Reconciliation Sought & Denied? by Michael W. Hopkins, Integrity
- CALLED OUT
Note: "A Response from Integrity USA to the Bishops' Statement" is
See also: "AAC Declines Invitation to Participate in Diocese of Los
Angeles "Conversation" on Sexuality"
and an ENS News Brief that follows Hopkins' statement below
Reconciliation Sought & Denied?
By the Rev. Michael W. Hopkins, President, Integrity
In a speech on November 8, 2002, at the Claiming the Blessing
conference in St. Louis, I said, speaking to conservatives in the
"Liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists, must
learn to live together in this Church or there will be no Church in
which for us to live. But learning to live together must mean
'mutual deference' not moratoriums or some insistence that we all
convert to being 'moderates.' . . . Let us commit ourselves to
finding very way possible to move forward with our debate without
threatening either schism or purge. It is simply not necessary for
us to do so. As the President of Integrity, I am willing to sit down
with the President of the American Anglican Council and discuss ways
we can proceed with the debate about our differences without tearing
each other down or apart. Preferably our respective media officers
should be present as well."
I did not use the word "reconciliation" in my remarks, but
reconciliation is what they are seeking. Reconciliation is a move
towards unity under the grace of God. I believe it is a requirement
of those who live under the Gospel when the find themselves at
variance. I do not believe that reconciliation need produce
uniformity, but uniformity and unity have never been the same thing.
Reconciliation is primarily about mutual respect and mutual
deference. It was a state of "mutual deference" that I was seeking
in my remarks.
It is our desire in both Integrity and the Claiming the Blessing
collaborative to find a way to live together in the Episcopal Church
and the Anglican Communion with mutual deference. We want to find a
way to do so without creating "winners and losers." It is why we
have offered compromise on the issue of blessing same-sex unions,
widening the issue so that it is not simply about "sexual
orientation" and, more importantly, asking for the development of a
rite that is clearly optional.
By December 2002 I had received communication from the President of
the AAC suggesting that such a meeting were possible after the
holidays and his own retirement as rector of a parish in the Diocese
of Los Angeles in late January 2003.
In February 2003, the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints', Pasadena,
California (and a member o the CTB Steering Committee), received a
call from the Rev. Canon Brian Cox, rector of Christ the King, Santa
Barbara, California, and a member of the Diocese of Los Angeles
Reconciliation Team. Canon Cox stated that he had been in
conversation with the leadership of the AAC as to how this
conversation might be facilitated. He suggested a conference along
the lines of the New Commandment Task Force conferences held around
the 2000 General Convention hosted by the Diocese of Los Angeles'
team. The Rev. Susan Russell, Executive Director of CTB, followed up
with Canon Cox and CTB agreed to participate in such a conference,
understanding that the AAC and possibly others were desirous of it.
On March 22, 2003, Integrity issued a Statement in response to the
House of Bishop's Theology Committee's paper on the ongoing sexuality
debate in the Church. In it, we referenced the upcoming
reconciliation conference as a real step forward in the Church.
On March 24, 2003, CTB leadership received an e-mail from the Very
Rev. David Anderson, President of the AAC, stating that it was not
the case that AAC was coming to such a meeting. They had been
invited, but in fact had decided not to come. On March 30, 2003, the
contents of this e-mail were made public by the AAC.
The heart of Dean Anderson's message was the following paragraph:
"The points of view espoused by CTB and the AAC are not themselves
reconcilable, nor are they capable of both being right or true. Most
of us have been in dialogue with one another in some capacity or
another for years and both sides are beyond believing that one more
story or theological point or Bible verse will change the other's
mind. The point comes down to how will we live together, and on
It has been clear to us from the start (including my own intentions
from the initial call in November 2002) that this is precisely the
point. This is the work of reconciliation that must be done. This
is the work of reconciliation that Integrity and CTB want to do. Of
course, the "points of view" are "not themselves reconcilable." But
Dean Anderson seems to be saying that reconciliation is therefore not
possible. We do not believe that. Opposing points of view about
such extraordinarily central things to our tradition as the doctrine
of the Eucharist have been able to exist in our tradition in a state
of mutual deference. Why is that not the case now with this issue?
CTB remains committed to seeking reconciliation, a way to live
together in mutual deference and respect. We believe that this
commitment offers hope for the future of the Church. We are going
ahead with the reconciliation conference and invite conservatives and
moderates from around the Church to join us. We ask our AAC
colleagues to reconsider their decision, which, we believe, offers
only the paradigm of winners and losers and continued hopeless,
struggle for doctrinal purity in a Church that has always resisted
such a state of being.
The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Rector, St. George's Episcopal Church, Glenn Dale, MD
301-262-3285; Fax: 301-262-0666
From the Episcopal News Service:
Conservative groups praise theology committee's 'Gift of Sexuality'
(ENS) The American Anglican Council (AAC) and Episcopalians United
for Reformation, Renewal and Reformation (EURRR) welcomed the final
report of the theology committee of the House of Bishops, urging the
2003 General Convention not to pass legislation sanctioning the
development of blessing ceremonies for gay and lesbian relationships.
"Though we don't agree with every element of this report, it is
apparent that the bishops have offered measured and thoughtful
recommendations intended to prevent schism in both the Episcopal
Church and Anglican Communion," said the AAC president, the Very Rev.
David C. Anderson, in a statement released March 27. "We find many of
the suggestions helpful in moving the Episcopal Church toward unity
and we appreciate the hard work put in by the committee."
"The strong affirmation by both the Theology Committee and the House
of Bishops that we are part of the world-wide Anglican Communion is
what Episcopalians United has worked toward for almost a decade,"
said the Rev. Todd H. Wetzel, executive director of Episcopalians
United. "The coalition we have built among bishops from Africa, the
Southern Cone and Asia has been a work of great joy and has finally
shown fruit. I thank God that the bishops of the Episcopal Church in
the USA are finally ready to acknowledge their interdependence on the
mind of the Communion. Any other action would have produced chaos in
our church and certainly, more schism."
Anderson noted that the AAC had not officially agreed to participate
in a "national reconciliation conversation" between members of the
Claiming the Blessing coalition, including Integrity, and members of
conservative groups, set for May 7-10 at St. James Episcopal Church
in Wilshire, California. Episcopalians United also declined an
invitation. "Reconciliation is the act of a penitent. There is
nothing penitent about the stance of Claiming the Blessing or
Integrity. They know what they want and they want it now, regardless
of the price," Wetzel remarked.
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