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Response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflections on General Convention

July 28, 2009 (Chicago):  The Chicago Consultation released this statement from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflections on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention. Meyers is the Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific:

During General Convention, the Episcopal Church was pleased to welcome many international visitors, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are glad that he felt generously welcomed and are grateful that he experienced first-hand the Episcopal Church’s deep and abiding commitment to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In his statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to the entire Communion, including provinces in parts of the world where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people face serious criminal penalties and even death. We hope and pray that the Archbishop’s strong condemnation of prejudice against GLBT people, and his call to penitence for our inconsistencies on these issues, will embolden Anglicans across the world to stand against hatred and discrimination when they encounter it in their midst.

We also urge all Anglicans, including the Archbishop, to regard the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the body of Christ as nothing less than a Gospel mandate and a requirement of our baptismal vows. To understand this issue as simply one of civil liberties or human rights—to which the Gospel also calls us—does grave injustice to our sisters and brothers in Christ and our fundamental understanding of baptismal theology.

The Archbishop raises important questions about how the Anglican Communion can best structure itself and continue to develop Anglican doctrine. The Episcopal Church has a long, albeit imperfect, history of developing theology and doctrine to support fully including women, people of color, and GLBT people in the life of the church. We can contribute this valuable experience to the Communion, and we look forward to working together with our fellow Anglicans around the globe as we continue discerning God’s call for our common life and mission.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.