With respect to sexual orientation, it must be said that the Episcopal Church is the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life. These people are primarily not natives of the Bay Area, they come from all over the United States and indeed the world. They have come to San Francisco and the Bay Area seeking a life where they are not subjected to discrimination and violence, where they can lead normal lives, and in some cases, Christian lives. It is my responsibility to provide a context for this search for holiness of life.All that is true. However, we cannot expect to talk about justice and experience and think that we will nurture conversion among the wider Communion. We Americans had better start talking about biblical and traditional grounds for our innovation.
It is also important to say here that the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area is immeasurably enriched by the presence of LGBT people in our parishes and missions. These are gifted, faithful Christian people, lay and ordained, passionate about their faith and church. It is hard to imagine what the Diocese of California would be like without these great people, but I can get something of a picture by remembering the many places I’ve lived from which they have come to the Bay Area, places where they were barred from employment, pushed out of their homes and families, and yes, found cold welcome in churches, and tragically in some instances, were subjected to physical violence. For every one of these men and women enlivening the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California there are empty places all over the United States where their graceful presences are missing.
Obviously, writing for a blog called by the name "InclusiveChurch" and affiliated with IC in the UK, I favor the full inclusion of GLBT Christians in all aspects of the life and ministry of the church. However, I support this "new thing" because I believe this change -- and it is a departure from the historic practice of the church -- is warranted. I believe this change is warranted on scriptural grounds, and I believe it is warranted on grounds of tradition. And, finally, my experience tells me that it's the right thing to do.
The progressive bishops in the US need to realize that not every conservative is +Peter Akinola. Not everyone who resists this innovation is homophobic. The global moderates (which appear to Americans to be conservatives) want to stay in communion with us. They just need the rationale -- the theological and biblical support -- for what we're doing.
So, keep up the talk Marc, and everyone else. But keep talking right on past experience, and talk about your faith in Jesus Christ. Talk about scriptural grounds and the witnesses from history. We all need to hear that.