Saturday, July 15, 2006

Holy Apostles Challenges Bishops' Support of B033

Holy Apostles, NYC, is concerned by the support of the bishops of New York for the last minute passage of the unfortunate resolution B033 at General Convention last month. The Rev. Dr. William A. Greenlaw, rector of Holy Apostles, articulates these concerns in a sermon offered on July 2:

...To paraphrase Jeremiah, we hear the cry, "unity, unity, when there is no unity." For unity without justice is not unity at all. The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, for whom we offer needed prayers today in the Anglican cycle of prayer, seems interested in unity only on his terms. He is patently not interested in a "listening process." He will almost certainly not sit down at the same table with Bishop Schori, given both her record and her gender. To call him a "conversation partner" is almost beyond imagining. He has said quite simply, or rather simplistically, he is not going to change because the gospel does not change. And Archbishop Akinola seems clearly the most prominent Global South and African spokesperson at this time, and he has not been repudiated by Archbishop Rowan Williams, so far as I am aware.

But it is also unclear what the Archbishop of Canterbury is prepared to discuss in the face of our quite "inadequate" response, not to mention his obvious shock over the election of Bishop Schori as our new Presiding Bishop. I have the clear sense that Rowan Williams is more inclined to tell us what we must do to stay connected than to sit down with us as a true "conversation partner."

I am sorry to say how disillusioned I have become with him, especially given that on his selection as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was hailed as such a progressive, and brilliant theologian. He seems to have bought into an agenda of holding together the Anglican Communion no matter what the cost in terms of those who need to be excluded.

To me, the salient point is that all these things about our ostensible "partners" were well known before our "inadequate" response to the Windsor Report, yet we sacrificed our own people anyway. The conservatives were not satisfied. And progressives were outraged. The worst of all possible outcomes-and the likelihood of that was all too clear. But we had to give the goal of a false unity one more chance-of uncertain duration.

I think it fair to say that many of us right here at the Church of the Holy Apostles have had our very own "Rosa Parks" moment. Something has quite simply snapped inside for us as well, and from here on out, it is simply no longer tolerable for faithful gay and lesbian persons in our church to be treated as anything other than full and equal members of the body of Christ in every respect. Anything less than that is simply unacceptable and anyone who temporizes with this principle is going to be called on it. And that means our own bishops as well, perhaps especially our bishops, even our own dear Cathy Roskam. They have heard, and they are going to hear more from us, for things have changed, and they are changing in much of our church, thank God...
Later on the same day this sermon was given, the Vestry and clergy of Holy Apostles passed the following resolution:

Whereas the General Convention of The Episcopal Church has held that “there should be no barrier to the ordination of qualified persons of either heterosexual or homosexual orientation whose behavior the Church considers wholesome,” [1979] and that the General Convention “intend[s] for this Church to provide a safe and just structure in which all can utilize their gifts” [2000];

And whereas the Conventions of the Diocese of New York are on record as recognizing that “all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ,” [1999] and that “the Standing Committee and Commission on Ministry ought not raise the issue [of the sexual preference of a candidate for ordination] in their consideration of a candidate’s fitness” [1978];

And whereas many members of this parish, both gay/lesbian and straight, have experienced the passage of Resolution B-033 at the 2006 General Convention with a feeling of betrayal of the support and welcome of all the baptized faithful previously declared by this Diocese and The Episcopal Church;

And whereas the affirmative votes of our own bishops for this resolution have left our parish with a deep sense of unease with our chief pastors and in need of clarification from them;

Therefore be it resolved that we, the vestry of the Church of the Holy Apostles in the Diocese of New York, call upon Bishops Sisk, Roskam, and Taylor to demonstrate, before the 2006 Diocesan Convention, their leadership in celebrating the gifts of gay and lesbian people in this diocese and The Episcopal Church, and to declare their intended actions to further the full inclusion of baptized gay and lesbian people in all aspects of the life of the Diocese of New York and The Episcopal Church, including the episcopate in this Diocese and throughout The Episcopal Church.
This resolution looks to me to be a good model for other congregations to use as a template.

How did your bishop vote on B033? Does he or she know of your great disappointment in regards to the passage of this resolution? If not, why not?

For those desiring a more optimistic view, the Mad Priest has returned, and offers us a glimpse of a possible silver lining within the current cloudy skies of Anglicanism, as well as the opportunity to laugh at ourselves a bit. Usually a healthy thing to do once in awhile.


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