Saturday, October 31, 2009

MN search is over: Brian Prior elected on 5th ballot

The Reverend Brian Prior was elected as the 9th Bishop of Minnesota today on the 5th ballot ... rising to the top of a stellar and diverse slate of qualified candidates for the episcopate.

"Where does he stand on 'your issues,'" I was asked a little while ago ... as it became clear that his election was likely.

"Which one of "my issues" are you asking about?" I asked back. (Still feeling a little contrary since the Dodgers aren't in the World Series.)

"You mean "my issues" of proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus -- or "my issues" of protecting the dignity of every human being -- or of striving for peace and justice -- of serving the least, the last and the lost? Which "issues" do you want to start with?"

Let's check:

When asked about ministry with the marginalized, including the LGBT community, bishop-elect Prior replied, [from the DioMN website candidate Q&A page] "The amount of work and witness still needed to combat the lack of respect for the dignity of every human being is unquestionably clear.

[In seminary] the core Gospel justice value of inclusion became a theological priority. Consistently since that time I have worked to challenge systems that at best marginalize, and at worst outright exclude others based on race, gender, sexual orientation or age. The foundational question that I always ask those I serve with is this: who is not, and why are they not, at the table."

So ... would I have loved to have had the Diocese of Minnesota send a woman or LGBT bishop to the House of Bishops? Absolutely. When faced with equally qualified candidates for any leadership position I believe it behooves those with the power to do so to exercise a preferential option for the under-represented and to bring those without power to the table.

Nevertheless ... I believe at this point in the life of the church it is a sign of GREAT good news that a diocese has had the opportunity to choose from a slate of qualified candidates the one they and the Holy Spirit have discerned to be the BEST bishop to lead them into God's future. A slate that included men and women, gay and straight, Anglo and Native American. This is our Episcopal Church at its best.

The Diocese of Minnesota has elected a new bishop. Let us rejoice and be glad with them!

Daylight Savings Time

"When told the reason for daylight saving time, the old Indian said ... ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’"
~ From a Lakota website (via Facebook)

On bishops past, present and yet to be

As we keep one eye on our friends in the Diocese of Minnesota -- who are this very day electing the 9th bishop of that diocese -- I was reflecting on yesterday's obituary of Bishop John Harris Burt from the L.A. Times.

Bishop Burt was buried yesterday in Marquette, Michigan. We (All Saints Church) were ably represented by both our rector and rector emeritus. And we (All Saints Church) continue to be blessed by the work and witness of John Harris Burt all these many years after he left us to go be Bishop of Ohio -- where he exercised a prophetic and visionary ministry that helped continue to move this Episcopal Church forward on that arc of history that we are told bends toward justice.

We need more John Harris Burts. All of us. The church we love and serve needs those who will lead us with vision and courage -- even when the cost of that discipleship is great. Because the world the church serves in Jesus' name needs that leadership. Needs that example. Needs that moral compass pointing to love, justice, peace and compassion.

We need bishops committed to guarding faith and unity -- but not to prioritizing institutional unity over incarnational faith. If John Burt had cared more about unity than justice he wouldn't have rocked the ecclesial boat over segregation in the 60's or women's ordination in the 70's or worker's rights in the 80's.

We need more John Harris Burts.

And so this morning my prayers ascend in thanksgiving for his work and witness. AND my prayers ascend for all those charged with the high calling of raising up new bishops to lead this church into God's future. Let us remember how we have managed to come -- as the great song names it -- "thus far on the way" with leaders like John Harris Burt. And let us pray that God will give us the grace, the courage and the wisdom to elect others to go and do likewise.


John Harris Burt dies at 91; former rector at Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal Church

The retired bishop was a bold supporter of the civil rights movement and a friend of Martin Luther King Jr.
By Elaine Woo -- October 30, 2009 [source link]

John Harris Burt, a retired bishop who advanced a tradition of social activism at Pasadena’s All Saints Episcopal Church with his bold support of the civil rights movement when he was rector in the 1960s, died Oct. 20 at his home on Lake Superior outside Marquette, Mich. He was 91.

Burt died after a long illness, said his daughter Susan Burt.

A friend of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Burt helped organize massive civil rights rallies in Los Angeles, including a 1963 event in South Los Angeles that attracted 30,000 people. He also was a vocal supporter of Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement.

Burt was one of four rectors "who really shaped All Saints to be a peace and justice church," said Rector J. Edwin Bacon, who currently leads the Pasadena church, one of Southern California's largest and most liberal.

It is known for its outspoken clergy and the strong stands it has taken against war, poverty and racial and ethnic discrimination over the last seven decades, beginning in 1942 when Rector Frank Scott stood in front of trains to protest the removal of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II.

Burt, who succeeded Scott in 1957, became known over the next decade for his courageous support of King.

In 1963, Burt sat in the first row behind the lectern at South L.A.'s Wrigley Field (later demolished), where King addressed what was then the largest civil rights rally held in the city. It raised thousands of dollars to support King's nonviolent crusade against racial inequality in the South, including a $20,000 pledge by entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., one of several celebrities who spoke at the rally.

In 1964, he again sat behind King as the great civil rights leader addressed 15,000 people at the Coliseum for an interfaith rally called "Religious Witness for Human Dignity."

His vocal backing of King caused some worshipers to leave All Saints; an anonymous caller threatened to bomb Burt's house. When a group of church trustees asked him to stop preaching about racial issues, "he said he was always open for people to come and share their dissent with him, but the pulpit at All Saints is free," said George F. Regas, who succeeded him as rector.

He believed that so strongly that he "felt obligated the next Sunday to preach on racial justice," Regas noted.

Burt was born April 11, 1918, in Marquette, where his father, Bates Burt, was a community activist and rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. John's younger brother, Alfred S. Burt, became a famous composer of Christmas carols, including "Caroling Caroling" and "Some Children See Him."

John Burt graduated from Amherst College in 1940. After postgraduate studies at Columbia University and a stint as a social worker on New York's Lower East Side, he entered the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia and was ordained in 1943.

During World War II he served as a Navy chaplain in the Pacific theater. After the war, he served at St. John's Episcopal Church in Youngstown, Ohio, where he helped lead efforts to integrate swimming pools and housing.

In 1957, he arrived at All Saints in Pasadena, where he was active in civic matters as president of the Pasadena Community Planning Council. He also was president of the Southern California Council of Churches and vice chairman of the United Nations Assn. of Southern California.

In 1967, he became the eighth bishop of Ohio. An early advocate for the ordination of women, he vowed to resign as bishop if the Episcopal General Convention failed to approve the ordination of female priests in 1976. The measure succeeded, and in early 1977, Burt ordained the first of eight women he would elevate to the priesthood during his 17-year tenure as bishop.

In 1978, he helped found a coalition of ecumenical and political leaders to keep steel plants open in Youngstown, with proposals that included allowing workers to buy the mills. The effort failed, but his advocacy earned him the prestigious Thomas Merton Award, which had previously been given to activists Dorothy Day, Joan Baez and Dick Gregory.

After retiring in 1984, Burt remained active in the ecumenical movement as president of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel from 1992 to 1998.

He is survived by his wife, Martha; four daughters; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Meanwhile, in Minnesota ....

"Christian ministry means adhering to a twin ethic of love and justice. Justice is always built on the truth. Therefore, Christian ministry also must be built on the truth." -- The Reverend David Norgard, President of Integrity USA in his sermon yesterday in the Diocese of Minnesota on the eve of their electing convention.

Read the rest of David's inspiring sermon here.
Watch for election results from Minnesota tomorrow here.
Pray with the Diocese of Minnesota and all who seek God's will for their lives & ministries:

Gracious God, you give light and life to your people. You guide us in pathways of renewal and transformation. Light the way before us now, as we discern and choose the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota. May we find a pastor who will lead us in hope, challenge us to ever greater faithfulness, and equip us with love for mission and ministry in the church and in the world. We pray in thanksgiving for your guiding presence and your grace, in the Name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits"

"No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love."
Here are the remarks President Obama made a few minutes ago following the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law.

"After more than a decade of delay, we have passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are."

"As a nation we've come far on the journey toward a more perfect union and today we're taking another step forward."

He described hate crimes as "... crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits, not only to inflict harm but to inspire fear. We understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights from unjust laws and violent acts and we understand how necessary this law continues to be."

You can watch the whole statement here on YouTube ... and you can email the White House and thank President Obama for his actions today here.

Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act

This afternoon, President Obama will sign the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. Judy Shepard will be there to watch him sign. So will Wyoming Bishop Bruce Caldwell.

Either way, join those throughout the Episcopal Church (and beyond!) who will be marking this historic moment with a moment of prayer: in remembrance of those we've lost as victims of hate crimes and in thanksgiving for this landmark legislation.

Information on the Call to Prayer is on Walking With Integrity -- including this "Collect of the Day:"

Loving God,
We pray for victims of hate crimes;
for those who have been targets of violence
just because of who they are;
for their families and all who grieve for them.

We give thanks for all those who have
labored, lobbied and prayed
for inclusive federal hate crimes legislation
and for the Hate Crime Prevention Act
signed into law today.

Bless us, we pray, with the knowledge
that we are secure in your love;
that we can make a difference;
that you call us always to seek and serve Christ in all persons
and to respect the dignity of every human being.
And may the peace the world cannot give
reign in our hearts always.

Finally, take a look at what it took to get us to this day (from the HRC website: Love Conquers Hate)

What it Took :

More than 1 million emails/faxes and phone calls sent to Capitol Hill since 2002 in support of hate crimes legislation;

More than 300 organizations (civil rights, religious, law enforcement, etc) who signed on in support of the Matthew Shepard Act;

86,582 total hate crimes reported since the introduction of the first hate crimes bill on November 13, 1997. Of that reported number, 13,528 of those hate crimes have been based on sexual orientation.

14 floor votes in the House and the Senate over twelve years to finally get the bill to the President's desk;

At least 26 states whose Attorneys General have supported the hate crimes bill since its' introduction;

1 President who was an early supporter of hate crimes legislation; 1 who did all he could to stop a hate crimes law for the LGBT community and 1 who signed it into law.
UPDATE: Here's a YouTube capture of the signing:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Diocese of Fort Worth to ordain its first woman priest

As reported by Katie Sherrod on Desert's Child:

It is with great rejoicing that we make the following announcement:

Thirty-three years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, the first woman will be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
At 5:00 P.M. on Sunday Nov. 15 in St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. [Ted] Gulick Jr. will ordain Deacon Susan Slaughter to the priesthood.

She will be the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the history of the Fort Worth diocese, which was founded in 1983. The Rev. Ms. Slaughter also will be the first woman rector of a parish in the diocese. The Episcopal Church approved women’s ordination to the priesthood and episcopate in 1976 and the first women were ordained priests in January 1977.

Read the rest here ... and rejoice with the Diocese of Fort Worth and with the WHOLE church at this new era of mission and ministry!

The Gospel According to GOOGLE

So yesterday I was confabbing with the fabulous Rachel Swan who is heading up Integrity's blog/Facebook/twitter communication world. (And doing a fabulous job, BTW!) Anyway, we hatched the idea of marking tomorrow's signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act -- scheduled for 4:45p.m. EDT -- with an invitation to virtual common prayer in remembrance of those lost to hate crime violence and in thanksgiving for this landmark legislation.
More about that later.
The point of this blog post is not prayers we'll offer tomorrow. It is Google searches we made yesterday.
Thinking that we should come up with a suggested prayer for the occasion, I did what all lazy liturgists do ... looked for a wheel to reinvent. And so did a "Google Search" for "prayer hate crimes" ... thinking I'd come up with some language to help get the prayer-writing-process moving.
Was I in for a big surprise.
What did I get when I Googled "prayer hate crimes?" Dozens of sites urging prayers to PREVENT the passage of hate crime legislation.
If all I knew about Christians from what I Googled on hate crimes I'd come away thinking that all they cared about was keeping gay men and lesbians, transgendered folk, women and the disabled from having the same protection from hate motivated violence as this nation has provided for those targeted because of race, religion or national origin.
Now, "proof texting" Google is as bad an idea as proof texting the Bible is ... but yesterday's foray inspired me to redouble our efforts to make sure there are alternative voices of faith out there neutralizing those who are more interested in praying for the defeat of legislation protecting members of the human family from hate motivated violence than they are in praying for the victims of that violence.
(See also: "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it to me!")

Monday, October 26, 2009

That was then ... this is now!

The "breaking news" that President Obama will sign the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act this Wednesday, October 28th at 4:45 p.m. caused me to look through my files and find these words from our Clergy Call 2007 ... when we lobbied congress to move forward on Hate Crimes and Employment Discrimination:

That was then:

I am the Reverend Susan Russell, a priest on staff at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. It is a privilege to stand here today in solidarity with other faith leaders and with a majority of Americans who believe the federal government should act to end workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender workers. It is an honor to represent the Episcopal Church which stands as one of the over 210 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations supporting the passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And I thank you for this opportunity to witness to the core values I hold dearest as an Episcopal priest and as an American citizen.

