Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Presbyterian Judicial Decision

Presbyterian Highest Court Clears Spahr of Censure

Tiburon, CA – Today the Presbyterian’s General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC) reversed the two-year-old Synod decision to censure Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr for her role in marrying same-gender couples. Today’s decision held that the Presbyterian constitution contains no prohibition against marrying same-gender couples.
Read the rest of the article here ...
Read the text of the decision here ...

Anglican Covenant Conference Follow-up

Just got this email from GTS:

Dear Anglican Covenant Conference Attendees:

Our website has been updated! Finalized papers have been uploaded as pdf’s and audio is available on the website.

So you might want to bookmark that and keep it handy as the conversations about the Anglican Covenant continue ... I plan to!

Bits & Pieces for a Wednesday Lunch Break

So I'm taking a break from conference calls, liturgy generation and confirmation class preparation to post up a few "bits & pieces" of things that caught my attention around the web of late ... in no particular order:


There's been a call for same-sex marriage in Australia ... good for them!


Bishop Iker has reacted to the formation of a Steering Committee committed to keeping the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth IN the Episcopal Church by calling them "vigilantes" ... no surprise there, as the same bishop has also invited the Archbishop of the Southern Cone to come to Fort Worth to work on their "exit strategy" from TEC and (but wait ... there's more!) sent a decidely terse missive to the Presiding Bishop in response to her decidedly clear message that such an invitation was an "unwarranted invasion."


Meanwhile, +Katharine has a letter to the House of Bishops, that "reviews and comments on process related to deposition, inhibition, renunciation and resignation of bishops." ... Perhaps that will finally get everyone "on the same page" ... or not!


Across the pond, the Archbishop of Canterbury has taken the not-unexpected-but-still-disappointing step of prohibiting the Bishop of New Hampshire from functioning as a priest while in England. Some good points made by the Episcopal Cafe post on this matter:

The email, which came to Robinson through a Lambeth official, says Williams believes that giving Robinson permission to preach and preside at the Eucharist would be construed as an acceptance of the ministry of a controversial figure within the Communion.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who gave his support to a failed legislative attempt to limit the rights of Nigerian gays and their supporters to speak, assemble and worship God collectively. Akinola has yet to respond to an Atlantic magazine article which suggests he may have had prior knowledge of plans for retributive violence against Muslims in his country that resulted in the massacre of more than 650 people in Yelwa, Nigeria.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Bernard Malango, the retired primate of Central Africa and one of the authors of the Windsor Report. Malango dismissed without reason the ecclesiastical court convened to try pro-Mugabe Bishop Nolbert Kunonga for incitement to murder and other charges.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone, who has now claimed as his own, churches in three others provinces in the Anglican Communion (Brazil, Canada and the United States). Nor has he denied permission to preach and preside to Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Emanuel Kolini of Rwanda, or Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, all of whom have ignored the Windsor Report's plea not to claim churches within other provinces of the Communion.

Sources who have read the email say Williams expresses sorrow for the way the ban on Robinson must appear to the bishop and his supporters, but says he is acting for the good of the Church and the Communion.

My response at this point is a succinct: "Whatever."


Closer to home, Matt Kennedy (of Stand Firm Fame) has finally managed to egg the diocese of Central New York into suing the congregation he has been trying to lead "out of the Episcopal Church" for lo these many years. (See also: much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the would-be martrys to the cause of "preserving the faith received from the saints through the ages.")


Here endeth the "bits & pieces" ... (AND the lunch break!) More as they come ...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I paid $4.03
for a gallon of gas
this morning.

Monday, April 28, 2008

In The Eye of the Storm in the Window in London

Fun photo sent by a friend who was in London at Church House Bookshop where +Gene's new book is "featured" in a window display just a hop-skip-&-a-jump from Westminster Abbey.
Haven't ordered your copy yet? Well ... you can do that here ... or, if you want to get a taste of it first, check out this NPR interview (which includes an excerpt).

So at 6:59:31 am this morning someone in Santa Ana, California logged onto "An Inch at a Time" and became the 250,000th visitor to this little started-on-a-whim blog.

The first post was in January 2006 -- a sermon for the New Year -- and since then there have been 1,230 additional posts ... on everything from the ups and downs of General Convention 2006 to multiple installments of "As the Anglican World Turns" to the All Saints Church vs. IRS saga to our February 2006 wedding to my son Jamie's deployment in Iraq ... and lots of things in between.

In March 2007 I added a "site meter" out of curiosity ... having absolutely no idea how many folks were dropping by ... and being utterly blown away by what a powerful tool for communication, connection and, yes, community, a blog can offer.

No, it's not The Huffington Post or even Titusonenine ... with contributors and elves, etc. It's just me with a bunch of unexpressed thoughts and some time to share them online with those interested enough to stop by from time to time.

A quarter of a million. Wow.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Celebrating the Sanctity of Marriage

So, after another big-old-Sunday at All Saints Church I plopped myself down for one of my favorite Sunday (if-I-don't-have-an-event-or-meeting) afternoon diversions: the New York Times. (Don't start with me, Jim White!) Anyway, I'm taking it out of the blue plastic bag and out falls this week's magazine -- and I don't even have to OPEN it to know I'm in for a treat:
Honest to Pete -- how cute are they?

But wait ... there's more ...

In addition to a delightful article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (entitled "Young Gay Rites: Why Would Gay Men in Their 20's Rush To The Altar?") there was this picture of Benjamin & Joshua -- one of the profiled couples -- in their living room in Boston. (Each 25, they were sweethearts in college and married soon after.)

Photograph Erwin Olaf for The New York Times; Prop stylist Jeffrey W. Miller

So here's my question: if this is what undermining the sanctity of marriage looks like where do we get some more of it?

Check this out:

[Writes author Denizet-Lewis] Like many gay men my age and older, I grew up believing that gay men in a happy long-term relationship was an oxymoron...There was a reason, of course, why so many gay men my age and older seemed intent on living a protracted adolescence: We had been cheated of our actual adolescence.
While most of our heterosexual peers had experienced, in their teens, socialization around courtship, dating and sexuality, many of us had grown up closeted and fearful, our most precious and tender feelings rarely validated or reflected back to us by our families and communities. When we managed to express our sexuality, the experience often came booby-trapped with secrecy, manipulation or debilitating shame.

