Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Communion across Difference statement from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

Episcopal Bishops release statement honoring the minority in the debates over same-sex marriage, promising toleration and respect.

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has adopted a statement voicing their respect for the statement of conscience taken by bishops who have dissented from the 78th General Convention’s adoption of trial rites for same-sex marriage.

The document presented to the House in the afternoon of the Seventh Legislative Day on 2 July 2015 by the Rt. Rev. Robert Skirving was issued in response to a statement of dissassociation signed by twenty bishops who had distanced themselves from the actions of the Convention, but pledged to remain in the church to work for its reform and renewal.

The statement affirmed the moral and intellectual right of the minority to dissent to the innovations in marriage, and called their participation in the debate “indespensible”.  Discussion on the letter centered in grammatical and stylistic issues, and it was passed, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, “by unanimous voice vote.” The statement read:

Communion across Differences

We wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position, as stated in their Communion Partners “Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City in conversation and in prayer has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission.

As we wait upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich diversity of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in the Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.

We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage. We affirm that they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness.

Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage, and remained in relationship, is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow.

We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in the Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ and in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble, and we pray that we may have confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit, who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.

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