June 29, 2006
Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Bishop, Standing Committee, and Diocesan Board of the Diocese of Central Florida, meeting jointly in Orlando on June 29, 2006, wish to reflect upon the events of the week following General Convention.
We welcome the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued June 27, 2006, in which he concurs with our assessment that the Episcopal Church fell short of the Windsor Report’s requests and suggests the possibility that the Episcopal Church may risk losing its status as a constituent member of the Communion, which is an a priori requirement of the Preamble of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church.
We are deeply saddened at the election of a presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church who consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003, who supported the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of Nevada, and who, in her first sermon following the election, spoke of “Jesus, our mother.” We believe her actions as a diocesan bishop call into question her ability to lead The Episcopal Church in the process of healing and restoration clearly outlined in The Windsor Report.
We renounce the unwillingness of the 75th General Convention fully to embrace the requests made of The Episcopal Church in The Windsor Report, most notably its failure to agree to a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions.
We disassociate this diocese from Resolution A-095 which opposes “any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.” This resolution gives, in effect, the endorsement of the Church on same-sex civil marriage.
We solemnly remind the clergy of this diocese of our diocesan canons which prohibit the blessing of same-sex relationships and require the clergy of this diocese to model the received teachings of the church with respect to sexuality. We stand ready to enforce them.
The serious consequences of the actions, inactions and errors of the 74th and 75th General Convention have resulted in a constitutional crisis within The Episcopal Church with respect to its stated status as “Constituent Member of the Anglican Communion”. The Episcopal Church has signaled to the faithful within the Episcopal Church a desire to “walk apart” from not only the Anglican Communion but also the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ to which this Diocese has acknowledged its allegiance to be due. We declare that we are a diocese in protest over these errors and the leaders who support them.
It is our firm intent to remain a diocese with constituent member status in the Anglican Communion. Our membership in the Anglican Communion Network has offered us much solace, knowing that we are in communion with the entire Anglican Communion. Now, in the past week, at least four of these dioceses have done what we believe we must also do. We hereby appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the panel of reference, and the Primates of the Anglican Communion for immediate alternative primatial oversight. We understand that none of our actions violate the canons of the Episcopal Church.
The Constitution of our diocese makes it clear that our ultimate loyalty is to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. In preparation for our Convention on January 27 2007, we will study the constitutional crisis in which we find ourselves and consider the various constitutional, canonical, financial, and spiritual options available.
We realize that this letter will not be met with joy by all of the members of this diocese. To those who dissent, we pledge to you the ongoing faithful and loving ministry of this diocese. Jesus Christ is Lord of His Church. He holds us each in his loving arms. He is the Alpha and the Omega, and therefore knows the end of the story. To Him be the glory.
PASSED UNANIMOUSLY (with one abstention)