Griswold meets with bishops about General Convention reactions

September 15, 2003

A group of 10 Episcopal bishops from across the spectrum of views on human sexuality met with Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold in New York September 10-11 to discuss local reaction to General Convention's decisions about the election of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-gender relationships.

The meeting was an attempt to explore what Griswold called "the very deep question of how we can live with disagreement, given our very divergent points of view around the issues of sexuality." In his letter of invitation, sent August 25, Griswold asked the bishops to "address together how we might we find in our current circumstances a deeper invitation to reconciliation."

The bishops issued a brief statement following the meeting:

"The Presiding Bishop called together ten of your fellow bishops to be in a conversation about General Convention and, more particularly, about issues resulting from the consent to the election of the Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire and resolution C-051 [concerning a rite for blessing same-gender unions]. Our dialogue was candid, honest and respectful as we considered the seriousness of those decisions that were reached and the possible consequences of them for the continued faithful unity of the Church. We found the discussion to be helpful to each of us personally, and we hope it is helpful to the Presiding Bishop in his continuing leadership and ministry."

The statement was signed by Bishops Keith Ackerman of Quincy, Edwin Gulick of Kentucky, John Howe of Central Florida, Robert Ihloff of Maryland, Don Johnson of West Tennessee, John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, Stacy Sauls of
Lexington, Mark Sisk of New York, and Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island.

In a September 12 letter to members of the House of Bishops, Griswold indicated, as he has in the past, the discomfort he and other bishops have felt at submitting decisions about matters related to human sexuality to a legislative process. "Regardless of our points of view, all of us recognized the polarization that was caused by our having to make an either/or decision with no possibility of any other mode of response," Griswold wrote. "This has clearly caused pain, confusion and disbelief in many parts of the church, and a sense of rightness in other parts."

Griswold continued, "Our meeting was very helpful to me in thinking about how we can assist our church in living through this time in faithfulness... I left the meeting extremely grateful for the candor and grace of the participants, their deep care and affection for one another, and their commitment to the wellbeing of their dioceses, and our church. It is my sense that their spirit is representative of us all."

The bishops also decided more such gatherings are needed in anticipation of the spring meeting of the full House of Bishops.