Monday, December 07, 2009

CHICAGO CONSULTATION RESPONDS TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY


[and] Asks Archbishop to Reconsider Statement and Silence

CHICAGO, IL, December 7, 2009—The Chicago Consultation issued this statement today from its co-convener, the Rev. Lowell Grisham:

For weeks the Archbishop of Canterbury has been silent as the Ugandan legislature considers making homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Lambeth Palace has let it be known that it was working behind the scenes to influence the situation because public confrontation would be counterproductive and disrespectful. Yet the election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a remarkably qualified gay woman as a suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, incited the Archbishop’s immediate statement of alarm, implying there would be grave consequences unless bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church refused to consent to her election.

“Canon Glasspool is a qualified, respected and beloved servant of God whom the Diocese of Los Angeles has discerned has the gifts of the Spirit to help lead their ministry. She is no threat to the work of God or to Jesus’ commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves. On the other hand, executing gay people and creating a state system of oppression is a gross violation of the spirit of the one who welcomed the outcast to his table. We are as perplexed by the Archbishop’s speedy condemnation of the former as we are by his prolonged silence of the latter.

“We believe that honoring the relationships and ministries of gay and lesbian Christians, is, in the end, the only way in which the Anglican Communion can be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hope that when the Archbishop realizes the damage he has done to the Communion’s ministry among gay and lesbian Christians and those who seek justice for them, he will reconsider both the words he has spoken and the words he has not.”

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. To learn more about the Chicago Consultation, visit www.chicagoconsultation.org.


HEADLINE: Canterbury issues statement on Los Angeles' election of openly gay bishop suffragan

[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has issued a statement in response to the Diocese of Los Angeles' Dec. 5 election of an openly gay candidate, the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, as bishop suffragan.

Glasspool is one of two bishops suffragan elected during the Los Angeles diocese's Dec. 4-5 convention in Riverside, California. The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce became the first woman elected a bishop in the Los Angeles diocese on Dec. 4. Both elections must receive consents from a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees within 120 days from the day after notice is sent to them.

An ENS article about Glasspool's election is available here. An ENS article about Bruce's election is available here.

The full text of Williams' Dec. 6 statement follows:

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop-elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, C of E.

_____________________________________

That he wrongly condemns the Constitution and Canons, the polity of our Church in America, and overtly threatens us is bad. What is worse is that he fails in every way as a Christian and leader by NOT condemning the persecution of gay Christians in Uganda, who now face the death penalty for their "manner of life", and their friends and family members face prison time for knowing about them and not reporting them, and for covering up any knowledge of a friend or relative's "manner of life." Rowan Williams, you have failed in every way to be Christ-like and to love your neighbor as yourself.


HEADLINE: Los Angeles women bishops' elections create 'bit of a wave'; tsunami of reaction, expectations

Election raises issues of diversity, consents, covenants [Episcopal News Service] Los Angeles diocesan Bishop Jon Bruno's Dec. 5 acknowledgement that the weekend elections of two women suffragan bishops could create "a bit of a wave" across the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, may have been an understatement.

By Dec. 7 a flood of local, national and international support, praise, skepticism and criticism had poured in, as well as speculation about the impact of the elections of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce and, more specifically, the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, an openly gay and partnered woman, on local and global church relations.

Bruno addressed such concerns, as well as those about diversity, during a meeting with reporters at the conclusion of the Dec. 4-5 "Faith & Our Future" convention held at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, California.

"The people of Los Angeles elected these women," said Bruno. "The people of the Diocese of Los Angeles said ... we want at least one woman. Well, they got double their wish."

A majority of the 680 clergy and lay delegates attending the two-day gathering on Dec. 4 elected Bruce on the third ballot from among a field of six candidates. A well-known Los Angeles area priest, she had served for nine years as rector of St. Clements by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente, the southernmost tip of the six-county diocese. She became the first woman bishop in the diocese's 114-year history and the 16th woman elected bishop in the Episcopal Church.

A day later, Glasspool was elected after seven rounds of balloting, during which an admittedly "disconcerted" Bruno challenged the tense, almost somber gathering, "to look toward the future and have vision," and to "listen to the Holy Spirit." The field of candidates, narrowed to five after Bruce's election, was narrower still when Glasspool and another candidate, the Rev. I. Martir Vasquez emerged as frontrunners. Ballot results are available here.

Supporters and well-wishers, from Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, consecrated the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2003, to Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland, where Glasspool has served as canon to the bishops for the past eight years, praised her election.

"The people of the Diocese of Los Angeles have elected two extraordinarily gifted priests to serve them as suffragan bishops. Rightly so, the people of Los Angeles have not let current arguments over homosexuality or threats to 'unity' impair their choosing the best persons for these ministries," Robinson wrote on the diocesan website. "I am delighted over the elections of Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool and, upon consent by the wider church, look forward to welcoming them both into the House of Bishops."

Sutton called Glasspool's election, "a great day in the life of the Episcopal Church. As canon to the bishops since 2001, Mary has distinguished herself as a faithful and gifted priest who is well prepared to assume the mantle of leadership incumbent upon a bishop."

Diversity: 'we're not as vanilla as we seem'
Diversity was an issue for some delegates who supported Vasquez's candidacy, according to the Rev. Altagracia Perez, rector of Holy Faith Church in Inglewood, California. About 30 of the diocese's 149 congregations worship in Spanish, Bruno said. Futurists predict potential church growth among Latinos, who represent nearly one-half of the Los Angeles area population.

Vasquez is vicar of. St. George's, Hawthorne, a multicultural congregation of about 85 average Sunday attendance that includes Anglo, Latino, Nigerian and Palestinian members.

"We're not as vanilla as we look," Bruno said. "We have a new student of Spanish," he said referring to Glasspool. He is fluent in Spanish, as is Bruce, who also speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. "What we've done is bring great skills of administration and excitement and advancement and lifting people up for who they are. This diocese has been only one thing today, blessed."

Glasspool told reporters following her election that she felt the Holy Spirit empowered convention to go beyond "superficial characteristics and boxes in which we put people, to really look at individual people and assess the needs of the diocese and pair them with the gifts and skills that Diane and I each bring. In that sense, in all ways, we are moving to a point where we can look beneath the skin color and any single characteristic and really rejoice in the wholeness of every individual person."

Perez agreed, saying she was "surprised and pleased" at the election outcome even though "I would have preferred there be more of a balance" racially or ethnically. She was surprised because she "didn't think convention would elect two women. But, I really did feel that the Holy Spirit was at work. People became very focused on what would be good for the diocese in terms of skills and experiences, rather than acting out of any fear.

"God casts out fear, and we did what we thought was best without being afraid of people being upset with us," she said, referring to the Anglican Communion. "God and the Gospel take precedence over the church."
Consent processes

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and laity supporting full inclusion for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, heralded the Los Angeles elections.

In a Dec. 7 statement, they called upon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to reconsider his initial statement about the election, interpreted by some as a call to standing committees in the other 109 dioceses of the Episcopal Church and its bishops with jurisdiction to withhold their consent to Glasspool's consecration.

Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to the Glasspool's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

Williams had said that her election "raises very serious questions, not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the communion as a whole."

He added that the rest of the confirmation process "will have very important implications. The bishops of the communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

The Chicago Consultation questioned Williams' public silence "as the Ugandan legislature considers making homosexuality a crime punishable by death" while working instead behind the scenes to influence the situation. Yet, he issued "an immediate statement of alarm, implying there would be grave consequences unless bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church refused to consent to her [Glasspool's] election."

Glasspool, the statement added, "is no threat to the work of God or to Jesus' commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves. We believe that honoring the relationships and ministries of gay and lesbian Christians is, in the end, the only way in which the Anglican Communion can be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Bruno told the reporters he "will work my fingers to the bones, dialing telephones to talk to people and let them know what wonderful candidates we have here," should an attempt be made to stall Glasspool's consecration.

Withholding consents "would be a violation of the canons of this church," he added. "At our last General Convention, we said we are nondiscriminatory. They just as well might have withheld their consents from me because I was a divorced man and in my case, it would have been more justified than withholding them from someone who has been approved through all levels of ministry and is a good and creative minister of the Gospel."

Bruno was referring to Resolution D025 in which the 76th General Convention said in July that God's call to ordained ministry is "a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with [its] Constitution and Canons ..."

He added: "I would remind the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops they need to be conscientious about respecting the canons of the church and the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being. To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads."

Anglican covenant and communion partners
The Rev. Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at the University of Toronto's Wycliffe College, told ENS he wasn't surprised by Glasspool's election and that he wouldn't be if she receives the required consents for her planned May 15, 2010 consecration.

What will surprise the former Colorado conservative is if the Episcopal Church will sign the latest version of the Anglican covenant.

Glasspool's election and consecration will convey the impression that not just the Los Angeles diocese but "the Episcopal Church as a whole is not interested in participating in the processes that have been so painfully put together over the last six years" to consult and to exercise restraint and be accountable to one another as outlined in the proposed Anglican covenant, he said.

He added that, if the Episcopal Church signs the yet-to-be completed covenant, it will be seen as "utter disingenuousness." The election of an openly gay partnered bishop "establishes in a formal way the Episcopal Church's decision not to be a part of this process," he added.

The Anglican Consultative Council, at its May meeting in Jamaica, postponed asking the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces to consider adopting the latest version of the Anglican covenant, the Ridley Cambridge Draft. The ACC, the communion's main policy-making body, said instead that it wanted the draft's Section Four to get more scrutiny and possibly be revised.

A small working group, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, met in November to consider Section Four. The group's recommendations will be presented to the communion's Standing Committee for consideration in London Dec. 15-18. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is a member of the Standing Committee and will be attending the December meeting.

It remains for the Standing Committee to ask the communion provinces to decide if they can each agree to abide by its terms. It is expected that the soonest the Episcopal Church could consider such a request would be the next meeting of General Convention in the summer of 2012.

Radner said "the real issue is what's going to happen with the covenant and if the covenant comes out in a way that is not intact and more loosely ordered in its procedures, I think we will have a major split in the communion that will be permanent and the vast majority of the Global South and perhaps of the smaller western churches will go do their [own] covenant. The Episcopal Church doesn't really have a role any more in the covenant as far as I can tell."

Perez, 48, rector of Holy Faith in Inglewood, California for seven years, said a split "would be very sad. But," she added, "After 30 years of having this conversation if I have to choose, I'll choose what the Holy Spirit is doing and trust that the church will catch up. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened. That's where we were with slavery, and the church will catch up when it catches up."

Should Glasspool receive the necessary consents, she would become the second female bishop in Los Angeles and the 17th in the Episcopal Church but not the first openly gay female bishop in Christianity.

On Nov. 8 the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden ordained Eva Brunne, 55, as bishop of the Diocese of Stockholm. Brunne is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said.

Sweden has allowed same-gender civil unions since 1995 and on May 1 of this year began recognizing same-gender marriages after passing a gender-neutral marriage law. In late October, the Church of Sweden voted to allow its ministers to perform such marriages.

The Episcopal Church is about to enter into a dialogue with the Church of Sweden that could lead to a full communion agreement similar to the one the church has had with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since January 2001. The July 8-17 meeting of the Episcopal Church's General Convention called for that dialogue, via Resolution A076.

Bruce and Glasspool will succeed Bishop Suffragan Chester Talton and Bishop Assistant Sergio Carranza, who are retiring after 19 and seven years service, respectively, to the diocese.

With 70,000 members in 148 congregations, the Diocese of Los Angeles includes all of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and part of Riverside County.

More information about all nominees is available here.

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is Episcopal News Service correspondent for provinces VII and VIII. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, ENS national correspondent, and Matthew Davies, ENS editor and international correspondent, contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Break and diocesan reflection

I will be taking an extended break from blogging or any attempt to blog. I have a lot on my plate right now and nothing left with which to try to formulate a post.

I will make one observation in regard to the results of my Diocese's election of Rev. Hanley. That observation is this: I am disappointed and hope I am wrong in saying that I think we have not chosen the best applicant for leading our diocese into a future of positive change. I had hoped we had learned a lesson from the ill-chosen Bishop Itty but after all the process of chosing candidates for this most recent election, I see that we did not learn what we should have. I wish him well and hope we will not regret the outcome. Our bishop should have been one familiar with the Northwest and had actually spent time growing up here and serving here. We did not chose this person, probably because the usual folks didn't want a woman as a bishop, which is not progressive at all, something our state is usually known for, but not this year. So that's all I have to say.

Have a good Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza or whichever holiday you celebrate, or none, if that is the case, then have a beautiful winter season.

Catherine

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Diocese of Oregon prepares to elect new bishop


On Friday, November 20th at diocesan convention, Eugene OR, the Diocese of Oregon will elect a new bishop. You can follow the balloting at the diocesan website here: http://www.diocese-oregon.org/

If you want more information on how the search progressed and who the candidates are, you can visit the Search Committee website at http://www.diocese-oregon.org/bishopsearch/bishopsearch.htm

Please pray for our clergy and lay delegates that they may choose the person most suited to our diocese and its needs, that all wrangling would be laid aside. There is one woman and two men as candidates. There will be a prayer vigil held that day beginning at 8 am for the election at every parish church in the diocese. Please take a moment in your day and join us as we make this historic decision according to God's will and the good sense He/She gave us.

Catherine

Monday, November 16, 2009

FORT WORTH: First woman priest to be ordained Nov. 15

FORT WORTH: First woman priest to be ordained Nov. 15

[Episcopal News Service] Thirty-three years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, is following suit.

The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick Jr., bishop of Kentucky and provisional bishop of Fort Worth, is set to ordain the Rev. Susan Slaughter to the priesthood on Nov. 15 at St. Luke's in the Meadow Episcopal Church, where she currently serves as deacon.

Slaughter will become the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the history of the diocese, founded in 1983. She will also become the first woman to serve as rector of a diocesan parish -- also at St. Luke's in the Meadow.

"It is with a deep sense of awe in the mysterious ways of our Lord that I arrive at this moment," Slaughter said recently. "I am filled with gratitude toward those persons, lay and clergy, who have encouraged and supported me over the years. St. Luke's in the Meadow has been especially supportive and has helped me discern more clearly my true vocation."

It's been a long time coming for Slaughter, who was introduced to the Episcopal Church when she was eight years old, by two friends. She soon convinced her parents and brothers to join her.

"I loved the liturgy, joined the junior choir and was confirmed at age 12," she recalled recently. "I was the first in my family to attend and be confirmed in the Episcopal Church."

A graduate of Bellaire High School, she earned a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and taught speech pathology and audiology. She earned a master of education degree in guidance and counseling from North Texas State University in Denton.

Although she sensed a call to ordained ministry in the 1980s, diocesan bishops declined to ordain women to the priesthood, forcing her to "push aside the sense of call," she said.

She became an active lay minister at her home parish, St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Arlington. There, she developed a Stephen Ministry, training lay people to provide one-on-one compassionate listening and care to hurting people within the congregational setting. She was also a lay reader and server, led women's Bible studies and taught adult Christian education.

Eventually, she completed seminary training at the Anglican School of Theology in Dallas but still found the priesthood elusive.

Former Bishop Jack Iker told her she'd have to leave the diocese to be ordained to the priesthood. Unable to relocate, eventually she returned to Iker believing that her call must be to the diaconate. He ordained her a deacon on October 12, 2002.

For the past several years, she has served as deacon at St. Luke's and is credited with helping to stabilize the parish after the November 2008 departure of Iker and other diocesan leaders. Citing theological differences over the ordination of women and gays, they disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church and realigned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The continuing diocese reorganized in February 2009 with Gulick as provisional bishop. Under his leadership two women priests have been licensed to serve in the diocese, the Rev. Maurine Lewis, who serves displaced congregations, and the Rev. Melanie R. Barbarito, a pastoral associate at All Saints Church in Fort Worth.

Finally, Slaughter, who is currently enrolled in a master of theological studies program at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, will realize her call to ordained priesthood.

The Fort Worth diocese was formed from the western part of the Diocese of Dallas. The founding bishop, A. Donald Davies, and his successors, Clarence C. Pope and Iker, all left the Episcopal Church over women's ordination.

At least 15 women seeking ordination to the priesthood left the diocese during their collective tenure, according to Katie Sherrod, diocesan communications director. They have been invited "home" for Slaughter's ordination.

Slaughter has seven grandchildren. She was widowed in 2007 after 28 years of marriage to Jerry Slaughter.

She may be the first -- but is not the last -- woman ordained to the priesthood in the Fort Worth diocese.

The Rev. ClayOla Gitane, also serving as a deacon, will be ordained to the priesthood Dec. 5 at Trinity Church, Fort Worth, by the Rt. Rev. Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Olympia and provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. It will be the first time a female bishop has performed an episcopal act in the diocese.

Ordination of women in the Episcopal Church began in 1974 when 11 women were irregularly ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia. Four others were ordained in Washington, D.C., in 1975. The Episcopal Church's General Convention approved women's ordination to the priesthood and episcopate in 1976.

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is Episcopal News Service correspondent for provinces VII and VIII and the House of Bishops. She is based in Los Angeles.

May it also be noted that on the same day she was ordained a priest, she was installed at her new parish as rector.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vatican releases Apostolic Constitution to welcome former Anglicans

[Episcopal News Service] The text of an Apostolic Constitution, that outlines provisions to accept groups of former Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, was released Nov. 9 by the Vatican.

The full text of Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus is available on the Vatican website here.

An earlier ENS article, "Vatican proposal to welcome former Anglicans generates mixed reactions, commentary," is available here. An Opinion column by Bill Franklin, "Vatican Apostolic Constitution explained," is available here.

But I thought I was catholic already but not under a human supreme leader, but under Christ the King?

Southern Ohio gets approval for same-gender blessings as dioceses gather for annual sessions

By Pat McCaughan and Mary Frances Schjonberg, November 11 2009

Episcopal News Service] Authorizing same-gender blessings and welcoming new congregations highlighted decisions in some of the nine Episcopal Church dioceses that held annual policy-making gatherings during the Nov. 6-8 weekend.

Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Briedenthal [former rector of Trinity Episcopal Church Ashland, OR] told the diocese's 135th convention that same-gender blessings could be offered in the diocese beginning on Easter 2010.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori used the occasion of the Diocese of Atlanta's 103rd annual gathering to make a pastoral visit to the diocese. She also sent a video greeting to the 225th meeting of the Diocese of Massachusetts' convention.

Meanwhile, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson spoke via Skype to the Diocese of Iowa's 157th gathering. Anderson used the Skype software, that allows users to make free video and voice calls, as a demonstration of possible communication techniques as alternatives to face-to-face meetings.

Following is a partial summary of diocesan actions at gatherings during the Nov. 6-8 weekend.

Diocese of Atlanta. In addition to hosting Jefferts Schori for her first pastoral visit to the diocese, delegates welcomed one new parish and another new worshipping community before approving seven resolutions during the 103rd annual council Nov. 6-7 at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta.

The newest parish in the diocese, Christ the King in Lilburn, Georgia, is a multicultural congregation that meets in a suburban-Atlanta shopping center. The Church of the Common Ground, the new worship community, is a congregation of homeless people in downtown Atlanta.

Council approved resolutions to support ongoing work opposing and preventing sex trafficking, create a task force on domestic violence, and affirm thriving young adult and campus ministries. Other legislation establishes a Commission on Environmental Stewardship to continue the work of a two-year-old task force and urges congregations to undertake an energy assessment of their buildings in 2010. Delegates also extended the diocese's companion relationship with the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro.

The council approved a $4.6 million diocesan budget for 2010, which represents a 5.4 percent decrease from this year. The budget will be sent to the diocesan executive board for final approval.

The diocese encompasses more than 55,000 communicants in nearly 25,000 households and 95 congregations, additional worshipping communities and chaplaincies.

Photo coverage of the council meeting is available here.

Diocese of Eau Claire. About 77 lay and clergy delegates gathered at Church of the Ascension in Hayward, Wisconsin for the 81st annual convention meeting of the diocese. The Ven. Jeanne Stout, archdeacon for the diocese, said convention approved one resolution concerning renewal of the life of the diocese, which has been without a bishop since Keith B. Whitmore left in April 2008 to become assisting bishop in the Diocese of Atlanta. Among other things, the resolution called for the appointment of a provisional bishop and exploration of "creative strategies for diocesan reorganization to strengthen the diocese's ability to support its parishes pastorally, programmatically, and financially within an ever-changing global context."

