Yesterday, as the bishops of the Episcopal Church gathered in retreat at the Kanuga conference center in North Carolina, much of the conversation was about how they should respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to not invite the spouses of LGBT bishops to the Lambeth conference. Ironically, the main theme of the Conference is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together;” apparently “together” is a relative concept in Canterbury.
Yesterday, the spouses Planning Group released a statement of support for their fellow spouses who have been excluded and the bishops themselves passed a mind-of-the-house resolution. Both of these are included below.
A STATEMENT FROM THE BISHOPS’ SPOUSES PLANNING GROUP
We join our voices with those in The Episcopal Church who have expressed their disappointment and dismay at the exclusion of same gender spouses from the invitation to Lambeth Conference. We especially stand with our fellow spouse, Becki Sander, spouse of Bishop Mary Glasspool, who is one of the spouses being excluded.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that the theme of this Lambeth Conference is “God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening, and Witnessing Together”. The spouse community understands that the Anglican Communion is not of one mind with regard to marriage, and that, in the life of the Communion, this is a complex issue. Exclusion of same gender spouses, however, seems like a simplistic reaction to this complex issue. It saddens us that all are not welcome to walk, listen, and witness with us, and that all voices will not be heard at this gathering.
As Christians, we strive to live out our Baptismal Covenant and respect the dignity of every human being. A faithful expression of that Baptismal Covenant would be including same gender spouses to walk, listen, and witness with us at Lambeth.
The Bishops’ “Mind of the House” Resolution on Lambeth
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church met in retreat at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC. At their March 15 business meeting, they adopted the following Mind of the House Resolution and received a statement from the Bishops’ Spouses Planning Group which follows the bishops’ statement:
Bishops gathered at the Spring 2019 meeting of the House of Bishops are aggrieved and distressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to exclude same sex spouses of bishops from participating in the Lambeth Conference, 2020. We appreciate that all of our bishops diocesan, suffragan, and assistant have been invited, and are concerned by the use of exclusion as a means of building communion.
At this time, the majority of bishops invited plan to attend the conference. Through our presence we will participate fully in the program of the conference, as well as seek to further the conversation around the various cultural expressions of marriage. We intend to build relationships and missional partnerships that will be inclusive vehicles for building communion across the Anglican world in all its beautiful diversity. We will seek to reflect our varied understandings of marriage, as well as our profound commitment to the dignity of all human beings, including the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons.
This week we have been in prayer and reflection on the Way of Love and how we as The Episcopal Church make that witness to the world as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. We affirm that all persons have been named by God as beloved and we commit to living more deeply into that truth.
image: Women Bishops in TEC gathered at Kanuga in 2019. Photo by Jeff Fisher, Facebook