House of Bishops: stories and reactions

Updated at 9:15 p.m.

Updated at 12:00 a.m.

The first set of stories and responses are beginning to appear.

Rachel Zoll of AP in the first of several stories she will file writes:

Episcopal leaders, pressured to roll back their support for gays to keep the world Anglican family from crumbling, affirmed Tuesday that they will “exercise restraint” in approving another gay bishop.

The bishops also pledged not to approve an official prayer for blessing same-gender couples and insisted a majority of bishops do not allow priests to bless the couples in their parishes.

It’s all here.

Stephen Bates of the Guardian writes:

A slender lifeline was offered to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his attempt to keep the worldwide Anglican communion intact, when Episcopal bishops pledged at a meeting in New Orleans yesterday to maintain a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and authorising blessings services for gay couples.

While the statement may satisfy parts of the Anglican communion, and just be enough for the archbishop to sell to other church provinces, it was being dismissed last night by conservative evangelicals as inadequate.

Read him here.

AFP, meanwhile, has gotten the story entirely wrong. The Times-Picayune also gets it wrong, I think, although less egregiously so. It’s just that Bruce Nolan writes as though he knows the mind of the Primates regarding our response. And I don’t think the Primates know it themselves yet.

Reuters has quotes from Bishops Gene Robinson and Bruce MacPherson who are in surprising agreement.

The New York Times is saying Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders:

Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself.

The article relies on Canon Kendall Harmon of South Carolina and Martyn Minns, a bishop in the Nigerian church, for its slant on the news. It does quote Episcopal Cafe’s Jim Naughton for a different point of view.

Click “Read more” to see Integrity’s statement, which includes:

The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate’s demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.


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Integrity’s Statement

The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates’ communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate’s demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

We are encouraged by their strong language against the incursions of uninvited bishops into this province, their commendation of the Anglican Listening Process, their unequivocal support that the Bishop of New Hampshire should receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference, and their affirmation of safety and civil rights for LGBT persons.

Integrity President Susan Russell said, “In response to requests for ‘clarity’ the House of Bishops made it clear today that the Episcopal Church is moving forward in faith. I believe today’s response will be received as a sign of great hope that we are committed to working through the hard ground of our differences. I look forward to taking the support of the House of Bishops for the Listening Process with me when I and other Integrity representatives meet with Anglican colleagues in London next month to prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference.”

“Integrity is confident that The Episcopal Church will continue to move forward,” concluded Russell. “Integrity expects General Convention 2009 to be a tipping point for equality. We will be working hard in the months ahead to repeal B033 and to authorize development of a rite for blessing same-sex relationships as steps toward the goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ.”

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6 Comments
  1. In speaking with news organizations, I’ve been saying that this response should anchor the Episcopal Church very firmly within the Anglican Communion, even if it does not please some of the Communion’s more radical primates. The degree of unanimity is really remarkable. Even some bishops who had previously sought oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury voted to support this resolution. The response reassures our partners in the Anglican Communion without stepping back from our commitment to gays and lesbians.

  2. Good roundup Jim. I agree with your comment that this should anchor us in the Communion and am feeling even more hopeful after reading a few other reactions.

  3. paigeb

    The response reassures our partners in the Anglican Communion without stepping back from our commitment to gays and lesbians.

    Wow. You really ARE an optimist, aren’t you?

    Just how does this disgraceful statement show “our commitment to gays and lesbians”?

    Continuing to trumpet that we accept them as full members of the Church sounds pretty–but saying we will not bless their unions, or elevate them to the episcopate (no matter what their gifts–sorry, Tracey Lind!!) makes that a lie.

    Our bishops wrote a big, fat lie for the entire world to read. Amazing!

    And to find that people like John Chane, Marc Andrus, and Michael Curry voted for this travesty is the most shocking thing of all to me. Even those I thought we could count on to stand up for the Gospel have sold out our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to try and maintain “unity” with people who will never be satisfied until we drive every gay and lesbian Christian back into the closet (and those are the “moderates”!).

    I came to the Episcopal Church because it ordains women and because I perceived it to be inclusive of gays and lesbians. B033 shook my faith in the latter proposition, but this has destroyed it. This church loves gays and lesbians until it is called to sacrifice something for them. And what is that sacrifice? Not their lives. Not their homes. Not even their jobs. But their right to hang out with a bunch of other pointy hats every 10 years.

    Shame on them all. I hope the tea at Lambeth tastes good, because it has been bought at a terrible price. I wonder what the bishops will do when they wake up and find that they’ve lost the conservatives to the Really, Truly Pure Anglican Church—and that the GLBT contingent and their supporters have given up in despair and decided to spend their Sunday mornings with the paper and a good cup of coffee?

    Paige Baker

  4. garydasein

    I agree with Paige that separate and unequal ain’t gonna work. The only mainline denomination that sees LGBTs and same-sex couples as fully equal is the United Church of Christ, which allows congregations to do their own thing but also has many Open and Affirming congregations pledged to support full equality. LGBTs and same-sex couples are not really members of the Episcopal Church. At least that has been clarified. It sounds as if the bishops are saying that it was wrong to consecrate Gene Robinson. Having married my husband in Montreal two years ago, I must admit private blessings don’t speak to me anyway and that only full religious marriage would satisfy me. UCC has many congregations which do religious marriage and work for changing the laws in this country to allow same-sex couples to marry. The Episcopal Church seems ashamed of its once liberal tendencies–which were always grossly exaggerated.

    I am reminded of LGBT seminarians at Union Theological eventually having to figure out that only UCC and the Unitarians will have them. And, as Paige points out, there is also the option of no church or religion.

    This is my highly subjective take on the current mess. I feel as if someone has just died or at least an idea has died. A whole world is gone and will never be again, recalling the poet Paul Celan’s “The world is gone. I must carry you” ‘Die Welt ist fort. Ich muss dich tragen.’

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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