Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Rev. Anne K. Bartlett reflects on how "love has saved us all."

The Rev. Anne K. Bartlett, Trinity Church, Ashland, Oregon:

In the name of the Holy One:  Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-Giver.  Amen.

            Sometimes I like to imagine Paul writing his letters to those little congregations he had started from scratch and whose ongoing struggles and sorrows and joys he followed as a father follows the lives of his children long after they’ve grown up enough to be out on their own. 
            As I imagine Paul writing those letters we still cherish and read today, I watch him search for just the right words, giving guidance and counsel and encouragement, sometimes exploding in exasperation, sometimes defending his authority to teach them, patiently laying out one more time how the life and death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ has brought us all Home to God, our Creator and heavenly Father. 
            When Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, I see him at one point giving a huge sigh of frustration:  “What don’t they understand about the word all?!”  …in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…all of you are one in Christ…
            It’s not a big word -- all. It’s a little word, a common word, a word even very young children can say and understand, an ordinary word meaning “everything” and “everybody” and “nobody’s left out.”  All.  What’s so hard to understand about that?
As Paul himself knew, the concept of all may not be difficult to understand but the practice of
radical inclusion requires all but the most saintly of us to stretch beyond our fears and self-centeredness in ways that demand our constant vigilance and effort and commitment and practice. 
There is a part of being human that rebels against embracing all, that resists including everybody in the circle. Our resistance shows up in human development pretty clearly by the time we’re toddlers, when we discover we are separate little persons, a discovery that both terrifies and exhilarates us.
            What is it about all that we don’t understand?  Oh, I think it has to do with all kinds of things swimming in the depths of the shadows of our psyches.  We don’t want to understand all because of our fears that there won’t be enough to go around, whether it’s dessert or love or money.  We don’t want to include everybody because of our fears of the unfamiliar, of strangers, of people who don’t look and act and talk like us, of concerns for our own safety and security.  We don’t want to accept all because by doing so we run counter to our own desires, our own greed and selfishness, so we dream up all kinds of logical-sounding reasons why it’s sensible and prudent to draw lines and boundaries and create hierarchies and procedures for who gets what, who’s in and who’s out, who is worthy and who is not.
            Before the Holy Spirit knocked him off his high horse on the road to Damascus, Saint Paul was an expert in differentiating between people, he knew exactly how to categorize, analyze, systemize, put people in a pecking order, deem who was worthy and who was not according to a deformed and rigidified understanding of religious law.  In his previous life (the life he had before his encounter with the risen Christ that changed everything), there was no one more zealous than Paul in enforcing life-and-death lines of inclusion and exclusion.
And now look at him, there he is writing his letters to his beloved churches, putting into his glorious words how we are now all new creations in Christ, the past no longer has any power over us, we are called to live in a new reality, a new world, as persons identified no longer by anything other the love of God in Jesus Christ who has made us all children of God. 
And in this new life of ours, this baptized life, this life in which we have vowed to respect the dignity of every human being, we are called to an astounding diversity beyond our own preferences, inclinations, or designs.
            Living into the all is reminding ourselves, a hundred times a day if necessary, that we belong to the family of God, and that is what identifies us – not our achievements, not our family background, not our political affiliations nor our social status, not even our precious self-expressions.  Our Way is not about us; it’s about God, the God whose face we have seen in Jesus.
            Paradoxically – and our faith is nothing if it’s not paradoxical! – we grow up in our faith when we acknowledge our failure to stand on our own.  Only then are we broken open to trust in the grace of God rather than in our own merits. In our dependence on God’s grace we discover we are one in the Body of Christ.  We are one in the family of God.  All of us.  All.
            Except it’s so hard to stay grounded in that new creation, that alternative reality, isn’t it?  It’s so easy, so human, so tempting to go back to the old ways of thinking that to be “good enough” means I have to be “better than,” that some people are better and more valuable than others, and that there are others who must be kept out. 
It’s hard, spiritual work to stay grounded in the new creation, to keep making the circle bigger when it’s really uncomfortable to be stretched that far. It’s not easy to live in God’s kingdom on earth right now, this day because…well, because we do get afraid, and we are greedy, we lose our grip and we lose our trust that there really is enough of God’s love to go around and we begin to doubt that all things will be well, in God’s good time.  We try to get by with being merely nice and polite, and we forget that God’s Kingdom isn’t about good manners, it’s about a life-changing alternative reality in which we are to see one another – everyone; all – as our brothers and sisters.
            The Episcopal Church has known something of the pain and the cost of enlarging the circle in Christ’s name. At our General Convention last summer, bishops, clergy and lay deputies voted overwhelmingly and without a great deal of fanfare to lift the self-imposed three-year moratorium in our church on the election and consecration of openly gay bishops, a moratorium requested by the leadership of the Anglican communion.  After three years of compliance and continuing attempts to engage in mutual dialogue, our national Episcopal church discerned, one more time, that the way we are hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit is to go forward with our commitment to not exclude any member of Christ’s church from consideration for any ministry in our church on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, or anything else of that order.
Here at Trinity, Ashland we are nearly all of one mind on this issue, so much so that I sometimes take flak because I don’t preach more about inclusion of those with different sexual orientations.  My response is that I think this congregation is at the point where the only thing that matters to us is whether a person wants to worship God with us and join with us as we try to be Christ’s hands and heart, his Body, in the world. 
A couple of years ago I got a phone call from someone doing a survey; the person asked how many gay and lesbians we had in positions of leadership in our congregation. I had to stop and think because it wasn’t a category that made any sense to me, nor, I believe, to the vast majority of us.  Male or female, straight or gay, comfortably well-off or on food stamps, of color or not of color, old or not so old, native Oregonian or from a foreign land (like California) -- what difference does it make in this place?  Democrat or Republican…well, we need to work on that one.  And I’m serious about that. We are individuals with our own distinct gifts and peculiarities, but the only thing that matters here is that we are the family of God, the church of Christ, and you are welcome. 
As you may have heard, our national Episcopal Church is again in hot water with some parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion over the consecration a few weeks ago of two women bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles, one of whom happens to be a lesbian in a committed relationship.
Last Sunday, our Presiding Bishop, Katherine, had been invited to preach and celebrate the Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral in England. In the week prior to her visit, the Lambeth office of the Archbishop of Canterbury pressured Katherine’s office to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry – deacon, priest, and bishop.  Then, the Archbishop of Canterbury directed our Presiding Bishop that she was not to wear her mitre, the symbolic hat that bishops wear. She could carry her hat, but not put it on her head.  Nor was she to carry a crozier, the symbolic shepherd’s crook that bishops carry in the liturgy.  Some bloggers are referring to this incident as Mitregate; or, Kat in the Hat.
Oh dear.  What is it about all that some of us still don’t understand?
Back home this week in a meeting with her executive council, Bishop Katherine briefly described the incident and said it was “nonsense” and “bizarre, beyond bizarre.”  When the press got wind of the story, she had her spokesperson make the following statement: “there isn’t anything more to say.  Rather, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and the Executive Council are focused on the mission and ministry of the church.”
I must admit I’ve gotten hooked by this latest story of who is acceptable and who is not in the church. A British reporter (and I want to thank Catherine Windsor for directing my attention to this source), a British reporter pointed out that the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, The Very Rev. Colin Slee, had been put in very awkward position. He was the one who had invited Katherine in the first place, as he has invited a number of women bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion to preach and celebrate at the cathedral.  At Evensong last Sunday, the dean addressed the situation; as I read his remarks, I hope you’ll hear whispers and echoes of the words Paul wrote to that Galatian church so long ago:
There are several reasons for the fury, Dean Slee said in his Evensong homily. The presiding bishop is a woman and some people hate the idea of women as bishops.  The General Synod of the Church of England is about to debate the admission of women as bishops within the Church of England.  The church in the United States has just consecrated an openly lesbian woman as a suffragan bishop in Los Angeles and so they are accused of breaking an embargo on such consecrations.  It is not nearly so simple.

