Sunday, July 12, 2009


Text of my truncated 2-minute "speech" to the HoD during its Committee of the Whole session. One of 30 presentations.

B033 was passed in the last minutes of the 2006 convention for a very specific reason: Pressure. We were told that if we wanted our new PB to have a chance to be at the table of primates, we needed to pass this resolution. We were becoming, after all, a Communion of Exclusion and we feared that this might be another reason for blocking our access to the table. Throughout that convention three years ago, emissaries of the ABC were pressuring bishops and deputies to not do anything that would further rend the communion – meaning no more positive stuff about including gays in the full sacramental life of the church. In fact, we heard something similar yesterday from the Archbishop of Canterbury when he said he hoped and prayed that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart. We all knew what he meant. So this fear based in pressure that resulted in B033 was a very real thing.

But our actions and further restraints —for a season, if you will —have done little to return us to a Communion of inclusion, diversity, and breadth of theology. And they caused further harm to a category of Episcopalians – harm for which we who voted for B033 are responsible. So we’re now in a place where we must again make intentional decisions. Will we continue to sacrifice a portion of God’s people for a false sense of unity with those who have no interest in being one with us? Or will we move on the path that truly identifies us as Christians?

Contrary to popular rhetoric, this movement for inclusion in the sacramental life of the church is not a new prophetic movement. It is a return to the path on which Jesus had set us. Let’s remember that Jesus did not make a lot of folks happy. He caused a schism among the Jewish community. He preached the Hebrew prophets – and we know what happened to them. His ministry and teachings caused his death -- his death to this world but his life to a new creation. That’s what we’re being asked to do: to die to the law and to live into the cloak of Christ. Do we continue to exclude those of a particular sexual orientation? What group will be our next target? Or do we have the courage to live the difficult teachings of Jesus Christ on our journey to the realm of God? That is the question we’re faced with today.

In his most recent book, Peter Gomes says, “Rarely has the Christian church risked its temporal position to proclaim the glad tidings of Jesus’ preaching and teaching, for the risk of the status quo is always too great. The danger of the Gospel is that if we take it seriously, then like Jesus we will risk all, and might even lose all. Could it be that we spend so much time trying to make sense of the Bible that we have failed to take to heart the essential content of the preaching and teaching of Jesus? …If we are sincere in wanting to know what Jesus would do, we must risk the courage to ask what he says, what he asks, and what he demands. Only if we do so will we be able to move…from the Bible to the Gospel.”

B033 was approved out of fear, hoping to maintain some sort of status quo. It’s time to reject that statement and to move beyond that fear. If we really are Christians and really do take seriously the very difficult teachings of Jesus Christ, then we must risk actually living into his teachings. It’s time to move from parsing the Bible to living the Good News.


  1. Right on! Reject BO33, absolutely. It's like minimizing war by saying, we only lost 1 to their 5....but, that 1 was mine, the loss is too great..."giving in" does not win anything, it simply minimizes the cause.

    Be strong...the "majority" is not always right...Jesus, if ever, was rarely "in the majority".

  2. I was pleased to learn you were one of the speakers. And this is a very fine statement. Love your last sentence. "Parsing the Bible" vs. "living the Good News." Indeed.

  3. Thanks, Lisa. I wish I had been able to say it! The mike stopped working just before I got to that last statement.

    And Anonymous -- we didn't reject B033 but passed B025, which, in effect, nullified 033. Unfortunately, the Hawaiian deputation was split and thus a No vote.

  4. Thanks, Rev for all you do!

  5. To you Liz and your principled gumption must go a tiny portion of credit
    for this historic and just decision. And to all others of the clergy and lay and bishops with a backbone and a heart, I would same the same. Hallejah and amen!