Homosexual monogamy gets some support

RELIGION NOTES

September 01, 1994|By Reported by Frank P.L. Somerville

Retired Maryland Episcopal Bishop A. Theodore Eastman is one of the signers of a statement presented at the Episcopalians' General Convention in Indianapolis which says that monogamous, committed relationships between homosexuals "are to be honored."

Among the 52 other Episcopal bishops who signed the statement is Jane Holmes Dixon, suffragan -- or assistant -- bishop of the Washington diocese, which includes the four Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's. Slightly more than 200 bishops are at the convention.

Bishop Emeritus Bennett J. Sims of Atlanta, a former rector of North Baltimore's Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, is also among the signers.

Neither Charles L. Longest, bishop-in-charge of the Maryland DTC diocese since Bishop Eastman's retirement in January, nor Bishop Martin G. Townsend of Easton signed the document. Also not among the signers is Bishop Ronald H. Haines of Washington.

The document, titled "A Statement of Koinonia (Collegiality)," was presented by John S. Spong of Newark, N.J., one of the most liberal of the nation's Episcopal bishops and a strong supporter of the ordination of gays and lesbians and the blessing of same-sex unions.

As in past conventions of the Episcopal Church, sexuality issues have been a cause of dissension at the triennial meeting of bishops and lay delegates in Indianapolis, which began Aug. 24 and will conclude tomorrow.

In an effort to continue an uneasy truce between the denomination's conservative and liberal leaders, the Episcopal House of Bishops voted Tuesday not to consider six resolutions related to sexual morality. This probably assures three more years of debate on the status of gays and lesbians in the church.

While the bishops have approved a study document that generally upholds traditional sexual teachings, they were unable to agree on either a proposed ban on clerical blessings of same-sex unions or a proposal to authorize the ordination of homosexuals in "committed relationships."

A spokesman for Bishop Spong said the document, which 53 bishops signed, is "in counterpoint to a statement by some bishops affirming that only heterosexual unions in the context of monogamous marriage is acceptable by the church."

Bishop Spong's document states that "both homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally neutral," and that "those who know themselves to be gay or lesbian persons, and who do not choose to live alone but forge relationships with partners of their choice that are faithful, monogamous, committed, life-giving and holy, are to be honored."

The document also says that "sex is a gift of God," that "marriage is the highest form of human commitment that a man and a woman can make to each other" and that "celibacy is an honorable vocation for some of God's people."

Along with other major Christian denominations, including Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists, the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church has been embroiled for years in controversy over the theology of human sexuality.

A critic of Tuesday's postponement of action on the competing resolutions -- Bishop Peter Beckwith of Illinois -- said the convention had failed to act on "the one issue that people in our churches want us to address."

Women's ministry

Four days of lectures and discussions on the roles of women -- called a "spiritual banquet" -- have been scheduled at Christ Temple Apostolic Cathedral at 701 Cherry Hill Road in South Baltimore.

"Women of Substance" is the subject of the seminar, which will begin at 8 p.m. next Thursday and continue through Sept. 11. Among the programs is one titled "For Women Only," to be led by Evangelist Sandra Riley of Grand Rapids, Mich., set to begin at noon Sept. 10. It will follow a prayer breakfast.

Information: 355-0040 or 355-9567.

Jewish artists

The Jewish Community Center, at 5700 Park Heights Ave. in Baltimore, will open an exhibit, "Soviet and Post-Soviet Jewish Artists of Renown," on Sept. 9.

The show of paintings, silk screens, watercolors and sculpture by 12 artists -- including Grisha Briskin, Sergei Batourin and Olga Ast -- will continue through Oct. 23.

For further information, including times that the gallery is open to the public, call 542-4900, Ext. 239.

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