Saturday, March 31, 2007

Don’t Be In The Wrong Palm Sunday Procession!

Preaching Peace on Palm Sunday, from That We All May Be One:

“We begin with Palm Sunday. Two processions entered Jerusalem at the beginning of the week of Passover, a tinderbox time in the city, with the Jewish people celebrating divine deliverance from the past Egyptian Empire while under the present Roman Empire. Two very large and very lethal riots took place precisely at Passover in the generations before and after (the year) 30 CE.

And so, at each Passover, the Roman governor — Pilate in the time of Jesus — rode up to Jerusalem from the imperial capital Caesarea on the coast at the head of a cohort of imperial cavalry and troops to reinforce the Roman garrison in Jerusalem as a deterrent against and preparation for any possible trouble. Pilate’s procession, arriving from the west, symbolized and actualized Roman imperial power.

Jesus entered the city from the east in another procession, a counterprocession. Whereas Pilate rode into the city on a war horse, Jesus entered on a donkey. Mark makes it clear that Jesus planned it in advance: he tells his disciples to go into a village to get a donkey and says, ‘If anyone says to you, Why are you doing this? just say this, the Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’

Implicitly in Mark 11:1-11 and explicitely in Matthew 21:4-5, the symbolism makes use of Zechariah 9:9-10, which speaks of a king of peace on a donkey who will banish the war horse and the battle bow from the land.

The contrast is clear: Jesus versus Pilate, the non-violence of the kingdom of God versus the violence of empire. Two arrivals, two entrances, two processions — and our Christian Lent is about repentance for being in the wrong one and preparation to abandon it for its alternative.” (”Collision Course,” Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, “The Christian Century,” March 20, 2007)

Speaking of ...


Readers of this blog will not be strangers to the argument that the current challenges facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have virtually nothing to do with sexuality, precious little to do with theology and everything to do with power.

It used to be a little lonely on this particular bandwagon but our numbers are growing. In this op-ed in today's Salt Lake Tribune, Michael Mayor outlines the steps-toward-schism and arrives at this conclusion:

Regardless of the primates' intent, this is nothing more than a power grab by one faction. It is the very thing against which the United States fought its Revolutionary War, and it moves Anglicanism far away from its origins by seeking to impose the authority of foreign bishops, an ironic twist since the Church of England's foundation came out of refusal to accept the authority of the Pope.

Meanwhile, Fr. Jake has just posted "The Subversion of the Church From Within" -- an excellent refresher course for those who missed some episodes of "As The Anglican World Turns" and are now asking "who are these people and why are they messing with my church?"

Jake offers a MOST clarifying "step-by-step" walk down memory lane including this bit of an email from Diane Knippers of blessed memory:

"I'm still on the SCER (Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations) - but not because I could honestly represent the Episcopal Church in ecumenical dialogue ... I'll resign when I need to, but I would like to hang in there as an obstinate and contrary voice a bit longer."

He also points to Jim Naughton's most excellent "Following the Money"as background for the whole Network strategy, leading Jim to ponder "Me, I am still puzzling over reports that a significant number of our bishops were unaware of the material he is covering until the task force on property disputes put it in front of them." As I commented on his blog, "You can lead a bishop to information but you can't make 'em read!"

Finally, a little off the beaten-blog-path I came across this little clarifying gem in a blog entitled "an undercurrent of hostility" written by a self-described conservative Episcopal priest, Anne Kennedy. (And yes, before inquiring minds have a chance to inquire, she is related to Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm Fame ... they're married.)

Anyway, nestled in her comments last week about the sad state of affairs in Colorado around the Don Armstrong mess was the gem: "That Armstrong wouldn’t have consolidated power and got rid of people who were happy to undercut him seems unwise."

And there you have it. As my seminary mentor used to say, "Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you." And now, out of the mouths of babes -- or conservative bloggers -- is affirmation that what we think they think is actually what they DO think!

And so here we are -- a church that has for years worked toward reconciliation with those who held minority theological perspectives within it faced with the grim reality that there has NEVER been any interest in healing, bridging divides, finding via medias or living our call to be reconciled in Christ by those leading the conservative fringe faction.

Instead, the M.O. of those fomenting schism in this church has been and continues to be, in the words of Ms. Kennedy, getting rid of people who are "other." Let the well-meaning deputies who voted for B033 in Columbus in the sincere and misguided hope that one more olive branch -- one more scapegoat -- one more sacrifice of gay and lesbian vocations -- would bridge the gap take note. It's not about sex. It's not about theology. It's about consolidating power. And it's time for it to stop.

It'll be time to elect new General Convention Deputies for 2009 before we know it. Let's make sure Jake's "Subversion of the Church From Within" is required reading for anybody standing for election. And let's commit ourselves to a church committed to spreading the Gospel rather than obsessed with consolidating power.

Friday, March 30, 2007

This and That

It's been all-liturgy-all-the-time the last few days -- not surprising given that we'll do twenty-four services at All Saints Church between 7:30 a.m. Palm Sunday and 1:00 p.m. Easter Day and they all go across my desk at one point or the other. Other than a few more readers for Easter Vigil I think we're good to go ... which feels pretty good ... but it took awhile getting there! And then today (my "day off") was the dreaded meet-with-the-tax-guy-because-April 15th-is-looming appointment. So with one thing and the other there hasn't been much blogging going on.

That said, here are a few Friday evening bits and pieces:

If you missed it, here's the link to TEC Deputy for Communication Jan Nunley interviewing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori about the recently concluded House of Bishops meeting in Camp Allen, Texas.

And here's the link to the sermon I preached last Sunday at Evensong ... me holding forth on things Lenten and things Anglican. A few folks had trouble with the video -- it worked fine for me so I'm not sure what to say about that. Any tekkies out there kindly invited to weigh in! (Note to self: lower the lectern so you're not "peeking over it" next time! :)

There is good news about the draconian legislation criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria being "stalled" being reported by a number of sources ... Fr. Jake has a good summary here -- and Walking With Integrity has the Condolezza Rice angle here.

And Mark Harris' blog is always a good place to hang out ... I paticularly liked his recent piece on hope and bells and cracks all around -- over at PREDLUDIUM.

Finally, we had the fun of having writer Anne Lamott at All Saints on Thursday night talking about her new book: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. I've heard her speak before and love her writing AND love that she has even less patience with the current administration than I do -- and I ran out longer ago than I can even remember. I remember she once that Bush years were like dog years ... every one felt like seven. And boy, hasn't that felt like the truth! (Is anybody else listening to what's going on with the hearings on the justice department firings and thinking it can't possibly get any worse just before it keeps getting worse? Honest to Pete ...)

But I digress. Anne Lamott was, as always, a breath of fresh, faithful air and I commend "Grace (Eventually)" to you.

Here endeth the bits and pieces.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fun Facts to Know & Tell About Leviticus

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this video clip is worth a mint! Click here for a not-to-be-missed 2003 encounter between an Australian news crew and Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen as they query him about his Levitical hermenutic.

