Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Consultation Weighs in on Diocese of Florida election process

Bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees around the Episcopal Church continue to weigh in on consents to the election of a new bishop for the Diocese of Florida. It is always a long, drawn out process -- in this case made the more so by widely debated and much discussed concerns about both the integrity of this election process in general and this episcopal candidate in particular. 

On May 13, The Consultation -- the Episcopal Church's progressive collaborative "striving for peace & justice since 1985" -- sent out a letter which included this essential reminder:
We continue to believe that this particular consent process has reverberations not only for the Diocese of Florida but also for the wider Church. At stake in this election, which emerged out of a documented discriminatory system, is whether we as a wider Church will hold ourselves to account to our non-discrimination canons. 
It also reminded us of the crucial importance in this process of listening to the voices on the margins of church -- those "strangers at the gate" who remain directly impacted by the systemic discrimination which we continue to struggle to overcome on our journey to become the Beloved Community we aspire to be. We are not a distraction from -- or a "politicization of"-- the process. We are part of the process. 
Participating in the polity of our church, and making use of the ways it provides for input and discussion by all four orders of ministry and especially those groups historically on the margins, is part of the work of becoming the Beloved Community. We stand in the light of saints whose courage helped forge our work and brought us to where we are today, including Bishop Barbara Harris, Louie Crew Clay, and the Philadelphia Eleven whose 50th ordination anniversary we will celebrate next year.
We need the kind of comprehensive insight, perspective, and truthfulness that communities such as our coalitional members, as well as the LGBTQ+ Caucus, the Deputies of Color, and many more, lend to shine light on our collective path ahead. In all of our struggles, we hold together in solidarity and love.
Bearing in mind that my "day job" is as the Canon for Engagement Across Difference here in the Diocese of Los Angeles, I recognize that good people of deep faith are going to come to different conclusions on whether or not to consent to this election. And at this point, no matter what the outcome, there is going to be much healing and rebuilding of both trust and discipleship needed on the other side as we continue to aspire to those core Gospel values of solidarity and love. 

Nevertheless, we persist. We persist in calling the Church hold itself to its non-discrimination canons. We persist in recognizing that there is a fundamental difference between feeling discriminated against because you are disagreed with and being discriminated against because of who you are. And we persist in believing that we can become a Beloved Community where the full and equal claim promised to God's beloved LGBTQ people becomes not just a resolution we adopt but a reality we live -- in every diocese of this Church.
Gracious God, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.


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