Friday, July 28, 2006

Home, Checking On Tomato Vines...

Well, they are what they vines, loaded with green tomatoes, squishing the heavy wire cages that surround them. Tomatoes on steroids...better not be! Not in MY garden!

I'm home for the duration, taking care of stuff and then I am "gone" again. It's always good to check into the blogosphere, see how folks are doing. It seems others are in and out as well. That's good. Now I don't feel too bad about not being fully present.

Had a friend in the hospital but she's out now. However during her recovery, she had to put her older dog to sleep...just too much pain for the ol' gal to deal with. She's fine now, wherever our companions go to frolic in open fields, where there's always a frisbee in the air, food in the dish and lots of shade and cool water. I lost a bunny too, during the tremendous triple-digit heat we had the last week or so. It's sibling seems to always be on the lookout for Beta, patiently waiting for his return. At least Alpha is not alone. Homer and Frac keep him occupied doing binkies, or eating or lounging in the shade.

In the interim I have been reading to a little elderly lady in hospice a couple times a week. She had never heard of the author Sue Monk Kidd but she has now. I am reading "The Secret Life of Bees" to her and she loves it. And I love reading it to her out loud. It's amazing what a little attention can do for folks in hospice care.

It's time to go now. I will be back in a few weeks, writing up a storm no doubt about something that strikes or moves me to put fingertips to keyboard.

Until then, enjoy summer. Drink lots of water, stay out of the heat, go swimming, walk the dog and revel in life.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Taking A Little Time Away...

It is the middle of summer and I think I need a tiny vacation from my blogspot.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy blogging. It has in some ways become a saving grace. It is a place were I can fine tune my writing in all of its forms and shapes, share the ideas of others with credit duly given and also to talk about my church--whether Trinity South or THE Church Episcopal USA, and just about any country's name you wish to tack on.

I love my Church because it--in all its frailty and shortcomings--is a very tender yet strong place to be, physically and spiritually. And that is the beauty of it--my church can be and is everywhere I am. I am not a "perfect" Christian, in fact, there is no such creature. We are all in a constant state of flux and growth [at least those of us who choose to grow and not get all gummed up in the static existence of some] and that is as it should be.

I think I have tried to be informative and open-minded [emphasis on the word "try" here], and I think I have succeeded for the most part. From the get-go I let everyone know that I would occasionally rant about things that would and do touch me deeply or that I felt justifiably passionate about, whether about Memorial Day or being a chaplain, or talking about pets, and folks commented accordingly. Thank you for your candor.

It was and is also a creative outlet for poetry, the celebratory and the mournful, and I was happy to provide a place where others could and did have their work shown to the blogosphere and cyberspace, in the hope that it would make a positive difference in someone's life, somewhere.

And it was and is a delight to share the occasional sermon from my rector--with her permission
-- to a wider audience that I felt needed to hear the hope and joy, prayer and praise from someone I admire and respect so very much, and who for me, represents Christ to me each Sunday and during the week. Hat tip to the Rev. Anne Bartlett and, bowing inwardly, namaste.

To my critics and there are some, especially to the north in Portland and surrounding area, I offer this:

If any had bothered to read or visit my blog, you would have had the opportunity to know me better before indiscriminately deleting my postings to the TrinityTwo Yahoo! Group list [ a joint list between Trinity Cathedral Portland and Trinity Church, Ashland ] or banishing me and my attempts to inspire conversation on an otherwise dead list. If people leave something inactive, it is understandable because there is no point in staying. For months there was nothing posted and I, being one who reads things for intellectual stimulation and edification, found the list sorely lacking in content. The words and actions of some of its members have indeed strained the bonds of affection I felt were commonly held as Episcopalians in the same diocese.

I will remain on the list, though to what avail I know not; perhaps in the hope that an enlightened soul or two will sally forth and offer something of their own for us to feast on instead of the usual empty plate.

I will pray for its success, that its members may become kinder and edify one another.

I will return to writing and posting in about a month, if not sooner. If I feel that something needs to be said or a perspective given, then I will do it. In the meantime I wish all on my update list and those that aren't, peace and goodness, health and well-being. I urge us all to go out and be the Church.

Blessings on the journey,


Monday, July 17, 2006

6th Sunday in Pentecost: Of Plumb Lines, Stepping Out and Closets

The following is today's sermon for Pentecost 6 2006, preached by the Rev. Anne K. Bartlett, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Ashland, Oregon.


In the name of the Holy One, who is ever sending us out and bringing us back Home. Amen.

I hear the Gospel words – “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two.” and my heart sinks. Oh no, not the “sending out” story. It’s one thing to hear about Jesus going about the countryside, preaching and teaching, healing, giving hope,turning lives around, casting out the occasional demon. It’s quite another to hear he sent out his disciples to do the very same things, because then the story might have implications for us.

Of course the whole Biblical saga is about being sent out – or thrown out, as the case may be–from the Garden of Eden on. We children of God are always being told to pack up and move on. Think of Abraham and Sarah, asked at their advanced age to leave friends and family and all that was familiar, on the assurance only of God’s wild word of promise. Think of Moses and the Israelites who were told to leave Egypt in the middle of the night with hardly the clothes on their backs. They were sent through the Red Sea waters only to wander around the desert for forty years to learn what it meant to live in the present moment, by faith, relying solely upon the providence of their God.

Consider the prophets. Talk about being sent out with a message nobody wanted to hear! Crazy old Ezekiel last week was instructed to speak the Word of the Lord to a rebellious and resisting folk, “whether they hear or refuse to hear.” And this morning we got a snippet of the story about Amos, who had neither the family background nor the vocational training to be the bearer of God’s word of judgment on the crooked generation of his day. “I am not a prophet nor a prophet’s son,” he told Amaziah, the priest in charge of the King’s Chapel, the staff person coordinating the President’s prayer breakfast, who was not at all pleased to hear what Amos had to say. “I am a herdsman, for heaven’s sake, and I know how to prune sycamore trees. But God told me to tell you this, about the plumb line and the divine judgment coming upon the religious and political institutions of this land. Hey, this wasn’t my idea, but I have no choice, you see, but to go where God has sent me and do what I have been told to do.”

Sometimes in our biblical story, the “being sent forth” is coupled with a promise: of land, or children, or new and abundant life. But often there is no specific promise attached to the mission, other than it’s what God wants us to do; quite the opposite, in fact. Woven through Scripture like a red thread is the rejection by the world of those whom God has sent to it. Consider Jesus, the Son who was sent. Consider the Cross.

This journeying, this being asked to leave one place and go to another, this “being sent” syndrome is a major theme in our Judeo-Christian faith. We’re always being told to “Go. Go and tell the others.”

Think of Mary Magdalene in the garden that first Easter morning. When she got over mistaking Jesus for the gardener and fell into his arms, he gently set her back on her own two feet and said, “Do not cling to me, Mary. Go, tell the others.”

Nowhere in the bible is it promised that when we are obedient to the command to “go and tell the others” that we will be well received or listened to with respect or even fare well, much less be “successful,” whatever that means in this context. Rather, we are explicitly forewarned that we will likely encounter trials, tribulations, outright rejections. Consider Paul.

Though the rejection these days in our North American culture may be of the mild variety – being ignored, dismissed as irrelevant or na├»ve, listened to with condescension or even mild hostility, I still don’t want to hear these stories about “being sent.” I want to stay in church where it’s safe and secure, with my parish family and friends. I want to nestle in close to the altar. I don’t want anything to ever change (including the words of the Prayer Book). I want to cling to Jesus right here, forever. I don’t want to go out there into the world to speak unbelievable Good News that few want to hear or to do my tiny part in trying to heal this broken world. I’d much rather work on our hospitality skills, when the strangers show up at our door. It’s much less threatening that way,isn’t it?

Besides, it’s not our style, as Episcopalians, to even imagine ourselves going out
two by two, like fresh-faced Mormons in their clean white shirts and ties, or the Jehovah Witnesses, sweet-faced middle-aged women dressed in brown, holding out The Watchtower for me to take, gently probing to ascertain whether I’ve been saved. I think I’ve told you about the Saturday morning some years ago when I simply couldn’t face another discussion about my salvation, so I hid in the hall closet until they gave up waiting and walked away. I didn’t see them shake the dust off their sandals at the sidewalk’s edge, but I would not have blamed them if they had.

