Today, my friend and fellow PEP (Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh) member Diane Shepard sent the message below to the PEP e-mail list. Episcopalians in this diocese have fought valiantly for The Episcopal Church and what it stands for. We are ready to do so again.
January 16, 2016
Word that the Anglican Communion primates have voted to impose sanctions on The Episcopal Church opens again the wounds from more than a decade ago when many of the primates were enraged by the consecration of a man in a gay partnership, Gene Robinson, as bishop. This Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh became the epicenter of a schism within our Episcopal Church with nationwide results. The bishop of this diocese led the schism. Many of us fought this schism both with our words, our pleas to the national leadership of our church, our money to support churches remaining loyal to the greater Episcopal Church, and in the secular civil courts. Much anger, anxiety, grief, tension between one another, and abiding outrage resulted. This word from the Anglican Communion opens those wounds again—including the huge wound of its insult to so many among us who know themselves as Christian and part of a sexual minority.
I am outraged, also, by word of these sanctions coming from our brothers and sisters in the Faith. I do not believe the answer is to leave this Anglican Communion or even to hope that it dissolves. We have an enormous role in that Communion to witness—to witness to what we know and have been shown to be true, in faith—that sexual identity or choice of a life partner does not define or limit our ability to be faithful and responsible Christian people. Our witness is of extreme importance now, as it has been, especially for those in any place or church who are being excluded from the Christian faith community or persecuted because of their sexual orientation.
How we bear this witness is an important discussion for us here in this Diocese of Pittsburgh. Our outrage is a powerful emotion. My prayer is that we can use this outrage to see more clearly the serious issues of discrimination as they poison us all and to encourage and protect those who are hurting because of that discrimination that comes in so many forms.
The Rev. Diane Shepard
Priest, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh