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Bishops of Diocese of New York will attend Lambeth 2020

Bishops of Diocese of New York will attend Lambeth 2020

The three bishops of the Diocese of New York write to their diocese regarding Lambeth 2020 and the exclusion of the spouses of bishops in same-sex marriages. The policy would exclude the spouse of the Bishop Assistant of New York, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool:

Archbishop Welby wrote a letter to Bishop Glasspool, and copied Bishop Dietsche, in early December, and the three of us have been in conversation on this matter for the time since. We have considered not attending, in protest over this extraordinary action. But in the end we have concluded that we cannot in conscience remove the voice of the Diocese of New York from the larger conversations at Lambeth regarding sexuality and the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full sacramental life of the church. We certainly do not want to exclude the unique witness of Bishop Mary and her ministry from those debates and deliberations. So, not without mixed feelings, we the bishops of New York will be attending the Lambeth Conference.

From the start, it has been the conviction of the spouses of Bishops Andy and Allen that they would fully and unambiguously support Becki, their sister and friend. They too look forward to being in conversation with the fuller community of bishops’ spouses, but at this time it is the intention of Becki Sander to accompany Bishop Mary to England, though she will not be permitted to participate in the Lambeth conversations and activities. Margaret Dietsche and Clara Mun are also planning to go to England, to stand with Becki.

The letter is posted in full at Episcopal News Service.

Religion News Service has further news.

One of the two sitting bishops affected by Archbishop Welby’s decision, Mary Glasspool, is an assistant bishop in the New York diocese. The first lesbian to be named a bishop in the Anglican Communion, she is married to Becki Sander. Kevin Robertson, suffragan bishop since 2016 in the Toronto diocese of the Church of Canada, married his longtime partner, Mohan Sharma, in December. The husband of Rev. Thomas Brown, slated to be consecrated as a bishop in the diocese of Maine in June, will also not be invited.

Robertson told Religion News Service he was profoundly disappointed but not surprised to learn that Sharma was not invited to the conference. He said he was grateful to have had a 20-minute meeting with Archbishop Welby in London last month. “The archbishop said to me that if he invited same-sex spouses to the Lambeth Conference there wouldn’t be a conference at all. I think he felt that it would be a step too far for some of the bishops if they were to attend.”

Simon Sarmiento, chair of the Church of England advocacy group LGBTI Mission, said, “It is bizarre to invite same-sex married bishops while excluding their spouses. This action fails on every count. It will be seen in England as pure homophobia, and it will do nothing to appease those bishops who refuse to view same-sex relationships as anything other than sinful.” “I wonder who the archbishop would uninvite if he was serious about the Anglican Communion’s opposition to homophobia,” Sarmiento added.


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Adam Burton

I am concerned that the three are willing to go to represent their diocese and will just continue to cause problems. Stop being so divisive and respect the journey that the Anglican church is on!

Joseph Pagano

Wow, with all due respect, this seems mistaken on a number of levels. A mistake to attend a conference whose organizing criteria are considered exclusionary and inconsistent with the teachings of The Episcopal Church; a mistake to announce so soon, curtailing discussion, letting people off the hook; and a mistake in the assessment of the significance of the Lambeth Conference and what it actually can accomplish. That said, their decision is made and I wish them all the best.

Philip B. Spivey

I agree wholeheartedly except for this: It’s important for any marginalized group, seeking representation, to keep showing up. To be visible and to be a witness, not in consent of injustice, but as outspoken voices of dissent. That’s what ALL bishops of like-mind can do at Lambeth if they’ve got the chops.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Lambeth is teetering towards irrelevancy in a world rife real problems and real needs. It must know that by now. Most right-thinking Christians recognize that Lambeth is holding on to the last vestiges of patriarchal entitlement: gender hegemony. And I would not limit the struggle to LGBT inclusion. The struggle for fair treatment of people of color (including Native Americans), women, children, the abused and other marginalized groups in our Church, continues.

Like most social progress, it will take concerted effort, and a generation or two of die-off, to get to where we need to be. Until then, we need to press on.

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