Episcopalians get very anxious when we hear the word evangelism spoken right out loud in public. So I’m not going to talk about evangelism but rather about – listen up – reconciliation. Let’s stop worrying for a moment about being sent out, two by two, to knock on doors. Instead, let’s use our spiritual imaginations and wonder what Jesus might have had in mind when he sent out those first disciples. It wasn’t because his followers were spiritual adepts, you know. They were as frightened, as clueless, as clumsy as we are no doubt. That’s the reassuring thing about the disciples; they really are just like us.

But early on in his ministry with them, Jesus said, “Okay, it’s time for you to practice. I want you to go out and do what you’ve seen me do. I want you to talk to others about God, how the Kingdom is all around, for those with eyes to see. I want you to help others voice their deepest longings to change their lives, get back on track,find “true north” again and live lives congruent with the men and women whom their Father created them to be. Not everyone will be interested in what you have to say; not everyone will be ready to share their souls with you. Travel light --just take yourselves, you don’t need any books, DVDs, brochures. I’m giving to each other so that you can encourage one another and keep on track. You just need to show up, wherever you go,with whomever you may be. Be fully present when you do show up. Speak your truth, the truth you have learned from me. Then let go of the outcome. That’s up to God, not you.

“Do acts of healing, wherever you are. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, include the outsiders and those on the margins, confront evil in all forms, be mediators of reconciliation at all times. Show in your actions, and in your own being, that you already live in God’s Kingdom of love and grace.”

You know, we are talking a lot right now about the mission of the church. It’s too easy to hear that phrase and have our eyes glaze over. It’s very tempting to think that the church exists primarily as a community of belonging, where we come weekly to feel connected to one another and to God. And that’s right and good, but it’s not enough. Because ultimately the church is not supposed to be a comfortable community of belonging but a community of transformation, a place where we allow ourselves to be known, to be healed, to be changed, to be surrendered, and then to be sent. Oh, there’s that word again: to be sent.

The most exciting thing that happened at the recent General Convention of our
Episcopal Church was the renewed focus on the mission of the church. I daresay it was just as if someone had held up a plumb line and pointed out, “I think we’re out of kilter here. We’re spending most of our energy on arguing with one another instead of going out and doing the work Christ has given us to do.” At convention, whenever we stopped obsessing inwards and refocused on our mission, as expressed in the Milennial Development Goals of addressing the root causes of global poverty, energy poured out, especially from the younger members there. It was infectious, and we became united again – over mission.

Question: What is the mission of the Church?
Answer: The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with
God and each other in Christ.

Question: How does the Church pursue its mission?
Answer: The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships,
proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love.

Question: Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
Answer: The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its

St. Paul wrote that God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation. …we are
ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.” The practical implication of the ministry of reconciliation, restoring all things to unity with God; the practical implication of being ambassadors for Christ, individually and corporately, is that we have work to do, beyond these doors, At the end of each Eucharist we pray God to “send us out to do the work you have given us to do.” Our work is the same work that Jesus did, the same tasks he sent out his disciples to do in his name, way back then and right here now.

What does it look like, when we’re out and about, doing the work we have been
given to do? Well, here’s what I think: it looks like taking our turn staffing the local food bank, it means transporting children to foster care homes, it means be present with a friend in grief, holding hope for her until she can find her own hope again. It means serving on boards who are help the marginalized, it means researching agencies you wish to donate 0.7% of your income to addressing the issues of global poverty, health, education, clean water in the most distressed areas of our global village, it means organizing practical help for an overwhelmed young mother.

It means finding the specific work that Jesus is calling you to do, to be his ambassador, his disciple out there, beyond our doors, in the small acts of everyday kindness, in learning how to speak truth to power, in acquiring the skills you need to be a chaplain to those who are dying, or those in prison, or those who suffer from addiction, or those whose lives seem hopeless and without any purpose. The list is endless, but that does not excuse any one of us from finding our own work to do in the world in Christ’s name.

Because that is our ministry. That is the mission of the Church. That is what
Jesus has sent us out to do. And here is what I have come to understand: that as soon as we refocus on our Christian mission, we find our souls – and the soul of the Church --once again in proper re-alignment with Christ. As soon as we get out of our own way, we find God at work in us, transforming us, changing us, making us clearer channels of God’s power and grace.

Then whatever it is that we do in Jesus’ name, well, it’s no longer about us, don’t you see; it’s about our turning ourselves over to God to do with us as God will. Thus we find ourselves freed from anxiety, from fear, from concern even about the outcome of our ministry. In the process of being sent out, we find ourselves being transformed and sanctified.

Then, and only then, can we go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Spirit, unafraid and undeterred by the scope and the complexity of the problems of this world because we have come to know that God’s power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.


The Bishop of Oregon Reflects on GC'06

Reflections on The General Convention by Bishop Johncy Itty, June 29, 2006

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20)

These words of scripture remind us of our responsibility to be instruments of God’s goodness in our world and in our community. As Christians we bear an important responsibility in sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a spirit of humility, compassion, and reconciliation. Reconciliation demands a renewal of heart, mind, and spirit so that God’s Holy Spirit can work within us.

The season of Pentecost is a season of new birth and a season of renewal. It is a time in which we are called to witness the power of the Holy Spirit moving in and with us and among the communities in which we live, pray, and worship. It is a season in which we are called to grow in commitment to Jesus and grow in our zeal for discipleship among the complex fabrics of our personal and corporate lives.

The themes “Come and Grow” and “Reconciliation” permeated a considerable part of our recent General Convention gathering in Columbus, Ohio. We join with many dioceses around the country in giving thanks to God for the faithful witness of our Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, who has served our church with prayerful dedication these past nine years and has led us through some difficult times during our common life together as a community of God’s people. We also join in celebrating the election of The Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, who has been elected to serve our church as the 26th Presiding Bishop. Bishop Jefferts Schori has served in our diocese at Good Samaritan Church in Corvallis and had been very active as a research scientist in oceanography at Oregon State University. As we honor and celebrate this member of our own community, we pray that God’s blessings will abide with Bishop Jefferts Schori as she assumes leadership and leads us in mission on behalf of the wider church.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets every three years and offers a time for gathering as a church family in prayer, bible study, reflection and legislation. The Reverend John Danforth, former senator from Missouri and most recently, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to convention participants on the importance of our church’s leadership in reconciliation in both local and global contexts. Dr. Jenny Te Paa, Dean of St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand shared some refreshing insights into what it means to be a Christ-centered community in communion with the larger church. A number of other distinguished bishops, priests, deacons, lay leaders and ecumenical colleagues participated in the life of the convention in a variety of ways that reminded us about the interconnectedness of human life and the breath and depth of the Episcopal Church’s relationships all around the world.

The convention drew well over eight thousand people from all around the country, including over eight hundred delegates and over three hundred bishops from throughout the United States and around the world.

At this gathering, a number of resolutions were introduced and passed. Some others were deferred or referred to other bodies for action. The following points reflect a sampling overview of the legislative highlights of the 75th General Convention. Additional detailed information can be obtained on the Episcopal Church’s website, The full text of particular legislation can be reviewed on the following site:

Sample Highlights

The General Convention, as part of its active support of mission and evangelism, officially expressed its support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and urged parishes, missions, and dioceses to work toward their implementation.

Passed resolution strengthening relations with United Methodist Church.
UMC seen as "a member of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church in which the Gospel is rightly preached and taught" and encourages the development of a common Christian life between the two bodies.

The agreement permits common, joint celebrations of the Eucharist within prescribed guidelines
Support of gay and lesbian people as "children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

Adopted a resolution calling for equal representation of women and men on all decision-making bodies within the church at local, diocesan and national levels. This recommendation originated with the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Acknowledged the past involvement of the Episcopal Church in slavery and supported a study of monetary and non-monetary reparations to descendants of the victims of slavery.

Created a new task force to study aspects of church disciplinary canons. Proposed changes to Title IV, which among other things would have included subjecting laity to ecclesiastical discipline, was not fully discussed and revised in time for action. Hence, it was referred to a task force for continued revisions in the next three years.

Authorized the creation of a Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation to develop and recommend policies for children, youth, adults, and seniors for lifelong Christian formation (A105).

Approved additional commemorations in the Calendar of the Church Year and authorize trial use thereof for the triennium 2007-2009, for Harriet Bedell, Deaconess and Missionary; Anna Julia Heyward Cooper, Educator; James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti and Dominican Republic; Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, and The Martyrs of El Salvador; Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia and Confessor; Vida Dutton Scudder, Educator and Witness for Peace; and Frances Joseph-Gaudet, Educator and Prison Reformer (A063 and A064).

