both challenged and supported to grow. Now I feel as though I’m standing on the edge of quicksand and am about to sucked downward all over again. I don’t know if I can go through this again.

    Please – please – LISTEN to the pain being caused. Please don’t turn your backs on us, and relegate us to the “back pew” (a la the “back of the bus”). Please don’t treat our humanity as a negotiable item.

    We are your sisters and your brothers. Please don’t turn your backs on us.

  2. rwkachur Says:

    Linda, I have waited a couple of days to respond to your plea. I am struck by the loneliness of not only your request but the lack of any response to it. I would be happy to listen to you and would hope you were willing to listen to me as well.

    A Brother in Christ,

    rwkachur@hotmail.com

  3. ecubishop Says:

    Linda:

    The Presiding Bishop held an open session with a couple of hundred staff persons on Friday Feb. 23 immediately upon her return from Tanzania. We heard from a number of gay people — ordained and lay. Their pain, and even sense of betrayal, was palpable. Bishop Jefferts Schoria assured them, and us, of the continued love and pastoral care of this church, even as we all try to work our way through all this. I know these are not easy times, and I am sorry…for so many.

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