Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

Meeting May Make or Break Communion

... is the headline of the Christian Post article and if it sounds familiar to you you've in good company. Season subscribers to the ongoing saga of "As The Anglican World Turns" have lost count of the "lines in the sand" that have ended up blowing in the wind. "Meeting May Make or Break Communion" ... or not. Wouldn't it be great to be reading instead, "Meeting May Bring 'Thy Kingdom Come' a Little Closer to Coming"? That's what I hold onto as the hope on the other side of these present wranglings over who will sit with who, whose Jesus is Lord, etc.

And so, being the rooted in tradition Anglican that I am I'm heading off to Orlando for an Integrity Board meeting with both a hymn and a prayer in my head.

The hymn is from the Hymnal 1982 Ora labora ... "Come Labor On" -- and the prayer is from Compline:

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we, who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

More from Florida!

Details on Dar Es Salaam Meeting of the Primates

From this morning's release by the Anglican Communion News Service:

[ACNS] The Primates of the world-wide Anglican Communion will gather for their regularly scheduled meeting 14-19 February, 2007, Jangwani Beach, near Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Other Inter Anglican Meetings will be held around those dates at the same venue.

There are 38 Primates (Senior bishops, Presiding Bishops, Moderators) of the Anglican Communion. The Primates come together from the geographic Provinces around the globe. The Archbishop of Canterbury chairs the meetings with the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (AC), serving as secretary.

As "primus inter pares" - first among equals, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers his fellow primates together for Bible study, worship and conversation on the current state of affairs and mission in the global church. Archbishop Rowan Williams has stated that he is looking to the Primates for guidance on matters relating to the Lambeth Conference 2008 as well as looking at the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report, in light of a special report to be discussed from a sub-committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and Primates Standing Committee. There will also be reports on the Panel of Reference and The Listening Process work.

Read the rest here ... and do keep all involved in this important meeting in your prayers in the days and weeks to come!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And now, a word from our Primate ..

The Living Church reports "Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has been allotted two sessions of next month’s primates’ meeting to describe The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report. Sessions on the “listening process,” the proposed Anglican Covenant, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference, as well as social and development issues are on the agenda for the Feb. 12-19 meeting to be held at a hotel near Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania ..."

Once again, the speculation-run-rampant prior to the meeting of the primates comes to naught.

"She won't be invited."
She is.

"There'll be a boycott."
There isn't.

"They'll seat an "alternative primate."
They're not.

"They're going to tell her what to do."
She's got the floor.

And on it goes. Imagine what we might to accomplish together if instead of prognosticating on primatial politics (since we mostly seem to be wrong anyway!) we spent it instead on the work of the church -- MDGs, VBS, UTO, NEAC or ERD ... just pick something and DO it.

Maybe we'd get the answer to a variation of the universal question: If David Anderson cries "schism" in the forest and nobody's listening does the church still split?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nothing like an ultimatum to start the week off right!

According to The Living Church, Archbishop Akinola is now saying:

The issue of homosexuality and the Anglican Communion must be resolved before the 2008 Lambeth Conference, if the Church of Nigeria is to participate, according to Archbishop Peter Akinola.

It was all-parish-all-day today so not much time for blog-land but this leaped off my email right onto the blog page all on its own. So much for Covenants-in-progress, Primates'-meetings-in-the-offing or any other "we can work it out" ops still on the drawing board.

Are we there yet? To the tipping point? To the moment when the rational people who actually do make up the majority of this Church and this Communion will say "ENOUGH ALREADY" and quit allowing the mission and ministry of the Gospel to be held hostage by posturing primates with their dueling diatribes?

Let's hope so.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fresno Bound

Off to Fresno for the weekend for a gathering of LGBT leadership convened to support the voices in the wilderness in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Prayers invited for safe travel for all those heading to Fresno today and for blessings on the work we will do together.

"Film at eleven" as they say!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Wind Beneath Their Wings: PREDLUDIUM on the AMiA

Best of the Blogs this morning goes to Mark Harris' PREDLUDIUM:

Bishop Chuck Murphy, Bishop in and Chairman of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, is quoted in a Virtueonline article as saying the following “Bishop Bob Duncan is the St. James of Jerusalem.” He then went on to say, “He has a different kind of work - important but different. Our operating paradigm is that we are breaking into new territory. We are planting new churches. We are "unchanged". We are more Celtic than Roman. We are people on mission. We have BHAG - Big, Holy, Audacious Goals.”

Perhaps they have BHAG - Big Heavy Audacious Gas - but it will pass.

I have no notion what the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network thinks of this, nor do I care very much. But I think it is a crock.

I suppose that Bishop Murphy is trying to say that he considers himself the leader of the “get out and find the gentiles” sort of Anglicans and Bishop Duncan is here to hold the territory already Anglican. That doesn’t fit very much with what the Anglican Communion Network claims, what with their claim about new church plants and missionary action, but never mind.

Bishop Murphy has smelled the latest passing of gas coming from the evangelical salesmanship school of ecclesiology and is giddy with big, holy, audacious imagery. AMiA is neither Celtic or Roman. AMiA is schismatic and about as un-Anglican as possible.

Read the rest here ... and give thanks for Poet Mark's willingness to "tell it like it is."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Live" from the Sundance Film Festival

An interesting influx of impressions in my inbox today regarding two of the films being shown at the Sundance Film Festival ...

For the Bible Tells Me So (which I blogged on a few days ago) featuring our favorite Bishop of New Hampshire and

Save Me -- a film about a young man’s journey through a Christian "ex-gay" 12-step ministry featuring All Saints parishioner and fabulous actor Chad Allen.

Bryant Hudson offered this account of his experience at the For the Bible Tells Me So "post- screening Q&A":

+Gene was introduced last of the group, and the audience spontaneously rose for a standing ovation as be came forward. I must say I was a little surprised, though perhaps I shouldn't have been. I hang out with Episcopalians, or those with no participation in any church. I think I have not been aware just how important Gene is not only to us, but to many, many queer and not-so-queer folk as well, from a wide variety of backgrounds and religious positions today.

I came away from the film last night thinking Gene really is an Apostle to the World, not just
The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, TEC, the Anglican Communion, or even the Church Universal. We should give thanks to New Hampshire for sharing him with us and with the World.

Amen, Bryant!

