Perhaps youve seen the Episcopal News Service coverage of the LGBTQ+ solidarity march by University of Kent staff and students during the Lambeth Conference. Sheila and I were among a number of Lambeth Conference attendees to take part. Why were the Kent folks marching in the middle of the summer during a gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world? Because spouses of bishops in same-gender marriages have been barred from official participation in the conference.

The University of Kent is the physical host of the Lambeth Conference – we meet in their buildings and eat in their food-service facilities. For those University of Kent marchers, the stand of the Anglican Communion Office and the Lambeth planning office didnt match their sense of what is moral and right in human life. The Church, the body entrusted by Christ with liberating and supporting the flourishing of all life was acting to suppress and constrict life.

Its easy to see how the Lambeth Conference landing on the campus of the University of Kent brought the issue of unfairness on the part of a global body home, down to the local level. While it may not seem so obvious back in the Bay Area, it is equally of moment in the Diocese of California as it is in Canterbury (the town where the University of Kent is).

Way back in the early 2000s, during a House of Bishops meeting, a seminary professor pronounced to me that Church policy on LGBTQ inclusion was unrelated to justice. Its just about who gets to serve on vestries and other intra Church organizations, like altar guilds.At the time I was the Bishop Suffragan of Alabama. Not long before this House of Bishops meeting, gay men in Alabama had been the victims of violent hate crimes.

If, in the State of Alabama where people could and did lose their lives because of their sexual identity, it didnt matter about how the Church approached LGBTQ people, then what we were really saying is that the Church doesnt matter, that the Church is disconnected from the life.

And we can look anywhere and say the same thing – either the Church is body that helps bring the love of Jesus Christ into the world, or it is something other than the Church, and is at best irrelevant. Anywhereincludes our beloved diocese, the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area, the Diocese of California. Transgender women of color are vulnerable in the Bay Area in the same way as they are elsewhere, anywhere. The stand that your Communion, the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of California or your congregation takes matters, is noticed. We either make the world safer and better for all, or we make it worse.

So here at the Lambeth Conference 2022 the bishops of the Episcopal Church are laboring to do two things, both of which seem to me to be hallmarks of Christianity: we are seeking to enlarge the rights and protections afforded to LGBTQ people in the Church, a Communion that has some eight million members in 167 countries, while we stay in relationship with parts of the Church that differ and disagree with us. Modeled beautifully by Presiding Bishop Curry, we stay connected – we arent going anywhere– and we remain resolute on justice. We have friends within the Communion, many more than at Lambeth 2008, and we work to have no enemies. Please pray for us as we pray for you.

Sheila and +Marc Andrus

adiadiocal
Author: adiadiocal