Bishops post reactions to Anaheim

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There will probably be a number of notes published by diocesan bishops over the next week regarding the decisions made or not made at General Convention in Anaheim. Here’s a sampling of a few that have already appeared.


Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas writes of his frustration with the way the decision regarding authorization to gather resources on Same-sex blessings and pastoral generosity was made, at least in the House of Bishops:

“The legislative process has been wholly unsatisfactory for me and a number of other bishops. I spoke to the ‘discharge’ motion yesterday because I believe the House of Bishops has in its power to make decisions and take actions through pastoral letters to the church without the House of Deputies. And, on issues as divisive as sexuality it is imperative that the Bishops be willing to speak to the whole church, the whole flock, across political lines. Win or loose resolutions do not accomplish the unity that Jesus prayed to God to grant his disciples.

On Tuesday, I felt as though there was no place for me that might hear my voice because of the legislative process, I found myself very frustrated. I did not feel that there was room for a moderate voice. I was not the only one and the Presiding Bishop announced that a group of bishops were going to gather that night. I joined in.

It was a diverse group of 26 bishops. We each took turns telling our story and speaking about the unique missionary context in which we do ministry, the repurcusions of our actions, and how we felt about the work before us.

This was an important time for me because it gave me the opportunity to be very clear about who we are in the Diocese of Texas. I shared with them my very clear commitment to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Windsor Process, and the Covenant Process. I also shared with them that we are a diverse diocese in our opinions on sexuality issues, though a clear majority of our members continue to reaffirm a traditional understanding of marriage and a commitment to the processes I outlined above.

[…]

Both resolutions (DO25 and CO56) will, I am most certain, place strain on the Anglican Communion. Reactions I’ve received support this belief. However, we need to give the communion time to respond, and we need to listen to our Archbishop as he speaks to us about his thoughts and reflections on the events of General Convention.”

NB: It is a bit odd to refer to Rowan Williams as “our Archbishop”. Perhaps the bishop misspoke.

Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana writes to people in his diocese who might be troubled by his or the Episcopal Church’s actions:

Both resolutions passed with overwhelming majorities (D025, with a margin of 99-45, with two abstentions; and C056, 104-30, also with two abstentions). In both cases, I voted with the minority. I did so with sadness. Gay and lesbian Christians are beloved members of our diocese, and I am grateful to be their chief pastor. I’m profoundly aware that my vote may be painful to many of them. And so, in explaining the reason for my vote, I must also – and rightly – reaffirm my love and care for them.

[…]

Yet I write these sober words with a sense of hope. After the vote on C056, a group of bishops, about twelve of them, gathered to write a statement in which we could together affirm our dual commitment: to remain loyal members of the Episcopal Church, obedient to its constitution and canons; and to remain at the same time loyal members of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the historic See of Canterbury. Together we drafted the Anaheim Statement, and one of our number – Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas – read it to the whole House of Bishops on behalf of all of us. Our statement was received by our colleagues, particularly those who had voted in favor of D025 and C056, with respect and appreciation. So far, about 34 bishops have joined us in signing the statement. I’ve appended it to the conclusion of this report.

Bishop Dean Wolf of Kansas writes in a similar vein as Bishop Little but from the other side of the aisle:

I voted in the affirmative on both of these resolutions after participating in extensive discussions in an effort to moderate the original language and make it possible for as many bishops as possible to come to agreement. I believe these resolutions, as amended, describe a present reality that should be acknowledged. I also believe that while these positions may not represent the feelings or theological perspectives of some in our diocese, they express a generous orthodoxy that I believe we will come to appreciate over time. These resolutions do not, in my mind, constitute a departure from our desire to be in greater relationship with the Anglican Communion, but rather a realization that all relationships must be based in honesty.

As long as I am your bishop, there will always be a place for those who come to different conclusions about these issues. Our diversity of experience and perspective are signs of our strength in the Body of Christ and not a weakness. I pray that the gay and lesbian people in our diocese will see these resolutions as hopeful signs, and I pray that those who disagree with these actions will believe their perspectives are honored and deeply valued as well.

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12 Responses to "Bishops post reactions to Anaheim"
  1. Bp. Doyle writes:

    "And, on issues as divisive as sexuality it is imperative that the Bishops be willing to speak to the whole church, the whole flock, across political lines"

    So including clergy and laity is political (ooh, evil, dirty!) while bishops (all hail them!) are above all of that?

    Unfortunately, my first response would not be appropriate here since it has to do with certain things produced by male bovines.

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  2. I assume that Bill is referring to the same passage that I had trouble understanding:

    I believe the House of Bishops has in its power to make decisions and take actions through pastoral letters to the church without the House of Deputies.

    That's not my understanding, well they can issue all the letters that they like, but they can't change the C and C without concurrence of the HoD.

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  3. I note that Bishop Doyle is the brand new(post-+Wimberly) bishop of Texas, so perhaps he is only beginning to learn the limits placed on his control of a diocese that is more diverse than many realize. The lay and clergy deputies from Texas divided 2-2 on both of the key resolutions.

