Thursday, March 17, 2011

What we're doing in Atlanta, what we're NOT doing in Atlanta and why I think it all matters

Due to the marvels of modern technology I'm blogging from somewhere between Burbank and DFW ... on my way to Atlanta for the two day "churchwide consultation" hosted by the SCLM (Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music) of the Episcopal Church.

Here's what we're going to do:

Our task will be to consult with representative deputies (two from each diocese; one lay/one clergy) on the resources we (the task forces charged with the task by the SCLM) have been gathering and developing in response to Resolution C056 ... passed in 2009 by General Convention and calling for "an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."

That work has been delegated to four different task groups:

● Theology
● Liturgy
● Teaching & Pastoral Care
● Canonical Implications

And in a VERY packed day-and-a-half we will meet in plenary sessions to hear updates on the process and context of the task groups and their work; break into small groups for conversation and feedback; and then charge the deputies to go back to their deputations and continue the conversation.

Here's what we're NOT going to do:

We're not going to debate whether or not we should be gathering these resources. That conversation already happened. In Anaheim.

And we're not going to debate how we should use the resources we've gathered. That conversation is yet to happen. In Indianapolis.

Why I think what we're doing matters

Whether or not to take the resources we've gathered and authorize their use for the blessing of same-gender relationships is an important step for the Episcopal Church. Obviously I think it's the right step to take and it's one I will be working hard to see that we take in Indianapolis. But as important as I think that is, what we're doing together in Atlanta is even more important.

Resolution C056 specifically asked that
"... the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion"
... and this work we are doing together in Atlanta was described by my colleague Heidi Clark as "the holy privilege ... of being in this particular moment of the life of the church. listening deeply, and reflecting together on what the SCLM is developing to bring to the whole church."

Does everybody think that's the best idea they've ever heard of? A great way to spend the time of a couple of hundred deputies and other church leaders? Heck no.

One correspondent wrote that "there isn't a lot -- not a lot that's important anyway -- for the deputies to do." And yesterday I had a phone conversation with a diocesan colleague who declared the whole process a misguided effort to create second class liturgies for gay people -- and until we have marriage equality in the prayer book we're not "there."

My answer to the first was "I guess 'important' is in the eye of the beholder" ... and my answer to the second was ... "You're absolutely right ... and that's not the conversation C056 charged us to have."

I think ... I hope and I believe ... that what we're doing together in Atlanta both can and will be a new model for how the whole church comes together for consultation and reflection in an intentional way in preparation for the legislative work we do together when we gather for General Convention.

Make no mistake about it ... I consider the political work we will do in Indianapolis as holy as I do the consultative work we will do in Atlanta -- because I think it is all part of how we live out our call to continue to discern God's will and the Holy Spirit's direction in community. And I think we have a chance to break new ground in Atlanta by modeling a transparent collaborative process involving the whole church in creating these resources in response to the church's request for them via C056.

So prayers invited -- for good travel karma. For a productive time together. For ears to hear and hearts to listen not only to each other but to the One who calls us together to do this work. And most of all in thanksgiving for the love that calls us into community and into relationships -- and then sends us out into the world to love it as God loved it.

Film -- as they say! -- "at eleven!"


LGMarshall said...

re Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music....' opening the process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships....' [wake me up when this sentence is over.]

Your requiring.....4 different task groups... representative deputies... plenary sessions...updates on the process...small group conversation... small group feedback...charge the deputies to go back to their deputations... continue conversation....

You make it so complicated... and difficult. Which to some, may prove a point that same gender relationship blessings weren't meant to coalesce.


Right ... and if we didn't make it "complicated" we'd be told we "weren't doing the theology. Which "to some" may prove the point that nothing we do is going to make "some" happy anyway so we might as well just keep moving forward and do the right thing.

Martin T. said...

Doing the right thing??? The "right thing" in this matter is to repent and reconcile with the folks that left. Stop trying to turn our Church into the MCC...that would be "the right thing" in this matter. What a huge joke this all is.

uffda51 said...

Yes, the work and discernment of TLC for the past 35+ years is simply a huge joke, and a complicated one at that. It makes some yearn for the seriousness and simplicity of bigotry and ignorance. If only TEC did the "right thing" and continued to operate like a restricted country club.

If only those who feel that the Holy Spirit is calling upon them to drop turds in the LGBT punch bowl could give it up for Lent.

Martin T. said...

Yes, it is a joke. I stand by that one with everything I have.

uffda51 said...

It’s very easy to “stand” by your views when you enjoy unexamined privilege. But, as Martin Niemöller asked, who will stand up for us after we have failed to speak out against injustice?

Yes, it’s just a big joke when the majority votes on your marriage. And it’s just a big joke when you lose 1000+ civil rights over night. And it’s just a big joke when the essence of a LGBT person’s God-created being is reduced to a “lifestyle.”

I understand that the “God, guns and gays” crowd does not want to be bothered by questions about the linguistic, contextual, midrash, mythical and poetic aspects of the Bible (not to mention how contradictory accounts of the same event can be “inerrant”).

