Dear Gay Anglicans letter

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PREAMBLE

The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) recently spoke about sexual identity and invited Anglicans “to discern these matters within their own diocesan communities and ministries.” ACNA bishops have privately provided pastoral guidance to local churches, with at least one bishop offering guidance to his clergy that can be read publicly.

To continue this public discernment, the ACNA bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people who have signed below humbly offer this letter of confession and commitment to gay Anglicans, with unwavering commitment to the authority, mission, and community of the ACNA.

If you’re a gay/same-sex attracted lifelong Anglican committed to a traditional sexual ethic, a gay agnostic curious about getting to know Jesus in an Anglican context, or anyone in between, this letter is to you. We pray you will experience God’s love and wisdom in the churches who have signed below.

DEAR GAY ANGLICANS,

We affirm what is good and true from the recent Pastoral Statement on Sexuality and Identity from ACNA Bishops, including its continued commitment to a traditional sexual ethic and a recognition that God has made everyone for healthy intimacy in the context of human family.

We confess that while each of our sexualities is broken, churches have often treated different brokenness differently. As the Provincial Statement humbly recognizes, churches have inconsistently applied God’s wisdom for sexual stewardship by holding same-sex attracted people to a higher standard than straight people regarding vocational singleness, procreation, divorce, and remarriage.

We confess that many gay Anglicans committed to a traditional sexual ethic have labored faithfully in their sanctification but struggled to thrive because our churches have failed to take the practical steps necessary to promote flourishing. In the words of the Provincial Statement, many same-sex attracted Christians are “fighting the good fight to become more like Jesus” but have “felt ignored by fellow followers of Jesus to the point of feeling invisible.”

We confess that Christians have perpetrated destructive reparative/conversion therapies, leading many sexual minorities to lose their faith or die by suicide. Even as God possesses the power to heal any brokenness in this world, none of us are promised relief from temptation.

We welcome the Provincial Statement’s recognition of the trauma these reparative/conversion therapies have caused Christians who experience enduring same-sex attraction. Research has demonstrated that these therapies have been 96% ineffective at eliminating same-sex attraction while increasing the risk of suicide attempts by 92%. Instead, we commend churches who offer pastoral care that strengthens any Christian’s spiritual health and capacity to resist temptation, knowing that the already-not-yet nature of our salvation means that many will manage enduring temptations for a lifetime. 

We recognize the various arguments for and against using the phrases same-sex attraction and gay Christian. In the words of the Provincial Statement, “neither of the identifying phrases is ideal,” universally understood, or free of baggage. While spirit-filled Christians disagree about the wisest language for sexual minorities to use to describe themselves, we echo the Provincial Statement’s respect for “those within our ACNA family who may disagree with our conclusions and yet remain true to the biblical witness.”

We commit to supporting gay/same-sex attracted Anglicans as they discern before God, in Scripture, and with trusted friends and family the best ways to testify faithfully to God’s goodness in that part of their story. Nor do either of these phrases affect our identity in Christ. As the ACNA Catechism states, faith in Christ signaled by baptism is all that is required to be securely in Christ and to have one’s identity in Christ (ACNA Catechism, Q12 & 14). 

We commit to take practical steps to become churches where gay Anglicans can share all of their story, find community, and seek support. We affirm the Provincial Statement’s call to lead conversation about God’s love and wisdom for same-sex attracted people across the lifespan so children and teenagers feel safe to share early with parents and pastors. 

We commit to take practical steps to train pastors to provide compassionate and effective pastoral care to same-sex attracted people, as called for by the Provincial Statement. We commit to provide the teaching and practical support gay Anglicans in vocational singleness or mixed-orientation marriage need to thrive in their vocations with reasonable effort. 

We commit to develop and deliver the practical resources necessary to equip parents and pastors to extend Christ’s love to sexual minorities. 

We pray God would give us the courage to fulfill these commitments so that gay Anglicans thrive according to God’s wisdom in our churches and lead us with their preaching, prayer, and song.

INITIAL SIGNATORIES

The Very Rev Peet Dickinson 
Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke & St. Paul, Charleston, SC
Pieter Valk
Director of EQUIP, Founder of the Nashville Family of Brothers, seeking ordination in ACNA
The Rev Canon Teresa Russell 
Canon for Discipleship, Rector of Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, PA
The Rev Canon Patrick Schlabs 
Canon for Cultural Engagement at the Cathedral Church of St Luke & St Paul, Charleston, SC
The Rev Dr Jack Gabig 
Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Trinity School for MinistryPriest in Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rev Alastair Sterne 
Lead Pastor at St. Peter’s Fireside, Vancouver, B.C, Author of Rhythms of Life
The Rev Canon David W Ketter III 
Priest at New Life Anglican Fellowship, Beaver, PA, Canon for Liturgy
The Rev Dr Greg Peters 
Rector of Church of the Epiphany, La Mirada, CA, Professor in the Torrey Honors College, Biola University
The Rev Thomas McKenzie 
Rector of Church of the Redeemer, Nashville, TN, Author of The Anglican Way
Dr. William Witt 
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, Trinity School for Ministry
The Rev Jamey Russell 
Rector of Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, PA
The Rev Andrew Unger 
Priest in Charge at All Souls’ Anglican Church, Wheaton, IL, Co-host of Young Anglicans Podcast
The Rev Dr Kelly Madden 
Executive Director of the Boston FellowsPriest in Anglican Diocese in New England
The Rev Dr Jonathan Parker 
Assistant Professor of Religion at Berry College, Mount Berry, GA, Priest in Diocese of the South
The Rev Joshua Steele 
Managing Editor of Anglican Compass, Priest at Church of the Savior, Wheaton, IL
The Rev Dr Jonathan Huggins 
Chaplain at Berry College, Mount Berry, GA, Priest in Diocese of the South
The Rev Isaac Bradshaw 
Priest at St Brendan’s Church, Maryville, TN
Johnmark Smith
Youth Pastor at Church of the Redeemer, Nashville, TN
Dea Colin Fagan
Campus Ministry for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Nashville, TN, Deacon in C4SO Diocese