Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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.
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
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.
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
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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 --
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Some readers have asked if I have blogged about DO25 and CO56 yet. Don't know what those are? I highly recommend you find out here what the excitement is about, if you don't already know. You may have to backtrack as developments are constantly happening ALL the time.
If you want a running live commentary and reaction from deputies and attendees at Convention, sign onto Twitter and join the "Twub" at #ecgc, to get second by second reporting from the floor of Convention along with pictures and video clips.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Integrity's Resolution Home Portal: How it's all panning out page
The Daily, a daily Convention newspaper with in-depth stories on all kinds of issues, provided by the Diocese of California. PDF versions are available here.
Walking With Integrity, homepage for Integrity USA with great coverage of votes
The Episcopal Diocese of California.
"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--
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Different voices to preach at daily worship services during Episcopal Church General Convention 2009
Here is the schedule:
Eight preachers – ranging from the Presiding Officers and the Archbishop of Canterbury to a popular TV correspondent and an internationally-known activist – will be among the many voices at the daily worship services during General Convention 2009 of The Episcopal Church.
Episcopalians will gather this summer for General Convention 2009 (GC09), July 8 – 17 at the A naheim Convention Center in California (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles).
A theme has been designated for each daily Eucharist, with a bishop of The Episcopal Church as celebrant. Additionally, a different preacher will address the daily theme. The Eucharists will be held daily at 11:30 am (Pacific); Sunday Eucharist will be held at 10 am (Pacific).
The daily themes were developed by the Liturgy and Worship Subcommittee of the GC09 Planning and Arrangements Committee, chaired by the Rev. Canon Carol Wade of the National Cathedral in Washington DC and the Rev. Frank Wade of the Diocese of Washington (DC).
All the sermons will be available for viewing through the innovative Media Hub, presented by the Office of Communication to bring the actions of General Convention to those who are there and those who can’t be there.
Celebrants and Preachers
On Wednesday, July 8, the worship service celebrant and preacher will be the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.
On Thursday, July 9 the theme is God’s people. The celebrant will be Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles , the host diocese for GC09. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will conduct a Bible study during the worship service.
On Friday, July 10 the theme is Unity. The celebrant is Bishop Steve Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee, co-celebrated by a member of the Moravian clergy. The preacher will be President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson.
On Saturday, July 11 the theme is Hospitality. The celebrant is Bishop Frank Brookhart of the Diocese of Montana; he will be joined by a member of the Methodist clergy. The preacher will be Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and formerly of NPR’s Talk of the Nation.
Sunday, July 12 will be the main General Convention Eucharist and the Ingathering for the United Thank Offering (UTO), a mission and grant-awarding program of The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant and preacher.
On Monday, July 13, the theme is Domestic Poverty. Celebrant will be Bishop Prince Singh of the Diocese of Rochester with preacher Courtney Cowart, Director of Advocacy and Community Affairs for the Office of Disaster Response in the Diocese of Louisiana.
On Tuesday, July 14 the theme is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The celebrant is Bishop Rob O’Neill of the Diocese of Colorado who is also the chair of Episcopal Relief & Development. The preacher is Abagail Nelson, Senior Vice President of Programs for Episcopal Relief & Development.
On Wednesday July 15, the theme will be Creation and Environment. The celebrant will be Bishop Greg Rick el of the Diocese of Olympia and preacher will be Bishop Steve Charleston, former Dean of Episcopal Divinity School who offers a focus on environmental issues.
On Thursday, July 16, the theme is Evangelism with celebrant Bishop Wilfrido Ramos of the Episcopal Diocese of Ecuador Central. The preacher is Brian D. McLaren, internationally known speaker and activist and author of important works including Finding Our Way Again, and Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope.
On Friday, July 17, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant and preacher at the closing Eucharist.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 700 members.
The Episcopal Church, with 110 dioceses in 15 nations, is a member province of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The following information was found on Thinking Anglicans, a web blog news source for the World Wide Anglican Communion. The secret committee is indeed revealed. This site will also be an excellent source of up to date information the Convention as well as many blogs in the right hand sidebar of my blog.
See The Formerly Secret Panel (go to original source for live links)
So here are eight of the ten theologians serving on the panel to study same-sex relationships.
* The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett, Bishop of Nebraska
* Ellen Charry, Princeton Theological Seminary
* Deirdre J. Good, General Theological Seminary
* Willis Jenkins, Yale Divinity School
* The Rev. Grant LeMarquand, Trinity School for Ministry
* Eugene Rogers, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
* The Rev. George Sumner, Wycliffe College, Toronto
* The Rev. Daniel A. Westberg of Nashotah House
The Chicago Consultation has issued this press release:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 July 2009
CHICAGO, July 1, 2009—Ruth Meyers, Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Chicago, and co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, responded to the news that the names of most members of the House of Bishops Theology Committee panel on same-sex blessings have been made public:
“Continued scholarly work, done with particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in committed, life-long, monogamous unions of faithful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, can liberate the church to discern more fully the work of the Spirit in all life-long unions of fidelity and mutual love. We wish this panel well, and we call upon General Convention to enrich its theological work by establishing a common rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church.”
