Monday, March 5, 2007

Response to "There is still time to reframe"

Joe Duggan's essay "There is still time to reframe" (posted here) offers much food for thought but one glaring misrepresentation -- a misrepresentation I have written directly to Joe to address in a note I copy here for clarification.


Dear Joe,

I applaud the forward-thinking suggestions you offer in "There Is Still Time to Reframe." There is much in your analysis to challenge and encourage us a church to find a creative, non-violent way beyond our current challenges and I am deeply grateful that you have been willing to offer the piece for discussion to thewider church.

However, I cannot let stand without strong objection your statement: "The irony in TEC is that both minorities in the controversy are fighting for the extinction of the other."

As President of Integrity, Convener of the Claiming the Blessing Collaborative, a member of the Consultation Steering Committee and part of the All Saints Church Beyond Inclusion Task Force I believe I have the credentials to speak on the record on behalf of one of "the minorities in the controversy." And I write this morning to state unequivocally that the extinction of "the other" is not and has never been on our "to do" list.

It is long past time to abandon the fiction that the LGBT faithful demand the exclusion of the theological minority in the Episcopal Church who consider our lives, relationships and vocations unacceptable in the eyes of God.

It is not and has never been true that the LGBT leadership in this church have ever made the criteria for our inclusion being agreed with.For many of us, the last decade of our ministry in this church has included more efforts at reconciliation with those who seek our exclusion than you can shake a stick at: Reconciliation Task Forces, New Commandment Task Forces, Roundtable Dialogues, etc.

In 2002 the Reverend Michael Hopkins -- my brother in Christ, mentor and the past-president of Integrity --wrote these words in a Claiming the Blessing "Message to the Church." And they are still true today:

"Now, for our conservative brothers and sisters: We do not desire for you to go away. Yes, some sympathizers with our movement have said from time to time that it would be just as well if you did. Of course, some of yours have said the same about us. Let us together commit ourselves to finding every way possible to move forward with our debate without threatening either schism or purge. It is simply not necessary for us to do so. This movement is not about getting our way or else. This movement is a means to further the healthy debate within the Church, to deepen it on a theological level, to begin to articulate how we see the blessing of same-sex unions as a part of the Church's moving forward in mission rather than hindering mission. We believe that it is time for the church to claim the blessing found in the lives of its faithful lesbian and gay members and to further empower them for the mission of the Church. We are trying to find a way forward in this endeavor that holds as much of this church we love together as possible. We ask all our fellow-Episcopalians to join us even if they disagree with us."

What seemed a possibility in 2002 may seem a faint hope in 2007 but it is our hope and our aim nevertheless. It is that hope we are committed to fighting for, Joe. We are neither interested in nor willing to fight for "the extinction" of anybody ... rather we are committed to the full inclusion of ALL the baptized in the Body of Christ.


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