My son Jamie is currently serving on active duty in Iraq. One of the core American values he was raised to embrace -- and he understands himself to be defending -- is our pledge to be a nation of "liberty and justice for all." I believe these important pieces of legislation will help move us AS a nation toward that long dreamed of goal – that dream of liberty and justice my son and so many other brave Americans in harm's way have sworn to preserve and protect.

We are not yet that nation when the liberty to walk safely on the streets of America protected from bias motivated violence is not yet available to ALL Americans: passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act will bring us one step closer to "liberty for all."

We are not yet that nation when in thirty-three states a hardworking American can be subject to the injustice of losing their job solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will bring us another step closer to "justice for all."

One of the primary tenets of all religious faiths is to love your neighbor as yourself and as a Christian I follow a Lord who called us to minister unto the needs of "the least of these" as we live out our call to do justice and to love mercy in His Name. These are the Traditional Christian Values I claim as an advocate for these critical pieces of legislation today.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Justice deferred is justice denied.” Extending hate crimes protection to include sexual orientation or gender identity is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Ending workplace discrimination is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Thank you.

This is now:
And on Wednesday afternoon -- just about 48 hours away -- the work and witness of ALL those who have lobbied, labored and longed for this bill to become law will see that work pay off.
May that moment inspire ALL of us to redouble our efforts to make this a land of liberty and justice for all ONCE and for all! (AND let us rejoice and be glad in it!)

Jim Naughton Rocks

Yesterday Jim Naughton spoke to NPR's "All Things Considered" about the announcement last week that the Vatican is setting a place at the table for "disaffected" Anglicans to come home to Rome.

You'll want to click here to listen to the interview and hear Jim be his usual faithful, on-message-for-Jesus self, but if you need to save that treat for a little later, here's the core message we all would do well to internalize:

I think for Episcopalians, what we need to do in the wake of this announcement is to continue going out there and saying, look, we do offer very traditional liturgy, beautiful music, a style of worship that many people like. But we are a democratically governed church. We think men and women are equal at the altar, and we respect the dignity of gay and lesbian Christians. If that makes us outcasts, I think that that's a status that we embrace happily. So if what we're talking about here are people offering alternatives, I think Episcopalians offer that alternative to their Catholic brothers and sisters.

And (I would add) to ANYONE seeking a community of faith committed to traditional values of love, compassion, peace, justice and equality.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just to prove ...

... that everybody's a literalist about SOMETHING, here's my question:

Since when did "COMPACT" become a "relative term?"

(This spied outside Panera in Pasadena where I was picking up an after-church-sandwich to take home this afternoon.)

Of course in the cosmic scheme of things, it's a matter of small annoyance that jamming these behemoths into spaces designed for bona fide "compacts" means right-up-to-the line pushes the car next to it right OVER the line and eventually we run out of usable spaces for the aforementioned bona fide compacts to park.

Maybe there's an analogy in there somewhere about sustainability, interconnectedness and respect for neighbor -- but to be totally honest, today it was all about trying to find a parking space on Sunday afternoon.

And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'm going to go get myself in the correct frame of mind to enjoy seeing Linda Ronstadt in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre tonight.

Grace abounds -- even when parking spaces do not!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

LA TIMES EDITORIAL: "Courting Anglicans"

The pope's welcoming of Anglicans disaffected by their church's greater openness only shows how far the gay-rights movement has to go to dispel religious intolerance.

October 24, 2009

This week's announcement that the Roman Catholic Church will welcome disaffected Anglicans en masse is of primary interest to members of the two Christian communions. But this religious realignment is also a reminder to supporters of equality for women and gays and lesbians that they must literally preach to the converted if they are to win believers to their cause.

Pope Benedict XVI has offered the Anglicans a special status within Catholicism that will preserve their traditions and allow married Anglican priests to continue their ministry. Those likely to accept are animated by opposition to innovations including the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the United States, blessings for same-sex couples in Canada and the Church of England's decision to allow female bishops.

Not every dissatisfied Anglican will change churches. Nor will this development drown out voices within the Roman Catholic Church favoring full participation by women and homosexuals. But Benedict's action is part of a formidable religious backlash against gay rights that isn't confined to the pulpit; witness the lobbying by some religious leaders against same-sex civil marriages.

Under the 1st Amendment, churches in this country can't be forced to alter their doctrine or to stop preaching against the supposed immorality of homosexuality. Even so, supporters of gay rights in particular -- many of them Christians -- should try to dispel the notion that belief in God is incompatible with full equality for gays and lesbians.

Now as before the pope's action, Christians can be reminded -- as they have been by both Anglican and Catholic theologians -- that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and that church leaders, including popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion to the desirability of religious tolerance. You don't have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the church's views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.

And let the people say "AMEN!" ... AND let the people take a minute to write a letter to editor of the Los Angeles Times -- affirming their editorial position and pointing out -- once again -- that those seeking communities of faith proclaiming love, justice, compassion and inclusion can FIND them ... because our welcome mat is open to all!
Click here to send your letter ... and if you want to copy what you send in an email to me, we'll archive 'em for future reference.
PS ... Here's mine:
Dear Editor,

Thank you for your 10/24 editorial “Courting Anglicans” – in particular for the conclusion, “… society as a whole would be better off if the church's views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.” Ironically, the Vatican’s “courting Anglicans” statement was released just days after the announcement of a Vatican sponsored celebration of the work of Galileo. Maybe it will take the Vatican less than 400 years to “evolve” to the right side of history on gender and sexual orientation equality. We can hope. But AS an Anglican – the kind staying in the Anglican Communion, not the “disaffected” kind – the good news for me and my congregation is that there ARE churches where that evolution has and is happening. The other good news is that those congregations are growing – and the door is open for all who wish to come and be part of an inclusive community to come and experience God’s love.

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell
Pasadena CA


The Rev. Christine M. Nevarrez, deacon at Church of the Transfiguration, Arcadia, died on September 25 of cancer. She was 64.

Christine was a valiant Integrity ally and was one of the deacons at the Integrity Eucharist in Anhaeim. (pictured below) Many of you will remember her joyful procession of the gospel book during that wonderful celebration.

Survivors include her brother, Richard (Martha) Nevarrez and their children and a stepdaughter and her family. Her husband predeceased her.