"We were blessed to have Bishop Clay Matthews with us on Friday and most of Saturday and he did a grand job with his homily at Eucharist and answering questions about what's going to happen," Stout said. Matthews heads the Office of Pastoral Development of the House of Bishops and consults with dioceses about their processes for electing bishops.

Delegates adopted a $220,000 budget. The diocese represents about 2,200 baptized members worshipping in 22 congregations and an average Sunday attendance of about 950.

Diocese of Iowa. About 215 delegates registered for “Next Generations of Faith,” the 157th annual convention held this year at the Des Moines Marriott Hotel.

Delegates approved resolutions focused on environmental ministry; mission priorities and economic justice. Other resolutions adopted by convention included wide-ranging topics from: addressing the issue of AIDS; making accommodations for people with disabilities; affirming the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Genesis Covenant aimed at reducing green house gas emissions from facilities by a maximum of 50 percent, and adopting the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation.

Delegates defeated a resolution that urged the beginning of a diocesan, and later a General Convention, process to amend canons to reduce all diocesan deputations to two deputies for both lay and clerical orders.

Diocesan coordinator Anne Wagner said the diocese encompasses 61 congregations plus a new start-up faith community not yet formally organized as a congregation. The diocese represents 10,184 baptized members, according to 2008 figures.

Financial officer Bob Joy said convention adopted a $1,178,787 budget, representing a 12 percent decrease from the previous year.

Diocese of Massachusetts. The diocese's celebration of its 225th year spilled out of Trinity Church into a big white tent pitched on Boston's Copley Plaza.

Spanning the history of the diocese, worship began on Nov. 7 with Morning Prayer from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and concluded with Holy Eucharist featuring music and prayers from numerous contemporary sources, readings in many voices and languages and liturgical dance.

A benefit auction and square dance in the big tent on the evening of Nov. 6 raised just more than $20,000 for the diocese's young adult intern programs.

To celebrate his 15th anniversary as bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, joined about 150 youth and their adult mentors for a Nov. 7 afternoon rally in the tent. Shaw has advocated for the full inclusion of children and youth in the ministry of the church.

"Remember that you are older than he is," Jefferts Schori quipped in a video greeting congratulating the diocese and Shaw on their respective anniversaries.

In lieu of an address, Shaw gave a series of three meditations focused on the Gospel of John that emphasized love and sacrifice for the sake of community.

"People tell me that about all I ever talk about is community. And it's true. It's true because I believe that in community we have the most profound dynamic experience of God," he said. "I believe it's where we find our deepest transformation. And ultimately I think it's from community that we're given the gift of hope which fires our serving in the world."

The meditations included personal testimony from young adult intern program members Jason Long and Waetie Kumahia on how their lives have been transformed by their experiences of living and serving with others in Christian community.

A proposal presented to the gathering to re-shape the diocese's 10-year "Inviting, Forming, Sending, Serving" mission strategy, now in its sixth year, includes a plan to dedicate St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Church in the Allston neighborhood of Boston as a home for young adult ministry, leadership development initiatives and an experimental worship community plant. The Diocesan Council and Standing Committee will take action on that proposal at a joint meeting on Nov. 12.

The convention adopted two resolutions without amendment, with little discussion and with strong majorities.

One responded to last summer's General Convention Resolution C056 allowing for 'generous pastoral response' in states such as Massachusetts where same-gender marriage is legal. The diocesan resolution expresses the convention's hope that Shaw will permit clergy to sign marriage licenses and pronounce marriages "for any couple that is legally eligible for marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The other resolution continues the diocese's efforts to come to terms with the Episcopal Church's complicity locally in the institution of slavery.

The convention also approved a balanced budget of $6.4 million for 2010, which is $531,000 less than the 2009 budget. The budget maintains the diocese's 0.7 percent commitment to relief and development efforts in Africa, as well as full financial support of the Episcopal Church. And, it reflects assessment reductions for 60 percent of parishes through a newly simplified formula.

Text of resolutions and final actions are available here.

Photos from Nov. 6 events are available here and Nov. 7 here.

Diocese of Nebraska. The 142nd annual council met under the theme "One in Christ, one in Love, one in Mission" at the Church of Our Savior and the Sand Hills Convention Center in North Platte, Nebraska.

Diocesan Administrator Nancy Nichols said delegates adopted a $665,000 budget, representing a 1.6 percent increase over 2009.

Among other business, the council approved resolutions requiring anti-racism training for all diocesan committee and commission members before or within a year of taking office, supporting the Earth Charter and the Anglican Communion's Five Marks of Mission.

Delegates also approved an amended resolution requesting the 77th General Convention to authorize commemoration of the Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano in the calendar of the church year. Kano was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1889. Baptized in 1910, he came to the United States in 1916. He was a beet farmer in the Platte River Valley prior to his 1936 ordination to the priesthood. He was arrested on the steps of his church Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. For the next four years, he ministered in five different prisons. After the war he returned to Nebraska. He retired in 1957 and moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado. He died Oct. 24, 1988.

The diocese represents 57 congregations and about 4,800 Episcopalians.

Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. During the diocese's 99th convention Bishop Sean Rowe laid out a comprehensive mission strategy which centers on transformational leadership and ministry.

Around 160 clergy, delegates, and guests gathered at the Villa Conference Center in New Castle.

Among resolutions passed were minor canonical changes, as well as a resolution on clergy minimum stipends. Information about the resolutions and other convention news is available here.

Diocese of Rochester. Rochester Bishop Prince Singh told the 78th meeting of the diocese that "saints of Rochester may have been stunned by the economic downturn of the recent past, but have not been paralyzed by it."

He urged the diocese to say "enough to watching congregations hemorrhage and slowly trickle out their life; either because they rely too heavily on their endowments to buy them some hospice time or because they are too tired to retool and vision into the future," and enough to high dropout and crime rates in Rochester, and enough to the belief "that our rural mission fields are barren and hence only deserve a 'welfare' approach to sustain an Episcopal presence."

The bishop called for task force to explore where to plant new congregations and to re-examine the diocese's apportionment formula.

No other information about the gathering's decisions was available. The diocese includes just more than 10,000 active baptized members in 51 congregations.

Diocese of Southern Ohio. Each deanery in the diocese was invited to create a video conveying how they "Let Your Light Shine," the theme for the 135th annual convention meeting in Sharonville, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In making his announcement about same-gender blessings, Breidenthal invited congregations and clergy to engage in conversation about his decision while liturgies and policies are designed. He also noted that clergy would not be obligated to perform blessings.

Through the aid of a diocesan fund, Southern Ohio Bishop Suffragan Ken Price -- originally expected to serve one-third of his time in the diocese and two-thirds time as provisional bishop of Pittsburgh -- will be able to serve full-time in Pittsburgh, according to Richelle Thompson, diocesan communications officer. The Procter fund will help supplement Price's salary to allow him to spend the additional time in Pittsburgh, she said.

"It's a really interesting way of helping each other with the gifts we have, of spreading them around to support not just our own diocese but seeing the church as one global church and helping each other," Thompson said.

