Is the HoB Theology Committee stalling?

The 2009 Blue Book online, has a report from the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops:

We have been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. This is designed to reflect a full spectrum of views and to be a contribution to the listening process of the Anglican Communion, as well as to the discussion of this subject in our province. A diverse and balanced panel of theologians has been appointed by the Committee and is presently beginning this work.

This is a long-term, multi-step project that is designed to be completed in 2011 (see below for background on this project).

There is concern that this adds weight to efforts to delay action on same-sex blessings.

Some questions:

Who is on this “diverse and balanced panel of theologians?”

Will the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops consult with the House of Deputies or do they feel that their role is to write this for the whole church without consultation? Although the resolution for further study calls for lay persons, priests and deacons to be consulted -have these persons been consulted?

Studies have been underway since at least General Convention 1967. It is now 2009. One might wonder why it has taken so long?

The Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, referred to the effect of the current Theology Committee’s study in his blog from the Spring House of Bishops meeting (emphasis ed.):

The moratorium on same sex blessings is not likely to survive forever — especially since Southern Cone and others have been violating the other moratorium with reckless abandon if not malice aforethought. They are now even in Nevada, though not in a particularly potent way. There will probably be some move to repeal the “restraint” resolution to comply with the moratoria at General Convention this summer. What to do?

On the one hand, if we just do a 180 and repeal what we did at last Convention, that will be destructive to the communion, tearing open a wound just beginning to heal. The theology committee is working on its report on human sexuality and that will not be out until next year, so taking dramatic action this year, just before the report is getting the cart before the horse.

It seems that some bishops do not feel that adequate study and theology has been done on this issue. There is no reference to the Theology Statement by Claiming the Blessing nor is the theology work on same sex blessings by the Anglican Church of Canada mentioned as a possible resource.

Members of the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops appointed until 2009 are:

The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Alabama

(serving on the Prayer Book, LIturgy and Music Legislative Committee for General Convention)

The Rt. Rev. David Alvarez, Puerto Rico

The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett, Nebraska

The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, Bethlehem

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, MIlwaukee

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, resigned from TEC to join the Roman Catholic Church.

UPDATE: 4/1 Correction from the Blue Book

Report of the Theology Committee – members

The Rt. Rev. Henry Nutt Parsley, Chair

The Rt. Rev. David A. Alvarez

The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt

The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett

Dr. Ellen T. Charry

The Rev. Dr. Sathianathan Clarke

Dr. Stephen E. Fowl

The Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb

The Rt. Rev Robert W. Ihloff

Dr. Charles T. Mathewes

Dr. Joy A. McDougall

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller

Dr. Kathryn Tanner

From To Set Our Hope on Christ:

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music devoted 28 pages of its 2000 Report to the requirement of Resolution 1997-C003s to continue its study of “theological aspects of committed relationships of same-sex couples.”


“Immediately following adoption in the House of Bishops, a motion was introduced pledging the bishops to continue in dialogue and calling for a report from its Theology Committee:”

2000 B300 Resolved, That it is the mind of the House of Bishops that we continue study and be in conversation regarding issues of human sexuality by making use of the Theology Committee (under process of appointment by the Presiding Bishop) in consultation with the House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development. This committee, consisting of lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons, will make a report in the hopes that a Mind of the House resolution will result from their study. p. 112

A report called “The Gift of Sexuality” was presented to the House of Bishops in March 2003, and was offered “to the church for study and reflection.”

The appendix of To Set Our Hope on Christ is a list of official studies and reports, from 1967-2003.

Past Posts