Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, while reviewing preliminary documents and procedures for the upcoming Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion, colleagues discovered the inclusion of a decades-old statement; one discriminatory to our beloved LGBTQ+ siblings. Attending bishops are asked to either affirm the statement or indicate that they “need more time for discernment.” There is no option for “no,” which would be the earth-shaking response from the vast majority of bishops from The Episcopal Church and others. You may remember that I had already chosen not to attend due to earlier discriminatory actions against our LGBTQ+ bishops and spouses.

While we wait for a broader statement from our Presiding Bishop’s office, let me make a brief observation from my perch as Bishop Provisional of Eastern and Western Michigan.

Canterbury has stated to address “the call” as it prepares to meet for its historic Lambeth conference. It identifies a “gap between rhetoric and reality” and names, particularly, “historical exploitation, deepening poverty, and prejudice” that “continues to threaten human dignity.” I find it ironic that Canterbury then scapegoats one of the critical vulnerabilities within the Anglican Communion, the prejudice against LGBTQ+ Anglicans, as the area that needs “deeper work.” The gaps between rhetoric and reality could not be more exacerbated than Canterbury’s handling of this “divide” between rhetoric and LGBTQ+ reality.

The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral asks us to value local expressions of Episcopal Authority, such as those in North America and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. These dioceses give us ample examples of how to bridge the gap between rhetoric and practice as far as LGBTQ+ saints are concerned. To treat this giftedness as anything other than the Anglican Communion’s opportunity to learn from parts of the communion and enhance everyday life is to play divide and rule politics. This divisive Lambeth Conference move preserves a passive peace and the victims of prejudice will bear the burden of a body that refuses to do its deepening soul work. Canterbury’s act of disinviting spouses of LGBTQ+ Bishops reinforces this gap between rhetoric and the practice of holiness as embodied in the marriage of LGBTQ+ saints!

To place the life and witness of our LGBTQ+ saints in contrast to marriage between a man and a woman is a colonial ploy by an empire that is perhaps holding on to the last vestiges of its arbiter role. It also could be another attempt of Canterbury’s at clinging to relevance using an instrument of unity–Lambeth–to embrace legislative action while also appearing not to do so.

Let me be clear to all who need to hear as a bishop witnessing the redemptive power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this branch of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan have addressed the so-called gap in practicing radical hospitality by valuing the dignity of LGBTQ+ saints! In so doing, we have embraced the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them. We have willingly helped anyone who wants to do more profound work in this area of our faith in action. In response to Christ’s call to love one another as he has loved us, we welcome all and value their dignity without reservation!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Prince Singh
Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

Endorsed by the Standing Committees of Eastern and Western Michigan:

Barb Ilkka
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Rev. Brian Chace
Retired, Northern Region

The Rev. Don Davidson
St. Paul’s, Flint

Jelecia Geraghty
St. Paul’s, Flint

Gary Grinn
St. Paul’s, Gladwin

The Rev. Anna Leigh Kubbe
Holy Family, Blue Water

The Rev. Dr. Randall Warren
St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo

Martha Bartlett
St. James, Pentwater

The Rev. Diane Pike
Retired, Southern Region

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev. Anne Schnaare
Grace, Grand Rapids

Fred Skidmore
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev. Eileen Stoffan
St. Paul’s, Muskegon