Equally intriguing were the comments of blogger David Swanson (blogging from Sundance for ) on "Save Me" ... check out the whole post here, but here's the part that impressed me:

One of the things that struck me about this film was how the filmmakers (some who are themselves gay as we learned during the question and answer time following the screening) portrayed the motives and stories of the conservative Christians who lead the ex-gay ministry with tenderness and grace. Is it possible that many in the gay community are more gracious in their understanding of Evangelical Christians than we are towards them?

Even more striking were the numerous men in the theatre who wept during the most poignant moments of the film, usually when the men in the 12-step program described the pain and brokenness in their pasts. How well, I wondered when leaving the theatre, is the church prepared to really understand this type of brokenness and this amount of pain? And how willing are we to acknowledge our own role in much of that painful memory?

Great questions ... and let's hope the film that inspired them is "coming soon" to a theater near you!

UPDATE: "Variety" just posted a review of "For the Bible Tells Me So." Check it out here.

"State of the Union" Morning After Awards

Award for Best Network News Intro to State of the Union follow-up report goes to NBC and The Today Show:

"All he is saying is give war a chance!"

Best Summary of the impact of the unnatural disaster of the Bush Administration on these United States goes to this morning's New York Times editorial:

"...the nation has been saddled with tax cuts that have turned a budget surplus into a big deficit, education reform that has been badly managed and underfinanced, far-right judges with scant qualifications, the dismantling of regulations in order to benefit corporations at the expense of workers, and a triumph of ideology over science in policy making on the environment and medical research. All along, Americans’ civil liberties and the constitutional balance have been trampled by a president determined to assert ever more power."

Finally, Best Word of Hope goes to Virginia Senator Webb in the Democratic Response calling the president to an exit strategy:

If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Chicken Little Wrong Again!

No Boycott of Primates Meeting

Looks like Chicken Little was wrong again ... the sky is NOT falling as Fr. Jake reported yesterday from the Anglican Front:
Last month, Archbishop Orombi of Uganda announced that the Global South Primates told the Archbishop of Canterbury that "they cannot sit together with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February." Dr. Williams invited our Presiding Bishop. This led some to wonder if Abp. Orombi and his fellow Primates would make good their threat of a boycott. Earlier this month, there were reports that the boycott was off.
That has now been confirmed by some of those present at the recent Anglican Mission in America Conference (AMiA is a breakaway group that is not in communion with Canterbury).
Read it all here ... and stay tuned for the NEXT installment of "Chicken Little Is Wrong Again" ... it's clearly a recurring plot line in "As The Anglican World Turns!"

Monday, January 22, 2007

The "Ahas! of God

The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Epiphany 3C: January 21, 2007
Susan Russell – All Saints, Pasadena

Years ago when our Bishop Jon Bruno was a parish priest and I was a parish secretary he explained to me that an epiphany works like this: God is forever tapping on each and every one of our heads trying to get our attention. Every once in awhile we look up and say, "Huh???" -- and THAT’S an epiphany!

And so, when we celebrate "epiphanies" we celebrate not the fact that God occasionally "shows up" -- but the fact that we noticed! We celebrate the relentless love of the God who is our Creator … forever “tapping on our heads”… forever giving us new and surprising ways to encounter God’s love for us – and calling us to share that love with others.

Two weeks ago we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan and the “aha!” moment when the dove descended and God declared, “This is my beloved Son.” Last week the “aha!” wasn’t at a river but at a wedding – when Jesus, at the urging of his mama, turned water into wine. And the epiphany – the “aha!” – in this morning’s gospel happens when Jesus goes home to Nazareth – to people who knew him growing up as Joseph and Mary’s kid. He read from the lesson appointed for the day – the one we just heard from the gospel of Luke:

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And if he’d stopped there it would have been fine. They would have all nodded and smiled and said to each other how tall he’d gotten and shouldn’t his folks be proud and then they would have all gone and had a have “cake on the lawn” and a reception honoring the village-son-returning-home.

Instead, he preached a sermon that began, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And that’s where the lesson ends today but that’s not where the story ends.
I’m going to jump ahead a little and give you a preview of “Part 2” that comes next week: when he challenged them to actually live out the lesson he read – to BRING good news to the poor – to LET the oppressed to free – to RELEASE the captives they had an “aha!” all right.

In fact, challenging their status quo was SUCH an “aha!” that the congregation turned them into an enraged mob that tried to throw him off the cliff. And I wondered if in some way this Episcopal Church … striving to “be Jesus” in the world today … isn’t facing precisely the same reaction from some of our Anglican hometown crowd.

This church has proclaimed that “the year of the Lord’s favor is NOW” by working to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ, by raising up into leadership women with grace and faith and gifts and power and by embracing the Millennium Development Goals that push us to reach out to the marginalized, oppressed and captive in very real ways. But like our Lord Jesus before us, this proclamation has sent some of our Anglican Communion relatives looking for a cliff to throw the American Episcopal Church off.

The Good News, of course, is that our Lord moved through the crowd miraculously unscathed – you’ll hear about that next week -- and that, I pray, will be a miracle that will surround this church – and our Presiding Bishop Katharine -- as she represents us to the world. Listen to these words she preached last week in commemoration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.:

Nearly forty years have passed since Martin King was assassinated. Like the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, like the threat Jesus posed to the governments of his day, like the prophets of the ages since, Martin threatened the structures of oppression and domination. The systems of domination in this world strike out when their poverty is revealed, when their selfishness and shame is exposed for the world to see. That exposing of evil is the work God asks of us all. May we be tireless lovers of our enemies, ever-hopeful of seeing them in the completeness for which God created them. As long as anyone is in bondage, none of us will ever be free.

As long as anyone is in bondage, none of us will ever be free. That is the good news we have to share. That is the “aha!” we celebrate this Third Sunday of Epiphany. That is the year of the Lord’s favor we pray that God will give us grace and courage to proclaim in our own time the way our Lord Jesus and Martin King did in theirs. Amen.

Looks who's playing "The Seven Game"

Check out who's playing "The Seven Game" -- AKA follow the bouncing "tag":

Katie Sherrod -- Elizabeth Kaeton -- Brother Causticus -- Saint Pat -- Padre Mickey -- Lisa Fox -- who's next???????

Grace Under Pressure

The Stanford Alumni Magazine did a cover-feature on our own Presiding Bishop (and their own alum) Katharine Jefferts Schori. Read it all here ... and WHAT a great opportunity to evangelize a whole whack of folks who -- according to my unscientific demographic survey -- are yearning for a spiritual home and disgusted with "the church." May they find in +Katharine's faithful witness an invitation to come and do likewise!

