A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
by Judith Morton
Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America
Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori,
I am a baptized and confirmed member of the Episcopal Church. It was with great joy that I learned of your election as Presiding Bishop. Your background as a scientist, and your personal history as a professional woman coming relatively late to the priesthood gave me great hope for the future of our church. I felt that we had been given a leader graced with caring, common sense and courage.
It broke my heart when you put your name and title to that document in Tanzania. I understand that the challenges you are facing in dealing with these international conflicts must be daunting. But I am writing to ask you to reconsider acting in apparent accommodation to destructive fears and bids for temporal power. The faithful gay and lesbian members of your church, who do so much to contribute to the life and mission of the church, should not be sacrificed so easily.
For some time now I have comforted myself with the understanding that it is my prayer community, my parish, that constitutes the life of the church for me, and not the hierarchy of the institution or its pronouncements and conflicts. But now, by acquiescing to the power plays at the Tanzania primates meeting, you have made my parish and all parishes complicit. Lent has been transformed from a time of reflection and penance into an act of collective scapegoating. We have been forced to acquiesce in this ill-named season of fasting ~V in fact, to deny our equality and integrity in order to provide support and comfort to bigotry, bigotry presented in the name of Jesus. It is this which grieves our God, and not the inclusion of homosexual people as humble members of the body of Christ.
In the end I know that our faith asks us to join in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church ~V not the worldwide Anglican communion. I do not believe that God requires me to be labeled as an abomination, unworthy of full membership and proscribed from ordination. And I cannot in good conscience give the gifts of my loyalty, participation and contributions to an institution that requires me to support such opinions, whether overtly or covertly.
Surely your office and the House of Bishops must soon speak out. Today no one looks back and remembers as heroes those people and institutions who did not have the courage to stand up for African American churchgoers when they were discriminated against in our churches. Instead we should rightly be ashamed that there was a time when people were segregated or denied equal participation or worse.
I ask you to step back from the brink of the abyss where we now stand. This abyss is not, as might be assumed, characterized by the impending fragmentation of the Anglican communion; rather, it is characterized by the persecution of homosexual people and clergy which is being used as camouflage by some unscrupulous power-mongers. I implore you not to abandon the spiritual wellbeing of the gay and lesbian members of our Church. We too are God~Rs children, and precious in His sight.
parishioner of Church of the Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco, California
cc: The Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Bishop of
The Reverend Paul Burrows, Rector, Church of the Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco, California
The Anglican LGBT Community online group
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