But young gay men today are coming of age in a different time from the baby-boom generation of gays and lesbians who fashioned modern gay culture in this country — or even from me, a gay man in his early 30s...Many young gay men don’t see themselves as all that different from their heterosexual peers, and many profess to want what they’ve long seen espoused by mainstream American culture: a long-term relationship and the chance to start a family.
“For many young gay men today, settling down in a relationship in their 20s — or getting married if they live in Massachusetts — will feel like a very natural thing to do,” says Joe Kort, a psychotherapist and the author “10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives.”
And that's because it is. A natural thing to do.
So let's get on with it, shall we? Let's get on with celebrating the sanctity of marriage -- not just in Massachusetts (shout out to Byron Rushing for his dedicated advocacy!) but all across this land of "liberty and justice for all." Not just because it's the politically correct or cute or fabulous or even fair thing to do -- but because it's the natural thing to do.
And let the people say "Mazel tov!" (And "Amen!")


PS -- Another newlywed heard from ... check out "the 'M' word"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prayers for Zimbabwe

The Archbishop of York is leading a day of fasting and prayer in support of the people of Zimbabwe.

Dr Sentamu said: "I want as many people as possible to join me at the Minster to pray for the situation in Zimbabwe and light a candle as a public demonstration of support for the people there. As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance."


Archbishops of Canterbury and York issue Joint Statement on Zimbabwe

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint statement this morning concerning the deteriorating situation of ordinary people in Zimbabwe calling for “a civil society movement that both gives voice to those who demand an end to the mayhem that grows out of injustice, poverty, exclusion and violence.” In a statement which follows recent comments by Church Leaders in Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Archbishops also called for an international day of prayer for Zimbabwe this Sunday (April 27) in all Christian denominations “as part of a search for increased solidarity and justice for the people of Zimbabwe at home and in the UK.”


Archbishop Thabo Makgoba calls for UN arms embargo on Zimbabwe

"The plight of the people of Zimbabwe is heart-breaking. Already bruised, broken and crushed by oppression and economic hardship before the elections, they are now even more divided, despondent and, in many cases, hopeless than they were before. At a time of growing global hunger, their situation is particularly acute - four million Zimbabweans depend on food aid and NGOs are reporting that in some areas political violence is making it difficult to supply food."


There's a birthday boy in the house!

Today is the natal feast of the Reverend Michael Hopkins -- my friend, mentor, colleague and brother priest -- and I just couldn't let the day pass this year without a little blog "shout out" to mark the day.

I know it's customary for the birthday boy to be the one receiving the gifts, but on this birthday I want to publicly celebrate the many, many gifts Michael has given so many of us over the years. The gift of the example of his work and his witness; the gift of his courage and his commitment; and the gift of his unfailing willingness to both embrace and proclaim the truth that will make you free. (To name just a few!)
Most of all, I give thanks for the gift of his friendship and send prayers for much joy, health and happiness in the year ahead.
Check out his blog ... From Glory into Glory ... for some of the best preaching on the planet ... and join me in a chorus of :
"Happy Birthday, dear Michael ... Happy Birthday to you!"
Watch over your child, Michael, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be. Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he falls; and in his heart may your peace which passes understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+Katharine "Does Dallas"

Presiding bishop of Episcopal Church to visit Dallas parish and bless garden
Star-Telegram staff writer

The head of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will visit Dallas for a blessing service for a community garden Monday afternoon.

Episcopalians in the Fort Worth Diocese have chartered two large buses to travel to Dallas for the event, and many Episcopalians from Granbury, Wichita Falls and other cities near the Metroplex are also expected to attend, said George Komechak, who is helping to organize the trip.

The 2:30 p.m. service will be at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church's Community Garden, where church members grow vegetables for local food banks.

Schori will also tour restored church buildings, event organizers said.

The Fort Worth group will travel to Dallas for Schori's appearance, even though leaders of the Fort Worth Diocese do not support her. Diocese officials asked the leader of world Anglicanism, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church, to give Fort Worth an alternate national leader to Schori, who supports gay relationships. The appeal was denied.

Mazel tov, Mark & +Gene!

New Hampshire Bishop Plans His Civil Union Rite

[photo credit C. Black]

From the NYT article:

Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal prelate whose consecration led conservatives to split from the church, said in an interview on Thursday that he and his partner of 20 years were planning a civil union ceremony to be held in his home church in the diocese of New Hampshire in June.

Bishop Robinson said that by scheduling the ceremony for June, he did not intend to further inflame conservatives just before the Anglican Communion gathers in August in Cambridge, England, for the Lambeth Conference, which happens only once every 10 years.

He planned his civil union for June, he said, because he wanted to provide some legal protection to his partner and his children before he left for England for the conference. Bishop Robinson has received death threats, and he wore a bulletproof vest under his vestments at his consecration in 2003.

“We could have, I suppose, just gone to the town clerk and had that signed,” he said, “but, you know, I’m a religious person, and every major event in my life has been marked with some kind of liturgy and giving thanks to God.”


So "Mazel tov!" to Mark & +Gene! We are looking forward, more than you know, to the outward and visble sign of the blessing your love and witness already offers to the church, to the world and to other couples striving to live together in love for better or worse!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What an honor it is ...

... to be among so great a cloud of witnesses!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The time has come, the Archbishop said ...

... to speak of many things.
Of shoes and ships
and sealing wax,

And cabbages and kings.
And what's the point of Lambeth Conference,
And whether pigs have wings.

The Anglican News Service has just posted an update on the upcoming Lambeth Conference entitled "Better bishops for the sake of a better church."

Hard to argue with that one!

The Archbishop's whole address is available on YouTube (posted below) but here's a take-away quote if you're in a hurry:

"What I would really most like to see in this years Lambeth Conference is the sense that this is essentially a spiritual encounter. A time when people are encountering God as they encounter one another, a time when people will feel that their life of prayer and witness is being deepened and their resources are being stretched. Not a time when we are being besieged by problems that need to be solved and statements that need to be finalised, but a time when people feel that they are growing in their ministry. And for that to happen once again, we are going to need the prayers and the support of so many people around the world."


So here are some of my wonderings:

Is this the "Ultimatum" that George Conger and Baby Blue (among others) reported, with such glee, was "Coming Soon From Lambeth Palace"???? (Ruth Gledhill seems to think so ...)

Or were those reports, like so many others, the sort of "much ado about nothing" we will be hearing more of as the Lambeth Conference approaches?

