Thursday, July 9, 2009

Episcopalians Offer Colorful LGBT Celebration to Archbishop


ANAHEIM, CA (July 9, 2009)—Hundreds of Episcopalians, who support marriage equality for LGBT members in the church, attended worship services with the Archbishop of Canterbury today wearing bright t-shirts proclaiming "Here I am, send me! I am a witness to God's inclusive love." The Most Rev. Rowan Williams was at the Anaheim convention center for the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church and delivered a meditation during the daily Eucharist service.

Relations between the Episcopal Church and various members of the Anglican Communion have been strained over the years, first by the ordination of women to the priesthood during the 1970's and then again in 2003 when the Diocese of New Hampshire consecrated the first openly gay bishop within the Episcopal Church. During the last triennial convention in 2006, church leaders bowed to pressure from the Archbishop and the former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to pass a resolution called B033 which instituted a moratorium on the consecration of additional LGBT bishops, as well as blessings for same-gender relationships

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury met briefly in private with eight LGBT convention deputies and in his meditation before the entire Convention today, Williams acknowledged that that some members of the Episcopal Church have paid a price for the sake of Anglican unity.

"I do realize that this engagement has been and still is costly for different people in different ways: some feel impatient, some feel compromised, some feel harassed or undervalued, or that their good faith has been ungraciously received. I'm sorry; this has been hard and will not get much easier, I suspect," Williams told the assembly.

He added that he hoped no decisions would come out of the Convention that would further strain Anglican relations. Presently, the bishops and deputies gathered in Anaheim are considering a dozen or so resolutions concerning LGBT issues, ranging from transgender discrimination, repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and proposals for blessings of same-gender marriages and civil unions.

"The LGBT baptized are not objects to be sacrificed. We are witnesses to be mobilized," said Susan Russell, President of Integrity USA, an LGBT advocacy organization within the Episcopal Church.

"We are witnesses to God’s inclusive love made manifest in our lives, our relationships and our vocations. We are ready, willing and able to offer that witness to the wider Anglican Communion family in the service of the Gospel we proclaim and the Lord we serve. The message we have for the Archbishop is: Here we are, send us!"

After the communion service with the Archbishop, members of Integrity and their supporters gathered in the front of the convention center to sing and have their pictures taken. Dozens of onlookers joined them in singing the African hymn "We are marching in the light of God."Participating in the celebration were numerous clergy and several bishops, including the Very Revd. Rowan Smith of Cape Town, South Africa.

The General Convention continues in Anaheim through July 17.

For additional information:
Pamela Reamer Williams
Integrity Media Relations


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