“I write this letter with great appreciation and affection, and with difficulty.” This was the opening sentence of Kee Sloan’s letter to the people of the diocese as he prepared to leave for his first General Convention of The Episcopal Church as Bishop of Alabama. Bishop Sloan knew that a controversial resolution authorizing the blessing of same-sex relationships would come to a vote. Either way he voted, Bishop Sloan knew he would greatly disappoint people. (As it turned out, he voted “yes” to the resolution, but has announced he will not allow the blessing of same-sex unions in the diocese. You may visit the diocesan website for more about this.)
As your Dean, I find myself in a similar position as Bishop Sloan, which is to say, I write this with great appreciation and affections, and with difficulty.
As many of you know the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed resolution (A049) that authorizes material for the blessing of same-sex relationships. More than a few members of our church have written, emailed and called for my response as Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent.
Many of you have read the brochure “Speaking the Truth in Love” I wrote six years ago in response to the Consecration of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual, and the General Convention of 2006. Our position (“our” meaning the clergy and the Chapter of the Advent) has not changed since the writing of “Speaking the Truth in Love” in August 2006. If you would like a printed copy, please email my office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 226-3510 and I will see to it that you get a copy right away.
The bottom line is that we at the Advent will do our best to remain true to the teachings of the Bible. That means we’re all sinners; no one person is above another. That also means we cannot bless any sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman. The Bible is clear about this. If anyone who declares the Bible teaches otherwise, then I wouldn’t doubt his or her sincerity, but I would have to question their training in biblical interpretation. (Again, if you would like an overview of the many passages that deal with sexual morality, let us know by using the aforementioned email or telephone number.) While we love one another and reach out to all sorts and conditions of people, and while homophobia by any person on our staff will not be tolerated, we cannot bless same-sex relationships.
Bishop Sloan knows exactly where we stand. He and I have talked openly about our differences. While we do not agree, he not only “tolerates” the Advent’s position, he accepts and respects our position and sees that we have a legitimate voice within his diocese.
Some of my colleagues have long left The Episcopal Church. We respect their decision. But we do not feel called to leave. We feel called by God to be a faithful witness within, but without being in collusion with flawed theology that lies at the heart of this presenting issue. But the presenting issue shall not sidetrack us. Our preaching and teaching ministry will remain focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, bearing witness to the Light. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it” (John 1:5). We will not waver in our conviction. In all that we do, say and think, may God alone be glorified.
[Ed. note: Dean Limehouse commented further on this topic in the first half of the July 15 Dean's Class.]