Requiem Eucharist and interment will be held at Church of the Transfiguration, 1881 South First Ave, Arcadia, on Saturday, October 24 at 10 a.m. Clergy: white stoles.

Nevarrez was raised up for diaconal ministry from the Church of the Transfiguration and served there after her ordination while continuing to work as a legal secretary and administrator. She was especially interested in pastoral visitation and was a leader of Transfiguration's English as a Second Language classes and Bible study for the growing Chinese-speaking community in Arcadia.

She periodically served as a deacon for diocesan services at the ProCathedral of St. John in Los Angeles and worked with Bishop Suffragan Chester Talton on a discernment committee for deacons. She was also a volunteer supervisor in the House of Deputies at General Convention in Anaheim last July.

Nevarrez, who was born on June 24, 1945, received her theological training at the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House) and was one of ten deacons ordained during Diocesan Convention in 2006.

I'm literally "walking out the door" to attend Christine's memorial service this morning, but wanted to invite prayers from the wider community in thankgiving for her life and witness.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Q&A on Hate Crimes: One more time!

Today is my sweetie's birthday, so I plan to have a All Birthday All Day Friday. Before the festivities commence, however, I did want to elevate the following comment on my hate crimes news post yesterday for more public consumption.

I'm receiving the question as a well intentioned search for information -- and I'm also thinking with the president about to sign the bill the Senate passed yesterday in to law, you may get some of the same quesitons from those who still don't "get" why we need hate crimes legislation.

Q. I've never understood the whole idea of "hate crimes" and this is another example of it. I've had a couple of occasions to discuss the question with friends who strongly support hate crime legislation, but I've always come away scratching my head. I suppose my question is this: doesn't hate crime legislation make a mockery of the notion of "equal protection under the law?"

It's already illegal to beat someone to death with a baseball bat, for example. Where's the value in passing a special law against it in order to afford additional protection to a select group of citizens? Surely no one is credulous enough to believe that these laws will have any real deterrent effect, so what's the goal?

I'm a straight white male, Susan. Why should it be "more illegal" for someone to perpetrate violence against you than against me? Is my life worth less than yours in the eyes of the law?

A. All lives are equally valuable but, unfortunately, all lives are not equally valued. That sad reality was recognized decades ago when hate crimes leglistation was enacted to protect "equally protected" Americans who were "unequally targeted" by violent crimes solely because of their race. Perhaps you missed it when I wrote about some of these questions a couple of weeks ago. In either case, here you go again:

The Problem
A hate crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target an entire community or group of people, not just the individual victim. However, in most cases, current law prevents the federal government from assisting state and local authorities.

What is the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act?
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA)/Matthew Shepard Act gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the DOJ with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The Act provides the DOJ with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable to act, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated, violent crimes resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The LLEHCPA also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers or assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes.
[All the above from the HRC website.]

Bottom Line:
Hate crime laws are ALREADY on the books. This legislation is NOT about prioritizing one kind of violence over another -- it is about giving LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS the tools they need to call on the Department of Justice for assitance in investigating and prosecuting crimes of violence on victims targeted because of who they are. Those laws have been on the books for decades for race based hate crimes. And now they're being expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

And that should be good news for ANYONE who believes in liberty and justice for all -- OR in protecting the dignity of every human being.

Thanks for asking. Have a great day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hate Crimes History

CNN REPORTS on hate crime history made today:
"Hate crimes bill goes to Obama for signature." Read the news report here.

Read my reflections on that history making news report -- and some of the history behind it -- below:

We've been at this a LONG time. A quick check of the Episcopal Church archives showed that legislation supporting Hate Crimes Legislation by General Convention was passed in ... 1988.

In 1998 my friend -- and former Integrity President Michael Hopkins represented "us" at the funeral of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, about which he wrote:

There I came face to face with the hatred that killed Matthew in the guise of protestors from a church in Kansas led by a man named Fred Phelps. They held signs proclaiming Matthew was a "fag" who was even now burning in hell, and their verbal taunts were even more horrific. The only consolation was a group of good souls standing silently between them and those of us waiting in line in the cold outside the church.

In 2007 we lobbyed on Capitol Hill for the Matthew Shepard-LLEHCB (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Bill) knowing that even if it MADE it out of committee and onto the floor it would die on the desk of a president who had vowed to veto it. (There's me in D.C. -- along with a great cloud of HRC witnesses!)

Also in 2007, in her letter in support of the bill passed by the Senate today, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori included this quote from former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold:

"The fact that Matthew was an Episcopalian makes our grief no more sharp, but it does give us a particular responsibility to stand with gays and lesbians, to decry all forms of violence against them - from verbal to physical, and to encourage the dialogue that can, with God's help, lead to new appreciation for their presence in the life of our church, and the broader community."

Earlier this year, I said this in an Episcopal News interview: "It's critical to get support behind this because finally we have a chance to get a hate crimes bill that will include sexual orientation and gender identity," ... "This is the time to make it happen. We have energy behind it in the House and Senate and a White House that said it will support and sign it."

This WAS the time to make it happen.

WE made it happen.

Take a minute to rejoice and be glad in that.
And then get back to work making the next thing happen!


From the HRC Backstory:

After nearly 12 years, a strong hate crimes bill is finally on its way to the President’s desk and he’s promised to make it law.

Upon his signature, the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will be the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Today’s 64 to 35 cloture vote and this evening’s final passage in the Senate marks a truly pivotal moment in our fight for LGBT equality. This last vote EVER on the bill happened because of the dedication of all of the people who contacted their legislators, educated their communities and gave of their time and money. But no one has worked harder than the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., for whom the bill is named.

Visit HRC's Love Conquers Hate site to celebrate this victory and send a note of thanks to the Shepard and Byrd families for their years of hard work.


CNN's report here.

Hate Crimes Bill Going to Senate this week? CNN says so:

Senate set to vote on hate crimes bill
Posted: 11:01 AM ET

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The fight over gay rights is taking center stage once again as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote as early as Thursday on groundbreaking legislation expanding the scope of federal hate-crimes law.

The measure, added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill, would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. The House has already passed the measure. It will go to President Barack Obama's desk if, as expected, it clears the Senate.

President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure; Obama has promised to sign it.The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998.

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.


[Press release from Integrity re: the Vatican Welcome Mat statement earlier this week.]

October 22, 2009
For Immediate Release

LOS ANGELES, CA--The recent announcement that the Vatican would set up a special canonical structure to accept disaffected Anglicans, choosing to leave over the inclusion of women and the LGBT faithful, is viewed by Integrity as another sad indicator of the church hierarchy’s misguided commitment to staying on the wrong side of history.