Approved for trial use new liturgies concerning rites of passage (A067).

Acknowledged the authority of the triune God, exercised through Scripture (D069.)

Recognized the position in the Constitution and Canons that only those who have been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion; and that the 76th General Convention receive a pastoral and theological understanding of the relationship between Holy Baptism and Eucharistic practice (D084).

Urged the church to work to ensure that governments provide programs that combat social and economic conditions that place children at risk or diminish children's ability to achieve their full potential in the world (A018).

Passed Resolution B033 that calls on bishops and Standing Committees to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

Authorized the establishment of a Church Planting Initiative to raise funds for new congregations (A042).

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was recognized in the formal minutes of convention: "Deep gratitude to our Presiding Bishop for his guidance throughout 75th General Convention and his faithful service as chief pastor of the Episcopal Church." The bishops also expressed their thanks to Phoebe Griswold for her "ministry to all God's children around the world."

Indeed, a multitude of issues and topics were brought before the Convention that affects the life of our wider community. Of special significance was General Convention’s renewed commitment to mission and evangelism. I pray that as we join with many others throughout our church and around the world, we will continue to use our gifts and energies in mission to be agents of Jesus Christ’s renewing, redeeming, and transforming grace.

“Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

+ Johncy Itty, Bishop

Anglican women in Africa: 'the priority is for life'

Episcopal News Service
Monday, July 17, 2006

Kenya's Dr. Esther Mombo lectures at women's ordination conference in Manchester

By Matthew Davies

[ENS, Manchester, England] The impact of Christian women on African society was the focus of Dr. Esther Mombo's closing lecture, titled "We see them and hear them...but has it made a difference?" at a conference on women's ordination hosted by the University of Manchester's Lincoln Theological Institute July 12-14.

Mombo, dean of St. Paul's United Theological Seminary in Limuru, Kenya, acknowledged that the present church leadership is extremely vocal on issues of sexuality, but insisted that for women in Africa that is not a priority.

"The priority is for life," she said. "We are not having the discussions that we see in public, such as human sexuality, but discussions of life and death issues."

One of the world's largest continents, Africa accounts for about 14 percent of the total population and boasts vast ethnic and cultural diversity, but some countries are roiled with conflict, and HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases continue to pose life-size challenges.

Recent statistics suggest that 42 million people in the world are living HIV/AIDS, with 25.8 million of those cases in Africa. "Although Africa has
14 percent of the world's population, it has 62 percent of the world's HIV/AIDS cases," Mombo said.

For women in Africa, the problem is with heterosexuality not homosexuality, she said. "It is the heterosexuals who will rape small children in the hope that [such a myth] will rid them of HIV/AIDS."

Women's ordination in Africa plays a vital role in helping to overcome gender inequality, poverty, violence and HIV/AIDS, Mombo explained, as "it provides an important place for women to contribute to the wellbeing of people in society."

African Christianity, she said, has created its own unique flavor of religion and has assumed a more charismatic character. It tends to be described as conservative, especially in light of its proactive evangelistic mission, but has long been presented as vital and growing. The 12 Anglican provinces in Africa account for almost two thirds of the world's 77 million Anglicans.

"When you look at the ordinary Christians, they have an incredible faith just as if God is walking with them," Mombo said. "They never let go even when death is wiping them out ... Because Jesus saves!"

Mombo explained that women have been ordained in Africa for nearly two centuries, "but it is not uniform, just like Africa is not uniform," she said. "One side of a country may ordain women when another does not."

In addition to the practices, policies and leadership of the church, the ordination of women in Africa has been affected by its history of colonialism and conflict. Education and female literacy levels have also played a significant part.

Offering a historical account of the ordination of women during the time that missionaries were delivering Christianity to Africa, Mombo said, "Mission Christianity, which began in North Africa, was always fourfold, through evangelism, education, health and industrial training. Through this framework the missionaries found a way of liberating women in what they saw as oppressions."

The Anglican-run Mothers' Union, the Presbyterian Church's Women's Guild, and other denominational women's organizations, have consistently been the backbone of the church, Mombo added, as they are the groups that carry the social welfare banner.

The 1950s and 60s in Africa saw the liberation struggles that brought independence to both the churches and countries, and women began to receive the education that prepared them for roles in business and the government.

"The church lagged behind in terms of women's leadership because of its historical context and women weren't given the education to prepare them to become church leaders," she said. "The churches at the time would also say no to women's ordination because of theological reasons," a more common one being that Jesus never appointed a woman as one of his disciples.

Through ecumenical initiatives, the churches began to address the ordination of women. The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) began discussions on the subject in 1963 when a consultation in Kampala, Uganda, welcomed a conversation on the place of women in the church. The World Council of Churches held a consultation in 1970 that had an impact on the African churches.

A further AACC meeting in 1974 resolved to urge the formation of an advisory committee of men and women to draw a program for the inclusion of women in society, and in 1980, another conference called for equal rights for women in the church and for them to be ordained into full pastoral ministry.

Before the 1978 Lambeth Conference -- the once-a-decade meeting of Anglican bishops -- a number of African Anglican provinces were already discussing the ordination of women.

In Uganda in 1974, the issues were raised at the provincial synod. One of the bishops asked why the province couldn't wait until the Church of England had made a decision on women's ordination. According to Mombo, one bishop replied, "if you wait for the Church of England, you'll wait until doomsday."

In 1975, some Kenyan bishops brought a motion to their Provincial Synod, which affirmed the principle of women's ordination. It was decided that any possible candidates should undergo theological training and that there should be further consultation with the House of Bishops before any ordinations took place.

In 1979, one Ugandan bishop ordained a group of women as deacons and four years later, ordained three as priests.

Today, six of the 38 Anglican provinces do not allow women's diaconal, priestly or Episcopal ordination. They are Central Africa, Jerusalem & Middle East, Melanesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and South East Asia.

"The women pioneers' story is a mixed bag," Mombo said. "Some of them left ministry because the church was not ready for them, some have continued to study and work and to serve the churches today."

She noted that, in terms of members, they may be small, "but the disciples of Jesus were small in number yet they turned the world upside down."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The other stuff that happened at General Convention

This morning in our Adult Forum at Trinity, the Rev. Anne Bartlett and lay deputy Anne McCollum, continued the topic of Experience At Convention, a first-hand account of what it was like to be there and participate in and around the goings-on in Columbus amidst 8,000 or so Episcopalians from all over the world.

We hear mostly about the issue that was the focus for many, gay and lesbian equality in all levels of the Church. Other things did happen as our deputies explained, such as the one thing everyone could agree on and that was the MDG's or Millennium Development Goals to eradicate world poverty and hunger.

There was more accomplished as well. Read about it here:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Life and Hope: How to keep your sanity while waiting for God's will

It's a dilemma we all face now and then. What to do with your life while you wait for the will of God.

It has been something of a discovery as I have been finding out over the past year...there is lots to be said of patience and broken pencils. I mean, there is only so much house cleaning and closet rearranging to be done in times of a fallow field. So some creativity is called for, some you do on your own and the other kind that just manages to find you, idling at the curb.

As I have looked for gainful yet honorable work, I have helped inventory a local middle school library, helped paint a friend's living room, dining room and workspace of her condo with rough plaster walls--which as we know is a job no one in their right mind would do but for the love of said friend--and on top of that baby-sat her cockatiel while her hardwood floors were being installed, sanded and varnished times three; moved furniture, dusted furniture, willing got hauled all over the Valley looking at paint chips and area rugs until I knew everything there as to know about shades of almond and meadow green. My home became a one-time bed and breakfast for said wonderful friend over the course of a week, wherein I prepared coffee [which I don't drink] and some organic healthy breakfast each morning to the temporarily and somewhat anxious pal.

Trust me, my painting and furniture-moving muscles are fully awake...ugh.

As of today, I have begun keeping an elderly lady company at a nursing home by reading her poetry and telling a few stories for about an hour a day, every other day or so as she is now on hospice again, and everyday counts to her and her family. She delighted in a Wendell Barry and then a Jayne Relaford Brown piece, as well as a haiku on rabbits. There was a little St Anselm, shoehorned in for variety, and I also shared a poem written by a friend of The Rev. Susan Russell about crocuses but it was really an allegory for General Convention in disguise.

I met the home's director and nursing manager, the resident charge RN and a few other wonderful folk who help make the lives of these elderly and disabled people richer and more comfortable. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker for hospice is pretty special too. A real neat and intelligent woman who radiates glee and takes a truthtelling interest in her charges. Gotta love that!

I am also going through a little more of my material inheritance: lots of sewing stuff, ceramic shop stuff, antiques, toys my mother could never throw away because HER little ones played so happily with them and because as a child she never had any. Quilts--lots of quilts--some she made, some my grandmother made, some she bought. And I have my books: boxes and boxes and boxes of them...time for a serious weeding in that department.

And then there is time to be still. We all need that now and then, recharging the ol' batteries, clearing the mind of clutter and everyday debris. I have a garden for that, thankfully, with the occasional bunny hopping through, stopping long enough to notice me, wash an ear and then silently move the backyard where the fresh food and cool water is set out for them. Taking notice of the resident hummingbirds and considering their lives is also a thing to be meditative on while recharging, or the bees on the oxalis and daisies.

Being still has never been easy for me since my energy and strength was demanded or needed elsewhere. I am learning balance these days, not a simple task at all--the learning or the balancing. My priest has encouraged me to take up centering prayer which she demonstrated one day. It looks so simple and easy, and I am sure it least the times I have tried it. It was good time but she's more disciplined at it than I am...oh, and the discipline part, that's not easy either but I keep trying, and I suppose that is the crux of the matter: that we keep trying, and that we resist giving up and giving in to those thoughts and inactions that would otherwise sink us deeper into despair or convince us that all our effort is hopeless.

Well, it isn't hopeless and we need not sink into despair because Christ has already convinced us by the ultimate demonstration of His unending love that there is hope when it appears all hope is gone. Rising from the dead is very big deal. And if that does not give the hopeless hope, then I have nothing else to offer.

So, there is hope for me, hope for a way out of my occasional panic attacks about finances and the future; hope for the many others who are in more dire straits than I am, you know, the folks living under our local bridges and overpasses in town and throughout the Valley.

Hope that things will get better in the Middle East and that the terrorist group in Lebanon will get their coming-uppance for kidnapping two soldiers and attacking the rest, setting off the entire problem occurring as I type. Hope that the "war" in Iraq will end somehow and bring our men and women home. Hope that the insurgents will be put down by their own people so peace can happen.

Hope that the poor and hungry at home here in America can have a decent place to sleep, eat and live. That there will be opportunity for their children instead of embittered lives that will prey on the drug habits of others.

Hope for healing, everywhere. It helps to put things into perspective, doesn't it? Yeah, thought so.



Thursday, July 13, 2006

Philly PA wants to know!

Last week, Episcopal priest, real live journalist, and blogger Elizabeth Eisenstadt+ in Philly, PA-- aka 'nocheapshots'--began to randomly interview bloggers and normal folks [who?] about the recent General Convention, the resulting upheaval, and the responses to said upheaval from Canterbury and certain provinces/dioceses in Africa and here in America [They Who Shall NOT Be Named] for her editor of an "Inky" [print newspaper] in Philadelphia where she resides.


She asked me for some thoughts on the respective subjects and, I willingly complied.
Note bene: all answers are completely my own and may or may not reflect said concepts of those with whom I attend church, coffee hour or daily dogwalks

Elizabeth+: Is the Episcopal Church going to split?

Me: I believe in miracles. And it will certainly take one to prevent a schism. Here's what I know: that God brings to the fore certain people for uncertain times. I believe that +Katharine Jefferts Schori is such a person for such a time as this. The Progressive Episcopalians have been accused of causing the upheaval by making +Gene Robinson a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Yet is it is the reasserters who are threatening to leave, not the revisionists who are truly trying to carry out Christ's mission.

If it had been Jesus Christ instead of +Gene being consecrated, what would the Communion have thought of that radical heretic trying to ruin the power of the Pharisees and Saducees by revising the Law in fulfilling it? The Law itself remains unchanged but how it is interpreted through the new Light of Christ makes it even better, where all are part of the royal priesthood, not some.
If the Communion divides it will be due to the unbending legalism of the reasserters trying to relive Old Testament history by demonizing those who are different. This was not what Jesus intended. He said it was Good News He was bringing, the Hope of the Nations, the Grace of God, the Love of Christ--not persecution or marginalization; not a two-tiered Communion, where some are more equal than others. He died for all, not some, as ++Desmond Tutu has reminded us. It's time to listen to the sacrifice of the Son of God, for all.

Elizabeth+ : If so, what will it look like in five years? Fifteen?

Me: IF +Katharine Jefferts Schori is our miracle person [and I firmly believe she is; how, that is yet to be seen] for this uncertain time, and IF the Church of England can keep its mitts off its former colony and allow us to govern our Church inside the existing Communion with equality and opportunity for ALL, and IF the Global South [as they call themselves, which is scary in a way because it reminds me of the "Left Behind' series when the Anti-Christ divides the world by regions and calls the Global South just that], can curb its need to persecute its own church members--instead of embracing them--because of that tiny percentage that makes up an even tinier part of who we are individually [namely our sexuality], then I see hope for the entire Communion.

Attitudes will have to change. Scales will have to fall from blinded eyes. The dumb will need to learn to speak the truth in love to all members of the Body of Christ. So in 15 years? I haven't a clue. If we can't deal with today, I don't want to think of 15 years from now.

Elizabeth+ : What do you think of Archbishop Rowan's latest letter?

Me: ++Rowan is encouraging schism by his idea of a two-tiered Communion, not trying to keep what we have now, together. And he is no better than the Nigerians who consider us a "cancerous tumor" on the body of the Communion that must be excised to save the whole body [read the Nigerian's response to ++Rowan's letter here: ].

++Rowan's words and concepts are eloquently put but when you peel away all the dressing and fluff, you can see that he means The Episcopal Church USA and Canada harm, as well as any other Province that would even consider defying him or the Global South. We would become Associates to the Communion, without full membership or rights in the Communion. But those who toe the party line of the reasserters would be Constituents, full members with all the rights and privileges thereof. This is NOT what Christ intended for His Church, Anglican or otherwise.

Elizabeth+ : If you had your druthers, what would you like to see happen?

Me: I would like for the "blind" or at least the "visually impaired" reasserters to have the sight of Christ. To see Him in all people, gay or straight, female or male and to live the Scripture that Paul so clearly stated: "That WE [emphasis mine] all are members of a royal priesthood" and therefore entitled to be whatever God calls us to be, or as Paul said, "co-heirs in Christ" not
second-class Christians but all to be first-class Christians. That the Holy Spirit is to be listened to more than the councils of "men" or their traditions. That we get past the pettiness of the reasserter agenda and get on with doing the will and work of God, specifically to preach and teach the Good News of Christ saving us all, once for all; to minister to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the uneducated, the sick, the dying, the tortured, the persecuted, the different,
the disabled and the abled, because we were once all of these too, and He saved us, He healed us, so we can save and heal others too, in His Name.

This is what we should be focusing on, this is our mission, given to us by Christ: that we not tear down His Body, the Church, because of whether or not one is gay or straight, a bishop, priest or laity. God will glorify Himself in anyone He chooses, whether Christian or non-Christian, believer or unbeliever, gay or straight. HE and He alone is privy to that decision, regardless of the reassert whinging. And should God wish to reveal His perfect will, it shall be through the revelation and movement of the Holy Spirit, a far more trustworthy Messenger than any human being who thinks they know the mind of God.

Disclaimer: The interviewer/priest was treated very kindly during this interval of mind-numbing attempts to understand what the blazes is going on in the Communion. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Going round in circles: Women bishops and change

As you may have noticed, I am moving between things that are meaningful to me personally and things that are [or perhaps should be] meaningful to all Episcopalians. Of course, I am referring to the state of reactionary "feathers ruffled" in our esteemed [or is it steamed!] Communion. Even ++Rowan is uncertain, now that women will be allowed--in principle--to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England...well, at least by the year 2012. And now there is talk of schism in said Church because once again the reasserters are stuck in the Old Testament and have not yet come to grips with the fact that Christ not only fulfilled the Law but improved upon it, which God is allowed to do since He created it in the first place. That said...

I give you this clear and concise article, published on the website, by the craftful Stephen Bates, who is not shy about attaching musical endearments to certain friendly Archbishops, particularly our friend in on, you will see what I mean.



by Stephen Bates, July 10, 2006

I like the style of John Sentamu, the first black archbishop in the Church of England's 470-odd years' history. Apart from a slightly annoying tendency - at least to us fuddy-duddies - to get out his bongo drums to beat the rhythm during services at York's medieval minster (he was at it again during Sunday morning communion for the general synod) he has shown a refreshing briskness in despatching synod business.

