Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

ECUSA House of Bishops: A Statement, September 25, 2007

Expand Messages
  • umcornet
    House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church New Orleans, Louisiana September 25, 2007 A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
      New Orleans, Louisiana
      September 25, 2007

      A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion
      Partners:

      In accordance with Our Lord's high priestly prayer that we be one, and
      in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and
      in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make
      disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as
      a sign of the Holy Spirit's ongoing work of reconciliation throughout
      the world, we offer the following to The Episcopal Church, the
      Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger
      Communion, with the hope of "mending the tear in the fabric" of our
      common life in Christ.


      "I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its
      blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:23.


      Introduction

      The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the
      Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee
      of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting
      our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have
      both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was
      a living reminder of the unity that is Christ's promised gift in the
      power of the Holy Spirit.

      Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our
      relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful
      listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed
      our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction
      that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard
      from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

      The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican
      Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward
      next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal
      Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership
      among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore
      necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and
      the General Convention.


      Summary

      * We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006
      (The Election Of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and
      Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the
      consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life
      presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further
      strains on communion."
      * We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the
      blessing of same-sex unions.
      * We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.
      * We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited
      bishops and call for them to end.
      * We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide
      consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and
      Canons.
      * We call for increasing implementation of the listening process
      across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
      * We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed
      desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate
      in the Lambeth Conference.
      * We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil
      rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.


      Discussion

      Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention

      The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive
      Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion
      Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative
      Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate
      evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling
      upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise
      restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to
      the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider
      church and will lead to further strains on communion."[1] The House
      acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included
      among those to whom B033 pertains.


      Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

      We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for
      use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions
      until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General
      Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able
      to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In
      the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for
      persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our
      General Convention.

      In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops
      do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note
      that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond
      with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations."
      They further stated, "...[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of
      private response to situations of individual pastoral care."


      Episcopal Visitors

      We affirm the Presiding Bishop's plan to appoint episcopal visitors
      for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would
      be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal
      life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and
      analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed
      by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have
      generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses
      will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue
      conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such
      ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal
      Church.


      Incursions by Uninvited Bishops

      We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited
      bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the
      statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of
      the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established
      ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include
      respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical
      boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit
      ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor
      Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such
      incursions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We
      offer assurance that delegated
      episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.


      Communion-wide Consultation

      In their communiqué of February 2007, the Primates proposed a
      "pastoral scheme." At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep
      concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own
      primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The
      Executive Council reiterated our concerns and declined to participate.
      Nevertheless, we recognize a useful role for communion-wide
      consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking
      alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and
      lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our
      Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner
      that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.


      The Listening Process

      The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican
      Communion to engage in a "listening process" designed to bring gay and
      lesbian Anglicans fully into the Church's conversation about human
      sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this
      process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and to participating with
      others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural
      contexts conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an
      important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this
      listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained
      members of our constituent churches, and so is well-placed to engage
      every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to
      identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these
      conversations.


      The Lambeth Conference

      Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop
      of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to
      attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with
      hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships
      with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these
      relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such
      partnerships.

      We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received
      an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of
      Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to
      participate. We share the Archbishop's desire and encourage our
      Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor.
      It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.


      Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons

      It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus
      in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our
      shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and
      lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or
      policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or
      violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in
      the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the
      conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: "We proclaim the Gospel of
      what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every
      human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the
      Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no
      slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's
      children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life
      of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's
      children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal
      participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel
      that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and
      children as well as those who are persecuted because of their
      differences, often in the name of God."

      [1] The Communion Sub-Group noted that "the resolution uses the
      language of 'restraint', and the group noted that there has been
      considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force
      of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a
      particular way - 'by not consenting ...', however, the resolution is
      calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the
      recommendation of the Windsor Report." The group also noted "that
      while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates
      for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the
      resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a
      range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group
      welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by
      the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion."
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.