Tensions between the Advent Cathedral Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama have intensified since the December 7 service ordering four new priests at the cathedral.
The Acting Dean of Advent Cathedral, Craig Smalley, who attended the service, and the Sacristy, the lay leadership of the cathedral, sent a letter to members on December 9 saying that “we have learned through articles from blog that one of the ordained has theological opinions. which are very different from those of Advent.
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The letter from Smalley and the Sacristy included a link to a 2006 report published by the Church of Birmingham declaring its opposition to the ordination of openly gay priests and the blessing of same-sex marriage, “Speaking the Truth with Love,” and noted that the congregation had not changed its views since then.
The denomination’s position on the issue has changed over time. In 2003, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the consecration of the first openly practicing gay bishop, Gene Robinson. In 2009, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopted a position approving the ordination of openly gay candidates for ministry. In 2015, the same year the United States Supreme Court ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriage, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted to approve same-sex marriage.
This week’s ordination violated the position opposed to Advent, church leaders said.
âThe diocese did not inform Advent of this matter, although the bishop had agreed that Advent would not be invited to participate in, sponsor or support an event incompatible with a traditional view of the Scriptures, or to do not do it. anything that might state, suggest or imply that Advent approved, tolerated or permitted such theological expressions, âsaid the letter from Smalley and the sacristy.
Bishop Glenda Curry, head of the diocese and ordination service officiant, today issued a statement on the matter:
âThis beautiful service has renewed our practice of ordaining priests in diocesan service at the cathedral,â Curry wrote. âUnfortunately, after the service, a blog writer posted an article criticizing Advent’s role in hosting the ordination service. This criticism led the Advent leadership to question my actions in planning the service.
Anglicanink and Virtue Online bloggers wondered if Advent should have hosted the ordination service.
Curry’s statement continued:
âInformation on the four ordained was widely publicized in the diocese prior to the service,â Bishop Curry wrote. âThey have been selected, trained and approved for ordination in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. They have been examined by the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Commission of the Ministry. As part of the agreement between Advent and the diocese, Advent has a seat on the Ministerial Commission but has yet to nominate anyone to fill that position. Ordination is a well established process in the Episcopal Church which has been followed in the same manner here as in previous Advent ordinations for many years. It was not the first time that a person with a different theological expression of Advent was ordained in our diocese and on Advent. I do not see Advent hosting an ordination service like the diocesan cathedral as endorsing an ordinand’s particular theological expression, but rather as an expression of their hospitality and commitment to our diocesan community. I did not fail to communicate an issue as there did not appear to be a problem to communicate. Advent was not asked to do anything to endorse or sponsor a theological point of view. The diocese did not invite the press or the outside media. The diocese did not emphasize or draw attention to the theological expression of any of the ordinands. The live broadcast of the service was in accordance with the usual custom and practice of the diocese. Reflecting on this week, I wish I had anticipated that someone would use a beautiful celebration to sow the seeds of division. I would have liked to have anticipated that some people might want to undermine the Advent ministry and its relationship with the diocese. Unfortunately, there are people who see reconciliation and unity and want to break it. I love Advent. The Diocese of Alabama loves Advent. This week again, in our diocesan cycle of prayer, we prayed for Advent. I am committed to the alliance between the diocese and Advent. We are bound by the grace and love of Jesus Christ, and that love will not fail us.
Earlier this year, Advent Cathedral leaders reached an agreement with the diocese to change its liturgy and stop withholding funds that might otherwise be shared with the diocese.
The Advent Diocese and Cathedral, whose dean resigned in May due to tensions with the denomination, issued a joint statement on June 25 indicating that an agreement for “peaceful relations” had been reached, the result of three years of discussions.