What an exciting time to be part of St. Stephen’s!
On Sunday we will have a time to share what General Convention decisions mean for our Church and our congregation. At 9:30 a.m. in Pecore Hall, Carvel Glenn and I will be sharing what happened and what developments you can expect here at St. Stephen’s.
We may have new visitors among us on Sunday checking us out for a spiritual home. We also may have visitors who are objecting to our ministry. Remember our mission: to walk, without judgment, with those taking different paths to God so that we may be transformed through Jesus Christ as we serve others. Both sets of visitors will deserve our hospitality and grace.
If we should have protestors, do not be afraid. You may speak, in welcome, if you like or remain silent. Know that the staff and vestry are prepared to address any conflicted situations. We recognize that the decision of our Church may upset some other Christians; we are committed to treating one another with respect and in peace.
A reporter contacted me to ask for a timeline and my statement of what it means to me as a leader to be able to offer these rites at St. Stephen’s. Here is what I said:
The Episcopal Church has always attempted to embody the teachings of Jesus by embracing irony, ambiguity, and unity in difference, even in strained historical circumstances. Currently in American culture there is an assumption that there must be winners and losers, our Church has demonstrated that there is an alternative.
By authorizing these rites, the Episcopal Church is modeling grace and reconciliation with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians who have often been ostracized and condemned by us, when they haven’t just been ignored. We are also extending hospitality and welcome to others who have found Christians to be judgmental and condemning. By recognizing that there are Christians within our Church who cannot in conscience embrace these rites, we are also asserting that unanimity is not required for faithfulness and unity. Faith does not require coercion.
Personally, I feel excited to be engaging this new stage in the Church’s ministry and I feel an obligation to do so in a way that does not alienate my sisters and brothers in the faith who disagree with our Church’s decision.