Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Inclusive Church Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Inclusive Church has today issued this Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Inclusive Church
St John’s Vicarage
Secker St
London SE1 8UF

An open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States
815 Second Avenue
New York
NY 10017

09 June 2010

Dear Bishop Katharine,

We rejoice that in your Pentecost Letter the Episcopal Church has reaffirmed its strong affirmation of gay and lesbian people as part of God’s good creation and your continued commitment to recognising, led by the Spirit, that God is calling and fitting gay and lesbian people to be ordained leaders of the Church.

We regret that the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested in his letter to the Anglican Communion that The Episcopal Church should not be a participant in Ecumenical Dialogue on behalf of the Communion and should serve only as consultants on IASCUFO. The Archbishop may experience ecumenical partners saying they “need to know who it is they are talking to” but our experience is of ecumenical partners saying we are carrying forward this difficult discernment process for the whole church, that they have similar or more contentious issues to deal with themselves, and that they are appreciative of the open way we are facing this issue.

We do not support the Archbishop’s position that only those in agreement with the majority view can be participants as Anglicans in ecumenical dialogue or for that matter any other representative body of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, the Episcopal Church’s diligence in undertaking “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research” with gay and lesbian people, as resolved at the 1978 Lambeth Conference, and in upholding their human rights, as emphasised at the 1988 Lambeth Conference, has been in marked contrast to the position of other provinces whose status as representative participants is unchallenged. We ask you to have the courage, commitment and humility to “remain at the table” not just until you are asked to leave but indeed until the table is removed from you. We recognise this is asking you to be in an uncomfortable place but the self-denial being asked of you is not for a gracious withdrawal but a silencing of voices that need to be heard.

The 1979 Anglican Consultative Council Resolution on Human Rights specifically called on member churches “to rigorously assess their own structures, attitudes and modes of working to ensure the promotion of human rights within them, and to seek to make the church truly an image of God’s just Kingdom and witness in today’s world”. In 1990 the ACC resolution on Christian Spirituality urged “every Diocese in our Communion to consider how through its structures it may encourage its members to see that a true Christian spirituality involves a concern for God’s justice in the world, particularly in its own community”. We recognise that developments in the life of the Episcopal Church have been in line with and, in part, a response to this call.

In 2005 The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council. Inclusive Church appealed to you not to accede to this request. We argued that The Anglican Consultative Council, consisting of Bishops, Clergy and Laity is currently the most representative body in the Anglican Communion; were you to withdraw your participation it would no longer be a fully representative body. It is our belief that your actions, taken in response to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian people and the justice of their claim to full participation in the life of the church, do not justify the breaking of “the bonds of communion” or any moves to exclude you from the conciliar life of the Communion. On the contrary it means you bring to the Anglican Consultative Council experience and counsel that would otherwise be absent and without which the Anglican Communion can not progress to a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding sexuality or ever achieve reconciliation.

We hold to that view still today and ask that you resist this process of excluding those Provinces of the Communion most committed to the visible inclusion of all Anglicans in the life of the Church. This process and the proposed Anglican Covenant are not building unity, they are turning disagreement into institutionalised disunity - even inventing mechanisms of exclusion to facilitate the process.

To agree to a voluntary self exclusion would not be to agree to a self- denying ordinance for the good of the whole. Gay Anglicans are part of the Anglican Communion in every province. Some are facing persecution by their own churches because of their courageous witness. By remaining at the table, the Episcopal Church has the opportunity to remind those who serve on representative bodies of their existence and to raise their voice. We ask that you resist this misguided process that is formally excluding those who speak for people the Communion should urgently be seeking to include.

Yours sincerely,
Canon Giles Goddard
Chair, Inclusive Church

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 2:37pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA | InclusiveChurch

Thank you, Inclusive Church! I hope that ++Katharine gets many more letters in this vein, from individuals and justice organizations on both sides of the pond.

Can anyone on TA say when the next scheduled meetings for these bodies are?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 3:12pm BST

To Inclusive Church. As a member of Inclusive Church I thank you for your letter, and join in your plea that both the American amd Canadian Anglicans remain at the table. For their sake, and sake of all those in the Communion who share their understanding.
It is time for all like minded Anglicans to stand up against the action of the ABC, and his coherts.
We have communion with our Anglican bretheren in America, Canada and the members of the Porvoo churches.

Let us stand together for inclusiveness, and Christian charity and love.

Fr John (Scotland)

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 3:30pm BST

Letters like this and groups like IC give one nore hope and encouragment.

(Williams is such a disappointment poor man)

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 4:23pm BST

I am sure that the majority of Church of England members would support the sentiments expressed in this marvellous letter.

Posted by: Rev Sidney Jensen on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 4:25pm BST

¨Let us stand together for inclusiveness, and Christian charity and love¨ Fr. John E. Harris

Exactamente! Time to say no to the marginalizing, outcasting, demonizing and the initiating of crimes of hate against LGBT Anglicans/others at The Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 5:37pm BST

Thank you for this!

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 5:53pm BST

Thank you Inclusive Church for this insightful and quite beautiful letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. I hope some bishops in England will follow through and write some supportive letters as well.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 6:41pm BST

I also appreciate Inclusive Church's support of PB Schori's efforts. But, it was two letters. One was thanking the PB and asking her to remain firm and steadfast. The other was using the first as a vehicle to condemn some of the ABC's actions. Why didn't they simply write two open letters? One to the PB, the other to the ABC?

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 7:37pm BST

I thought that Rev Sidney Jensen's fab blog needed a puff - I haven't laughed so much in ages

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 7:51pm BST

Thank you Mr Pemberton for your comment about my deadly-serious writings.

Posted by: Rev Sidney Jensen on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 10:54pm BST

I love the Rev. Jensen's photo of Canon Sugden.

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 2:43am BST

This letter from 'Inclusive Church' is testimony to the regard in which Bishop Katharine and TEC is held by many Anglicans around the Communion. We in New Zealand are hoping to welcome her amongst us soon. The more Provinces that are open to her visitation, the better understanding there will be of the true position of our American Episcopal sisters and brothers about all aspects of mission - not only those to do with gender and sexuality.
I hope the ABC at least asks her to Afternoon Tea.

May God richly bless Katharine's ministry.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 11:11am BST

Canadian Anglican.

Remember that ABC can only ask us to withdraw. (And remember, he really only speaks for the Church of England: not that of Ireland or Wales even.) It's not in his power to make us either join or withdraw because as Anglicans we de facto have a place at the table because of who are are.

What he can do though is to ask us to stop pitching our funding into the pot, and he can say that England can carry it on its own.

Given the needs right here at home in North America, I await such a request from ABC.

Perhaps Nigeria and Uganda will be willing to step up to the plate and help out.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 9:28am BST
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