Monday, May 24, 2010

When is a Bishop Not a Bishop?

Last month, our friend Lisa pointed us to Integrity's announcement of Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo's speaking tour.

Who is Bp. Ssenyonjo? See for yourself:

Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo from Claiming the Blessing on Vimeo.

In 2006, Abp. Henry Orombi of the Anglican Church of Uganda deposed Bp. Ssenyonjo for his support of gay and lesbian Christians.

It must be a slow news day over on the extremist sites, as, for some reason, one of the more shrill voices decided to wait until now to launch a rant about Bp. Ssenyonjo's speaking tour, even though Lisa's post is now over a month old.

So what caused them to get their shorts in a wad this time? Apparently because Ssenyonjo is still referred to as a "bishop" in the speaking tour annoucement, even though he was deposed.

Hmmm...I've got two problems with that point.

First of all, by that logic, one might say that Bob Duncan, Jack Iker and David Schofield should not be considered "real bishops," since they also have been deposed. Actually, I think there are more valid reasons to question the orders of those three, as they have been involved for some years in the attempted theft of properties. Compare that to Bp. Ssenyonjo's "crime" of refusing to be a bigot.

Secondly, claiming that you can somehow "remove" the indelible mark of ordination is a rather Protestant notion, one that I personally question. For that reason, I tend to give Bps. Duncan, Iker and Schofield the benefit of the doubt. They are scoundrels, in my opinion, but I tend to still think of them as bishops.

So, at the risk of exposing some of us as unrepentant Donatists, I want to ask the following question:

Whose authority would you recognize? A deposed bishop who attempted schism and tried to run off with all the silver, or one who spoke out for equal rights at great risk to his own safety?

Bishop Ssenyonjo's speaking tour will come to New York and Washington DC next month. I plan on attending at least one of the events. I'll let you know which one soon, in case some of you might want to join me.

Here are the options:

Sunday, June 6, 10:30am - Preaching at St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

Tuesday, June 8, 12:30pm - Conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson, Center for American Progress, 1333 H Street NW, Washington DC 20005.

Sunday, June 13, 11:00am - Preaching at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10025.

Monday, June 14, 9:00am - Ecumenical Consultation on Decriminalizing Homosexuality, Church at the United Nations, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10016


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