Monday, October 16, 2006

Onward and Upward

We're only a couple of weeks away now from the historic investiture of +Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and I'm sensing a "new day dawning" as energy and optimism creep back into the battle-weary, schism-threatened faithful of this great old church of my birth and baptism.

The demand for tickets for the Big Event was so great that a recent ENS story reported only 25% of the requests could be filled and parishes all over the country are organizing "webcast" opportunities for folks to gather at-a-distance and share this new-day-dawning for the Episcopal Church. That's a lot of people excited enough about the future of this church to compete over dropping everything over All Saints weekend and schlepping off to the National Cathedral!

Closer to home, last night was my turn in the staff rotation to speak to the All Saints "Covenant I" class -- our twice a year class for new members. Over 80 people gathered in the Guild Room to share why they've come to the Episcopal Church and it was impossible to hear their stories of longing and faithful searching and hope and optimism and not be excited about the future of this church.

Many of them had come to All Saints as a result of the recent publicity we've received -- both the stories about our parish church and its standing up to the IRS and the stories about national church and its standing up to the internal and external forces trying to turn the clock back on our commitment to proclaiming the inclusive love of God.

Yep it is a sad thing all right that there are those who have chosen to leave the Episcopal Church over the inclusion of the LGBT baptized and the election of a woman as our Presiding Bishop. But make no mistake -- others are coming and have either arrived on our doorsteps or are coming toward us. They want to know if what they've heard and read about the Episcopal Church could actually be true: they are hoping that there really is such a thing as a church where the biblical values we proclaim are doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God rather than exploiting texts out of context to advance an agenda of judgment, exclusion and bigotry. And the work ahead of us is to get on with job of living into that new day.

Here’s what Mark Harris had to say today over on PRELUDIUM: The Episcopal Church is not for sale or rent, nor for the stealing. That's it. Those who wish to take it somewhere by means other than the workings of General Convention changes in canons and prayer book, by diocesan and national conversation, by parish practice and by the common life of the Church itself have had their day. The attempts to bend the path of this Church's ministry by agitating for the realignment of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion have raised important issues and concerns, but these attempts have carried with them a virus, one that could kill the Episcopal Church's gift to the wider Anglican Communion and Christian community. We have been caught up in the miseries of this virus and now it is time to learn what we can from this peculiar time and get on with the life God has given this Church.

And let the people say, “AMEN!”

One opportunity to get on with the life God has given this Church is being offered by the Episcopal Majority folks who are convening a National Gathering in Washington DC November 3rd & 4th. From their website: The Right Reverend Jon Bruno, bishop of Los Angeles, will be the featured speaker at the first meeting of The Episcopal Majority on November 3 in Washington, D. C. He is a recognized leader in the Episcopal Church in such areas as interfaith ministry, education, nonviolence, the Kaleidoscope Project (which facilitates ministry in multicultural settings), and the diocesan Reconciliation Project, which works with people of diverse backgrounds and opinions, helping them find ways to understand each other and work together. Bishop Bruno, who has just returned from a conference in London,* will speak on the challenges confronting the Episcopal Church today.

So come to Washington if you can. Come to the National Gathering and hang out with the folks committed to making this “new day dawning” into a bright future for the Episcopal Church and for the proclamation of the Gospel we have been entrusted to share with a world in desperate need of the Good News it has to offer. And pray without ceasing that the God who has given us the will to imagine a church where all of the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ will give us as well the grace and power to accomplish it.

*That “conference in London” would be a meeting of The Compass Rose Society -- "an international charitable organization that supports the programs and ministries of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council." I'm just SOOOO not sure where all this talk of "walking apart" is coming from when we're the ones who keep showing up!!!


Neil Houghton said...

Amen. The recent meeting of the National Board of Integrity has also raised hopes for an organization that will move forward in new ways to spread the Good Word. I hope any of your readers who are not yet members will become so. Together we can do great things... This is not just a new day, it is a new triennium.

Mary Sue said...

Thanks for reminding me, I still have to finalize my hotel rooms in DC for the Big Party.

Will said...

Hi Susan+ ... There are so many, many of us who have only in the recent years, months, weeks come to the Episcopal Church and found ourselves at home. We all hear the same reports of the great exodus out of TEC, yet here in San Francisco I don't see it, and quite apparently at All Saints you aren't seeing it. Yes, all of the mainstream churches are seeing a difference in attendance from what once was, yet I notice that it's those churches that have dared to risk reputation, resource (income) and affiliation ... that are growing. No names, however I know one of those people who might well be in the Covenant class you led this past week, and when I heard that he is visiting All Saints I was so very pleased because I know that he will find there what he has so often failed to find in the places where he has sought a home along the way.