Thursday, 2 July 2015

Twenty bishops dissent from Episcopal Church marriage actions

Twenty bishops of the Episcopal Church have issued a statement dissenting from the recent actions of the General Convention in passing resolutions A036 and A054.

News report from The Living Church here: The Salt Lake City Statement

Full text of the statement is copied below the fold. A PDF version is available here.

Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolutions A036 and A054, has made a significant change in the Church’s understanding of Christian marriage. As bishops of the Church, we must dissent from these actions.

We affirm Minority Report #1, which was appended to the text of Resolution A036:

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage, as traditionally understood by Christians, are summed up in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:

“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, p. 423)

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman. The promises and vows of marriage presuppose husband and wife as the partners who are made one flesh in marriage. This understanding is a reasonable one, as well as in accord with Holy Scripture and Christian tradition in their teaching about marriage.

When we were ordained as bishops in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God” (BCP, p. 518). We renew that promise; and in light of the actions of General Convention, and of our own deep pastoral and theological convictions, we pledge ourselves to

  • “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The bonds created in baptism are indissoluble, and we share one bread and one cup in the Eucharist. We are committed to the Church and its people, even in the midst of painful disagreement.
  • “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When we disagree with the Church’s actions, we will do so openly and transparently and — with the Spirit’s help — charitably. We are grateful that Resolution A054 includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience; but we realize at the same time that we have entered a season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow. We pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and, at the same time, to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.
  • “Welcome one another … just as Christ has welcomed [us]” (Rom. 15:7). Our commitment to the Church includes a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We will walk with them, pray with and for them, and seek ways to engage in pastoral conversation. We rejoice that Jesus’ embrace includes all of us.

We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.

We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 2 July 2015 at 10:17pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Interesting to see who is in that list and who voted no.

Posted by: Amanda Clark on Thursday, 2 July 2015 at 10:48pm BST

Given the vote - 173-27, with the House of Bishops voting 129-26 Tuesday, with five abstentions, the twenty are both insignificant and might even be accused of sour grapes. Why does the right wing think that the Holy Spirit cannot work through a democratic process? I'm certain that had the vote gone the other way, they'd have had no problem.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 1:05am BST


Posted by: Dennis Roberts on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 4:12am BST

I am just a far away ancient Australian Episcopalian - priest in a Church that is in communion with Canterbury and the US Episcopal. I am conservative culturally (e.g. with regard to the use of traditional BCP liturgy or our constitutional monarchy or classical education) but otherwise am a broad, theologically and Biblically liberal churchman, not homophobic, and not opposed to legal, civil partnerships. Nonetheless, I certainly agree with these bishops (and with the minority reports of the US judges)and I hope the bishops' words and wisdom will be pondered.

Posted by: John Bunyan on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 4:59am BST

That's what I call a score.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 6:03am BST

Usual suspects. I really despise living in Reactionary Hate Land.

Posted by: Mark Brunson on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 6:25am BST

JohnB, I'm sorry, but you cannot block the altar to Christian couples who wish to ***MARRY***, and at the same time say you are "not homophobic". It's 2015, and you have to choose one or the other. Let your yes be "Yes" or your no be "No".

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 8:04am BST

What does this mean in practice? Can these bishops stop church marriages in their dioceses?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 9:26am BST

So, JCF, what do you say to my Christian gay friends, indeed couples in civil partnerships, who remain implacably opposed to redefining Christian marriage and are happy to celebrate difference??? By your definition at 8.04am

"JohnB, I'm sorry, but you cannot block the altar to Christian couples who wish to ***MARRY***, and at the same time say you are "not homophobic". It's 2015, and you have to choose one or the other."

you seem to be defining them as homophobic and therefore self-loathing.