Given the thankless task of initiating the synod's umpteenth debate on women bishops on Saturday - a debate which, as he pointed out, has been going on for about 90 years now - he dealt almost brutally with those weighty and ponderous bishops who were urging that the whole thing was going too fast and with too little consideration. This has become one of a number of delaying tactics by the decreasing rump of Church of England members who are still not reconciled to women clergy.

Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham, who is making portentousness and pomposity an increasingly tedious habit, told Saturday's debate that there was a need for much more theological reflection. Unfortunately he'd left (to attend the Durham miners' gala) before Sentamu had a chance to get to his feet to remind him that many people have been reflecting on the subject for decades and didn't need to be told to start now.

Similarly John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, a man who is opposed to women's ordination on principle and could probably never be convinced otherwise, was almost brutally answered when he pleaded for more delay. His amendment, arguing that the church should "note" rather than "welcome and affirm" the majority view that women could be promoted to bishoprics, was summarily dismissed by the archbishop. Another opponent using another delaying tactic was told: "Make it short. I am in the hands of synod. I wouldn't vote for it though." And neither did they. Speaking the truth in love was never more of a pleasure, or less of a duty.

The point is that the women bishops' debate has been circling for many years, if not decades. There are no new arguments, just scare tactics from the opponents. Saturday's scare was the threat that the anti-women's ordination brigade would take £1 billion-worth of property out of the Church of England if women start becoming bishops.

This apparently on the basis of some legal advice they've received that they could lay claim to the freehold of church property in their parishes. It also sounds like the sort of property disputes that are beginning to infest the US Episcopal Church. Actually freeholds here are held in trust for the Church of England and are not disposable by their current holders. The sub-text was in the small print - this would be threatened unless there was a generous financial settlement for the dissenters, agreed through Parliament and imposed on the female-friendly Church of England.

The dissenters still want their comfortably-cushioned bolt-hole, even though they failed to take advantage of the last compensation offer when women were first ordained to the clergy in the mid-1990s. Then the opponents of women's ordination fled, in rather fewer numbers than they'd predicted, to the Roman Catholic Church.

Their advantageous terms caused those of us who have always been Catholics a certain amount of resentment, since it seemed they were coming aboard not because of whole-hearted conversion (they could have done that at any time previously) but because of a politically-charged disagreement over one issue. Some of them even imported their disputatiousness with them. This time round the English Catholic hierarchy seems less inclined to welcome the Johnny-come-lately apostates with open arms. The word at Archbishop's House is that they'll have to take their place in the queue like everyone else and that Anglican clergy cannot expect any special favours or speeded-up reordination processes.

When I saw the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sunday, he asked me how I thought Saturday's debate had gone. He nodded in agreement when I said that it seemed all the arguments had been made before. I wish he would take a leaf out of the Archbishop of York's book and tell what he described as his "currently confused and struggling church" a little more bluntly how he feels.
I asked him how he felt and he replied sadly: "You don't want to know." Actually, I did. But deep gloom seems to be surrounding the senior staff that the covenant plan to save the Anglican communion is falling apart even before anyone's started discussing what might be in it. One senior figure admitted he did not think the communion could survive until the next scheduled meeting of all the world's Anglican bishops in 2008.

+Katharine Jefferts Schori has been invited for an early meeting at Lambeth Palace within the next few weeks. They hope to integrate her more closely into the network of Anglican church leaders but this seems a vain prospect given that so many parts of the church's world still don't accept the idea of women in leadership, any more than gays.

Mention the name of Nigeria's conservative (and outspoken) Archbishop Peter Akinola and a strange convulsive, wringing, motion comes over Rowan Williams's hands. If only he would...if only he dared.

Visit the article and more on site at:

Monday, July 10, 2006

Anglican Women Bishops: On Their Way, A Long Road to 2012

Courtesy of the Episcopal News Service:

Sunday, July 10, 2006

Church of England begins long process toward ordaining women bishops

By Matthew Davies

[ENS] The process of ordaining women bishops in the Church of England began its steady course July 10 after a motion that calls for the practical and legislative arrangements of admitting women to the episcopate to be explored passed by a large majority with three amendments and after a four-hour debate at the Church's General Synod, meeting at York University in England.
The motion invites dioceses, deaneries and parishes "to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue" of ordaining women bishops.

It also calls for the formation of a legislative drafting group, "which will aim to include a significant representation of women," charged with "preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop."

The legislative drafting group is also expected to prepare a draft of possible additional legal provisions in order to "seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, in presenting the unamended motion, explained that the July 8 debate -- when the principle of women bishops was agreed upon -- established the theological congruency that women should be admitted to the episcopate, "but the theological discussion is not over," he said. "This vote moves us further towards the question of how and when this should be recognized."

Williams said that the task now at hand is to continue to facilitate engagement between the contending voices in the debate, and one that encourages further theological thinking.
"The issues of jurisdiction and authority are undeniably unfinished business [and] we are some way short of having a set of propositions that will command a two-thirds majority when that is required," he said, referring to the canonical change that would be required to admit women to the episcopate. A canonical change would also require that such a measure be approved by the British parliament.

It is generally predicted that women bishops in England will not be canonically possible until at least 2012.

Referring to the eight proposed amendments, Williams asked that Synod not get entangled in too many of them. "They will only intensify levels of unproductive conflict," he said. "It would be good if people do not go away from this Synod feeling like they have engaged in a "zero-sum" transaction."

Debate began with Suffragan Bishop Martyn Jarrett of Beverley saying that the Archbishop of Canterbury had been rather optimistic, especially in light of the "inadequate" proposals from the Bishops of Guildford and Gloucester in their report, "Women in the Episcopate," he said.
Describing the motion as "legislating for near schism" and "thrashing around in the dark," Jarrett begged Synod not to support it "when such a lack of consensus exists."

The Very Rev. Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester, was a member of the group that produced the Rochester Report, a survey of the theological issues concerning women bishops. "Today we begin a new phase," she said, referring to the motion's language of discernment as being the beginning of a vocational task of legislating and listening and learning from each other. "Although the vote on Saturday showed a majority, it also showed that 30 percent did not support the principle [of women bishops]. I want to suggest that the next stage of this process requires us to reflect honestly together and look at the consequences in order to be generously imaginative of one another."

Faull acknowledged that such a process will take time and require sensitivity. "I don't want to foreclose the imaginative and potentially reconciling work," she said. "We need a process that is not a straightjacket ... that will build relationships of trust and not walls of division."

A Church of England Youth Council representative, Tom Pugh, said that he doesn't have an issue with women bishops because he comes from a different generation where men and women seem to be treated equally at all levels.

"I am told there was a woman prime minister, but that was well before my time," he said, as laughter filled the hall. "I have never known the world without the ordained ministry of women. Please help me understand your view. We would urge Synod to include young people in the many conversations that are taking place on this issue."

The Rev. David Waller of the Diocese of Chelmsford reminded Synod that for many members of the Church of England, the votes in the early '90s to admit women priests were an emotional rollercoaster.

"For someone who was opposed the ordination of women on theological grounds, I found it difficult to continue in the church," he said. "But the provisions made through the actions of Synod made it just possible. I felt it was possible to remain in the church of our baptism on the basis that we trusted what the Church of England was saying to us." Waller insisted that those who object to this move be listened to because "it is no good if we do not get that sacramental insurance that we have received so far."

Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester was one of the bishops who drafted the document on "Women in the Episcopate," which explored fundamental points of transferred Episcopal authority (TEA), a provision that could offer alternative oversight to those who refuse to accept the leadership of a woman bishop.

He explained that those for whom TEA was being devised did not believe it went far enough and those in favor of women bishops believe it went too far. Referring to amendment 28 that calls for a submission from the legislative drafting group to Synod by February 2007, Perham said: "We must not slow down too much the process Synod has begun, but we also must not go at breakneck speed. If the legislative group has to report to the February Synod it will get another half-baked answer. It is better to slow down a little and to get it right."

Perham noted that four necessary components to the debate are clarity, conversation, affirmation -- of the contributions women have made to the church and for those who do not share that joy -- and action, "careful consultative and prayerful action," he said.

Moving amendment 21, intended to endorse resolution 111.2 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference that affirms as "loyal Anglicans" those who both dissent and assent to the ordination of women, the Rev. Prebendary David Houlding of London said that moving forward by consensus is preferable to dividing by majority.

