[ENS] The report of the Lambeth Commission is both a sobering and encouraging document, which because of the depth of its scholarship and theological reflection, cannot be summed up in a simple statement.
It is a hopeful report, since it charts a way forward for the Anglican Communion. It is a challenging report because it does not avoid naming the difficult measures required to sustain communion.
The implications of the report for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole will reveal themselves in the ensuing months as we come to understand what the Commission has said and what it has asked. My intent is to hear the words with an open mind and unguarded heart.
I know for myself that there are many details to be taken in and studied. I am humbled by the extensive theology and historical work the Commission has done and I think their work deserves and a careful and prayerful reading, not a rush to judgment. This report marks a first step on a longer process, as Archbishop Robin Eames writes in his forward.
As for the Diocese of Missouri, it is my hope to implement the guidelines after taking counsel on two fronts: With clergy and laity of the Diocese, and with my brothers and sisters in the House of Bishops.
The Commission was chartered to sustain the highest possible degree of communion among the 98 million Anglicans worldwide, not to address the scriptural and theological issues around matters of human sexuality.
The report brilliantly fulfills this charter, marking a course, albeit a challenging one, for holding the Communion together. It is worth noting, nonetheless, that the commission reaffirms resolutions of past Lambeth Conferences recognizing the presence of gay and lesbian persons among us as full members of the Body of Christ.
In that spirit, it is my intention to maintain the Episcopal Church as a safe place for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith
Bishop of Missouri