John Danforth, Episcopal priest and previous Republican Senator and Ambassador to the United Nations spoke this week to the national convention of the Episcopal Church. The most significant issue being addressed by the denomination is a demand by more conservative members that there be a moratorium on the selection of openly gay bishops and on the blessing of same-sex unions.
This has been of particular importance because primates in other countries, particularly in Africa and Asia are insisting that the Episcopal Church either conform to the foreign primates’ demands on issues of homosexuality or that they be severed from the greater Anglican fellowship of churches. The more conservative churches, both foreign and domestic, insist that they will refuse to be in communion with anyone who dares to disagree with them on this issue. The Archbishop of Canterbury is fearful that the actions of this convention could split the worldwide Anglican church.
Senator Danforth had these words so say:
“For 99%-plus of people, they really couldn’t care less who the bishop of diocese ‘X’ or ‘Z’ is,” Danforth said, during the church’s national legislative meeting. “Nor could they care less whether a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions is available in a prayer book or over the Internet.”
It seems to me that the debate over gay people and their inclusion or exclusion from the Body of Christ will be an issue that future historians will view with either bemusement – as we do over the debate as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – or with dismay – as we do over the debate over whether black people have a soul.
At this time it seems wise to me to seek counsel of learned thoughtful men and women, like John Danforth, who seek to calm the waters and seek inclusion and peace rather than discord.