Breidenthal also noted that Diocese of Olympia Bishop Suffragan Nedi Rivera is retiring and moving to Cincinnati in February and may assist with visitations while continuing to maintain her duties as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon.

In convention business, delegates approved resolutions to: encourage local law enforcement officers to relinquish immigration enforcement to federal officials; restrict use of commercially bottled water; begin a year of discernment about entering a companion relationship with the Episcopal Church of Liberia; endorse the Earth Charter; and consider reviewing the process to select members to diocesan council to reflect greater geographic diversity.

Convention adopted a $3,898,505 budget, down about $153,000 from last year's $4,051,090 budget, Thompson said.

The Diocese of Southern Ohio encompasses about 25,000 Episcopalians in 81 congregations.

Diocese of Vermont. Participants in the 177th annual meeting of the diocese passed resolutions to affirm the General Convention's endorsement of the Earth Charter and its call for federal legislation in 2009 guaranteeing adequate healthcare and insurance for every citizen. Also related to General Convention, the diocesan gathering commended to its members the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation for implementation over the next three years. That resolution echoed a call from General Convention for such efforts.

The diocesan convention also called for a continuation of the diocese's five-year-old strategic planning effort.

Bishop Tom Ely based his annual address in an imaginary reply to a voice message left for him during this past Holy Week that suggested the caller could help him find a buyer "interested in your type of business there in Vermont."

More convention information is available here.

The diocese includes close to 8,100 active baptized members in 48 congregations.

--The Rev. Pat McCaughan is Episcopal News Service correspondent for provinces VII and VIII and the House of Bishops. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal News Service national correspondent. Diocesan communicators Vanessa Butler (Northwestern Pennsylvania), Nan Ross (Atlanta) and Tracy J. Sukraw (Massachusetts) contributed to this story.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A poem by Mary Oliver to share...

I thank my new friend Martha Phelps-Cotton for sharing this gem tonight as she recovers from the flu, and as she thinks of her son Reid, far to the north, still progressing after his chemotherapy for AML [acute myeloid leukemia]. That Martha feels or has the inner strength to share is amazing...so here is the poem that moved her to share it with me and her support crowd, a poem by the gifted yet humble Mary Oliver:

Praying

It doesn't have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch



a few words together and don't try

to make them elaborate, this isn't

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.



~ Mary Oliver ~

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No comment

Well, that is sad. No comments or constructive suggestions on what to do with those single people in the Church. I do appreciate what was said to me in emails in response to the announcement of the post. But that was all. What are we or I to make of this ennui?

It causes me to not have anything to say. The silence says it all. It tells me no one cares enough to even think about any ideas or voice concerns for the single people in this Church. I am discouraged but I will persevere in one way or another to welcome the stranger, the single stranger who is my brother or sister, who is near or far.

Catherine

photograph by Joshua D Hall

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joy Evermore...

















Hat tip to Kathy Jensen, friend and blogger:



Jesu, my love, my joy, my rest.
Thy perfect love close in my breast
That I thee love and never rest;
And make me love thee of all thinge best,
And wounde my heart in thy love free,
That I may reign in joy evermore with thee.


By Anonymous (15th century)



In peace we pray to you, Lord God:

We pray for all who have died, that they may have a place in your eternal kingdom...

[Silence]

Lord, let your loving-kindness be upon them;

Who put their trust in you...

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Single Soul and the Church

There has been some talk--on the Internet, Facebook and The Episcopal Church: The Facebook of Common Prayer [see my previous post]--about what the Church has neglected to do for the single person. The unmarried, unpartnered ones, the shut ins, the home bound, the wandering souls that go through life's routines...alone.

What is there for us? I know at my parish there was an attempt at a Stone Soup Supper but for one reason or another it was canceled last fall, or was it winter? It's not like there aren't a lot of us around...we are here, and there, the cities and the towns, from sea to sea, mountain to mountain, plain to plain. We are in large cathedrals and we are in small parish churches. We. Simply. Are.

Many in society think that being single is just the best thing since sliced bread, and don't know why we don't just get married or something. Look at all the advantages that married people supposedly have: longer lives, someone to come home to, tax advantages for their double incomes or the really good single income, ready made dance partners [maybe] and the list goes on. Personally I think its discriminatory to give one group a tax break and not the rest. Why shouldn't single people have the break or something like it? I mean, they are self-supporting, more often than not, so shouldn't we get the break instead of or with the married people who may or may not be getting deductions for children and whatever. I think we should. But here I have wondered into the secular world. Let me take a step back to the Church.

There is a lot of dithering about single groups in churches. Sometimes they lump you into College aged people, or Career-oriented people. And usually but not always, there is the unspoken match.com going on. People don't think of a singles' group as a place to be nurtured spiritually or educationally. No, more often than not people think it's a Christian dating service. Not.

Personally I'd like to see Education for Ministry program or the ability to access EfM for those who wish to take part in and find out what their calling may be or to simply learn more about their faith. It does cost but maybe the church would be willing to help out with some of that for those who could not otherwise afford it.

Book groups are good and their are as diverse in subject and direction as pebbles in a stream. One could go Fiction, or Non-fiction; Theology, Victorian poetry, spiritually focused works, the lives of the saints, mysteries [spiritual and otherwise]. The possibilities are truly endless and varied.

There are always current affairs to discuss in discussion groups for that very purpose. Or we could talk Health Care, or Education, maybe even the possibilities of volunteering in an area of mutual interest.

One of the most important activities I believe single people can engage in is sharing a meal. At a restaurant or mutually prepared, say for Thanksgiving or Christmas, for those with nowhere to go and who would otherwise be sitting in front of TV or window with a microwave turkey dinner. Not feels more comfortable and comforting than to share good food with others who wish for company as much as you do. Holidays are hard on people regardless of station or status. But hearing about the experience of others, they are some of the most depressing times a single person can endure. That's right, enduring the holidays is hard for some, perhaps easier for others but all the same, this alone-ness--especially if it is not welcome--takes a toll mentally, emotionally and physically on the single person.

Single people it is said could benefit from having a companion animal. Well, I agree with that having experienced that first hand. And as great as this would be for those who aren't allergic, it can pose a problem, not just because where they may live but the financial cost of owning and caring for a pet can be prohibitive. And as great as animals are, those who are single, need human companionship and interaction to thrive and be well in body and spirit.

There are, indeed, many other possibilities for gathering single people together under the umbrella of the Church. Half of us haven't met the other half of the single population in our own parish because we attend different services, or we only come on high holy days or just the Wednesday night program or what have you. Gathering us all together in one place, at one time would give us the opportunity to meet every other single person who can attend. Finding out what we have in common--besides being single--and finding common ground. Maybe there is someone who would put on a little financial planning survival seminar for single people only. I would like that especially in this economy.

My mind is swimming with the possibilities of what WE could do if we could meet and talk; think about what we want for ourselves as a group so that maybe twice a month we could count on there being someplace to go to engage our minds and hearts toward God, in one form or another.