"There is some clarity in all of this, however," said Integrity President David Norgard. "Anglicans will now have a clear choice: a church that welcomes all or a church that excludes some."
"It is also ironic that this announcement comes just days after the Vatican unveiled plans for an exhibit honoring Galileo--who was condemned by the church 400 years ago," said Norgard. "Let us hope for the sake of the gospel we share, that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters don’t have to wait 400 years for their church to get on the right side of history on the full inclusion of women and the LGBT baptized in their work and witness."

Integrity will continue to work for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments within the Episcopal Church and to offer the good news of congregations and dioceses whose welcome to all is growing the church.

"God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet. But we are deeply grateful to be part of a church working toward full inclusion.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Vatican puts out the Welcome Mat

The All Saints Church Welcome Mat:

The Episcopal Church Welcome Mat:

The Vatican Welcome Mat:

Yearning for a journey of faith safe from
women clergy, the LGBT baptized,
and those pesky inquiring minds questioning
the Absolute Truth of Patriarchal Dogma?

(Lock, stock and liturgical patrimony!)


Sometimes clarity is actually a HELPFUL thing.

If you've missed this breaking news, check out the New York Times for the details ... in a nutshell, the Vatican has announced a protocol to "make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining many of their traditions."

So there you have it. If you want a church that looks like "that" ... there is one. A perfectly good one. So I say, go for it. Take His Holiness Father Infallibility up on his kind off to "come on down" and go join his church.

And leave mine alone.

+JOHN HARRIS BURT: Giant of Justice -- 1918-2009

We received word today that John Harris Burt -- retired Bishop of Ohio and former rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena -- died this morning at the age of 91. A tireless advocate for peace, justice, compassion and equality, +John Burt's prophetic ministry here at All Saints Church in Pasadena was an important source of the DNA of social justice that is a cornerstone of the All Saints Church work and witness.

These newspaper clippings from the All Saints Church archives show John Burt with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he spoke for racial justice here in Los Angeles in 1964

The story the news clippings do NOT tell is the one about the death threats he received because of his witness for human dignity in the crucible of the Civil Rights Movement.

From today's ENS obituary:

Retired Bishop of Ohio John H. Burt died October 20 at his home on the southern shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was 91 years old.
In a career spanning five decades, Burt dedicated himself to social reform, racial and gender justice and ways in which the world's churches could work together to effect positive social and political changes. Believing that "the world alters as we walk in it," he stood out as a leader in seeking ways in which the church could respond to the complex challenges of the 20th century.

Burt became the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, in 1957 and transformed that church into one of the largest and most active voices for social change in the country. As an advocate for social justice in the 1960s, Burt's name was linked with both local and national social and political activity.

As president of the Pasadena Community Planning Council, he coordinated the work of welfare and other civic organizations. In 1963 he was a co-sponsor of the "Rally for Freedom," Los Angeles's largest civil rights rally until that date, at which Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to 35,000 supporters of freedom fighters in the South.

The night before, Burt convened a "Town Meeting for Democracy" with Dr. King at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, which was attended by both Democratic and Republican Senators as well as Hollywood celebrities, a bomb threat was called in to his home, and the LAPD bomb squad was summoned.

Burt was elected bishop of Ohio in 1967 and served until his retirement in 1984. During his tenure, he was a vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam, speaking at rallies in Cleveland and Kent State.

He gained national attention when the Presiding Bishop named him to be a delegate on an interfaith global tour which took him to South Vietnam and culminated in an International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi. The symposium was the first in history to gather around a single conference table leaders of the Hindu, Moslem, Shinto, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian and Jewish traditions.
Read the rest here.
Services will be Friday, October 30th in Marquette, Michigan.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

RACISM: Poison in the cookies of our culture

Up earlier than I'm used to on a Monday (MUCH earlier!) to attend the YWCA "Women for Racial Justice" Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. (yes, that's BE there at 7:30 a.m.!) I headed off to the Pasadena Hilton wondering why I'd thought Ann Erdman's kind offer to join her table of women bloggers was an offer I couldn't refuse.
Turns out, I was very glad I didn't. Refuse.
Really. What's not to be inspired about by a banquet hall packed with fabulous people (mostly women!) celebrating an organization with a Mission Statement "dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." (Did I mention it started at 7:30 a.m.?)

We honored Marge Wyatt for decades as a "constant voice for racial justice" here in Pasadena -- and some gasped in disbelief as Marge recounted "taking on a conservative school board back when they tried to ban books about the Civil Rights movement."

And I thought about the story about the Louisiana Justice of the Peace who denied marriage licenses to interracial couples. Not in 1965. Last week!

We heard inspiring words from Dr. Joy DeGruy, whose book -- "Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome" -- frames what she calls "America's enduring injury" as the "consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants resulting from centuries of chattel slavery."

"There's poison in the cookies of our culture," she told the packed banquet room ... describing that poison as "Slavery that was predicated on the belief that African Americans were inherently/genetically inferior to whites, followed by institutionalized racism which continues to perpetuate injury."

"Healing must occur on multiple levels," says Dr. DeGruy on her website, "because the injury occurred on multiple levels. We begin by simply telling the truth."

So I am very glad I got up much earlier than usual on this Monday morning. Because the truth is that racism -- the poison in the cookies of our culture -- poisons ALL of us. And it challenges all of us to call this nation to its best "liberty and justice for all" self. And 7:30 a.m. isn't a minute too early to be up and about that important work. Even on a Monday!

The Episcopal Church - Who Are We?

Loved this video look at TEC (The Episcopal Church) as "Episconinjas" -- Who Knew? Check it out:

Speaking of Faith, Science and Power ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A New Beginning at St. Luke's, La Crescenta

Some photos from today's service at St. Luke's in the Mountains, La Crescenta -- where a good time was had by all!

SUNDAY L.A. -- Ed Bacon on Spirituality, Science, Faith, Scripture, Schism & Interconnectedness

Thanks to David Ahrendts for getting this up and running ... Ed Bacon on KNBC4.2 this morning here in L.A.

Today in the Diocese of Los Angeles

It's a weekend "off" for me, so I'm having an unusual Sunday morning at home ... grateful for a beautiful day in the neighborhood, time for an extra cup of coffee and the chance to peruse the Sunday paper in companionship with Louise and "the girls" and even watch a little football!
A little later, I'll head over to St. Luke's, La Crescenta -- where the bishops of the diocese will lead us ALL in celebrating a new chapter of mission and ministry for the Episcopal Church in La Crescenta. (See message from Bishop Bruno below.)