We welcome Katherine Jefferts Schori to this pulpit, he continued, because we love our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church of the United States; not because she is a female, or a woman bishop ahead of us, or has permitted a practicing lesbian to become a bishop; we welcome her because she is our sister in Christ.

[The actions of the Episcopal Church] in recent months, he said, have been entirely in accord with the Anglican ways of generosity and breadth.  They have tried to ensure everyone is recognized as a child of God.  They have behaved entirely in accord with their canon laws and their freedom as an independent province of the church, not imposing or interfering with others with whom they disagree but proceeding steadily and openly themselves.

In her sermon last Sunday morning, Bishop Katherine preached on the story from Luke about a
woman off the streets who crashed a dinner party, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with hair, offending nearly everybody present. Katherine then asked:  “What makes us so afraid of the other?” 
            That’s such a big part of the problem, isn’t it, the problem we have with all – that underneath all our bluster and self-righteousness, we are afraid of the other, the ones who are different, the ones who make us uneasy, the ones we’d rather not have to deal with.  Our anxiety ratchets up and the lines get drawn in the dirt, and people get hurt, or worse.
In the gospel stories, over and over and over again, Jesus encounters and engages those beyond the familiar inclusionary lines, he heals those whom everyone else is afraid of, he eats with those with whom no one else will eat.  Over and over and over again, Jesus shows us what all looks like.  And the picture both terrifies and exhilarates us.
            In the gospel story this week, Jesus crosses over to the other side, the other shore where the Gentiles live and where they raise pigs to feed the legions of Roman soldiers who are bivouacked near by. The first person Jesus encounters is a man half-alive, out of his mind, barely human, living among the dead; he is naked, violent, unpredictable, in every way ‘unclean’ and utterly alone in the world. Jesus drives out his demons and heals him in body, mind, spirit and in relationship.  Naturally the man begged to stay with Jesus, but Jesus says: “No, go home.  Now you have a home again; go back there, that is where your ministry is.  Tell the people you know how much God has done for you.”  For many of us, ministry is going back to our own homes and proclaiming to those we know how much Christ has done for us.
Bishop Katherine ended her sermon last week with these words:
There is room for us all at this table, there are tears of welcome and a kiss for the wanderer, and the sweet smell of home. 

Want to join the feast?  You are welcome here.  Love has saved you.

Love has saved you. 

Love has saved us all.

Godspace and Mustard Seed Associates

A while back I came across the blog Godspace by Christine Sine.  I was in the midst of refinding myself after 2 and half years of grief and continued depression, as well as unemployment, and it occurred to me that if I got back to gardening and yardwork, I would find the connection that so used to revive my spirit and body.

So, I hopped on a search engine and began Googling gardening, flowers, plants, gardening as meditation and the like.  One of the links brought me to Godspace, and I was delighted to find it.  Here was not just articles on good gardening but also on the spiritual side of it, the reconnecting to creation and with that came the deeper, easier connection to a renewed spiritual life.  Well, at least the reviving of a once thriving spiritual life.  Grief and loss threw what I had known and loved down a steep ravine, and I wasn't sure I could rescue it or revive it once I had it back.  Combine that with the depression that follows hard on the heels of both and it is Mt Everest of impossibility, or so it seemed.  It helped to talk through it with a good friend and also my spiritual director.  Turns out I had not only lost my love of gardening and green living things of beauty to these three factors but apparently I was connected to them and I too had been in the deep ravine but over two years managed to climb out and salvage that connection to green, flowering, growing, amazing things, including the odd weed.

So now, I turn to life with quiet joy and anticipation.  That is if we get any warm consistent weather here in southern Oregon.  Tomorrow will be the first day of summer.  It is 62 degrees...I hold out hope for some hot stuff and sun.

Turning back now to Godspace by Christine Sine, it is a virtual resource for her insight into gardening and intentional living.  And for us Nor'westers, she is one of us, lives in Seattle and gets the weather angle and challenge that we have in this part of the country.  Mustard Seed Associates, her connection with like-minded Christians who look forward in the future toward sustainable and intentionally created communities.

And MSA "is a small non profit organization that seeks to raise awareness of challenges that Christians will face in their lives, churches & communities in the future. It is unique in that it is a crossroads, grassroots organization – connecting people across generations, denominations and cultures and encouraging them to become cultural creatives."

Godspace later became an e-book on her site.  But here is what Christine tells us about it:

Is the pulse rate of your life beating out of control? Do you feel out of sync with the shalom lifestyle God intends you to have? Are you having a hard time sifting through the noise and busyness in order to connect your life to God? Jesus modeled a degree of peace, celebration, and rest that’s hard to find in our stressful, hurried pace. We long to be more like him, but that lifestyle often seems unachievable.

GodSpace, an updated version of the author’s earlier book Sacred Rhythms, is a prescription for healthy living that flows directly from your faith. Christine Sine invites you to make space for God and enjoy the benefits. She looks at the natural rhythms God built into our world and how paying attention to them can strengthen every part of your life.

