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Anglican Church Leaders Discuss Human Sexuality

The Anglican Communion is an international Christian denomination. Every ten years, leaders within the Anglican Communion gather at Lambeth Palace in England to worship, study together, and recommend policy.

Although tensions over the Communion's diverse perspectives and responses to homosexuality had been building for many years, they crystallized at the Lambeth meeting of 1998. Many left the meeting feeling outraged or wounded and deeply unhappy in relation to this challenging issue.

The Archbishop convened the dialogue group to try a new way of engaging to enhance mutual understanding and constructive communication in the face of profound disagreement.

Leaders from Five Continents

Over the course of three years, Essential Partners collaborated with a diverse group of the religion's “primates”—the chief clerical authorities of a country—and bishops, those responsible for a region within their country.

Coming from across the five continents, each participant had publicly espoused deeply held, differing viewpoints about human sexuality and the church—especially the hot button issues of ordination of non-celibate lesbian or gay persons and the blessing of same-sex unions.

They were invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to join a dialogue.

Church Recommendations

Essential Partners worked with the group’s chair, The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, then-Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the United States, to plan a four-day retreat that EP facilitated at the Holy Cross Monastery in the Hudson River Valley in 1999. With some variation in membership, this group continued the conversation in Alton, England, in 2000 and in Parrish, FL, in 2001.

From these deep conversations, the group was able to produce a report with recommendations to the Anglican Communion.

It was then published in a pamphlet, “International Anglican Conversations on Human Sexuality,” that includes introductions by the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold and The Most Rev. George Carey, then-Archbishop of Canterbury.