No turning back

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a standing room only forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco “All people – including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians – are deserving of the fullest regard of the church…. “We’re not going backward.”

Jefferts Schori and California Bishop Marc Andrus spoke in an hour-long forum moderated by Cathedral Dean, the Very Rev. Alan Jones. While, as Jones said in a question that “”A schism of sorts seems inevitable,” Jefferts Schori and other Episcopal bishops believe the Anglican Communion is defined by tolerance for a wide set of beliefs. They believe the communion should continue to minister to a variety of views.

According the San Francisco Chronicle, Jefferts Schori referred to the parable of the shepherd who goes searching for one lost sheep when she said “The pastor’s job as shepherd is to mind the whole flock…I am continually, prayerfully reminded of those who are wandering off. The job of the church is to reach ever wider to include the whole.”

The Episcopal News Service reports that Jefferts Schori described the House of Bishops reiteration of the stances of the General Convention as “not going backward, but willing to pause” in its consideration of full inclusion of lesbian and gay persons in the life and ministries of the Episcopal Church. “We reiterated our understanding that all gay and lesbian persons” are deserving “of the fullest regard of the Church,” she said.

“We live in the hope that there will be full inclusion,” she told reporters in a news conference before the forum talk, calling anything less “not lamentable, but egregious.”

While Grace Church had invited Jefferts Schori and Andrus to come to the cathedral over a year ago, well before the primates meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last February, the visit–commemorating the feast of St. Michael and All Angel’s–fell on the date that the Primates set as the deadline for the House of Bishops to clarify it’s position on the consecration of partnered gay and lesbian bishops, same-sex blessings and the care of conservative dioceses. Some conservative bishops and groups within the Church considered the requests and ultimatum and treated the deadline as an absolute, which the Anglican Communion Office denied.

You can read the San Francisco Chronicle report here, this is the Episcopal News Service report and here is a link to a podcast of the actual forum provided by Grace Cathedral.

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