And then I'll head home and watch the Dodgers play Game 3 in "Chilly Philly!"

This IS the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Communion is more than a man-made Covenant

Thanks to Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird for this piece on Communion by Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins. We disagree about much, +Charles and I, but the things that bind us together across and in spite of those differences are the subject of this reflection.

"Reflections on Communion" -- Bishop Charles Jenkins

I shall never forget the day the tea arrived. Cases and cases of tea, shipped to us by the Bishop of Ceylon. More tea than I have ever seen at one time donated to us in the wake of Hurricane Datrina.

I remember my amazement when at "Community Congress 1" the realization came upon me that many of the volunteers working there were from London and came as part of the efforts to help of the Church of England.

How strengthened I was when Bishop Josiah Fearon of the Diocese of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria phoned to say that the entire Diocese was praying for us and he and a group were trying to find a way to come to us. Eventually, Bishop Fearon came and he came to see about me.

The amount of the check may have been small, but how grateful we were for the ordinand in the Church of England who asked that the loose offering at his ordination be sent to us. That check with tens of thousands of others has made a difference.

"Like a deer caught in the headlights" was how someone described me after the levees failed. Then a call came (I wonder how he got through) from Rob Radtke at Episcopal Relief and Development asking what we needed. How the heck did I know? I told Rob we needed him. Though brand spanking new to the job, he managed to get on a plane and come. He brought with him Courtney Cowart and Peter Gudaitis.

It was humbling to be asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the Lambeth Conference of 2008 to search out the Bishops from Burma so affected by tsunami and pray with them. Of course, they had been praying for us.

When evil stands before me, I stand not alone, but this fractious, schismatic, heretical, wonderful, faithful, sacrificing, Christ-like Communion stands beside me, before me, behind me, and above me. As lonely as the past four years have been, even in dark nights of depression and doubt, I have not been alone. The last phone message I had before the system went down was from the Rev'd Susan Russell.

The tabernacle would not open in St. Luke's Church, New Orleans, when Frank and Phoebe Griswold and I moved aside trees to get into the church. We had Holy Communion there in the muck, mold, and mud thanks to Senior Warden Elvia James who managed to get the door open to the tabernacle. That Holy Communion pointed me towards our Communion.

Communion is not only about right believing and right acting. When our lives were in the ditch by the Jericho Road, when we had been robbed of life's dignity and much of the material of life, our Samaritan was the Anglican Communion. Rich and poor, orthodox or whatever, conservative and liberal, they came to us. They gave us of what they had and all prayed for us.

This Communion that I have experienced is the Church forced by circumstance to be what I think God has created His Church to be. I warn those who would break down and destroy this tender vessel that they are on the side of the enemy. Whether the iconoclasts be from the left, the right, or from the don't care side of things, let the warning be heard, Communion matters. Communion is not simply a matter of affiliation, or of like-minds; for some of us Communion is life or death. Communion is more than a man-made Covenant between us. We are called by God the Father into a greater Covenant that we dare not break. We are called to be here, together, one, broken, messy and yet strong, faithful, and rejoicing in the Lord.

The issues are many, the disagreements and disappointments many, and the opportunity to each do our own thing (which we suppose to be of God who blesses all our doings) is enticing. Such is not real religion.

Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins

From Churchwork, Fall 2009, the official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ed Bacon on Sunday LA tomorrow morning

Tune in (or TIVO in!) this Sunday morning (October 18th) between 7-8am when All Saints Church rector Ed Bacon will be anchor Ted Chen's guest on Sunday Morning LA. The topic is Spirituality in America.

The show airs in the local market as follows:

Charter Cable: 304
Cox Cable: 804
Time Warner: 225
Verizon FIOS: 460


Here's one that came to me last night on Facebook:

Q. I have a question that maybe you can answer if you want ... if not I understand. How do you balance faith with science?

The same way I "balance" apples and oranges. I don't.

Faith and Science are NOT "either/or" disciplines to be "balanced." In a nutshell, faith asks the "why" questions -- science tries to figure out the "how" questions -- they work together.

My faith is in the ultimate goodness, love, compassion and justice of the Living God who transcends humanity's best (AKA "worst!") efforts to capture, define, constrict, "dogmatify" or limit the One whose quality is always to have mercy, whose love is beyond measure, and who I believe -- as a Christian -- loved us enough to become one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth in order to show us how to love one another.

When I Googled "faith and science" I found this quote from Bill Moyers: Science and faith [are] two manifestations of humanity's desire to understand its place within the hidden mysteries of the universe. And the faithful are not necessarily opposed to science; nor are the scientists opposed to religious belief.

Certainly science and faith provide two very different avenues to understanding. Put simply, the scientific method demands experimental or observational proof before belief; religious faith by its very nature demands belief without proof. But this can be the beginning of a dialogue, not necessarily a dispute.

Karen Armstrong's new book "The Case for God" offers some great background on just how the church has gone wrong over the ages when it erred in taking the faith stories of our spiritual ancestors intended to call us to living out our faith in our time and tried to turn them into a science textbook for the "how" of the origins of the universe. From her NPR interview with Terry Gross:

Ms. ARMSTRONG: Right up on the dawn of the scientific revolution, you have John Calvin saying that the Bible has nothing at all to tell us about science, and he's very cross with what he calls frantic persons who are trying to impede science by saying it doesn't agree with the Bible. He said if you want to learn about cosmology, don't go to the Bible; go elsewhere.

GROSS: So you're saying this is relatively new because until the 16th and 17th century, no one expected that science could prove the existence of God. Therefore, nobody expected that kind of literal proof.

Ms. ARMSTRONG: Nobody expected literal proof from Scripture, and that's whether you look in the Jewish world, people like Maimonides (ph); in the Muslim world, people like Abu Sina or Al-Ghazali; or in the Christian world with Thomas Aquinas.

Religion wasn't about answering questions that we could answer perfectly well by our powers of logos, of reason and science. Religion was helping us to deal with aspects of life, facts of life for which there are no easy answers.

So there you have it. Using the Bible as a science textbook makes as much sense as using "The Joy of Cooking" to figure out how the internal combustion engine works. It is not where you go to better understand geology, psychology, human sexuality, physiology or (ask Galileo!) ... astronomy.

How do I balance faith with science? Final answer:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ready, Set ... SHOP!!!

They're here ... ready for your shopping and viewing delight:

DVDs of
2009 Integrity Eucharist 2009: Anaheim

Own your own copy of this fablous, historic service, with Bishop Gene Robinson presiding ...

