Saturday, June 24, 2006

Voices from the Middle

From Nick Knisely:

...If anyone claims that the Episcopal Church has not taken Windsor seriously, they were not on the floor of the House of Deputies yesterday. There was such pain and anguish in that place. We have taken the WR seriously and have struggled to say what we can say, and have not said what we can not say.

I was moved to tears (me! The person who was nicknamed "Mr. Spock" in seminary) as my friends and fellow Episcopalians spoke to the resolution from the House of Bishops. People were openly sharing their anguish about what we are being asked to do and the depth of our wanting to walk with our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion. After the vote people were embracing each other and trying to comfort those who felt dishonored or even betrayed - both on the right as well as the left. The Archbishop of York asked us to show the Communion the marks of our cross in his remarks last week. We did that yesterday...

... I have to admit that I am profoundly relieved to be finished. I am proud of what we have done? Not really. I am sad about what has happened? Yes. Would I change it? I don't know. Were we honest? Yes - what we said and didn't say yesterday is a pretty clear snapshot of where we are as a church at the moment. I am also very relieved that this now belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury. If it's not enough - okay. We tried. We wept. We bled. We hurt each other on the right and on the left trying to find a way forward together. If that pain is not honored on earth, it will be honored in heaven. And that is what I really care about...
From David Simmons:

...What has amazed me the most today has been what I have to perceive as the utter hypocrisy of those on the extreme right. Those on the extreme left can be difficult, bull-headed, etc., but the things I have seen coming out of the other side in the last day is truly amazing in it's duplicity. Even the more conservative members of our deputation were disgusted by the time we left.

Yesterday, the right was a well-oiled procedural machine. Deputies moved from deputation to deputation during the entire convention. They even had people in the gallery doing communications with the "outside." Despite all the rhetoric about wanting the Episcopal Church to “uphold the Windsor Report,” when it came down to it they were the ones that called for a vote by orders (making the legislation more difficult to pass) and then voted AGAINST the Windsor resolutions, claiming that they were not sufficient. Today they tried everything they could do with parliamentary procedure to avoid reconsideration of the Windsor resolution, they again moved for a vote by orders, and I’m not sure of it, but I believe they voted against it despite the strengthened language. There’s no logical sense here – even if a resolution is not everything you want, if goes in your direction, you would think you would take it. It would only make sense if even though you claimed you wanted the Episcopal Church to comply, you didn't REALLY want it to.

The answer to all this came literally within a couple of minutes of us passing the resolution from the House of Bishops. Two of the ER bishops released a statement saying that we had failed to comply with Windsor, that they were willing to do so, and that they were the faithful remnant of the Episcopal Church.

It is obvious to even a casual observer that this moment had been scripted since before the convention. My suspicion is that the ER had planned their entire legislative agenda in order to defeat the Windsor resolutions so that they could execute their schism at the most opportune time, claiming that the Episcopal Church had shown we had no desire to stay in the Anglican Communion. They never intended to stay with us no matter what we passed...
From Joe of Canterbury Trail:

...First, on the "conservative" side of the aisle, there are all the expected noises about our efforts not being a "good enough" response to Windsor. This ignores a few important facts:

1. This WR contains recommendations. Does anyone remember what that word actually means? If not, please take the time to consult Webster's.

2. The Report, and the recent words from ++Cantaur and +York, seem to talk about mutual submission. This is, I believe, a very humble and painful effort on our part to come part way down the path towards the other Provinces. Now...what about their turn? That leads us to:

3. Whether we are "Windsor compliant" may be debatable, but there is no doubt...none...that several Bishops and even a Primate in our Communion have blatantly ignored the WR's recommendations regarding the crossing of provincial and diocesan boundaries. Anyone hear Canterbury talking to them about "mutual submission?"

Now, on the "liberal" side (which on this issue includes me), I am also confused by a few things.

1. Do we trust the Spirit to work through the GC process or not? When things go in our favor, we seem to laude it. When things do not, we cry all sorts of bloody hell. Could it be that God is doing something here, in God's own way and time, that we do not understand? Shouldn't we at least be open to that possibility?

2. Finally, while I really do understand the emotional component to many of the responses that I have heard, an I do see the danger in making an idol of unity, I simply cannot believe that we have such a poor understanding of or love for our Communion that we could honestly call the Lambeth gathering and our place at that table a "tea party." Don't we know what it means to be a full, recognized member of the Church catholic? What it could mean to GLBT Christians all over the world, including in places where very lives and not just episcopates are on the line? We need to at least try to stay at that table if we ever really hope to have our witness truly heard beyond the choir. The longer we are in, and the more we keep speaking truth from a seat at that table, the more hope there is for lasting, systemic change.

Look...I am truly sad that this legislation is even necessary. I am broken hearted at the idea that so many of our sisters and brothers feel betrayed and bullied by this...but it is what it is. Let us pray that it will allow us to continue our ministry of transformation to the rest of the Church.
I'm not offering these views to be debated; simply for us to take in and recognize as sincere perspectives of what happened. The moderate middle makes up 60% of TEC. We need to hear what they are saying. I ask that you give weight to their sincerity and be gentle in your responses.


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