I have closely followed every General Convention since 1976, and I have attended every General Convention since 2003 (making this my fourth). In every one of them, there was some major issue (always related in one way or another to sex or sexuality) about which I and those I hang out with in this church have been highly anxious about, fearing dire consequences if a certain action was taken. And every time, the feared action has been taken, wounds have been licked, and, most of the time, the dire consequences have, in fact, ensued. And somehow I still am where I am--actually, with a much more entrenched "insider" role than I ever would have imagined--and it's only on odd-numbered days (or is it even? I can't remember) that I can coherently explain why.
Today, that event for this General Convention happened. The House of Bishops voted (by roll call, 111 to 41, with three abstentions) to authorize the use of a standard liturgical form for same-sex marriage. The House of Deputies is certain to concur. I believe this is a huge mistake, on several levels. It's not scriptural, it's not traditional, and it's not reasonable. It's an ecumenical nightmare and an inter-Anglican train wreck. I'm very sad about it this evening. My sadness is not as profound as it was in prior years with their events. I'm kind of used to it now, and I'm able to shake off the sting a little more readily than I once could. But I'm still sad.
Yes, it's a dark cloud. But there is a silver lining. It could have been worse. In the Committee 13 debate this morning, we were able to greatly strengthen the language that not only gives bishops the authority to prohibit use of the rite in their diocese, but offers both clergy and laity concrete safeguards to protect them from retribution or canonical impairment because of this position on same-sex marriage--in the case of clergy, refusal to preside at this rite. I have been abundantly clear in the Diocese of Springfield that this form, or anything like it, will not be authorized for use.
So now we await the dire consequences, which are sure to come. The Episcopal Church will quietly lose more members (or sometimes noisily). The majority of the Anglican world will distance itself even further from us. Ecumenical relations will grow still colder. The lives of Christians who live on the frontier with Islam will be placed in even greater jeopardy. And, somehow, God will remain faithful beyond anything we can ask or imagine.
We did a few other things today as well, most of them relatively meaningless. More public policy statements, unfunded mandates, and "requests" that dioceses and congregations encourage this and advocate for than and study the other thing, which will actually get done ... virtually nowhere. That's the reason they all pass on overwhelming voice votes, because all bishops realize that they are completely at liberty to utterly forget about these resolutions the minute they get up from the table when the house recesses.
My heart breaks for you. Our wonderful church has left the tracks. We for two have investigated other avenues and are going to study Orthodoxy. After 40 years of being Episcopal and fully planning on the rest of our lives as such, this is an enormous wound. My prayers are with you and please keep us in mind as well. Christ is in our midst. Blessings. Rose and Jim adams
Thank you for your faithfulness in the midst of the train wreck which is General Convention.
God Bless you Bishop Martins and other bishops and clergy that continue to defend the faith. The general conventions seem to change doctrine by majority vote on issues that the wold-wide Christian Church should consider, as was done at the council of Nicea.
You write: "…it's only on odd-numbered days (or is it even? I can't remember)…"Perhaps the difficulty you are having in remembering is due to the (rumored) existence of days having imaginary (more accurately called irrational) numbered days. To be clear those are days whose numerical value includes the number i = √-1.
I pray that our Lord blesses you and keeps you,
Thank you for your faithfulness.
You are in our prayers.
Left with the Anglican Ordinariate. Rome really is pretty cool, despite the popularly marketable, bashing headlines. Organized religion and human societies have seen all the issues for millennia, but TEC has been the speediest to convert to a complete Country Club. I used to call it a mutual admiration society, but now it has morphed into a selective admiration and admonishment society. I would not even call it a church.
Thanks Bishop Dan for your witness in these times. I was thinking yesterday on this and it struck me that back in 2003 Gene Robinson's election and approval at GC was touted as somewhat of an exception owing to the autonomy of a Diocese in calling its own Bishop (or so many said). Even those who were generally conservative thought they were just maintaining a "hands-off" posture by affirming NH's choice. But now, only 9 years later, what was perceived by many to be an exception of some sort, has become an expectation of the full embrace and endorsement of a liturgy for anti-marriage. The slippery-slope continues on.
probably doesn't matter to you, but I bet thousands of gay Christians who worship in the Episcopal Church may think they are less of a freak now.
Thanks for these helpful insights into what is going on up there. This was no surprise. My assumption is in a few years the right to refuse will disappear...
Bishop Martins, I am a lesbian and a member of the Episcopal church. What you perceive as sad is, for me, glorious. You say the action taken at GC wasn't scriptural ... of course it is, but seeing it as such would mean looking at scripture with new eyes and a new heart.
My prayer is that the eyes and hearts of more Christians will be opened to the inclusivity and compassion of Jesus.
St Paul exhorts us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I rejoice with you. Do you weep with me?
I invite you to become more empathetically familiar with the arguments of those whose position is opposed to yours. It sounds like you don't think we know anything about the compassion of Jesus. Perhaps I am wrong about that.
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