Witnesses Friday night offered many versions of reality to the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music as it considered resolutions on liturgies for blessing same-gender relationships.
Newark Bishop John Croneberger said that sacraments make real what is already true. “What is true in my life is the need to be able to minister to the people with whom I live and love and share my life. I don’t want to continue to strain a rubric to find the resources I need t o do my job,” he told the nearly 900 people at the hearing.
Approving same-gender blessings would serve the church’s commitment to the 20/20 vision, some deputies said. Western Michigan Deputy Larry Manglitz said gay and lesbian people form a “mission field” that the church must harvest. “They are hungry for exactly what we have,” he said.
Not everyone was convinced of that reality. “This is going to damage the mission of the Church,” said South Carolina Bishop Suffragan William Skilton.
Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan agreed, saying that every time the Episcopal Church takes an “extraordinary stand like this . . . folks in the north of Nigeria die, folks in southern Sudan die.”
“We can be a thriving Church whose members disagree on the issue of homosexuality,” said Deputy Sam Candler, dean of St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta. “And, at the same time, we can be a thriving Church that includes occasional, blessed same-sex relationships – certain unions which are wholesome examples of the grace that God has poured out for each one of us.”
The committee invited two of its members, Candler and South Carolina clergy deputy Kendall Harmon, to lead off the evening’s testimony.
Harmon said the reality is that homosexuals are in “relationships in search of a theology” because the church only knows a theology of marriage.
“A same-sex union cannot be unitive, because physically the bodies do not fit together in their design, and it is unable to be procreative,” he insisted.
Harmon offered a final reality, asking people if they were willing to look Jesus in the eye on the day of judgment and admit they voted in Minneapolis “to reject your clearly revealed will in Scripture, to shatter your church, and to pull people away from the love of Christ.”