"It was clear that we decided last year that we were not going to divide over this issue," he said. "That the ordination of women in the episcopate would be accompanied by a provision for those who were opposed to it. This amendment will make it clear that that provision does have to be made. It lays down the marker that we are determined to hold together." Houlding wished to clarify that the gap needs to be bridged and that Synod is determined to do it. "This is a defining moment for any of us," he said. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if the newspaper headlines tomorrow say that the church has decided not to split over the question of women bishops?"

The amendment passed after debate and resulted in 209 voting for and 166 against.
Sister Ann Williams attempted to pass an amendment that made reference to the Rochester Report and another document titled "Resources for Reflection."

After Archbishop Williams cited several other resources that could be mentioned and raised concerns that it would be limiting to mention just those two, the amendment failed.
Another failed amendment tried to refer the question of provisions for those who cannot agree with women in the episcopate back to the House of Bishops for further consideration.

Proposed by the Rev. Canon Cynthia Dowdle of Liverpool, an amendment that asked for the proposed legislative drafting group to include "a significant representation of women" especially in light of the Anglican Consultative Council resolution calling for equal representation of women at the decision-making tables of the Anglican Communion, was carried with little debate.
"The time has come for us to get into the structures of the Church of England a better balance at all levels when it comes to gender," she said. "Women's voices must be more in balance when we come to draft the legislation for this motion."

After two further failed amendments, the Rev. Canon Jane Sinclair of the Sheffield Diocese moved to insert reference to Canon A4 of church law that states "...those who are so made, ordained, or consecrated bishops, priests, or deacons ... are lawfully made, ordained, or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests, or deacons."

"The amendment will set down a clear marker with the legislative drafting group and prevent the Church of England from falling into deep schism," Sinclair said. "One of the chief causes of disunity is the non-recognition of ordained persons ... The canon is intended to regulate public behavior rather than belief."

Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop John Hind of Chichester raised concerns about the identification of one canon alone because it is church law, but after further debate the amendment was carried in a vote by houses with 27 bishops voting for and 11 against, 118 clergy voting for and 67 against, and 103 laity voting for and 93 against.

A final amendment that asked for the work of the legislative drafting group to be submitted to Synod by February 2007 failed once Archbishop Williams insisted that the debate had already suffered from excessively tight timetables.

Further debate on the amended motion heard from: Kay Dyer of Coventry, who urged the steady pace that the Archbishop of Canterbury encouraged; Bishop Geoffrey Rowell of the Diocese in Europe, who reminded Synod of the Archbishop of York's call for gracious magnanimity; and the Venerable Nigel Peyton, Archdeacon of Newark, who said that the Church's call to Christian unity "is being true to ourselves," and urged Synod "to seize the moment with confidence and support the motion whole-heartedly."

Rachel Jepson of the Diocese of Birmingham explained that the process of discernment about women's ministry is two-decades long and that it is an ongoing process. "The predicted split about women priests has not happened," she said. "Those skeptical have pleasantly witnessed the contributions. Women bishops will bring more positives than negatives and the full humanity of Christ will be reflected in the church." Bishop John Saxbee of Lincoln asked Synod not to underestimate the enormous task before the legislative drafting group.

"We have been around the track before and we don't want to do it again and end up exactly where we started," he said, evoking the Archbishop of York's comments about reinventing the flat tire. "The object of all this is God. As long as we hold before us that sense that God is the object of all our love and praise, we have the ability to move forward together."

Before the vote on the amended motion, Archbishop Williams reminded Synod of the four governing principles of clarity, charity, affirmation and action, and commended them for employment as the process of women bishops moves forward.

"Clarity does begin and end with a clear vision of God, which is why it's connected with charity," he said. Affirmation -- we've heard serious affirmation of all kinds of the ministries and the gifts women have brought and are giving to every level of our life. Action -- we need to move forward so that we can begin to move at a steady pace."

Williams also upheld the language of loyalty, obedience, mutual obligation and recognition.
"We are faced with an immense practical challenge of how to express that in anything like legal terms," he said, recognizing that there is much work to do in defining those terms. "It needn't be as inevitably frustrating if we begin from a sense of recognizing in one another, not simply status, but the gifts in all of us. We may be able to handle some of those difficulties better." Finally, Williams acknowledged that if decisions take longer, but are more generally open, then the process has not been wasted.

"We're here because God has given us certain gifts and we're trying to work out what to do with them and how to respond to them," he said. "Loyalty, obedience, mutual obligation, recognition, are the seedbed of a genuinely fruitful, evangelical and ecclesiastical ministry. I plea that we see this process as the seedbed for the creativeness for the future."

The full text of the amended motion, which passed by a large majority, follows:

14. 'That this Synod, endorsing Resolution 111.2 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 "that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans" and believing that the implications of admitting women to the episcopate will best be discerned by continuing to explore in detail the practical and legislative arrangements:

(a) invite dioceses, deaneries and parishes to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue;

(b) invite the Archbishops' Council, in consultation with the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the Appointments Committee, to secure the early appointment of a legislative drafting group, which will aim to include a significant representation of women in the spirit of Resolution 13/31 of the Anglican Consultative Council passed in July 2005, charged with:

(I) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop;

(ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;

(iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod; and

(c) instruct the Business Committee to make time available, before first consideration of the draft legislation, for the Synod to consider, in the light of any views expressed by the House of Bishops, the arrangements proposed in the drafting group's report.'

Matthew Davies is international correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Chaplain's Observations

Being a chaplain is a calling, not unlike the priesthood or diaconate. No, you're not ordained in the terms that we normally associate with vocation. The ordination I speak of is that of experience, simple exhausting but rewarding experience. It is a trial by fire to see if you can take the odors of patient rooms, of aneseptic surfaces, of agonal breathing, of too quiet waiting rooms, of weeping parents or friends trying to understand the situation or the loss.

For me, the patient's room is sacred ground, a holy place where God is nearest and felt most clearly. It is where the patient has that little bit of control over what is happening to them. And it is the chaplain's place to ensure that tenuous bit of control no matter how short lived at that time. We ask if we may come in, we ask if we may stay awhile, if we can help in any way to make them more comfortable, we accept them no matter how they or things look. It is when we hold a trembling hand, or one gripped in pain, that we are doing our part. It is where we hear the life story, so the patient can be heard and perhaps reveal or come to terms with a wrong they have done to someone and aren't sure if they are forgiven. We contact anyone they give permission to contact on their behalf, for whatever reason.

We clear the room of assorted visitors so the patient can rest and sleep. We mediate disputes in waiting rooms and hallways, knowing that all of this is ultimately for the patient's benefit. It's not easy and things can get nasty. But they can also be a time of blessing and healing. And it is not unusual for us to comfort the medical staff. Often there is a patient whose life could be prolonged with some independance but the patient refuses treatment. It is the medical worker's goal to help life be sustained, and when circumstances go against everything they were trained to do, it can be difficult for them, as well as clinicians, or social workers.

It is a hard thing we do when trying to broach carefully and considerately the topic of organ donation when all hope of recovery is meted out and you have to talk to parents or children, or a partner that doing so would be the right thing, even when they can't see it, that their loved one would bring life to a stranger...usually a grateful stranger who has been waiting, their life on hold.
Or it is the patient in ICU who may never wake up from a head trauma, the surviving loved companion's life turned inside out by the careless or unanticipated act of another. No life will never be the same for the family of the injured or that of the one who perpetrated the act, intentionally or accidently. And it all happens in seconds.

Fear drives many to do things to ensure their own outcome. Whether it is a husband, wife, partner, parent or child--it doesn't matter. If they fear that their hospitalized loved one may not make it, they can be overcome by the fear of being alone the rest of their lives. So to prevent that from happening they might take their own life as a safety measure because they don't think they can go on without that person. The saddest part is when the patient makes it fine only to learn that the one they knew was waiting for them no longer waits in this life but the next. Not only are they immersed in physical pain but the heartbreak of their being alone now, awash with grief and guilt.

It is times such as these that a chaplain is there in that setting to listen, to hold, to take the verbal abuse meant for the one gone from their midst. And there is no time limit to the visit unless the patient imposes one. It is a ministry of listening for the most part. And after a while we hear the stories of that relationship, the good, the joyful, the sad, and the difficult. It honors the memory of the one no longer with us, it reaffirms our history to that person, and they live on.