I have it and though I have only read parts briefly [Goal: make time to read the stuff that really matters], I am drawn to its wisdom and ideas for helping to restore what I had once known and so looked forward to each day.  She also has other books and articles, prayer cards and so forth available.  She hosts workshops on Celtic prayer and enriches her own life with the prayerful teachings of Richard Rohr.

In her other book To Garden With God, she takes us through the seasons of the Spirit as well as the seasons of the year.  All her writings are available on her blog and then through links to an ebook site.

Though my life has been complicated by issues at work since February, I am determined to make more time for outside, the garden areas around my home, rescuing the neglected Bleeding Hearts on the east side of the house, taming the wildness of my backyard and maybe evening planting some vegetables.  I know I must set aside time to do this each evening and if I do I will be rewarded not only with the beauty of creation and the caring of it, but with a renewed spirit and outlook.

I encourage those of you who garden and even the ones who don't to read or check out Christine's insights into this vital connection of gardening with God and also how to live intentionally with and among others.  Be sure to check out her workshops tab as well.  She offers Rhythms of Grace, Thin Space: Learning from the Celtic Saints, and the landmark annual Celtic Prayer Retreat.

And by all means, if you are into Green living, her blog is a huge resource.

And now I will leave you to is where I am headed!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Executive Council sends message to the Episcopal Church: An Excerpt

This is an excerpt of the Executive Council's message to the Episcopal Church from their latest meeting, held from June 16-18, 2010, in Linthicum, Maryland.  This is the section on the visit with invited guest Canon Kenneth Kearon, SecGen of the Anglican Communion.  His responses as is, are in my humble opinion, ridiculous.  The whole report can be found here.

"The 45-minute session on Friday with invited guest Canon Kenneth Kearon was carefully prepared for by the Standing Committee on World Mission, who wrote the thoughtful and substantive questions that made clear our commitment to being an inclusive church while also deeply committed to classic Anglicanism and deepening our relationship with our sisters and brothers across the Communion.

Canon Kearon began by describing the beginning of the current tensions as the increasing “problem of growth and diversity in the Anglican Communion.”  This statement was significant to a body that has long seen diversity in the Body of Christ as an opportunity and has sought to base its actions on the baptismal promise that we will seek and serve Christ in all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

The questions sought clarification on the presenting issues, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s removal of appointees from The Episcopal Church to ecumenical bodies and Canon Kearon’s statement that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He also responded to concerns about incursions by other provinces of the Communion.

He acknowledged that the Archbishop of Canterbury considers certain activities of the Province of the Southern Cone to constitute an incursion, but is awaiting clarification about the extent of these activities from the primate of that province. However, such ongoing breaches of the moratorium on incursions do not rise to the same level of departure from the faith and order of the Communion as does the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians.

The Council very much appreciated the chance to meet with Canon Kearon, who agreed to respond in writing to additional questions from members of the Council."

I'm curious about the "additional questions".  Might one or two be about how the ABC insulted ECUSA's PB?  Hmmm???


Ruth Gledhill's article at "Articles of Faith" on Mitregate, The Sequel

Some of you haven't been able to open the link on Facebook that I posted tonight, so here is the article in its entirety.  Ruth's blog has been moved behind the "paywall" at The Times and cannot be accessed without getting a subscription.  So this is her last post on the Typepad blog of the same name, "Articles of Faith".



June 18, 2010

Mitregate: The Sequel

Note: This will be the last post at the blog at Typepad. Articles of Faith is the first of The Times blogs to go permanently behind the paywall and onto a different platform. You can find it here.
Thank you for Come to the Table for this picture by Andrew Gerns of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, or 'Kat in a Hat' as she is now known, carrying The Mitre:

Other women bishops who have celebrated at Southwark, complete with mitre, include Bishop Ann Tottenham, retired suffragan bishop of Toronto. She presided and preached on Saturday November 9th 2002. Bishop Ann, incidentally, is a 'real' lady bishop. She is Lady Ann, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Ely. But this doesn't excuse Lambeth allowing her to wear a mitre and not Bishop Katharine.

Read on for what Dean Colin Slee told The Times today.
At the back left of this picture, taken at Salisbury cathedral just before the 2008 Lambeth Conference, is Bishop Katharine resplendent in a glorious gold mitre. Do you think she took it off when she went inside and processed down the aisle. I don't think so.... So why the mitre ban at Southwark? Below, Colin explains.


