Thursday, February 18, 2016

Diocese of Texas Opens the Door to Equality for All

This past weekend marked a monumental shift in the Diocese of Texas in terms of equality for ALL. It also opened the doors for unlimited opportunities to advance the mission of the Church. With a vote of 499 in favor and 144 against the reordering and restructuring of the Diocesan Canons, a 19 year battle for the soul of the diocese has drawn to a close.

While there have been many on both sides of this battle, two progressives who deserve to be singled out are Muffie Moroney and The Rev. Jim Stockton. Both Moroney and Rev. Stockton can be described as tenaciously loyal to the ideal of justice and to the church that they love and serve. In the end it was current Bishop C Andrew Doyle who forged a new unity - a unity that will allow the diocese to finally put divisions on marriage and LGBTQ rights behind us as we are given the opportunity to move into mission without bringing along nearly two decades of harmful political baggage. Ultimately, this vote was more about mission and less about marriage.

There are several key points that highlight the effect of this council action.

1. This restructuring and reordering of the canons, treats all marriages equally. No longer will married LGBTQ clergy be automatically disqualified from serving in this diocese.

2. Parishes will be able to call the priests of their own choosing. Hiring can now be based on a person's abilities, skill and job performance.

3. The responsibility for moral discipline as it pertains to the breaking of the marriage vows within the ranks of the clergy is returned to the office of the bishop.

Even more wide sweeping than these direct effects, this council action changes the political tone for councils yet to convene. No more will there be a need to strategize, plot, and plan how one side will win against the other. Months of gathering support on either side will cease. No more political posturing over the sexual mores of an entire diocese.

This action also signals to every LGBTQ Christian that they indeed have a home in the Episcopal Church. The opportunities to serve Christ are open to all without limitations.

The road forward may be rocky but Episcopalians throughout the Diocese can hold fast to the idea of being unified in mission as they seek to engage the communities in which they serve.

S Wayne Mathis
VP of Local Affairs Integrity USA
Co Convener Integrity Houston


Dale said...

What happy news! I couldn't dream of this day, not quite, during the time I was in Houston (1986-1995), but was happy to be part of the work in the church to lay the foundations.

(From a former convenor of Integrity/Houston and former Regional Vice President--South Central).

Bob said...

I thank God that I belong to a church that reflects love, although, like all humans, it sometimes takes a while to understand what love means.

12StepSteve said...

Several years ago during a sermon at St. Stephen's Houston, Rev. Lisa Hunt, during a sermon, assured the congregation that the time had not yet come but that it would come in due course. And she was right. Credit also goes to former Secretary of State James Baker who advised the bishop that he needed to figure out a way to implement Covenant Blessings, because denomination wide approval was inevitable. The Bishop did and the diocese did not fracture over it. It's far more effective to stay involved and keep asking for fairness, while contributing to the life of one's parish.

Another wise member of the clergy, Rev. Helen Havens, would often remind people that if a change in society that was perceived as radical remained over the long run, then it was God's will. Conversely, if a radical change was made and then faded away, it was because the change was not God's will.

I want to thank all of the people who I have named here plus those I haven't for making the Diocese of Texas a better place to live.

talkwithmelistentome said...

No success without labor. I salute the courage of the founders Integrity. It is about integrity.