But what is it about “do unto others,” the “Great Commandment,” “the least of these,” “you shall not bear false witness” and “judge not” that the Bible literalists don’t get?

And while I’m pondering questions, what is it about the internet which emboldens certain people to make wildly offensive comments that they would never make in a face–to-face conversation?

uffda51 said...

Yes, George Wallace’s “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” fit on a campaign placard. But Thurgood Marshall’s position prevailed, even though it was both “complicated” and “difficult.” Even though Rand Paul now wants a do-over, Marshall’s position will prevail yet again.

And before someone complains that you can’t compare segregation with marriage equality . . . yes, you can. Both issues involve a conservative majority defining a minority as “unequal,” both involve conservative majority attempts to incorporate religious views into the U.S. Constitution, and both involve conservative majorities who cite the Bible to buttress their arguments.


"Stop trying to turn our Church .."

Newsflash, Martin ... the words "our Church" includes US.

Doesn't belong to you. And YOUR church ... The Episcopal Church ... the one that meets in convention every three years and mades decisions for the WHOLE church decided by bishops, clergy and laity ... decided to pass this resolution.

Our job is to collect the resources we've been charged to collect.

Your job is to get over yourself!

Martin T. said...

Yes they did Susan and do you know why? It had nothing to do with "divine revelation" or the Holy Spirit. It's because they were weak and poorly catechized Christians pressured by people like you. You know how they say "There's an app for that"? Well, that crap that you and your fan club are doing to the Church, there is an organization for "that" called the MCC. Why you guys didn't lead an exodus there? Not enough credibility there for your cause of "equality" under the disguise of "accept my sinful behavior as a valid way of life"? Time for someone to call you guys out.

And uffda, how do you know what I don't say and say in public? Believe it or not, no one ever asked me my feelings on the subject even though I'm sure they already know. I prefer to just avoid that ilk. I'm sure that rings a clear bell on my feelings, don't you think? Sometimes you don't even need words to express your obvious disgust and disdain for things.


Martin, you really leave nothing left to say on this one but "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."

Not go from the church we share in common in spite of our differences -- for I have no more right to tell you to leave your church than you do to tell me to leave mine. But go and spend some time in prayer and reflection on how to build up the kingdom in your community and relationships as we do the same in ours.

Lenten Blessings, Susan

Martin T. said...

Believe me I do Susan. Except that I'm not going to tell someone that what is right is wrong, and what is all of a sudden...right. Good day Susan.

Just Me said...

Well to be fair Susan, maybe not overnight, but soon; the more orthodox won't have a choice in TEC. They will be squeezed or pushed out eventually. I honestly believe that's not what you personally desire, but I believe it's inevitable.

Martin, Susan's correct; it isn't your church or her church or our church. It really boils down to the individual; every church is just a building. The Church has never been nor will it ever be contained to a building.

I also express God's peace to you. Let Him guide your steps to where you are called to be.

Martin T. said...

Just Me,
I never looked at Church as a building. The Church is of course the Body of Christ, and because of the actions of a few loud people, the Body is weakened. I hope it doesn't come to the point that I have to leave but God's Will be done. I'm sad to see our once great Christian community get destroyed by political correctness. These kind of experiments never will have success and TEC will continue to be marginalized until it finally disappears. And yes, it makes me mad as hell because people let Satan take over. Maybe the end times really are here.

Just Me said...

I believe we are; now how long these days will last is a whole different question. ;-)

You will know when it's time to leave; just ask. I recall a conversation I had with my dad a year ago. He & his wife (my step-mom) had been faithful members of a TEC church for many years, but when his wife got cancer; the church turned its back on them. He called me so upset one day saying that "I guess you only get pastoral care if you're part of the new club." I gave him the same advice. He and his dying wife are now receiving care and support from a baptist church group in their town. He continues to begrudge the fact that he doesn't want to be a baptist, but I keep reminding him that it's just a sign on a building.
I hope and pray that you are led to a community; life is too trying to go at it without one.

Martin T. said...

That's so horrible. My heart tore while reading that. Makes my little plight look like small potatoes. Even my priests haven't stooped that low, but that's mostly because they don't even know how I feel, or to the extent of it. Prayers for your family,Just Me. Pray for me too please.

danielj said...

Just Me that is just plain shameful and sinful the way that church responded to your parents' need. I will remember them in my prayers. there are certainly bad churches out there...I have had the bad fortune of esperiencing alot of them over the years. Christianity sure needs to grow up and follow the Jesus way...mercy, grace, compassion etc.

And guys, I do know what it feels like to be in the hated minority. They , the majority, think they are right, and when one won't repent, one get treated like crap.

perhaps the lesson to learn our of this... if it is hurtful when folks do it to us,we might want to not be the same way towards others.

Just Me said...

Thank you all for the prayers; we'll take as many as we can get!

Daniel; amen. At the end of the day, we are all broken & wounded people doing the best we can in a broken & wounded world.

The way I see it, there are 2 groups of people; our brothers/sisters and our neighbors. Now if only we all could remember to treat each other as such.

God's peace & mercy be with us all.