Friday, July 31, 2009

On the road

We're off on a road trip to Colorado to visit family ... Denver via Aspen and then home through Vegas. ("The Lion King" ... Whoopee!)

Blogging will therefore be sporadic ... but do keep an eye on the dioceses of Minnesota and Los Angeles ... both due to announce their slate of candidates for episcopal elections in the next few days. And keep ALL who discern God's call for ministry in your prayers ... that the gospel might be served and that all who seek a place at the table will find God's abundant love and welcome made known by this church that is the Body of Christ on earth!

And now, hi-ho, hi-ho ... it's off on vacation we go!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

TEC: The Flagship of Anglicanism

By Dr. Marion Hatchett in the GTS Alumni Magazine, Summer 2009 (via email)

The American Church jumped way out ahead of the Church of England and other sister churches in a number of respects. One was in giving voice to priests and deacons and to laity (as well as bishops and secular government officials) in the governance of the national church and of dioceses and of parishes. The early American Church revised the Prayer Book in a way that went far beyond revisions necessitated by the new independence of the states.

At its beginning the American Church legalized the use of hymnody along with metrical psalmody more than a generation before use of "hymns of human composure" became legal in the Church of England. At an early stage the American Church gave recognition to critical biblical scholarship.

The American Church eventually gave a place to women in various aspects of the life of the church including its ordained ministry. The American Church began to speak out against discrimination against those of same-sex orientation, and the American Church began to make moves in establishing full communion with other branches of Christendom.

Historically the American Church has been the flag-ship in the Anglican armada. It has been first among the provinces of the Anglican Communion to take forward steps on issue after issue, and on some of those issues other provinces of Anglicanism have eventually fallen in line behind the American Church. My prayer is that the American Church will be able to retain its self-esteem and to stand firm and resist some current movements which seem to me to be contrary to the principles of historic Anglicanism and to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

Harvey Milk, Bilie Jean King, Ted Kennedy & Desmond Tutu among Medal of Freedom "agents of change"

(AP -- source link)President Obama announced today the "agents of change" he plans on honoring with the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom on Aug. 12.

The 16 individuals that will be given America's highest civilian honor were chosen because they have "changed the world for the better" and set "a standard to which we all should strive," he said.

"These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds," Mr. Obama said, in a statement released by the White House. "Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."

Here is the full list of recipients: Nancy Goodman Brinker, Founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Pedro José Greer, Jr. Founder of the Camillus Health Concern, St. John Bosco Clinic
Stephen Hawking, Noted theoretical physicist
Jack Kemp, Professional Football Player, Republican Vice President Nominee in 1996
Senator Edward Kennedy, Leading congressional health care reform advocate
Billie Jean King, Acclaimed professional tennis player
Reverend Joseph Lowery, Civil rights movement leader
Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, Last living Plains Indian war chief
Harvey Milk, First openly gay elected official, LGBT rights activist
Sandra Day O'Connor, First female U.S. Supreme Court justice
Sidney Poitier, First African-American to win a Best Actor Academy Award
Chita Rivera, First Hispanic recipient of Kennedy Center Honor
Mary Robinson, First female President of Ireland
Janet Davidson Rowley, Distinguished American human geneticist
Desmond Tutu, Leading anti-apartheid activist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Muhammad Yunus, Anti-poverty leader, Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Playing Tourist in My Hometown

So yes -- I'm on vacation ... which means we get to do what we feel like WHEN we feel like it ... (what a treat after being "agenda driven" for the last many months!)

Yesterday what that looked like was a lunch meeting downtown with some amazing justice leaders AND a stroll down Olvera Street ... the oldest historic district in my hometown: Los Angeles.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day in the neighborhood. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29, 1974

Remember the last great schism that was going to split the Anglican Communion and Destroy Western Civilization As We Know It?

From the archive pages:

On July 29, 1974 eleven women broke the barrier so long in place against the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Anglican Church when they were "irregularly" ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia. These women are often referred to as the “Philadelphia 11”

Although there was no specific canon that specifically prohibited ordaining women to the priesthood, the canons required a recommendation from the standing committee. Many were upset because these women did have such a recommendation. While others were ready for change and ventured into new territory for the Episcopal Church.

On August 15, 1974, the House of Bishops, called to an emergency meeting, denounced the ordinations and declared them invalid. Charges were filed against the bishops who ordained the women and attempts were made to prevent the women from serving their priestly ministries.

In September 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.

Philadelphia 11:
Merrill Bittner
Alison Cheek
Alla Bozarth (Campell)
Emily C Hewitt
Carter Heyward
Suzanne R. Hiatt (deceased 2002)
Marie Moorefield
Jeanette Piccard (deceased 1981)
Betty Bone Schiess
Katrina Welles Swanson (deceased 2006)
Nancy Hatch Witting

Ordaining Bishops:
Daniel Corrigan
Robert L DeWitt
Edward R Welles
Assisting: Antonio Ramos
That was then: this is now.
From the Archbishop of Canterbury's response earlier this week to the actions of GC2009:
12. When a local church seeks to respond to a new question, to the challenge of possible change in its practice or discipline in the light of new facts, new pressures, or new contexts, as local churches have repeatedly sought to do, it needs some way of including in its discernment the judgement of the wider Church. Without this, it risks becoming unrecognisable to other local churches, pressing ahead with changes that render it strange to Christian sisters and brothers across the globe.
17. Clearly there are significant arguments to be had about such matters on the shared and agreed basis of Scripture, Tradition and reason. But it should be clear that an acceptance of these sorts of innovation in sacramental practice would represent a manifest change in both the teaching and the discipline of the Anglican tradition, such that it would be a fair question as to whether the new practice was in any way continuous with the old. Hence the question of 'recognisability' once again arises.
And then let's try reading this part with a little "contextual editing:"
In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain (choice of lifestyle) GENDER has certain consequences. So long as the Church Catholic, or even
the Communion as a whole does not (bless same-sex unions,) ORDAIN WOMEN, a (person living in such a union) WOMAN cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their GENDER (lifestyle.)
So as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the gift of the Philadelphia Eleven -- and give thanks for the courageous bishops who stepped forward in faith (in spite of "significant arguments" and "the question of 'recognisability") -- let's all "recognise" that we have been here before leading the way on women's ordination ... we are ready to do it again on the LGBT baptized ...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Looking for Jesus outside the darkness of the church ...

... and not finding him. At least not in what we're getting from Canterbury.

I thought I was done for the night, and then I saw this comment on yesterday's post about the Archbishop of Canterbury's response to our work in Anaheim and I decided I was NOT "done for the night." How could I be?


I have no place in my life anymore for your church, your not-so-good news, nor your judgement about my "choices". I choose to live as a sexually fulfilled, whole human being who feels no guilt about who I am, what I do, or whom I do it with. I do get very upset when people like you try to limit my choices because of your personal beliefs.

The church, Anglican or otherwise, can have its heterosexuals only club. And I bless and admire Susan and Elizabeth and all like them for their witness and choice to serve god as they do despite the daily hostility and hatred they face.

I don't have it in my any more; my life is much better without god and without church and without the hatred and discrimination. I get enough of that at work and when I go shopping.