The Dean of Southwark said US Bishop Geralyn Wolfe  also preached but did not celebrate on 25th November 2001. 'I can say that female bishops have preached relatively recently in both Salisbury and Gloucester Dioceses and worn their mitres with the respective permission of the Diocesans.'
Regarding the two women bishops who processed with mitres at Southwark, Colin adds: 'I was not present on either occasion, it would seem to me that permission from Lambeth (presumably that was George Carey) was not sought, or Lambeth made no fuss. Our Diocesan was however present when Anne Tottenham was here.

'It all goes to show what a silly boy I was to be properly courteous to the ABC and ask permission in the first place! But I can also say that my definition that an 'Episcopal Act' is consecrating, ordaining, confirming might have been a wiser course of action. AND I think the other hats in today's Times are so much more fun.'

He's talking about Ascot of course.

And just to be truly ecumenical, I'm going to link now to Damian Thompson's blog on mitregate. In his own inimitable style, he gives great background to the stylistic elements of this story:
'Note the bishop’s shirt underneath her alb. (A quick footnote: until a few decades ago, some evangelical bishops would have their mitres carried in front of them rather than wear them – not because they doubted their episcopal orders, but because mitres as hats as opposed to symbols were popish.) However, Dean Slee (an old mate of mine who wants to see Anglicanism follow the logic of liberal Protestantism properly and quickly) does personally recognise Jefferts Schori as a bishop, even if he’s not ready to pick a fight with Lambeth over headgear. So, she’s a bishop in Southwark Cathedral, a simple priest in Lambeth Palace, and a lay person masquerading as a priest in Southwark’s Forward in Faith parishes. There may even be one or two churches which, adhering to the position taken by some Anglo-Catholics in the 1980s, recognise her as a deacon but not a priest.'
Some of the comments at Holy Smoke are quite fun as well.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010


By now many of you have heard about what happened in Southwark Cathedral when ++Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate of the Episcopal Church USA when she processed at the beginning of the service, when she preached, when she celebrated Eucharist and when she recessed at the end of the service. 

In a word.


Here are some links to the story from a few sources.  Each source lends a new perspective on what happened on Sunday last.

The covered one view with this headline:

Lambeth Palace tells presiding bishop not to wear symbol of office:

Jefferts Schori carries mitre during recent visit to Southwark Cathedral

Another headline was from Ruth Gledhill, columnist for The Times London with a different angle: 

Bishop crossed in mitre row

Then there was this picture taken by Andrew Gerns+ who was there in the service and he took this picture of our steadfast and persevering Presiding Bishop:

Then there is this little tidbit from a Facebook priestly friend who was very clever who remarked on a photo from Wikipedia with a clever headline.  I think it should be her new dom de plume:
 ++Kat in The Hat...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Presiding bishop describes Canterbury's sanctions as 'unfortunate'

By Marites N. Sison, of Canada's Anglican Journal, reports ++Katharine's response to Rowan Williams' striking out at Americans and our Canadian brothers and sisters, in both the Episcopal and Canadian Anglican churches, in his feeble and impotent attempt to punish us for living Gospel lives...

June 08, 2010

[Anglican Journal] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has described the decision by Lambeth Palace to remove Episcopalians serving on international ecumenical dialogues as "unfortunate ... It misrepresents who the Anglican Communion is."

Jefferts Schori's comments were made during a June 8 press conference at the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Before the sanctions were imposed on the Episcopal Church as a consequence for having consecrated a lesbian bishop, Jefferts Schori said she had written a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressing her concern.

"I don't think it helps dialogue to remove some people from the conversation," she said shortly after addressing General Synod. "We have a variety of opinions on these issues of human sexuality across the communion ... For the archbishop of Canterbury to say to the Methodists or the Lutheran [World] Federation that we only have one position is inaccurate. We have a variety of understandings and no, we don't have consensus on hot button issues at the moment."

Please go to this page to read the rest of Marites' article in the Journal.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

++Katharine replies to +Rowan: Pastoral Response to THE Letter

Thanks to the Episcopal News Service, who has much more time than I to write a better formed introduction to this Pastoral Letter by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in response to the Pentecost Letter from Rowan Williams delivered at a "Building Bridges" in Washington DC on May 28th, where in fact he played with fire and burnt instead of built anything of note...

