GENERAL CONVENTION 2003
Mark's Cathedral Launches
Dean Address Sexuality Issues
by Susan Barksdale
Ă¬All are welcome in this placeĂ® was the refrain of the procession at St. MarkĂs Cathedral on Sunday morning, July 27, as the congregation and early arrivals for General Convention gathered for worship. Among the many visitors in the congregation were two former Cathedral Canons, Rona Harding and Gayle Morris; the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints, Pasadena; the Rev. Susan Russell of Ă¬Claiming the BlessingĂ®; and the Rev. Fred Williams of the Church of the Intercession in Harlem.
Although this was not an official General Convention event, it was indeed part of the opening of two weeks of hospitality by the Diocese of Minnesota to the Episcopal Church, and one of a number of events to be held at the cathedral, including the Integrity Eucharist on the evening of Wednesday, July 30, and the Presiding BishopĂs Forum on Global Reconciliation on Thursday, July 31.
In his sermon, Dean Spenser Simrill referred to an area of potential controversy over the confirmation of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as Bishop of New Hampshire; and of the possible proposal of liturgical rites for same-sex blessings. He alluded to the Gospel of the dayconcerning the fearful apostles in their boat hearing the voice of Jesus as he walked over the water to them. Ă¬When GodĂs Spirit moves, it always dislodges,Ă® he said. Ă¬Can we not hear JesusĂ voice saying Ă¬Be not afraid?ĂĂ®
Simrill spoke of Biblical passages that have been used in opposition to homosexuality, speaking of Ă¬selective literalistsĂ® and asking, Ă¬Whose interpretation are we to follow?Ă® He added, Ă¬Scripture speaks to Scripture. Scripture interprets Scripture.Ă®
Ă¬If this is such a big deal, why didnĂt Jesus say anything about it?Ă® Simrill said. Ă¬Jesus spoke of love. Why do we keep using Scripture as a club? The Holy Spirit has been moving this past forty years to claim the blessing of inclusion.Ă® He spoke of friends in faithful and committed same-sex relationships, adding that Scripture condemns promiscuity, both homosexual and heterosexual, and that the Holy Spirit Ă¬asks us to put on different sets of lenses.Ă® He spoke also of the fear of Ă¬the otherĂ® Ăł Ă¬When we become fearful, we become dishonest.Ă®
Ă¬We need each other,Ă® Simrill said. Ă¬Our identity is based in baptism as we are marked as ChristĂs own forever, not on seven texts. Our unity is not based on how we interpret Scripture; it is based on our identity with Jesus Christ.Ă®
Ă¬Can we reach across the lines,Ă® Simrill concluded, Ă¬and claim the grace? We are all in this boat. Can we hear the words of Jesus, Ă«Do not be afraid Ăł I am doing a new thingĂ?Ă®
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