I once believed in a Jesus who preached love of god and love of neighbor and for better of 40 years I tried to follow him. But his church and many, many of its members and its history blocks my view. If the choice is forced celibacy and misery or a churchless fulfilled life then it really isn't a choice at all, is it? I choose wholeness and happiness.

Perhaps someday I will encounter him again outside the darkness of the church -- I would like that very much. But right now I'm far better off without the whole soul-destroying drama of it all.



What hope can we offer the Priscillas of the world? When will we move beyond "the whole soul-destroying drama of it all" and get on with the "proclaiming the life-giving gospel of it all"?

Pray God that we turned that corner in Anaheim and that we keep on moving forward. If we take our baptismal promise to "proclaim by word and example the Good News of Christ" then we cannot settle for anything less. And if we spend one more ounce of energy wringing our hands about what "track" or "tier" of the Anglican Communion we end up on then shame on us.

Because I'm trying to imagine Jesus looking me in the eye and saying the words: "Inasmuch as you helped the Archbishop of Canterbury keep the Anglican Communion muddling along you did it unto me." But I can't hear him over Priscilla's words, "Perhaps someday I will encounter Jesus again outside the darkness of the church -- I would like that very much."
So would He, Priscilla. So would He.

And now for something completely different

Over Memorial Day Weekend I had the privilege of presiding at the blessing of the union of two FABULOUS men: Bill Horn & Scout Masterson.
It was a great celebration of their already-blessed-by-God relationship ... together seven years and looking forward to a lifetime of happily-ever-after-together ... we were surrounded by friends and family from all over the country ... (here's Bill & Scout with their proud mamas) ...

... and -- oh yeah ... the camera crew who were there shooting the wedding for the television reality show "Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood."
No kidding. Bill & Scout are BFF's of Tori Spelling and her husband Dean McDermott. In fact, they call them the "Guncles" (gay uncles ... get it?) to their two kids, Liam & Stella -- and they had their crew shoot the wedding for an episode of their show that aired last week. (And Liam was the two year old "is he going to bring the rings up at the right time or not" ring bearer.)

Now, I'm not much of a reality show fan and I honestly didn't know a whole lot about Tori Spelling other than what I've read in the occasional People Magazine on an airplane and that she's been a great supporter of LGBT causes here in L.A.
But what jumped out at me -- watching the wedding episode that aired last week -- was how much of the "story line" of her show is about a yearning to create a family with values that transcend the glitz and glamour of Hollywood ... and a grief about broken relationships within the wider Spelling family (especially Tori with her mom.)

And here's the "Hmmm ...." part: The place those values got represented? Those core traditional family values of love, commitment, support and showing up for each other? In the gay wedding. In the families gathered. In the vows exchanged. In the "not a dry eye in the house" as Bill & Scout pledged to love, honor and cherish until death do them part. And in the values of love, friendship and support Tori & Dean both offer these dear friends of theirs and model for those little bitty kids of theirs.

It was a great day. It was a great privilege to be PART of the great day. And -- I hope -- that all those out there in Reality TV Land who got to see an actual "live in captivity gay wedding" also took away with them the sense of joy and commitment and celebration we shared with Bill & Scout on their happily ever after weekend.

So here's to family values -- to love & commitment in general and to weddings in particular ... to all who take that brave leap of faith and stand up in front of God, the preacher and all their friends and relatives and make those vows to love, honor and cherish.

Here's to Bill & Scout ... Mazel tov!

Recommended Blog Reading

One of the great things about being "on vacation" is you get to do what you want to do rather than what your "to do" list tells you to do. And one of the things I did this morning ... over a leisurely second cup of coffee ... was check out some of the blogs I don't always get time to read.

I found a couple of "keepers" and want them to commend them to you here:

Picked and chosen by Lauren Stanley over at Daily Episcopalian -- a lovely reflection on picking tomatoes in her family garden:

As I searched, I was surprised to find brilliant red ones buried deep in the middle of the cages; how, I wondered, could they have ripened so beautifully, with so many leaves and other tomatoes blocking out the sun?

As I picked these deeply buried tomatoes, I realized that they blossomed, they ripened, because that’s what they are supposed to do. Defying horticultural logic, they took what little light they received, and turned it into something beautiful, a fulfillment of God’s design and wishes for them in creation. It didn’t matter whether anyone found them or not, ate them or not, admired them or not; their reason for being was simply to blossom, to ripen, to the best of their abilities, according to their genetic makeup.

And then it hit me: What happened with these tomatoes in my family’s backyard is the same thing that is happening in the Episcopal Church right now. Those who have been buried deep, lacking sunshine and warmth and all the blessings of the Church community have, despite all those handicaps, flourished. For the first time, the Church has reached down deep and unearthed those people and welcomed them and celebrated them and said to them, “You are so beautiful.”


My chosen lifestyle by Elizabeth Kaeton over at Telling Secrets

Chosen lifestyle? Why would anyone CHOOSE to be hassled at critical moments in their life? Why would anyone CHOOSE to have your basic civil rights denied? Why would anyone CHOOSE to be discriminated against in the church - by otherwise intelligent, highly educated, seemingly spiritual people?

How do you CHOOSE the person with whom you fall in love? With whom you wish to start a family? With whom you want to spend the rest of your life?

And, why should that choice condemn you to a life of discrimination?

I don't know how many married people have to remember to pack their marriage certificates when their loved ones go to the hospital, but I would bet solid money that Rowan Williams doesn't give it a thought when his wife, Jane, is ill.


And now, back to my regularly scheduled vacation.

From the mouths of blog commenters

Question for the Archbishop of Canterbury:

"So in the new "two tiered communion" which water fountains are we to drink from?"

Monday, July 27, 2009

And another thing ...

One more thought-over-lunchtime about +Rowan's Statement Du Jour:

Q. What's up with ++Rowan's quote "their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions." (See Section #8)

A. We don't "choose" sexuality but we do "choose" hypocrisy. And at the end of the day, I'm happier facing my Maker claiming the former rather than being accused of the latter.

+Rowan Speaks

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement this morning entitled "Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future" and subtitled: Reflections on the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.

You can read it all here ... but here are a few key "bits" and some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts:

The statement begins:

No-one could be in any doubt about the eagerness of the Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention to affirm their concern about the wider Anglican Communion. Their generous welcome to guests from elsewhere, including myself, the manifest engagement with the crushing problems of the developing world and even the wording of one of the more controversial resolutions all make plain the fact that the Episcopal Church does not wish to cut its moorings from other parts of the Anglican family.


However, a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed. The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour, although a significant minority of bishops has just as clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.


He then goes on to make all the arguments we already know ... and while his comments will doubtless be "spun" every-way-to-Thursday, I think (for once) the orthodite bloggers have it right when they opine:

For me, this is the money quote: “Two styles of being Anglican, whose mutual relation will certainly need working out but which would not exclude co-operation in mission and service of the kind now shared in the Communion” means that he believes in a basic equality of TEC with all it’s innovations and heresy. He did not say that TEC is wrong, only different. This is very disappointing.

Or not. +Rowan Williams is doing what he believes he's supposed to be doing: acting as an "Instrument of Unity" for the whole communion, trying to keep as many as possible at the table doing the work of the gospel.

I do not envy him that task.

