The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on LGBTQ+ Inclusion held its inaugural meeting in Cleveland from March 23-26 where we began the process of implementing the charge given to us by the 80th General Convention: to continue the work of becoming The Beloved Community – a charism of which is a church that functions with equity and care for the whole body, including its LGBTQ+ members.
Our focus was on the two primary tasks called out in our enabling resolution: to initiate a church-wide audit of how the Episcopal Church has lived into its 1976 commitment to provide full and equal claim to the love, acceptance and pastoral concern of the Church to its LGBTQ+ members and to begin the process of creating an archive of the history of the work for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Episcopal Church.
We began our work grounded in prayer and deeply aware that we stand on the shoulders of so many who have gone before us in this holy task of turning that full and equal claim promised in 1976 from a resolution to a reality. And we were palpably aware of the awesome privilege of being called to do that work from the institutional center of the Church rather than from the margins where so many have labored for so long and so hard. It is a moment that makes the heart glad.
Yet even as we celebrate this historic turning point in our beloved Episcopal Church, we also recognize how much work there is still to do. We hold in tension the progress that has brought us this far on the road to full inclusion with the fact that there are still dioceses where same-sex couples do not have unfettered access to the same liturgical rites for marriage their opposite sex siblings do.
We are faced with the grim reality that there are dioceses where systemic homophobia continues to disenfranchise LGBTQ+ Episcopalians from exercising their ordained ministries and with the fact that we are not yet a Church where God’s beloved transgender and nonbinary children can trust that the “Episcopal Church Welcomes You” sign outside our churches really means them.
Nevertheless, we persist. We give thanks for the trust placed in us by our General Convention and presiding officers – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Julia Ayala Harris. And we look forward to the work ahead as we strive to become a church that moves beyond inclusion to celebration of every member of God’s beloved human family as part of The Beloved Community.
Filed by: Thomas Brown, Samantha Christopher, Jay Elmquist, Shug Goodlow, Dennis Kirchoff, Tory Moir, RJ Powell [vice-chair], Paul Ricketts, Susan Russell [chair], and Iain Stanford ======== Members present at Cleveland Meeting: Thomas Brown, Samantha Christopher, Jay Elmquist, Shug Goodlow, Dennis Kirchoff, Tory Moir, RJ Powell [vice-chair], Paul Ricketts, Susan Russell [chair], Kathryn (Kai) Ryan, Iain Stanford, Bryan Velez Garcia Unable to attend: Emily Rowcliffe, Gregory Stark