Monday, April 10, 2006

A Personal Reflection on the Special Commission's Report

Witness editor Sarah Dylan Breuer offers her reflections on the Special Commission Report:

The report of the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is out; it can be downloaded here.

I was a member of that commission, and I fully support our collective report. I thought a few people might be curious about why that is, so I offer these personal reflections (in no way am I speaking for the commission, or for any other body) so some might understand how someone with my values might find something of value in the report.

I'm an openly gay and partnered Christian who is passionately progressive. I've got a photo on my refrigerator of the moment when then-Canon Gene Robinson heard the news that General Convention had given consent to his election; that photo reminds me of what's best in our life together in the church, and that's why I keep it in a place where I'll see it several times a day. I am gladdened, not grieved, when I see that photo and when I think of that moment.

I'm also a person who first encountered and fell in love with the Anglican tradition in Africa. I'd gone to Kenya for a summer with InterVarsity's Overseas Training Camp program as a young evangelical who'd thought about being a missionary. But when I was there, I saw up close just how much harm can be done by a theology that is centered so much about going to heaven after death that it's almost exclusively about the afterlife.

I lived with an African pastor in Dagoretti, a shantytown outside Nairobi, and listened to many American missionaries who drove in from the wealthy suburbs to tell families in Dagoretti that it didn't matter that their children had no clean water to drink and no decent health care, as those who accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior would live in a mansion in heaven.

I remember vividly one sermon along that theme that literally made me sick -- I had to go outside to throw up. But I did find a gospel that was actually Good News in the preaching and, more importantly, in the lives of Anglican clergy in Kenya who put their bodies literally on the line in protests for human rights. Seeing that made me want to check out this Anglican church, and that's what brought me here.

Read it all on the Witness Magazine website.

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