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An indissoluble bond: the Communion Partners and the House of Bishops

The Communion Partners delivered their “Salt Lake City Statement” in the House of Bishops earlier today. The Living Church has released the letter, the full list of signatories, and some initial responses to the letter.

Covenant is pairing the letter with a transcript of the response of the House of Bishops, delivered this afternoon in a “mind of the House” statement titled “Communion across difference.” The transcript was made by staff of The Living Church and is not the official release of the letter from the General Convention secretariat.


“Communion across difference”

We wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position, as stated in their Communion Partners “Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City in conversation and in prayer has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission.

As we wait upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich diversity of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in the Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.

We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage. We affirm that they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness.

Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage, and remained in relationship, is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow.

We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in the Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ and in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble, and we pray that we may have confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit, who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.


Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolutions A036 and A054, has made a significant change in the Church’s understanding of Christian marriage. As bishops of the Church, we must dissent from these actions.

We affirm Minority Report #1, which was appended to the text of Resolution A036:

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage, as traditionally understood by Christians, are summed up in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:

“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, p. 423)

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman. The promises and vows of marriage presuppose husband and wife as the partners who are made one flesh in marriage. This understanding is a reasonable one, as well as in accord with Holy Scripture and Christian tradition in their teaching about marriage.

When we were ordained as bishops in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God” (BCP, p. 518). We renew that promise; and in light of the actions of General Convention, and of our own deep pastoral and theological convictions, we pledge ourselves to

  • “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The bonds created in baptism are indissoluble, and we share one bread and one cup in the Eucharist. We are committed to the Church and its people, even in the midst of painful disagreement.
  • “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When we disagree with the Church’s actions, we will do so openly and transparently and — with the Spirit’s help — charitably. We are grateful that Resolution A054 includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience; but we realize at the same time that we have entered a season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow. We pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and, at the same time, to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.
  • “Welcome one another … just as Christ has welcomed [us]” (Rom. 15:7). Our commitment to the Church includes a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We will walk with them, pray with and for them, and seek ways to engage in pastoral conversation. We rejoice that Jesus’ embrace includes all of us.

We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.

We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.

Communion Partner signatories:
The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee
The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of Albany, resigned
The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert, Bishop Pro Tem of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana
The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, resigned
The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Bishop of South Carolina, resigned
The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Assistant Bishop of Dominican Republic, resigned
The Rt. Rev. Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota
The Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly, Bishop of Texas, resigned

Other signatories:
The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, Bishop of Honduras
The Rt. Rev. Jean Zache Duracin, Bishop of Haiti
The Rt. Rev. Francisco José Duque Gómez, Bishop of Colombia
The Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero, Bishop of Venezuela
The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs, Bishop of Virgin Islands
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida
The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin, Bishop of Dominican Republic
The Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante, Bishop of Ecuador Litoral

Episcopalians may register their public support of the above statement at communionpartners.org/?page_id=212. Please provide name; diocese and congregation; email or mailing address; and indicate whether one is a bishop, priest, deacon or lay person.

Image of Salt Palace Convention Center by jnshaumeyer, via Flickr • http://bit.ly/1Bbwesu


  1. […] “The traditionalist perspective in the Episcopal Church — particularly with regard to the meaning of marriage — has been completely defeated within the councils of our church. The continued existence and witness of traditionalists within this church is entirely at the sufferance of those in the theological majority, some of whom look upon us with a mixture of pity and contempt, even as others (notably the House of Bishops) call us “indispensable.”” […]


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