Christine Holcomb, our Field and Policy Intern, continues her coverage of the recent developments in the Anglican Church concerning GLBT people...
On July 31st, 2008, bishops at the Lambeth Conference entertained the topic of human sexuality during the portion of the conference titled, “Listening to God and Each Other.” They continued the conversation on August 1 as well, although with more focus being placed on creating a covenant. It was definitely an emotional conversation for all bishops to be having and their mere engagement was demonstrative of their commitment- not to either side changing the other, but to both conservatives and liberals affecting each other. In the end, it seems that the Anglican community, much like any community of faith, has an interesting dilemma: how to solve human matters using a spiritual perspective or, or more specifically, whether or not to allow GLBT people to serve openly, in other locations than the Episcopal Church USA.
For many who are allies or members of the GLBT community this may seem to be a rather easy dilemma to solve. But, when you consider that the Archbishop of Canterbury [pictured, left] is doing everything he can to prevent schisms and model the Anglican community after the concept of unity, in which unity is attained not by erasing differences, but by embracing them, it is understandably a matter that will take longer to resolve than 3 days at a conference. It is a conversation that must and will continue.
So, despite admitted disappointment that in a conference that only happens every ten years there was no grand resolution or public acknowledgment affirming that for God to be heard, GLBT members and leaders are children of God whose voices must be heard too, they did take some positive steps forward. Beginning to develop a covenant is vital for the resolution of future problems rather than allowing the infamous “Anglican discussions” that were criticized throughout these particular hearings to continue. As for the current matter, regarding sexuality, dialogue will continue.
Despite all the praise I have for the Anglican Church undertaking a difficult task with grace, I also must draw attention to the fact that 1) if schisms occur in the church, it does not have to mean that the people/leaders are no longer in communion with each other 2) maybe unity (as described above) does not mean staying together at the expense of honoring God’s gifts in GLBT leaders, but rather how to relate to someone that is not in the “in group,” both within/without the church and within/without heterosexual norms. With this perspective, the Church may have more to learn from dealing with a schism under the concept of unity then prolonging what may be inevitable if ever a conversation will lead to resolution.