The Crisis at New Hampshire
On Tuesday, 5th August 2003, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) at their General Convention following the agreement of the House of Deputies (comprising laity and clergy) ratified the election of the Canon V Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire by a majority of nine votes. As is widely reported in both secular and church press and as a matter of fact Canon Robinson is engaged in an active homosexual relationship and vigorously promotes the official ecclesiastical acceptance of such relationships.
Reform Ireland deplores and denounces the action of the Episcopal Church for the following reasons:
- In appointing a practising homosexual to a position of pastoral oversight, ECUSA has put itself beyond the clearly defined and ultimately authoritative teaching of the Biblical witness on human sexuality and therefore we acknowledge that officially ECUSA has ceased to be a truly Apostolic and Catholic Church. This action has neither Apostolic nor historic precedent, and Reform Ireland deeply regret this deliberate flouting of our heritage;
- ECUSA has ignored the mind of the worldwide Anglican family as expressed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference in Resolution I.10 and also through recent calls from Provinces and various individuals both inside and outside ECUSA not to take this unilateral action. The Bishops at Lambeth 1998 affirmed, by a significant majority, "that there are powerful biblical and theological arguments to justify the historic Christian understanding that sexually active homosexual relationships do not represent a faithful witness in chastity and holiness for disciples of Christ". Any meaningful relationship or communion has therefore been irrevocably impeded. Statements issued recently from the Bishop of Egypt, Rt Rev Mouneer Avis, the Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand, Rt Rev Derek Eaton, the Archbishop of Sydney, Rt Rev Dr Peter Jensen and the Primate of Nigeria, Rt Rev Peter Akinola demonstrate the reality of this present fissure between those in the Anglican family.
Reform Ireland again calls on the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland to reaffirm Biblical, Catholic and Anglican teaching on the issue of human sexuality and in view of these actions to seriously assess the relationships of the Church of Ireland to ECUSA. Reform Ireland also asks for clarity pertaining to the relationship between the Diocese of Limerick and the Diocese of New Hampshire.
Reform Ireland wishes to unequivocally align itself and express our prayerful support to those in ECUSA who continue to commit themselves to Biblical orthodoxy in the area of human sexuality, seek to preach the Apostolic Gospel and who wish to build up Christian believers to maturity in Christ. 10th Aug 2003