The reaction was swift and -- to those of us who have been advocating for the full inclusion all the baptized in the Body of Christ for decades -- gratifying. Bishop after bishop issued strong statements condemning the process in general and the content in particular. The TEC LGBTQ Caucus launched a webpage tracking the statements.
I wrote an "Open Letter to Archbishop Justin Welby -- suggesting this edit to solve the problem:
And then -- against all odds and the expectations of most veteran Anglican Communion Watchers -- things began to change.
On July 25, an initial response from Lambeth Conference added the option of "I do not add my voice to this Call" to the voting process -- with a promise of updated content to come.
On July 26, that updated content was posted including this edit to the original Lambeth Call to Human Dignity 2.3 posted above:
Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.
We've gone from "not permissible" -- utterly ignoring the irrefutable data point that in many places in the Anglican Communion such marriages are not just permitted but celebrated -- to:
Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.
This, my friends, is what Communion Across Difference is all about. Acknowledging our differences. Being honest about who we are and what we believe. And committing to walk together -- to the maximum possible degree -- anyway.
This is what it means to have the DNA of Anglican Comprehensiveness coursing in our veins. It is what it means to be the spiritual descendants of those who refused to settle for the binary choice of being either Protestant or Catholic but to end the cycle of burning each other at the stake by choosing instead to live together in the tension of each thinking the other is wrong.
And this is what we have to bring as Good News to this beautiful and broken world wracked by polarization, division and zero-sum-game calculations: a vision for how bridges can be built across seemingly intractable differences in order to combine forces to address the challenges that call us to unite as members of the same human family.
Now, I don't know what will happen next at Lambeth. The bishops have not yet even begun their work together and many of them are -- as I write this -- still traveling, gathering, napping and looking for lost luggage (from what I can see on social media.) But whatever happens next -- or finally -- what happened today is a sign of both hope and possibility. And I'm grateful to sit for a moment and rejoice and be glad in it