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Your pastoral (and the Presiding Bishop's Response)



Gentle +Henry,

I would appreciate your help as I try to counsel lesbigays receiving
your pastoral (available at
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/presiding-bishop/).

You note that homosexual persons bring "challenges and gifts to
Christian ethical and theological understanding." Yet is it true that
your committee included no lesbigay scholars?  I note that it included
one of the most partisan anti-gay scholars in our church.  He spent
much of the discussion time praying, not interacting with me, when we
shared a bible study table at General Convention in Philadelphia.

Was "loving mutual scrutiny and testing of the spirits" a mutuality of
heterosexuals only?  Your document talks about us but I cannot find
our voices in it.  It does not even allow us to name ourselves.  It
insists on the calling us `homosexuals.' What other group would we
treat so clinically?  The Lord is my shepherd and he knows that I am
gay.

What efforts did the whole committee make to connect with the
experiences of lesbian and gay Christians as you shaped this pastoral?
Did the drafters attend the Claiming the Blessing gathering in St.
Louis in November?  Did the committee contact any who have performed
services of blessings for lesbigays, or any who have had their
relationships blessed?  Your section 6.3 would be much richer and
fuller had it been informed by such contact.

Why did the committee leak the document to arch opponents of lesbians
and gays almost a full day before it was shared with anyone else?

I spent Thursday through Sunday of last week back home and led
Integrity/Alabama's retreat at Camp McDowell.  This experience made me
"freshly aware of how sexuality can be cheapened and exploited in
human society and made an occasion of sin, hurt, and disorder, rather
than the blessing God intends it to be":

At the retreat were several people feeling much battered by the
anti-gay rhetoric in their parishes.  One young man, whose family is
prominent in one of your major congregations, has been driven from his
home and cut off from any support.  How might these disagreements
"become open to God's grace"?  Are you prepared to go to the families
and their supportive rectors to "vigorously denounce discrimination
and violence based on sexual orientation"?

Your pastoral asserts "at this time we are nowhere near consensus in
the Church regarding the blessing of homosexual relationships."  How
much agreement on any issue do you require before the church can take
action?  Must the Holy Spirit bring everyone to one mind before we can
act?  90%?  80%?  70%?  60%?  50% 40%... 10%?

They were not afraid to vote at the Council of Nicea; what makes us so
much better than they?

Why have we been so willing to vote when the vote would be clearly
AGAINST?  Why are we so afraid to vote now that the numbers may have
tipped the balance required by the polity of General Convention?

Gays and lesbians and our many friends have not threatened to leave
when we have 'lost' in earlier votes:  why would heterosexual opposed
to blessing us leave if the vote turns positive?  Why cannot all of us
remain to work together in common mission regardless of the outcome of
the vote?

"For these reasons, we believe it is imperative that the Episcopal
Church refrain from any attempt to 'settle' the matter legislatively.
For a season at least, we must acknowledge and live with the great
pain and discomfort of our disagreements."

Of course a vote won't 'settle' any issue:  only our love for those
who disagree can do that.

It's hard to perceive love in efforts to stifle standard tests of
whether the old order will hold.

Is it not disingenuous to reach a conclusion about what we believe and
then ask the General Convention not to test that conclusion?

When Farmer Brown passed by, the hen proposed to the pig, "Let's make
an offering for Farmer Brown's breakfast."  The pig replied:
"What to you is an offering is for me a sacrifice."

Are heterosexuals willing to share the pain equally?  Might we forgo
blessing all relationships until we reach agreement?  In that way we
could discover together whether there really should be any urgency
about the matter.

Thanks in advance for any counsel.

Lutibelle/Louie

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D.
377 S. Harrison St., 12D, E. Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
101 Reasons to be an Episcopalian:
http://www.morehousegroup.com/booksmusicItemView.asp?bookID=12080

               There are 130 days left until General Convention.

<hr>

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 08:48:30 -0500
From: stolley@episcopalchurch.org
To: lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Subject: From Bishop Frank Griswold


March 27, 2003

Dear Louie,

First of all, I had heard of Ernest's illness and am so pleased to
hear that he is coming along well.

With regard to the questions you have raised relative to the Theology
Committee's paper on sexuality, my own position is accurately stated
in the words of the resolution at the heading of the text.  I see it
as a contribution to a continuing conversation and not at all an
attempt to preempt the proper authority of the General Convention.

I understand that I am an ex officio member of all House of Bishops
committees and I am not at all clear about how I came to be listed in
the Convention directory as a member of the Theology Committee.  I
have not been involved in the drafting of the paper, and in fact have
had little involvement with the work of the committee, having met with
them for a portion of two or three meetings during the triennium, most
recently to hear from them about their completed report. As the issue
of sexuality continues to engage us my role is to facilitate the
conversation and to make sure that all voices are heard and respected.

As always, this comes with my good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Griswold






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