Crew Responds to Cantuar

Re: Church must be safe for gays, Archbishop Williams says
from Louie Crew's blog du jour

Exxon and many of the other biggest polluters of the environment routinely pay huge advertisement fees to tell us on the evening news about how carefully they protect the environment.

Ask Jeffrey John how safe the church is for gays under Archbishop Williams' archepiscopric. Ask +Gene Robinson.

Or go to a town where you are not known and introduce yourself as LGBT to the local Anglican leadership. Move among them for a week incognitoand then ask yourself how safe Anglican space is. LGBT Anglicans have taken to the bank Lambeth's promise to dialogue dozens of times only to have the cheque bounce leaving us to pay -- some with unemployment, all with increased stigma -- the fee for the Communion's insufficient commitment to its promises.

Look at the price the Anglicans in Nigeria are asking LGBTs to pay in the church's vociferous support of fierce criminal penalties even for those whoadvocate on our behalf. Believe the Archbishop of Canterebury this time only when local LGBT Anglicans are heard with respect and kindness by Anglicans in Abuja, Kigalie, Kampala, Buenos Aires, Pershawar, Nairobe, Kitwe, Dhaka, Kinshasa, Antananarivo, Nicosia ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has steadfastly refused to meet with lesbian and gay leadership in The Episcopal Church, against whom the primates have led major charges naming us anathema. Perhaps the Archbishop's promises this time will not be cheap windowdressing.

We live in hope.

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., D.D., D.H.L.Founder of IntegrityChair of the Newark deputation to General Convention

+Jim Kelsey Reports on the House of Bishops' Meeting

Reports and reflections abound as bishops weigh in on last week's meeting of the House of Bishops in Texas. I had it in mind to put a page together with links to all of them floating out there in cyberspace but the details of parish life and Holy Week Hovering on the Horizon kind of bumped that off my "to do" list.

So if anyone else has done so and someone wants to point me to it that would be grand ... but in the meantime DO check out these reflections from +Jim Kelsey (Northern Michigan) which offer the best "play by play" account of this important meeting, with this conclusion:

In my opinion, what finally passed is a strong statement about who we are and where we are prepared to stand. We do intend to continue relationships with Anglicans world-wide, in whatever official or unofficial capacity might be possible. We have no idea how the Primates or the ACC will respond ... Now it is time to move ahead with God's work of redemption. Hopefully it will be in partnership with others throughout the Anglican Communion. The extent to which others are ready to keep in partnership with us has yet to be seen - - but that we are prepared to step out in faith and with courage and determination to celebrate God's liberating work in our midst and in the world, have no doubt.

Stuff from Across the Pond

Report on the Listening Process

The Anglican Communion Office has released summaries on the progress on listening processes throughout the communion. You can read find them here ... here's the background:

The 1978 Lambeth Conference recognised “the need for deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research.” It also said that “While we reaffirm heterosexuality as the scriptural norm, we recognise The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them.”

In 1988 the Conference reaffirmed these calls and urged “that such study and reflection to take account of biological, genetic and psychological research being undertaken by other agencies, and the socio-cultural factors that lead to the different attitudes in the provinces of our Communion” and called “each province to reassess, in the light of such study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation.”

The 1998 Conference recognised “that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

Response from the Archbishop of Canterbury

As posted on the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) site:

"I am profoundly grateful to Canon Phil Groves and all at the Anglican Communion Office who have worked so hard to produce this preliminary account of what the Communion has done to honour its commitment at Lambeth 1998 to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people. It is a commitment that has been repeated many times but it has not proved easy to set up an appropriate process that will involve the whole Anglican family.

"The sensitivities of this exercise are obvious. Social, cultural and legal contexts are very varied indeed. And in the present climate of the Anglican Communion, there is inevitably a suspicion either that this is just window-dressing, or that it is a covert programme for changing doctrine and discipline. Real - and mutual - listening is hard to achieve. There are contexts where it is difficult to find a safe place for gay and lesbian people to speak about their lives openly. There are contexts where people assume the debate is over. The report shows that listening is possible, but also that there is a great deal still to be done. The work continues, but we have a solid start here.

"The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places - including Western countries with supposedly 'liberal' attitudes - hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.

"No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces.

"I welcome this document as a valuable first stage in our collective response to the challenge that the last Lambeth Conference put before us, and I hope that it will be part of the 'deep and dispassionate' study of issues in sexual ethics for which an earlier Lambeth Conference called."

Openness in the Episcopal Church

by M. Thomas Shaw March 28, 2007
Op-ed in today's Boston Globe

THE EPISCOPAL Church's House of Bishops recent meeting in Navasota, Texas, attracted much public attention as observers waited to hear how the bishops would respond to challenges facing the Anglican Communion over the full inclusion of gays and lesbians. The debate also centered on the church's place within the larger framework of the Anglican Communion. The House of Bishops is an autonomous body within the larger Communion representing 15 sovereign nations, the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Micronesia.

The Episcopal Church, in its deliberations, may come across to many as overly fractious as it grapples with what kind of faith community it will be in the 21st century, yet it is precisely within this tension that the best of our church is revealed.

Openness and transparency, including the airing of differences, is important to the life of faith lived in community and it is through this type of conflict and discussion that we understand how God is calling us into the future and how the church will respond to the contemporary world.

And so, in faithfulness to that tradition, the bishops approved resolutions affirming our desire to continue in the discernment process with the wider Communion about our church's place in it, but not at the expense of our polity, which is part of our church identity, and not at the expense of gay and lesbian members seeking full inclusion.

Our meeting statements validate who we are as Episcopalians and inform others of what we are not. In rejecting a proposal that would allow prelates from other parts of the Communion to oversee dissenting American parishes, we are saying that such a scheme would violate our church law and compromise our autonomy "while sacrificing the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking bishops.

"For the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century, it [the proposal] would replace the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates."

The last point is important.

The Episcopal Church divides authority between the laity, clergy, and bishops.

Bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion did not readily understand this structure. At the same time, the House of Bishops pledged the Episcopal Church's commitment to remain a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, continuing to engage in dialogue with our sister churches throughout the world and working to strengthen bonds that allow us to live out the Gospel in mutual mission.

Our resolutions state that membership in the Anglican Communion "gives us the great privilege and unique opportunity of sharing in the Anglican family's work of alleviating human suffering in all parts of the world. For those who are members of The Episcopal Church, we are aware as never before that our Anglican Communion partners are vital to our very integrity as Christians and our wholeness."

While public attention was channeled on the perceived differences among parts of the Anglican Communion, the bishops spent considerable time reflecting on the many global partnerships that allow us to keep our focus on God's mission, specifically on the Millennium Development Goals initiatives of the United Nations, which call upon nations to work together to alleviate poverty, suffering and disease, to ensure environmental sustainability, to eliminate discrimination, and to develop global partnerships. In our diocese, much of our work is focused in partnership with Anglican churches in Kenya and Tanzania where we fund programs that feed 7,500 AIDS orphans a week and train home-based AIDS workers who provide testing, care, and AIDS prevention.

