An open letter from the Zacchaeus Fellowship responding to the “Statement from the House of Bishops to the Members of General Synod”


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May 14, 2007

To the National House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada:

We write to you out of our painful sense of rejection caused by the statement in the name of  the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada issued on April 30. Our response to your statement has taken two weeks as we have needed to recover from our shock and discouragement. One of our members wrote, “When I first read the HOB statement, it felt like someone had just spit in my face! I was not angry; just gravely disappointed and yes, surprised.”

What little comfort we can take is in the knowledge that some of you have encouraged us in the past and continue to assure us of your support. We thank you for standing with us. Sadly, though, it seems we are now the new marginalized minority.

On October 27, 2005, several members of the Zacchaeus Fellowship made a presentation to the House of Bishops (available at www.zacchaeus.ca/hob.html), in which we spoke about our pasts, our struggles, our hopes and our hurts. Every member of the House of Bishops has also received a copy of our booklet Transformed by an Encounter with Christ.

Your statement has betrayed our witness to the House of Bishops. You bent over backwards to express sympathy for our brothers and sisters who openly espouse the gay lifestyle, yet your statement held not one word of pastoral sensitivity towards us. In the name of pastoral care, you have left us feeling spiritually bulldozed and utterly deserted by our church. We are not at all able to agree with the statement’s claim to consistency with paragraph 143 of the Windsor Report, which affirms “the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” We point to your lack of so much as an acknowledgment that the Anglican Church of Canada contains a constituency of individuals who are ex-gay, ex-lesbian, or living chastely with same-sex desires.

We remind you that this is not the first time such rejection of this constituency has taken place. At General Synod 2004, Resolution A134 was passed, intentionally involving gay and lesbian persons in the dialogue and study. Yet, a second amendment which was proposed to include “those who identify themselves as ex-gay or ex-lesbian” was defeated.

The Anglican Church of Canada decided at that Synod that we are non-entities, not deserving an equal voice alongside that of gays and lesbians. May we suggest that if a motion of this nature with regard to people of colour had been defeated, the cry of protest would have been loud enough to bring down the house. In any case, when we were rebuffed in 2004, our fellowship decided to turn the other cheek.

We have repeatedly asked that our voice representing this constituency be heard, in particular at this upcoming General Synod. This request has been rejected by the agenda committee. We want to be allowed to sit at the table with our church family in order to share our experiences. We plan to appeal to the Primate for the opportunity to address General Synod from the floor. We ask you to prayerfully consider supporting us in this appeal.

As we have stated before, not all persons with same-sex attractions want these attractions affirmed. We are concerned for those whom we describe as “silent sufferers” in the pews. These are the many individuals who adhere to the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and wish for the church neither to condemn them as persons nor to encourage them to act on those same-sex attractions. Who shall support them? Such individuals need pastoral care – towards which goal your statement offers empty wind. And on moral direction as called for by Lambeth Resolution 1.10(c) your statement is silent.

We implore you in the strongest possible terms to ensure that all persons experiencing same-sex attraction are offered biblically sound pastoral care.

In the name of Jesus crucified and risen,

The Rev’d C. Dawn McDonald, Chair of the Zacchaeus Fellowship,
    priest in the Diocese of Yukon
The Rev’d Dr. Don Alcock, Vice Chair of the Zacchaeus Fellowship,
    priest in the Diocese of Huron
On behalf of the Zacchaeus Fellowship


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