Posted by: John F. on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 11:32am BST

The term 'Communion Partners' as used by the dissenting bishop, by the content of their statement, can surely only refer to their alliance wih the GAFCON Bishops and not to the rest of the Anglican Communion provinces.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 1:27pm BST

Here is the tally of Bishops' Roll Call vote on A036

Posted by: Ann on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 2:52pm BST

"Homophobic" means "fearful of homosexuals" so it is nonsense to say that one must be either that or a supporter of "gay marriage". If I am the only one who expresses a dissenting voice on this site, nonetheless I am in line with the largest and most active member Churches of the Anglican Communion and with the vast majority of the world's Christians, let alone orthodox Jews, and Muslims. But one correction to what I posted : the Anglican Church of Australia is formally in communion with the Church of England but I think that its Constitution makes no reference to the Anglican Communion nor to other Anglican Churches. In practice, my very large Diocese of Sydney (whose overwhelmingly Conservative Evangelical position I myself do not share) recognises "the Anglican Church in North America" rather than the Episcopal Church. And there is no possibility of the Church of Australia ever approving the action of the US General Convention. One can only be saddened by the schisms among American Episcopalians not least in South Carolina and Charleston (which I have visited more than once), suffering from the recent tragic killings.

Posted by: John Bunyan on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 4:50pm BST

"you seem to be defining them as homophobic and therefore self-loathing"


It's one thing not to want something for yourself, it's quite another to insist that people who desperately want it should be prevented from having it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 5:22pm BST

"So, JCF, what do you say to my Christian gay friends, indeed couples in civil partnerships, who remain implacably opposed to redefining Christian marriage and are happy to celebrate difference???" John F

I think the expression you might be looking for is 'dog in a manger'.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 6:33pm BST

@JohnF ooh a gotcha! that'll teach us LGBTs who the *real* bigots are!

Posted by: Amanda Clark on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 6:44pm BST

I don't know what JCF would say, but I'd say:
No one is going to force you to get married. Why should you try to force others not to?

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 3 July 2015 at 9:13pm BST

Oh and John Bunyan, "homophobia" means more than just fear of us. The term was coined by George Weinberg in the 1960s, and he said that he most definitely meant it to include predjudice based attempts to restrict civil rights. Which would include not recognizing our rights to equal marriage. It is a fifty year old word that is based on Greek root words, not an Ancient Greek or Koine Greek word. Arguing about such a well defined and well understood word, coined to describe those who oppose equal rights, based only on the root word meanings is rather silly.

Posted by: Dennis Roberts on Saturday, 4 July 2015 at 2:15am BST

John Bunyan, it might behoove you to look at the vast numbers of bishops and deputies who voted FOR inclusive, sacramental marriage and take a more humble view. This "minority report" from the 20 dissenters, many of them retired, is hardly a work of brilliant theological insight.

Is it homophobic to oppose inclusion? If you really unpack it and see how unhealthful the anti-gay rhetoric is, it's hard to escape. LGBTQ teen suicide, hate crimes, discrimination and depression... The "minority report" writers, and their supporters, seem quite callous to the suffering LGBTQ people.

So I'll add barbaric attitudes towards gay people as another reason to skip Australia.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 4 July 2015 at 3:56am BST

Someone counted up the active bishops within the US, there are only 9.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 4 July 2015 at 9:57pm BST

Having just seen the photos of the first same sex marriage posted by the Danish Church in London on Facebook( one of those married was the son of a Lutheran minister) it would seem our communion partners in the Porvoo Communion seem less riven by this issue than us.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 6 July 2015 at 8:11am BST

Just for accuracy's sake: GAFCON understands itself as the sponsor of ACNA.

The Communion Partners Bishops are not in ACNA.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 6 July 2015 at 4:21pm BST

No, cseitz, but perhaps that's where their orchestrated opposition to their own Church, TEC, should logically place them! Would it not be more logical of them to support ACNA by actually joining them. Just asking.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 6 July 2015 at 10:07pm BST

Accuracy still matters.

The Global South and the Communion Partners are the more obvious pairing.

Gafcon distinguishes itself from the Global South as a whole.

You keep associating all conservatives in TEC with Gafcon. This makes no sense. If they are in TEC, they have chosen not to be in ACNA and are defending what they understand as the faith and practice of TEC as set forth in the BCP and Constitution.

ACNA has its own c/c and prayer book, as I understand it.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 3:43pm BST

re the last comment of cseitz; the 'Communion Partners' may very well be defending what they understand to have been the former stance of TEC on matters of human gender and sexuality BUT the prophetic call to liberate TEC from traditional sexism and homophobia has now been accepted by the rank and file of TEC marking that Church out as a beacon for the liberation of its adherents from perceived endemic prejudice and injustice. Deo gratias!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 11:25pm BST
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