But those who have been waiting for the casting-out-of-TEC-into-outer-darkness are not getting what they want. And as we continue to move forward in mission and ministry with those who embrace historic Anglican comprehensiveness I believe those "outer darkness" threats are going to ring more and more hollow until they fade away altogether.

I was asked by an RNS reporter this morning about the "two tier" Communion system that +Rowan seems to be advocating. No surprise. Remember the context: Church of England AKA Classism Incarnate. "Separate as Inherently Unequal" doesn't fly there. (See also the "untainted" communion wafer story in last week's Times of London.)

My one big disappointment -- and a point I think we need to keep arguing -- is +Rowan's categorizing TEC's commitment to full inclusion of the LGBT baptized as a "rights" issue rather than a "theological" issue. I'm frankly tired of being told we "haven't done the theology" when the truth is those telling us that don't agree with the theology we've "done."

But we can keep doing that. We can keep reaching out. We can keep working together with our communion partners on mission and ministry all over this Worldwide Anglican Family of ours with those who will work with us.

And we can stay in conversation with those who won't.

And meanwhile, we can live into the liberated-for-mission message our General Convention sent home from Anaheim and bless those who come to us asking for the church's blessing on their already-blessed-by-God relationships and raising up into ALL orders of ministry those who God calls into vocations of deacon, priest and bishop.
Because, as the closing word's of +Rowan Williams' statement assure us:
If the present structures that have safeguarded our unity turn out to need serious rethinking in the near future, this is not the end of the Anglican way and it may bring its own opportunities. Of course it is problematic; and no-one would say that new kinds of structural differentiation are desirable in their own right.

But the different needs and priorities identified by different parts of our family, and in the long run the different emphases in what we want to say theologically about the Church itself, are bound to have consequences. We must hope that, in spite of the difficulties, this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.

As American Anglicans, we've "rethought structures" before (see also: "1789") and lived to tell about it! And -- at the end of the day -- that may in fact be the good news we have to offer our Big Fat Anglican Family as we move forward together into God's future.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Mary Magdalene's Manner of Life"

Here's the link to a video of this morning's sermon. Text below.


Mary Magdalene’s Manner of Life
July 26, 2009 ■ Feast of Mary Magdalene ■ II Corinthians 5:14–18; John 20:11–18

Today we celebrate The Feast of Mary of Magdalene – which is officially July 22nd but since here at All Saints Church (for more years than anyone but Anne Peterson can remember) we transfer her feast to the closest Sunday, for us today IS Mary of Magdalene Day! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Now, I may not remember when All Saints started doing it, but I do remember when it was considered kind of an edgy-if-not-radical thing: moving "her" feast day out of the shadows of weekday observance into the center ring on a Sunday. That was in the pre-Da Vinci Code Days when the work being done to reclaim Mary Magdalene's identity by feminist scholars was finally leaking into the pew and pulpit. It seems a very long time ago.

We’ve been at this for decades now – do we really still have to point out that biblical scholars agree that for centuries, Mary Magdalene was misidentified as a prostitute, although nowhere does the New Testament identify her as one?

Do we really need to revisit how that came about: how Pope Gregory the Great made a speech in 591 A.D. where he lumped together the actions of three women mentioned in the New Testament and incorrectly identified an unnamed woman prostitute as Mary Magdalene? Do we need to remind ourselves and each other – and anyone else who’s listening – that this erroneous view was not corrected until 1969 when the Vatican issued a “quiet retraction”? And do really we need to footnote all those sources that name Mary Magdalene’s “manner of life” as a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership?

I mean really: in a church with a woman Presiding Bishop that just finished a General Convention with a woman President of the House of Deputies and in a parish with a long history -- not to mention current staff & vestry -- of women in leadership ... haven’t we “been there, done that” on the sad history of systemic sexism in the church in general and the distortion of Mary Magdalene’s manner of life in particular? Haven’t we reached that point where all that sexism stuff is old news … is, well … passé?

If you’re asking those questions this morning, then you obviously didn’t read the Times of London this week and this report from religion reporter Ruth Gledhill:

Worshippers at a Church of England cathedral are being offered a two-track Communion service with a separate supply of “untainted” Communion bread for those who object to its being consecrated by a woman priest.

A special container, for the hosts which have been previously consecrated by a male priest, is brought out during Sunday morning services at Blackburn Cathedral if a woman priest is presiding.

The special arrangements ... were introduced because of the recent installation of a woman priest as one of three [cathedral staff clergy]. … It means that when she is celebrating the Eucharist those who dispute the validity of her orders can make sure they receive “untainted” sacrament consecrated earlier by a man…

“Untainted sacrament.” While the rest of us are worrying about Swine Flu, these guys are worried about Girl Cooties. And these are some of the same folks who are blaming the decline of the Church of England into irrelevancy on the Bishop of New Hampshire? Some of the very same folks who managed to blackmail the Episcopal Church into bigotry three years ago at the General Convention in Columbus when it adopted the now infamous Resolution B033 that called upon “Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

Thankfully, what I have to say about that this morning is: “That was then and this is now and WHAT a difference three years makes!”

And that – my brothers and sisters – brings me to the “General Convention 2009 report back” part of this sermon: the part I have subtitled: “Lamaze Training Finally Pays Off.” Those would be the Lamaze classes I took twenty-some years ago intended to equip me to get through childbirth by finding a focal point and breathing through the pains.

I have to confess, they really didn’t help all that much with childbirth – but they sure came in handy these last two weeks as we labored to give birth to legislation that would bring new life and energy for mission to this Episcopal Church we love and serve.

A “theme song” for that labor of love could be this one familiar to us here at All Saints Church:

Summoned by the God who made us
Rich in our diversity,
Gathered in the name of Jesus,
Richer still in unity:

Let us bring the gifts that differ
And, in splendid, varied ways,
Sing a new church into being,
One of faith and love and praise

“Singing a new church into being” is arguably what we did in Anaheim – where we gathered for our triennial fix of liturgy, legislation and shopping AKA “The General Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

This year, we gathered in the shadow of dire predictions about bishops who had “drunk the Lambeth Kool Aid” and weren’t going to let any movement forward happen and under the watchful eye of the Archbishop of Canterbury – who joined us for 48 hours and began his July 9th sermon at the convention Eucharist expressing his “hope there won't be decisions that will push us further apart." (Which was, of course, code for “no decisions at all”/“let’s just not talk about it.”)

In spite of all that, the Holy Spirit showed up (as she is wont to do) and the General Convention that wasn’t going to do anything passed a whopping 361 resolutions. Unlike our last two General Conventions, where the resolutions regarding human sexuality so consumed our legislative process that there was precious little left for anything else, this 76th General Convention worked long, hard and diligently to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” – acting on everything from lay equity in pension plans to ending torture; on labor issues and human rights violations; on universal health care and climate change; on human trafficking, immigration reform and ending the blockade in Cuba.

And, oh yes, thirty three years after promising “full and equal claim” to the gay and lesbian baptized, in resolutions passed in Anaheim, The Episcopal Church affirmed equal access to ordination processes for all orders of ministry for all the baptized, approved a broad local option for the blessings of our relationships and called the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings. During the adult education hour this morning, Canon Jim White – chair of the Los Angeles Diocesan deputation – will give a summary of these and other legislative actions but for the purposes of this sermon, let’s just pause for a moment and let the church say “Oh Happy Day” – Amen and Amen!

Because at least as noteworthy as the content of these resolutions for those of us committed to an agenda of peace, justice, inclusion & compassion is the context in which they were adopted.

These resolutions passed not by narrow margins after rancorous debate. They passed by overwhelming consensus after respectful dialogue that left no doubt that those who gathered in Anaheim are committed to an inclusive Anglicanism that keeps at the table all who desire so to do.

And having been an eye-witness to most of those debates, I urge you not to give credit the news reports or the blogs that suggest there is no room left in the Episcopal Church for differences. In point of fact, there were many who gathered with us in Anaheim who spoke in opposition to the majority opinions and who go back to ministry contexts where our decisions as a whole church are not causes for celebration. We need to keep them in our prayers as they labor to make the Good News of God in Christ made known and to give thanks for their commitment to the unity of this church in spite of our diversity of opinion.

In my mind, THE most significant change for our work at this General Convention was not the absence of difference – for we had that – but the absence of those who have for so long insisted that our differences HAVE to result in divisions. Those who chose to make their criteria for being part of the Episcopal Church being agreed with have taken their marbles and gone elsewhere. I believe it grieves the heart of God that brother and sister Anglicans cannot find enough common ground in their differences to remain in communion with each other in spite of them.

Yet, without those insisting that our differences must divide us there to drive the discourse, we were able find enough common ground to tell the truth about who we are as the Episcopal Church in 2009 -- and to commit ourselves to our common mission of proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to a world in desperate need of it!

And that brings me to the “what next” or “therefore” of this morning’s sermon. And for that I want to turn to the words of Episcopal layman and broadcast journalist Ray Suarez from his sermon to us in Anaheim:

So many people need what we’ve got. They are spiritual wayfarers who are already looking for us; who would love to join a church that’s ready to love them back. [The Episcopal Church has] a calling for the 21st century – and it’s the same calling it was for the 1st century … We’ve got the knack of standing on two platforms at one time: of clinging to what’s eternal and of understanding what’s changing while we open the arms of the church to say, “Welcome! You’re home!”

“Welcome. You’re home!”

"Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here."

Those are words we’re used to speaking to those who come seeking God’s love, abundance, care and compassion here at All Saints Church. And as we move forward into God’s future I pray that we will be given the grace to redouble our efforts as a congregation to welcome, incorporate and then deploy in the service of the Good News those coming toward us in the days and weeks and months to come.

And I wonder this morning if the words Jesus is speaking to this church of ours in the 21st century are not like unto the words he spoke to Mary Magdalene in the 1st: Do not cling to what you think you know … but trust the Holy Spirit to continue to transform this church – to birth this church – to guide this church into all truth.

One of the truths we face in our 21st century world is that the same root issues that made racism "news" this week in Cambridge connect the sexism we read about in The Times of London with ALL the "isms" that keep this human race from being the human family God created us to be. There is MUCH work to be done to overcome those evils – those things that keep us from being all that God would have us be – and yet, we trust that the One who has called us to do this work will give us the grace, the power -- and the Lamaze breathing technique to accomplish it.

For the new church we are committed to singing into being is not one clinging to fears about a “manner of life that causes strain on communion” but one liberated to welcome all into God’s loving embrace – and the focal point we look to when we need to breathe through the pains of breathing new life into old church is Jesus:

• the One who is our chief cornerstone
• the One who promised us that the truth will set us free and then called us to speak both truth in love AND truth to power.
• the One who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with God and with each other

Draw together at one table
All the human family;
Shape a circle ever wider
And a people ever free.
Let us bring the gifts that differ
And, in splendid, varied ways,
Sing a new church into being,
One of faith and love and praise

Thanks be to God. Alleulia. Amen.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video of +Barbara Harris Sermon @ Integrity Eucharist

Ann Fontaine managed to get a video clip of +Barbara's sermon on her blog. Check it out here.

On Sexism & Sermon Cooking

The Feast of Mary of Magdalene was Wednesday -- July 22 -- but at All Saints Church since we traditionally transfer her feast for observation on Sunday, tomorrow I'll be preaching on the lessons appointed for her day.

I remember when that was considered kind of an edgy-if-not-radical thing: moving "her" feast day out of the shadows into the center ring on Sunday (so to speak.) That was in the pre-Da Vinci Code Days when the work being done to reclaim Mary Magdalene's identity by feminist scholars was finally leaking into the pew and pulpit. It seems a very long time ago.

I'm calling the sermon "Mary Magdalene's Manner of Life" ... and while it's still cooking in the sermon oven ("place rack in center of oven and bake at 325 until done") I've been working at it awhile -- and wondering how to work in the important feminist voice in a way that's appropriately contextual.

I mean really: in a church with a woman Presiding Bishop which just finished a General Convention with a woman President of the House of Deputies and in a parish with a long history -- not to mention current staff & vestry -- of women in leadership ... what was there to say that was "2009"????

And then I checked my email. And there I found this link to a piece by Ruth Gledhill of The (London) Times that included this bit:

Worshippers at a Church of England cathedral are being offered a two-track Communion service with a separate supply of “untainted” Communion bread for those who object to its being consecrated by a woman priest.

A special container, for the hosts — unleavened bread representing the body of Christ — which have been previously consecrated by a male priest, is brought out during Sunday morning services at Blackburn Cathedral if a woman priest is presiding.

The special arrangements, which have been condemned by supporters of women priests, were introduced because of the recent installation of Dr Sue Penfold as one of three residentiary canons. Even though she is legitimately ordained and employed, it means that when she is celebrating the eucharist those who dispute the validity of her orders can make sure they receive “untainted” sacrament consecrated earlier by a man…

Yep. And these are some of the same guys who are blaming the fall of the Church of England into irrelevancy on the Bishop of New Hampshire? Honest to Pete, you can't make this stuff up.

So I'm back to sermon cooking and grateful for the contextual "wake up call" that interlocking oppression is interlocking oppression ... the same root issues that made racism "news" this week connect sexism and heterosexism and ALL the "isms" that keep this human race from being the human family God created us to be.

Hmmm ... that just might preach! :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

GREAT GC2009 Wrap Up Video by Jim DeLa from SWFlorida!

You could just cue up this 6-ish minute video in the Parish Hall on Sunday, do a Q&A after and call it a day on the "What did they do at General Convention" Forum!

It was a year ago today ...

... as I was gearing up for another day at work in the Fields of the Lord @ the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury that we got the phone call from home that my 83 year old mother had passed in the night at her home in Alexandria, Minnesota.
Here's the piece I wrote from Lambeth that day ... a year-that-feels-like-a-lifetime-and-yesterday ago ... which ended " ... and my feelings today are that the best tribute I can pay to her life and love and support is to continue with the work we are doing here at Lambeth Conference -- to continue to challenge our Anglican family live up to the Christian Family Values my mother didn't just talk about but lived."

And today I'm thinking about all the things that have happened in this year-past that I wanted to pick up the phone and say "Guess what NOW!" ... and hear her predictable Minnesotan reply, "Well, there ya go, then, yah!" (Right up there with "Ya, sure, you betcha!" in the Minnesota lexicon.)

Since she's been gone (just to name a few):
  • We added a new puppy to our family ... Juno the Wild. (Mother would have loved her!)
  • My niece Christine had a baby girl in May ... the first of a new generation.
  • We gained and then lost marriage equality here in California.
  • We survived another General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

It's not the same without her and yet today is a day to give thanks again for her life -- for the gifts she gave all of us who were part of her life -- and to remember that we claim a faith that assures us the love that bind us together in this earthly life is but changed -- not ended -- even as we continue to grieve the ones "we love but see no more."
We miss you, Mom! Hope you're cleaning up at the Heavenly Bingo Table and know that we give thanks for you and your love and life every day of ours!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HORACE BOYER: May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Received via email:

AMHERST - Horace Clarence Boyer of Amherst, passed away Tuesday morning, July 21, 2009 in Amherst.

He was born July 28, 1935 in Winter Park, Fla. to Mr. & Mrs. Climmie, Sr. & Ethel M. Boyer. He was the fourth of eight children born to this union. He was a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and held masters and doctorate degrees from the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.). His teaching career included tenures at Albany State College (Georgia), the University of Central Florida at Orlando and from 1973 to 1999, the University of Massachusetts as a member of the Faculty of Music and Dance.

As a very young boy, he formed a gospel-singing duet with his brother, James (a Professor of Education & American Ethnic Studies at Kansas State University).

As a gospel performer, he traveled into some 40 states. Additionally, he served as a lecturer and clinician on gospel music and the African American Sacred tradition.

During his career, he received many citations, awards and honors from schools, colleges, churches and professional groups including the Martin Luther King Heritage Award from the city of his birth in Florida, the Lifetime Achievement Award of The Society of American Music which he received during their Denver Conference in 2009 - as well as the Union of Black Episcopalians in 2008.

He leaves to mourn his passing his loving and caring wife of forty-four years, Gloria Boyer, and a host of relatives, friends and associates. A private graveside service is planned. A public memorial service, to be held at Grace Episcopal Church, will be held at a later date.

And here's the link to a PBS piece from a few years back. I had the privilege of working with Horace in the LPM (Leadership Program for Musicians) project and also when he came here to L.A. to lead a clergy conference a few years ago. A brilliant musician, faithful proclaimer of the gospel and just a great guy.

+Barbara's Integrity Eucharist Sermon

"Hot off the presses" -- here's a link to a transcription of Bishop Barbara Harris' fabulous sermon at the July 10th Integrity Eucharist.

A DVD of the whole service is "in the works" ... stay tuned on that ... but in the meantime thanks to Joseph Lane for making this transcription happen!

Icons of Resolve

GC2009-Resolution C056 said in part:

Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church;

These are they. Members of this church. This slide show is just the tip of the iceberg ... but worth another look today, I thought, as icons of what this church can and will be as it lives into this resolution passed at the 76th General Convention -- and as we prepare together to collect those liturgical resources the church has asked to compile for consideration at the 77th General Convention.

But for the moment ... let's just rejoice and be glad in the love and commitment to Christ and to one another in these icons of holy love.

If you build it, they will come

Letter to the Editor in the Salt Lake City Tribune worth marking as we call TEC to shift its focus from who might leave if we truly welcome all to who will COME in response to the Gospel of God's inclusive love.

No home on plaza
Public Forum Letter -- 07/20/2009

I was late for church on Sunday because I first I went to the Main Street Plaza to join a "kiss-in" in support of the gay couple who were told to leave the LDS property because of a kiss on the cheek ("Protesters smooch near LDS Temple," Tribune , July 13).

As I walked into St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where I'm a parishioner, they were singing "Amazing Grace": "'tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." It brought tears to my eyes. You see, I'm gay and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Later in the service, we sang "Praise the mount! Oh, fix me on it, mount of God's unchanging love ... and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home."

I could hardly get the words out. It was as if those hymns had been chosen specifically for me on that particular day. After essentially being told that I was not welcome on Temple Square, I thank God for the Episcopal Church and loving straight people, religious or not, who help marginalized gays find "home."
Jeff Laver
Salt Lake City

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The art of the possible

"Successful politics is often the art of the possible rather than the achievement of perfection."

That's the quote I took with me to Anaheim. (I'm not sure who to attribute and Google came up short, so if you've got a byline send it on over.) And that's the success we brought home to celebrate.

For there while there is no arguing that what we accomplished at the 76th General Convention was in any way "perfection" (there are miles to go before "full inclusion" is a reality) what we did manage was to open up the possible -- on both ordinations and blessings -- and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful.

What I'm sitting here thinking about this evening (in addition to Manny Ramirez's Grand-Slam-in-the-6th-Inning-of-the-Dodger game I'm watching!) is how grateful I am for all those who have -- down through the years -- practiced the "art of the possible" in the service of justice, compassion and God's inclusive love -- not exclusively in the Episcopal Church, but particularly.
I think about how far this church has come in my lifetime -- yep, that's 55 years now -- as it continues to strive to live up to the baptismal covenant we share. And I'm thinking we've gotten as far as we have gotten by achieving one possible thing at a time on the road to the perfect -- AKA "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

Not likely to come in our lifetime, but we labor on anyway. And I, for one, am more deeply grateful than I have words to express for all of the leadership and commitment to this Episcopal Church by those who have labored together as -- what St. Verna of Dozier named us -- a "peculiar people."

I think about Louie Crew -- who started Integrity as a newsletter response to his incredulous realization that there was NOT an organized witness for gay and lesbian Episcopalians. (That was then ... this is now: and where would we be without Quean Lutibelle?)

I think about all those early Integrity pioneers who had to rely on straight allies to speak on the floor of the House of Deputies for us. I think about those who returned again and again, convention after convention, open hearing after open hearing -- to "stand in the temple and tell" the truth of the love, commitment and values of their lives, their vocations and their relationships in the face of those who used biblical texts as weapons as they named them abominations ... and worse. Year after year. Hearing after hearing. Resolution after resolution.

I think about those straight allies who bore our burdens and shared in the struggle -- often paying the price of sharing our marginalization. Tonight I'm thinking particularly of my own Rector Emeritus, George Regas, whose ground breaking sermon "God, Sex & Justice" in 1990 opened up the way for All Saints Church to begin the blessing of same-sex unions nearly two decades ago.

I think about Edmond Browning whose radical-at-the-time proclamation that "in this church there will be no outcasts" inspired a generation and what a blessing it was to us that he was there with us in Anaheim last week to share another step forward toward that goal together.

I think about Michael Hopkins -- who was Integrity's president when I first became involved with its work and witness -- and whose mentorship and friendship has meant more to me than I can possibly express. Gifted preacher, able politician and careful pastor, Michael is one of the "rock stars" of the movement who exemplifies "the art of the possible" -- perhaps never more so than when working with Ed Bacon to bring all the LGBT advocacy organizations together to form the "Claiming the Blessing" collaborative in 2002. His wise counsel and savvy leadership was thankfully present again in Anaheim and what a gift he is to not only his own parish and to Integrity but to the whole church!

Just the tip of the iceberg of the great cloud of witnesses whose commitment to the art of the possible has made possible the progress we celebrate even as we commit to continue the struggle until there truly are NO outcasts.

So let's celebrate a little. Reflect a little. Sleep in a little and hydrate a little. And then let's get back to work.

Because what General Convention 2009 has made possible is the continued building up of this church as a beacon of inclusion, justice, compassion and love -- and the ones who have been given the task of proclaiming that good news ... of being evangelists ... is US!

Yes, we'll be back in Indianapolis practicing the political art of the possible as we strive toward the perfect. But in the meantime, the task in front of us is building up the body where we are now. Calling others to come and see what we have seen in the inclusive love of God made present in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church. And then empowering them to go and do likewise.

Ready ... Set ... GO!!

Press from Chicago

Gays make advances at Episcopal confab
by Chuck Colbert, Keen News Service

From coast to coast, their parishes carry a sign: "The Episcopal church welcomes you." And yet, some among the gay faithful have felt that greeting included an invisible asterisk: "Unless you are a gay or lesbian couple" who wants to be fully included in parish life of the church.

Not anymore, according to the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif. "We feel the asterisk has been erased," she said, referring to one resolution adopted last week in Anaheim, Calif. where the Episcopal Church met in the general convention.

Russell is president of the organization Integrity, the denomination's national gay and lesbian caucus, and an LGBT advocacy group.

There were, in fact, two resolutions approved by the Episcopalian gathering. The first allows for the consecration of openly lesbian and gay bishops. The second measure authorizes bishops to bless same-sex unions.

"What's significant about what happened at the Episcopal General Convention is that finally we are telling the truth about who we are," Rev. Russell said, speaking from her cell phone July 17. "I am so proud to be part of a church that at this point in its life has decided truth and inclusion and justice are prevailing enough values that we are wiling to tell the truth about that even when it's a challenge to our wider Anglican family."

read the rest here ...

The "Gospel" According to +Jim Stanton

Received via email, here is what the Bishop of Dallas has to say about the "intent" of Resolutions C056 & D025.

It is clear from the resolutions passed, as well as from the floor debate in both Houses, that it is the intention of the leadership of The Episcopal Church that the moratoria requested by the Communion are no longer binding.

Although a number of commentators, among them bishops, have maintained that the moratoria themselves were not specifically addressed, it is clear that both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops view their previous pledge as cancelled. It was the stated desire of both Bishops and Deputies that this General Convention speak clearly to the Communion concerning “the reality of where this church is.”

Resolution D025 reads (in part): “That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call [gay and lesbian persons in lifelong committed relationships], to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” and further declares that it is competent to deal with these calls in its own “discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

Resolution C056 reads (in part): “That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention”.

While it is true that neither of these resolutions deal explicitly with repudiations of either previous actions of the Convention or of specific requests made of our Church, it is also quite true that their intent is plain. The 2006 resolution had called for restraint on giving consent to the consecration of any bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.” That concern is now completely absent in D025, and the only criteria in making such decisions are entirely internal. As for C056, the operative word is “develop.” The plain sense here is to “create,” “produce,” or “promote.”

C056 also resolves that bishops “may provide generous pastoral response” to meet the needs of same-sex couples, and this, before providing any theological support for the rites themselves. This appears to give a “green light” to local, unilateral action, and is already being so interpreted by a number of bishops.

Taken together, this is de facto a repudiation of the repeated requests directed to us by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Communion, and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The PB on C056 & D025

Full text of "letter to the church" here ... but here's what it had to say about C056 & D025:

Some have insisted that these resolutions repudiate our relationships with other members of the Anglican Communion. My sense is that we have been very clear that we value our relationships within and around the Communion, and seek to deepen them. My sense as well is that we cannot do that without being honest about who and where we are.

We are obviously not of one mind, and likely will not be until Jesus returns in all his glory. We are called by God to continue to wrestle with the circumstances in which we live and move and have our being, and to do it as carefully and faithfully as we are able, in companionship with those who disagree vehemently and agree wholeheartedly.

It is only in that wrestling that we, like Jacob, will begin to discern the leading of the Spirit and the blessing of relationship with God.

Above all else, this Convention claimed God's mission as the heartbeat of The Episcopal Church. I encourage every member of this Church to enter into conversation in your own congregation or diocese about God's mission, and where you and your faith community are being invited to enter more deeply into caring for your neighbors, the "least of these" whom Jesus befriends.

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

The Huffington Post "Gets It"

The Episcopal Clergy Vote is an Important One for Gays
by Jennifer Vanasco

It doesn't matter if you attend religious services weekly or if you have fallen away, if you're atheist or agnostic, if you think religion is the opiate of the people or the road to peace - established religion in America is an important force.

So when the bishops of the Episcopal Church voted this week to affirm gay clergy, it was an important move.

Ever since 2003, when the openly gay Gene Robinson was consecrated as a bishop, the 77-million member Anglican communion -- the worldwide body of which the Episcopal Church is a part -- has been threatened with schism.

Three years ago, there was a moratorium on future elevation of gay bishops until the issue could be more carefully considered. The gay Episcopal group Integrity says that this week's vote effectively ends the ban, though others say that it just affirmed what was already the case, that gays and lesbians are a full part of the Episcopal Church.

Last month, conservative breakaway churches in the U.S. formed their own Anglican group aligned with more conservative South American and African diocese. Called the Anglican Church in North America, they have a paltry 100,000 members compared with 2 million Episcopalians -- yet if the international Anglican groups choose to align with them instead, that could change.

For now, however, their absence has led to a more liberal Episcopal Church. A committee this week voted that the Episcopal Church should also permit the blessing of same-sex couples, though the full body won't vote on it until later this week. When it came to testifying in favor of the measure, 50 people did so -- only six testified against it.

All of this might seem like inside baseball to you if you're not Episcopalian, even more so if you're not Christian or not religious at all.

But it is important to all of us who support gay and lesbian rights, for a couple reasons.

First, the Episcopal Church is seen as the canary in the coal mine by other mainline Protestant Churches. They are waiting to see if accepting gays and lesbians as full members of the church will lead to a breaking away from the international church, or whether different views will be able to co-exist happily.

If the Anglican fellowship survives with an inclusive Episcopal Church, it might lead other denominations -- Lutherans, Presbyterians -- to follow the example of the United Church of Christ and become fully inclusive of gays and lesbians as well.

And once all Mainline Protestant churches start approving of gay marriage, it will be very difficult for politicians and anti-marriage advocates to make a religious argument against gay marriage, since it will be even more clear that not all denominations agree on this issues.

Secondly, however, the entire issue points out something that those of us who are American gays and lesbians often forget: the rights (or lack thereof) of gays and lesbians internationally has an effect on us here at home.

There is the threat of a schism because gays and lesbians in many parts of South America and Africa (South Africa being the notable, progressive exception) lag behind their American counterparts when it comes to how they are viewed by their societies. If gays and lesbians were seen as nearly equal in those parts of the world, we would have more rights in the U.S. now.

That is, mainline churches would have accepted us already -- which would lead to more pressure on politicians -- which would lead to a quicker change in our laws.

Gay and lesbian rights at home are affected by gay and lesbian rights abroad.

A gay rights battle in one place -- whether that place is within the Episcopal Church or in a city in Africa -- affects gay rights in every other place.

