Thursday, April 05, 2007

From My Bishop ...


April Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of Los Angeles*
from the Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles

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My brothers and sisters,
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As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, it's important that we look back at the last month or so and what's happened in our life as a church. People have said to me over and over again, "You should write a pastoral letter about what happened." This isn't a pastoral letter, but I would like to offer these thoughts on recent events.
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I encourage you to read the three documents put out by the House of Bishops: the request for the Archbishop of Canterbury to come and meet with us face to face, and the two resolutions addressed to Executive Council. That will tell you exactly where we are as a Church.
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Lately I've been reading A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin H. Friedman. His description of characteristics encountered in a "chronically anxious" family seems to me to reflect recent events and attitudes in our Communion:
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[What follows is] a description of five interlocking characteristics of chronically anxious individual families and their regressive parallels in the great American family of today. Each is regressive because it subverts a major principle of the way life on this planet has survived and evolved.
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Characteristic:
1. Reactivity
2. Herding
3. Blame Displacement
4. A Quick-Fix Mentality
5. Failure of Nerve in Leadership
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Evolutionary process subverted:
1. Self-regulation of instinctual drive
2. Adaptation toward strength
3. A growth-producing response to challenge
4. Allowing time for processes to mature
5. All of the above.
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All five characteristics contribute to one another, although the fifth, lack of leadership, may be the link among them all. For the first four all share two factors in common that always tend to compromise effective leadership: denial of emotional process and a devaluing of the individuality that is necessary for summoning "nerve."-- Edwin H. Friedman "A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix" (page 61)
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The Episcopal Church is blessed by a House of Bishops that stood up for individuality and for self-differentiation as they wrote these documents, realizing that we as a church of 2.3 million people in the United States, two territories and 14 countries must maintain our autonomy and the authority of our Presiding Bishop. If we allow the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a visiting Primate or a pastoral vicar, as he has suggested, for our presiding bishop, we would be undermining the power and the authority of Katharine Jefferts Schori.
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The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is one of the most articulate and capable women I've ever met in my life, and to undermine her authority would be a great disservice to our Church. Furthermore, to allow the Primates---who have no adjudicatory responsibility or power over The Episcopal Church---to have a steering committee that would look over Bishop Katharine's shoulder and see if she's doing things in a "proper" fashion (according to them) would be an even greater disservice to our church.
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I hope that the next few months of study--a "fasting" for a time of study as suggested by our Presiding Bishop-would be a great gift to the Church. I know that the Presiding Bishop and Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, are setting up a method for doing that. I look forward to them giving us tools to help determine what our final response should be.
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If you'll notice, the resolutions that went to the Executive Council were not a response to the Primates, but a suggestion of behavior to the Executive Council from the House of Bishops. I would hope that our future is within the Anglican Communion. I desire nothing more than to remain in the filial relationship that we've had for so many years-a relationship that leaves us free to be open, creative and evolutionary Christians.
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I would pray that the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury-who is the only one responsible for saying whether or not we should be a member of the Anglican Communion-will see the importance of us being part of this community. I have to be clear and tell you that the Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council and the President of the House of Deputies are doing all they can to make a metered response to this untoward request that has been placed upon this Church.
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In addition, there are a couple more things I want to share with you. I've just been asked by Bonnie Anderson and Bishop Katharine to sit on the Communique response writing group. I will be doing that as a member of Executive Council and the House of Bishops.
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I pray that we can give a response that will allow us to be part of the Anglican Communion, but not in any way, shape or form dishonor the inclusive nature of our Church. For we cannot go backwards. We are not a church that will turn around and walk away from our decisions.
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When the appointment of Jeffery John, a gay man who was chosen to be a bishop in England, was reversed, that act of going backwards did great disservice to Jeffery John and to the English church. When the Presbyterian Church made proactive statements about sexuality and went backwards, it did great disservice to that church-and on and on with other denominations. The Episcopal Church shall not be one that backs up on this issue.
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Well, I guess I can't say that exactly. But the Diocese of Los Angeles will not back up. I have commitments from all my bishops to support the people of this diocese, regardless of their sexuality, to support their baptismal covenant ministry and what God calls them to do.
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I will keep you in my prayers. Please keep me in yours.
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Yours in Christ,
+J. Jon Bruno
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To read the Primates' Communique, the resolutions passed by the House of Bishops, and several other documents and commentaries relating to the current crisis in the Church, click here and scroll down the page to "Resources."
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*published in the April 2007 edition of "The Angelus" -- the clergy newsetter of the Diocese of Los Angeles

2 comments:

joeomar gonzales said...

Reverend Susan: Thank you for sharing this important, history making letter from the Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno Bishop of Los Angeles. It is imperitive to note two things, 1) he has been asked to sit on the Communique response writing group, and 2) I have commitments from all my bishops to support the people of this diocese, regardless of their sexuality.

I challenge all my sisters and brothers of Christ to read and reread this letter. Every word is imperative to our unconditional love of The Episcopal Church and inclusivity, to bring people to Christ on Earth.

Now today, now, tonight, and tomorrow, we must pray. No more hate, but love. And please also at this moment and time pray for our service men and women in uniform, wherever they are. This is a most Holy and Sacred time.
Happy Easter to all.........

Anonymous said...

I am happy to hear that the spot-on insights of Rabbi Friedman are informing Bishop Bruno during this crucial time. May God richly bless him and the other bishops of LA as we move forward together in faith.