Not so secret theology committee: six of eight names now known

Lisa Fox, who blogs at My Manner of Life, has the names of six of the eight members of the secret panel that the House of Bishops Theology Committee assembled to study same-sex relationships.

Bishop Henry Parsley, chair of the commitee, has refused to release the names, but, as Lisa writes, it is hard to keep secrets in a small church.

The bishop’s unwillingness to release the names called far more attention to the panel than it otherwise might have received. It also put some committee members in the difficult position of having to maintain secrecy when they did not think it was appropriate to do so.

The four of the eight theologians will produce one document arguing the moral legitimacy of same-sex relationships, while the other four will argue that such relationships are sinful. Now that most of the members’ names are known, perhaps these papers can be judged on their content, rather than on the process that led to their production.

The fact that these theologians–whose views on the topic before them are already well-known–will be releasing papers in 2011, does not seem a compelling argument against the Church’s making decisions on these issues at its General Convention, which begins in Anaheim next week.

The committee has two co-facilitators, the Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett, Bishop of Nebraska and Ellen Charry of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Its members are:

Deirdre J. Good, General Theological Seminary (Full disclosure, Dr. Good is a regular contributor to Episcopal Cafe. She did not provide the names of fellow committee members.)

Willis Jenkins, Yale Divinity School

The Rev. Grant LeMarquand, Trinity School for Ministry

Eugene Rogers, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

The Rev. George Sumner, Wycliffe College, Toronto

The Rev. Daniel A. Westberg of Nashotah House (See Page 3, here.)

Updated: click Read more for a statement from the Chicago Consultation.


Common rite will enrich theological study

CHICAGO, July 1, 2009—Ruth Meyers, Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Chicago, and co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, responded to the news that the names of most members of the House of Bishops Theology Committee panel on same-sex blessings have been made public:

“Continued scholarly work, done with particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in committed, life-long, monogamous unions of faithful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, can liberate the church to discern more fully the work of the Spirit in all life-long unions of fidelity and mutual love. We wish this panel well, and we call upon General Convention to enrich its theological work by establishing a common rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church.”

“We commit to praying for each of these theologians and their co-chairs by name, and we hope that the remaining two members of the panel will choose to come forward publicly so that we may begin General Convention next week with the spirit of openness and transparency that characterizes our polity and our common life.”

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.

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