06 March 2007

New Jersey enters the discussion

In a move that will surely rub a few conservative leaders the wrong way, the Diocese of New Jersey has offered concrete support to gay and lesbian Anglicans.

After a lengthy debate which drew over a dozen speakers plus the introduction and subsequent defeat of two amendments, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey approved a resolution at its Convention March 3 that "expresses its deepest regret for the pain and anguish suffered by our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, their families, and friends, due to the adoption of [General Convention] Resolution B033." (From an ENS report.)

Interestingly, B033 rubbed me the wrong way because we didn't even name the people whom we were asking to bear a burden. We promised to refrain from consent from those whose "manner of life" were a "challenge" for others. An earlier version, which actually named gays and lesbians as the people who were bearing the cost of communion, has been defeated. Now New Jersey is stepping up to offer support for those harmed by B033. Full text of the NJ resolutions is not available at ENS, but I hope they also included an acknowledgement of the pain that people who find theological and ecclesiological change have suffered. Seeing and hearing our mutual struggle is part of the path to reconciliation. Lots of people have felt pain, for lots of different reasons. And, of course, lots of people have felt hope, for lots of different reasons.

The bishop [of New Jersey] also declared, "We are called to minister in New Jersey. New Jersey is not Tanzania, New Jersey is not Nigeria; New Jersey is not any of the 29 countries on the African continent where homosexuality is a criminal offense. We minister in a radically different context. In our churches are many gay and lesbian people who are living in faithful, committed unions who are asking for our acceptance, our support and our prayers. We have said that the Episcopal Church welcomes them and welcomes all. Gay and lesbian Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ and our partners in mission and ministry, in work and worship, in fellowship and service."

And there it is. I pray for a church in which all are welcome. The struggle to live out the Gospel of God's boundless love will be played out differently in the many cultures of our world. If our Communion can hang together, we'll be able to see ourselves united in Christ, ready to challenge one another and ready to support one another.

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