And, might we do well to "bookmark" this one as we live through these next days and weeks and months together as a "case in point" -- remembering not to be "tossed about" by every blog post and random bit of speculation?

Finally, let's read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this small but important sentence from the Archbishop's presentation regarding the Lambeth Conference:

"It has never been a legislative body"

Right-o. Bingo. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Healthy Religion Can Save the Planet

A Sermon for Earth Day:

preached by the Reverend Canon Dr. J. Edwin Bacon
Rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena
April 20, 2008
From my vantage point, it seems that human life on this planet is threatened by two contemporary developments. One is the now seven-year old war-without-end-mentality against terrorism conducted within the context of nucear weapons and now established reality of global climate change.

Do you feel "better off?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Revolutionary Since 1789

Tonight is EFM Seder Night here at All Saints Church so while I'm still at my desk waiting for the troops to gather, I found myself mulling the bumper sticker my dear friend Bruce sent me a few weeks ago ...

... which I promptly placed on the bulletin board next to my desk:

  • Maybe it's because we just finished watching John Adams on HBO last night;
  • Maybe it's because we've been spending so much time during this primary election season thinking about what's best and worst about our political process;
  • Maybe it's because of all the conversations I've been having pre-Lambeth with allies on both sides of "the pond" ...
Whatever the reason, I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the fact that the American Episcopal Church HAS been revolutionary ... since 1789.
And I'm feeling more and more ... well, empowered comes to mind ... in continuing to be part of an ongoing revolution that really does hold some truths to be self-evident -- that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights and that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Kind of fits right in there with striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being, doesn't it?
Revolutionary Since 1789
Viva la Revolucion!
(And let the people say, "Amen!")

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The NOT so perfect end ...

... to a long and productive week!

So we're home ... all is well and there was a LOT of great work done on behalf of the Gospel at both the Chicago Consultation meetings at Seabury-Western and then at the Integrity Board meeting following. And I really will reflect on all those interesting and important things later this week.
At the moment, however, I'm focused on re-entering life on the Left Coast and being grateful that our errant luggage was indeed located and reunited with us late last night.
Finally, to the very nice man from St. Thomas, Hollywood who said such nice things about this blog and about our work on LGBT equality to me last night at the Burbank Baggage Claim, thank you SO much ... and I hope the next time we run into each other I will not be so distracted by lost luggage and I'll get a chance to hear more about what you're doing in Hollywood and how our mission and ministry can connect! More later!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

From "The Windy City"

I'm at the Chicago airport getting ready to fly home after a VERY busy week of meetings here in "the windy city" ... will write more about all that later but here's a link to the video of +Gene's sermon Wednesday night, preached in the chapel at Seabury Western and a couple of pictures from the Integrity Eucharist last night at the Chicago Cathedral. More later!

Bonnie Perry+ preaching a kick-butt sermon!

Integrity Board Members getting ready for worship.

With Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, in front of the AMAZING Keiskamma Altarpiece, created in South Africa’s as a message of hope for people who are contending with the devastation of the AIDS pandemic.

Monday, April 14, 2008

So what now?

I had three days of mulling the state of the Anglican Communion in general and the prospect of an “Anglican Covenant” in specific at General Seminary with some of the best and brightest in this “Big Fat Anglican Family” in New York City last week. Entitled “An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling?” the conference included keynote speeches, the presentation of academic papers and responding panels of faculty and students from the seminaries of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

You can hear the presentations yourself online on the General Theological Seminary website and there are some great photos for view as well by GTS Communications Guru Bruce Parker.

And now I’m back and I’m getting the “So whats?” So what did you learn? So what’s going to happen next? So what do you think about this “covenant” process?

So here goes … my thoughts on where we are and what next on “As the Anglican World Turns:”


The hot air balloon with the "Anglican Covenant or Bust" sign across it has sprung a slow leak. The urgent voices insisting we must all climb aboard "or else" have dwindled to a marginal few. And the rest of the Anglican Communion seems to be paying attention as never before to just exactly what it is that makes us the “Anglican” Communion.

Let’s review.

In spite of the uber-efforts of the Schismatic Sky-Is-Falling Spin Meisters to represent as fait accompli that which they wish would be:

· The American Episcopal Church has not been voted off the Anglican Island;

· The Lambeth Conference that was going to be boycotted by the “mainstream bishops” of the Communion is on schedule for July in Canterbury;

· The “parallel province” the Archbishop of Canterbury was poised to recognize as the legitimate franchise of Anglicanism in the United States in place of the apostate, heretic Episcopal Church is gathering dust on someone’s drawing board;

· The great flood of congregations and dioceses abandoning the sinking ship of the Episcopal Church turned out to be a trickle of usual suspects;

· And the proposed “Anglican Covenant” being fast-tracked by the primates as a means to (see first bullet point) vote the American Episcopal Church off the Anglican Island is now being mulled, processed, discussed, vetted, amended, revised and considered.

It does not appear to be going as planned in Schism Central. In fact, it can be argued that the coup d'état has, in fact, failed. The vast majority of Anglicans seem to be very much “over” what Jenny Te Paa described as the epidemic of SOAP (Sudden Onset Arch-episcopal Paroxysm) which impacted not just those primates directly infected but (sadly) the mission and ministry of churches throughout the Anglican Communion.

Do we need an “Anglican Covenant” to tell each other that the bonds of affection that have for generations linked our various and varying expressions of Anglicanism matter more than the differences the SOAP-infected primates have insisted must lead to divisions?

No, we don’t.

Might we be strengthened in those bonds of affection if we could, together – as a whole church (AKA “not just our bishops”) – create an explicit expression of those implicit bonds of affection in a document we could claim together?

Yes, we might.

And is it possible that this very “covenant process” which was intended to draw a circle to keep some “out” might be redrawn as a circle to gather all “in?”

Hmmmm ...

The scriptural text I’m drawn to is Genesis 50:20 – the story of God turning the evil intended against Joseph by the brothers who sold him into slavery into good for the whole people of Israel.

Can we dare to imagine that the same God – our God – could turn the efforts of the SOAP-influenced primates to create a juridical Covenant designed to cast the Episcopal Church off the Anglican Island into good for the whole Anglican Communion? Could it, instead of a means to exclude, become an articulation of historic Anglican Comprehensiveness that would draw others in? Could we create, as Ian Douglas suggests, a covenant with missiological rather than juridical intentions?

I admit I am not yet to the place where I hear “Yes we can!” as the reply to those questions.

But after three days in NYC – with the hot air (happily!) leaking out of the “Anglican Covenant or Bust” balloon – what I do hear is “Perhaps we could!”

And, at the end of the day, perhaps we will. Film, as they say, "at eleven!"

An Outward and Visible Sign ..

I couldn't resist a snap of this outward and visible sign of putting faith into action from the All Saints Church parking lot ...

More on things Anglican later ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Keynote #3: Boundaries Old and Boundaries New

Back home again after a happily uneventful plane trip from JFK to 96 degree weather here in Pasadena. Before I dash off to do Evensong at 5:00 here are the notes I put together on the plane coming home on the Anglican Covenant Confeence presentations by Ian Douglas and Gregory Cameron. More thoughts to come ...


Ian Douglas on Lambeth Conference 2008 and the Anglican Covenant: Juridical or Missiological Imperatives?

The theme of Lambeth Conference 2008 is “equipping bishops for ministry” and Douglas began by offering a corrective to what he named “the erroneous perception of a juridical imperative” for the Lambeth Conference 2008 – describing instead the “deeply intentional effort on the part of the design team to ‘do a new thing’” by creating what Douglas described as “a conference designed around opportunities to hear God’s voice in the ‘circle of accountability” of study groups.

Douglas made clear that the schedule for the Lambeth Conference, in fact, “has no large plenary session” where it would be even possible for “resolutions to be presented and voted up or down.”

In a nutshell, Douglas drew a picture of a 2008 Lambeth Conference dramatically different from its 1998 counterpart: a community of bishops gathered to converse rather than a conclave of bishops convened to resolve.

We shall see.

During the Q&A following Dr. Douglas’ presentation, Ian was queried about whether the design team had “designed any contingencies” for the potential of having their best laid plans hijacked (I think that’s the word I used) by those who might be coming to Lambeth with juridical intentions in spite of the design team’s missiological intentions.

His response was that no one was more committed to keeping the design of the conference as described than the Design Team … and that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Design Team to act as the Management Team on the ground in Canterbury.

I am choosing to be encouraged. And we shall see.


Keynote #3: "Boundaries Old and Boundaries New"
Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion

At the beginning of his presentation, Cameron noted with some irony that the Anglican Communion Office’s efforts to “be faithful to the unique vantage point from which it sees the Communion in operation” has resulted in it being simultaneously described as a branch office of 815 and a bastion of reactionary conservatism.

His own vantage point, as a Welshman, is from what he describes as “the boundaries” and he suggested Deuteronomy 19:14 as a text equally illustrative for both those resisting what they experience as the shifting of historic boundary stones of moral theology in the efforts to more fully include the LGBT baptized into the Body of Christ and for those resisting what they experience as the shifting of historic boundary stones of Anglican Comprehensiveness in the efforts to execute a juridical imposition of uniformity.

Starting from a point of belief that that “recognition of ‘the same DNA’ makes more possible cooperation between constituent members of the Communion” Cameron asserted “a covenant does not solve all the problems but offers a potent ideal in holding the church in mutual relationship.”

He expressed “huge reservations about the appendix [of the St. Andrew’s Covenant draft] as it currently exists as it falls into a juridical model.” He also noted that “Jenny’s analysis needs to be taken seriously” and warned of the danger of “creeping authoritarianism.”

Regarding the so called “Instruments of Unity,” Cameron reminded that “they cannot command or require; they can only advise and recommend” going on to say “they can only ever be a council of advice and unless we get that particular point exactly right we are in for all sorts of problems.”

Cameron offered a helpful reminder that the primates are, in fact, “no more and no less than the senior pastors of their own provincial jurisdictions” maintaining that “they cannot speak with any more authority than that.”

In a nutshell, he expressed his hopes for a covenant that would be “both relational and aspirational,” helping us describe “what exactly is characteristic of Anglicanism” and enabling us to “recognize, acknowledge and strengthen those foundations on which communion are built in the first place.” His hope was for a covenant that would offer a “blue print for mutual mission” that “outlines the common boundary stones” and enables us “as Anglicans to be clear with each other about what our expectations actually are” for our “mutual, open-ended, ongoing relationship.”


An Anglican Covenant: St. Andrew's Draft Text
An Anglican Covenant: Draft Appendix

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This is not a postcard ...

... it is the actual view from the actual window of the actual apartment where the fledgling iNYC (Integrity New York City) group held a meet-and-greet tea this afternoon, giving me a chance to end my stay in the Big Apple by meeting some great people and talk about The Canterbury Campaign.
More on the just completed Anglican Covenant Conference ... including notes on the presentations by Ian Douglas and Gregory Cameron ... soon. But now it's time to get ready for the "leavin' on a jet plane" part ...Hasta la later!

What's at stake

Taking a break from Anglican Convenant Land for a moment (more to come on that later today or tomorrow) I want to point to this Church Times article, aptly entitled "An issue! An issue! We all fall down!" by the Ven. Mark Oakley, Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe.

...........A vision of a multifaceted Church? Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks (1846)

Those who would divide the Communion lack an Anglican spirit, says Mark Oakley. The division ... is not really between conservatives and liberals at all. It is much more serious than that. It is a division between, first, those who are willing to say that other Christians, who have different views or lifestyles to themselves, are still, nevertheless, Christian, and have a Christian integrity that must be part of the Church; and, second, those who think that this simply cannot and must not be the case.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Do read the whole piece, but here's his conclusion in case you're in a hurry:
A little self-reflection might be important. I cannot be the only person who, since my confirmation at the age of 11, has found himself changing thoughts and opinions on almost everything as the years pass. In those years, though, the Church of England has been large enough to be my home — a spiritual compass, not a dictator telling me with whom I cannot meet or pray.
In 1930, the Lambeth Conference concluded that Anglicans stand for “an open Bible, a pastoral priesthood, a common worship, a standard of conduct consistent with that worship and a fearless love of truth”. My fear is that those who would now homogenise our Church place some of these at severe risk.
This is not about conservatives and liberals. It is about the survival of the Anglican soul. There is middle ground — and it is where we should all be at times, for the sake of one another and the message of reconciliation entrusted to us.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Keynote #2: A ‘global south’ perspective ...

... on Anglicans, solemnity and agreement.

Dr. Jenny Te Paa was our second Keynote Speaker at the Anglican Covenant Conference here at General Theological Seminary ... and I'll get to her "global south" perspective in a minute.
First, however, let me start with the panel of folks who kicked off the morning: from Berkeley @ Yale, Seabury-Western, Trinity (Toronto) & CDSP (respectively):

Joseph Britton had both "a hypothesis and a proposal" ... the hypothesis was that the "controversy du jour" in the Anglican Communion is not about a breakdown in moral theology, as some have, he said, suggested -- but rather about a distorted theology of ministry -- namely of the episcopate -- which errs in treating bishops as if they were "medieval lords in whom the whole identity of the church is vested."

Deidre Good presented a paper by Ellen Wondra (who was a victim of the American Airlines Meltdown) questioning the efficacy of a covenant designed to ensure "compliance" and asking whether the "Big C" Communion would not be better served if we adopted models of authority that operated in ways that enabled "small c" communion -- making communion itself not "a means but the goal."

David Neelands offered a most interesting walk through the 1549 prayerbook in questioning whether or not questioning someone else's standard for coming to communion fits within historic Anglicanism. (Hint: Not so much)

And Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski addressed the proposed covenant from the perspective of "people of God who experience the church from below.

(I understand all these presentations will be available at some point somewhere and I do commend them to you ...)

Jenny Te Paa began by saying -- about the proposed covenant -- "So much solemnity and so little agreement" and regretting that it had "too many words written in too much haste." Offering what she called "serious but measured criticism at a percentage of the primates" she rejected the premise that we have "so-called irresolvable differences" and suggested we would be better served concentrating on the fact that "what we share in common as God's beloved Anglican people is ultimately of more import to God" than the differences that challenge us.

"We act as though what we have had as covenant relationship in the past never counted" she said ... "I have never doubted I am already in covenant relationship with a myriad of diverse experiences of the World Wide Communion in the Eucharist where memory is replayed as sacrament."

She then asked two key questions: "What now needs to be different?" and "Who is saying so and why?"

I will not attempt to relay her whole message here ... but key for many in the room was Dr. Te Paa's confession that she had reconsidered her initial support for "a covenant process" as a result of her experience since the Windsor Report was issued and declared herself to be "both proud and embarrassed by the naivete" that kept her from recognizing, at the time of the Lambeth Commission, just how much "power politics" were in play in pushing an "agenda for domination" by insisting that "what we already had in place was not sufficient" and shifting to "bullying rhetoric used to exploit differences over human sexuality" into what Dr. Te Paa called: sudden onset arch-episcopal paroxysm.

A way to "cure" that disease, she suggested, was to enlist the aid of those not impacted by the syndrome. Dr. Te Paa went onto suggest that the combination of women, young people, indigenous peoples and LGBT folk between them (by her math) who do not see the current differences as "irresolvable differences" came to approximately 75.3% of the Communion ... and that this significant majority of Anglicans needed to be part of a "slowed down, measured & considered process of inviting more stakeholders in the conversations about what it means to be in covenant relationship with each other as Anglicans" offering what she called "a Good News cure" to sudden onset arch-episcopal paroxysm.

She rocked.

She also rocked the boat a little. (Well, a little more than a little.) After lunch, Archbishop Gomez, (who had been what I thought was remarkably "non-defensive" last night during the Q&A following his initial address) took some umbrage to Dr. Te Paa's taking on the primates -- which she did with some gusto.

+Gomez rose and rejected the suggestion that the covenant proposal had been "top down" inspired by the primates and also used the opportunity to work in a quick treatise of his own on "global numbers" explaining that the "biblically orthodox" were a super majority in not only the Anglican Communion but in the wider Christian faith if we throw in the Romans and Eastern Orthodox, too.

Dr. Te Paa listened respectfully ... when he had "done" she said "Thank you, Archbishop" ... and when the moderator asked if she wanted to respond further she smiled politely and said "No, thank you" and went out to take her place in the audience ... right next to +Drexel Gomez.

The thing that struck me about the exchange was not how defensive the Archbishop became but how "apples and oranges" it all was. It was as if he hadn't heard a word she'd really said ... her point being NOT that 75.3% (by her reckoning) of the Anglican Communion AGREED with the American Episcopal Church or the Diocese of New Hampshire or whatever ... but that 75.3% DISAGREED that these differences of opinion rose the to level of "communion splitting."

It seemed to me that there in that exchange was an icon where we are and how we can move forward.

Where we "are" is still listening to the dogmatic voices of an increasingly small number of those (like Archbishop Gomez) with what Dr. Te Paa called "institutionalized power" insisting that they get to frame the debate and that since they say it's about biblical hermeneutics and since their "side" outnumbers ours they "win."

Not so fast.

Because meanwhile, increasing numbers of voices of reason and calm (like Dr. Te Paa) are doggedly insisting that the sky is not falling, the differences that challenge us do not have to become divisions that divide us unless we let them and that "in the Eucharist where memory is replayed as sacrament" we already are in covenant relationship -- with God and with each other.
Finally -- a "Good News Cure" for "sudden onset arch-episcopal paroxysm."
Thanks be to God!
More from NYC tomorrow!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keynote #1: The Case for an Anglican Covenant

So we're launched on this three-day conversation about an "Anglican Covenant" -- the first plenary session this evening (after Evensong and Dinner in the Refectory!) was a presentation by Archbishop Drexel Gomez ... pictured below with GTS Sub-Dean Titus Pressler.

In a nutshell, the Archbishop made the case that "the present crisis" makes it essential that we "articulate the bonds of affection and make explicit what has heretofore been implicit" in order to create "agreed upon mechanisms for managing differences."
In a nutshell, the room wasn't buying it. Although +Gomez maintained that an Anglican Covenant was "not intended to calcify the Communion but to enable it to deal with disputes" he also asserted that "the covenant is the only available mechanism to hold the Communion together" -- at the same time referring with some energy to "the present crisis" which has "broken the communion" and "could have been avoided" if there had been a recognition of "the legitimate limits on autonomy."
The only real surprise for me was his reference to "Rumors of a bold initiative to advance 'gay marriage'" ... surprising because there's no "rumor" about it -- at least not to anybody who reads this blog.
Anyway, the Q&A that followed was interesting -- several folks here from the Canadian Anglican Church and one of the panel responders was from the Old Catholic Church so it definitely wasn't "the usual suspects." At the end of the day it fell short in the new information department but the dialogue was respectful and I give the overall tone and timbre of the evening two thumbs up.
For the record, I did NOT hear "the case for an Anglican Covenant" get made ... but stay tuned for Day Two ... coming soon to a blog near you!