We learn to celebrate those lives as well as the joyful occasions. You know, a successful operation, a cured cancer, a newborn child. We serve communion or Eucharist as needed, we baptized as requested using scallop shells for the holy water, and then we write in indelible marker the name of the baptized, the date and place and give it to the parents or the grown children as the case may be to remember and document the occasion. We anoint the sick and dying, we pray over them all and with those who love them. We also are there for non-Christian patients since it is not our mission to convert anyone to a particular faith of belief system. So whether the patient is Native American needing a smudging ceremony or an Indian patient needing an atmosphere in which to meditate, or a Jewish patient needing a rabbi or a kosher meal, we are there to facilitate the spiritual needs of that person, their family and occasionally the staff.

You can end up seeing 10 or 15 patients a day, if not more depending on the census that day. You are on the go, waiting for elevators or taking the stairwells. We, along with all who are the pulse of the medical center, hospital or transitional care unit, move in a synchrony, like red blood cells carrying life giving oxygen to its parts, as white corpuscles, warding off sickness and death, or at least trying to. It's never easy, whether you succeed or fail in your day, you are literally mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by days end.

Who then cares for the chaplains? Where is their respite? It is in God, Healer, Life-giver, Mother. And where do we find Him? In other chaplains, our ministers and priests, our fellow parishioners, they restore us and renew us so we can do it again the next day.

Often we secret ourselves away in the chapel and weep for all we tried to do that day and give thanks for what we were able to accomplish. Or we sit in our car and wail our grief there, or once we are home, alone or in an unoccupied place or room, we lay face down on the floor and cry out to God, our shoes left at the door. We enter that holy place and give our offerings of pain to Him who suffered for us and understands beyond our own comprehension.

It is not an easy calling but a calling it is. If you think you have a gift for such ministry, consider volunteering at your local hospital. They usually have programs that train you on hospital policies and procedures, as well as time for mentoring and shadowing staff chaplains so you can see how the ministry is "done". Talk to your priest or pastor about pastoral care at your church or synagogue or mosque. Consider the Community of Hope at program for members of your congregation so they can learn to become lay chaplains. Locally both Providence Medford Medical Center and Rogue Valley Medical Center have lay chaplaincy training programs, usually offered once or twice a year for a modest fee to cover materials. You can find out more by visiting these links respectively: and . At the Asante site it will talk of volunteer opportunities and not pastoral care directly. Use the contact emails at the bottom of the page to obtain further information.

If you have general questions about hospital chaplaincy, just email me and I will try to answer your questions, or at least point you in the right direction.

Until then, be swift to love!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Newsflash: Women bishops approved in principle at Church of England's Synod

Episcopal News Service

Saturday, July 8, 2006

[ENS] Ending centuries of tradition, a motion that welcomes and affirms "the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church" was carried by a majority vote by houses July 8 after a two-hour debate during the Church of England's General Synod, meeting at York University, England, July 7-11.

Bishops voted 31 in favor, and 9 against; clergy voted 134 in favor, and 42 against; laity voted 123 in favor, and 68 against.

The motion deals with the principle of women bishops. Further debate on a motion that addresses the process of ordaining women to the episcopate, is scheduled for July 10.

The full text of the motion, moved by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, follows:

"That this Synod welcome and affirm the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and would be a proper development in proclaiming afresh in this generation the grace and truth of Christ."

A detailed ENS report will follow.

Love Is Of God: Insight about the "problem" from Anglican priest, Maggi Dawn+, across the Pond

Love is of God.

Without the love of our parents, sisters, brothers, spouses, lovers, and friends, we cannot live. Without love we die. Still, for many people this love comes in a very broken and limited way. It can be tainted by power plays, jealousy, resentment, vindictiveness, and even abuse. No human love is the perfect love our hearts desire, and sometimes human love is so imperfect that we can hardly recognise it as love.
In order not to be destroyed by the wounds inflicted by that imperfect human love, we must trust that the source of all love is God’s unlimited, unconditional, perfect love, and that this love is not far away from us but is the gift of God’s Spirit dwelling within us.

Henri Nouwen

"I read this quote on Sunday Papers. I was thinking on the way home from a trip away last weekend that the Church is often so over-concerned with monitoring our experiences of love, deciding whether or not they are "allowed", that we lose the freedom to accept love as and when we find it. Instead of knowing ourselves loved, we worry ourselves sinful... "

Read it all here:

Friday, July 07, 2006

Now you can subscribe to Table updates!

Yes. It is true. You can now subscribe to Table blog updates by filling in your email address in the field below my profie and click THE button. You will receive an update of my blog entries on the days I do update, courtesy of FeedBlitz, a free subscription service I decided to use. Don't worry, you will be able to unsubscribe [but I pray your won't!] too if that becomes necesary and believe me IT WON'T become necesary!!! Promise!!!

Those of you who are on the Trinity Two [north and south Triniy Yahoo! Group] List can also see my updates there, since it is apparent that I am the only one, with the exception of a for former TrinityNorth member known as writing_here [her blogger persona] who also posts occasionally to this list with me. Visit writing_here at her website:

More about the TrinityTwo list in another post, soapbox included.

That's all folks...for now.

Cartoons: cover-ups, mindful prayer, and playing nice...

To cover up is futile, or was "To resist is futile",
Locutus in Star Trek: Next Generation. Same principle applies...

And I know we have heard some wise person say to us at some point,
"Be careful what you pray for." I suppose it applies in all sorts of cases...

And, of course, there had to be a cartoon about the election
of +Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Tacky as it was, the former ++George Carey's son, Andrew,
made the following astute observation:

"We found out in the Church of England that when some evangelicals
attacked the appointment of Dr Rowan Williams because of previously
held views that this backfired spectacularly on them. The first response
of network and AAC leaders, in my view, should be that of welcome,
prayer and a desire to meet with her. The rough stuff can come later."

Know of a good Episcopal or churchy cartoon? Let me know and I will share it with the Communion unless, of course, the manner of life of the cartoon challenges someone somewhere. Oh what the heck, I'll share it anyway. How can we know if we have courage unless we are willing to take a risk?

The Movement is Afoot! J.K. Rowling for Archbishop of Canterbury!

I would like to thank Pogo from Trinity South for this little tidbit on a new ABC! Thanks, Pogo!
-- Catherine+ --

This may be the best solution yet! from The Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. , by Jim Naughton.

JULY 05, 2006

"I would like to nominate J. K. Rowling as the next Archbishop of Canterbury

Or perhaps the current Archbishop of Canterbury, if that can be arranged. I recognize that there are numerous obstacles to her consecration. The Church of England doesn’t yet consecrate women to the episcopacy. Rowling has not been ordained. For all I know, she may not even be an Anglican. But these are trifles when weighed against the opportunity for the Anglican Communion to get its hands on the one instrument that might help us make sense of where we stand in the wake of recent developments.

I speak, of course, of the Sorting Hat, the remarkable creation that assigns young newcomers to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the proper “house.” We need the hat to tell us where to sit and who to hang out with, because all of the place cards at the Anglican party have been rearranged by Peeves, or the house elves.

Consider that just over a week ago, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, released a reflection in which he outlined plans for a new, two-tiered Anglican Communion with “constituent” and “associate” membership. The plan was portrayed in the media as a victory for conservatives within the Communion, and within the Episcopal Church because it was assumed that constituent membership would require liberal provinces to reverse course on homosexuality or risk marginalization.

Yet after the most recent missives from Nigeria (described in several posts below) it is clear that the province that most analysts proclaimed as the biggest “winner” under Williams’ proposal wants no part of it. Meanwhile the provinces that seemingly have the most to lose—the Episcopal Church, the Canadian Church and the province that includes New Zealand—have expressed a willingness to explore the Archbishop’s plan.

To complicate matters a bit, conservative Episcopalians endorsed the plan enthusiastically, then watched as Archbishops Akinola of Nigeria and Jensen of Sydney, two of their most influential allies, began issuing ultimatums designed to undermine it. The prospect of being the only Americans in the inner circle in Williams’ proposed arrangement was exciting. The prospect of being perhaps the smallest province in a breakaway movement led by Akinola may not seem so appealing.

Liberals, meanwhile, can’t agree on whether the plan is bad for our Church—because it might some day be excluded from the most important councils of the Communion—or good for our Church because we could maintain relationships with many of the same global partners without having to make compromises with conscience as we did at the General Convention last month.
It would, in these confusing circumstances, be a great blessing to have Dumbledore’s successor place the Sorting Hat on everyone’s heads, assign us all to houses, and then explain how all of our houses could contribute to the same school.

