Sunday, June 18, 2006

Who'd Have Thunk It?

What a wild, amazing, Spirit-filled, historic day behind us -- may God give us grace for the wild, amazing, Spirit-filled journey ahead of us!

I am still fairly stunned by the rapidly accelerating sequence of events that left us at the end of the day with the historic choice of the first woman primate in the Anglican Communion as the Rt. Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori (Bishop of Nevada) was elected (on the fifth ballot) the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Thrilled on so many levels at her election I am also deeply, powerfully aware of how far this church has traveled in order to allow it to MAKE this courageous and historic (I know -- third time I've used historic ... well it IS!!!) choice possible.

I remember the deep pain, division and anguish of the 1970's when the ordination of women (the last great threat to global Anglicanism and Western Civilization as we know it) was the thing that was going to split the church. I remember the lines for communion stretched out at diocesan convention with folks jockeying to get into position so they wouldn't have to receive communion from (horrors!) a woman priest. I remember my own Aunt Gretchen whose congregation (one of four) tried to "leave the Episcopal Church" over the ordination of women in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 1977. And I carry with me, close to my heart, the stories of sister priests who had to cross police lines to get to their own ordinations because of the bomb threats.

And so the very idea that the bishops of the Episcopal Church could elect a woman to lead them ... and the House of Deputies concur OVERWHELMING to that election with barely a murmur of dissent is so overwhelming I'm almost afraid to go to bed tonight lest I wake up and find out it was all a dream.

I am so proud of this church I could just burst.

Proud that we were ready, willing and able to put everything else aside and select the person the Holy Spirit anointed to lead us with grace, with concord and with great joy.

Proud that through the many dangers, toils and snares we have come over the divisive issue of the ordination of women we have emerged on the other side of those challenges stronger, bolder and more open to God's Holy Spirit.

And convinced that this election is huge message of hope to those who fear these present challenges will be our undoing. We have history on our side -- we have hope on our side -- and most importantly we have the Holy Spirit on our side who leads us into all truth and into all knowing.

And what I know tonight is that this election is tremendously good news for a church in desperate need of same. It is not only a vote for a Presiding Bishop it is a vote for the future -- a vote for a new vision of what the church can be and who the church can become if we can be open to the Spirit of truth that leads us into all truth and refuse to be discouraged by the voices crying, "Not yet" -- "Slow down" -- "Be careful."

I am convinced that if we had listened to those self-same voices in 1976 after the General Convention approved the ordination of women -- if we had succumbed to the doomsayers and the sky-is-falling-ers who threatened split and schism and (I'll have to check but I think I'm right on this) the end of civilization as we know it -- we wouldn't be celebrating the election of the first woman primate at this 75th General Convention.

And I can't think of a better Father's Day gift to the Anglican Communion than its first woman primate.

Bishop Jefferts Schori has been a supportive voice and vote in the House of Bishops, she has been a strong supporter of Integrity Nevada and was a most welcome honored guest at last Friday's Integrity Eucharist here in Columbus. (Three of the seven PB candidates were with us for that amazingly wonderful celebration ... feel free to guess the other two! :) She has every best gift we could ask for in a Presiding Bishop and it is with great joy and anticipation that we look forward to working with her in the months and years to come.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise God all creatures here below
Praise God above ye heavenly host
Creator, Son and Holy Ghost.


Good night!


Ann said...

It is Katharine - note the other "a"

Shual said...

Congratulations from Germany. And all the best for Katherine Jefferts Schori and her supporters.


ann ... fixed. thanks

Hiram said...

Good luck to her -- she'll need it.

Anonymous said...

I guess this is it; the Anglican realignment will move into high gear as ecusa has clearly signalled her intent to walk apart. The Episcopal Church will become The Episcopal Communion with its 16 countries. Maybe it can add Canada, New Zealand and a few other places. I expect that the Anglican Communion through the ABC and the Primates will declare that ecusa has chosen to go its own way. It may take another century, but it will be clear at some point which position really was following the Holy Spirit.

Catherine said...