“We commit to praying for each of these theologians and their co-chairs by name, and we hope that the remaining two members of the panel will choose to come forward publicly so that we may begin General Convention next week with the spirit of openness and transparency that characterizes our polity and our common life…”
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
There is also a wonderful account of the first woman priest to be ordained in the Diocese of San Joaquin! The House of Deputies may hold some unusual sessions regarding the controversial Bo 33 resolution that was passed at the last minute at GenCon 06 and which has large ramifications for this year's Convention as well as the Church at large.
Archbishop of the Church of England, Rowan Williams, will be making an appearance at this year's Convention in Anaheim. See the article below to know more about it.
Hat tips to the Episcopal News Service and their reporters as well as Bob Smietana at The Tennessean online "paper".
Survey invites Episcopalians to shape the future of the Church By Lynette Wilson, June 24, 2009
What do you want the Episcopal Church to look like in 2019?
An eight-question survey posted online June 24 asks Episcopalians—lay and ordained—to envision the church in 10 years’ time and to prioritize the strategies toward that vision.
Do you favor a multicultural church? Is evangelism "less important," "important," or "very important" to you? Should advocacy and social justice define the church? Or should the church be a combination of mission and worship?
"We are looking at where we are as a church today and addressing hopes and desires," said the Rev. Christopher Johnson, a member of the Strategic Planning Committee formed by Executive Council at its January 2009 meeting in Stockton, California.
The committee’s mandate is to develop a strategic plan for the Episcopal Church Center and the Executive Council that would address mission and ministry, growth, finance, challenges and opportunities, issues and concerns, and to map a way to address those themes. Executive Council expects the committee to present a draft strategic plan by December 31, 2009.
"The survey results will provide us with feedback on the values and priorities of stakeholders … information that will allow us to be mindful in developing a strategic plan," Johnson added. "Of course one of the things that motivates us is, like most mainline Protestant denominations, we've experienced a loss of membership; we'd like to reverse that and initiate growth."
The survey may be completed anonymously. It is composed mostly of option buttons, but also includes text boxes that allow the participant to expand an answer. It can be completed in five to 10 minutes. July 28 is the deadline to complete the survey; the communications office plans to publish the aggregated survey results in fall 2009. You can read the rest of the article here.
By Pat McCaughan
[Episcopal News Service] Tears, cheers, joy, applause and an "all-new spirit" filled the packed Church of the Saviour in Hanford, California, June 27 as the Rev. Suzanne Lynn Ward became the first woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
"This, my brothers and sisters, is a big deal day," said the Rt. Rev.
Edna Bavi "Nedi" Rivera, bishop suffragan of the Seattle-based Diocese of Olympia, and provisional bishop for the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, who was guest preacher.
Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81803_111509_ENG_HTM.htm
Episcopal Church disputes don't shake [presiding] bishopFrom The Tennessean
The smile on Katharine Jefferts Schori's face was a mile wide.
A group of Sudanese women had just finished singing, opening a service honoring the 150th anniversary of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in East Nashville. And now a string ensemble and nearly 300 worshippers had joined in a familiar hymn, as St. Ann's choir, pastor and other clergy began entering in processional.
Near the end of the line was the Most Rev. Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, in all her vestments, clearly enjoying the moment. All this despite the heat, which was already close to 90 degrees, even at 9 in the morning.
"It was God's people gathered to give thanks," she said after the service was over. "What could be better than that?"Jefferts Schori's visit to Nashville comes at an uneasy time in the Episcopal Church.
You can read the rest of the news story here.
House of Deputies may convene unusual sessions on Resolution B033
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[Episcopal News Service] The House of Deputies will be asked to consider meeting in two unusual sessions early in the 76th meeting of the General Convention to discuss Resolution B033 passed by the last convention.
"The purpose of this discussion will be to exchange information and viewpoints among the deputies, and to inform Legislative Committee #8 World Mission, to which committee all the resolutions relative to B033 have been assigned," House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson wrote in a June 29 letter to deputies and first alternate deputies.
Anderson wrote that she believes the House of Deputies "will benefit by having an opportunity to discuss B033 apart from the context of legislative procedure" and noted that "many deputies have indicated their longing to discuss B033 together as a house."
Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_111601_ENG_HTM.htm
Private meeting with Williams at convention will address sexuality, ministry
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[Episcopal News Service] Eight members of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies are scheduled meet privately with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at General Convention in a session that is intended in part to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in the church.
General Convention meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California, and Williams will be present July 7-9.
The session is not an official convention meeting and thus there has been no announcement of the plans. However, when contacted by Episcopal News Service, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe of the Diocese of California confirmed the details.
Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_111717_ENG_HTM.htm