Chicago Consultation Calls on House of Bishops Theology Committee to Release Names
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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CHICAGO CONSULTATION CALLS FOR HOUSE OF BISHOPS THEOLOGY COMMITTEE TO RELEASE NAMES OF SCHOLARS STUDYING SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
CHICAGO, June 2, 2009—Ruth Meyers, professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Chicago, released this statement today in her role as co-convener of the Chicago Consultation:
The report of the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops, included on page 51 of the Blue Book for the 76th General Convention, states that the committee has been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. According to the report, the Theology Committee has appointed “a diverse and balanced panel of theologians” that has already begun its work.
The church’s history of homophobia is largely based on cultural prejudice that has resulted in inaccurate and incomplete interpretations of biblical texts. Therefore, the Chicago Consultation commends the House of Bishops on its desire to continue the decade-and-a-half long study of human sexuality in the life of the church, especially in light of four recent official Episcopal Church studies—released in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003. Three of these previous studies have, in fact, involved the House of Bishops Theology Committee.
Continued scholarly work, done with particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in committed, life-long, monogamous unions of faithful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, can liberate the church to discern more fully the work of the Spirit in all life-long unions of fidelity and mutual love. So that further study can be enriched by common prayer, we call upon General Convention to enrich this new theological work by establishing a common rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church.
However, we are saddened that the House of Bishops Theology Committee has chosen to begin this important scholarly work without making public the names of the bishops, theologians and scholars who are serving on this panel. The theological study of human sexuality is essential to our common life, to our mission and evangelism, and to our ability to live out our baptismal promises. Such important work deserves to be no less than a model of the transparent governance that the Episcopal Church has upheld for centuries.
As theologians, priests, bishops and laypeople from across the Episcopal Church, we call upon the House of Bishops Theology Committee to release at once the names of those serving on the panel it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. We commit to praying for them by name and to providing our assistance as they continue their work.
The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) 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.
1994 Continuing the Dialogue: a Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality (The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, 1994).
1997“The Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships,” in Report of the Standing Liturgical Commission with the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to the 72nd General Convention (1997 Blue Book, p. 285-300).
2000 “Theological Aspects of Committed Relationships of Same-Sex Couples,” in the Report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to the 73rd General Convention (2000 Blue Book, pp. 205-232).
2003 “The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective,” a Report of the Theology Committee to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, March 2003 (2003 General Convention Journal, p. 780-788).