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[HoB/D] United Methodists in Cleveland; ECUSA's General Convention in Denver

The Rev. Mel White, Co-Founder of Soulforce RevMel@aol.com

Gentle Mel,

We share with you the anguish over the decision United Methodists made
to hold out for legalism and exclusion as two of their defining
characteristics.  In chairos, God will redeem this mistake in ways
that expand Good News; and  in chronos, we bear witness to God's
inclusion, especially as we love and forgive those who persecute us.
Methodists have provided strong moral leadership on many justice
issues in the past.  They will recover that high ground when they
experience grace as amazing still in the people they now deem the
least among them.

Thank you again for your earlier affirmation of  lesbigays in the
Episcopal Church as we plan for our own General Convention.  I
appreciate your offer to help us.

Episcopalians are not in the same place as Methodists regarding
lesbigays.  Last week the Methodists re-affirmed their belief that
homosexuals are not Christians.  Even at its most hostile, the
Episcopal Church has never made that claim. As early as 1976  General
Convention asserted that lesbigays are "children of God and entitled
to the full love, care, and pastoral concern of the church."  Slowly
but steadily,  ECUSA has lived into that insight.  Lesbigays now serve
ECUSA openly in all four orders of ministry.  On May 15, 1996 Bishop
Walter Righter was acquitted when tried for ordaining a gay priest in
a relationship; and in July 1997 General Convention passed a canon
that guarantees access to ordination without regard to sexual
orientation.  That same Convention authorized dioceses who want to, to
grant insurance benefits to same-sex partners of employees.  "Also,
subject to the direction of the bishop, special devotions taken from
this book, or from Holy Scripture, may be used when the needs of the
congregation so require"  (BCP,  13):  many bishops already allow
local congregations to bless same-sex life commitments.  See the
Statement of Koinonia and the bishops who have signed it at
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/koinonia.html.  See also the
pastoral to lesbigay Anglicans supported by numerous Anglican bishops,
at  http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/lambeth30.html

At General Convention in Denver, numerous proposals are before us to
move towards preparing an alternative liturgy for blessing lesbigay
relationships;  we came within only one vote in each order of passing
a similar resolution in the House of Deputies at General Convention in
1997 (see
At Convention in July we have a good chance of passing resolutions
opposing hate crimes, resolutions that would create an official way
for congregations to identify themselves as safe places for dialog,
and a resolution that would initiate a study of the sin of
heterosexism.  Other supportive initiatives will continue to surface.

Lesbigays are not lobbyists in the Episcopal Church.  We left the
lobby nine years ago when deputy The Rev. Jane Garrett courageously
came out as a lesbian.  Now more than a score of lesbigay deputies
will lead the efforts to pass supportive initiatives, assisted by
dozens of close straight allies, by a large number of other
nonpartisan bishops and deputies of good will, and by a large group of
volunteers from Integrity, the Oasis, and Beyond Inclusion, present
among us to give a face to those affected by our decisions.  Hundreds
are expected to gather for the Integrity Eucharist at the Cathedral at
7 pm on July 6th.

At this time we still feel that it would be better for Soulforce not
to demonstrate in Denver.  We want to honor our straight colleagues --
not only those who agree with us but also those who in good faith
disagree with us.  At the same time we want to witness irenically to
the need for more inclusion in the life of the Episcopal Church.  We
want to help the Episcopal Church to move beyond the homosexual issue
as a division, and into shared servant ministry to the millions who
will more likely believe that God loves them if they can see us loving
one another.

The strongest solidarity with us is for all Christians everywhere, gay
and straight alike, to continue to pray for our General Convention,
not just for lesbigays and our friends, but for the whole state of
Christ's Church, that we may all be one

I rejoice in your important ministry and in your friendship to me
personally.  May God bless you.


Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., Chair, Diocese of Newark Deputation to GC2000

377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225. 973-395-1068
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/rel.html  Anglican Pages

               There are 52 days left until General Convention.

cc Integrity's Lightspeed, Oasis, Beyond Inclusion
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