So, let’s talk amongst ourselves. What does the statement of the Primates call on us to do? Aside from our response to their statement, there is more for us to do as members of Integrity, as members of The Episcopal Church, and as followers of Jesus Christ.
The Primates issued their statement with its “consequences” outlined therein. As you are aware, we, Integrity USA, responded with what was, for all practical purposes, a somewhat “political” response/portion of the discussion. Yet we have a more important discussion: the pastoral implications and needs for ourselves and others.
What will we do to provide pastoral support to each other and to our sisters and brothers in less hospitable provinces of the Anglican Communion?
We will continue to "Love one another as I have loved you."
We will continue to "Forgive your enemies and those who hate you."
We will continue to "Forgive 70 times 7."
Why will we do these things? These are the words Jesus spoke to His followers. Jesus calls us over this tumult.
Jesus calls us to forgive those who hurt us, those who hate us and seek to injure us whether in body or mind or soul. If we claim any authenticity as followers of Jesus we must confess that forgiveness is central to our identity as Christians. These are some of the things we must do if we are to be Jesus people in a Jesus movement.
This calling is now even more important to us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people as the result of the release of the statement by the Primates. Their words are painful to all LGBTQ people everywhere who know ourselves as beloved children of God. Their words are also painful to The Episcopal Church which has taken the risk of the Gospel in the full inclusion of all God’s children in the sacramental life of the church.
This is not the first time the Primates have inflicted pain on LGBTQ people and The Episcopal Church. I doubt it will be their last attempt. And yet, we will persevere. We have been to the foot of the cross before and we will be there again. That is where we find the strength to endure being there. It is where we find redemption, release and healing and the ability to forgive.
We will find forgiveness – 70 times 7. Such is the cost of discipleship.
We will find healing for our broken hearts, for there is a balm in Gilead.
We will find hope for our weary spirits. Such is the promise of the resurrection. And, like the first disciples, we will find the courage to open the eyes of our hearts to see the fullness of love in the empty tomb.
More importantly, we will share that hope and continue to be a beacon of the unconditional love of God in Christ to our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in the very provinces where these Primates continue to oppress and persecute them.
The decades of discussion, debate, and attempts to exclude, have given both The Episcopal Church and its LGBTQ members a level of spiritual maturity that allows us to be clear about where we are, who we are, and whose we are.
Our own Primate, the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry has and I suspect will continue to remind us that we are Jesus people and part of a Jesus movement. The President of our House of Deputies, the Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, has been clear that we will continue to be part of the Anglican Communion and will fulfill our responsibilities on the Anglican Consultative Council, the more legislative of the instruments of communion. Integrity USA is in full support of the work and the statements of the two individuals who are the presiding officers and the chief pastors of The Episcopal Church.
So, we have and will continue to endure the cost of discipleship that comes with following what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do. We can take no other stance if we claim to follow Jesus. It is a price we have paid and are willing to continue to pay.
The struggle continues. We do not struggle alone.