Troubles in Little Anglicanism

I have been drawn to the Episcopal church for a variety of reasons, but its inherent calm, ecumenical spirit, and tempered reasonableness have been among those reasons. Its heart for an inclusive gospel that sees us all as children of God has been another.

I am about two months away from being confirmed in The Episcopal Church.

Today at the global gathering of the Primates (Bishops) of the global Anglican Communion, the bishops did two horrifying things.

First, they voted overwhelmingly (by a two-thirds majority) to reaffirm and uphold the exclusionary tradition of exclusive heterosexual marriage as “between one man and one woman.”

Second, they voted to punish The Episcopal Church for changing its church laws on marriage to include marriage equality by suspending them from membership in the global Anglican Communion for three years. Basically, this means that TEC is now only an “observer” in the communion, not a full participant. They cannot vote on doctrinal or polity matters, nor represent the AC in ecumenical or interfaith discussions. Further, a Task Force will be appointed to “rebuild trust and healing” from the hurt that apparently refusing to discriminate against God’s LGBTQ children has caused the bristly global Bishops.

This whole process is a circus show and it is insulting, not to mention a shameless power-grab by the hierarchy of the church, which conservatives have been fighting to reclaim for at least 40 years. A lot of people don’t know this, but in the Episcopal Church there are two voting bodies, one of which represents the Bishops and the other represents the laity. No doctrinal decisions can be made without both of these houses agreeing with one another (similar to the House of Lords and House of Commons in the British Parliament). In the TEC, both of these bodies agreed to change the Canon on marriage to support marriage equality. By suspending the TEC, the AC is trying to discipline the TEC for a decision that was the will not just of the Bishops but of the people. It is an attempt by the hierarchy to claim power over this democratic process.

But this will also not change the TEC’s mind on the matter of same-sex marriage. We will not be threatened, we will not be bullied, and we will not be broken. We will cling to the gospel, which demands all people be welcome and proclaims liberation to those laboring under abusive tradition for centuries. As Jim Naughton, former canon of the Archdiocese of Washington, said:

“We can accept these actions with grace and humility but the Episcopal Church is not going back,” Naughton said. “We can’t repent what is not sin.”