... Bishop Barbara Harris preaching ...

... and a great cloud of witnesses celebrating the steps the Episcopal Church has taken forward toward the full inclusion of ALL the baptized in ALL the sacraments.

Click here to order your own piece of history ... and support the work and witness of Integrity. (Proceeds help fund our ongoing mission and ministry!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's in the blood, this Dodger thing

My dad, me and then-almost-one-year-old Jamie circa 1982 ...



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Judge refuses to dismiss challenge to Prop. 8

As reported by the L.A. Times:

A federal judge refused today to dismiss a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, ruling the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage raised legal and factual issues that required a trial.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, ruling after nearly two hours of arguments in San Francisco, rejected contentions by Proposition 8's proponents that precedent and tradition clearly showed last November's ballot measure permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Walker previously ordered the Proposition 8 campaign to disclose its internal memorandums and communications to gay rights lawyers. The campaign is appealing that order to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on 1st Amendment grounds.
And this from NBC:
What the judge said in court could be seen as even a bigger potential win for gay rights advocates than his ruling.
The San Francisco-based judge said he wants proof that allowing gay couples to wed threatens traditional male-female unions


"One of the conditions of enlightenment has always been a willingness to let go of what we thought we knew in order to appreciate truths we had never dreamed of." -- Karen Armstrong
So our annual staff reflection day is coming up next week and Karen Armstrong's new book is our "assigned reading" for the day.
Some notes:
MYTH: "... essentially a program of action. It could put you in the correct spiritual or psychological posture, but it was up to you to take the next step and make the "truth" of the myth a reality in your own life. The only way to assess the value and truth of any myth was to act upon it.
Put into practice, a myth could tell us something profoundly true about our humanity. It showed us how to live more richly and intensely , how to cope with our mortality, and how creatively to endure the suffering that flesh is heir to. But if we failed to apply it to our situation, a myth would remain abstract and incredible.
Myth and ritual were thus inseparable, so much so that it is often a matter of scholarly debate which came first: the mythical story or the rites attached to it. Without ritual, myths made no sense and would remain as opaque as a musical score, which is impenetrable to most of us until interpreted instrumentally.
RELIGION: Religion, therefore, was not primarily something that people thought but something they did. Its truth was acquired by practical action. It is no use imagining that you will be able to drive a car if you simply read the manual or study the rules of the road. You cannot learn to dance, paint or cook by perusing texts or recipes.
As theologians began to adopt the criteria of science, the mythoi of Christianity were interpreted as empirically, rationally and historically verifiable and forced into a style of thinking that was alien to them.
In particular, the word "belief" changed, so that a credulous acceptance of credal doctrines became the prerequisite of faith, so much that today we often speak of religious people as "believers" as though accepting orthodox dogma "on faith" were their most important activity.
[Big Finish]
Fundamentalism and Atheism: This rationalized interpretation of religion has resulted in two distinctively modern phenomena: fundamentalism and atheism. The two are related. The defensive piety popularly known as fundamentalism erupted in almost every major faith during the twentieth century. In their desire to produce a wholly rational, scientific faith that abolished mythos in favor of logos, Christian fundamentalists have interpreted scripture with a literalism that is unparalleled in the history of religion.
Atheism is dependent on the form of theism it seeks to eliminate and becomes its reverse mirror image ... [so recent] atheism has focused exclusively on the God developed by the fundamentalisms. The popularity of [Dawkins, Hitchens & Harris] suggest that many people are bewildered and even angered by the God concept they have inherited.
In fact, new atheists are not radical enough. Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians have insisted for centuries that God does not "exist" ... not to deny the reality of God but to safeguard God's transcendence.
One of the conditions of enlightenment has always been a willingness to let go of what we thought we knew in order to appreciate truths we had never dreamed of.

Iglesia Todos Los Santos En Espanol

("All Saints Church in Spanish!")

I'm just so proud of this great (made for our 2009 stewardship season) video look into the work and witness of our 1:00 p.m. bilingual service here at All Saints in Pasadena that I wanted to share it here. Let the Fiesta begin!

Really want to "protect marriage?"

Here's a solution:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If God Had Wanted Me To Be Accepting Of Gays ..."

It may be satire ... (check that: it IS satire) ... but it offers a scarily accurate "read" of what is passing for "orthodoxy" these days -- and what we're up against in proclaiming an alternative to those who really think this is what Christians believe!

From The Onion:

If God Had Wanted Me To Be Accepting Of Gays, He Would Have Given Me The Warmth And Compassion To Do So

I don't question God. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall put none above Him. Which is why I know that if it were part of God's plan for me to stop viciously condemning others based solely on their sexual preference, He would have seen fit—in His infinite wisdom and all—to have given me the tiniest bit of human empathy necessary to do so.

It's a simple matter of logic, really. God made me who I am, and who I am is a cold, anti-gay zealot. Thus, I abhor gay people because God made me that way. Why is that so hard to understand?

Here, let's start with the basic facts: I hate and fear gay people. The way they feel is different from how I feel, and that causes me a lot of confusion and anger. Everyone knows God is all-powerful. He could easily have given me the capacity to investigate what's behind those feelings rather than tell strangers in the park they're going to hell for holding hands. But God clearly has another path for me. And who am I to question His divine will?

Compassion, tolerance, understanding, basic decency, the ability to put myself in another person's position: God could have endowed me with any of those traits and yet—here is the crucial part—He didn't. Why? Because the Creator of the Universe wants me to demonize homosexuals in an effort to strip them of their fundamental human rights.

I'm sorry, but you can't possibly ask me to explain everything God does. He works in mysterious ways, remember?

Try to understand. If I were capable of thinking and acting any other way, then I'm sure I would, but God seems to be quite adamant about this one. He's just not budging at all. So unless our almighty Lord and Savior decides to change His mind about my ability to empathize on even the most basic level—which I find highly unlikely—then everyone is just going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to keep on hating homosexuals. And I know that He will fill me with the strength to remain mindless and hurtful in the face of adversity.

Which isn't to say that my faith hasn't been tested. Believe me, there have been times when I've drifted from the bitter and terrified life God has chosen for me. When my younger brother told me he was gay, it shook my faith to its very core. But here I am, 27 years later, still refusing to take his calls. Just the way God intended.

It's actually pretty astonishing how many complaints to the school board you can make regarding the new band teacher you've never met when you are filled with the Light of Christ and devoid of any real kindness or mercy toward His other children.

