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At Lambeth 1998, liberal bishops signed on the dotted line in support of LGBT inclusion

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
July 30, 2022

Even before the ink was dry on Lambeth 1:10 and the 749 bishops, including 11 women bishops scattered to the four winds at the conclusion of Lambeth 1998, a total of 182 bishops from 14 Anglican Provinces, including nine Primates, were lamenting that gay and lesbian voices were not properly heard during the drafting of the contested Resolution. The Resolution passed by an overwhelming vote of 526-70.

"The Lambeth Conference has spent nearly three weeks (July 18-August 9) deliberating issues of human sexuality ..." The bishops wrote." We have met in a climate of enormous diversity and have attempted both to articulate our views and listen carefully to those of others."

Continuing, they said: "Within the limitations of this Conference, it has not been possible to hear adequately your voices, and we apologize for any sense of rejection that has occurred because of this reality. This letter is a sign of our commitment to listen to you and reflect with you theologically and spiritually on your lives and ministries. It is our deep concern that you not feel abandoned by your Church and that you know of our continued respect and support."

The 182 bishops broke from the other 567 bishops to show their pastoral support for those clamoring for their LGBT rights, including full inclusion in the church and the Anglican Communion.

"We pledge that we will continue to reflect, pray, and work for your full inclusion in the life of the Church. It is obvious that Communion-wide we are in great disagreement over what full inclusion would mean," the bishops penned. "We ourselves have varied views and admit, as the report of the Human Sexuality Sub-section of the Conference says, that there is much we do not yet understand. But we believe it is an imperative of the Gospel and our faith that we seek such understanding."

In 1998, there were 22 recorded changes in national laws made around the world affecting the lives of the growing and increasingly more militant LGBT community.

Changes in national laws included:

IRELAND: LGBT discrimination becomes illegal in some contexts.

CANADA: Blood donations by men who have sex with men (MSM) becomes banned; LGBT discrimination becomes illegal in some contexts; and LGBT employment discrimination becomes sexual orientation in Alberta.

DOMINICA: Homosexual activity becomes illegal with imprisonment of up to five years for "gross indecency" as punishment.

THE BAHAMAS: Serving openly in military becomes legal.

COSTA RICA: LGBT discrimination becomes illegal in some contexts while general law on HIV/AIDS protects LGBT people from discrimination in some contexts.

CYPRUS: Homosexual activity becomes legal following a European Court of Human Rights case; and the age of consent for homosexual couples set at 18 versus 16 for heterosexual couples.

ECUADOR: LGBT discrimination becomes illegal, extending discrimination protection to sexual orientations; and LGBT housing discrimination becomes sexual orientation and gender identity.

TANZANIA: Homosexual activity becomes illegal with a mandatory minimum of 20 years imprisonment for any attempt to commit acts "against the order of nature."

MALTA: The age of consent became equalized at 18.

TAJIKISTAN: Equal age of consent becomes equal; and homosexual activity becomes legal.

UNITED STATES: Homosexual activity becomes legal in Georgia.

SOUTH AFRICA: Homosexual activity becomes legal.

SLOVENIA: LGBT employment discrimination becomes sexual orientation and gender identity; and LGBT employment discrimination becomes sexual orientation only.

CROATIA: Blood donations by MSMs becomes banned.

CHILE: Homosexual activity becomes legal.

The Anglican or Episcopal presence in the above countries include:

IRELAND: Church of Ireland

CANADA: Anglican Church of Canada

DOMINICA: Anglican Province of the West Indies

THE BAHAMAS: Anglican Province of the West Indies

CYPRUS: The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem in the Middle East

ECUADOR: Foreign Diocese of The Episcopal Church

TANZANIA: The Anglican Church in Tanzania

MALTA: The Church of England in Europe

TAJIKISTAN: No Anglican presence

UNITED STATES: The Episcopal Church

SOUTH AFRICA: The Anglican Church of Southern Africa

SLOVENIA: The Church of England in Europe

CROATIA: The Episcopal Church in Europe; and the Reformed Episcopal Church

CHILE: The Anglican Church of Chile

The LGBT- leaning 1998 Lambeth bishops concluded their Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans by saying: "We call on the entire Communion to continue (and in many places, begin) prayerful, respectful conversation on the issue of homosexuality. We must not stop where this Conference has left off. You, our sisters and brothers in Christ, deserve a more thorough hearing than you received over the past three weeks. We will work to make that so."

There were 182 bishops who signed, including nine women bishops, from 14 Provinces including nine Provincial primates.

The Provinces represented included: Australia-12 signers; Brazil-1 signer; Canada-17 signers; Central Africa-2 signers; Church of England-41 signers; Ireland-4 signers; Japan-1 signer; Malaysia-2 signers; Mexico-1 signer; New Zealand-8 signers; Scotland-6 signers; South Africa-8 signers; Wales-5 signers; and the United States-75 signers.

The Anglican primates who signed supporting full gay inclusion were: Glauco Soares de Lima, Brazil; Michael Peers, Canada; Khotso Makhulu, Central Africa; Robin Rames, Ireland; Ellison Pogo, Malaysia; John Paterson, New Zealand; Richard Holloway, (who left the Scottish Episcopal Church over this issue whose son was of that ilk, so much for subscribing to universal principles) Scotland; Njongokilu Ndungone, South Africa, and Alwin Jones, Wales.

A majority of the women bishops (nine out of eleven) signing were: Barbara Harris (Massachusetts-suffragan); Jane Dixon (Washington, DC-suffragan); Mary McLeod (IX Vermont); Catherine Roskam (New York-suffragan); Geralyn Wolf (XII Rhode Island); Carolyn Tanner Irish (X Utah); and Catherine Waynick (X Indianapolis); Chilton Knudsen (VIII Maine) and Ann Tottenham (York-Credit Valley in Toronto area bishop).

Two other women bishops who attended the 1998 Lambeth, but did not sign the Pastoral Statement were New Zealander Penny Jamieson (VIII Dunedin) and Canadian Victoria Matthews (IX Edmonton).

There is no doubt that the gay and lesbian bishops are receiving strong support from other bishops attending the 2022 Lambeth.

The burning question is: Are there any bishops, including primates and women bishops, supporting the Global South bishops as they battle for biblical orthodoxy in Holy Wedlock, to make sure they have a place at the table and that their collective voices will be heard?

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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