General Convention 2012 Overview
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. Formed in 2007 in the wake of dramatic setbacks at the Episcopal Church’s 2006 General Convention, we were instrumental in securing significant legislative victories at General Convention in 2009, including a resolution (D025) affirming that discernment for all orders of ministry, including the episcopate, is open to LGBT people, and a resolution (C056) that moves the Episcopal Church toward an official rite for blessing same sex unions. In between conventions, our meetings, network, and theological publications are instrumental in helping church leaders, congregations and dioceses move toward full inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of the church.
The Chicago Consultation’s overarching goals are to strengthen the movement toward the blessing of same sex relationships in the Episcopal Church; to advance the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in all orders of ministry; and to strengthen the Anglican Communion’s witness against racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexism, and other interlocking oppressions. Our particular calling is to speak to the “moveable middle” of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The moveable middle is made up of those individuals and communities who may not be ready support the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Church, but who are willing to discuss this matter in a serious and open-minded way. Because many of our members are church leaders and theologians, we are frequently able to foster conversations that place highly charged issues of human sexuality and human rights in a theological framework.
In October 2011, the Chicago Consultation and the Ujamaa Centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal convened a gathering in South Africa to strengthen mission and advocacy connections among Anglicans who are interested in the theology of human sexuality and justice. We did so because we believe that deeper connections with each other will make it easier for us to work together in mission and to communicate productively when challenging Communion-wide issues arise. The co-conveners of the consultation were Professor Gerald West, director of the Ujamaa Centre, and Professor Esther Mombo of St. Paul's University in Limuru, Kenya.
The consultation involved about 55 theologians, bishops, church leaders, grassroots advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and other people willing to engage in intensive conversations across cultural boundaries and lasted for three days. It was grounded in the Indaba process, prayer and Bible study and explored theological perspectives on human sexuality and justice. We hope to hold a similar consultation in a different African country in 2013.
At General Convention 2012, we will share our experiences with our new partners in Africa, two of whom will join us; advocate for the approval of two resolutions submitted by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music; join our partners at TransEpiscopal in asking the church to ensure that our canons do not permit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression; and work to ensure that the restructuring of The Episcopal Church’s governance preserves the strong voices of laypeople and clergy that have historically led the church in progress toward greater social justice.
Download this summary (.pdf)