We are an Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and issued what is in effect an ultimatum to the Episcopal Church – do not ordain any more partnered gay priests to be bishops, and do not authorize any services of blessing for same-sex couples.
Partly because we are in North America, we in the Episcopal Church have led the Anglican Communion in extending full participation to women and girls. (Not so long ago, women could not serve on vestries.) St. Mary’s was situated so as to play a visible part in the struggle for the right of women to be ordained – but there are places today, even in the Episcopal Church, where the ministry of women is not accepted and is treated as unscriptural and even unchristian.
The ministry of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer people is now an issue in the wider church. We at St. Mary’s have played a role in this struggle too – a less visible role. We have enjoyed the ministry of both out and closeted LGBTQ folks in all areas – as priest, deacon, acolyte, crucifer, organist, choir member, usher, warden, vestry member, and ordinary parishioner.
I propose the following motion:
We at St. Mary’s, Manhattanville, call upon our Bishop, the Presiding Bishop, and the House of Bishops not to draw back from the commitment the Episcopal Church has made to LGBTQ people – in particular not to make any pledge in advance about denying ordination to the episcopate on the basis of sexual orientation and not to make any promise not to authorize blessing same-sex unions. All are welcome.After discussion, the motion carried and will be forwarded to the Bishop of New York, Mark Sisk, to Presiding Bishoip Katharine Jefferts Schori, and to the House of Bishops.
In putting this posting together I recalled that at the 131st annual meeting 33 years ago on April 28, 1974, our congregation passed a resolution urging our bishop, Paul Moore, to ordain two of our deacons, Carter Heyward and Emily Hewitt, to the priesthood at the same time as our third deacon, Doug Clark, was being ordained. I had the privilege of conveying that action of the congregation to the bishop. Needless to say, Bishop Paul Moore did not accede to our request. This time we are not asking the bishops to do anything extracanonical.