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NRLR members applaud Episcopal House of Bishops' resolution for reaffirming the place of lesbian and gay people in the church

Date: 
March 29, 2007

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House of Bishops demands an end to religion-based anti-gay violence and reject the call to create a parallel structure for conservative parishes

WASHINGTON, March 29 — National Religious Leadership Roundtable members applauded the recent resolution by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church reaffirming its commitment to continue to be part of the Anglican Communion, while rejecting the call to create a parallel structure that will inevitably separate the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. The resolution is a response to the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué, a plan to transfer direct authority of the small number of conservative parishes in the United States to foreign Anglican leaders due to their rejection of the Episcopal Church’s policy of affirming the place of lesbian and gay people in the denomination.

In a strongly worded and valiant resolution, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church stated, “We cannot accept what would be injurious to the church and could well lead to its permanent division.” Also in unambiguous language, the House of Bishops courageously reaffirmed the place of lesbian and gay people in their church, proclaiming “the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.” The resolution also calls for an end to the silence of the Anglican Communion on the issue of anti-gay violence, proclaiming “the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject.” In order to resolve the matters raised by the Dar es Salaam Communiqué, the Episcopal Church House of Bishops requested an “urgent” meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, and the Primates’ Standing Committee.

Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

“The arc of the moral universe indeed bends toward justice. The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing applauds the Bishops in affirming their ministries to all of God’s children. There can never be justification for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. May they continue to display such courage as they move to their final response in September.”

— Rev. Debra W. Haffner
Director
Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

 

“Throughout the Scriptures, the text testifies to a creative tension and balance between the unity of the Body of Christ and the strong call for prophetic witness which challenges our brothers and sisters. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has rooted itself in this biblical tradition by reaffirming its ties to the whole Anglican Communion while refusing to quiet its prophetic vision of the full humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

“This model of claiming our unity and full membership while not being fearful of speaking the truth in love is powerful to those of us in other Christian traditions. It also clearly highlights that those who call for schism — in the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church or any other denomination — are not the ones who affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

“As a minister of the Christian Gospel, I rejoice.”

— Rev. Rebecca Voelkele
Program Director
Institute for Welcoming Resources

 

“For far too long LGBT people have shouldered the burden for preventing church schisms. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has now courageously and clearly refused to make the exclusion of LGBT people the price of unity in the worldwide Anglican Communion. As an Episcopal priest, I am particularly moved by the biblical, theological, moral and spiritual resolve of my bishops to insist on the full dignity and equal participation of gay and lesbian people in the life of Christ’s church. Those of us who identify as lesbian or gay have, of course, been doing the work of ministry for decades, both lay and ordained. This statement from our bishops is an important acknowledgement and affirmation of that ministry.”

— Rev. Jay E. Johnson, Ph.D.
Pacific School of Religion
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry

 

“The bishops have acted with great love for the church and with a greater love for the justice God requires of all of us. They have reiterated their desire to remain in the larger Anglican Communion, but not at the expense of their lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in Christ.”

— Harry Knox
Director
Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program

 

“The tremendous wisdom and devotion to the Kingdom of God exhibited by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is inspirational and heart warming to LGBT believers of every faith tradition. We rejoice, as the children of God, over this act of justice in the face of horrible injustice, discrimination and divisiveness.”

— Rev. Cedric A. Harmon
Washington, D.C.


“Warm thanks to the Bishops of the Episcopal Church for being religious leaders in every sense of the term. Their clear commitment to governing their church democratically and their equally clear respect for their LGBTQ members are welcome news. At a time when leaders of other religious groups need role models, these women and men stand out. I particularly appreciate their ability to prioritize the issues. Now that they have responded firmly to the unjust demands put upon them, they can get on with the work of the church: ‘to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’ (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn. I pray and predict that many will turn gratefully with them.”

— Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.
Co-Director, WATER
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual


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The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of leaders from pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith, spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.