...She rejected out of hand the misapprehension that we have to choose between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. "I do not believe God has any patience with those who insist we must choose between evangelism and social justice. One cannot love God and our neghbor without doing both," she said. "Scripture tells us that we cannot love God who we don't see if we don't love our neighbors who we do"...Here is the local press coverage of this event and a celebration later in the day in Chapel Hill honoring the 30th anniversary of the first black woman ordained in the Episcopal Church. I understand there are some among us who were present in either Raleigh or Chapel Hill. Would you care to add to Susan Russell's report?
...Speaking of the press, when asked what had been the greatest challenges she's faced so far as the first woman primate she noted wryly, "The press see me as fair game but I see them as an opportunity for evangelism" -- to much applause from the gathered Assembly. Equally well received was her response to a question about the Iraq war: "It is long past time to beat our swords into plows."
Asked about the upcoming meeting of the Primates in Tanzania and how we might pray for her and for them she noted the message to the church sent out yesterday through ENS and urged all gathered to pray that God "bless the best of the people we encounter" -- especially those with whom we disagree. In regard to the wider communion, she went on to say she believes there is "a much wider acceptance and diversity of opinion on this issue [human sexuality] than is represented by the primates" and shared her communication with African bishops committed to working beyond those differences. The energy she is taking with her to Tanzania was summed up for me when she said, "Our task is to focus on what our mission is and not on what divides us."
Another questioner took on the "life after B033" issue, noting that for many in this church -- including some in this very room -- life after General Convention 2006 was lived with the reality that their vocations were negotiable and that B033 gave them cause to question whether or not they were truly fully included in the church -- questions that were hampering both ministry and evangelism.
It got very quiet.
And +Katharine didn't flinch. She continued to look directly at the questioner and said in a low somber voice, "I continue to be troubled by that." She went on to say that B033 was the cause of much suffering in the church and that her hope was that out of that suffering would come clarity that would move the church forward. "I think when we come to the next General Convention," she said, "we will be clearer."