An excerpt:

When Jefferts Schori responds to such criticism [responding to a quote from the ubiquitous David Anderson], one can hear both a pastor and a scientist. “There are some people for whom the changes in the church over the last several decades have been incredibly painful, and, yes, some of them are very angry and very vocal because they see the church as having changed out from underneath them,” she says. “In large part, they’re correct—we’ve got some challenging times ahead of us. But every age has got its challenge, and this is ours.”

‘I think there is some incredible sense of divine humor in calling somebody who is that much of an introvert to do the kind of work I’m doing.’

Then the researcher weighs in. “It’s taken wrestling for me, over the last 20 years, but I think I’m at a point where I understand sexual orientation to be fixed pretty early on. And in faith terms, I talk about it as part of creation—it’s the way people are created, which means the church’s role is to figure out how to help people live in holy relationships.”

At the 2003 triennial convention of the Episcopal Church, Jefferts Schori joined the majority of American bishops to support the election of an openly gay priest for bishop of New Hampshire. “I think I recognized how challenging the decision to consent to Gene Robinson’s election was going to be, but I look at it as one in a series of tackling the human tendency to define some people as ‘other,’” she continues. “Look at the early church’s history. It was, ‘Can we include Gentiles?’ And in our own country’s history, it’s been about the place of African-Americans, the place of immigrants and the place of women. Now we’re dealing with the place of gay and lesbian Christians in the church, and there will be another group. I don’t know who, but there will be another one.”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Playing the SEVEN THINGS Game: " Tag, I'm 'IT' ":

Brother Causticus issued a challenge a few days ago to play "Seven Things" and, ever being one for a challenge, finally cleared off a little elbow room in my brain to meditate on the following compelling questions. Answers below ... and now (drum roll) ... the tag goes to Elizabeth Kaeton over at Telling Secrets ... you game, girlfriend?

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies
It's a tie between Urban T. Holmes "What Is Anglicanism" and Mel White's "Stranger At the Gate."

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music
Oh, the Brahms Requiem ... absolutely. Sophomore year, Dos Pueblos High School A Cappella Choir ... caught the choral music bug and never looked back. It opened me to a world of Vivaldi and Rutter and Lauritson and the magic of individual voices making music by blending their gifts without losing their own "part." It is an icon for me of unity more glorious than unison -- an icon that has informed my theology as well as my musicology.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue
I kept coming back to this one trying to give an answer that was smart and savvy and not cliche but [a] I just love movies so there are dozens I can watch over and over and [b] I'm really not all that smart and savvy so [c] my "final answer" is Dustin Hoffman's "Tootsie" ... a film I can watch from beginning to end -- every time -- with absolute delight. ("Casablanca" is on the list ... so is "Lion in Winter," "To Have and Have Not," and "Blazing Saddles." Go figure.)

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief
Meryl Streep. How can you not when she runs the gamut from "Sophie's Choice" to "The Devil Wears Prada."

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with
Anything by Georgia OKeeffe

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life
The one that comes to me this morning is "Inherit the Wind" -- read it in Junior High, acted it in High School, studied it in University ... and its themes continue to inform my life, journey and values. It also engendered my earliest sense of "vocation" as I was convinced I was destined for law school. (Where I never ended up -- but that's another set of questions! :)


UPDATE: Elizabeth has already been "tagged" by Lisa over at "My Manner of Life" (see her response here ...) so now I'm trying Katie Sherrod at "Desert's Child" .... Katie?????

Thank You Jesus For Email!

==Original message===
Sunday, January 21, 2007 3:43 PM

dear mom

the one that went down wasn;t one of ours. it was a national guard bird near baghdad. it was probably weather that caused it to crash, but it sucks no matter what caused it. we've been weathered in a few times so we know when to and not to fly. things here are as fine as they can be i suppose, and i'll see you guys in a couple months. please tell dad all is well also. i'll write again soon. jim


Ever succient, is my Jamie -- but how grateful was I to have this message this morning as I was heading to church?

Prayers ascending from Pasadena in thanksgiving for good news and for email ... and prayers as well for those families who are waiting for a message like this that isn't going to come.

Many thanks to all for all your prayers and good wishes ... for the cloud of witnesses whose prayers surrounded us for a very anxious 24 hours. Now let's apply that energy to the March on Washington next week and to lobbying Congress in the hope that something will "shift" and a just solution to this unjust war will be found.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

U.S. helicopter down in Iraq, all 13 aboard dead

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter came down northeast of Baghdad on Saturday afternoon, killing all 13 soldiers aboard in one of the deadliest single incidents for U.S. forces in four years of war in Iraq.

Residents near Baquba, in violent Diyala province, said they saw a helicopter in flames in the air but a military spokeswoman said it was not clear whether the aircraft was shot down.

A total of 16 U.S. troop deaths were reported on Saturday, the bloodiest day in Iraq for U.S. forces since President George W. Bush announced an increase in troop numbers that has run into resistance from opposition Democrats now controlling Congress.

Read the rest here ... pray for the victims and their families and for those of us who are trying very hard to get on with the work in front of us while we wait to hear from our soldiers in harm's way.

With all the saints who from their labors rest ...

We celebrated the life of Suzanne Smith Dragge today at All Saints Church. Born in 1922 and gone to Jesus December 31, 2006 Susie was was the kind of Episcopal Women the term "pillar of the church" was invented to describe.

In my five years at All Saints I think the only Sundays she missed being in the front row (pulpit side) were the ones she went fly fishing with her friend of 50 years Connie Smith. Susie was a Pasadena Valley Hunt Club Socialite who served as both Junior and Senior Warden at All Saints Church, wrote the check that made a free clinic happen in Pasadena in 1968 and helped found Union Station, one of the premiere homeless ministries in the Southern California.

She went to Washington and got arrested protesting the Viet Nam War in the 60's and gave the rector emeritus an earful last year when he allowed himself to be honored by the ACLU (not an organization she thought highly of!) She loved bridge and hated clapping in church and the celebration of her life today included testimonies from two of her children and Connie (her fly fishing buddy), a Dixieland Band and the 23rd Psalm (in "traditional language," thank you very much).

A fitting tribute to Susie's life of faithful, joyful service and a challenge to each and every one of us to "go and do likewise."

Give rest, O Christ, to your servants with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Archbishop Tutu Weighs In

'For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted.'

REUTERS [By Wangui Kanina]

NAIROBI – Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Friday urged the African Anglican church to concentrate on the the continent's grim problems rather than on the row over gay clergy, and said persecuting gays was akin to racism.

