Thursday, September 27, 2007

The morning after the morning after


It is the morning after the morning after. The dust is settling from the House of Bishops Meeting in New Orleans. The phone has quit ringing off the hook with press looking for comment (well, I did talk to a Newsweek reporter this morning but that was it so far) and the commentaries, reflections and diatribes have dwindled down to a trickle rather than a flood in my email inbox.

Here in the Diocese of Los Angeles we will have a chance to hear from and speak to our bishops next Tuesday, October 2nd, at an open forum follow-up to the New Orleans meeting and I am looking forward to that opportunity to hear directly from them what they think they acheived. AND I am looking forward to their hearing from us the impact "on the ground."

In the midst of it all, however, I received the following missive as a comment here on this blog ... and decided it deserved a wider reading audience. It was for me, the sun peaking for a moment through the storm clouds still gathered. It was a poignant reminder that even in our brokeness this Episcopal Church is a place of healing and refuge for many: an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace of God's inclusive love that transcends even the church which, too often, stands as roadblock rather than serves as conduit.
.
This is the church we can be, people. May God give us the grace and power to become it.

Reverend Susan,

I am a Gay man with a seven year old son. My father is 73. The three of us share a home together and my father is helping me to raise my son. We were all members of the Roman Catholic Church until last May when we began attending Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

Christ Church is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Christ Church is also an Oasis congregation which specifically welcomes GLBT people into its parish family. I cannot fully describe the joy and peace that we have found at Christ Church. For the first time in my life I am part of a church which not only fully accepts me and loves me but also fully accepts my sexuality. Actually, my sexuality at Christ Church is a non issue.

At Christ Church we have Gay and Lesbian Priests and Deacons who are out and have partners. Our bishop attended The St. Louis Pride Fest in June and stayed for several hours at The Episcopal Church's Pride Fest booth. Contrast this with my experience in the Roman Catholic Church in which for years I heard the Pope and the bishops tell me that my sexuality is disordered, ANY physical expression of my sexuality is intrinsically evil, that my family is not real and that I am doing violence to my son by raising him.

I also knew that if I dared to bring a boyfriend or a partner to Mass on a regular basis, that I would not only be barred from continuing to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, but I would be condemned as a public sinner and excommunicated. For the first time in my father's life his son no longer has to abide by an ecclesiastical, don't ask, don't tell, policy.

Rev. Susan, I cannot tell you how happy and thankful we are to have found a branch of the Holy Catholic Church, the Ancient Church, which fully accepts and loves us. I read the Bishop's Statement from New Orleans on EpiScope as soon as it came out. I was disappointed with it. However, there is no comparision to what the Episcopal Bishops said in their statement and the outright hostility that I recieved as a Gay man from the Pope and Roman Catholic Bishops for years.

In answer to the question, "
Why would any Gay person want to be a Christian?", I would say because of Jesus Christ and his great love for us, which he demonstrated in his life, death, and glorious resurrection. My family has seen and experienced the love of Christ in the people of Christ Church Cathedral and the Episcopal Church.

I was proud when my son received his First Holy Communion on Pentecost Sunday in The Episcopal Church and my father and I will be very proud when we are received into the Anglican Communion at Christ Church Cathedral next Spring.

Thanks for listening.



Thanks for writing. And may God make this Communion worthy of the gifts you bring to it.
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13 comments:

Muthah+ said...

Ah, yes. We must remember what happens in the pew!

I am disappointed by the HOB because I felt it was B033 all over again. But I am beginning to not expect them to do much more.

I do respect that they do not overeach their authority which is more than we can say for the ACC, the Primates,or even the ABC.

Jim O'Donnell said...

Yup! That's it, in a nutshell. Thanks, Susan, and thanks to your correspondent!

Jim

Anonymous said...

Christ Church Cathedral is indeed a wonderfully loving congregation. My partner, son and I have attended Mass there quite often, though nowadays we tend to go to a parish closer to home.

Jeffrey (also in St. Louis)

James Newman said...

I have a different reaction than some to the HoB meeting.

First, let me say that I AM disappointed that the Bishops officially noted that B033 was intended to mean gay and lesbian - partnered people. At one level that is a step back. However, at another lever, that open acknowledgement of overt discrimination may, in the long run, help us make the case AGAINST the renewal of B033.

