Lambeth Conference ‘appeal’ bill threatens to reignite 1998 row over homosexuality
BISHOPS attending the Lambeth Conference could be asked to vote again on 1998 Conference Resolution 1.10, which rejected homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture.”
It was decided that no resolution — final announcement — should be taken at this Conference. After a plenary session on a particular topic, Lambeth would instead issue “calls”: specific statements, affirmations and appeals to the Anglican Communion to pray, reflect and reflect on a topic, and for each Province to decide its response ( News, June 10).
Earlier this week, organizers published the draft appeals in a new brochure for bishops attending the Conference. The brochure describes how an electronic voting system will be used to allow bishops to register their views.
Each call, the Archbishop of Canterbury told a virtual press conference in June, would be “carefully structured to speak about scripture, church tradition and what the assembled bishops feel is the way God calls them.”
Some on controversial subjects would be published, “not with the aim of radically changing the teaching of the Church, but to bring us to a deeper love for one another and to understand how God calls us to be the Church of God for the world of God”.
The booklet explains how, for each call, the bishops will vote electronically either to affirm: “This call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and undertake to take the measures that I can to implement it”; or: “This call requires more discernment. I engage my voice in the ongoing process. Bishops absent from the conference will be able to vote remotely.
The booklet contains a draft text of all the calls, as well as guidance and study notes. A call-writing group worked on everyone’s text. Each had a lead author. The call to reaffirm 1.10 comes in the “Call for Human Dignity”, led by the Primate of the West Indies, the Very Reverend Howard Gregory.
It currently reads as follows:
“All human beings are created in the image of God. Therefore, Anglicans pledge to respect, protect and recognize the dignity of all. It was, however, a gap between rhetoric and reality. Historical exploitation, deepening poverty and prejudice continue to threaten human dignity. Amid these threats, and our own divisions and discernment, we call for: (i) an Archbishop’s Commission for Redemptive Action; (ii) the creation of an Anglican innovation fund; and (iii) the reaffirmation of Lambeth 1:10 which confirms marriage between a man and a woman and requires further work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans.
The Archbishop of South Sudan, Msgr. Justin Badi, President of the Global Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA), released a video message last week to “Orthodox” bishops attending the Conference. Calling for the reaffirmation of Resolution 1.10 as “official Church of England teaching on marriage” would “sound a clear call to biblical fidelity,” he said (News, July 13).
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, told the June press conference (News, June 23) that as chairman of the Lambeth Conference Design Group he had “worked. . . to ensure that each member of the team, who represented a diversity of viewpoints from around the world, brings their voice and experiences into the planning process.
“In seeking to accommodate a different emphasis brought by the different constituencies of the Communion, whether geographic, theological or otherwise, we have adopted a ‘both and’ approach instead of an ‘either “. It meant working to welcome and ensure that disparate voices were heard, hopefully providing an example of how to manage tensions and disagreements within the Communion.
The Bishop of Los Angeles, the Very Reverend John Harvey Taylor, reacted in horror, calling Lambeth 1.10 a “notorious and communion-ripping statement”. He points out that the voting choice offered to bishops is limited: “If we don’t vote yes, we can vote that an issue requires more discernment. From now on, we cannot decisively defend God-given human rights and vote no.
Referring to the growing noise of calls on social media, Bishop Taylor writes in his blog: “Word is spreading rapidly that Kumbaya Lambeth is in fact a bait and switch Lambeth, with moderate and progressive Anglicans and Episcopalians on the verge of to arrive in Canterbury as gullible props for what is likely to be a majority vote against marriage fairness. . .
“Lambeth does not legislate or establish policy. But that won’t matter to a global audience that is likely to read that a majority of Anglican bishops have refused to affirm the dignity of every human being. This is exactly the wrong message to a dying world. This is the opposite of Christian values of healing and reconciliation. It divides, hurts, scapegoats and denies. It incites the youngest to flee the faith and serves no one but the gods of secularization, who watch over the whole world.
Bishop Taylor cites the agreement that was reached within the American Episcopal Church at its General Convention in 2018, when conservative bishops, “without denying their belief in traditional marriage . . . generously acknowledged a pastoral responsibility for ensure that all people in their dioceses, whatever their orientation, have access to the rite of marriage in the parishes they love.
“As a result, we have achieved considerable unity despite a great diversity of opinions. Now these bishops are being dragged back into the same old boring binary argument. . .
“No matter how much we argue during the conference, we will not change our minds about each other on this issue. In such situations, the holy and logical gesture is to find common ground. This is what we have all prayed for in anticipation of this conference. Instead, someone decided it would be good for the body of Christ to steer us away from fellowship-building conversations about poverty, global warming, war and peace and argue as if we were in 1998.”
On Friday, Bishop Welby issued a message to bishops traveling to Canterbury for the Conference, which begins later next week. “I know many of you are reading and praying about the draft Lambeth appeals which have been released this week – and they are understandably the subject of debate ahead of the conference. Indeed, these calls were born out of a process of discussion and meeting with each other.
“They are informed by the ideas and themes of online video conversations between bishops around the world over the past year. They have been written by a diverse group of Anglicans – men and women, lay and ordained, from different generations and from all parts of the Communion. They are part of a process that began before this part of the Conference and will continue long after its formal end, as each Province discerns its own response to calls in its own context. .
His prayer, he says, is that all reflect on the ‘Call to Anglican Identity’ project, which states that Anglicans “belong to a tradition that seeks faithfulness to God in rich and diverse cultures, human experiences distinct and deep disagreements”. This appeal also declares: “The Anglican Communion is a gift from God. Ruled by scripture, affirming ancient beliefs, sacramentally centered and episcopally directed – Anglicans seek to be faithful to God in their agreement and in their disagreement.
The Archbishop concludes: “Without ignoring the things on which we deeply disagree, I pray that we will approach this gathering with an even deeper sense of what unites us: the love of Jesus Christ and his call to serve. the world of God”.
Resolution 1.10, adopted in 1998:
- commends to the Church the report of the subsection on human sexuality;
- in view of the teaching of Scripture, supports fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman in union for life, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
- recognizes that there are people among us who see themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of them are members of the Church and seek the pastoral care, the moral direction of the Church, and the transforming power of God to live their lives and organize their relationships. We are committed to listening to the experience of homosexual people and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. ;
- while rejecting homosexual practice as inconsistent with scripture, calls on all of our people to minister in a pastoral and sensitive way to all, regardless of sexual orientation, and to condemn the irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialization and commercialization of sex;
- cannot counsel the legitimization or blessing of same-sex unions or ordain those involved in same-sex unions;
- asks the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources between us;
- notes the importance of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.