Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Word of Hope for LGBT Episcopalians


Una said...

Thank you Gene. I am a straight believer in God's love for ALL people, irrespective of race, religion, sex, gender. I too pray that those of us who live in countries where hush-hush is the order of the day can stand with you in open honesty about who we are as Christians in our own cultures. Like you, I continue to hope, thoguh I am not an optimist in regard to the Lambeth outcome.

Billy said...

Thank you "UNA"

but I have LOST hope...the "Dont Ask Dont Tell" is alive and well..and I have been unwellcome now everywhere including my church....I love GOD and Jesus but NOT our bishops except maybe a couple


SCG said...

Thanks, +Gene. I remain hopeful, even when it hurts. But I believe you're right: the HS is moving our church on a path that may not be that of the communion's, and that's OK.

David said...

Dearest +Gene...I am now in the 68th year of my age..baptized at 2 months by an Episcopal priest under the auspices of the 1928 prayer book...
As I read the order for Baptism
it is not conditional..conditional upon me NOT being homosexual..I was created this way by my Loving and Just God , but these past few weeks have been the most difficult of my life.. Am I being thrown under the bus for the sake of unity ?? I am praying for you !!

Pat in Phoenix said...

Thank you, Bp. Gene. I've come to think of you as a friend and mentor. Your words always take us back to the love and power of God in our lives, and with that we always have hope.

Our society in USA has grown and changed greatly since June 1969. That's a very short time in history. We are asking cultures at other points in their own histories to catch up with us in shorter time spans than we've experienced in our own culture. For some it will take more time; for others it may never happen. Some cultures have equally evil injustices to the women and children of their own societies as well as injustices to LGBTs.

Surely as you say, God is in this process. And surely God will lead us further in social and spiritual growth in TEC. Knowing the love and power of God in out lives, much good may come of this Lambeth Conference.

It just may not come in a form we are looking for.

With you and all the communion of straight and LGBT saints, I remain hopeful!

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Thanks +Gene for your calm words, and I second Una's thoughts. I can't control what these bishops want. A lot of them don't seem to understand that in the US, the Episcopal Church has a grass roots component where clergy and laity prayerfully work together for change. They don't seem to understand that by excluding you, they have excluded every Episcopalian in NH, GLBT and straight.

It is aggravating for me. I can only continue to try to live in a spirit of inclusion where all of God's people are honored and respected as best I can.

But it still does not stop my anger over the situation that led to your exclusion. Your calm demeanor is a godsend to me. I have said more than once, if I had been in your shoes I'm afraid I'd have had to open the proverbial "can of whoopass"!

Thank you for being the calm rational guy you are--you have truly been a blessing in my life and I've never even met you!

RevMomVt said...

Dear Bp Gene -- thank you for your comments. I agree with Pat in Phoenix. Much good might well come out of this Lambeth Conference -- just not in the form we had hoped.

God will get what God wants and I agree with you that God certainly seems to be at work in wonderful ways....difficult ways, but wonderful nonetheless.

As faithful Christians, our job is to "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And not get hung up on results." To God we must leave the rest.

As a straight woman - and a priest - I want my LGBT sisters and brothers to know that they are not alone.

Blessings --

Elizabeth said...

Thank you, Bishop Gene. I believe that being hopeful still requires each of us to act. Here is an article I submitted to the Colorado Episcopalian. I hope others will take the resolution, found at the end, to your churches. I don't know whether it will be printed; I will let you know.Issues of Inclusion: One Episcopalian's Response
By Elizabeth Bennett

The Lambeth Conference was a time of personal pain for many Colorado Episcopalians. Many of us read Bishop O'Neill's blog, and also Bishop Gene Robinson's. It is hard to realize that five years have passed since Bishop Gene Robinson's election, which caused me to rejoin the Episcopal church. In 2004, I was married in Massachusetts to my female partner of 25 years…in the Episcopal church where I had grown up. Our multiracial children were there, and our families and close friends. I have a strange sense of time warp as Colorado continues periods of discernment, with tightly parsed half-a-loaf-acceptance for me and others like me.

My church, St. Thomas in Denver, which is celebrating its centennial this year, has a long tradition of work for social justice. St. Thomas has been an "open and affirming" church for years. Early meetings of Integrity were held in our parish hall; our beloved Charles Sparks has been at the vanguard of the fight for inclusion of GLBT people for more than 30 years. We have four gay and lesbian couples with a combined total of more than 65 years of commitment. The clergy, vestry, and congregation have struggled mightily with "the elephant in the room": the issue of full inclusion of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) people in the Episcopal church.

St Thomas had classes about the first Bishop's Task Force. The vestry and rector sent a letter to the Bishop in 2004 urging an end to the period of "passionate patience" he requested of us. Four more years have gone by since then.

So the Diocese breaks my heart, but the people at my church warm it… what should I do in this environment? I struggle to find the appropriate answer…but it must must surely be "DO SOMETHING!"

So here are some of the things I have done. Two other members of the congregation and I presented a Resolution to the annual meeting, a sort of Martin Luther "Here I Stand-I Can Do No Other." (see sidebar.) Consideration of the resolution engendered enormous discussion, listening, tears, and warmth. And in the end, it passed almost unanimously.

I write…to the Bishop, the Priest in Charge, the Vestry.

Most Sundays, in Prayers of the People, I request prayers for GLBT people unable to be ordained, or unable to have their relationships blessed, or unable to be included with their Brother and Sister Bishops. I believe in every service, we should pray for the people being denied a seat at the welcome table.

I talk about it. In church, at coffee hour, in committees, in adult education.

I have gone to our vestry three times over the years, asking for action, asking personally, asking with tears.

I hosted a showing of THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO, the magnificent movie with Bishop Gene Robinson, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rev Peter Gomes, Richard Gephardt, which debunks the biblical "imperative" to shun homosexuals, and humanizes us and out families.

I am sending a letter to every Colorado congregation offering to provide them with a copy of the movie if they will show it and discuss it.

And now, I am writing the Colorado Episcopalian, reaching out to every person who cares about full inclusion, and asking each of you…to do something.

Like many of your GLBT sisters and brothers, I find it an almost daily struggle to remain in the Colorado Episcopal Church. But I am here. I am a cradle Episcopalian. I waited, impatiently, for women to be ordained. And now I wonder whether if "in the fullness of time," the Colorado Episcopal Church becomes a fully inclusive, welcoming diocese…will I even be alive to see it.

My children are African American. I have participated in many aspects of the Civil Rights movement in this country. I was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Bishop Desmond Tutu equates homophobia with apartheid. I know that God loves me. I want the church to love and value me as well. If you care, please do something.

SIDEBAR: Resolution

We support full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) people in every aspect of the life of St. Thomas Church, and of this diocese.

We support offering ALL of the Sacraments, including Marriage/Blessing of a Relationship and Ordination, to all of God’s People, including, of course, GLBT people.

We agree with Nobel Peace Laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says, homophobia is “a crime against humanity” and “every bit as unjust” as apartheid.

We believe that our church, which offers Blessings to Animals, must no longer deny them to committed monogamous couples.

We believe that the GLBT members of this congregation are part of the Body of Christ.

We believe that silence can be interpreted as consent, and we can no longer be silent.

We believe that justice delayed is justice denied, and that the time for action has come.

Tom E said...

Thanks for these words of hope for our lives together as a church.