Food for thought, definitely. I would like to know your thoughts and invite your comments on this subject. Maybe some of you could share what you do in your church, parish or temple for and with the single man or woman who is looking for more in the "family". I'd love to hear from you.

Catherine

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From the "I can't believe it, yet I can" category...

When we thought things were getting back to a new normal for the Diocese of Fort Worth, what happens? A misogynist and defrocked bishop formerly of Fort Worth raises his silly head against a man of character and imbued with the Spirit. Read on, the ridiculous reality that is Jack Iker, former bishop of the true Episcopal Church, in name only because he never obeyed canon law or resolutions about, among other things, the ordination and equal place of women in the Church...can you tell I feel strongly about this issue among many?

From Episcopal News Service:
FORT WORTH: Breakaway bishop seeks challenge to authority of Episcopal bishop, others

September 9 hearing set in breakaway dispute

By Pat McCaughan

[Episcopal News Service] Attorneys for Jack Iker have asked a Texas court for permission to
challenge the authority of Provisional Bishop Ted Gulick Jr. and the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Iker, who left The Episcopal Church in 2008 but refused to relinquish church property or assets, is responding to a pending lawsuit filed by The Episcopal Church and the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth in April to establish the authority of the new diocesan leadership and to recover diocesan assets, according to chancellor Kathleen Wells.

Full story can be found here.

If you would like to know more about the goings on in the New, Bright and Beautiful Diocese of Fort Worth, join Facebook and go here to follow the reports of Thomas Squiers+ who administers the page. Or go to their website by clicking here.

And here is an upside to the Episcopal Church...well, ANOTHER upside to being in the Episcopal Church, at least in my humble view:

Subject: Sandra Day O’Connor – Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw, administrator of the Facebook page by the same name, Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church. You will need to be a Facebook member to view the page, but believe me, it is worth it.

With all the attention this summer on the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court let’s turn the spotlight on the woman who paved the way - Sandra Day O’Connor.

O’Connor was raised on the family ranch in Arizona. She attended Stanford University for undergraduate and law school. Her gender prevented her from working in law upon graduation so she turned to public service in California then in the Arizona state legislature. In 1975 she was elected judge in Maricopa County. She would be appointed to the Supreme Court six years later by Ronald Reagan, becoming the first woman ever to serve on the high court.

A cradle Episcopalian, O’Connor was married at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in El Paso, Texas. Today she is an active member of the Cathedral Chapter of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Last month she received the presidential Medal of Freedom alongside another famous Anglican, Desmond Tutu.

O’Connor’s accomplishments are a legacy to her keen mind, hard work and tenacity. And they remind us of the gifts God has given you and me. And just like us Justice O’Connor has found something worthwhile in the Episcopal Church. Perhaps it’s a tradition of intellectual rigor in approaching ethical issues, perhaps it’s the beauty of the liturgy that acknowledges God as the supreme judge, or maybe it’s a place to feel comfortable presenting our gifts as we look for discernment.

Chances are none of us will ever serve on the Supreme Court, but we are called to use our gifts to their highest and best. In what ways has our church helped us discern? Has the Episcopal Church helped clarify a difficult issue in your life? Feel free to stop by the message board and post a comment.
--------------------

See? A happy ending to an otherwise groaning post.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Nominees Announced for 10th Bishop of Oregon

OREGON: Diocese announces three candidates for bishop

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal New Service] Three priests have been nominated to stand for election as the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

They are

* the Rev. Canon Britt Elaine Olson, 49, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Northern California;

* the Rev. Michael Joseph Hanley, 54, rector, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Roseville, Minnesota (Diocese of Minnesota);

* the Rev. Andrew Jeffrey MacBeth, 60, rector, Calvary Church, Memphis, Tennessee (Diocese of West Tennessee).

Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81803_113101_ENG_HTM.htm


Announcement from the Standing Committee

The members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Oregon, meeting at St. Pauls Church, Salem, Oregon, on August 6, 2009 received the list of nominees from the diocesan Search Commitee. These individuals will stand for election as the tenth Bishop of Oregon at the Electing Convention to be held on November 20, 2009, in Eugene, Oregon.

In addition to the nominees selected by the Search Committee who are introduced in the attached document, further nominees may be added by petition. Because background checks are required of all nominees before the election, nominations from the floor may not be made. Furthermore, to allow sufficient time for background checks to be carried out, petitions must be submitted within twenty-one days from the date of this announcement. Anyone wishing to make a petition nomination should download the necessary forms and rules from the Bishop Search
web site. Petitions should be addressed to The President of the Standing Committee and must be delivered in hard copy to the Diocesan Office at 11800 SW Military Lane, Portland, OR 97219-8436 no later than Friday, August 28, 2009.


The Standing Committee wishes to thank the members of the Search Committee for their dedicated service to the diocese during the past eight months. They have engaged in a process of spiritual discernment that has led them to believe that the individuals introduced in this announcement are the best possible nominees for the diocese at large to consider as our next diocesan bishop. We are profoundly grateful for their efforts.



Faithfully,
Sharon L. Rodgers, President
for the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Oregon


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Liberal Anglicans declare war on conservatives in the Church

From the Times Online, August 4, 2009, Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, reports the following "deal breaking" news from the Church of England with wider ramifications in the World Wide Anglican Communion if what the article [here in it's entirety] indicates, comes to pass:

And now, live from England...

Liberals in the Church of England declared war on conservatives including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams tonight.

Condemning as “flawed” Dr Williams’s recent declaration that the way forward lay in a “twin-track” Anglican Communion, liberals revealed plans to bring in same-sex blessings and gay ordination in England, as has happened in the Episcopal Church in the US.

Their strategy will be to attempt to win the General Synod, the Church’s governing body currently dominated by evangelicals, over to the liberal cause. The opportunity will come next year when the quinquennial elections for a new synod are due.

Liberals from organisations such as Inclusive Church, set up and led by Giles Fraser, the new canon chancellor of St Paul’s, and the long-established Modern Churchpeople’s Union, will attempt to win key seats throughout the Church’s 44 dioceses in what look likely to be the hardest fought elections since the synod came into being in 1970 and which could turn into a battle for the soul of the established Church.

If they take enough of the 400-plus seats in the houses of clergy and laity, the liberals will attempt to bring in total acceptance of homosexuals, overturning all restrictions on their ministry and approving same-sex blessings for civil partnerships and gay ordinations and consecrations.

The liberals in England have made their strongest bid yet for equal treatment for gays in the wake of last week’s acknowledgement by Dr Williams that the Anglican Church is in schism in all but name.

In a response to the decision last month of The Episcopal Church of the US to go ahead with gay consecrations and same-sex blessings, Dr Rowan Williams argued for a “two-track” Communion in which the Church was divided between those with differing theological views of homosexuality. Dr Williams appealed for this to be seen not in “apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication” but rather as “two styles of being Anglican”.

