The answer is NO for now.
Diocese of Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, chair of the House of Bishops Theology Committee said, "It has always been the committee's intention to publish the names of the panel when the work ha s reached the appropriate stage." But for now he feels the work should be done without revealing the names of the members of the sub- committee.
Parsley said in his statement that he wanted to "assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons."
So the answer is NO for now. No names.
But the answer, in terms of the concern raised as to whether or not this sub-committee would be yet another group talking about GLBT persons or a committee which had gay and lesbian persons on it, is YES.
The critics have therefore gotten at least part of the answer: The sub-committee includes gay and lesbian persons.
The NO is supposedly about "confidence," "academic freedom," "space for deep dialogue." Bishop Parsley says, "We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them."
I am distrusting of any statement by anyone that talks about "for a season." Time and season are different sorts of measuring beasts. "For a season," roughly translates, "until we wish otherwise." As for confidence, academic freedom and space for deep dialogue, all of those can be had. No one is saying that the meetings must be open to outside visitors. And particularly the invoking of the phrase "academic freedom" is spurious. The panel or sub-committee is not vested with "academic freedoms." Academics are invited to join this work, but the work is not academic work.
The House of Bishops can, in terms of its own committee structures, do as it wishes. But this is not a committee by and of the House of Bishops. It is a committee mandated by General Convention and paid from the funds budgeted for the House of Bishops, itself part of the General Convention. The enabling resolution for this committee was passed in 1964. The Theology Committee has produced several reports over the years on matters related to human sexuality. The report card on its work has been mixed.
I suppose purely internal committees of the House of Bishops - those having no mandate from General Convention, no relation back to General Convention by way of reports, and no funding from General Convention - can be formed and be dissolved without reference to the norms of General Convention Committees, Commissions, Boards and Agencies. For example, the House of Bishops meeting outside the context of General Convention could form a committee to write a paper on its collective wisdom regarding Palestine. It could be adopted as a "mind of the house" statement by the House of Bishops. It would be what it is - a paper to be respected because of the authors, namely bishops of this church. It would not be a statement by The Episcopal Church, but by the Bishops. If they wished not to name the members of the writing committee they could do so.
But the Theology Committee is not such a committee. It has responsibilities to General Convention on a variety of levels, including the assumption of transparency. I would be interested in knowing if there are expectations of all CCAB's on matters of transparency. If so, the Theology Committee is bound by them.
All in all a mix response. No to names, yes to the inclusion of gay and lesbian participant s on the sub-committee. (At least that is how I read it.)
The full statement is here:
By the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Chair, Theology Committee of the House of Bishops
In response to questions that have been raised about the panel of theologians appointed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to prepare a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church, I wish to assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons.
This project has been designed in full communication with the House of Bishops. It has always been the committee’s intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them.
This project is designed to articulate theologically a full range of views on the matter of same sex relationships in the church’s life and to foster better understanding and respectful discernment among us. It will also be a contribution to the listening process of the larger Communion. It has several stages and is scheduled to be complete by early 2011. We are grateful to the distinguished theologians for their generous service to the church.
We wish to invite any member of the church who wishes to address the panel to send comments to the Theology Committee. We will see that these are communicated to the theologians to enrich their reflection and dialogue.