Hiram, luck has nothing to do with it. God has revealed Their will so it has been done and will continue to be done in the future.

There are two constants in the in this world, Hiram, and they God and Change. Right now, some people in our Communion are having a hard time with both. The Holy Spirit in Her wisdom led the Bishops because they had their hearts and minds truly open to the wisdom of the Spirit. The Deputies were equally open to the movement of the Spirit among them.

Where is your sense of mission, dear Hiram, where is your reconciling spirit and witness of Christ's grace and wisdom within you. I am praying now for all who feel that change is not a good thing, but with God, Hiram, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

Blessings, truly,


Catherine said...

As for the election of our new PB, it is truly a good time in life to be named +Katharine, however it may be spelled. And as hers and my name come from the Greek, may the cleansing and purging of hatred, loathing, narrow-mindedness, poverty, homelessness be "cleansed and purged" as much as humanly possible under +Katharine's guidance. And she will guide us as the Spirit of God will her in leading us.

Blessings to all, from my heart,


Jim Strader said...

I reviewed the Rev. Sen. John Danforth's presentation to the General Convention the other night. I think he said something that all Episcopalians need to heed. The issue, really the theme, that we need to act upon is the reconciliatory work of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. This gospel-vision work includes the Holy Spirit's movement through the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies to elect and confirm +Katharine as the new Presiding Bishop (thanks be to God).

Some Anglo-Catholics, traditionalists, and members of the broader Orthodox Church may say and do any number of things about what took place yesterday in Columbus, OH. Our response to them is, IMHO, that we understand your concerns and we are still going to be about the business of reconciling ourselves to God and to our neighbors. We are engaged in this mission because it is the work we need to do in our parishes, in the streets of our cities, in the poverty-stricken villages of the world, and in all of humanity's heart, body, and souls.

The work, the Call, the "Vocatio" Jesus calls us as Christians to live into is to reconcile ourselves to God and towards one another. This reconciliation is not bound up by differences of opinion about ontological, theological, ecclesiological, or any other sort of (il)logical containers/precepts. We loose our focus and our Spirit-drive witness when we continually to seek uniformity rather unity in Christ. Our work is to heal and live in the world in new and challenging ways. +Katharine has a vision for that sort of mission and I am willing and able to get on board, today – right now!

Chip Webb said...

Jim (and Catherine),

We on the orthodox end take reconciliation as our mission as well, but reconciliation in terms of social justice issues is not our primary concern. We are primarily concerned with reconciling sinful human beings to the God who made them, loves them, and calls on them to repent and believe the good news (a call that extends to all of humanity, not just some of us). Those two angles are not necessarily contradictory, and God calls the church to a wholistic mission, but progressives and orthodox almost always differ in priorities and mission (not to mention our differences in belief).

Is our mission affected by our theological differences? Sure it is, because theology ultimately is practical and personal. If I believe that we are, to quote C.S. Lewis, "all rebels that need to lay down our arms against God," that's going to affect my sense of mission. If, in contrast, I believe that human beings need to know of their acceptance by God just as they are, it's going to lead to a very different sense of mission.

Peace of Christ,

Anonymous said...

The Holy Spirit in Her wisdom led the Bishops

Ah, goddess worship. Not surprising to find it lurking about here.

I guess we agree, the episcopagan bishops were led by a spirit. It's not the same Spirit that fell on the apostles at Pentecost, but a spirit nonetheless. It's a shame. You all seem like such nice people.

Repent and turn to Christ.


Bill at IndustrialBlog.Powerblogs.Com

Jim Strader said...

Chip - Thank you for your comments. The theological distinctions that you make in your comments perhaps do indeed delay, or disenable you and I and others like us to accomplish Christ's work in the world.

I reject "Fall/redemption" theology as being a constituitive reason for tending to the needs of the world. I ground my Christian theology in the historical fact that Jesus accomplished his work and forgave sin well before he was executed on Golgotha. Moreover, I believe we are called to save souls and lives today rather than place the emphasis of our faith and deeds on what may occur in the eschaton. Is creation and humankind inherently good, inherently evil, or inherently human? I seek not to answer those questions without first looking, as I believe Jesus did, into the depths of the human being in front of him while seeking to heal that person's wounds and manifest God's Grace. Such activity, as + Vicky Gene said the other night, is all about Jesus.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Thanks be to God! It is so obvious that the Holy Spirit is moving in a very prophetic way within our beloved Episcopal Church. I am so incredibly thankful for what has taken place. Of course, the detractors and nay sayers abound (especially here in the Diocese of South Carolina) and to that I say "Go in peace to love and serve teh Lord!" Hopefully the Holy Spirit will purge this diocese soon and make it a healthy place!!

Glory to God for Bp. Katharine!

Milton said...

Jim, re your last comment:
"I reject "Fall/redemption" theology as being a constituitive reason for tending to the needs of the world. I ground my Christian theology in the historical fact that Jesus accomplished his work and forgave sin well before he was executed on Golgotha."

Jesus said "I have a baptism to undergo (crucifixion) and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" "this is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up(in crucifixion); that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life." "and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh." "'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.' But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die."

John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." But the lamb in the Temple could only take away sin by being sacrificed and having its blood poured out on the altar. Hebrews Ch. 9 speaks at length on Jesus being the great high priest, taking away our sins not with the blood of bulls and goats, which could never take away sins, but with His own blood. See especially vs. 11-28.

Many Evangelicals say that everyone before the crucifixion was "saved on credit". Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world", in the eternal plan of the triune God to whom all things are present. If Jesus was not going to die on the cross, the innocent for the guilty (all of us, "none righteous, no, not one") then He could not have forgiven any sins.

If you ground your Christian theology on the "historical fact" that Jesus forgave sin before He was crucified, I suggest you give the Gospels, as well as the entire OT and NT a more careful reading. If Jesus had taken Satan up on his offers to choose worldly rewards ("all the kingdoms of the world" shown Him in the desert) and refuse the cross, then perfect Mercy and perfect Grace could not satisfy the demands of perfect Justice. What would you think of a human judge who pardoned and set free murderers whose guilt was plainly and indisputably proven? How much more must the holy, holy, holy God, whose eyes are too pure to look upon sin, insist on the just penalty being paid by those who sin (all of us), by the only One who could pay it. But the justification only applies to us if we confess our sin (literally agree with God that we are sinners) and truly are sorry (real grief over the actual deed, not annoyance that we were caught or saying we are sorry someone has chosen to have their feelings hurt) and then truly repent (literally "turn again" make a u-turn in actions) demonstrated by a change in life that only God could grace us to do. Otherwise we are asking to be judged and forgiven on our own merits, with certain judgement (from God, not men) to follow. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison!

Renee in Ohio said...

The Holy Spirit in Her wisdom led the Bishops

Ah, goddess worship. Not surprising to find it lurking about here.
Does it really frighten you that much? This isn't even calling God "She", it's using a feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is, by definition, a Christian, trinitarian entity. And one that transcends gender, I should think. Our language, unfortunately, doesn't have a way of transcending gender, other than the word "it", which is hardly appropriate.

My absolute favorite hymn is Here I Am, Lord...

I the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne your people's pain
I have wept for love of then
They turn away
I will break their hearts of stone
Give them hearts for love alone
I will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?

So many hearts of stone. I pray that God, who is bigger and more awesome than the little boxes we humans create, is hard at work creating new hearts, for love alone, in all of us.

Jim Strader said...

Milton - "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven, or to say "Rise, take up your pallet and walk?" But that you may know that the Son of man has authority to forgive sins" - he said to the paralytic- "I , say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." (Mark 2: 8b-11)

I was born and raised in a Southern Baptist tradition. We can banter abotu scripture all night and all day long if you would like to. The Gospel of Mark has an entirely different Christology and sense of Jesus' redemptive nature than the Gospel of John. Many of the early Christian co-opted to scriptures of the Hebrew Bible to justify their hermeneutics of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

I've read scripture, and read it in koine Greek, Spanish, German, and English. I rest assured that everytime I read it I will read it in a new way, non-literally. I observe the differences evangelicals and progressives have regarding the authority of scripture. These differences have not historically, nor should they now, prevented Anglicans from continuing Jesus' redemptive work in the here and now.

Milton said...

Jim, I don't "banter" about Scripture, for "it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Did you not recognize Mark 10: 45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."?
I will add Mark 14: 24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." You can't dismiss a point by simply ignoring it. Jesus said Himself several times that His blood would be poured out for forgiveness of sins. If you drive a new car off a lot you can surely expect the dealer to demand full payment for it eventually. Just because you have physical possession of the car doesn't mean you don't owe money on it! So Jesus could forgive sins in temporal advance of His crucifixion, knowing that He would pay for them on the cross at the appointed time.

To address another of your points, Jesus never said or indicated that His work was finished before the cross. On the contrary, some of His last words before giving up His spirit to the Father were "It is finished!" You can correct me on this but I have heard several teachers who have, like you, read the Bible in its original languages say that Jesus said only one word, rendered in Greek as (phonetically) "tetalestei", meaning "paid in full", a reference to the list of offenses tacked to the door of a Roman prisoner's cell which was stamped "tetalestei" when a prisoner had served his sentence. So again, Jesus affirms that He paid the price for our sins on the cross.

>>Many of the early Christian co-opted to scriptures of the Hebrew Bible to justify their hermeneutics of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.<<
So did Jesus. He said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5: 17) Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that all the things written about Him in the Law and the prophets would be fulfilled, predicting His own death as a sacrifice several times. He opened the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus so their hearts burned within them as He showed them how He fulfilled every prophecy of Him in the Hebrew Scriptures.

So you were born in a Southern Baptist tradition and read the Scriptures in the original languages. Wonderful! There is a man in our congregation who was a Southern Baptist for 40 years. He disbelieves in Jesus' bodily resurrection, the ascension to heaven (Of course heaven isn't "up" or else it would be in an infinite number of directions away from the center of the earth, that's not what taking the Bible literally means!) or the veracity of any of the OT and all the miracles are merely metaphors to him, as are heaven and hell. Spong and Borg are his theological heroes. You seem to think you are above all that, your Baptist upbringing. But I notice that most people who pride themselves on taking the Bible "non-literally" only take the parts they find uncomfortable and convicting as non-literal. Those you dismiss as literalists usually don't take the wooden face meaning as the interpretation ("raining cats and dogs" to mean that animals are falling from the sky!) but rather believe that Scripture means what it means, with the genre being used in the particular passage taken into account in the full context of the passage.

Beware of dismissing conviction felt from the plain meaning of Scripture. It is said that W. C. Fields, hardly a Christian, was found toward the end of his life reading the Bible. A longtime friend asked him, "What are you doing reading the Bible? You never paid any attention to it before now." W. C. replied, "Looking for loopholes,looking for loopholes..."

Jim Strader said...

Milton - you may say and believe what you have said about your interpretation of scripture. You have not however addressed my last question regarding the mission of the Church. You may dismiss my liberal view of the authority of scripture but you likewise "Cherry-pick" the verses you use to express your point of view. I am not saying that Jesus did not give his life as a "ransom" to many. Albeit, the word ransom in this case in the Greek may be defined as "to liberate from misery. "The matter of Jesus' death on the cross as "satisfy" God for human "sin" is where we differ, and will continue to differ.

Most liberal and progressive Christians aren't "looking for loopholes." They are critically and appropriately challenging scripture that has been used as a sledgehammer against slaves, people of color, women, LGBT persons, single peoplem and so on. Scripture has authority and authority isn't without debate or challenge.

Anonymous said...

You know, there is somethign to be said for the process of consensus. When a decision is reached through a consensus process, whether the Quaker model or another, everyone must support, or at least agree not to block, a decision in order for it to pass. Everyone who feels moved to speak shall speak, and in the end, no one can say, "well, I didn't vote for it."

In large groups, such a process would need a very long time to be accomplished.

However, the House of Bishops and the Convention do not operate by consensus. With a majority-rule vote, there is always to temptation to kvetch and moan about the outcome of a vote -- "Well, *I* didn't vote for it."

The will of the bishops, led by the Holy Spirit, was expressed in the outcome of this vote. While submitting to episcopal rule is not a strong suit of American Episcopalians, it is time to stop whining about who did or didn't support a particular outcome. The vote passed. If we don't like how it worked out, then it is time to go to work through persuasion and reason to change the minds and hearts of others. Or, it is time to abandon the legislative process and find a new one.

I was raised Methodist, and it was made clear to me that decisions should not be based solely on text -- because it says so in the Bible is not good enough reason to allow polygamy, slavery, or the stoning to death of criminals -- but on reason, tradition, and experience (meaning experience of the work of the Spirit) together.

One could debate whether the decision was made according to "tradition", but women served as bishops in the early church, and there is no reason under heaven why they ought not to lead us now.

Anonymous said...

Renee wrote: Does it really frighten you that much? This isn't even calling God "She", it's using a feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit.

Oh yes, I'm deathly afraid of possessive pronouns :) Help!

My point is the behavior and thoughts displayed here are clearly not of the Spirit, and I would not be surprised to find that many of you have an asherah pole or two in your basements. Yes, I'm smiling (a little) as I say that.

Bill at

Milton said...

Jim, to address the point directly that you say I missed, namely the mission of the Church. You said to Chip that it is "to reconcile ourselves to God and to one another". A fine sentiment. But we have not the power or the goodness in our unregenerate selves to do it genuinely. St. Paul would agree that the church's mission is reconciliation, and he would be in agreement with Jesus, "who was in the world reconciling the world to the Father". Notice though, that it is Jesus, not us sinners, who is accomplishing the reconciliation. And reconciliation from what? Our sin of rebellion against God's will, which we all have committed, from Adam onward. That you put "sin" in scare quotes perhaps reveals more than you realize about who you think Jesus was and is and what the Gospel and Christianity are at their core.

Oh yes, Paul and reconciliation and the mission of the church. He wrote something that wraps those and the sacrifice for sin on the cross together quite nicely:

2 Corinthians 5: 14-21
14For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;

15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

16Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

18Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Anonymous said...

we know the seeds by their fruits...

I see plenty of the fruits of the Spirit in the election of our new PB, and in the conversation here.

go look them up if you feel the need.

it must be very reassuring to feel you have the right interpretation of each scriptural passage.

Anonymous said...

by the way, I appreciate the willingness of those who hold various viewpoints to engage in conversation here. I usually choose not a read to blogs of those I strongly disagree with, and choose not to engage in dialog, so thank you.

Milton said...

Sara, if you are referring to the 2 Cor. 5 passage, the plain meaning of the text seems clear. I am interested in how the passage strikes you, since you imply that it does not speak to the points I raised. My reasons for visiting this blog are similar to yours perhaps for visiting reasserting blogs. Dialogue, anyone?

Chip Webb said...


And thank you for your response back. Differences about whether humanity's fall and our redemption motivate our mission are a major source of division between progressives and orthodox.

I like what you say about holding others in high esteem and seeking to look for the good in others, but in terms of goodness, isn't only one [i.e., God] ultimately good, as Jesus said?

Peace of Christ,

Catherine said...

Jeff and those in the know are right about the Holy Spirit, She is feminine. And if you do your biblical homework, which the conservatives have not, you would know that. Need more education, get it in a simple sermon entitled "Pentecost: Who's Your Mama? The Holy Spirit Is" on my blog "Come to the Table...". I am sure if Susan had the time much less the energy she would clarify those who need it regarding the Holy Spirit, but to keep it simple for her, I offer my priest's sermon on the matter. I am sure they would be in agreement as are most enlightened men in the clergy.


Anonymous said...

Can anyone comment on David Virtue's assertion that four to nine right-wing retired bishops voted for Bishop Katharine to force a division in ECUSA?