GENERAL CONVENTION 2003
An Update from "Claiming The Blessing":
MAY HAVE BEEN WONDERING ...
Exactly What was approved at General Convention
regarding the Blessings of Relationships?
VERSION of CO51, AS APPROVED
What does this resolution accomplish?
It recognizes what
we believe is one of the most distinctive features of Anglicanism: the ability
unity without requiring uniformity. We are convinced that this resolution offers a way forward in the best
spirit of Anglican comprehensiveness: recognizing that rites for blessing are and will be used by those
who choose to offer them in response the pastoral needs of their constituency and providing room for
theological consensus to emerge out of liturgical practice.
We believe that
the fuller inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ is not an issue
which will split
the church but an opportunity which will move the church forward in mission and ministry — if we will
claim it and proclaim it.
We believe it is
an opportunity for evangelism which will breathe new life into our work and
to those yearning to hear an alternative to the strident voices of the religious right who have for too long
presumed to speak to the culture as representing Christian Values. We have Good News to tell and it’s
time to get on with the business of telling it.
Will these actions of General Convention cause schism?
No one is or will
be compelled to bless same-sex unions in this church, but the church must also
the theological judgment of those who wish to bless these relationships by providing such rites for the
use of the church.
It is true that
many view this issue as fundamentally about the authority of Scripture, and
At most, however, it is about the interpretation of Scripture, and if how we interpret Scripture is to split us
apart, we are in for splitting on a whole host of issues.
The larger question
is whether or not this issue is so central to our common faith so as to split
The answer is "no" — as stated unequivocally in the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee Report:
[5.3] We believe that disunity over issues of human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in
particular, needs to be taken seriously by all members of the Church. And diverse opinion needs
to be respected. But we do not believe these should be Church-dividing issues.
What about the Anglican Communion?
Historically, member provinces of the Anglican Communion have always acted with
deference," as equal partners. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said it is not agreement but table
fellowship that makes us a communion. One diocese or province declaring itself out of communion with
another is meaningless. We are in communion with each other by virtue of our being in communion with
Canterbury — who is on record in saying that these are not issues that rise to the level of doctrinal
differences worthy of division.
In their May 27, 2003 Pastoral Letter, the Primates committed "to respect
the integrity of
each other's provinces and dioceses, acknowledging the responsibility of Christian leaders to attend to
the pastoral needs of minorities in their care." We believe that the pastoral needs of the GLBT persons in
our care can best be met by the exploration and experience of rites for the blessing of their committed,
faithful, monogamous, life-long relationships. We give thanks for the passage of C051 by General
Convention 2003 that recognizes that reality and asserts that such pastoral care [operates] "within the
bounds of our common life."
The Lambeth Conference,
often cited as the source of statements opposing the full inclusion of gay and
lesbian folk in the church, has no authority over the Episcopal Church — or any other constituent
member, for that matter. Neither do the Primates. To infer so is to construct a false magisterium having
neither roots in Anglican history nor authority over current polity.
Calling on the
Primates to intervene in the domestic affairs of ECUSA (Episcopal
Church in the USA) makes
much sense as it would to have called on the Security Council of the United Nations to intervene in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. There is no jurisdiction.
We are concerned
that a new standard of theological consensus is being invented which has neither
roots in historical Anglicanism nor room for prophetic witness.
message is the Episcopal Church sending about sexual morality
and traditional family values?
The message we
are sending about traditional family values is that those are the values that
significant, committed human relationships, including, but not limited to, marriage.
The message we are sending about sexual morality is that the expectations of fidelity, monogamy, mutual
affection and holy love are the same for all Christians … gay or straight, bisexual or transgender.
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