Organisations representing women priests, lesbian and gay Christians and liberal Roman Catholics and evangelicals have joined forces to condemn Dr Williams’s response as “flawed” and plan their own strategy to effect the same innovations in England as have been made in North America and that have plunged the Anglican Communion into schism.

“We wish to reaffirm our loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures, our commitment to the Anglican way, and our celebration of and thanksgiving for the tradition and life of the Church of England,” the liberal groups said.

Referring to Dr Williams’s reference to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style” and his assertion that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond”, they accused Dr Williams of being inconsistent in the light of past statements he has made, which gave the impression of a more liberal stance.

Signatories to the letter such as Inclusive Church are planning a survey of all gay and lesbian clergy in the Church of England. They believe that in some dioceses, such as London and Southwark, the number may be as high as one in five. They also intend to conduct a survey to find out how many same-sex blessings have been carried out in secret.

“We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons — properly selected and ordained — and many lay people who are LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving,” they said in their statement. “We reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry.” The Times has learnt that talks are already under way about forging permanent links between liberal parishes in England and The Episcopal Church, rather as the conservatives have linked up through the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and related bodies. A new US Episcopal Church outpost in London is also being considered, should any liberal parishes in England wish to affiliate with The Episcopal Church in the US in the way that many conservative US parishes have affiliated with evangelical provinces in Africa and the Southern Cone.

Hat tip to Barbi Click of "Feathers and Faith", key player in Integrity USA Missouri.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Jimmy Carter Leaves the Southern Baptist Church"

Huge hat tip to Deputy and now Executive Council member Katie Sherrod of the New Diocese of Fort Worth for this story. Take it away Katie...

Here's a story that seems to have escaped the mainstream media -- Jimmy Carter has left the Southern Baptist Church.

And here's why, as he wrote in an essay for The Age:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

and

The truth is that male religious leaders have had -- and still have -- an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.


Carter faced what many people face in their churches -- the sincere belief that their church has moved away from their core beliefs, or that they themselves have moved beyond their church's core beliefs.


When that happens, people face some choices. They can leave, they can stay and try to change the church, or they can stay and try to change themselves. Carter stayed for many years, trying to change his church.

I took another route. When I began to understand that the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on the role of women were wildly out of whack with my lived experience and my understanding of the teachings of Jesus I realized I had to either leave or violate the integrity of my very being.

I chose to leave, and eventually found the Episcopal Church, which was then beginning the process of trying to live into the Baptismal Covenant in the "new" 1979 Book of Common Prayer. I was attracted to a church that was willing to struggle with the disconnect between "traditional" interpretations of Scripture and the Baptismal promises to "seek and serve God in all people" and "respect the dignity of every human being."

The ordination of women was the presenting issue then, but quickly on its heels came the whole issue of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the full life and ministry of the church.

Of course, having been received into the Episcopal Church, I found myself in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, whose bishops refused to ordain women to the priesthood and who soon latched onto the issue of homosexuality as their best bet to keep fear levels so high people would do what the bishops wanted.

Their strategy worked a treat. Misinformation was ladled out like candy at Halloween and soon their demonization of the Episcopal Church led to its logical conclusion. They left the Episcopal Church. [But unlike Jimmy Carter, they are trying to keep Episcopal Church property.]

As for me, I soon realized I could not remain in the Episcopal Church in this place AND remain an ethical person without speaking out against what I saw as wrong. I knew enough about the wider church to know that it bore no relationship to the heretical church described by our former leadership. I was not alone in this.

We laypeople worked hard to try to counter the misinformation, and are still doing so. But you can't undo 30 years of lies in nine months.

That's why in the wake of the most recent General Convention, we see the old fears and lies raising their ugly heads as Episcopalians deal with action at Convention that simply described what has been the canonical reality of our church for many years -- the ordination process is open to all the baptized. That does not confer an automatic right to ordination, but it does mean we cannot arbitrarily block some people from entering the process simply because of who they are.

Convention also asked for the gathering of resources around the whole issue of blessing same gender weddings and unions as a way of dealing with the new reality being faced by at least 30 dioceses who are in states where same gender marriage and unions are legal. This new reality is also being faced by the Church of England, the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and the Anglican Churches of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Convention asked for collaborative work with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion as we work to find pastoral responses to these new civil realities.

In short, when LGBT Episcopalians can be legally married they want the church to bless those marriages, just as do heterosexual Episcopalians. This resolution essentially asked for resources and study on how the Church will respond to them.

These were only two of the many issues centering on Baptism that were dealt with by the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, but they are getting the most attention.

They is part of the Episcopal Church's effort to live into the responsibilities and promises of the Baptismal Covenant. It's not easy, because it requires living in a state of some ambiguity. This is very uncomfortable for those folks used to or desiring a top down authoritarian view of Scripture.

This work requires a lot of thinking and self examination on the part of individual church-goers. But that is what I love about the Episcopal Church. Our leaders expect us -- even challenge us -- to think.

After all, God commanded us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind.

Too often we forget that last part.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Provost Kelvin Holdsworth, St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow remarks on Gen Con 2009

"What’s going on in America?" Kelvin Holdsworth inquires...well, he is the Provost of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland. And he is part of the Scottish Episcopal Church, our brothers and sisters in arms, as it were, in the Anglican Communion. Did you know that the first clergyman in the Episcopal Church USA was ordained by a bishop of the Scottish church, and hence we have Seabury because it was Seabury who was ordained for us, to send us on the road we now find ourselves on. Delightful, the Scottish Church, doing that for us Episcopalians. Do read the following commentary and observations of the good Provost. You will also want to visit his blog called What Is In Kelvin's Head?

There is quite a lot going on in the Anglican world this week. The Church of England Synod was meeting, but did not make much headline news, with the exception that they decided not to shift power from committees and boards to bishops. (ie from laity, clergy and episcopacy to episcopacy).

More interesting is what is going on in the States, where the General Convention of the Episcopal Church is taking place. It only happens every three years and is their great decision making body.

The General Convention has passed a resolution which is getting a lot of press at the moment, Resolution D025. It is worth reading what it actually says and not simply relying on other people’s interpretation. (Including mine!)

The American church seems to have decided that honesty is the best policy. They say simply where they are at with events which have become so toxic within Anglicana. They say that they remain fully committed to the Anglican Communion and also that their methods of selecting bishops remain those of their constitution and canons. This means that those who must consent to Episcopal elections must apply their own conscience when giving consents. The Anglican world cannot simply assume that the American church will reject a bishop who happens to be gay, just because Rowan Williams (or anyone else) asks them to...

Go to Kelvin's blog to read the rest of his narrative regarding General Convention. It's a definite good read.

