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