03 August 2008

A Witness for the Future

Now that it is eventide and I have completed Evensong, it is liturgically Monday, and I can post the following without violating my Lord’s Day Shalom.

Jim Naughton, who knows more about what has happened at Lambeth than almost anyone, agrees with my Saturday post. His posts, Low Clouds, Low Mood, and the final post have some important observations.

[The U.S. Bishops] were more pessimistic about the chances that the Episcopal Church will be able to move decisively toward full inclusion at our General Convention next summer.

As he points out, it does not matter how “provisional” the final draft is, the fact remains that the ABC, the Anglican Communion Office, want to drag the Anglican Communion back to the 19th century.

[They] want us to maintain our de facto ban on the consecration of partnered gay candidates to the episcopacy, and to ban either the authorization of rites of same sex blessings, or to root out the practice of same sex blessings entirely –it isn’t clear which.

Rowan states that if the American and Canadian churches do not accept the moratorium then “As a communion we would be in great peril.” Uh, Rowan, that boat sailed a couple of years ago. When we were in the deepest peril, you supported the Flat Earth Communion and created any future peril.

Naughton echoes what I have been saying for months – our bishops are going to back off from supporting the full inclusion of all members of The Episcopal Church:

If we overturn, supersede or otherwise mess with Resolution B033 from General Convention 2006, or if we move toward authorizing texts to bless same-sex unions, we will, at a minimum, set off another round of recriminations and endless meetings; we will endure additional efforts aimed at pushing us out of the Communion, countered, no doubt, by our own elaborate, energy sapping campaign to preserve our membership.

Even bishops who favour full inclusion are reluctant to pick this fight right now. Yet there is strong support for challenging B033 in the House of Deputies, and I worry that without creative leadership we may find ourselves in a power struggle as the convention approaches.

So, there you have it from a more authoritative voice than mine: The U.S. bishops are going to throw GLBT members under that speeding bus as “the act of love” necessary to attenuate the flat-earth-bible-literalist society – for a while.

If there is a power struggle at GC09, the bishops will learn where the power in TEC resides and it is not in the House of Bishops.

Rowan and “the powers that be” want the moratoria and a covenant in the worst way. Why Rowan wants it is a complete mystery, really. Why the “Central Committee” wants it is clear -- power and more power. Their dark ages attitudes may prevail, but it will be a very small Communion that “the powers that be” rule in their pontifical manner.

Thank heavens TEC has many justice-minded bishops including the Rt. Rev'd. Jon Bruno (Los Angeles) and the Rt. Rev’d. Marc Andrus (California). Both have stated that they will not end the blessings in their respective dioceses. According to Naughton:

Numerous Episcopal dioceses permit the blessing of same-sex relationships, but without a rite. Bishops Jon Bruno and Marc Andrus have already said that they would not attempt to stop the blessing of gay relationships in their diocese.

Turning to the proposed document itself, Naughton says:

The Continuation Group is composed entirely of people who disapprove of gay blessings or gay ordination, and both groups are led by men who have endorsed the call for a separate ideologically-based province in North America.

That is like asking the KKK and Arian Nation to draft a document on racial issues. But Rowan just doesn’t get it. Their biases doomed the document before the computer warmed up. Had the committee been a balanced group, the document might actually have worked because it would have been fair to all concerned.

What is apparent is that the Central Committee wants TEC out; that is all that will satisfy them. Why, I wonder? Perhaps they are angry that TEC foots the bill for the whole Communion. They certainly have chosen completely to ignore the fact that that TEC was found compliant with the Windsor report.

Rowan feels that the whole mess will be settled within a year and the provinces can then vote on the “covenant.” It is amazing to see how incredibly naive this man is. On the other hand, perhaps, he knows that he will be in retirement by then and his successor will be dealing with the issue.

What Rowan’s Central Committee is going to deliver is the death certificate. We will be singing “and it’s not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead.” (Apologies to the Wicked Witch of the East.)

Naturally, gay and lesbian groups at the conference have objected to calls for a moratorium. This group will pay the full price. No one else is being asked to sacrifice a single thing. Williams was relying on an already marginalized minority to make sacrifices that absolutely will not preserve the unity of the communion. “Sacrifice has to be accepted voluntarily that’s true,” Williams said. “That’s why this means something about consent. There are those, I know, who won’t be willing to take on that kind of sacrifice." Well no kidding.

“There is something about the preservation of the global fellowship that is bigger than any of us.” poor Rowan, the global fellowship is over, it no longer exists. The GS has gone and yet TEC and the AC of C with is GLBT baptized are still being sacrificed for a dead idol. Talk about idolatry!

Rowan and his Central Committee have not even had the decency to talk with the people they are sacrificing. The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA said Williams was calling for sacrifice from people who had not been represented at the conference.

“I think it is said that the Archbishop of Canterbury has placed himself so far on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the gospel on this issue.”

I agree with the Rt. Rev’d. Dean Wolfe, Kansas,

Anyone who thinks we will come to a definitive conclusion overnight doesn't understand the church in general and the Anglican Communion in particular . . .

Wolfe said it was essential that the Communion not attempt to preserve its unity "on the backs" of gays and lesbians.” These things take time but in the end we tend to come round right."

Bishop Steve Lane of Maine said he was "really moved and inspired by the vision of catholic humanity and the vision of Christ in all" that Williams explored during the conference. However, he said he felt tension between that vision and what seemed to be Williams' request that "some churches sacrifice some of their members. I don’t think we can sacrifice a group of the baptized. That is beyond our power and it would be a grave wrong. "

Thank heaven that we have some Godly bishops.

I would advocate our walking away now, if it were not for the fact that the majority of the communion needs our witness of justice. We are large enough and strong enough to lead the struggle for justice -- if we chose to do so. The Episcopal Church needs the witness of other provinces, too; but our witness is a beacon on the hill for them. They see our efforts to embrace all people and they know that they do not stand alone in the struggle against injustice.

Brothers and sisters, the moment is here. God is offering us an opportunity of monumental imortance and consequence. Moments such as this do not often present themselves. We must chose to do the righteous thing becuase God will call on us to answer for how we respond to this opportunity.

As science moves closer to irrefutable evidence that there is a "gay gene," the ABC, his homophobic Central Committee, and the so-called “Global South” (in whatever alphabet soup they reincarnate) are going to look like the fools they are.

What a sad thing it is to realize most of our bishops may be willing to sacrifice their convictions and their baptismal covenants for the sake of a communion that is no more. It is heartbreaking to know the leaders of that communion are willing to abandon a huge portion of its membership while invoking the name of Jesus and the bible to do so.

But whatever they do, one thing is certain, the old communion is dead: A new and marvelous work has begun and the Lord's work will not be halted.

I’m going to let a hymn have he final words:

The church of Christ in every age,
beset by change but Spirit-led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.

Across the world, across the street,
the victims of injustice cry
for shelter and for bread to eat,
and never live until they die.

The let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ's sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ's humanity.

For he alone, whose blood was shed,
can cure the fever in our blood,
and teach us how to share our bread
and feed the starving multitude.

We have no mission but to serve
in full obedience to our Lord:
to care for all, without reserve,
and spread his liberating word.