The debate over the role of homosexuals in the church threatens to split the world's 77 million Anglicans, pitting traditionalists in developing countries against liberals in the west.

African Anglican bishops have threatened to refuse to sit at the same table as Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who heads the U.S. Episcopal Church and supports gay clergy, at a global meeting in Tanzania next month.

'I am deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom',' the South African Nobel Laureate Tutu told a news conference in Nairobi.

'For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted.'

Tensions in the loose worldwide union of churches over homosexuality reached boiling point with the appointment of openly gay U.S. Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

'The God I worship would not consider that (gay clergy) to be a priority concern,' Tutu said, adding that churches should instead be thinking about poverty, HIV/AIDS and conflict resolution.

Homosexuality is taboo in most African societies, and most of the African church says ordaining gay clergy goes against the Bible.

The South African church, which has a strong liberal tradition nurtured under the anti-apartheid struggle and financial links to the United States, is the lone African voice in support of Jefferts Schori.

Tutu, retired Archbishop of Cape Town, is in Kenya to attend the World Social Forum where over 80,000 people are expected to campaign over trade, poverty, war and the environment.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mark Harris Rocks (Again!)

The ever-erudite Mark Harris once again " 'splains it all " in a way that makes such sense one wonders why the rest of us bother with all this blogging nonsense and don't just put up a link that says "What Mark Said."

That said, here IS the link to one of the latest things that Mark said -- a wonderful essay on The Vocation of the Episcopal Church. You can read it here ... and you should ... and would that we had listened to his words of wisdom from 1999:

“If those in our Church who cannot reconcile themselves to a polity that does or will make decisions contrary to their own best sense of God’s will, then they have every business leaving. There is an honorable history of convinced Christians doing so. But it must be clearly understood that any effort by them to wrest from this church its mission, people, name, churches, funds or agencies will be met with authoritative, clear and resounding resistance.”

Presiding Bishop Nails It

Just received this ENS press release with the Presiding Bishop's statement on the "Virginia situation." Brava, Brava, Brava!

Presiding Bishop's statement following property decisions in Virginia

[ENS] The Episcopal Church, in consultation with the Diocese of Virginia, regrets the recent votes by members of some congregations in Virginia to leave this Church. We wish to be clear, however, that while individuals have the right and privilege to depart or return at any time, congregations do not. Congregations exist because they are in communion with the bishop of a diocese, through recognition by diocesan governing bodies (diocesan synods, councils, or conventions).

Congregations cannot unilaterally disestablish themselves or remove themselves from a diocese. In addition, by canon law, property of all sorts held by parishes is held and must be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church through diocesan bishops and governing bodies. As a Church, we cannot abrogate our interest in such property, as it is a fiduciary and moral duty to preserve such property for generations to come and the ministries to be served both now and in the future.

The recent decisions by some members of congregations in Virginia to leave the Episcopal Church and ally with the Anglican Church of Nigeria have no cognizance in our polity. Ancient precedent (from as early as the fourth century) in the Church requires bishops to respect diocesan boundaries, and to refrain from crossing into or acting officially in dioceses other than their own. As a Church we cannot and will not work to subvert that ancient precedent by facilitating the establishment of congregations which are purportedly responsible to bishops in other parts of the Anglican Communion within the diocesan boundaries of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church continues to seek reconciliation with those who have decided to leave this Church, and reminds all parties that our doors are open to any who wish to return. Together with the Diocese of Virginia we seek to be clear about who we are as Episcopalians, and to continue to reach out in healing to this broken world. The overwhelming majority of the more than 7,600 congregations of the Episcopal Church are engaged in doing exactly that.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Collateral Damage from the Schism Du Jour

It is perhaps easy as the reports of councils and canons and lawsuits and litigation fly around us to forget or ignore the very real damage being done to lives, families and communities of faith as those hell-bent on turning the differences between us into divisions that serve their absolutist agenda continue on their quest to split the Episcopal Church.

Yesterday's Washington Post's article Praying for Answers tells the story of parishioners on both sides of the divide and I commend it to you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Our Bonnie Writes Over the Ocean ...

ENS is reporting:

House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has written to the Anglican Communion's Panel of Reference and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams "to clarify apparent misconceptions regarding the polity of The Episcopal Church reflected in the content and recommendations" of its recent report about the Diocese of Fort Worth.

The article, along with the full text of President Anderson's letter is here.

Interestingly, Daily Episcopalian (which offered its own comments on the lack of foundation for the Panel of Reference's Recommendations the other day) is reporting that the president's letter was "leaked" to the Stand Firm folks and, as always, asking some good quesiton about that as well. (Find the Stand Firm article here.)

Bits and Pieces

Heading home from Washington DC momentarily but thought I'd post a few "bits and pieces" worth checking out round and about the web:

Bishop Marshall's letter to the ABofC is featured in this ENS article posted yesterday:
Bishop Challenges Archbishop of Canterbury to Meet with House of Bishops

Jim Naughton asks an important question over at Daily Episcopalian:
Did the Panel of Reference do its homework?

Christianity Today has some interesting things to say about:
Evangelicals Behaving Badly With Statistics

And finally, the Diocese of Los Angeles has just posted the text of the sermon preached by Bishop Michael Ingham (New Westminster) at the January 6 Ordinations to the Priesthood:
You can read it all on The Episcopal News website but here's a snippet:

I would say this is the dominant religion of the West today. It's the culture we live in, the air we breathe. So we have these two fundamentalisms – one religious, one secular; one based on fear, the other on pride: one that has tried to co-opt and capture God, and one that has tried to banish God – and in the midst of this our priests and leaders have to be not just pastors but also prophets, not just comforters but also sounders of the alarm. We need from our priests, and indeed from all the baptized and faithful members of our Church, the leadership and vision to set us free from captivity both to false religion and to false ideologies alike.

Fear and pride are the very opposite of biblical values. They are not what God wants nor what God offers us through Jesus Christ. Our Scriptures bear witness to a Son of God whose very incarnation sets us free from idolatry, free from false attachment to bad religion and to unsustainable economic systems. Genuine biblical spirituality opens us to truth from any source so long as it incarnates the compassionate grace and mercy of God who has created all people as inter-connected, members one of another; as St. Paul says, to be one with each other and with the earth that supports us.

