Thursday, July 31, 2008 Today's "Comment is free" column

I appreciated the invitation to write this piece for the Guardian yesterday. Remembering that the "recommendations" of the Windsor Continuation Group are only that ... recommendations ... we remember as well that the Windsor Report quickly morphed, in the minds of some, into the Windsor Edict.

The work the bishops are doing here at Lambeth Conference is, I believe, bearing genuine fruit of respect for difference and commitment to walk together -- over the objections of the schismatic minority still lobbying for "resolution." Our job is to keep reminding all of them of their high calling as bishops in the church of God to pastor all the people ... not just some of them.


A flock abandoned -- Susan Russell, Thursday July 31 2008

It would be a sinful thing if Anglican church leaders walked away from the gay and lesbian baptised

As the Lambeth conference proceeds in Canterbury, gay and lesbian Anglicans find themselves, once again, on the communion chopping block. It is a sad thing indeed that the message sent out from the Anglican communion to the world is that homosexuals getting married in California are of more concern to the church than are homosexuals being mugged in Nigeria. It is an even sadder thing that bishops who have taken vows to be shepherds to their whole flock seem willing to consider sacrificing their gay and lesbian followers at the altar of institutional unity.

We recognise that the Anglican communion is involved in a long-term process of discernment and dialogue on issues of human sexuality and we are committed to being part of that process. Sadly, what the Windsor Continuation Group furthered in its report released on July 28 was the process of institutionalising bigotry and marginalising the gay and lesbian baptised. Acceptance of these recommendations would be totally antithetical to the core message of the Christian gospel.

The American and Canadian churches have never maintained that they hold anything other than a minority opinion on the full inclusion of the gay and lesbian baptised in the life and witness of the church. "Blessed are you who have complied with the will of the majority to exclude the minority" is to be found nowhere in the Bible. Rather, the gospel of Jesus is one of love, inclusion and "doing unto the least of these."

The Windsor Continuation Group has presented the bishops with nothing less than a "Sophie's choice" – telling them to choose between walking with brother and sister Anglicans who disagree with them on issues of human sexuality or walking with their brother and sister Anglicans who happen to be gay or lesbian.

It is time for the bishops to step up and say that gay and lesbian Anglicans are not for sale as bargaining chips in this game of global church politics – that the sacrifice of their lives and vocations in this church is too high a price to pay for institutional unity.

For at the end of the day, there is an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Brother and sister Anglicans walking away from the table because they've been disagreed with is a painful thing. The church walking away from the gay and lesbian baptised is a sinful thing.

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