Soulforce Launches Petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Signers Ask Leader Not to Segregate Openly Gay Bishop Robinson at Lambeth in 2008

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771

(Austin, TX) — Soulforce has launched an online petition asking the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to invite Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, to the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

According to the New York Times, Williams has expressed liberal views on gay men and lesbians in the past, but appears willing to withhold Bishop Robinson’s invitation to this important meeting of Anglican bishops in order to try to avoid schism within the communion.

The Lambeth Conference only happens once every ten years. In 1998, the bishops passed a resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" and opposed the blessing of same-sex unions. The archbishop has indicated that he hopes the 2008 meeting will focus on prayer and reflection rather than policy.

Like many gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters, Jay Decker–a choir member at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois–reacted to Robinson’s exclusion with heartfelt outrage: "If the Archbishop will not reflect together with gay people on the faith they share with him, what hope is there of reaching any positive resolution? If he will not see us, how will he ever understand our heart and our humanity? If the Archbishop will not gather to pray with gay people, what hope do we have of finding welcome in that Church?"

The text of the Soulforce petition is below. The online petition can be found at:

A hard copy of the signed petition will be mailed to the archbishop’s office.

"I ____________ cannot accept that the way for faith leaders to deal with the tension resulting from an oppressed group of people’s struggle for justice is to exclude both the oppressed and the oppressor from historic church gatherings–especially meetings of prayer and reflection.

I call upon the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to do the right thing and invite V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, to the 2008 meeting in London."

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to