In the other areas, the Bishops simply reiterated what we have been saying..namely, that it is the GC (all orders of ministry) who make policy for TEC, not simply the Bishops. We have been complaining that the Primates
demand (or request or whatever) was asking TEC to do something by the unilateral action of the HoB. That is not our polity. The reality is that we are stuck with the horror of B033 till 2009. We can then have a "down
and dirty" to get rid of it. By that time, Akinola & Company may have stiffed ++Rowan's tea party which, I note, +VGR will be invited to. That will make Akinola, et. al. even more unhappy (esp. since Minns, Anderson, etc. will not be there).

Jim Newman

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Jim ... Point taken. I agree there actually IS some lemonade to be made out of the lemon of the bishops' statement and I'm happy to exploit that politically to the fullest extend possible.

The other part of the conversation, however, has to include the ongoing collateral damage to LGBT people whose lives and vocations continue to be treated like bargaining chips in the game of global Anglican politics.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church is absolutely right in its view, and their only fault has been a failure to maintain the kind of discipline that would have prevented all of that homosexual abuse of teens over the years, and the church is paying heavily for that.

Anonymous said...

An interesting phrase about "bargaining chips"; my question would be, then: Aren't we non-GLBT who are struggling with these issues being used as well by those in the GLBT camp?

Just a thought...

Mark said...

Thank you for our daily dose of Reasserter self-pity and muddy thinking, Anonymous.

(I'd hide my name if I said stuff like that, too.)

Donald W. Fisher said...

As a member of Christ Church Cathedral, my heart is so completely warmed at the note from this man and his family. I don't know who he is, but I would like to give him a huge hug of welcome.

My partner and I have experienced the same welcome and acceptance. CCC is a wonderful place in which to worship and fellowship.

As to the larger church and the Bishops' response, I say this:

You cannot “have it both ways”. The statement of the House of Bishops, as well as the resolutions of GC06, are self-contradictory and are in violation of the Canons of the Church.

You cannot both
a) refuse to affirm a duly-elected LGBT candidate for bishop and refuse to authorize blessings for committed same-gender couples
and
b) state that LGBT members of the church are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.
Either LGBT persons are full and equal participants, eligible for any position in the Church, or they are not full and equal participants.

Canon III.1, Sec. 2:
“No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established.”

The current House of Bishops’ response clearly is self-contradictory and in violation of the Canons, which constitute the definitive statement of Church policy and function.

You cannot have it both ways.

Donald W. Fisher
Member, Eucharistic Minister, Lector
Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis

Cap'n Steve said...

I know I am a bit of a Pollyanna, but your bloggers experience gives me a great hope that someday my GBLT relatives and freinds will find a welcome everywhere in TEC.

My feeling from the HoB's meeting is at least they did not explicitly forbid same-sex blessings and that they would "show restraint" only in placing gay bishops. That means to me that we can thumb our noses to the AC and go ahead with same-sex blessings and confirming openly gay bishops. We are also in a good position to rescind BO33 in 2009.

God Bless and Keep You!

Steve (St. John's La Porte, Texas)

Lorian said...

Anonymous 2:16PM, I believe you mean "that pedophilic abuse of teens..."

That's a completely different issue than what is being discussed here. You may not have heard: homosexuals are not automatically pedophiles, any more than are heterosexuals, even though most pedophiles are straight, married men.

I realize this is old news for most of us, but there seem to be a few people who simply cannot wrap their minds around it. Sorry, Susan, for the derail.

Ann Drale said...

I am glad that the bishops have accepted the task of meeting with the ABC concerning Gene's place at Lambeth. Now it is the bishops not Gene who will be addressing this issue. That may not seem like much, but it is a step forward for the bishops are owning their responsibility for one of their own.

Iam also gland they they denied acceptance of outside oversight. What a mess that would have been.

+KJS has set forth her offer for alternative oversight. I hope that it is a take it or leave it offer, and that this matter is over.

I guess I'm not too upset that they simply restated the position of the church a la GC 03. They really could not have done much more given our polity. I don't like the duplicity, nor do I like B033. We should have rites of marriage -- actually I don't see why we cannot use what we already have.

I am also happy that the bishops honored our polity by not trying to change what we have decided even though I do not like where we are.

Anonymous said...

Lorian ,

it's true that most pedophiles are straight married men but 33% are homosexual men, who only make up 3% of the population. And the vast majority of homosexuals, when they first started practicing that, did so with a man at a very very young age.