Kenneth Leech, a great Anglican writer, says genuine Christian orthodoxy is subversive, not conformist, it overturns human convention in the name of divine wisdom, it is not dogmatic but transformative, it doesn't fit into patterns of domination and exclusion but stands against them for a radical inclusion. Christian orthodoxy is not a tribal theology, a God-on-my-side sectarianism. It's a global vision of a world united in its very plurality, a world at one in its respect for difference and its deep commitment to justice. This is not the narrow orthodoxy of fundamentalists and demagogues, nor even may we say of some archbishops and primates. It's the radical orthodoxy of Jesus, grounded in his incarnation as the Son of God, who also lived in dangerous and polarized times and who refused all its temptations of avoidance and power.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Coming Attractions

Keep your eye out for this one: FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO ... a documentary debuting at the Sundance Film Festival next week that is getting lots of "buzz" (as they say in La-La Land).

From the Sundance website "blurb" on the film:

Are homosexuals welcome in the kingdom of God? For centuries, the Bible has been used to sanction discrimination, repression, and injustice. It has justified slavery, empowered segregation, and excused the subjugation of women--and the tradition continues. Same tactics, new target. Today a handful of religious passages are constantly exploited to validate hatred and violence against homosexuals.

Filmmaker Daniel Karslake explores the way religious conservatives have systematically misled the public into believing that the Bible forbids homosexuality and how this campaign of misinterpretation continues to stigmatize the gay community and threaten America's rapidly diminishing separation of church and state. With a keen sense of irony, Karslake focuses on the family. Through the unfolding of five very moving stories of Christian families with a gay or lesbian member and the reflections of major biblical scholars, the film examines what, if anything, the Bible actually says about homosexuality as we know it today.

Skillfully constructed, painstakingly researched, wielding whimsical animation and a proudly unapologetic point of view, For the Bible Tells Me So explores the intersection of religion and homosexuality in America today, concluding that, perhaps, hatred is the greatest abomination of all.

Read more about it here ... and bring on the popcorn!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Luke Four: Fourteen through Twenty-One

Prior to the investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church the Episcopal News Service reported that “in her sermons, Bishop Jefferts Schori will call on Christians to live the gospel – especially in terms of eradicating poverty, hunger and disease, both locally and globally, as advocated in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

In the gospel lesson (Luke 4:14-21) Jesus reads from Isaiah 61, one of the bishop’s favorite passages, which Jesus takes as his own mission “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor ...”

Bishop Katharine (as she says she prefers to be called) invited the whole church to share in meditating on these texts in the days and weeks before her Investiture. And lo it came to pass that a blog was created to share responses to that invitation: to reflect together on "the year of the Lord’s favor."

As Luke 4:14-21 has now rolled around in the lectionary cycle for Epiphany 3C I thought it might be fun to revisit that concept and see where people "are" about the whole year of the Lord's favor thing ... how's it going for you? What are you preaching Sunday (if you're a preacher)? And what would you like to hear preached (if you're not)? And how are we -- as a church and as a communion -- doing on the good news to the oppressed part?

Click here to go to "The Year of the Lord's Favor" and put in your two cents worth!

And there you have it ...

Posted below are the "clif notes" version of the challenges du jour facing the Church/Communion courtesy the ever-articulate Fr. Jake.

Yes, Kendall Harmon and others will point out (once again) that we're "getting it wrong" ... that they get to say what the issue is. Whatever. This is our truth as we know it. This our challenge and we're facing it. This is the church being called to its best self and we're embracing it.

"Not," as Paul Woodrum says in his essay on TEM, "because it is politic or impolitic, acceptable to some but not to others, but because it is right.

From Father Jake: It appears some within the Anglican Communion do not understand the situation as some of us within the Episcopal Church see it. It does not matter what the Primates do. It does not matter what Dr. Williams says. Because, regardless of the consequences, discrimination based on race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, is always wrong, and contrary to the Good News of God made known to us through Jesus Christ.

In the words of Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, "in this Church there will be no outcasts." Let those who desire to once again put in place a human hierarchy of being do what they must. We will not be swayed by threats of exclusion or punishment. We will not repent, because we believe, with no equivocation, that we have not only done nothing requiring such repentance, but that we are championing God's vision of the Kingdom. We will continue to stand against discrimination and bigotry because it is the right thing to do.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy MLK Day from Washington DC

So I flew into Reagan-National this afternoon ... a gloriously clear and suprisingly WARM January day in our nation's capital. As we circled before landing I saw the mall stretching out in the afternoon sun and imagined what it must have been like to have been here for "I Have a Dream" day... and then, out the windows on the right side of the plane were the seemingly endless rows of white markers that are Arlington Cemetary and I wondered what it would be like when King's dream for a nation of peace, equality and liberty became a reality. And we ain't there yet.

Which is why we continue to take to heart Coretta Scott King's call to make MLK Day a day ON rather than a day OFF! My "day on" was a commute day to be here in DC for work with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Religion Council for the next couple of days and the chance to come together with interfaith and ecumenical colleagues committed to the Gospel of God's inclusive love.

A great "day on" in celebration of Martin Luther King Day ... and a great way to end it is to hear again these words from his 1967 Beyond Vietnam speech:

Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.

And now I'm going to watch the Golden Globes! :)

Good Tidings from Bethlehem!

Paul Marshall, Bishop of Bethlehem, has written a grand reflection which, as I understand it, was originally intended for his episco-sibs in the House of Bishops. He has, however, graciously given permission to be more widely distributed and Jim Naughton has it posted over on Daily Episcopalian (link below).

So let us give thanks ... for the bishop's generous spirit and for his willingness to step up and do what the subtitle of his reflections recommends -- make sure the obvious gets said -- by asking the following question:

Postscript -- Lots of commenting going on on this one (no surprise!), including:
Mad Priest, who not only offered an early post of Bishop Marshall's letter but then some understandable glee at having "scooped" the ever-on-top-of-things-Episcopal Ruth Gledhill and THEN an appropriately sulky rant at having Daily Episcopalian get first-release credit!
Mark Harris has, as always, insightful observations over at PREDLUDIUM and Thinking Anglicans is, well, "thoughtful" as always.
Bishop Marshall has, of course, drawn the ire of the titusonenineites and Stand Firmites (who picked up Gledhill's charming headline "TEC Bishop Savages Archbishop Williams." Come on, Greg -- what ya'll do over there is "savage" people ... remember "the beatings will continue until morale improves"? How's that working for you?)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

From Martin Luther King Sunday @ All Saints Church

Minister: We hold these truths to be self-evident,
People: that all people are created equal.
Minister: Let justice roll down like waters,
People: and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

From “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”; a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of humankind. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.

Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. The one that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and God’s love is perfected in us. Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying to God's people INDEED!!
Amen, Amen, Amen!

Recommended re-reading: Letter from the Birmingham Jail

As we prepare to celebrate again the life and witness of Martin Luther King Jr. time to read again his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" and commit ourselves again to the Gospel Agenda he lived to proclaim and died defending. Here's an excerpt to get you started:

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides-and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Voice of Reason from the Global South

[ENS] The Anglican Archbishop of Southern Africa, the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane, has responded to a recent threat made by some African Primates who say that they will not attend the forthcoming Primates Meeting in Tanzania in February because of the presence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Anglican Church of Uganda said in a December pastoral letter to his church that he and other Global South Primates had informed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, that they "cannot sit together with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February," citing her position on the Bible's teachings about "faith and morality."

In a January 11 statement, Ndungane decried the reports of a boycott "because of the presence of a woman, who has been legitimately elected by the church in her country," saying it "is like fiddling while Rome burns."

"Most importantly," he added, "it goes against God's fundamental call for unity and reconciliation."

"I hope it is not the case that Bishop Jefferts Schori's presence is objectionable to some because she is a woman," he said. "Women have always been the backbone of Africa and, as an African, I am honored to welcome her to our great continent."

Jefferts Schori will be the first woman ever to sit among the leaders, or Primates, of the Anglican Communion when they next convene in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, but in his pastoral letter Orombi insisted that his "problem" with the Episcopal Church is "not that they have enthroned a woman as their Presiding Bishop."In his statement, Ndungane noted that "Africa is on fire with conflict in places like Darfur and Somalia" and cited the "life and death struggle against HIV and AIDS, malaria, famine and unimaginable poverty, all of which are creating a continent of orphans."

"There is also climate change which threatens to bring untold devastation to our continent," he added. "What we need is a united front to bring the needs of the people of Africa to center stage at every international forum."

From Episcopal News Service

Report from the Front

I talked to my kid today ... the one in Iraq. He's good. Appreciated the extra thick wool socks from Orvis I sent for his birthday. Turns out it's "freakin' cold" flying helicopters around northern Iraq this time of year. Actually, they've been "weathered in" quite a bit lately, which he finds frustrating and I like just fine.

He's looking forward to coming home on leave in April. Talked to Grandma the other day. Heard on the news that Beckham is coming to L.A. to play soccer and thought that was way cool.

Also heard on the news about the president's January 10th "Surge Speech" and had a couple of questions for me, starting with:

"What the hell is he thinking?"

"Doesn't anybody care that the people on the ground here are pretty much unanimous that sending more troops isn't the answer?"

"Wasn't there a report from that Iraq Study Group that actually consulted with the military? What happened to their recommendations?"

And finally,

"Isn't there a law somewhere that he has to actually listen to people who know what the freak they're talking about when it comes to decisions like this?"

The only answer I had was, "No, sweetie -- I wish there were but there isn't."

His response?

"That sucks."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

From My Mailbox

There just isn't world enough and time -- nor, quite frankly, inclination! -- to answer every question, respond to every comment or defend every opinion on this blog. There are sites where one can go to do that and I commend them to you. However, my "policy" in that regard is aligned with my sister Elizabeth Kaeton over on Telling Secrets and so I recommend her "Friendly Little Reminder" post for your edification.

That said, from time to time issues arise from comments that I think do bear responding to -- and here are few from my post-retreat mailbox:

From Phil:
Dear Susan: Can you give me an argument based in Holy Scripture and/or the unbroken tradition of the Church for blessing same sex unions or ordaining men or women involved in them?

Dear Phil: Why yes, yes I can. I can give you the link … here … to “To Set Our Hope on Christ” – the Episcopal Church’s “case statement” we took with us to Nottingham in 2005 and presented to the Anglican Consultative Council. There’s even a study guide you can download … here … to use for parish study. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Thanks for asking. Have a great day.

From Craig:
Dear Susan: [You] quote Kendall: “The Episcopal Church is not moving ahead but instead moving away from Scripture and the Church and a significant majority of their fellow Anglicans worldwide.” I'm not sure, Susan, whether or not you're claiming that some part of this statement is false (and if so, which part), or whether you just don't like it.

Dear Craig: Thanks for the chance to clarify. It’s actually kind of a “both/and” – I don’t like it and it’s false. Number one, rather than “moving away” from Scripture we believe we are embracing Scripture by living out the Gospel agenda of God’s inclusive love. (See my note to Phil above and do check out "To Set Our Hope on Christ.")

Number two, having no desire to “walk apart” (a favorite sound bite from the other side of the aisle) from the wider communion we reject the “spin” that puts the responsibility for its mounting divisions at our feet. To “walk apart” one has to leave … and the American Church has threatened only to stay. If the increasingly likely “split” happens it will because the fabric that is "rent" is the historic comprehensiveness of classical Anglicanism: willfully torn by those committed to exploiting differences into divisions in order to achieve their schismatic ends.

If that schism happens it will not be because the American Church has lived out the Gospel differently in its context than, oh, let’s just pull one out of the hat: Nigeria has. Rather it will be because of the orchestrated efforts of those who grew so weary of holding a minority position in their church that they determined to split it if they couldn’t control it. And to give credit where credit it due, it’s looking like they might just pull it off. Pity.

So that’s why I reject Kendall’s assertion as “spin.” Hope that helps clarify.

From Ellie:
Dear Susan: Just to clear up one point: Steve Gushee (Another Reporter Gets It) is not, as your heading says, a "reporter." Gushee is a long-term member of TEC who is taking sides in his own church's schism. That is his right and he is entitled to any views he may have. But he is NOT an unbiased, professional journalist.

Dear Ellie: Thanks for taking time to write. The piece in question is an op-ed. The "op" stands for "Opinion" and, as you note, Mr. Gushee (a Palm Beach Post Staff Writer) is entitled to express his. Which he does. Clearly and, to my mind, helpfully.

Just add him to the list of those stepping up to say "the emperor has no clothes" AKA "the Episcopal Insurgency has no integrity." Rather it is a long planned, well financed power grab that, sadly, seems to be working. At the moment, anyway.

But voices like Gushee’s are precisely the ones that I believe the Holy Spirit is calling to step up and name this travesty for what it is and call the church back to the mission it should be about rather than the mania that currently consumes it. Which is why I posted the piece. Thanks again for taking time to write and giving me a chance to clarify!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Reporter Gets It


[Palm Beach] The cat is out of the bag. It is about sex, after all.

The breakaway parishes in the Episcopal Church make all the right noises about their struggle for theological orthodoxy, biblical purity and traditional Anglican values.