So who we write to about this? Tony Blair? Scholastic Press? Prince Charles? The Queen?
(Commenters who compare their theological opponents to "he who must not be named" will not be permitted to visit Hogsmeade for the remainder of term.)"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pentagon says homosexuality not a mental disorder

In the better late than not at all category...

On Thursday June 29, 4:17 AM Reuters released the following story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon no longer deems homosexuality a mental disorder, officials said on Wednesday, although the reversal has no impact on U.S. policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military.

After a 1996 Pentagon document placing homosexuality among a list of "certain mental disorders" came to light this month, the American Psychiatric Association and a handful of lawmakers asked the Defense Department to change its view.

The Pentagon said in a statement: "Homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder in an appendix of a procedural instruction. A clarification will be issued over the next few days."

Read the rest here:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm ONE Episcopalian. Are you ONE too?

Every three seconds a child dies from poverty related causes, every eight seconds the death is from water borne causes. Three hundred die during the average Sunday sermon. Please become a ONE Episcopalian today and help Make Poverty History.

Visit for more great photography and posts from a former TrinityTwo member now transplanted in Texas.

Time for Mission and the Reality of Everyday Life: An Episcopal Priest Speaks Out

The op-ed piece below was written by an Episcopal priest, Tom Ehrich on July 1, 2006, and published in the Indianapolis Star. The story was provided by Integrity USA's John Clinton Bradley.


Now that Episcopalians and Presbyterians have allowed homosexuality to dominate their national conventions yet again, is it time for rant, lament, serious analysis?
No, it is time to do what Jesus did: "Turn the other cheek."

Literally, turn away from overwrought national assemblies and manufactured alarms, and look instead at forces that truly shape human life and hope.

If a few partisans believe that the future of Christianity depends on homosexuality, fine, let them fight about it. If some want to worry about a late 19th-century construct called the Anglican Communion as if it were a divinely inspired source of global norms, fine, let them worry about what a Nigerian archbishop thinks.
It is time for serious people to focus on serious matters.

It is time for the "common-sense middle" to chart local courses that deal with real people, real pain and real possibilities, including the lives (as opposed to doctrinal symbolism) of gays and heterosexuals.
It is time to do what Jesus did -- namely, ignore the Temple in Jerusalem and go instead to where people's lives were at stake.
In central Illinois, Episcopalians told me their bishop is obsessed with homosexuality. Fine, let that be his obsession. Serious people will look at continued decay of the region's industrial base, massive joblessness, retraining of factory workers and opportunities for young technology workers.

Serious people will look at failing marriages, loneliness, a coarsening of the culture and an atmosphere of dread.

At their recent General Convention, Episcopalians stirred hope among those frustrated by institutional paralysis when they elected a new presiding bishop who comes from outside the mainstream. Katharine Jefferts Schori is relatively young, serves a small diocese (Nevada) in the West, has little experience in the concerns of the national church, is described as smart and independent, and happens to be female. Much was made of her gender, but my hunch is that her election actually signaled a turning away from what one delegate called the "old and tired."

And yet, days later, delegates found themselves once again trapped in relentless partisanship over homosexuality. The air turned sour, and people left Columbus, Ohio, muttering.

It is time, I think, for the serious to expect even less of their paralyzed national bodies and to recognize that faith, like politics, is profoundly local.
Many people live nervously paycheck-to-paycheck, send children off to inadequate schools, go to jobs they could lose tomorrow.

It isn't all dire, of course. People fall in love, start families, learn skills, succeed in the small ways that matter, have wonderful school experiences with inspiring teachers, and look across the table at the remarkable gift of a faithful partner.

Good or bad, daily life is the business of Christian faith. It's why Jesus wasted no breath on promulgating doctrine or establishing an institution.

People have opinions and preferences, of course; but the heart of faith looks like this: When a family member dies, church friends bring food, not doctrines. When a woman weeps in church because her marriage is failing, church friends hold her close. When a man loses his job and fears his house is next, church friends give comfort and help him find another job.

Those faith-driven instincts happen locally and have little to do with denominational politics.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A 4th of July Meme from the Rev Gal Blog Pals...just read it!

"In the U.S., we're heading into a holiday weekend as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day. Although the topic of this meme may be inevitable, independence never is, so it couldn't hurt to stop and think for a minute about independence in a general way and holidays in a more trivial way."

1) Do you celebrate 4th of July (or some other holiday representing independence?)

2) When was the first time you felt independent, if ever?

3) If you're hosting a cookout, what's on the grill?

4) Strawberry Shortcake -- biscuit or sponge cake? Discuss.

5) Fireworks -- best and worst experience

And a bonus 1776 category for the Broadway fans among us:

1) Favorite Patriot

2) Favorite Tory

3) Favorite Wife

4) Favorite Song

5) Favorite Line

As always, let us know in the comments if you play!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Message for ‘brokeback’ church

The following column is found in the current issue of Episcopal Life newspaper, Section: Active Voices. You can visit the online paper at

To laity, deacons, priests: Unity is not your vow; be true to your own orders

By Winnie Varghese Posted: 6/1/2006


Here’s the somewhat new thing we’re trying to do at General Convention 2006. We are gathering and discerning per usual and, as a national church, attempting, I think rightly, to weigh the implications of our decision making in balance with the needs values of our international communion.

God help us.

I don’t believe we all are called to share the concerns and restrictions of the “order” of our bishops or archbishops. It is most comfortable when we do. It is least confusing when the message of Christ seems like a clarion call, a light on the hill that is obvious to all of us. But when it is not, which is now and most of the time, we must know, even in our own deliberate and slow-moving body, that we are responsible for living faithfully into our own “order” in the church.

God help us.

If we are to take our orders seriously, our convention will feel like representative, participatory democracy in which the voice of the people decides our governance. That can seem difficult and even contrary to other “orders” in faithfulness to their own vows as they work towards stability or unity, as they have promised to do. Laity, deacons and priests have not taken those as our primary vows. The laity, who constitute the primary order of the church, are to do things like seek and serve Christ in others, loving their neighbor as themselves and seeking peace and justice in the world.

Thank God.

It would mean that as we prepare to make decisions and legislate about our brokeback, closeted and frightened church, the laity are called to be mindful of the implications for the people of their communities and in their congregations, work places and neighborhoods.

Does a bold stand by our national church against the war in Iraq and the possibility of war in Iran, give you support as you proclaim the gospel where you live? Does the consent to a gay bishop or the approval of a rite or pastoral privilege to bless same-sex unions send a message that you think is Christ’s message of love and hope to us? What if that means we have a different church structure into the future? What is worth explaining away? What are you willing to create as the obstacle that keeps people from seeking out your community?

I have a particular location as a priest and chaplain. I am enraged every time a student comes to me and tells me about the abusive “change” therapy he or she has run away from to live on the street, or with friends, to escape frightened parents after coming out as gay, lesbian or trans-gendered. I am especially outraged and saddened because so many tell me they come out in the light of the gospel. Jesus’ message to them has called them to honesty. I am sickened that they come to me afraid that I might be another person who will condemn them because of the public stands of Christian people.

I am afraid for those who seek Christ when we in the church discuss this issue in language so subtle and appeasing to people who will not be appeased. I am disgusted and heartbroken as I attend the funerals or retirements of brilliant priests or bishops who strangely never met their great potential, who drank themselves to death, embezzled or whatever in the beautifully ornate closet of the Episcopal priesthood. Those closets stole their vocations, labor and pension payments and rejected their personhood.

The church international does have to live with the implications of our decisions. I hope that the new thing that comes from this General Convention will take us all to a new creative place. I do hope it does, but we cannot look out into an international community and know we are making these decisions with all of those voices truly in mind.

Here’s hoping we have the courage to vote our orders. We vote our conscience, informed by Scripture, the Eucharist and private prayer. But as the pressing needs of the world press on, let’s not forget, we are in this institution in a particular place, and the radical vision of the gospel and the needs of our place and our people are sometimes all to which we can be truly faithful.


The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Episcopal chaplain at Columbia University in New York, writes for The Witness and serves on the executive council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

To respond to this column, write to Episcopal Life at e-mail

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Speaks Out Regarding PB-Elect Jefferts Schori

Archbishop Tutu Responds to the Election of Our New Presiding Bishop
Posted on Trinity [Wall Street] News June 22, 2006

Archbishop Desmond Tutu exclaimed “Whoopee!“ in an exclusive interview with Trinity TV about the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Archbishop Tutu comments on the impact this will have on the Anglican world-wide community, and looks at the special gifts that Bishop Katharine will bring to the leadership of the church.

Read it and other news here: