Bishop Jennifer's Statement on Lambeth 2020

Dear ones,

Last week, I gathered with my fellow bishops from across the church at Kanuga for a week of reflection, immersion in the Way of Love with Presiding Bishop Curry, and discussion about the issues facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It was a prayerful and productive time, and I am grateful for the chance to seek refreshment and renewal with colleagues.

On Friday, the last day of our meeting, we adopted a resolution about the Lambeth Conference planned for the summer of 2020. This is a meeting of bishops from across the Anglican Communion that takes place every decade or so. In February, Anglican Communion Secretary Josiah Iduwu-Fearon announced that although opposite-sex spouses of bishops are all invited to attend the conference, same-sex spouses of bishops are not. 

Like the majority of Episcopal Church bishops at last week’s meeting, I plan to attend the Lambeth Conference, and Harrison plans to accompany me. I fully endorse the House of Bishops’ statement, which says:

Through our presence we will participate fully in the program of the conference, as well as seek to further the conversation around the various cultural expressions of marriage. We intend to build relationships and missional partnerships that will be inclusive vehicles for building communion across the Anglican world in all its beautiful diversity. We will seek to reflect our varied understandings of marriage, as well as our profound commitment to the dignity of all human beings, including the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons.

Harrison and I look forward to the chance to join Bishop Mary Glasspool and her wife, Becki Sander, as well as Bishop Kevin Robertson of Toronto—a member of my College for Bishops class of 2017—and his husband, Mohan Sharma, at the Lambeth Conference. I also look forward with joy to the news that Bishop-elect Thomas Brown of Maine, a seminary classmate of mine, has received consent to his election, and that he and his husband, the Rev. Tom Mousin, will attend the conference along with any other bishops with same-sex spouses who might be elected between now and then. In solidarity with them, Harrison and I have decided that we will not stay in conference accommodations that do not welcome bishops and their same-sex spouses, and we will make our travel plans accordingly.

These twin issues—deep commitment to the Anglican Communion and fierce support of LGBTQ+ inclusion—have been part of my ministry for many years. Through my work with the Chicago Consultation, I have come to know and admire many African Anglicans who are committed to generous interpretations of scripture on issues of human sexuality. Likewise, our mission partnerships and longstanding relationships with faithful people in Haiti and Brasilia bear witness to the fact that our relationships across the Anglican Communion transcend disagreements among hierarchical leaders and are a vital part of our mission. The structures of the Anglican Communion, including the Lambeth Conference, provide important opportunities to deepen global relationships, but our participation cannot be at the expense of our fellow LGBTQ+ Christians.

Among my greatest joys is the certain knowledge that here in the Diocese of Indianapolis, we are committed and called both to transform systems of injustice and to foster mission relationships with Anglican partners across the globe. I am grateful for our shared ministry that makes my witness as your bishop possible.

Faithfully,

Bishop Jennifer