Live from New York!

It could absolutely NOT be a more beautiful spring day here in "The Big Apple" ...
Never mind the flight delays, jet lag and calendar juggling it took to get here, the daffodils are blooming ...
... the trees are blossoming ...

... and there is a blue sky over the chapel at GTS ... where we will soon gather for the opening service of Evensong -- scheduled to launch this "Anglican Covenant Conference" -- followed by dinner and then the first keynote address ...

... The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez (Archbishop of the West Indies) speaking on "The Case for an Anglican Covenant."

"Film" -- as they say -- "at eleven."
Meanwhile, for those familiar with GTS, here's a peek at the construction in progress ...
... quite a change from when we were hear last summer to meet with Phil Groves and explore the Anglican Communion "Listening Process!"
Here endeth the report from the field ... live from the Desmond Tutu Center in the heart of Chelsea Square ...

... Susan Russell, signing off for now. More to come as it comes!

Playing Sermon Catch-up ...

Videos are now online for the last two Sundays at All Saints Church, and as I've had several "off-line" requests for links, here they are:

"The Importance of Atheists"
March 30, 2008
The Reverend Canon J. Edwin Bacon


"Open the Eyes of Our Faith"
April 6, 2008
The Reverend Susan Russell

Stepping "across the blog aisle" ...

Happily, I point this morning to voices "across the aisle" applauding the Archbishop of Canterbury's press release yesterday:

FROM TITUSONENINE: Archbishop of Canterbury condemns recent violence against lesbian and gay people
Posted by Kendall Harmon
(ACNS) In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given the following statement:“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”
This needs to be said repeatedly in the current environment--KSH.


AMEN, Kendall!


Sadly, the Stand Firmites don't appear to be agreement with the Gentleman from South Carolina ... and instead of condemning the violence are "Calling Out" the victims ...

Shall not be justifying that with further response -- suffice to say:

  • Pray for all those who are victims of violence
  • AND pray for those whose blindness to the oppressive systems that foster violence against ANY member of the human family prevents them from responding to Our Lord's call to be peacemakers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An Anglican Covenant: Dividing or Reconciling?

That's the title of the conference I'm in NYC to attend ... we start tomorrow and I arrived tonight ... trying to remember to be grateful that I was only 2+ hours delayed on JetBlue and not cancelled like so many other travelers were on American. Here's a link to details of the work we'll do here over the next few days ... I expect I'll be commenting along the way.

In the meantime, while enroute to NYC we got the word that the Archbishop of Canterbury had stepped up and condemned the escalating violence against LGBT folk in Nigeria and the UK ... so managed to get an Integrity statement off from the tarmac at the Las Vegas airport where our plane was doing an unscheduled "tech stop" (ergo the delay.)

ANYWAY, giving thanks for the marvels of modern technology that actually allow us to make such things happen AND (more importantly) for the gift of the great cloud of witnesses who incarnate the "ubuntu" ideal of a human race becoming a human family.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;

For only in you can we live in safety.

I was struck this morning by two streams of email threads in my VERY full inbox. The first was a series of protest emails on the HoB/D list (the listserve for Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church) protesting the "violence" being perpetrated against "orthodox clergy" by the bishops who are moving to depose those clergy who have left the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with other provinces.

The second was the press release (posted below) from Changing Attitude in England protesting the actual violence (as in death threats and muggings) being perpetrated against LGBT leaders in the Anglican Communion.

Can we say "Apples" and "Oranges"???

Yes we can. And yes we should

And it's time to start saying something else. It's time to start crying foul (or "Calling B.S."as my kids would say!) on those who claim for themselves the status of "victim" when they are the ones perpetrating the schism causing the divisions in this church and in this communion.

It is nothing less than unmitigated gall incarnate that those who have been sowing the seeds of dissention in this church and this communion for over a decade (see also The Chapman Memo) are now daring to paint themselves as victims of "violence" as they begin to reap their harvest of division.

Let's refresh our vocabularies:

Pronunciation: \ˈvī-lən(t)s, ˈvī-ə-\
Function: noun
Definition: exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse

And now, let's review:

There is an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. (AKA Apples v. Oranges, Part I)

There is a critical difference between being the victim of violence because you are gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender and claiming to be the victim of violence because you've left the Episcopal Church and your bishop has finally deposed you. (AKA Apples v. Oranges, Part II)

Any questions?

8 April 2008

LGBT Anglican leaders threatened with murder and violently attacked in Nigeria and England

Over the Easter weekend 2008, gay leaders of Changing Attitude Nigeria were seriously assaulted. They, and the Director of Changing Attitude England, were also threatened with death because “they are polluting Nigeria with abomination and immorality”. The attacks were reported to the police in Nigeria, Togo and the UK.

In an open letter to conservative Anglican church leaders nineteen Anglican bishops and leaders have expressed concern about the use of incautious language and urge conservative church leaders to consider the effects of the language that they use.

The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:“The Anglican Communion has been in turmoil for 10 years since the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed a very negative resolution about homosexuality. The conflict in the church has intensified since then, with many bishops and other leaders making highly judgemental and often abusive comments and pronouncements about LGBT Anglicans.

“Such inflammatory statements lead some members of Anglican Communion churches to believe that threats and violence against those who are LGBT (or those who support a more open stance towards LGBT people) are not only justified but are authentic expressions of Christianity.”

For further information contact: Reverend Colin Coward,

Director of Changing Attitude England


Open Letter to the Leadership Team of GAFCON

Dear friends in Christ,

You may know that there were several instances of actual physical violence and threats of violence and death enacted against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders of Changing Attitude in Nigeria over the Easter Weekend 2008. The leader of a Changing Attitude group was violently beaten. Subsequently, death threats have been issued against the Directors of Changing Attitude in Nigeria and England.

The discourse taking place in the Anglican Communion about the presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches must be conducted in the context of Christian love and mutual respect. If it is not, then people will continue to perpetrate abuse and violence against LGBT people.

