Thoughts on the “Dear Gay Anglicans” letter, Part II

Multitude Painting by Elizabeth Elkin

Before continuing, I wish to emphasize Archbishop Beach’s words from his February 23rd letter. I trust and wish to echo the Archbishop’s exhortation for charity towards the signatories (one of whom I consider to be a dear friend). 

“Some of our clergy signed onto this letter, and I do not want you to ostracize them or condemn them. They have signed this in good faith, and you and I need to listen to them. You do not have to agree, but as Christians, we need to learn again how to discuss issues with those we disagree with — and then be able to continue to love and care for them.”

As stated at the end of Part I, I was concerned that Valk’s explanation frames our fellow Anglican provinces located in Africa as the primary causal factor for the removal of the Dear Gay Anglicans letter. I believe this is misleading, as it is not fully representative of the opposition to the choice of words employed in the letter. 

It is also worth noting that, in his explanation for why the letter was removed, Valk continued to employ the language of which the College of Bishops advised against.

Valk’s explanation is reflective of a portion of what Archbishop Beach also noted:

“However, it has already had international ramifications. I have had to deal with two provinces already (actually now three as of a few minutes ago) — and this is just the first day. In many of our partner provinces, the practice of homosexuality is against the law, and to make matters more difficult, they usually don’t understand the nuances of the word ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual attraction’ — they just hear the practice of same-sex immorality.”

However, Archbishop Beach also noted concerns from within the province:

“Many of our bishops, and rightly so, feel this is an attempt to undermine our roles as guardians of the Faith and teachers of the doctrine of the Church. Some individuals have expressed that we are now TEC 2.0. Some think this is going to break the ACNA apart — one quote I received tonight: ‘If I had to guess what might fracture the ACNA I would’ve said women’s ordination. I never would have thought it would be homosexuality. We gave up everything to take a clear stand on this. It is disheartening to have it being taken away.’”

While the Archbishop acknowledge that the opposition to the Dear Gay Anglicans letter was not only coming from African provinces, one sentence in the Archbishop’s letter to the Anglican Diocese of the South (ADOTS) caused me concern: 

“My immediate reaction to the letter was that it was pretty benign and wasn’t going to change anything about what we teach.”

Such an under-reaction might be expected from someone who had not come from the Episcopal Church. I am genuinely flabbergasted.

Between Pieter Valk’s focus on African provinces as the main source of opposition, and Archbishop Beach’s initial reaction to the Dear Gay Anglicans letter as “benign,” a segment of the ACNA’s laity is left feeling somewhat shaken, unseen, and unconsidered. It is for this reason that, as a layperson, I humbly wish to respectfully give voice to those among this portion of the laity, some of whom are scared to openly voice their concerns. To give proper attention, this will be done in Part III.

For now, I wish to close with a prayer: for the Clergy and People.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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