Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Episcopal Church Resolutions
(Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not of the Episcopal Church or any part of the Episcopal Church. The logo is used to indicate the subject of this opinion.)
Even in their watered down versions, the General Convention has passed two resolutions that will extend the full sacraments of the church to all baptized members. First, both houses (bishops and deputies) passed a resolution that will allow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people full access to the ordination process and, if ordained, to all positions including bishop. Second, the House of Bishops just passed 104/30 a resolution for creating theological and liturgical basis for blessings of same sex unions as well as allowing a generous pastoral response, especially in those states where they are legalized. This resolution now goes to the House of Deputies.
The rector of the main Episcopal Church in our town has called a parish meeting between services on Sunday to explain the first (and, I suppose, the second) resolution to what he believes is a strongly conservative congregation. He is a man walking in fear of schism in his parish. He also walks in fear of losing pledge dollars and, possibly, has not dealt with his own feelings.
Truth: Such changes do cause people to leave the church, but they also cause people to join the church. While I have no evidence for this belief, I believe that more people will be led to the Episcopal Church than will leave it.
Over five years ago, the dialogue about GLBT folk began here. Subsequently, a support group was formed. They held a short retreat to decide what they wished to be, to do, and to be called. An article was published in the church newsletter about this new group with its name, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) Ministry. This newsletter was published while the rector was away. When he returned, he pulled the article from the on-line version of the newsletter, but several hundred printed versions could not be recalled.
At the following meeting of the group, he made clear that he did not want the ministry to be so named nor did he want the words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered to be mentioned in connection with Christ Church. At the diocesan convention in February, he had the poster for the display changed to the LGBT Ministry of the Diocese meeting at X Church. He said that he had gotten much negative feedback about this ministry. He wants the group to form a five year plan - that's five more years than have already passed.
About 20 people are active in the LGBT Ministry, and I personally feel that we are welcome at this church only if we keep a part of our lives secret. My partner and I had our picture made together for the church directory. We cannot deny this part of our life - which is only a minor part as regards the church...in fact, I don't recall inviting the church into our bedroom or into the working relationship of our household.
I am grateful to the bishops and deputies for the emerging understanding of differing lifestyles and the spirit of inclusivity they have exhibited at this General Convention. I pray that the same understanding and spirit may engage the hearts and minds of those at our church who would exclude me and others like me.