Iliff's Invitation to Colorado Bishop Jerry Winterrowd Protested

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 2 00:20:33 EDT 2001


Iliff's invitation to Colorado Bishop Jerry Winterrowd protested

By Virginia Culver
Denver Post Religion Writer

Tuesday, May 01, 2001 - The invitations were already printed listing
Episcopal Bishop Jerry Winterrowd as speaker at next month's
commencement for Iliff School of Theology.

But the more than 1,200 invitations have been reprinted without a
speaker's name. Winterrowd hasn't decided whether to go ahead with his
June 3 address after gays and lesbians objected to his appearance.

Gays and their supporters at Iliff are particularly upset about
guidelines Winterrowd issued in February stating that only celibate
gays can serve as priests in Colorado Episcopal churches.

Craig Peterson, a gay student at Iliff, called the matter "incendiary.
But I know the political realities and how difficult it would be to
retract the invitation."

"Not insensitive to how they feel'

Winterrowd met with Iliff students and faculty for 90 minutes recently
to discuss the problem and said he is "deeply distressed" over the
controversy.

"I have a good relationship with gay and lesbian Episcopalians, though
sometimes it's contentious," he said. "But I'm not insensitive to how
they feel."

He said he hesitates "to go into hostile territory," and is concerned
that protests might disrupt the "sacred atmosphere of the commencement
celebration."

Winterrowd said he'll decide soon so the seminary will have time to get
another speaker if he cancels.

The impasse has many ramifications. The 7 p.m. commencement ceremony is
to be at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, East 14th Avenue and Clarkson
Street. Winterrowd is on the board of trustees at Iliff because 30
Episcopal students go there as part of the Anglican Studies Program.

"I told Jerry his stand (on gays) is incompatible with the spirit many
of us value at Iliff," said Dee Paddock, an Episcopal student at Iliff.

A psychologist and heterosexual, Paddock said she decided against being
ordained in the Episcopal Church because of Winterrowd's stand on gays.

Michelle Danson of Niwot, an Episcopal student at Iliff who supports
Winterrowd's commencement appearance, said, "We've moved from being
militant on this issue to hearing all voices, including those we're not
comfortable hearing. Iliff is on the cutting edge of what it means to
be inclusive."

Those opposing Winterrowd haven't decided whether they'll publicly
protest if he does speak.

Iliff President David Maldonado said the invitation stands, though the
school "is an open and welcoming" campus for gays. "Iliff is a place of
diversity for many voices. We want it to be a safe place for people to
be heard."

He said his aim is make sure issues such as this "are discussed openly.
We're like a family, and families don't always agree."

But he said he doesn't want to get involved in discussions about the
Episcopal Church's stand on gays and lesbians.

Actually, there is great disagreement in the Episcopal Church, which
advises that single priests must be celibate. Delegates to the church's
national conventions have repeatedly passed statements against non-
celibate gays in the ministry, but the church has never written that
into law, said Jim Solheim, spokesman at national church offices in New
York City.

Peterson said he is "frustrated that the commencement keynoter doesn't
reflect the inclusivity of the church. If Bishop Winterrowd would have
come from behind his bishop's office and just told us he is struggling
with this issue instead of reiterating that he is upholding his church
I would have been pleased," Peterson said.

But, Peterson said, "I don't want to sound hypocritical. My own church
(the United Methodist) is even less open to gays."

END




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