The Oasis was shocked and saddened by the decision of “an overwhelming majority” of Primates to attempt to punish The Episcopal Church for the changes made to our canons to allow full access to the sacramental life of the church for everyone – including marriage equality. The pain of the intent to exclude touches the pain of the long history of the exclusion many of us have felt in our families, church, society and the world.
However, we remember that in 2005 a decision was made by the Primates to isolate The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada which demanded our withdrawal from “all other official entities of the Anglican Communion.” Then, as now, the Primates had no authority to make that decision – they are only one of four Instruments of Communion. The authority for legislative action rests with the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). In 2005, the ACC declined to enact that decision of the Primates. Instead, the Episcopal Church was asked to refrain from being seated on key governing committees of the ACC. We were allowed voice but no vote for a period of three years.
We do not know how the ACC will respond to the Primate’s most recent actions when they meet in April. We do know that our representative to that body, the Rev’d Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, is planning to attend. We know that the ACC will be under enormous pressure from the Primates to authorize their stated “consequences” for The Episcopal Church.
We pray that the members of the ACC will come to understand the inefficacy of the “ecclesiastical time out” which was imposed on The Episcopal Church from 2005-2008. Our Presiding Bishop and Primate, Michael Bruce Curry, was very clear with his brothers that our church will not be reversing our decision. Indeed, we know that several other provinces – Canada and Brazil among them – are poised to change their canons to include marriage equality. Will the Primates impose “consequences” on every province that makes this stance? Will they try to dis-empower and silence anyone with whom they disagree?
We pray that our LGBTQ sisters and brothers – here and around the world and in those very provinces of these Primates – will find solace in the words of Mark Beckwith, our Diocesan Bishop, who wrote: “I take a large measure of comfort in the primates’ unanimous desire to continue to “walk together”. That says to me that there is a widespread recognition that we need to stay in relationship. That across the Anglican Communion we can acknowledge difference and disagreement – and still be in relationship with one another through the living Christ whose reach knows no bounds.”
We also pray that we may be inspired by our Presiding Bishop who reminded us that we are Jesus People and we are part of what he calls The Jesus Movement. He said, “And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it’s a part of our vocation to help that to happen.”
In the days and months and years ahead, may we learn to walk together, even when some of us are at a different pace and others of us walk with a limp – and may the prophetic ministry to which we have been called gain in strength and wisdom and grace.
Archives of ENS: http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/26769_63481_ENG_HTM.htm
The Primates Statement: http://www.primates2016.org/articles/2016/01/14/statement-primates-2016/
The Presiding Bishop’s Statement: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/posts/publicaffairs/episcopal-church-presiding-bishop-and-primate-michael-curry-actions-anglican
The Statement from the President of the House of Deputies: http://houseofdeputies.org/on-the-primates-meeting-a-letter-from-president-jennings.html
The Statement from our Diocesan Bishop: http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/bishops-blog/message-diocese-response-anglican-primates%E2%80%99-vote-sanction-episcopal-church
The Statement from the No Anglican Covenant Coalition: http://www.noanglicancovenant.org/pr19.pdf.
More information can be found at our Web Page www.oasisnewark.org
The Board of The Oasis