Inclusive Church has received a certain amount of adverse comment about the statement we released yesterday in response to the Lambeth Conference invitation announcement.
Our assessment was more positive than the statements of some of the organisations with which we work closely. It is our strong belief that although the situation is by no means perfect and the Bishop of New Hampshire should be there as a full member, the Lambeth Conference will offer an opportunity for serious dialogue on many subjects.
We are in a transitional stage in the life of the church and as we move towards the full inclusion of all people the cost is very high for those who are still excluded. The continued sacrifice demanded of lesbian and gay people, especially those in relationship, cannot be underestimated and we look forward to the day when sexuality is no longer the destructive issue it presently is.
Across the world, both in the Global South and in the rest of the Communion, lesbian and gay Christians are a significant part of the life of the church; we need to recognise this so that we can communicate afresh the Gospel truth of the inexhaustible love of God for the world.
It is our continued hope and prayer that all bishops will receive invitations to the Lambeth Conference. We especially hope that Bishop Gene Robinson will receive a full invitation, so that he can engage with the other bishops of the Communion. Should Bishop Robinson not receive a full invitation, we hope that, as the only openly gay bishop, he will be at the Conference. And we hope that the American bishops of the Episcopal Church will be there to witness to the full inclusion of all people as expressed so clearly in its understanding of the Baptismal Covenant.
The Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed in his letter of invitation that "An invitation to participate in the Conference has not in the past been a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy. Coming to the Lambeth Conference does not commit you to accepting the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church."
We hope that this chance for gracious engagement between bishops of very different theological hues is not missed so that the Communion can continue to grow in its welcoming inclusion. Successive Lambeth Conferences in 1978, 1988 and 1998 have requested genuine engagement with lesbian and gay Christians. We trust that the 2008 Conference will be part of the listening process called for many times in recent years.
The Revd Giles Goddard (UK)
The Revd Scott Gunn (USA)
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