This article was originally published in the Sewanee Theological Review, a publication of the School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South. It has been republished here with permission.
Ian Markham and Paul Moberly Mazariegos
We do not claim to be professional sociologists. We concede right at the outset that the sample size is small, although please note the number of seminarians at our Episcopal seminaries is also small. We do recognize that ideally there should have been a wider “control” group of other seminarians for the purposes of comparison. What follows is an invitation into a reality that many seminary professors are sharing in anecdote after anecdote. It is intended to be a little mischievous—our stereotypes need to be challenged—and offered in a spirit of serious fun. With these riders out of the way, let the journey begin.
The journey of full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church has been a story of slow and steady progress. Integrity USA was founded in 1974 as a grassroots movement of gay people in congregations across the Episcopal Church. In 1976, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution making it clear that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.”1 By the early 21st century, the Episcopal Church became the center of a global controversy with the election of Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop. In 2009, the Episcopal Church made it clear that all the orders of ministry are open to all people, thereby inviting gay and lesbians to consider a vocation to Holy Orders in the Church. And in 2015, the Episcopal Church changed the canons of the church to make it explicit that the rite of marriage is available to all people—both heterosexual couples and homosexual couples.