Meeting at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-gender relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops, according to a news release from the group.
"Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda," the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation, said in the release. "We are asking our church and our communion to see what God has created and know that it is good."
The Consultation also called upon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to invite New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as a full participant to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-gender relationship.
"We wanted to affirm Gene," said Diocese of Washington Bishop John Bryson Chane in the release, "but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the church with their God-given gifts -- even when the church has been unwilling to receive them."
Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined Anglicans from Central, North and South America in "pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another," the release said.
Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. "Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house."
Adams' paper is available here.
During the three days, punctuated by periods of silent prayer, participants heard papers by Adams, Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington, Dean Jenny Te Paa of St. John's College, Auckland, New Zealand, and the Rev. Frederick Quinn of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Other papers presented at the meeting are due to be posted here in the coming days.
The members also began to develop strategies to advance the cause of full inclusion at the Lambeth Conference in 2008, and at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim, California, in 2009.
Te Paa preached at a Eucharist celebrated with members of the Consultation and the Seabury-Western community.
While developing what they dubbed a "strategy of inclusion," participants also voiced opposition to the current draft of a proposed Anglican covenant, the release said.
"There was tremendous energy in the plenary sessions, and even more in the breakout groups," the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean at Seabury-Western, and co-convener of the Consultation, said in the release. "It was such a talented and committed group that eventually we abandoned some of the formal presentations and started identifying our priorities and making plans."
Participants focused particular attention on building international coalitions to work against what the Rev. Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in Alexandria, Virginia, called "interlocking oppressions." Tutu described what she called a web of economic, political and social factors that determine who has access to power, resources and social approval, and who does not, according to the release.
"The issue is human suffering and the attitudes that cause it," said Bishop Celso Franco de Oliveira of Rio de Janeiro.
Before adjourning, the release said, the group made plans to:
- publish several of the papers it received on the website Episcopal Café;
- establish its own website;
- hire a part-time coordinator; and
- support working groups on communications, fundraising and organizational strategy, as well as a group to identify and produce theological resources.
The consultation includes two Primates of the Anglican Communion -- Archbishop Martin de Jesus Barahona of Central America and Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, who was unable to attend due to illness; 12 bishops from the Episcopal Church, including 10 diocesan bishops or bishops-elect; four members of the Church's Executive Council; numerous General Convention deputies, and representatives of groups such as Integrity USA, Claiming the Blessing and Inclusive Church.
Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, attended the consultation as an observer, according to the release. She said she hopes other groups in the church will invite her to their meetings in a similar capacity so that she can familiarize herself with their concerns.
Participants from other parts of the Anglican Communion in addition to Adams and Te Paa included the Very Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, dean of St. Nicholas College, Cape Coast, Ghana; Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; the Rev. Jane Shaw, dean of divinity, New College, Oxford; and the Rev. Giles Fraser, founder of Inclusive Church in the United Kingdom.
The steering committee was convened by Meyers and Perry and included Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, who was unable to attend the meeting; Chane; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Seabury-Western; the Rev. Gay Jennings, a member of Executive Council from the Diocese of Ohio; Jim Naughton, canon for communications and advancement in the Diocese of Washington; Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe professor of historical theology at Episcopal Divinity School.
The consultation was supported by several grants, including one from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Michigan, which works to "achieve social justice
that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race."
Following the conference, the Consultation received a $60,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to support its future work.