We will not have full equality here until gays and lesbians have equality everywhere.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random GC2009 Bits & Pieces

Still digging through email and voice mail and getting ducks in a row to move beyond what happened in Anaheim and forward with all the OTHER work claiming my attention. But decided to take my late-lunch-break and put together some random bits and pieces from the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church just behind us. So here goes:

From the House of Bishops:

+Mary Gray Reeves (El Camino) reminding the House of Bishops during the D025 debate that there is no integrity in considering entering into a covenant with anybody if you're not willing to be honest about who you are.

+Gene Robinson (New Hampshire) noting the holiness of the Indaba conversations the bishops had over crafting a C056 substitute and saying "if this is what it was like at Lambeth, I'm even sadder that I missed it."

+Neil Alexander (Atlanta):
"The church is very much engaged in this conversation and wants to do the correct and thoughtful and prayerful thing about it. I think that's pretty clear."


Meanwhile, in the House of Deputies, a couple of "finest moments" included:

Rebecca Snow (Alaska) on D025: "It does not require anyone to do anything except to acknowledge the reality on the ground and to accept our polity, which we are so proud of, and the fact that we are governed by our Constitution and Canons and a discernment process that allows us to be open to God's calling of all baptized persons."

Sam Candler (Atlanta)on C056: "an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity."

Olivia Adams (Western Michigan) said she was an Episcopalian because the Episcopal Church had welcomed her mother, who is a lesbian, and her partner. "If we all support this resolution," she said, "families like mine will no longer have to hide, and the church will grow."


Conversations "out and about:"

The woman who stopped me in the worship hall to thank Integrity for our work and then to share that she had attended the Integrity Eucharist with her 14 year old son -- and that afterwards in their hotel room he had come out to her.

"I've known he was gay since he was about 4," she said, her eyes welling up. "And have been waiting for him to figure it out. The fact that he came to himself in the context of a celebration of the Eucharist -- that he's never going to have to wonder if his church or his family will love and accept him as he is -- I just can't thank you enough."

"He's a really great kid," she said, wiping her eyes. "And he's going to be FABULOUS gay man! "


Randy's Birthday Blessing

So it came to pass that it was our Integrity Chaplain Randy Kimmler's birthday while we were in Anaheim: Sunday, July 12, to be exact. And so, as we were leaving worship Sunday morning and I spied him in the crowd, of COURSE I said -- in my best "outside voice:" IT'S THE BIRTHDAY BOY! (And began to sing "Happy Birthday, to you ...")

Of course everybody joined in ... but not just THAT ... several bishops came over and said, "We don't just SING birthdays, we BLESS them!!" And here they are: doing precisely that!

(Quite the contrast to those who remember other bishops having OTHER reactions to LGBT leaders in their midst back at Lambeth 1998!)


Getting a GC "doggie fix"

For some of us, one of the great sacrifices we make to do the work of General Convention for two whole weeks is missing our canine companions. Here are Michael Hopkins and Diane Pollard getting a little "doggie fix" from the Cowperthwaites' pooch "Bishop." (And yes, Bishop is an "It's A Girl" bishop!)


An absolute highlight was the presence of former Presiding Bishop Ed "In this church there will be no outcasts!" Browning at the Integrity Eucharist:

And +Tom & Ann Ely joining "Team Integrity" for our appreciation dinner on the last night of GC2009.

Bishop Ely was the one bishop who came and found us -- "us" being what was left of Integrity Team 2006 -- after the devastating last day of General Convention in Columbus. His pastoral care and determination to stick with us through the struggle was a TRUE "Balm in Gilead" ... and what a joy to have him with us for a very DIFFERENT last day in Anaheim!

Finally, here are some random photos of bits and pieces of moments that stick in my mind and memory as we move "onward and upward" ... forward into God's future!

Go, HRC!!!!

"Hot off the Presses" Voices of Faith video from HRC! How proud am I to be part of so great a cloud of witnesses!

Monday, July 20, 2009

How can we thank y'all?

Let's start counting the ways!

As the dust continues to settle from General Convention 2009, it's time to start thanking all those who made our extraordinary work and witness possible. Or at least beginning to find words that are going to fall WAY short of adequately expressing gratitude appropriate for the sacrificial giving of time, talent and SLEEP toward the goal of (stop me if you've heard this one before!) "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments."
If I start trying to call out everybody by name we’ll be here until it’s time to pack for Indianapolis, but let me “call out by title” the following – at least for a start:

Our fabulous staff – Executive Director, Project Manager and Field Organizer – who worked so long and hard on details ahead of Anaheim that it seemed there would be nothing left to worry about when we got there … and then miraculously managed to come up around all the things that it turned out were there to worry about when we got there!

The “always there for us” Nerve Center team – ready with whatever we needed as soon as we needed it … whether it was copies of resolutions or links to news reports or updates on the whereabouts of MIA team members. We couldn’t possibly have done what we did “out front” without your diligence in “Integrity Central.”

Our amazingly diverse and welcoming Booth Team … ready to greet visitors with a smile and a brochure; to pin on a button and to offer a shoulder; with an ear to listen and a heart to empathize. Your “front line” connections have sown seeds that will bear much fruit in the weeks and months ahead. You were for MANY “the face of Integrity” and you did us all VERY proud!

Then there was our crack Legislative Team … managing the details of committee meetings, open hearings, legislative tracking and the concur/amend/adopt/refer processes like veteran political wonks. In collaboration with our amazingly affable floor manager and working in miraculous collegiality with justice allies throughout the church, your work will have impact on how TEC puts its faith into action for years to come.

And then there’s our cutting edge Communication Team. Under the direction of our Media Maven Communication Director, we were on message, on deadline and on more communication mediums than you can shake a stick at. Whether Tweeting, YouTubing, IntegriTVing, Facebooking, Blogging, Press Releasing or just plain schmoozing, Integrity’s message has never been more persuasive OR pervasive.

And then there were our Chaplains. Some were there for the duration and some were doing "per diem" duty -- but all were there with a powerful, prayerful supportive witness that helped us navigate the sometimes choppy waters of ANY General Convention.

Finally, a special "shout out" to ALL who helped make this year's Integrity Eucharist such a memorable celebration of the ministry of ALL the baptized! From the liturgy planning team to the musicians, acolytes, ushers, eucharistic ministers and video production team it was an extraordinary "all hands on deck" event that truly WAS "Ubuntu Exemplified." (As described in the General Convention Daily!)

And what a privilege to be under the same roof with +Gene Robinson, +Barbara Harris AND +Edmond Browning. Grace upon grace only begins to describe it! We may have miles to go before this church we love becomes ALL that it is called to be, but I believe we have turned an important corner at this GC2009 -- and so with grateful hearts let's give thanks to all who gave so sacrificially to move us forward toward the goal of (one more time!) " the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments!"

What a difference three years makes!

If you need a reminder of how far we've come, check this out: four minutes of Susan Russell ranting on the last day of General Convention 2006 (captured by our friends at Stand Firm and preserved for posterity on YouTube:)

This was JUST after the vote for B033 -- and (as you'll note) as disgusted as I was with that "revolting development," the greater issue was how utterly the church had failed to address anything of substance -- allowing itself to be so hamstrung by our differences over human sexuality that we never even GOT to over 200 resolutions on other gospel issues crying for our attention.