The Bishop of Kentucky / New Fort Worth on the 76th General Convention

Bishop "Ted" Gulick Jr is the Bishop of Kentucky and appointed Interim Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth Reorganized. Here is his report on Convention from his standpoint and that of his deputations from Kentucky and from New Fort Worth:

A high point of Convention happened on Wednesday, July 14. ... when the House of Deputies ended its morning session with prayers sung in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions, all three of which trace their roots to Abraham. ... all of whom were part of a group of ecumenical and interreligious guests at General Convention. Each of the singers in turn sang a prayer and then combined their voices into what was called "a sung Abrahamic blessing to this house." As the individual voices soared and then blended together in the vast space of the House of Deputies, it became holy space, blessed space, and everyone in that space was changed, connected with one another in a new way.

Read his entire report.

I'd also like to point out that for the first time in the history of the Diocese of Fort Worth, reorganized or otherwise, that women are coming into their own at last, a privilege denied them by the former and now dissident bishop who has left The Episcopal Church for another Province.

One of the biggest deals was that women were in the deputation and one of them was Katie Sherrod of the blog Desert's Child. When you visit her blog you will meet her and be able to read in her archive the pain and grief of being denied her baptismal rights as a woman in that former diocese. I am happy and proud to say that Katie was elected to Executive Council this Convention...how sweet it is!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Bishop of Nevada shares his thoughts on Convention

The Right Reverend Dan Thomas Edwards, 10th Bishop of Nevada, was keeping a blog I didn't know about until today when he posted about it on Facebook. His message is directed toward those in his diocese of course, but really, it's to all of us in the Episcopal Church. He discusses and explains exactly what issues dominated Convention and what Do25 and Co56 really mean to all of us and to those whom it will most greatly effect.

I met +Dan when I was researching Celtic Eucharistic services for my priest--by email--and at the time he was the rector of a parish in THE South ;-). As it turns out he and his wife have on occasion come to Ashland on vacation to attend the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. He said he would try to come again. Of course he was still a parish rector at the time before, less than a month later, he was elected the then new bishop of Nevada, taking the place of ++Katharine who had been elected PB in 2006.

I give to you a preview with a link to the blog itself and his letter to his diocese. And if you continue reading beyond the letter, you will find blog diaries of Convention from said bishop:

"Brothers and sisters in Christ, the 76th Convention of the Episcopal Church is drawing to a close. It has been a benchmark in our common life, the beginning of an exciting new stage in our mission. So many things were accomplished.

Among the most important were: The adoption of the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation. This charter gives structure and encouragement for our efforts in the Frensdorff School. It marks the Christian life as one of ongoing learning and commits the church to being a learning community.

We endorsed parish partnerships with local schools. Nevada’s developing partnership with Communities in Schools puts us on this track already. It is not acceptable that only 44% of our Nevada children graduate from high school. We can do better.

Several bold steps were taken to strengthen evangelism. The most important for Nevada is a process for training and licensing lay evangelists. I hope every Nevada congregation will have a licensed lay evangelist soon and that they will form a dynamic network for sharing the gospel of Jesus with our neighbors.

We formed a Provincial Partnership with the Church in Brazil, set up a plan for shared mission projects with Anglican churches in the Americas, and strengthened the program of companion diocese relationships. Nevada presently does not have such a relationship but we are negotiating a partnership with the Diocese of Santiago in the Philippines. This is a more important way of being a Communion than formal mechanisms and institutional structures that do not have the human ties of diocese to diocese and parish to parish bonds.

We provided pensions for lay employees, reduced our health insurance costs, reformed the disciplinary process, and passed a budget against all odds.

We had some opportunities to depart from the traditional faith of the church. There were resolutions deleting the word “virgin” from descriptions of Mary in our prayers and authorizing alternative forms of the Baptismal Covenant. We did not do these things. The bishops and deputies were emphatically orthodox..."

Please read the rest of his blog post at Bishop Dan's Blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Anaheim, Ca., July 17, 2009--The Chicago Consultation released this statement from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, at the close of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim, California. Meyers is a deputy from the Diocese of Chicago and is the Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific:

During the past ten days, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has worshiped, prayed, and worked to discern God's will for our common life. Our time together has been filled with generosity, honesty, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit.

The Chicago Consultation is particularly grateful to the four Anglican primates who attended the meeting as our guests: The Most Rev. Philip Aspinall, Primate of Australia; the Most. Rev. Solomon Jongmo Yoon, Primate of Korea; the Most Rev. Idris Jones, Primus of Scotland (retired); and the Most Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, Primate of Japan. We are also thankful
for the Convention's many international visitors, guests of House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, who participated in Chicago Consultation events.

At this General Convention, we have both advanced mission relationships in the Anglican Communion and opened the way for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to realize fully the promises of their baptism. We celebrate the progress we have made toward full inclusion of all baptized people in God's church and pray that the Spirit will continue to bless the Episcopal Church's mission and relationships across the Anglican Communion.

Now the work begins. Thanks to two key General Convention resolutions, D025 and C056, the Episcopal Church has a fresh opportunity to strengthen Anglican Communion relationships, deepen our understanding of the discernment process by which God calls us all to ministry, and explore together how we can enrich our common life by blessing same-gender unions.

We pray that all Episcopalians, no matter their opinions on specific legislation or issues, will go forward from Anaheim in the spirit of our time together and use the opportunities presented by this General Convention to unite our church in a renewed commitment to Gospel mission.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.

The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church's historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.

Contact: Rebecca S. Wilson, 330-524-2067, rebeccaswilson@sbcglobal.net

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

A New Episcopal Mystery is Afoot... [And it has nothing to do with Convention!]

There is a new Episcopal [that's right] mysteries series afoot. [low groan from readers]. The hat tip goes to those wonderful clergy women and their friends at The Reverend Gal Blog Pals webpage. This site can lead you to wonderful and beautiful places, excellent writing and godly inspiration, as well as laughter, joy and compassion.

Here is a series I had not heard of. Sure I had heard of and have read most of the crime mystery series involving women Episcopal priests by Michelle Blake and Julia Spencer-Fleming, but this new series will prove "hilarious" and a good read. Here is what the RGBP's had to say about the first book in the series "The Alto Wore Tweed".

And we all need a fun and engaging read during these Convention and Dog Days of summer!

On the last Monday of this month, the RGBP [Reverend Gal Blog Pals] Book Pals will be discussing The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer. This is the first in his hilarious Liturgical Mysteries series which includes The Bass Wore Scales, The Soprano Wore Falsettos, The Tenor Wore Tapshoes, etc.

The Alto Wore Tweed introduces you to St. Germaine, North Carolina and Hayden Konig--chief of police and choirmaster extraordinare of St. Barnabus Episcopal Church. He is also a big fan of mystery writer Raymond Chandler, who he tries to imitate. The author is also a church musician and his send-ups of the follies of church life are spot-on. And funny!

How can you resist a book that features a Christmas pageant entitled 'The Penguin of Bethlehem" set amidst the town's Nativity Feud between the Kiwanians and the Rotarians. Or the author's setting of The Moldy Cheese Madrigal?

For extra credit, go to the publisher's website here and you can download the music to the Moldy Cheese Madrigal ("some milk and moldy cheeses we give to the Holy Jesus. Fa-la-la-la etc.") or listen to a performance of it.

Catherine

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo --