Anticipating the baptism by full immersion of 11-year-old Stephen Alexander Clark, Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky Bishop Ted Gulick delivered his annual convention address February 24 during a Service of Holy Baptism, using the baptismal covenant as his rubric for speaking about the life of the Diocese of Kentucky and as a context for apologizing to its gay and lesbian members.
The address came in the middle of the diocese's 179th convention, hosted February 23 and 24 by St. Luke's Church in Anchorage, Kentucky.
Recalling his 2004 convention address in which he apologized to those members of the diocese who were offended by his vote consenting to the election of the bishop of New Hampshire, Gulick spoke directly to the diocese's "devoted" gay and lesbian members. He said he was sorry that his vote during the 75th General Convention to approve Resolution B033 and thus withhold such consents in the future, may have caused them pain and "a sense of alienation from Christ's bond or me."
Gulick, however, also said he was "100 percent committed to reconciliation" and praised the "tireless" service of the diocese's deputies and others at General Convention last summer to preserve unity within the diocese, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Briefly referring to the recent session of the Anglican Primates' Meeting, he said the primates "clearly expressed appreciation" for the efforts toward reconciliation made at General Convention, even though the Primates have also asked the bishops to clarify the Episcopal Church's position on the ordination of bishops living in same-gender relationships and the blessings of same-gender unions.
Noting that there are canonical and constitutional issues involved in responding to their request, Gulick said he nonetheless believes the Episcopal Church's bishops, clergy and laity will strive for the "highest level of communion" without further denigrating "our gay brothers and sisters in Christ." He asked the convention attendees, however, to "pray for the bishops as we gather in mid-March. We need your prayers."
The bishop concluded his address by outlining the many outreach ministries undertaken by the diocese's congregations and organizations last year, including ongoing support of the Jubilee ministries located in the diocese; a ministry to racetrack employees at Churchill Downs; a vacation bible school for autistic children; and numerous trips to serve others outside the diocese, including New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and Iran.
With its focus on the baptismal vows that bind congregations and individuals in Christ, the bishop's address put into words the spirit behind the two-day meeting. Rather than devoting convention time to considering resolutions and enacting legislation, the clergy and lay deputies spent most of their time in worship and activities focused on preparing them and convention guests for service and outreach ministry. Unlike prior conventions, organized chiefly around the business sessions, this year the business sessions were planned in conjunction with a core series of workshops about disaster preparedness, Christian formation, social justice and outreach ministries, evangelism, and stewardship.
Before adjourning, however, the diocese's clergy and deputies, representing 36 congregations, approved a $1.4 million budget for 2007, elected diocesan officers and passed, without debate, several resolutions, including one to continue the diocese's commitment to .7 percent giving toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals and another granting parish status to St. John's Episcopal Church, established in 1955 as a mission in Murray, Kentucky.
The Diocese of Kentucky comprises about 10,600 Episcopalians worshipping in 36 congregations.