Saying "I don't believe that there is any will in this church to move backward," the top official of the Episcopal Church USA said yesterday that the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire has been "a great blessing" despite triggering intense controversy and talk of possible schism.We will not go backward, but we will "make some space." These seem to be conflicting statements to me. In light of the demands from the Primates, the only way to "make some space" that will satisfy them (or at least the two or three Primates that seem to have intimidated the rest of that body) is for us to take a few steps backward.
In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women's rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation for the Episcopal Church "to keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world"...
..."Where the protesters are, in some parts of Africa or in other parts of the Anglican Communion today, is where this church and this society we live in was 50 years ago, and for us to assume that people can move that distance in a year or in a relatively instantaneous manner is perhaps faithless," she said. "That kind of movement and development has taken us a good deal of pain and energy over 40 or 50 years, and I think we have to make some space so that others can make that journey as well"...
My concern is that this sounds like more of the "fast for a season" language. As has been expressed previously, the concept is nice, but the reality is that such a fast will require a sacrifice from only one segment of our membership, effectively creating a second class citizen category within the Kingdom of God.
On a more postive note, I find it helpful to identify part of the vocation of TEC as keeping questions of human sexuality before the world. To do otherwise, at this point, would be to deny our calling.
UPDATE: A video presenting the complete interview, which places Bishop Katharine's comments in context, can be found here.