    John Donnelly

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  4. It is not a mistake that Bp Doyle referers to the ABC as "our Archibishop." As a priest in the Diocese of Texas, Bp Doyle's See, I can report that he frequently tells us that he intends to 'follow the teachings of our Archbishop.' Strange, indeed; but entirely consonant with the ecclesiology of Bp Wimberly, whom Bp Doyle identifies fondly as his mentor. It is also consonant with the ecclesiology of the "Communion Partners," who identify Bp Doyle as one of 'their' bishops. Last Thursday, July 16, well before Convention had concluded, Bp Doyle had summoned a meeting with us diocesan clergy to 'discuss General Convention.' Keep watching; I think the DoT may be taking the Fort Worth track before long. Of course, when that happens, the rest of us, those who remain with our Church, will be as free of the old bigotries as is the reconstituted Diocese of Fort Worth is now. That will be glorious day!

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  5. Judging from Jim Stockton's comment, I can see that the DoTX is just as conservative as it was when I left nearly 10 years ago. During my 23 yrs in Houston, I was a member of St Stephen's in Houston, which grew to become one of the few gay-friendly parishes in the diocese but still experienced the tension caused by the bishop(s). (I'm in lbgt-friendly Vermont now).

    - Jay Vos

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  6. As a simple observer it seems to me that most of the trouble in the church is stirred up priests and bishops with holes in their buckets who then hide behind a false presumption that they represent their laity. Bishop Doyle is a good example. Out of one side of his mouth he speaks as if he is the Diocese of Texas while out of the other side he suggests he is only channeling the laity. Ditto for Iker and Duncan of blessed departure.

    One great thing about Integrity is that it has been from the beginning essentially a lay movement. The number of clergy involved has been small compared to the number of laity in part, I suspect, because the clergy fear, with considerable reason, they have far more to lose by coming out of their closets than do the laity.

    It is the laity who have given the LGBT movment its momentum. Its about time the bishops recognize that the laity are far ahead of most of them when it comes to translating love into justice.

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  7. I am from the Diocese of Texas. We have 2 major cities and a number of smaller cities as well as a huge swath of rural Texas. We minister to and with all sorts and conditions of people.

    I do not believe our bishops' votes reflect our diocese in its totality. I think our deputies’ votes (splitting 2-2) more accurately reflect where we have been the last few years.

    +Andy has committed to a process of intentional, thoughtful small group work across the diocese to discern about inclusion of GLBT persons in our Church. All of us (whatever our views) may be pleasantly surprised by what the Holy Spirit has in store for us.

    Our Diocese has room for a wide variety of belief and practice. I am confident that we will find a way to minister fully to all of God's people in the variety of contexts that exist in this Diocese.

    Peace, Jim Cowan, Houston

    PS I really doubt +Andy will try to take the Diocese out of

    The Episcopal Church. He knows it would be a litigation nightmare, among other things. It would be extremely divisive and destructive.

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  8. Just to be clear, I'm not crazy about the letter to ABC either, but I am unwilling to make assumptions about the outcome of our diocesan conversations before they actually occur. Our diocese has deliberately avoided having diocesan conversations for a long time (even though called for by successive Lambeths and Windsor). We just don't know what the outcome will be when we start talking to one another and really listening. I suspect, but have no way of knowing, that the ground has shifted a bit since the last Diocesan Council, and certainly it has shifted since our deputies were elected 2 years ago. As someone I am fond of says, God is good, all the time, no matter what. Jim

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  9. I was really glad when Bishop Doyle was elected. I think he'll eventually move the diocese forward, but the fantasyland stuff about "our Archbishop" and the HOB making policy without the deputies needs to go.

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  10. As one of the gay clerics ordained in the Diocese of Texas and one who counts Andy as a friend, I would encourage Jim S. to actually ask Andy what he plans to do and not advance the idea that Texas will leave The Episcopal Church. In my experience political process is seldom painted in black and white.

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  11. As one of the clerics who remembers when the Rev. Paul Fromberg left the Diocese of Texas because of its canon that is specifically hostile to gay couples, I would encourage him to recognize that my suggestion is not that either Bp Dolye or any individual bishop can effect the attempted 'departure' of the Diocese of Texas. It take other people, and the real question is how will the bishop respond to that initiative. Regardless of Bp Doyle's "plans," the Church has made her decision in holy favor of inclusion. To pretend that the Diocese of Texas can still regard this as an unsettled question is counterproductive and out of touch with reality. I whole-heartedly suggest that Bp Doyle's commentary on the Diocese of Texas deputation's blog site and on the bishop's own blog indicate both a bizarre ecclesiology and an entrenched desire to pretend that the Diocese of Texas will somehow be able to continue to practice its exclusion of many of God's people simply because they are gay and will not take a vow of celibacy. The Rev. Fromberg is welcome to count Andy as friend. We in the Diocese of Texas, however, must deal with the fact that Andy is our bishop. Bp Doyle's repeated and emphatic declarations that he will "never allow blessings of same-sex unions in this diocese" demonstrate that Andy is no friend to gay Christians in general or to us who seek to befriend them in Christ's Name.

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