Some Anglican Christians act in this way because they believe that the language of criticism articulated against LGBT people in general and the Episcopal Church in particular gives them permission to perpetrate violence and abuse against Christians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We know that is not your intention, but it is the reality as many experience it.

Changing Attitude understands that the Anglican Communion is engaged in an extended period of debate about the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches. We are committed to engage in this debate and in the Listening Process which is integral to it and authorised by the Councils of the church.

Conservative Anglicans will want to argue against the position which Changing Attitude represents. They will continue to question the pattern of life and identity adopted by some lesbian and gay Christians. We recognise the integrity of those who hold this position at the same time as we disagree with it. We are not resistant to engaging in the debate with those who hold radically different views.

We recognise that it is extremely difficult to conduct this debate in language that does not polarise opinions or inflame tensions. Tension will grow more intense in this period immediately prior to the Lambeth Conference and the GAFCON event.

The language we use has direct consequences on the lives of LGBT Christians. Language affects us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We ask that all of us within the Anglican Communion be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people. We ask that all of us actively discourage any form of threatening behaviour so that we may all engage in respectful listening and conform the pattern of our lives to the pattern of love embodied by our Lord Jesus Christ.

None of us wishes to encourage or condone violence and none of us wishes to be responsible, indirectly, for murder or violence perpetrated on another person, whatever their sexual identity.

Yours in Christ, (Signed)

Revd Canon Professor Marilyn MacCord Adams

Rt Revd Michael Bourke

Rt Revd Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking

Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ramsbury

Very Revd Vivienne Faull

Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth

Rt Revd Richard Holloway

Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme

Revd Sr Una Kroll

Rt Revd Richard Lewis

Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield

Rt Revd John Oliver

Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds

Christina Rees

Rt Revd Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

Rt Revd John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln

Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby

Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth

Revd Dr Anne Townsend

The Revd Canon Angela Weaver

Letter sent to: Rt Rev Nicodemus Okille, Archbishop Henry Orombi, Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Rt Rev Martyn Minns, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Archbishop Greg Venables, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, Archbishop Justice Akrofi, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bits & Pieces

It's been quite a busy week and so blogging has been sparse. And the rest of April is shaping up to be pretty much more of the same. But, home again from meetings in New Hampshire I've got a chance to play catch up by posting a few "bits & pieces -- so here goes:

As I noted earlier on this blog, our week started out with the Los Angeles version of almost heaven -- well, almost Dodger Heaven, anyway! Here's a picture of JUST how close we were to home plate where we watched the Dodgers beat their arch-enemy San Francisco Giants Monday night. VERY cool! (And it was, too ... only in the 50's and damp ... but a taste of Dodger Heaven nonetheless!)


The trip to New Hampshire was for a meeting of the Steering Committee of Claiming the Blessing and it was, as always, a great blessing to be in company of "so great a cloud of witnesses" and to claim together the privilege of participating in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit calling this church to be all that it can be. We heard about the great work being done in preparation for our presence at Lambeth Conference and spent some time looking ahead to General Convention 2009.

One of the highlights of our work was the chance to spend some time with the Bishop of New Hampshire ... and we had the ADDED treat of being among the first to get a look at his hot-off-the-presses book "In the Eye of the Storm." Stay tuned for some book tour news and some interesting national press opportunities coming up in the days and weeks ahead.


Back at home, the video of Ed Bacon's March 30th sermon "The Importance of Atheists" was posted up on the All Saints website. Trust me ... this is one of those "don't miss" sermons.

Meanwhile, as she continues to explore the challenges of systemic sexism, my friend Ellen Snortland is taking some heat for her recent column "Yes, We Can't!!" in the Pasadena Weekly. Check it out and see what you think. (Hint: I think she's right on!)


The "Anglican World Turns" continues to turn. There was much rejoicing in the Schismatic Camps when on Friday a Virginia Court failed to support what amounted to the Diocese of Virginia's motion to dismiss the pending property litigation. Titusonenine has a good round-up of the details -- here's comment from the Diocese of Virginia website:

While the Court decided it was appropriate for the CANA congregations to file their claims under Virginia's division statute, it recognized the importance of the constitutional questions surrounding that statute, and will consider our position at a hearing set for May. It is essential for all of us to recognize that this was not a final decision, and the Court did not award any property or assets. We remain hopeful that the Court will recognize the right of the Episcopal Church--and all churches--to govern ourselves according to our own faith and doctrine.


This week I'm off to New York City and "An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling?" -- a three day conference on the proposed Anglican Covenant being held at General Seminary and a chance to connect with Integrity folks in NYC about the Canterbury Campaign. Another big week ahead ... so more bits & pieces to come!


It wasn't until the breaking of the bread that they finally "got it." The despondent disciples were trudging their way home to Emmaus, trying to make sense of the heartbreaking events of the last weeks. They were still reeling with what they had seen with their own eyes: the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of the One they hoped would redeem Israel go quickly and tragically downhill -- ending with the trial, the conviction, the cross and the grave. None of it made any sense to them ... and what on earth were they supposed to do now?

And then they ran into this stranger -- and what were the odds they'd end up walking along with the only guy in Jerusalem who didn't know the story? It had been the lead on Headline News all week, for heaven's sake. Where had he been? And so they walked and they talked -- and he explained to them things they'd never understood before about the scriptures they shared as a common heritage ... and they still didn't "get it."

But that didn't stop them from offering the stranger hospitality. "Stay with us, for night is coming." they said. And so he did -- and he blessed the bread and broke it ... and their eyes were opened -- and suddenly they realized that one who had walked with them and talked with them on that long, dusty walk from Jerusalem was not just someone but THE One.

They "got it" -- they had a "glory attack" -- for they had seen the Lord: the Lord who had risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

As we journey together through this Easter season we hear again and again in the stories preserved for us in our scriptural record that the Risen Lord does not announce himself with Alleluias and Easter lilies – in fact, quite the opposite.

Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter Jesus in the garden at first thought he was the gardener – until he spoke her name. Running to tell the other disciples: they thought she was hallucinating – until he appeared to them in the upper room. Thomas, out of the room when Jesus showed up, thought they had ALL gone over the edge – until Jesus showed up again and said, “Here, Thomas – if what you need to believe is see my hands and my side, check it out.” And in this morning’s gospel, two heavy-hearted disciples walk and talk with Jesus for SEVEN MILES and still don’t “get it” – until he broke the bread, blessed it and gave it to them … and we are told “their eyes were opened.”

