Church of England vicars and churchgoers have taken to social media to criticise a potential vote on a previous position which rejects homosexuality as “incompatible with Scripture” during the upcoming Lambeth Conference.
It’s as organisers published a booklet earlier this week, with the draft calls expected to be debated and voted on during the conference. It also detailed how an electronic system will be used to record the bishops’ votes and views.
But votes will be non-binding. In June, a decision was made that no definite announcements would be made at the conference.
Instead, it would issue “Lambeth Calls”: specific requests to the Anglican Communion to pray and reflect on a topic, leaving the decision on how to response to each Province.
However bishops will be required to record their views electronically to either affirm the call or commit to further reflection on the issue.
“This call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it” or “This call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process,” are the options detailed in the booklet.
Those who are not at the conference will be able to record their views remotely.
Lead by the Primate of the West Indies, Most Rev Howard Gregory, the call on ‘Human Dignity’ is the one causing a stir on social media with some calling it “hateful”.
The call is urging conference attendees to reaffirm Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Conference which considers homosexuality is “incompatible with scripture”.
The Resolution “upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union,” commits to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons” and wishes “to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ,” and “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation”.
The call acknowledges that “all human beings are made in the image of God” and therefore “Anglicans are committed to respect, protect and acknowledge the dignity of all,” but agrees that there’s “a gap between rhetoric and reality.”
The call reads: “Amid these threats, and our own divisions and discernment, we call for: (i) an Archbishop’s Commission for Redemptive Action; (ii) the establishment of an Anglican Innovation Fund; and (iii) the reaffirmation of Lambeth 1:10 that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman and requires deeper work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans.”
For the Bishop of Los Angeles, Rt Revd John Harvey Taylor, the resolution is a “notorious, communion-rivening statement” and believes the voting choice offered to the bishops is limited: “If we don’t vote yes, we can vote that a question needs more discernment. As of now, we won’t be able to stand up decisively for people’s God-given human rights and vote no.”
However for the Arbishop of South Sudan, Most Rev Justin Badi, reaffirming the Resolution would “sound a clarion call to biblical faithfulness”.
On Friday, Most Rev Justin Welby said the 22 calls to be debated in the conference had “grown out of a process of discussion and encounter with one another”.
“They are informed by the insights and themes of the online video conversations between bishops across the world over the past year. They have been drafted by a diverse group of Anglicans — male and female, lay and ordained, from different generations and from every part of the Communion.
“They are one part of a process that began before this part of the Conference, and will continue long after it formally finishes, as every Province discerns its own response to the Calls in their own contexts,” he continued.
Archbishop Justin concluded: “Without ignoring those things on which we deeply disagree, I pray that we will approach this gathering with an even deeper sense of what unites us: the love of Jesus Christ and his calling to serve God’s world.”