As the Christian church prepares to celebrate the events at the heart of our salvation through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the words of our statement, we find new hope that we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ's own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Luke 4:18-19).
It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn.

The Right Reverend M. Thomas Shaw is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Easter Message from the Presiding Bishop

New life out of death: a message for Easter
By Katharine Jefferts Schori

I write at the close of our recent House of Bishops meeting. On the way from the airport to the meeting, we saw a few wildflowers, of one or two varieties. They stood out from the grass, just beginning to turn to the green lushness of spring. During the week we met in Texas, the trees went from mere hints of green in the topmost branches to having leaves unfolding on all their branches. And on the way back to the airport a week later, the riot of wildflowers was astounding.
The new life of resurrection can be just as surreptitious -- we look and things seem quite dead, we look away, and when our focus returns, we discover that God has been at work making all things new. Anyone who has grieved the death of a loved one will recognize the pattern. Those who experience the loss involved in moving away from a beloved community will know it as well. As this Lent draws to a close, take a careful look at your life. Where has God been at work during this fast? What new life can you discern?

For my own part, I will celebrate the new life that has been growing hidden in the lives of leaders in this church. We are blessed with leaders, lay and ordained, who are increasingly aware of their God-given ministries to lead this people into fuller participation in God's mission of healing the world.

I celebrate the work of God expressed in the gathering of Anglican women at the United Nations in late February and early March, who were able to say to the world that attention to mission is what unites us as a Communion.

I celebrate the gathering of people from all across the world in South Africa, at the TEAM (Towards Effective Anglican Mission) conference, to build stronger partnerships for doing that healing work, especially around AIDS and HIV.

I celebrate the gracious way in which the bishops of this Church engaged each other in discussing challenging and difficult matters in the meeting just past, and affirmed the focus of this Church on mission.

I celebrate the many, many healthy and vital congregations of this Church, engaged in God's mission of healing the world. The Executive Council joined in worship at one, St. Michael and All Angels, in Portland, Oregon, recently, and saw passionate engagement in children's ministry, the work Episcopal Relief and Development, abundant outreach in the community, and a lively life of worship.

Among my mail when I returned to the office was a generous check from a congregation in North Carolina. Members there had read about a fire in the Bronx that had killed several members of an immigrant family from Mali, and left others injured and homeless. Somehow the news of their suffering had reached across the mountains and plains to touch the hearts of people of St. James in Wilmington, and they responded.

A new heart of flesh is growing in countless places across this Church.

Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Monday, March 26, 2007

We're Speaking of Sex Today ...

... which we actually don't do very much of on this blog -- certainly not compared to some other places where the graphic imagined details of other people's sex lives probably say more about the fantasizers than they do about the fantasees. (Not sure if that's a word but you get my drift.)

Anyway, here are some words of wisdom from Orange County priest Kay Sylvester who offered these thoughts about sex in response to those who can't seem to think (or at least can't manage to TALK!) about anything else.
She writes:

Somehow, I believe those who hold this sense of aversion have somehow mixed it up with the essential sacredness of sex, and if sex violates their personal taboos, it is unholy. This is to confuse sexual ACTS with sexual RELATIONSHIP. Our church has worked for years (and years) to come to some conclusion about what holy relationship looks like, and what we affirmed in Denver most particularly was that holy relationship looks like fidelity, monogamy, and lifelong commitment, NOT Tab A inserted into Slot B.

Fidelity, monogamy, and lifelong commitment are qualities that can be found in some, not all, homosexual relationships, and in some, not all, heterosexual relationships.

The bits involved, and who does what to whom with them, are the least part, in fact a virtually negligible part, of what constitutes a holy relationship. We have also affirmed that a relationship of fidelity, etc. should also include the first part of the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm.

We have agreed that relationships that involve abuse of power, physical abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, do not meet the standard of holiness. Again, which bits are involved doesn't matter. To begin ... with the BITS, is to miss the point entirely. I would, in fact, invite them, and everyone, to reflect on how mutual vulnerability might be a strong expression of holy relationship, in a straight OR gay context.
Well, all righty then ... there you have it. Back to our regularly scheduled blog!

Thus Spake the Bishops of Los Angeles

On Saturday, March 24th, the Diocese of Los Angeles gathered for its annual Ministry Fair --this year focused on "The Anglican Communion After Tanzania" with special guest former Anglican Consultative Council Secretary General Canon John Peterson.

(+Bob Anderson, Canon Peterson, +Jon Bruno, +Chet Talton & Sergio Carranza)

The day-long gathering concluded with a "Q&A" opportunity with our own bishops about life in general and the recent House of Bishops' meeting at Camp Allen in specific. Here are some reflections on a few of their "A's" in answer to some of our "Q's":

+Jon Bruno: Asked about "what nexts" for the Diocese of Los Angeles, Bishop Bruno made it abundantly clear that our commitment to the full inclusion of ALL the baptized in all orders of ministry is not going to change. He also noted publically how "blown away" by "The Chapman Memo" ... which as been around since 2003 but he just saw last week.
"All of a sudden I finally "get" why all that work and time and energy and money we've spent -- I'VE spent -- on trying to reach across to those on "the other side" hasn't worked," he said. "It hasn't worked because they didn't want it to -- their plan since at least 2003 and probably before has been to split this church."
Best quote? When asked about "what next" regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury, +Jon said, "It's time for him to stop acting like Chamberlain and start acting like Churchill."
+Chet Talton: Bishop Talton spoke at length about the shift in the "tone and timbre" of the meeting and with great appreciation for +Katharine's leadership. "She was able to bring the Communique and let the House of Bishops genuinely find its own voice in response to it" he said. "She sees her role to support the voice of the House -- not direct it." Concluding, "After many years in the House of Bishops I feel like I've finally seen how it ought to work."

+Sergio Carranza: Like the other bishops, Bishop Carranza had high praise for the Presiding Bishop and her leadership of the House. He was gratified by the strong support for a response to the demands of the Primates that makes it clear the Episcopal Church will not be blackmailed into marginalizing its gay and lesbian members. "It is time," he said, "not to be rude but to be honest." And he felt that the statements issued by the House of Bishops were significant steps forward in that regard.
When asked by a questioner how we can be (in the questioner's words) "inclusive of the intolerant" +Sergio said bluntly, "You can't. When you think you have the whole truth you cannot listen. And those who insist they have that whole truth are the ones who have walked apart by choosing not to listen."
+Bob Anderson: Finally, Bishop Anderson expressed some of the strongest feelings of the bunch. "Forces in the Global South are trying to push a Covenant through for the entire Anglican Communion in less time than any parish worth its salt would spend crafting a comprehensive mission statement," he said. He felt the Communion was being "railroaded" into accepting this Covenant and called efforts to have it crafted by June "ridiculous."
Like his brother bishops, he experienced the Camp Allen meeting as the least rancor-filled meeting of his career and noted the irony that the first meeting where +Katharine presided was held at a camp named for a Presiding Bishop who was unwaveringly opposed to the ordination of women.
+Bob also revisited the Chapman Memo issue, saying to the assembly, "I want you to go home and Google "Chapman Memo" and then print it out and put it alongside the Communique from Tanzania. You'll see the course of action charted out clear as day -- and you'll see where the responsibility rests for the divisions we face in this church today." And he applauded +Jon Bruno for hanging tough on the "property issues" that have been so contentious. "+Jon has taken a lot of flak on this one," +Bob said, "but we owe him a great debt of gratitude because this is not just about property it's about identity -- and the identity of this great church is worth fighting for."
His final and most energetic words were saved for +Peter Akinola: "As if what he's doing to the Anglican Communion isn't bad enough -- and it's pretty bad -- he's running around his own country pushing legislation that would prosecute and arrest people just for being gay or lesbian."
"Forget being Anglican," said Bishop Anderson. "That's behavior that isn't even Christian -- and someone needs to call him on it."

