Press

National Religious Leadership Roundtable responds to exclusion of openly gay bishop from momentous gathering of Anglican bishops

Date: 
May 30, 2007

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“This struggle in the Anglican Communion serves as a sobering reminder of the deep and serious work before the many households of faith.”

— National Religious Leadership Roundtable

WASHINGTON, May 30 — The Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable members responded to reports that Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, has not been issued a formal invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Every 10 years the Archbishop of Canterbury invites participants to the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and archbishops of the Anglican Communion.

Statement from the National Religious Leadership Roundtable

“The exclusion of a duly elected and consecrated bishop of a diocese which is part of the Anglican Communion from the 2008 Lambeth Conference is nothing short of outrageous. The profound struggle in which the Anglican Communion is engaged has implications that far exceed the issue at hand. Will the Anglican Communion respect the judgment of the Episcopal Church USA about those called to such pastoral leadership? As we have experienced so often in the political struggles of our own nation, the lives of same-gender-loving people have been wedged in the middle.

“Regardless of what happens, the courageous witness of the Episcopal Church USA which made possible the election and consecration of the Bishop V. Gene Robinson and the pastoral leadership the Bishop offers the Diocese of New Hampshire and the world stand as powerful testaments to the grace of God. This struggle in the Anglican Communion serves as a sobering reminder of the deep and serious work before the many households of faith. Even for the most progressive communions, those seen as bastions of welcome, there is deep and serious work yet to be done to fully realize the vision of justice and inclusion that resides at the core of every faith tradition.

“This is a time for solidarity across traditions in the struggle against marginalization and exclusion, holding with compassion all those who experience the pain of being on the front lines and resolutely offering witness to the liberating power of God, who continues to work through same-gender-loving people of faith to bring justice, healing and reconciliation in the world.”

Additional Responses from National Religious Leadership Roundtable Members

“We live in a time when fearless Christian leadership is desperately needed: pastors and prophets, popes and prelates who claim the extravagantly welcoming gospel of God’s justice. All too often, however, we are given Christian leaders who try to choose the ‘safe’ option, the ‘middle ground.’ But when oppression and injustice, inhospitality and exclusion hold sway, such ‘safe’ options become dangerous. They buttress hatred and deny the gospel.

“Such seems to be the case in the latest move by the Archbishop of Canterbury in not issuing an invitation to U.S. Bishop Gene Robinson.

“Those of us who are ecumenical partners of the Worldwide Anglican Communion and who minister with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians pray that the Archbishop of Canterbury and, indeed, all Christian leaders will act with the hospitality the gospel demands.”

— Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
Program Director
Institute for Welcoming Resources


“By failing to include a duly elected and consecrated bishop of the Church in the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury has not soothed the feelings of exclusionists; he has insulted the entire Episcopal Church USA and sought to stop the mighty movement of the Holy Spirit that is so evident in the democratic changes being accomplished in the American Church. His decision should be reversed because the movement of the Spirit cannot be.”

— Harry Knox
Director
Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program


“How odd that a duly elected and consecrated bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States would not receive an invitation. Perhaps it was lost in the mail. Or maybe the real issue is what to do with Bishop Gene Robinson’s partner, as the Spouses Programme is a well organized part of the event.

“One hopes the problem will be remedied pronto for the good of the whole communion. One speculates that it will not be. In any case, the issue is not whether Bishop Robinson and his partner are welcome, but whether the Episcopal Church in the United States, as Anglican policy permits, can make its own decisions without reprisals.”

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


“How obscene that Bishop Robinson, an example of hospitality and a humble recipient of Christ’s love and grace, is lumped with promoters of division and inhospitality in a sweeping disinvitation from the Lambeth Conference. The heart of the controversy is hatred and bigotry by antigay individuals — that is obscenity.”

— Rev. Troy Plummer
Executive Director
Reconciling Ministries Network, United Methodist Church

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.