(E)pistle: An Apology- Power and Community in the ‘Big Tent’

In Monday’s (E)pistle post, I wrote about news that may impact the faith communities many CDSP students will serve. PRRI’s most recent data show an uptick in affiliation with mainline Protestant traditions and a dip in affiliation with evangelical Protestant traditions among white Christians. It got me thinking about the experience of the possibly growing number of evangelicals, some of them conservative, who might be arriving in Episcopal churches.

I have since learned that, in the process, I alienated and hurt many members and friends of the CDSP community. I am writing this response to apologize for that impact.

I overlooked the painful life experience of many individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized by the Episcopal Church and other mainline traditions. In particular, readers rightly pointed out that this form of “big tent” framing has often resulted in LGBTQ+ Christians having their identities, vocations, and relationships become a point of dehumanizing debate.

I apologize for the impact my post has had on LGBTQ+ members and other members of our community. In alignment with our mission and values, I am fully committed to CDSP’s continuing work to include, welcome, and honor diverse perspectives and identities in a hospitable community environment that recognizes the impacts of power differentials and systemic oppression.

While CDSP and its leaders are not perfect, I believe the seminary takes this work seriously even amid mistakes we are bound to make in pursuit of living more inclusively, hospitably, and equitably. I know there are LGBTQ+ members of our community who chose CDSP precisely because of its welcome. My post eroded that welcome for many, and I am sorry.

I am grateful to those who shared their perspectives and to everyone who makes CDSP the special community it is and endeavors to be.