I think someone just did.
Thanks, +Bob!

Treasonable Doubt

Click here to hear Bill Maher's "Treasonable Doubt"
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time:
your government when it deserves it." -- Mark Twain

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Take Up Your Cross

Meditation for EVENSONG: Lent 5
(I Corinthians 9:19-27; Mark 8:31-9:1)

"If any want to become my followers let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

It's a timely gospel to be preaching this evening – this passage from the eighth chapter of Mark. And I'm not talking about the timely-ness of our having arrived at the fifth Sunday in Lent -- the eve of the week-before-Holy Week with Good Friday and Easter Day just around the corner. Maybe it's just me but those 40-days-of-Lent seem to go just a little bit faster every year and while I'll admit to a little bit of shock that we're here at taking-up-cross time already the liturgical calendar is not the timeline I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the timely-ness of considering what it means to "take up our cross" – what it means to "follow Jesus" – at a time when what it means to BE THE CHURCH is a question that's getting a lot of press.

Actual press. New York Times, PBS, NPR, USA Today kind of press. Of course the headlines are about sex and schism …but for all the media attention to "the sex wars" in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion I suggest to you this evening that it is not a sex war at all but a mission war. Generally "Church disagrees about mission and ministry" will not get you booked on the News Hour or quoted in the New York Times or Los Angeles Times or even USA Today!

But when you get past the headlines – when you read the interviews and the profiles – the statement and, yes, even some of the blogs – the issue isn't the gender of the Presiding Bishop or the sex life of the Bishop of New Hampshire it's the mission of the church.

For some it is very simple: the mission of the church is to bring people to Jesus in order to get them into heaven. Here's an example of that perspective from a recent NPR interview with an Oceanside priest who has left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church of Bolivia: Life on earth is a preparation for heaven and I want to see my congregation fully prepared for heaven – not concerned about things of this world.

For others, the concerns with the things of this world are integral to the mission of the church. This other view of the mission of the church is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God that has less to do with getting to heaven than it does getting heaven to earth – with "thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

Here's an example of that perspective from the recent statement by the House of Bishops: We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God.

At All Saints Church we call it "turning the human race into the human family."

Yes, we're getting a lot of attention right now in the media and I'm convinced that's good news for the church. I am convinced that there are those who receive as very good news INDEED that there is a church where a woman can be a Presiding Bishop, where children are taught values of tolerance and inclusion, where gay and lesbian people are fully included and peace is preached in a time of war and unjust economic systems that oppress and marginalize are challenged.

And just because it is good news doesn't mean it isn't hard work. As we follow Jesus into the days and weeks and months ahead we carry with us the cross of inclusive love that we know is not received as good news by all who hear it. There is no denying to ourselves or to anybody else – in or out of the Anglican Communion – that there are costs involved in continuing to proclaim as our bishops proclaimed last week that we will not step back from the full inclusion of all people in this Body of Christ. "If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done," said the bishops last week, "we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision."

That is the Episcopal Church taking up its cross and following Jesus.

"I do not run like one who loses sight of the finish line," said Paul in tonight's reading from his letter to the church in Corinth. It is a quote that might have been part of the bishop's letter to the church in Canterbury – for we do not run this race … carry this cross … follow this Lord … without keeping always in sight the finish line. For at the end of that race … on the other side of that finish line … is nothing less than God's Kingdom come and God's will being done: God's abundant and inclusive love available to all.

So let us tonight – on this Fifth Sunday in Lent with Holy Week on the horizon join our bishops in taking up the cross we have been given to bear into God's future committed to the mission of this gospel we have been given to proclaim. Let us claim for ourselves their closing words in their Statement to the Church from Camp Allen:

"With this affirmation both of our identity as a Church and our affection and commitment to the Anglican Communion, we find new hope that we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ's own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn."

And as we press onward we do so with the sure and certain knowledge that the God who created us in love and calls us to love each other in God's name waits for us at that finish line along with the saints who have gone ahead of us – saints like Oscar Romero -- martyred bishop of El Salvador – urging us onward to the prize he has already claimed in these words of hope and promise: “Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love. Though we see that waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can.”

And let the people say, Amen.

Breaking News: +Katharine Not A Heretic

[With thanks to Ann Fontaine]
From Pierre Whalon's blog:

One image I will always remember: a new bishop asked her to clarify her stand on the uniqueness of Christ. +Katharine replied that her view is similar to that of Vatican II (Nostra ætate, actually), namely that Jesus Christ is the final self-revelation of God in the world, but that salvation is possible outside of the Christian Church.

He seemed dissatisfied with this reply.

After adjourning the session, she went right over to him and they talked for fifteen minutes, alone in the meeting room.

This showed two things about the new Presiding Bishop. First, contrary to some reports, her Christology is orthodox. There have been some who have held that extra ecclesiam nulla salus—outside the Church there is no salvation. But this does not jibe with Jesus’ behavior toward Gentiles nor to Paul’s teaching about grace. What is essential, as the PB noted, is that Christians do not know how God saves people outside the New Covenant. Somehow Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made, makes provision, since through him all people are offered salvation.

The other aspect of this incident is that +Katharine Jefferts-Schori cares about people who do not agree with her. She did not know that I was standing outside the meeting room with two other bishops, chewing the fat, until we realized that the two of them were still talking in the room. So this was not for show.

By now it is well known that some conservative bishops switched their votes to put her over the top. “They even brag about it,” remarked one Anglican Communion official to me. All I have to say is—

“Thanks, guys.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Response to +Rio Grande

I was pointed today to an article entitled "TEC a defacto Integrity organization" attributed* to Jeffrey Steenson (Bishop of Rio Grande) originally posted over on Anglican Mainstream. (Note: There seems to be some debate about whether Bishop Steenson actually wrote the piece or not but [a] that's how it's attributed on Anglican Mainstream and [b] the authorship is less important that the content.)

Several points in the article beg clarification – so since I've got a few minutes this afternoon between today's Diocesan Ministry Fair and tonight's HRC Gala here goes:

Point One:

I believe the vast numbers of lay people in this and every other diocese love their parish church and are not interested in alternate structures or in joining marginal groups. They probably won’t want their congregations to take out parish memberships in Integrity for the same reason they won’t want their diocese to take out a membership in the Network.