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church, in which she refers to the Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and urges continued dialogue with those who disagree with recent actions "for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding."

In his May 28 letter, Williams acknowledged the tensions caused in some parts of the Anglican Communion by the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the ongoing unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church's second openly gay, partnered bishop.

Jefferts Schori acknowledged in her letter that "the Spirit does seem to be saying to many within the Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God's good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

"That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety."

The full text of the letter follows. The letter is also available as audio on the homepage of the Episcopal Church website here.

"Pentecost continues!

Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit.

The recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the struggles within the Anglican Communion seems to equate Pentecost with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news. The crowd reported, "in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power" (Acts 2:11).

The Spirit does seem to be saying to many within The Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God's good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety. The willingness to live in tension is a hallmark of Anglicanism, beginning from its roots in Celtic Christianity pushing up against Roman Christianity in the centuries of the first millennium. That diversity in community was solidified in the Elizabethan Settlement, which really marks the beginning of Anglican Christianity as a distinct movement. Above all, it recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree. It also recognizes what Jesus says about the Spirit to his followers, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:12-13).

The Episcopal Church has spent nearly 50 years listening to and for the Spirit in these matters. While it is clear that not all within this Church have heard the same message, the current developments do represent a widening understanding. Our canons reflected this shift as long ago as 1985, when sexual orientation was first protected from discrimination in access to the ordination process. At the request of other bodies in the Anglican Communion, this Church held an effective moratorium on the election and consecration of a partnered gay or lesbian priest as bishop from 2003 to 2010. When a diocese elected such a person in late 2009, the ensuing consent process indicated that a majority of the laity, clergy, and bishops responsible for validating that election agreed that there was no substantive bar to the consecration.

The Episcopal Church recognizes that these decisions are problematic to a number of other Anglicans. We have not made these decisions lightly. We recognize that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.

We also recognize that the attempts to impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity. Native Hawaiians were forced to abandon their traditional dress in favor of missionaries' standards of modesty. Native Americans were forced to abandon many of their cultural practices, even though they were fully congruent with orthodox Christianity, because the missionaries did not understand or consider those practices exemplary of the Spirit. The uniformity imposed at the Synod of Whitby did similar violence to a developing, contextual Christianity in the British Isles. In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity.

We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.
We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures. We note that the cultural contexts in which The Episcopal Church's decisions have generated the greatest objection and reaction are also often the same contexts where women are barred from full ordained leadership, including the Church of England.

As Episcopalians, we note the troubling push toward centralized authority exemplified in many of the statements of the recent Pentecost letter. Anglicanism as a body began in the repudiation of the control of the Bishop of Rome within an otherwise sovereign nation. Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion.
We have been repeatedly assured that the Anglican Covenant is not an instrument of control, yet we note that the fourth section seems to be just that to Anglicans in many parts of the Communion. So much so, that there are voices calling for stronger sanctions in that fourth section, as well as voices repudiating it as un-Anglican in nature. Unitary control does not characterize Anglicanism; rather, diversity in fellowship and communion does.

We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the Communion. We note that these seem to be limited to those which "have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion." We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard? In our context bowing to anxiety by ignoring that sort of double-mindedness is usually termed a "failure of nerve." Through many decades of wrestling with our own discomfort about recognizing the full humanity of persons who seem to differ from us, we continue to work at open and transparent communication as well as congruence between word and behavior. We openly admit our failure to achieve perfection!

The baptismal covenant prayed in this Church for more than 30 years calls us to respect the dignity of all other persons and charges us with ongoing labor toward a holy society of justice and peace. That fundamental understanding of Christian vocation underlies our hearing of the Spirit in this context and around these issues of human sexuality. That same understanding of Christian vocation encourages us to hold our convictions with sufficient humility that we can affirm the image of God in the person who disagrees with us. We believe that the Body of Christ is only found when such diversity is welcomed with abundant and radical hospitality.

As a Church of many nations, languages, and peoples, we will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God's mission for a healed creation and holy community. We look forward to the ongoing growth in partnership possible in the Listening Process, Continuing Indaba, Bible in the Life of the Church, Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, and the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion – efforts in mission and ministry that inform and transform individuals and communities toward the vision of the Gospel – a healed world, loving God and neighbor, in the love and friendship shown us in God Incarnate.

May God's peace dwell in your hearts,"

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church