Over and over we hear the stories of our spiritual ancestors who had resurrection right in front of them and they couldn’t see it. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was not a one-size-fits-all experience – if it had been, we would have fewer resurrection narratives in scripture – and fewer clueless disciples in the narratives!

And yet I believe that in these stories of first century Christians there are truths that speak in a very particular way to us as twenty-first century Anglicans.

Our collective story tells us that it is most often in community – in communion with God and with each other – that we are given the grace to recognize the resurrection that so very often doesn’t look at all like we expected it to. And yet, there is deep irony that on this 3rd Sunday of Easter 2008 — as we are blessed to hear again about the transformative experience of those Road-to-Emmaus disciples who finally "got it" NOT in the Bible Study or in the theology class but in the breaking of the bread —there are members of our wider Anglican Communion family continue to insist we must limit those who are welcome at the table!

A sad case in point is this recent quote from a letter from Bishop David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council. He wrote the following in his EASTER LETTER to the membership of his organization regarding the upcoming Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops to be held this summer in Canterbury: If those of us who are orthodox Anglican bishops had ... gone with our brother bishops from our respective overseas Provinces, how would we have entered into Eucharistic fellowship and communion with the bishops from the American Episcopal Church who are currently teaching false doctrine? To be in Eucharistic fellowship with them would require a profound change of mind and heart on their part, a return to historic orthodox Christian teaching and practice.

Really. That's what it takes to be in Eucharistic fellowship with a brother or sister Christian.

And where does he get that from, I wonder? Certainly not from the example of the Jesus who walked with those clueless disciples for seven miles on that road to Emmaus. Or am I missing something … did I miss a part where Jesus says, "In order for me to come the table with ya'll you'll have to convince me that your theology conforms with my doctrinal standards of orthodoxy."

I think not. But I know this part is in there: Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

I have just returned -- and I mean "just" as in the-suitcase-is-still-in-the-hallway-and-I'm-not-sure-what-time-zone-I'm-in from meetings in New Hampshire with the steering committee of Claiming the Blessing -- the collaborative organization of national church leaders committed to the dream of fully including all of God's children into all of the church's sacraments.

We've been at it for awhile now — this work of inclusion proclamation — and while it is hard work it is good and important work and along the way we’ve learned to take care of each other … to set audacious goals and to celebrate incremental victories … and to be open to resurrection experiences that most often do not look anything like what we expected them to as we continue to pray God to open the eyes of our faith.

Here's what I know about eyes of faith: Eyes of faith see beyond what is to what could be; beyond what is not yet to what should be.

What did he see with his eyes of faith — the Baptist preacher whose dream of ending racism and segregation through non-violent civil disobedience inspired a nation and lived beyond his own violent death at the age of just 39? Marking the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by celebrating his work and witness has given us, as a nation, the opportunity to mark how far we have come and how VERY far we have to go before the dream he dreamed for ALL Americans is not just a dream but a reality — to challenge us to refuse to settle for what is but to continue to work toward what could be: a nation where liberty and justice for all truly means all. May God open the eyes of our faith to see beyond what is … but make our nation all that it should be.

What did they see with their eyes of faith — those eleven who gathered in the house at the corner of Lake and Walnut around the bread and wine made holy 125 years ago and called themselves “All Saints Church?” Could they have even come close to imagining this church, this congregation; the work and the witness of this congregation with its decades of influential leadership in the city of Pasadena, the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Episcopal Church and -- increasingly -- the Anglican Communion? Did they insist on doctrinal agreement on every jot and tiddle before they gathered that first time -- or the second -- or the third? Or were they given the grace to focus their eyes beyond what was to what could be … beyond what was not yet to what should be?

What did she see with her eyes of faith — the young Queen Elizabeth who came to the throne of England as the pendulum was swinging between the violent persecution of first catholics and then protestants in the name of religious conformity -- bringing death, destruction and division to her people? (You ARE watching “The Tudors” … right???)

Did she — with her eyes of faith — see religious toleration that was impossible to imagine, much less envision, in the tumultuous crucible of the 16th century reformation in England? What did she see with her eyes of faith when she famously declared that she had "no desire to make windows into men's souls” and exclaimed "There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith: all else is a dispute over trifles" -- crafting an "Elizabethan Settlement" that allowed the Church of England to claim a heritage both catholic and protestant -- holding in tension from its very inception those seemingly polar opposites as part of its identity as a particular people of God.

My Church History text tells me, "The significance of the Elizabethan religious settlement is that it was able to hold the vast majority of the people together, despite being a compromise few would have chosen."

The compromises we face in the 21st Century call us to dig more deeply into our 16th Century roots ... to claim with enthusiasm the heritage that gives us the ability to live with disagreement ... to honor the tension of diversity and focus on the things that bind us together rather than allow ourselves to be distracted by the things that threaten to divide us.

That, my brothers and sisters, is the ancient DNA coursing through the veins of this Episcopal Church as we strive to a Body that fully including all into its life and its work, its worship and its witness. That is both the genesis and genius behind "whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith there is a place for you here." That is who we are as a particular -- and some might say "peculiar" — people of God.

For at the end of the day, the problem in the Anglican Communion is not the wideness of the differences that divide us but with the narrowness of a vision that excludes the unexpected -- demands conformity of experience as a criterion for communion. Had the apostles succumbed to that temptation, Mary Magdalene’s resurrection witness would have been not only initially dismissed but ultimately lost to the ages. Had the disciples on the Road to Emmaus done that they would have let the stranger keep on walking and missed seeing Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

Allowing the church to eliminate the possibility of seeing Jesus in “the other” is nothing less than abandoning the tradition we inherit as Easter people – abandoning the very hope of the resurrection we celebrate in our Easter alleluias. And so, on this 3rd Sunday of Easter let us celebrate the work and witness of all those who have journeyed ahead of us — for Elizabeth and for Martin; for the two disciples on the Emmaus Road and for the eleven disciples in the Pasadena living room.

Let us give thanks for their eyes of faith that saw beyond what was to what could be — and let us pray God to give us grace to open our own eyes. For the gospel we serve deserves nothing less than our eyes of faith wide open — committed to seeing beyond what is to what can be; to looking beyond what is not and working for what should be. Alleluia. Alleluia. Amen.