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Working for the Clampdown [ECUSA]
Stand Firm ^ | 5/01/2006 | Greg Griffith

Posted on 05/01/2006 5:51:02 PM PDT by sionnsar

The clergy of the Diocese of Mississippi recently received the results of a survey conducted by the Committee on Ministry to Lesbian and Gay Persons. The entire report can be viewed here. Everyone is encouraged to read the entire document. It is a startling look into the agenda, presumptions, and strategy of homosexuality advocates in the Diocese of Mississippi, and the degree to which Bishop Duncan Gray endorses their cause.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that Stand Firm has never wavered in its position that homosexuals should be warmly welcomed in to the Episcopal Church. The same welcome we extend to our homosexual brothers and sisters is the same welcome we extend to all of our brothers and sister in Christ who have sinned and seek salvation through God's grace.

The proper role of any ministry specifically concerned with gay and lesbian persons is to deliver them from the sin of homosexual behavior, through prayer, worship, counseling, Bible study, and fellowship, but mainly through a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Any ministry that seeks to affirm homosexual behavior is contrary to the univocal prohibition of homosexual behavior in the Bible, and two millennia of Christian teaching on sexual morality.

The Ministry for Lesbian and Gay Persons in the Diocese of Mississippi, on the other hand, has sought to advance the social normalization of homosexuality, to embrace homosexuals in their lifestyle, and now, it seems, to serve as a conduit by which Integrity – the national Episcopal gay rights advocacy group – will insinuate itself into the life of each parish and mission in this diocese.

If you are an Episcopalian in Mississippi and you've been waiting to see which side of this debate Bishop Gray will choose, there can be no doubt that by his full endorsement of the committee's report, he has chosen, at this crucial juncture in the Anglican debate over homosexuality and the authority of Holy Scripture, the side of homosexual activists in his diocese who seek to separate this church from the teachings the Bible.

To appreciate the nature of this report and the recommendations the bishop has accepted, it's important to note that the committee proceeds from the assumption that congregations can be characterized in only two ways regarding homosexuals: Accepting, or prejudicial.

On pages 4-5 of the report, the committee says this about congregations it has judged are not sufficiently welcoming:

"…16 congregations require an effort to deal with the negativity and 11 congregations need to have their prejudice and 'head in the sand' attitude addressed."
Among the specific recommendations Bishop Gray has endorsed are a statement of welcome "published in a visible part of the church facility":
We respect the dignity of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, national origin, race, gender or age, and welcome and encourage them to participate in all areas of parish/mission life.
The bishop's recommendation thus places "sexual orientation" at the top of the list of things about which congregations are not to discriminate, but more important, it demands of parishes and missions that they do the impossible: On the one hand the Bishop recommends that all persons regardless of sexual orientation be invited to participate in "all areas of parish/mission life," but in his pastoral letter of October, 2003, he states plainly:
The norm for ordination will be a person living a single, celibate life or in a heterosexual marriage. Nor will I authorize the blessing of same gender unions.
If you're wondering how the bishop's contradictory call for full participation of homosexuals in parish and mission life, and his ban on the blessing of same-sex unions might be reconciled, Integrity has the answer, and you need look no further than what seems to be an innocuous little rite in the Book of Occasional Services. The committee's recommendation for churches, which the bishop has accepted, is:
a) …contact National Integrity and secure appropriate informational material regarding their purpose, etc. …send a letter enclosing this information to the priest-in-charge and /or senior wardens of parishes/missions encouraging their consideration of Integrity should the opportunity arise, and providing contact information for interested persons when requested.

b) The Bishop, at some opportunity, encourage his clergy to become more familiar with the Celebration and Blessing of a Home and encourage its use.
Why should the bishop encourage the use of the Celebration and Blessing of a Home? The Diocese of New Hampshire – home of Bishop Gene Robinson – provides us with an explanation:
The Book of Common Prayer makes no position for the blessing of same-sex unions. The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, The Blessing of a Civil Marriage and An Order for Marriage in The Book of Common Prayer are clearly intended for heterosexual unions and are, therefore, not appropriate for use in blessing homosexual relationships, although they may serve as models for the development of such ceremonies and portions of them may be adapted for that purpose. Likewise, the Order for the Blessing of a Home in The Book of Occasional Services is not intended for the blessing of personal unions or partnerships, but it may serve that purpose with little or no adaptation.
It is safe to assume that this is Integrity's national strategy to continue blessing same-sex unions, should General Convention actually halt (or even decelerate) the church's move towards official adoption of the new liturgy.

The committee goes on to actually cast doubt on the accuracy of its respondents – 44 ordained clergy from 40 parishes and missions, including St. Andrew's cathedral and St. James, home to some of the diocese's supposedly more erudite priests. According to the clergy who responded, when asked to estimate how many homosexuals were members of their congregations, the grand total across the diocese was 250. The committee offers a more "accurate" estimate of 3-4 times that many. Why doesn't it trust the clergy's estimates? The truth, they figure, has to be that most homosexuals are
…still "in the closet" and/or priest/congregation are "not aware" and/or feel that it may be better to employ the "don't ask/don't tell" policy which tends to cause gays/lesbians to keep a low profile and also can discourage affiliation and also this policy impedes dialogue.
Indeed, the report repeatedly asserts that the amount of clerical interaction with homosexuals is almost uniformly insufficient. Can the dearth be explained by the fact that some clergy hold traditional Christian beliefs about homosexual behavior, and don't wish to condone it? No. It has to be something else. On the matter of "counseling with parents of a gay/lesbian teenager," it's that
…some are located in parishes/missions and/or communities where there is not a climate that would encourage parents to be forthcoming.
On the matter of providing Holy Eucharist and Unction to AIDS patients, the committee seems to lament that "11 have not had an opportunity to administer these sacraments."

To represent a segment of the church preoccupied with notions of nuance, subtlety, and above all tolerance of differing viewpoints, the committee has exactly two categories into which parishes and missions fall in regard to homosexuality: Accepting, and prejudicial. From its findings and recommendations on page 11:
11 congregations have some level of acceptance, but this is offset by various degrees of prejudice and in some case ignoring the presence of gays/lesbians altogether.
It would help the debate immensely if the bishop would make public the committee's definitions of what exactly constitutes "acceptance" and "prejudice," as well as the logic by which it arrives at the conclusion that failure to return the results it deems satisfactory must be the result of prejudice and ignoring the presence of gays; especially considering the lack of useful definitions, and the difficulty of believing that eleven clerics would blithely state they are deliberately ignoring homosexuals in their churches.

Do you belong to one of these "prejudicial" parishes? Has your belief in Christian sexual morality been re-classified as "negative"? Don't worry – Bishop Gray knows where you are, and he has a plan to "address" your "attitude":
…prepare and send a letter to the priest-in-charge and/or senior warden of each parish/mission. The letter should include appropriate portions of this survey regarding parish/mission acceptance or lack thereof. Also, the letter should ask that they implement ways their parish/mission can be more accepting, or ways to reinforce their current acceptance and ways to specifically address negativity and counter the "don't ask/don't tell" attitude.
Again, it is not Stand Firm's position that homosexuals should not be welcomed into our churches. To the contrary, we are proud to be part of a community of faith that does so. The problem, as it has been for years, is that homosexuality advocates attempt to turn "welcoming" into "endorsing." Where the committee and Bishop Gray err is in:

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 05/01/2006 5:51:03 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; meandog; gogeo; Lord Washbourne; Calabash; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; ...
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2 posted on 05/01/2006 5:51:47 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi 2006 | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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