Clarification One:

Integrity is not an "alternate structure" nor is it a "marginal group." Integrity is an advocacy organization whose membership includes LGBT Episcopalians and their straight allies and which has been working for over thirty years within the doctrine, discipline and polity of the Episcopal Church for the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.

I haven't the faintest idea what "Integrity compliant" means – unless it refers to compliance with the canons on ordination that have since 1994 specified sexual orientation in their non-discrimination criteria. If that's the case then are dioceses in compliance with the canons regarding the ordination of women deemed "Episcopal Women's Caucus compliant"?

There is a huge difference between advocating for compliance with existing national canons of the Episcopal Church (which Integrity most certainly does) and advocating alternative structures of governance in order to circumvent them (which is a Network modus operandi.) To compare the two is not only "apples and oranges" – it perpetuates a false dichotomy that is particularly unhelpful as we work to move beyond this current climate of polarization.

Point Two:

I do not hear or read anyone from Integrity or the Episcopal Majority acknowledging this problem for real full inclusion and arguing for a safe space for remaining conservatives.

Clarification Two:

I can't speak for "Episcopal Majority" but with all due respect, the good bishop appears to be neither listening to nor reading what Integrity is and has been saying in this regard for lo these many years now.

Last September I wrote the following in a piece entitled "The Fiction of the Fringe": It is so very clear to me ... that we must redouble our efforts in these perilous-to-the-church-we-love-times to expose the false construct that seems to be dominating the discourse du jour: that somehow the mission and ministry of the church is being held hostage by a Battle Royal between (for lack of better stereotypical language) its liberal and conservative fringes. That both "sides" are insisting on their way-or-the-highway and there is no hope or interest in compromise, cooperation or reconciliation.

It makes a great story but like many great stories it falls into the fiction category: the fiction of the fringe. The truth is we -- those of us committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ -- remain committed to unity and to justice, to doctrine and discipline, to faith and order, to word and sacrament.

And we remain committed to finding a way forward. Toward that end, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest "Finding A Way Forward" -- the words of our brother, Michael Hopkins (circa 2002). Remember them, recall them and recount them the next time the "fiction of the fringe" rears its ugly head. And pray for the union of this church -- this communion: that it might find its way back to this Lambeth 1920 commitment to a unity that preserves integrity: "We believe that for all, the truly equitable approach to union is by way of mutual deference to one anothers consciences." (Resolution 9:VIII)

Read Michael's "Finding A Way Forward" in its entirety here …but here's the "take away":
Now three comments especially for our conservative brothers and sisters.

First, we do not desire for you to go away. Yes, some sympathizers with our movement have said from time to time that it would be just as well if you did. Of course, some of yours have said the same about us. Let us together commit ourselves to finding every way possible to move forward with our debate without threatening either schism or purge. It is simply not necessary for us to threaten these outcomes.

Second, we do not desire to force same-sex blessings on you or anyone. We do desire to enable them in those places where the church is ready to receive them as a blessing but is not able to because of an understandable desire for some level of national recognition. Of course we will continue to work towards local communities desiring to bless same-sex unions. Of course you will work to keep them from doing so. We ought to be able to live with each others efforts on that level.

Third, we do challenge you to stop scapegoating lesbian and gay Christians for every contemporary ill in the Church, particularly for our current state of disunity or the potential for the unraveling of the Anglican Communion. You know as well as we do that the issues are far deeper than human sexuality. They are issues of scriptural interpretation and authority, including the very different polities that exist in different provinces of the Communion and whether or not local autonomy is a defining characteristic of Anglicanism. Issues of human sexuality are just one tip of that very large iceberg and if sexuality went completely away tomorrow, the iceberg would still be there.

This movement is not about getting our way or else. This movement is a means to further the healthy debate within the Church, to deepen it on a theological level, to begin to articulate how we see the blessing of same-sex unions as a part of the Churchs moving forward in mission rather than hindering mission. We believe that it is time for the church to claim the blessing found in the lives of its faithful lesbian and gay members and to further empower them for the mission of the Church.

We are trying to find a way forward in this endeavor that holds as much of this church we love together as possible. We ask all our fellow-Episcopalians to join us even if they disagree with us.

Anglican Communion Day in the City of Angels

Today is MINISTRY FAIR DAY in the Diocese of Los Angeles ... the annual gathering of my Big Fat Diocesan Family for a day of worship and workshops, picnic-on-the-lawn and time with our bishops. It's the "other" time we all get together every year ... the one that DOESN'T involve passing budgets or debating resolutions ... and this year the format is something we haven't tried before. Rather than a whole slew of workshops on everything from acolyte training to immigration reform advocacy, we're having one "focus" ... "The Anglican Communion" ... and one keynoter ... Canon John Peterson, the previous ACC honcho.

"Film at eleven" as they say ... (and actually you need to click here for more information ... I couldn't figure out how to link from the photo I snagged from the diocesen website above.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Front Runner for the "Seeking Creative Solutions" Award

Don't miss Brother Causticus' quintessentially entrepreneurial proposal for rapprochement between Lambeth Palace and the House of Bishops.

BRAVO, Brother!


Posted today on titusoneten (Yes, that's "Titus 1:10")

I have been asked to call attention to the following listing on eBay, which is not, as one might infer from this post title, a remaindered work from the oeuvre of Dr. Ephriam Radner:

Travel for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the USA

See American bishops in their native habitat!

The bishops of the American Episcopal Church have asked Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to make an unprecedented and long-delayed visit to them in North America to discuss the Current Unpleasantness pre-occupying the Anglican Communion. The Americans assure ++Cantuar that their Christian hospitality will match that of the various fissiparous bishops he has broken bread with on multiple continents.

So that the plate and pledge of parishes is not unnecessarily depleted, elements within TEC inclined toward reconciliation or at least a good face-to-face row are offering a business class ticket to any USA destination of the archbishop's choosing, along with lodging in a Courtyard by Marriott (tm) or better accommodation within strolling distance of the agreed-upon meeting place. A team of Th.D translators will be on hand to couch ++Cantuar's musings in terms accessible to the colonials. Tea and biscuits to be provided by the ECW.

Read it all here

Don't Miss HRC's Harry Knox on the Huffington Post

From today's Huffington Post -- reflections on the Episcopal House of Bishops by HRC Religion & Faith Program Director Harry Knox:

The bishops have responded to arrogance and spiritual violence with a reasoned and loving statement of belief that is no less radical because it is also gentle. In doing so, they have reflected the Christ they serve and have given great hope to us all - hope that the Church can stand strongly for what is right and model patience and community at the same time. I recommend their statement to you.

As Human Rights Campaign Religion Council member Rev. Susan Russell of Integrity has written, "It is long past time to abandon the fiction that the LGBT faithful demand the exclusion of the theological minority in the Episcopal Church who consider our lives, relationships and vocations unacceptable in the eyes of God. It is not and has never been true that the LGBT leadership in this church have ever made a criteria for our inclusion being agreed with."

