One Body of Christ - A Letter from the
Rev. Jan Nunley
Dallas Morning News
In Deborah Caldwell's story, "Episcopalians face growing split on gays,"
she refers to the Episcopal Church as a "bookish and mannerly denomination ...
headed toward a schism over gay rights."
I shared this misconception until 1986, when, as a reporter for KERA, I
interviewed a courageous Episcopal priest about his parish's barrier-breaking
ministry to people with AIDS - the first mainline congregation to do so in
Dallas in those fright-filled early days of the HIV epidemic. That story
changed my life, and led me to ordination as an Episcopal priest.
In 13 years, I've found this church to be many things, but "bookish and
mannerly" aren't among them.
Unfortunately, I'm not able to exercise my priesthood in the Episcopal
Diocese of Dallas because of a second widely held misconception, reflected in
Ms. Caldwell's lead: that the Episcopal Church is in schism over "gay
rights," and that as a lesbian my goal must necessarily be to subvert the
authority of the church with a strange, secular notion of "rights" and
In fact, "gay rights" are not at issue in this controversy. Nor is the
authority of Scripture. What is at stake is the basic question of whether
Episcopalians will hold to the historic truth that there is but one baptism
into one Body of Christ - or rather maintain that there are two baptisms,
separate and unequal: one for heterosexuals, the other for everyone else.
Lesbian and gay Episcopalians do not wait to be grafted as an extra
appendage onto a bizarre Frankenstein's monster of a church, for the sake of
politically correct "inclusion." We are already in the Body by our baptism,
which cannot be revoked or repealed. Yet it seems that the church is
afflicted with a spiritual version of anosognosia - a "denial of deficit" -
that permits her to believe she can function and be whole and holy while
denying a part of the Body for whom Christ died. Only when that is healed can
any church cease to be at war with herself.
The Rev. Jan Nunley
St. Peter's and
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Providence, RI 02908-5255
Web publication of this document provided by the
Interfaith Working Group Online