Monday, July 03, 2006

Meandering Through a Monday

First of all, thanks for the many supportive comments and e-mails. I found a couple of days away to be refreshing. As far as discernment, the most exciting things that were revealed were some opportunities and insights regarding the future of the congregation in which I serve.

Regarding Jake's place, I plan for us to continue, but hopefully we will agree to be a bit more graceful. When those with whom we disagree become "them," we've accomplished nothing except becoming a mirror image of the very attitudes and world views that we oppose. That seems to me to be a pointless endeavor. So let's try to use more care in our choice of words, while still striving to speak the truth.

There's so many items worth our attention that have come to light over the weekend that I though I'd just list the ones that leaped out at me, and leave it to your discretion as to which ones warrant discussion.

The Telegraph reports that liberal clergy in Britain may become allies with their American counterparts. Dylan has some reservations regarding this story. Jim suggests that at least the lead is "a little over the top."

It appears that Canterbury is not pleased with the selection of the rector of Truro Church as the new Nigerian bishop who will head up Abp. Akinola's latest scheme to take advantage of the current confusion in TEC and gain a foothold on this continent for his rather unusual form of Anglicanism. The Anglican Scotist tries to glean some understanding of the current situation from this story, coupling it with Bp. Iker's claim that his cry for AlPO was a unilateral move on his part, and was not done with the blessing of Canterbury.

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh have issued a press release, in which they offer a good summary as to why the concepts of AlPO and a 10th Province are seriously flawed:

...“This request is divisive, yet without substance,” said PEP President Joan R. Gundersen, “since our primate, the Presiding Bishop, has virtually no power and exercises no “oversight” over dioceses and their bishops. It is an irresponsible attempt to create a media event, without regard to the genuine harm this does to parishes in the diocese, to The Episcopal Church, and to the Anglican Communion.” It represents a premature judgment of our Presiding Bishop-elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, of Nevada. The move by the Standing Committee has brought distress to Episcopalians committed to The Episcopal Church, as parishioners fear the organizational estrangement being sought by their bishop. It stirs up division and anxiety in the many parishes that are divided in their response to the recent church controversies and to the course of action being pursued by Bishop Duncan.

The alleged withdrawal of the diocese from Province III is even more disingenuous. Not only does the diocese already have little involvement in provincial affairs, but the Bishop of Pittsburgh well knows that the creation of provinces and the assignment of dioceses to provinces can only be done by canon of the General Convention. It would not be unprecedented for a diocese to ignore its province, but neither the Standing Committee nor the Convention of the diocese can remove the diocese from Province III; only General Convention can do that, and not before 2009. Creating a tenth province, as suggested by the resolution, likewise, can only be accomplished by General Convention. “A province of Network dioceses would be a pastoral disaster,” Gundersen suggested. “At least 13 parishes in this diocese have declined to be part of the Network and declared a commitment to The Episcopal Church. Despite assurances from the Standing Committee, these parishes, and similar parishes in other dioceses, either will be abandoned or forced into a being part of the Network against their will.”
Whatever happens, we cannot allow those parishes who remain faithful to TEC within Network dioceses to be abandoned.

Bishop Barbara Harris has voiced her support for our new Presiding Bishop:

...Some Primates, egged on by disaffected U.S. bishops who fomented strife and dissention in 2003 over the election, consent and consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson and who have continued to work for a church or denomination of their own that would be recognized by Cantebury and other provinces of the Communion, and especially those from Provinces that do not ordain or recognize the orders of women, will probably be demeaning, disrepectful of, or openly hostile toward her. Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori can take it, but she will not be alone. Women bishops of the Episcopal Church have pledged that she will never be unescorted, unprotected and unsupported wherever she goes in the Anglican Communion and in the ecumenical or interfaithcommunity.
Susan Russell offers Integrity's response to Canterbury:

Responding to Archbishop William's statement that "we now face some choices about what kind of Church we as Anglicans are or want to be," Russell said, "The most important choice we face now is whether we will spend the next three years focusing on Mother Church or-in the words of our Presiding Bishop-elect-on Mother Jesus. We cannot live up to our call to be the Body of Christ in the world if we're spending all our time, energy, and resources arguing about how to be the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion."
Amen! We've been distracted long enough by matters that are of little or no concern to most Episcopalians, and is certainly not of interest to those outside the Church, as Senator Danforth reminded us at Convention:

...Virtually all of the public attention on this General Convention has been on the issue of sexual orientation. I don't want to downplay that issue, because obviously, you have to deal with it and it's an important question. But I simply want to raise with you the basic question of whether that issue is truly the centerpiece of the Episcopal Church and when you're thinking about it, I ask you to consider these factors. First, it is the most divisive single issue in America today and secondly, when you think about how we're so focused on the Episcopal Church and so focused on how we deal with this issue, bear in mind that over 99 percent of the people in the United States are not Episcopalians and they really don't care, with all due respect, Bishop Griswold, who our bishops are. And they don't care whether rites for blessing same-sex relationships are found in the prayer book or on the Internet. It's not on their screen and I can't give you data relating to the three quarters of one percent who are Episcopalians, but I bet you the average person in the pew doesn't care much either.

I say this because I know you're intentionally focused on all these issues and all of these resolutions, but whatever you do on the Sunday after this Convention adjourns, all of these people including yours truly in St. Louis, Missouri, are simply going to toddle off to church on Sunday just the way we always did.

I believe that we have a higher calling. I believe that we have a more simple message and I believe that that simple message is the context in which we should see all of the issues and it's exactly the same message Bishop Griswold mentioned in his introduction. It's what St. Paul said. I believe that the central message of the Episcopal Church and of all Christians is and should be that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and that he has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation...
One of the unfortunate casualties of this last Convention was the numerous resolutions that were never considered, due to our preoccupation with purity codes. Even though our newspapers shout about some of the awful things happening in Iraq right now, we were not even able to consider resolutions C028 or C033 which called us to condemn the use of torture. Ethan Vesely-Flad, writing for The Witness, notes this omission, and offers suggestions as to many things that congregations and dioceses can do.

On a lighter note, David invites us to join him in singing "Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Alb!" Here's the last stanza:

Ye men of valor gather
Round the banner of the right
call for alternative primacy
and join us in the fight
Duncan, our future archbishop
And Virtue statesmen are
Now vesting in the Bonnie Blue Alb
That bears a single star!
The Mad Priest suggests that it might be prudent for Peter Akinola to do his homework before making public pronouncements. Although, judging from the response by the Nigerian House of Bishops, I'm not so sure actually reading the document would have improved the rhetoric. So now we are a "cancerous lump"? What a lovely, grace-filled image.

And finally, you must read the latest Waiter Rant, Sounding Gay.


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