Bravo, Harry! [Read it all here]

Can we quit asking why +Katharine "signed" the Tanzania Communique now?

It's been in print several places ... including the blog following our meeting with +Katharine in Portland ... but now here it is in The Living Church.

Asked whether her support for the actions taken by the House of Bishops served to revoke her signature on the primates’ communiqué, Bishop Schori responded that she had not signed the communiqué in Dar es Salaam. Her assent had been verbal, she said. Archbishop Williams had gone around the room asking all the primates if they could live with the agreement. Bishop Schori said she told the primates, “I would bring this back to the House of Bishops,” “explain it” to them, and “seek the will of the house.”

Asked to clarify her comments, the Presiding Bishop said the “best way to gain a consensus” among the primates in Tanzania was to support the communiqué, however, “she was not able to speak for the whole House of Bishops.”

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is NOT able to speak
for the whole House of Bishops.
They spoke for themselves at Camp Allen.
They said "no" on their own behalf and referred the matter to
Executive Council.

The process is working.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Step Out of the Closet

From today's "On Faith" pages where I was invited to be one of their "Guest Voices":

"Another Step Out of the Closet"

It is an ongoing process, this thing called "coming out." Any gay or lesbian person who has been through it can tell you that we don't just come out once – we do it over and over again.

And they can also tell you that along the way there are times when the temptation to climb back in the closet is a very real one. The pressure of family, cultural, political and religious voices can combine to make us question our own reality – our own experience – our own truth.

Coming out is hard work that takes both faith and courage – and a deep commitment to telling the truth.

And this week all of those elements were in place as the Episcopal Church took another step out of the closet with strongly worded statements issued from the meeting of its House of Bishops in Navasota, Texas.

The bishops faithfully and courageously offered an emphatic "No" to ultimatums issued in February by the Primates of the Anglican Communion that the Episcopal Church "repent" of its inclusion of gay and lesbian people or risk being voted off the Anglican Island.

It can be argued that the Episcopal Church came out in 1976 when it passed a resolution committed to offering its gay and lesbian members "full and equal claim," and again in 1994 when it added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination list, and again in 2003 when it recognized the blessing of unions and consented to the election of a bishop in a partnered relationship.

And now 2007 offers another step out of the closet with our bishops' statement: "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church."

Coming out is hard work that takes both faith and courage – and a deep commitment to telling the truth. We are stronger as a church for having the courage to tell the truth about who we are as people of God – and for refusing to be blackmailed into bigotry.

That's good news not only for gay and lesbian people but for the church enriched and enlivened by their lives, their vocations and their ministries. The Episcopal Church is out of the closet for good. That's very good news, indeed!

Rev. Susan Russell is senior associate for parish life at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif. Since 2003, she has served as president of Integrity USA. She also is a charter member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council.

In the News ...

EPISCOPAL LIFE has launched their new website ... check it out here and bookmark it for "breaking news!"

STEPHEN BATES is commenting on the recent House of Bishops statements on the Guardian online ... check that out here ... but here's his concluding query:

Will the archbishop go and speak to the Americans, or has he heard enough? He knows that without the US and its the Anglican communion, will struggle to survive financially. He often wrings his hands and bemoans his fate, wondering why everyone is so nasty to him. Williams might do well to reflect that it is not the liberals who are demanding that their opponents be flung out of the church, and that maybe he should, for once, listen to what they have to say before they go. If Paris was worth a Mass, then the future of the Anglican communion should be worth at least an air ticket.

PS: Note to the Americans: he is used to going first class.


USA TODAY here ...


and the NEW YORK TIMES here ... (with a quote from Fr. Jake!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Report on Post Camp Allen News Conference

A post-HoB Press Conference concluded the work of the House of Bishops in Texas today. The panel of bishops avaiable at the press conference included Bishops Jefferts Schori, Ed Little (Northern Indiana), Chilton Knudsen (Maine), Dean Wolfe (Kansas), Stacy Sauls (Lexington), Cathy Roskam (New York), Chet Talton (Los Angeles), Mark Sisk (New York), Richard Chang (Hawaii) and Carlos Touche Porter (Bishop and Primate of Mexico)

Integrity Communication Director John Gibson was among the media "conferenced in" for the Q&A and reported a couple of interesting (to me) tidbits.
  1. When asked about whether not she had "signed" the Tanzania Communique, Bishop Jefferts Schori replied that that +Rowan asked EACH of them if they could live with the document. +Katharine said, "I will take this back to the House of Bishops."
  2. And when asked if she supported the resolutions passed by the House of Bishops she replied that as presider of the house she supported the mind of the house.
  3. The "reject the Primatial Vicar" resolution passed overwhelmingly. The "invite +Rowan" resolution was unanimous. And an effort to commend the lengthier statement to the House of Bishop's Theology Committee (AKA "kill it") failed and the statement was then adopted by the house on a standing vote.

AP's Rachel Zoll offers the first report I've seen from the Post-HoB Press Conference held at Camp Allen this afternoon. (You can read it all here ... with some quotes posted below.)

And finally, in fun-facts-to-know-and-tell about the church, I got a call from the airport from one industrious soul wanting to do some research on the plane on the way home who asked me if I could find a copy of the infamous Chapman Memo and email it to their Blackberry. I did as requested (motivated -- I'll admit -- by equal measures of obedience and curiosity) and encourage you to click on the link above check it out.

It was dated December 2003.

My, my, my!

And now, here's Rachel:


[AP] Episcopal bishops did not respond to the Anglican demand about gay bishops and blessing ceremonies. However, the leaders noted that they had previously met requests not to approve another gay bishop "at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members," only to have Anglican leaders say the pledges weren't sufficient.

Still, the bishops insisted in a news conference after the meeting that their new statement was not their last word on Anglican demands. The panel of lay people and clergy who oversee the Episcopal church, the Executive Council, will soon take up the bishops' resolutions, and the House of Bishops will meet again in September.

"It is not a final decision," Jefferts Schori said.

But Canon Kendall Harmon of the Diocese of South Carolina, a leading conservative thinker, called the bishops' statement "as strong a repudiation as you can get" of Anglican demands.
"The reality is that they've rejected what's been asked," Harmon said. "They went out of their way to both push back on Rowan Williams and the primates."

The Rev. Susan Russell of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity compared the bishops' statement to a "coming out process."

"This was a huge step that the American church was not willing to go back into the closet about its inclusion of gay and lesbian people in order to capitulate to those who would exclude us," Russell said.

"The Day After"

Responses are now coming fast-and-furious to the statement from the House of Bishops yesterday. A press conference at Camp Allen is scheduled for this afternoon so more from there shortly, but for now here's a round-up:

I'll start my favorite ... Elizabeth Kaeton's "In Praise of Servant Leadership" from her blog:

As I reflect on the Statement from the House of Bishops the early morning light of a new day, I must say that what our bishops did was the best example of a healthy family system dynamic that I have ever seen in the church by a collective body of servant leaders.