Cut through all the verbiage, and their issue is sex, specifically homosexuality in the church's leadership, with a side order of bias against women.

The clergy in Truro Church and Falls Church in northern Virginia led their flocks out of the American Episcopal Church last month. In an extraordinary expression of self-righteousness, they aligned themselves with the Anglican Church of Nigeria and created a jurisdictional nightmare.

They joined a renegade mission of the Nigerian church called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America that now boasts 21 parishes, according to The New York Times.

The group is under the insensitive direction of Nigerian bishop Peter Akinola, who reads Scripture literally and claims it says what he wants it to say. He equates gay leadership in the church with "a satanic attack."

Akinola supports a bill in Nigeria that would make any public expression of homosexual activity a crime punishable by five years in prison.

He wants to bring his prejudices to this country. To that end, he has consecrated an American priest, MartynMinns, rector of the Truro Church, to be a bishop in the Convocation. Minns will work under the authority of his Nigerian master in the vineyard of the American Episcopal Church.

That is the height of ecclesiastical arrogance borne of mind-numbing hubris. Bishops of different jurisdictions do not muck about in another bishop's territory, but this sanctimonious crowd observes no such niceties. They alone, they claim, know the truth and read Scripture accurately.

The great danger in all this — apart from the disgraceful treatment of homosexuals — is the growing power of bigots to use the Bible to condemn those who are different. Christians have long done that against Jews, blacks and women.

They use their religion "as a fig leaf to cover their naked prejudice," said the Rev. Peter Gomes, preacher to Harvard University who is a black, Republican, Baptist, gay minister.

His simple presence would make Bishop Akinola and his American minions apoplectic. His words condemn them.

Steve Gushee
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

So what IS the problem?

Checking out what I missed while on hiatus from the blogosphere was a little like missing a soap for a week or two and coming back to more of the same. A week with the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a welcome respite from the relentless onslaught of "things Anglican" and I am deeply grateful for the gift of that time and space and the extraordinary hospitality of the sisters.

But hi-ho, hi-ho, it's back to work I go ... and checking in on what I missed over at Kendall Harmon's titusonenine, I was impressed by the energy engendered around this Connecticut letter to the editor writer who not only named the truth about the current contretemps but called the paper to account for buying the Schismatic Spin hook-line-and-sinker. Calling the report “sadly one sided and misinformed” the writer went on to object to the reactionary fringe dominating the story and for being “treated as if their bigoted opinions represented a significant portion of the Episcopal Church” concluding:

“The Episcopal Church is moving ahead into the 21st century and if a few squirm and holler the media should be savvy enough not to be a pawn of their ploys. Please research your stories and present more than one warped view of what is going on.”

My response was (predictably): “And let the people say, AMEN!”

Kendall’s was (equally predictably): “Foul!”

But his “foul” came with the kind of energy one saves for those challenges that hit a nerve … and in this case Mr. Hartford Connecticut hit a big one. In two simple sentences he managed to undermine the house of sand on which this schism is built causing Canon Harmon, one of its chief architects, to resort to the strategy found on page 2 of “Media Training 101”: reframe the message you don’t want to respond to.

Kendall – an excellent student of the media spin -- responds on cue: “We have the wrong identification of the problem as bigotry.” Bravo. Well done. Redirect the question, reframe the argument and then you get to have the discussion YOU want to have with the outcome you control. Sort of like when you convene a Panel of Reference to discern whether or not a plan to offer women equal access to the ordination of women is working in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Only you don’t actually talk to any women …you base your recommendations on the description of the plan’s “success” offered by the plan’s architects.

As I noted to a colleague earlier this week, that makes all kinds of sense, doesn’t it? Imagine how much tidier it would have been if we’d just asked the segregationists how the Jim Crow Laws were working. Would have saved so much messiness in the 60’s!

I’ll give Kendall this much: I don’t actually believe the presenting issue is bigotry – bigotry is just one of the fruits of the spirit of the rabid absolutism driving those whose criteria for being included is being agreed with and who will stop at nothing to “purge” the church of those they consider “unclean.” It leads us to ask the question we asked in the Integrity statement issued ealier this week "What Next?" And points to the truth that in the end it isn’t about sex or gender or race or even theology – it’s about power. And Kendall brings that right back home for us again in his blog entry by presuming the power to define what the problem is.

The problem is he doesn’t get to say what the problem is. We do. The people of the Episcopal Church. Straight and Gay. Women and Men. High Church and Low Church and In-Between Church. And the problem we have identified is the challenge of becoming more and more fully and wholly the Body of Christ in the world. And the way we have addressed that problem is to continue to live into our call to widen the embrace of the Institutional Church to better model the embrace of the Incarnate Christ.

We said it in 1997 when we passed canons mandating equal access to the ordination process for qualified candidates for the priesthood. We said it in 1994 when we added sexual orientation to the ordination canons in the “non-discrimination” laundry list. And we said it way back in 1976 when we promised “full and equal claim” to the gay and lesbian baptized. We haven’t solved all those problems yet but we’re working on them. And whether we like it or not this church – this Episcopal Church – works to solve them by consultation with all orders of ministry represented in the councils of the church, not by caveat from bishops meeting apart from the rest of us. We solve them within the polity of our Episcopal tradition -- with the checks and balances in place our forebears wisely bequeathed to us in the 18th century and continue to serve us well as we move ahead into the 21st.

Kendall understands it otherwise: “The Episcopal Church is not moving ahead but instead moving away from Scripture and the Church and a significant majority of their fellow Anglicans worldwide.” It’s their spin and they’re sticking to it. The question is at what cost to the church, to the mission of the Gospel and to the world groaning in travail yearning for hope and vision and life from this church that HAS the power to offer it if we could but turn out attention to the needs that surround us rather than the nastiness that consumes us.

Will we claim that power and move ahead into God’s future or WILL we allow ourselves to be blackmailed into bigotry, ignoring the spirit of the Letter from the Birmingham Jail and the good news of the Babe in the Bethlehem Manger? Whether Kendall Harmon likes it or not, THAT is the problem.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Who's Next?"

Am taking a brief hiatus from my retreat with the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to visit the Sacred Shrine of Starbuck's and a T-Mobile link to post this press release issued earlier today by Integrity on the Panel of Reference Report issued yesterday. Further commentary will wait til I'm back in the office on Friday but for now, pray for the church.

Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it it in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of the one who died and rose again, Jesus Christ your son our Lord.