What a difference three years makes!

As noted in Saturday's legislative wrap up, "Unlike our last two General Conventions, where the resolutions regarding human sexuality so consumed our legislative process that there was precious little left for anything else, this 76th General Convention worked long, hard and diligently to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” – acting on everything from lay equity in pension plans to ending torture; on labor issues and human rights violations; on universal health care and climate change; on human trafficking and ending the blockade in Cuba."

A list of all the General Convention 2009 legislation should be available here before too long -- and if you want a full report, drop by All Saints Church next Sunday as the chair of our L.A. Deputation -- Canon James Blair White -- will be making his report to the parish during our 10:15 adult education hour.

Suffice to say we have turned a corner in the Episcopal Church, and on this "Monday After" there is MUCH to rejoice and be glad in!

GC2009 Yin & Yang

Going through GC photos today -- toward putting together my adult ed program for Sunday here at All Saints Church -- these two of newly elected to Executive Council/Deputy from Fort Worth Katie Sherrod leaped out at me as exemplars of the yin-and-yang of the exhaustion and exhiliaration that make up an Episcopal General Convention!

"No longer on the Fringe, +Gene"

Here's one of my favorite pictures from General Convention -- +Gene at the Integrity Eucharist with the All Saints Church processional cross in the background.

If you want to see a slide show of that fabulous evening, click here;

And if you want to read of blog summary of the WHOLE General Convention 2009, click here and get the "straight from the bishop (of New Hampshire)'s mouth" reflections on what the Holy Spirit accomplished in Anaheim -- which concludes with this sign off:

One brother bishop noted in private that my blog was still called "Canterbury Tales from the Fringe," and wondered if that was not out of date now. While I had simply decided to continue the same blog, rather than establish a new one, I now wonder if at some level I had still felt "on the fringe."

Because that is no longer the case, if I decide to blog again (I'm sure I will), it will be under a different name. I, along with my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters, are moving into full participation in the Body of Christ. There is no sweeter result of General Convention than this one.

No longer on the Fringe,

And let the people say: AMEN!

CNN on "ECGC" (Episcopal Church General Convention

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Integrity Eucharist Slide Show

Photos of the July 10th Integrity Eucharist ... a DVD is "in the works!"

Thanks to Cam Sanders (All Saints, Pasadena) & Don Anderson (Diocese of Los Angeles) whose photos are included here along with those of our own staff and volunteer photgraphers. A great witness to a great celebration!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Celebrating a Virtual Clean Sweep on our GC2009 Legislative Agenda

I’m going to write more about “General Convention in General,” but here’s a legislative wrap up (coming later in the day than I’d meant it to but I’ve decided to give up waiting for the official GC2009 resolution web pages to come back up online – will just add the links to the citations later.)

Heading to Anaheim, Integrity had two primary “agenda items:”

• Move the Episcopal Church beyond B033 and reopen ordination processes to all the baptized;
• More the Episcopal Church forward on the blessing of same sex marriages and unions.

We saw those goals realized in the adoption of the following resolutions:

D025 – Supports inclusive ordination processes for ALL orders of ministry
C056 – Authorizes “generous pastoral support” for blessing marriages, unions & partnerships and collection of liturgical resources for consideration at GC2012

As noteworthy as the content of the resolutions is the context. These resolutions passed not by narrow margins after rancorous debate. They passed by overwhelming consensus after respectful dialogue that left no doubt that those who gathered in Anaheim are committed to an inclusive Anglicanism that keeps at the table all who desire so to do.

D025 -- Ordination

It can – and has – been said that D025 does not “repeal” B033 – and that is, of course, true. There will still be bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees who will choose to “exercise restraint” when consenting the election of a bishop whose “manner of life” would cause concern to the wider Anglican Communion. (And we all know that is code for “partnered gay or lesbian bishop.”) Nevertheless, the inclusive and expansive language of D025 states “this is where we are in 2009” – and frees bishops and standing committees to focus on the theological orientation rather than the sexual orientation of qualified candidates to the episcopate if they choose to.

Furthermore, by stating unequivocally that “God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church” – D025 actually states for the first time as an official resolution of the Episcopal Church that the extra-canonical requirement of celibacy of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination is not the mind of this church.

From the letter by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies to the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years. In reading the resolution, you will note its key points, that:

• Our Church is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion;
• We recognize the contributions gay and lesbian Christians, members of our Church both lay and
• ordained, have made and continue to make to our common life and ministry;
• Our Church can and does bear witness to the fact that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters live in faithful, monogamous, lifelong and life-giving committed relationships;
• While ordination is not a “right” guaranteed to any individual, access to our Church’s discernment and ordination process is open to all baptized members according to our Constitution and Canons; and
• Members of The Episcopal Church do, in fact, disagree faithfully and conscientiously about issues of human sexuality.

C056 -- Blessings

What the Episcopal Church adopted in Resolution C056 is a broad local option for the blessings of the marriages, unions and partnerships of same sex couples and a call to the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.

The Rev. Sam Candler (Atlanta), chair of the committee that presented the resolution, called it "an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity."

The Rev. Dan Martins (Northern Indiana) had this to say about C056: “If there was ambiguity surrounding D025--and I have contended that there is -- there is none here. This convention has abrogated every positive gesture it has made toward the Anglican Communion since 2003. Everything we did three years ago in response to the Windsor Report is down the drain.”

I believe that's what we call "clarity."

In other historic action, the General Convention adopted resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. Both houses also adopted resolutions adding "gender identity and expression" to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees and calling for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.

In review:

C056 – Authorizes “generous pastoral support” for blessing marriages, unions & partnerships and collection of liturgical resources for consideration at GC2012
C048 – Urges support of fully inclusive ENDA legislation pending in Washington
D012 -- Support for Transgender Civil Rights
D025 – Supports inclusive ordination processes for ALL orders of ministry
D032 -- Non-discrimination clause including gender identity and gender expression for lay employees
D076 -- Support for immigration equality for gay couples
D090 -- Church paper work to be made more accessible to flexibility in gender identity and pronoun preference

C023 – Urging support for repeal of DOMA (“Defense of Marriage Act”) passed in Deputies and was referred by Bishops to Executive Council – where we expect affirmative action will be taken to take the voice of the Episcopal Church to Washington on this important issue.

Finally, Integrity applauds the amazing work of ALL our allies in advancing resolutions on a broad range of critical gospel issues. Unlike our last two General Conventions, where the resolutions regarding human sexuality so consumed our legislative process that there was precious little left for anything else, this 76th General Convention worked long, hard and diligently to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” – acting on everything from lay equity in pension plans to ending torture; on labor issues and human rights violations; on universal health care and climate change; on human trafficking and ending the blockade in Cuba.

One of the most moving moments for me came on the last day of legislation when Frank Wade reminded us that our actions in the House of Deputies were -- in their own way --offerings being laid at the altar of our God who calls us to this work of justice, compassion and love. The reminder that “liturgical” and “political” are words that share a root – and that both the work of the people – was a holy container for this holy work we have been about for the last ten days in Anaheim.

There are miles to go before we rest – before the kingdom come on earth IS as it is in heaven. But BIG steps forward were taken by The Episcopal Church at this General Convention. And for that, we rejoice and are glad!