Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bishop Charleston Comments On Tanzania

An Open Letter to the EDS Community
From The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

By now I imagine all of you are aware of the outcome of the Primate’s meeting in Tanzania, February 15-19, 2007, and the reactions to it. You know that many of us applaud the attention that was given to the Millennium Development Goals and the need for action in responding to the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS. You also know that many of us were deeply concerned about the call for the Episcopal Church to provide more assurances that we will not authorize same-sex blessings or consent to the election of a bishop who is living openly in a same-sex relationship. Finally, I hope you know how proud many of us felt at the way our Presiding Bishop conducted herself in this difficult role at such a difficult time.

Because you know all of these things, my purpose in writing to you is not to repeat what you may have already heard, but to invite you, as a member of the EDS family, to join me in making a witness in light of what we have learned from the Primates.

To everything there is a season. At EDS, we are accustomed to living in change. We understand that creation is as organic as human community. God’s engagement in our lives always evolves, grows, and challenges us to respond.

But some things do not change.

The heart of this community has always been its commitment to a gospel that supersedes all human institutions. EDS is a community centered in Christ Jesus. We believe that Christ calls us all to be witnesses to justice, to truth, and to compassion. Our faith in Christ impels us to embrace that call and live it out, no matter the consequences to our own comfort or convenience.

We will not change our devotion to doing what we believe is right. We will not delay justice for the sake of making our lives easier. We will not deny a truth that we are certain is from God. We will not play politics with human lives.

Let our witness be clear. Even in the midst of great change, EDS stands on the rock of faith that every human being is created equal in the eyes of God and that we are all acceptable to God in whatever roles of leadership we may be called to perform for the people of God.

This we will not compromise.

There is absolutely no reason that gay and lesbian people should be denied the right of a blessing. There is absolutely no reason that a gay or lesbian person can not be a respected member of the clergy of this church. There is absolutely no reason that we should abandon either of these positions for the sake of political accommodation.

To everything there is a season. This is our season to make a witness to justice. I hope all of you will stand with me in doing this with integrity, honesty and dedication. Millions of our GLBT brothers and sisters around the world, both those who can speak openly of their lives and those who must hide for fear of their lives, deserve our visible and unequivocal support.

Enough is enough. It is time to make our intentions clear, come what may. I pray that you will help EDS carry that message to every corner of the Church, in humility and with an open mind, but carry it with a resolve that will not bend under pressure or falter under threats. This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied. There is no easy way out of this choice. There is only a gospel way forward. This school intends to walk forward and we are prepared for the fact that many may not want to walk with us. If the Anglican Communion must separate over this fundamental issue of human rights, then so be it. To everything there is a season. Perhaps this is the season for the growth of the gospel in truth and in love in ways that we could never have imagined.



Episcopal Divinity School
February 21, 2007

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