A friend of mine just emailed me about the following debacle. Here’s the unfolding story:
A Grand Forks priest went public this Holy Week with her request to the Episcopal bishop of North Dakota for a license to minister here.An associate professor of religion at UND, the Rev. Gayle Baldwin, 62, was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1980 in North Carolina. Before coming to UND in 2000, she served in several parishes, last in the Wyoming diocese, where she has a license to preach and administer the sacraments. That’s where she was when she came out as a lesbian a decade ago.
Here’s where the trouble began. This is the beginning of the letter Baldwin wrote to the PB as well as Bishop Michael Smith (ND), Bp. Bruce Caldwell (Wyoming), and Gene Robinson (!!!)
I am writing all of you as a response to the recent refusal of Bp. Michael Smith to grant me a license to fulfill my ordination vows in the state of North Dakota. The reason he has refused me has nothing to do with my character, nor my skills and gifts of ministry. His reason is that my life partner, whom God has given me to love and cherish is a woman and not a man. He has stated that he will only grant a license to a priest who is celibate or married. Since we cannot be formally married, our family is not considered legitimate by the church. In refusing to acknowledge my family and my ordination, Bishop Michael is also refusing to acknowledge my baptism, for in my baptism, I am “Christ’s own forever,” and the gifts of the Spirit given from that moment on, are, as I understood it, to be honored and blessed. As a baptized member of the Body, I am to be cared for, nourished and the gifts given are to be nurtured by the Body.
There are so many errors of logic as well as theological heresies contained within this letter; but it spells out the silliness and the air of entitlement that most who espouse this lifestyle base their arguments on. The rest may be found here.
Statement of Bishop Michael Smith, dated March 19, regarding the Rev. Gayle Baldwin’s letter to Smith, several other bishops, including the national presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church:
In the past few days quesiton (sic) have bee raised about plolicies (sic) and procedures for licensing a priest to officiate in the Episcopal Church. These polices are governed by the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church which state clearly that priests must be licensed to officiate by the bishop if they have not been ordained in the diocese where they are currently residing.
It is inappropriate to speak publicly about specific personnel matters.
However, during these contentious times over the issue of sexual morality in the life of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, I have chosen to follow the recommendations of the bipartisan, international “Windsor Report.”
Therefore, I will not ordain or license any clergy member who is unable to promise faithfulness in marriage or to abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage.
While Episcopalians in North Dakota are not of one mind on these matters, at our annual convention in 2005 a resolution was overwhelmingly passed which “commended the Windsor Report as a way forward together in spite of the differences which threaten to divide us,” and expressed our desire for the Diocese of North Dakota “to remain both a member of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
The GrandForks article contains the misspellings and omits Bishop Michael’s conclusion which I add here:
“Please join me on this Good Friday in praying for the Church.
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bishop Michael, know that you’re in my prayers!!!