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Executive Council responds to Lambeth invitation decision to disinvite same-sex spouses

Executive Council responds to Lambeth invitation decision to disinvite same-sex spouses

As the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church wrapped up its most recent gathering in Oklahoma City yesterday, it passed a resolution expressing the deep disappointment of the church to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to not invite same-sex spouses to the gathering of all the Anglican Communion bishops in 2020.

Offered by the Governance and Operations Committee of the Council, the resolution asks the Episcopal Church’s bishops and their spouses, and the House of Bishops together, “to prayerfully and carefully consider her/his/their response, choices and actions” in the light of what it calls the “troubling circumstances.” It also reiterates that this decision is inconsistent with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion’s many statements professing support for LGBT+ christians.

It also pointed out the hypocrisy of the decision since the Lambeth conference in 2020 is designed to include spouses “in recognition of the vital role spouses play across the Anglican Communion and a desire to support them in their ministry.”

The resolution also “expresses its love, support, concern and prayers for the spouses who have not been invited or may not be invited to the Lambeth Conference, and affirms and laments the hurt and pain this action causes to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons across the Anglican Communion.”

According to a report from the Episcopal News Service, when the question of why the resolution does not tell Welby to invite same-sex spouses was raised during debate,  Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny said he and his committee colleagues tried to “be in a place where we said something that definitely describes our concerns about what has happened without crossing over into a place where we’re being attacking in some way.”

The intent of the resolution writers was to clearly state the support of those affected while also allowing space for Welby to reconsider this decision.

Konieczny added “[If] we don’t give him the space, if there is any, to change his mind,” the rest of the communion will feel that Welby is “bound to the pressures” of The Episcopal Church.

Member Dianne Pollard urged the council to approve the resolution because it shows that the council disapproves of a decision that is “unfair to those that we hold dear.” In addition, she said, “giving the archbishop [of Canterbury] quote, wiggle room, unquote, is a very good strategic idea while trying to avoid telling him to do something.”

The resolution “certainly is not the strongest resolution that I would have liked but I think that it is a good middle point,” she said.

In a statement after the Council’s vote, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said; ““It reflects our commitment to be an inclusive church, not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture but based on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. It reflects our belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians should be true for the church today: ‘All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.’”



image: Executive Council’s Committee on Governance and Operations on Feb. 23 considers the wording of the resolution responding to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s decision to not invite same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops. The entire council approved the resolution the next day. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service


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Professor Christopher Reese SEITZ

The UMC conference gathering is instructive. It gathers the international methodists in a manner similar to the Anglican Communion (though it has a clear Book of Discipline and Courts; but I digress).

If the Anglican Communion as a whole were asked to vote, the equivalent of the Traditional Plan would be on the order of 70% if not more, in favor. Those who do not want this traditional understanding would exit from it and become their own entity. Is this proportional reality anywhere in doubt?

Response here suggest that many progressives have tired of “Traditional Plan” Anglicanism. It remains unclear why they would not form their own entity and be free of the “scurrilous tyranny.” Cut subsidies? Yes. Stay away? Why not?

The UMC public accounting in St Louis is probably a very clear example of the on the ground reality in the AC at large, though as a whole the Traditional Plan would find greater acceptance in the AC.

Steve Price

What an incredibly weak response from the Executive Council.I can only hope a more meaningful reaction will occur throughout the main body of the Church .There is no way any representative from the Affirming Provinces should accept this invitation with this condition attached.I’ m extremely disappointed that attending is even being treated as an option.

Philip B. Spivey

The greater Anglican Communion and the ABC seem never to tire of humiliating TEC. At the 2010 Lambeth, Primate Bishop Jefferts Schori was reduced to carrying “mitre in hand”. Now, they wan’t to make certain legally and sacramentally-joined spouses of bishops—disappear.

I know that in Episcopal deliberations at the highest levels, prayer and attempts at reconciliation guide most final decisions. But, we do ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging the (righteous) anger we all feel at repeated attempts to diminish the standing of our (elected) leaders on the world stage. Blatant disrespect!

Where ever our prelates land with respect to the Lambeth un-invitations, I hope they consider the possibility that it may be time for the tyranny of a majority to be over. Minority constituencies have rights, too.

A new way forward might include a re-examination of subsidies granted to hostile Communion members by TEC.

Kevin McGrane

You know what would be really cool? If *all* the spouses of bishops boycotted Lambeth and just stayed home, perhaps even have their own get-together somewhere. Invite the press…hold panel discussions about LGBTQ+ issues…show love and compassion…

Professor Christopher Reese SEITZ

Certainly wise strategically, and especially if there is not the larger resolve to boycott. It is hard, however, to genuinely believe this is going to change anything. TEC appears to think it has reason to believe this decision is not firm. But where is the evidence for that? And if nothing does change, where does that leave TEC? I suppose one could hear the final sentence as telling bishops it is up to them individually. That certainly is not in doubt…

Michael Kerrick

10 years ago the issue was Gene Robinson and then the issue of our Presiding Bishop being a woman. Bishops refused to take communion with our Presiding Bishop. At what point do we start to take seriously our baptismal covenant and “respect the dignity of every human being”? The Anglican Communion has marginalized the Episcopal Church at every opportunity, in my opinion, and unfortunately will continue to do so because we don’t fit their vision of the “Biblical Witness” as they perceive it. The Communion has been a communion in name only which is certainly their prerogative. However, we have the option as well of not participating in this meeting which denigrates the divinity of all by refusing to accept those they deem unworthy to even be there none alone participate. Each Bishop must act according to their conscience but I’m hopeful they will opt to respect the dignity of every human being.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Leaving space is simply graceful. It is more loving and means that TEC is not engaging in the practices of coercion, like GAFCON. I’m very proud of their response.

As for asking the bishops to prayerfully consider their options, that is not a hint. The bishops do need to engage in discernment, but deciding to engage is a reasonable outcome of discernment. It may require a statement in support of LGBTQ+ spouses, and it might involve going without their spouses, or not going at all. There’s a viable range possible.

As radical as I am, I do not support a boycott of any of the “instruments of communion.” Though I’m on board with minimizing some areas and maximizing others.

This is what love looks like in a corporate form. And I’m grateful for the prayerful work that went into this response.

Professor Christopher Reese SEITZ

I doubt that progressives in TEC–basically TEC tout court–have the moral courage to stay away on principle. I expect all Bishops to show up and for enormous theatrics to ensue.

Whatever was meant by the first Lambeth conference in the 19th century–where York himself stayed away–we now have a circus, with three rings and lots of unsure ringleaders.

Who can imagine what will happen at the Primates Meeting in Jordan! I think we have exhibity A of anglicanism’s collapse.

Cynthia Katsarelis

It appears to me that progressives in TEC have the moral courage to follow the path of love, love for LGBTQ+ people, and love to leave the doors open for the ABC, and for conservatives.

We may have a point of rare agreement, Lambeth as a three-ring circus. If I were a bishop’s spouse, I would go and spend all of my time at Covent Garden and the Barbican, much better shows.

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