No turning back

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a standing room only forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco "All people - including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians - are deserving of the fullest regard of the church.... "We're not going backward."

Jefferts Schori and California Bishop Marc Andrus spoke in an hour-long forum moderated by Cathedral Dean, the Very Rev. Alan Jones. While, as Jones said in a question that ""A schism of sorts seems inevitable," Jefferts Schori and other Episcopal bishops believe the Anglican Communion is defined by tolerance for a wide set of beliefs. They believe the communion should continue to minister to a variety of views.

According the San Francisco Chronicle, Jefferts Schori referred to the parable of the shepherd who goes searching for one lost sheep when she said "The pastor's job as shepherd is to mind the whole flock...I am continually, prayerfully reminded of those who are wandering off. The job of the church is to reach ever wider to include the whole."

The Episcopal News Service reports that Jefferts Schori described the House of Bishops reiteration of the stances of the General Convention as "not going backward, but willing to pause" in its consideration of full inclusion of lesbian and gay persons in the life and ministries of the Episcopal Church. "We reiterated our understanding that all gay and lesbian persons" are deserving "of the fullest regard of the Church," she said.

"We live in the hope that there will be full inclusion," she told reporters in a news conference before the forum talk, calling anything less "not lamentable, but egregious."

While Grace Church had invited Jefferts Schori and Andrus to come to the cathedral over a year ago, well before the primates meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last February, the visit--commemorating the feast of St. Michael and All Angel's--fell on the date that the Primates set as the deadline for the House of Bishops to clarify it's position on the consecration of partnered gay and lesbian bishops, same-sex blessings and the care of conservative dioceses. Some conservative bishops and groups within the Church considered the requests and ultimatum and treated the deadline as an absolute, which the Anglican Communion Office denied.

You can read the San Francisco Chronicle report here, this is the Episcopal News Service report and here is a link to a podcast of the actual forum provided by Grace Cathedral.

Comments (1)

This is a cleaned up version I wrote to the Chronicle. I also wrote Episcopal Life, and, of course, the Forum.

Jackson Heights, Queens

Dear Matthai Chakko Kuruvila, I listened to the forum with Alan Jones, Katherine Jefferts Schori, and Marc Andrus which you covered today. My conclusions are very different, however. I was very angry at the relegation of LGBTs to second-class membership.

Here is the note I sent to the people at Grace Cathedral.

What you said about Jefferts Schori is technically correct but I think you missed that she is not going to push for equal rights for LGBTs either in the church or in the country. She would rather not have to deal with us.


Gary Paul Gilbert


UPDATED VERSION

8809 35th Avenue 4K
Jackson Heights NY 11372-5721
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I would never support the Forum if I based myself on this morning's broadcast, September 30, 2007. You failed to ask hard questions to the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop of California.

The Bishop of California was allowed to say that the media have got the story wrong about what happened in New Orleans. But you failed to ask him the question about why this denomination rarely does media relations well. The United Church of Christ, for example, does a much better job and doesn't go around asking people to feel sorry for how it has been distorted in the media.

You let both bishops off on B033, on how the denomination has backtracked on the consecration of bishops living in same-sex relationships or marriages. It appears that the church is saying that LGBTs should be celibate because the institution would rather not deal with their relationships. You also failed to point out how undemocratically B033 was passed at the General Convention 2006.

The big failure was not asking why a married same-sex couple such as Murdoch Matthew and me, who married in Montreal in 2005 after being together for twenty-two years, would stay with the Episcopal Church. (We also got a California domestic partnership a month before our marriage so we would have some recognition in states that outlaw marriage.) At the most the Bishop of California offers pathetic little blessings of unions, for "pastoral needs," while the PB herself says that the Kingdom of God takes time. You should have asked Alan Jones, Marc Andrus, and Katharine Jefferts Schori how they would feel if they were not allowed to get married either civilly or religiously. The PB had nothing to offer other than hoping that the churches would get out of marriage, thus washing her hands of the civil rights issue of the day. She says it is more likely that Canada (which allows LGBTs to marry and get the same rights as everybody else on the municipal, provincial, and federal levels) and even England (which allows LGBTs to enter into civil partnerships and get many of the rights other people get) will move ahead with blessings because the civil law is more liberal there. Other denominations, such as the United Church of Christ, do much more. The United Church of Church, descended from the Puritans of New England, marries same-sex couples religiously and has pledged to fight for the right of same-sex couples to marry like everybody else. She implies that the Episcopal Church cannot go ahead and marry people religiously, which is false. Thanks to separation of church and state, religious bodies can marry any couple they choose for a religious marriage and they are not required to do civil marriages. Some Unitarian clergy across the country, for example, refuse to do civil marriages until marriage is open to all couples regardless of gender.

You never asked about the PB's privilege as a heterosexual that her husband, who lives in Colorado, can fly to New York to visit her and not wonder about his legal status in a different jurisdiction.

All this to say that you have not convinced us you are relevant. There was lots of theological and ecclesiological babble but little substance.

Murdoch has offspring in San Francisco who do not attend church. We see now that their decision not to attend Episcopal services is a wise one.

You sound like an ecclesiological museum. Keep your pathetic little blessings. They are too little, too late. Even worse, they communicate to the world that you as an institution do not believe that LGBTs deserve equal rights in either the church of the nation.


Sincerely,

Gary Paul Gilbert
Murdoch Matthew

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