At the end of the day, I'm just trying to lead a good Christian life. That means going to church on Sunday, following the Ten Commandments, and fighting what I believe to be a sexual abomination through a series of petty actions and bitter comments made under my breath. Sure, I sometimes wish God would just reach into my heart and give me the ability to treat all people with, at the very least, the decency and respect they deserve as human beings. But unfortunately for that new couple who moved in three houses down, He hasn't yet.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have God's work to do.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In praise of reparative therapy!

Yes, I've been healed. Healed AND converted. Because it turns out there IS a place for reparative therapy ... and now that I've experienced it, I am proud to say, "I BELIEVE!"

Let me be clear -- what I'm talking about isn't repairing things that aren't broken (like sexual orientation.)

I'm talking about the healing of deeply internalized attachments to things once-held-dear that lure one into a false sense of comfort and of civility, of order and of agreeableness -- all the while masking the intransigent evils of sexism, classism, homophobia and racism (to name a few.)
Yes, I've been healed -- of my Anglophilia.
According to one online dictionary: An Anglophile is a person who is fond of English Culture and England in general. In some cases, anglophilia represents an individual's preference for English culture over their own.

Guilty. Never missed "Masterpiece Theatre." Saved my pennies in college to take a trip to "the sceptered isle" in my junior year. Bought Royal Doulton china, adored Ralph Vaughan Williams, made my sons wear short pants to Sunday School and generally held the "Mother Church" that gave us the DNA of Anglicanism coursing in our Episcopal veins on a very high pedestal.

That was then. This is now.

It's been a journey, but I've been healed. A month in Canterbury in 2008 for the Lambeth Conference was the final straw. And then today I got a "booster shot" from this "don't miss" feature on Episcopal Cafe.

Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest. HEAL!

I am not a nobody
By Lauren R. Stanley

When, pray tell, did I become a “nobody”? I want to know, so that I can readjust my thinking, readjust my life.

Over in the Church of England, a proposal is circulating that would limit the powers of some women bishops if anyone – apparently anyone – objects to that woman.

Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a conservative Anglican group in England, was quoted as saying this so-called compromise was “sensible.”

“It represents a compromise,” Mr. Thomas told Reuters. “It doesn’t go as far as some wanted, it goes further than some liberals wanted. It is a way in which nobody can lose.” (emphasis added)

“Nobody”? Is that what I am? A “nobody”?

It has taken the Church of England years, and lots of nasty infighting, to even consider the idea of women bishops. This after taking the same Church years even longer to decide to allow women to be ordained priests.

Just months after agreeing to open the episcopate to women, conservatives are forcing the Church to pull back. The Revision Committee already has voted to change the rules so that certain powers can be removed from women bishops simply to appease those who don’t want them. If women bishops face opposition from traditionalists in the dioceses in which they serve, some of their powers – as yet undetermined – would be taken away from them and given to male bishops.

One Church of England spokesman says that in parishes that “don’t recognize women bishops and want to look to another bishop,” – read “a man” – that diocesan bishop’s duties and responsibilities to those parishes would be reduced “automatically.”

So there would be no attempt at education, no attempt at mediation, no attempt at reconciliation. Apparently, just one person can object, and poof! There goes the diocesan bishop’s ability to function.
Liberals in the Church are decrying this latest development, claiming it would create a two-tier church, allowing discrimination against women to get even easier than it already is.
As a woman priest ordained for these past 12 years, I can assure you: The two-tier system that the liberals in England fear has existed for millennia. The Church has perpetuated this system throughout its history.


Because, apparently, it is still acceptable to declare women “nobodies.”

I find it ironic that this last brouhaha is taking place in England, which has been ruled, quite successfully, by queens and one woman Prime Minister. It’s OK for the nation to be liberal enough to recognize that women are equal, but heaven forfend if the Church were to do so!

Let me be clear: I am not a nobody. I am a beloved child of God, created in God’s image, brought into being because God loved me into being.

I have no desire to be a bishop, and certainly do not serve in the Church of England, so in theory, this latest development has nothing to do with me. But in fact, it does, because the women who are being called “nobodies” over there are my sisters in Christ. They, too, are beloved children of God, they, too, were created in God’s image because God loved them into being.

So my heart breaks to hear of this proposal, because it tells me that the Church of England is more concerned with appeasing those who cannot accept a new thing than it is with living into a basic tenet of our theology: That we are all created in the image of God.

Because that is true, none of us is a “nobody.”


This "just in" from La Crescenta: photos from parishioner Ken VanDerHorst:

La Crescenta property returned to Diocese
All welcome for Service of Reconciliation and Renewal
Sunday, October 18, 2 p.m., Bishop Bruno presiding
St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church
2563 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, California

All are welcome to join Bishop J. Jon Bruno and the people of St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Episcopal Church for this liturgy marking the continuation of Episcopal Church ministry on this historic site. Bishop Bruno led prayers inside the church sanctuary on Monday, October 12, opening the way for a new chapter in the congregation's 85-year history as part of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Report from the Episcopal Property Wars Front

[Photo by Eric, an ASC parishioner. Article from today's L.A. Times:]
The marquee outside St. Luke's Anglican Church in La Crescenta was a bit sardonic in its scripture from the Book of Hebrews: "You joyfully accepted confiscation of your property."

That was the message delivered Sunday by the Rev. Rob Holman, in his last sermon at the Foothill Boulevard church that has been entangled in a legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

"Next Sunday, as many of you know, we will be worshiping in a different building," Holman said. "All because we have chosen to stand for the gospel and the authority of God's word over our lives."

Today, St. Luke's leaders will hand over the church's keys to the diocese after losing a lengthy battle to practice its conservative brand of Christian theology and hold onto the church.
Read the rest here ...
[But I couldn't help but note that the article described "... roughly 75 congregants at the 10:30 a.m. service as they filed in and exchanged hugs. Some in the audience were not members of the congregation but wanted to show their support, while others had not been to the parish in years but wanted to attend Holman's final service there." Maybe "if you build it, they will come" doesn't extend to Schismatic Anglicanism!
And ALL of this reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite musicals: Fiddler on the Roof. It's the part where Tevye prays for God to "Bless and keep the Czar ... far away from us!"
So prayers ascend for those who have left the Episcopal Church because their understanding of bringing the "Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" is different that ours.
May God bless them ... far away from the property and polity of the church they've chosen to leave. AND may God bless US with the will, the vision and the commitment to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to ALL who come seeking to claim it as their own as we put these property disputes behind us and use the days and weeks and months ahead as opportunities to move forward in mission and ministry.]