Self-differentiated, non-anxious clarity is what we expect from leaders. No emotional cut off. No symbiosis. No dire warnings. No empty threats. No finger pointing. No ultimatums. No coercion. No shame. No blame.

Just a simple, clear, strong statement that this is who we understand ourselves to be as a family of God, and that we are willing to stand by all of the members in our family, even if that means we must pay the price of being abandoned and having others walk away from us.

The ordained leaders of our church in the House of Bishops have shifted the anxiety that was placed on our system back where it belongs and from whence it originated.

Our Katharine has modeled excellent leadership in this regard. It is an amazing time to be a Christian and a rare privilege to be part of the Episcopal Church which is playing a part of the reformation, reconciliation and renewal of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Chane writes to the Diocese of Washington ... here. These resolutions make clear that in spite of our differences on human sexuality and other issues, a solid majority of the House viewed the recommendations contained in the Primates’ communiqué from Tanzania as offensive to our Church and disrespectful of the way that we discern and respond to God’s will.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a release ... here. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “The U.S. House of Bishops has made an unequivocally strong and courageous statement in defense of full inclusion of the thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians. With this resolution, the bishops have taken a clear stand on the side of justice.”

Rachel Zoll weighs in for AP ... here. In the strongest and most direct language yet defending their support for gay relationships, the bishops said that accepting a second leader for traditionalists would violate Episcopal church law and the founding principles of the church.

Dan Martins (Diocese of San Joaquin) ... read it all here .. not a lot new but I'm a little flummoxed by this quote ... does he REALLY think we're not paying attention? And, as always, wondering why I'm surprised by the militaristic images so rampant in neo-con/"orthodox" land: I'm officially disappointed, and even a little bit surprised. Not a lot, but some. Two days ago (most recent post before this) I wrote about the Primatial Vicar scheme being "under the radar." Well, it's now very much on the screen. The bishops have "acquired the target" and fired their missiles. They don't like the PV idea one bit, and they've urged the Executive Council not to cooperate with the scheme in any way.

The American Anglican Council has a statement here ... I'm not in the mood to quote from it.

And the Lamberth Palace has sent out via email this "statement" from the Archbishop of Canterbury: "This initial response of the House of Bishops is discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification. Some important questions have still to be addressed and no one is underestimating the challenges ahead."

[Hmmm ... even the AAC allows as how the statement is "clear" ... not sure what kind of clarification he's looking for.]

Father Jake has broken his Lenten fast from blogland to weigh in here ... with this closing caveat: Now, will I be returning to silence? Hmmm...probably not, since I've pretty much broken it already. But I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to commend our Bishops ... who knows when we'll get another chance? Bless you, Jake .. and welcome back!

Last but not least Integrity issued the following statement ... available here ... but of course I'm going to post it all ... because I wrote it:

March 21, 2007—Integrity is gratified by the strongly worded resolutions passed yesterday by the House of Bishops. "The bishops have offered the church a way forward that affirms both its commitment to the Anglican Communion and its commitment to the gay and lesbian baptized," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "It is a sign of both health and hope for all Episcopalians that the bishops have refused to be blackmailed into abandoning the historic polity of the Episcopal Church by threats of institutional exclusion from the Anglican Communion. For gay and lesbian people, the bishops' actions bring us closer to turning the church's 1976 commitment to a 'full and equal claim' from a resolution to a reality."

By rejecting the proposed "Pastoral Scheme" and urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet directly with them, the House of Bishops has proactively claimed their leadership as bishops in the Church of God—and Integrity applauds them for it. At the same time, by including the Executive Council in their process, they have resisted the temptation to speak "for" the church—we believe that action deserves even greater applause.

Finally, we concur with the bishops' statement that "…the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope." Integrity is committed to the growth, strength, and vitality of this Episcopal Church—which we claim as our church. We believe the increasing participation of gay and lesbian people in all orders of ministry and the blessing and celebration of our relationships are among those signs of life and hope.

We look forward to opportunities in the days ahead to continue to bear witness to signs of life and hope. We will continue to challenge our church to live into its high calling to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ. There are miles to go before we rest, but today Integrity celebrates with our bishops and with our church in making a giant step forward on that journey.

Letter from the Bishop of New Hampshire

A Letter to the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire
from your Bishop
March 21, 2007

I think you would have been proud of us as your Bishops. The manner and tenor of our decision-making was kind, respectful and prayerful. This was not about politics, but about this part of the Body of Christ attempting to exercise its leadership in appropriate and lawful ways. It was about respecting ALL the orders of ministry in our Church. It was about protecting our Church from inappropriate encroachment on internal matters. It was in the best tradition of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all here.

Cartoon du jour


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reviews of the House of Bishops "Resolves"

Mark Harris [PRELUDIUM]: It would appear that a majority of the bishops have found a voice, and that voice is standing more clearly in support of a Church that is making important vocational choices. They are also clear that their intention is to continue working with and being part of the life of the Communion in whatever way is possible. The actions of some of the Primates in constantly rejecting the efforts of The Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of this Church have finally been addressed.
Read it all here.

Jim Naughton [Daily Episcopalian]: If the Primates' "recommendations" were really an ultimatum, then the House of Bishops has said no.
Read it all here

Bill Carroll [Anglican Resistance]: Three mind of the house resolutions. These seem incredibly hopeful signs on the whole. Thank God, the HOB is finding its backbone. If it weren't Lent, I'd say something that begins with "A."
Read it all here.

+Chris Epting [That We All May Be One] I have rarely been prouder to be a part of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops than I was today. With care and sensitivity to one another, we found a way to be clear and self-differentiated as a House, provide leadership and yet seek consultation with the wider Church — clergy and laity — and re-affirm our desire to remain part of the Anglican communion: as an autonomous, yet interdependent reality.
Read it all here.

Matt Kennedy [Stand Firm]: This is perhaps the most admirable and honorable official statement yet from an Episcopalian body. The bishops are bold and forthright. They are to be commended. They have taken their stand. The ideologues have overcome the institutionalists. No more parsing words or peering through the cloud of carefully dense official emissions. We finally have honesty and clarity. Now, at last, we face one another across the lines eye to eye. We ought all take some time this morning to thank the Lord to whom so many of us have prayed for clarity and finality. I believe he has answered our prayers.
Read it all here

RESOLVED, The House of Bishops ...

In strongly worded resolutions the House of Bishops today:

Rejected the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué as "injurious to the Episcopal Church,"

Declared an "urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop ofCanterbury and members of the Primates' Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity."


Included in a final resolution outlining the background for the rejection of thePastoral Scheme, "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life ofChrist's Church."

Commentary to follow. Read the resolutions in full here ... and rejoice in this powerful witness of the bishops of this Episcopal Church!

In the Tuesday News ...

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift with Anglicans is the headline for today's NYTimes article on the "As the Anglican World Turns" saga. Read it all here ... and give thanks for evidence that mission, ministry and money is still flowing throughout the Communion contrary to what those hell-bent on schism at-any-price would have us believe.

