Dear Companions in Faith,
Last week I attended a meeting of the House of Bishops for the first time at Kanuga Retreat and Conference Center in North Carolina. This bi-annual gathering of all bishops in the Episcopal Church allows the bishops to learn, share information, pray together, and to consider wise actions for our church. It was an honor to attend and a blessing to get to know the other bishops of our church.
We spent quite a bit of time talking about the next Lambeth Conference which gathers bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years. All active bishops of the Anglican Communion and their spouses are invited to attend by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was only after receiving these invitations that we found out same-gendered spouses would not be invited to attend.
During last week’s meeting we shared our shock and concern about this news, and we began considering our individual and corporate reaction. We started by hearing a statement from Bishop Mary Glasspool, Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant. We continued with a conversation leading to a statement from the House of Bishops.
In short, most of the bishops of the Episcopal Church will attend Lambeth. Some of us will attend with our spouse and others will attend alone. Most of us believe it is important to be present for the conversation so we may voice God’s loving embrace of all people. To be absent removes our voice from discussion and there are people across the world that take heart in our words and actions to include LGBTQ people in every facet of our church.
It is also important to note and respect that the House of Bishops is not of one mind regarding same-gendered marriage. Even so, the bishops thought it was important to discuss and respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision as a body, which we have done.
As an African-American, I am aware that all that I am today is due to the efforts of many others who showed up in places of danger or discomfort to ensure my rights and access to education, equity, and equality. I will attend the Lambeth Conference because it is my turn to show up for all people who love our church.
The Lambeth Conference will take place in the summer of 2020. I ask for your prayers in the coming year for every aspect of the conference.
Grace and peace,
Bishop Carlye J. Hughes