"Who's Next?"
January 9, 2007

Because Integrity is committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the body of Christ, it stands in solidarity with the distress expressed by the Episcopal Women's Caucus at the Diocese of the Fort Worth report issued yesterday by the Panel of Reference.

The Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity said, "This confirms what Integrity has long maintained--that scapegoating of gay and lesbian vocations and relationships is part of a wider agenda of discrimination and is antithetical to the Gospel message of Jesus. We believe that excluding a percentage of the baptized from a percentage of the sacraments grieves the heart of God. Whether that exclusion is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, we believe it misses the mark of God's will for God's church. Therefore we do not accept discrimination as a valid theological position; rather we name it as sin."

Russell continued, "Substitute the word 'homosexuals' for each instance of 'women' in the report and the dovetailing of these efforts is clear to anyone familiar with the attacks on LGBT people in the church. The real question now is who is next? It's is not only impossible to predict just how>far such efforts to 'purge' the church will try to go, it is impossible to ignore that such actions are patently contrary to the comprehensiveness of classical Anglicanism."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hot of the Press ...

Click here to download the PDF
of the Winter/Spring 2007 VOICE OF INTEGRITY

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Blogging Hiatus

"Come away by yourself to a quiet place and rest awhile." (Mark 6:31)
Will be on retreat January 3rd - 11th, counting on the blogosphere to keep turning without me. My plan is to come back rested, retreated and ready to claim a few more inches of the planet toward that garden-growing-green-again goal.
In the meantime, keep your eye on Father Jake, PRELUDIUM, Daily Episcopalian and Telling Secrets for just about everything you could possible need to know about life, the universe and everything.
PS - And don't miss Lauren Stanley's brilliant piece: Church dispute gets in the way of God's love ... read it all here ... but here's a bit to get you started:
"Those leaving the Episcopal Church claim they must do so to survive. They seem to forget that in many parts of the world, the Church is concerned with REAL survival.

And in those areas where REAL survival is at stake, the Gospel that is preached is one of inclusiveness and love, because only inclusiveness and love can overcome the hatred that has left millions of Sudanese dead in the last 50 years.

Hatred has no place in the Sudanese Church.

It has no place in the American Church either.

God's love -- and how that is lived out -- is the ONLY thing that counts."

Rest In Peace, Mr. President

Homily Offered by the Reverend Dr. Robert Certain
State Funeral of Gerald R. Ford
Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Jesus said many things; and many of his words have been reflected in the life and ministry of Gerald Ford.

In Matthew 5, at the beginning of Our Lord’s ministry, Jesus gives us a list of virtues in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. The Contemporary English Version lists them this way:

God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.
Gerald Ford, you have always been a man of that kingdom

God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them.
My dear friend, this earth was yours.

God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want.
Gerald Ford, you were well-satisfied

God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy.
Gerald Ford, you showed mercy when others demanded vengeance, may God have mercy on your soul.

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him.
Gerald Ford, may you gaze this day on the face of your Savior.

God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children.
Jerry Ford, you were truly a child of God.

God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the Kingdom of heaven.
Mr. President, we did not always treat you well when you chose the right course for us. Then and now you are a man of the Kingdom of God.

There was one more beatitude, one I have saved for last.

God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort.
Betty, Susan, Mike, Stephen, Jack, and your families, may God bring you comfort in this time of your grief.

Gerald Ford was a Christian man, a man who lived his life in accordance with the virtues of the Beatitudes. For us, he will continue to serve as an example of how to live as a man of faith, a man of the nation, a man for the world.

Early this past summer, as I prepared to leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, President Ford’s concern was for the church he loved. He asked me if we would face schism. After we discussed the various issues we would consider, particularly concerns about human sexuality and the leadership of women, he said he did not think they should be divisive for anyone who lived by the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor. He then asked me to work for reconciliation within the Church. I assured him I would, just as he had worked for reconciliation within the nation thirty years ago.

John 15:13 - On the last day of his earthly ministry, Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

In WWII Gerald Ford served in the Navy, willing to die for this nation and our allies

As he became Vice President, he laid aside his life’s ambition to be Speaker of the House

As President, he laid aside his political future to heal this nation

As Elder Statesman, he laid aside his treasured privacy to continue to serve this Church, this nation and the world

As a statesman, churchman, and family man, Gerald Ford was a man of deep faith and constant prayer. With confidence in the God who created, redeemed, and sustained him, his abiding mantra was Proverbs 3:5–6: “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” With that proverb in mind, President Ford found clarity for the road he walked; and he gave us a clear example to follow in our own lives.

Gerald Ford, in his public life and his private life, was a man who was quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. He was humble and meek, a man who cared deeply for the good and well-being of others, and always placed us first.

He was a man who sought the image of God in each and every person, who respected their God-given dignity, who worked all his life for justice and peace on earth; a man who let the light of Christ shine brightly in his life.

In John 14:1–6, Jesus tells us he has gone before us to prepare a place; and promises to return to take us to our eternal home. On St. Stephen’s Day 2006, Jesus said to Gerald Ford, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant.”

On St. Stephen’s Day 2006, Gerald Ford discovered his strength renewed and rose with wings like an eagle to the nearer presence of Christ Jesus, where he will never again be weary. Gerald, may you find your road cleared as you continue to follow your Lord in the Church Triumphant and in the work of His Kingdom of Heaven.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year from Pasadena

Another New Year begins and I'm tempted to reflect today on where we've come and where we're going and the many weighty matter that bear consideration in our church, our communion and our culture. But happily, I've managed to resist that impulse and instead have dedicated today to "stopping to smell the flowers" ... or at least to watching them parade down Colorado Boulvard!

For it was New Year's Day as usual here in Pasadena ... a million or so friends and relatives dropped by to say "Happy New Year and to watch the drill teams ...
Pay their respects to Her Highness, the Rose Queen and her court ...

And marvel at the beauty that makes this Tournament of Roses Parade such an amazing spectacle no matter how many times you've slogged down Colorado Boulevard at o'dark-thirty in order to get "the spot" for an up-close-and-personal view of it all.
This year a fabulous parishioner gifted us with great bleacher seats -- ergo the relatively decent photos without the backs of heads in the way and a wonderful way to "ring in the New Year." Now we're hunkered down for the OTHER Pasadena tradition ... watching USC kick butt in the Rose Bowl Game!

So Happy New Year, Everybody ... reasserters and reappraisers, AMiAers and Integritarians, Trojans and Wolverines ... smell some flowers and watch some football today -- or whatever feels like R&R to you ... and may God bless you and those you love in this Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seven.