GENERAL CONVENTION 2003


 

 

Bishop James Jelinek Writes to Diocese
Following General Convention's Consent
to Election of Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire

A letter to the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Minnesota

It was my privilege to speak in the House of Bishops yesterday and to consent to
the election of the Reverend Canon V. Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor of
New Hampshire. As I wrote in my letter to you last month, I believe that, as
Episcopalians we affirm what is true.

By this confirmation, we affirm that Gene Robinson was elected according to
proper procedures of the Episcopal Church. We affirm that he is an appropriate
candidate to serve that Diocese as their bishop. We affirm the people of New
Hampshire in their choice for a new bishop. We affirm the extensive work of the
Church in continuing to assure that our Church remains a safe place for all.

We have always believed that the Holy Spirit was working in the period when the
Scriptures were written, edited and agreed upon. We have believed that the Holy
Spirit works in the living human soul as individuals and as the church. We have
said that we believe the Holy Spirit is working in society making all things new.
And it has always been hard for us to affirm these things when custom and habit
(both secular and religious) have been challenged.

I believe it is the Holy Spirit that has brought us to this moment of decision.

I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s often quoted remark that the Church is the
only organization that exists for those who are not yet its members
.

By our actions these past days in the work of General Convention, I believe that
we have made it evermore clear that all are welcome in this Church, even those
who are not yet members. We have asked no one to leave and my prayer
remains that no one will leave. On the other hand, we Bishops and Deputies
have sent a strong message to the Diocese of Minnesota, the Episcopal Church
in the United States and, in fact, the world, that gay and lesbian people are
welcome in the Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Dr. Sandye Wilson, rector of Gethsemane Church and one of the
General Convention briefing officers, said in today’s New York Times,

“It’s a great day for the Church. This is a Church which has finally understood that men and women created in the vision of God can be the guardians of the faith—be they gay or lesbian.”

This week, when the leaders of the Episcopal Church spoke, it became very clear
that a great number among us believe that the Holy Spirit has pushed or called
us to speak differently about homosexual persons, homosexuality and
homosexual acts—that one can be, as a homosexual person, a wholesome
example to God’s people; that homosexuality is itself morally neutral; and that
homosexual behaviors are subject to the same moral judgments as are
heterosexual behaviors.

I fully understand that some of our sisters and brothers will be unhappy,
dismayed and shocked at this action of General Convention. I want to reiterate
that there continues to be room for all in the Episcopal Church and in the
Diocese of Minnesota. I remain convinced that we, as Episcopalians, can and will
continue to embrace and welcome the diversity and ambiguity of this decision, as
we have for over 200 years.

My experience in church controversy is that, in the midst of painful decisions and
events, the church is so well connected that everyone is reached out to with
compassion, concern and companionship. But, not all can see it when it is
offered; not all can take it in.

There are those who feared what would happen when Jesus Christ left this
earth. They, like those of us today, were made aware of the Great Comforter that
would come to be with us all forever. I know that the Holy Spirit will continue its
presence in our midst for the remainder of this convention and throughout the
days ahead. I know that God will continue to tell us how much we are loved and
how much he longs for us to be one.

+James L. Jelinek
VIII Bishop of Minnesota

August 6, 2003

 


 

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