“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" (The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)Nine years ago when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, they consented to the election of the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. Bishop Robinson was clearly not the first gay person ever to sit in the House of Bishops, in this or any other denomination. But he was the first one who openly said so, the first who was honest about his sexual orientation. I was on Cape Cod, on vacation, when that vote happened.
This week I attended the Integrity Eucharist in Indianapolis at which Bishop Robinson, who is soon to retire, preached the sermon. The next morning, standing in line at Starbucks, I had a chance to shake Bishop Robinson's hand and personally thank him for his courageous witness to the Church, as we each waited for our morning coffee.
The Episcopal Church, and indeed our nation, have come a long way in the past decade. Earlier this week the House of Bishops voted to approve a rite for the blessing of same-sex commitments in our church, and yesterday the House of Deputies concurred. Our bishop, and our clergy deputation (of which I am privileged to be a member) as well as our lay deputation all voted yes.
The vote was overwhelming; and clear in both Houses. Even so, there was and is a significant minority in both Houses who voted no. We have a rule on the floor of Convention: no applause. One person who spoke against the resolution yesterday asked the House to remember and honor that rule after the vote, knowing for some of the members of the Body this was not cause for celebration. We honored that request. Even in the midst of great joy for many of us, I awake this morning very mindful that people are on their own journeys and human sexuality kicks up lots of emotional responses. May we honor one another going forward, not dividing as "winners" and "losers" but as God's people on a journey together.
That said, I do personally believe that this change is on that moral arc that does indeed bend toward justice, and that what we did yesterday helps us to live more fully into the promises of Holy Baptism: to respect the dignity of every human being (no exceptions) and to strive for justice and peace among all people.
Believing that, I cannot help but to notice what a beautiful sunrise it is today in Indianapolis. Thanks be to God!