Meanwhile, Why do straights hate gays? is the headline in an op-ed in the "other" Times (Los Angeles) today by Larry Kramer which includes these poignant questions: Why do you hate us so much that you will not permit us to legally love? I am almost 72, and I have been hated all my life, and I don't see much change coming ... You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you. Read it all here.

And "in other news" the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) has added Peggy Campolo to the list of luminaries who will be part of the April 17th Clergy Call for Justice and Equality: A Gathering in the Nation’s Capital. Read more about this historic gathering here ...

Katherine Grieb @ the House of Bishops

Following Ephraim (IRD) Radner's presentation urging the House of Bishops "toward" an Anglican Covenant, the bishops heard Katherine Grieb's presentation "Interpreting the Proposed Anglican Covenant through the Communiqué."

You need to run ... not walk ... to the ENS website and read the text of her presentation ... posted here ... and if it "preached" anywhere near as well as it reads I believe there are still purple socks hanging on the Camp Allen chandeliers.

You must read the piece in its entirety to appreciate its power but if you're in a hurry, here's her bottom line:

I suggest that we enter a five-year period of fasting from full participation in the Anglican Communion to give us all time to think and to listen more carefully to one another. I think we should engage in prayerful non-participation in global meetings (in Lambeth, in the Anglican Consultative Council, in other Communion committee meetings) or, if invited to do so, send observers who could comment, if asked, on the matter under discussion. We should continue on the local level to send money and people wherever they are wanted. (This is not about taking our marbles and going home.) We need to remain wholly engaged in the mission of the church, as closely tied as we are allowed to the See of Canterbury and to the Anglican Communion as a whole. But we should absent ourselves from positions of leadership, stepping out of the room, so that the discussions of the Anglican Communion about itself can go on without spending any more time on our situation which has preoccupied it.

And after proposing a "fast" that makes sense she offers both the biblical and theological context for such a proposal -- with a bit of the "Balm of Gilead" the gay and lesbian faithful have been longing for throughout this long, bloody process:

Theologically, biblically, I think we are at Antioch with Paul, in Jerusalem with Jeremiah, and walking the way of the Cross with that mysterious Son of Man. With Paul in Antioch, we have – perhaps without adequate consultation with Jerusalem – been having table fellowship (koinonia) with Gentiles, until the men from James came to tell us that we have to stop doing it. They want a moratorium on eating with Gentiles. This presents the community with a difficult decision. Peter and Barnabas pull away from the table physically and ritually separate themselves from the Gentiles. Paul says, ''I can't do it.'' If he had not, most of us would not be here today, being Gentiles ourselves.

Jeremiah in Jerusalem before the exile told the frightened people to wake up and appreciate their situation. Their naïve belief that God would never allow the city of Jerusalem and its Temple to be taken by the Babylonians was not going to save them. They were going into exile, one way or another. They could do it the hard way or the easier way, but they were going into exile. I think the metaphor of ''exile'' captures something of the pain we can expect from being in less than full communion with the Primates, who will certainly distance themselves from us, if not in September, then later on down the line. But we might remember that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have long lived in exile and it will be a great privilege to go into exile in their company.

In the reaction department:

Jim Naughton (Daily Episcopalian) provides his usual excellent analysis here ... and you've gotta love his intro: I have just had a chance to read the Rev. Katherine Grieb's presentation to the House of Bishops yesterday, and to pull out some highlights for your perusal. If the bishops take what she is saying seriously, and I don't know offhand why they wouldn't, I think the possibility that the House will actually commit news before the end of its current meeting has crept up a notch.

On the "other side of the aisle" titusoneniners are predictably dismissive of anything short of complete capitulation to the petulant primates: [from a comment] I object vigorously to the use of the term “fast” for a five-year period of non-repentance and “listening.” This is not fasting, this is more equivocating. I think the Primates were clear in their Communiqué that the time for wiggling is over.

Object away, but Dr. Grieb may just have given the HoB the shot-in-the-backbone they needed to lead us forward. For at the end of the day, the "clarity" of Primates who presume to dictate our course as a people of God is as dust in the Ruach. The clarity we claim is the clarity of a Gospel imperative to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to ALL people -- and thanks be to God this morning for Dr. Grieb's willingness to speak that truth to those with the power to help us get back to that mission and that ministry.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Two Pieces of News to Note


The Church Times is posting an important article entitled, "Listen to the majority African voice of grace" featuring comments by the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Musonda Mwamba. You'll want to read it all here ... but here's a quote:

In an incisive address, the Bishop concluded that the minority of Africans who had “the luxury to think about the issue” did not want to see the Communion disintegrate. They valued the bonds of affection, and would prefer to follow the process recommended by the Windsor report. He rebutted as “simplistic and a distortion of the truth” the belief that the African provinces were a monochrome body.

And let the people say, "AMEN!"



The Episcopal News Service is reporting on a presentation to the House of Bishops called "Steps towards the Covenant" by Ephraim Radner. You'll want to read it all here ... but here's a question (or two!):

Was Mr. Radner introduced as a Board Member of the IRD (Institute on Religion and Democracy) when he made his presentation to the House of Bishops? (And if not, why not?) And when did "consideration OF a covenant" become "steps TOWARDS a covenant?"

And let the people say, "WASSUP WITH THAT?"

Renewal or Ruin?

I found out about "Renewal or Ruin?" -- a documentary exploring the influence of the IRD (Institute on Religion and Democracy) on the United Methodist Church through Jim Naughton's post today over at Daily Episcopalian. Now, before the deluge of "this is yet another conspiracy theorist from apostate heretic revisionist land" comments begin, check out the "CV" of the guy who produced the video:

I have often described myself as an evangelical Christian (although such labels fail to package and define God's truth and grace): I believe in the Holy Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, his atoning death and bodily resurrection. I am against abortion. I believe that no person is without sin, and therefore to bar one person from full inclusion in the life of the church, but not another, is wrong. I believe that marriage is between one woman and one man and is a vow made before God for a lifetime. I feel that Christianity exists to change us, to mold us into holy persons; we do not exist to change Christianity to fit our own personal views and whims.

Some find it odd, therefore, that I have produced a video that scrutinizes an organization that claims to defend the very doctrinal standards that define my life as a Christian. I am alarmed less by the IRD's doctrinal positions than I am their tactics and intentions.

The stated agenda of the IRD involves tearing at the basic fabric of the United Methodist Church at every level. Through their millions of dollars (most of which are given from outside the UMC), they are able to drive a wedge of doubt and suspicion into our churches and conferences, seemingly for political or financial gain. It is not my intent to critique the IRD's beliefs and the doctrines it claims to advocate, but its tactics in doing so. The integrity of the church will not be strengthened when a self-appointed group of mostly non-United Methodists follows a strategy of "divide and conquer."

Sounds to me like he's onto something here ... so check out the site for info on the video ... click here for a site that includes a link a video trailer ... and continue to pray for our own Episcopal bishops as they take counsel with each other (and the Holy Spirit!) to lead this church of ours toward renewal on God's agenda rather than the ruin on the IRD's!