14 November 2009

The Anglican Covenant - the sound of silence

One of TEC's shining stars for the past couple of decades is Louie Crew. He has been a tireless advocate for equal rights for all members of our church. Today he commented on the Anglican Covenant. He has graciuosly allowed me to post his thoughts on TTLS.

I rejoice in your patient, painstaking attention to every jot and tittle of Wright's and Williams' statements. You undertake a very important task, one for which I personally do not have a calling.

TEC has been careful and patient in our response to the demands made upon us by the Windsor Report, the primates, two Lambeth Conferences, and now the drafts of a proposed covenant -- even in the face of a louder and ever more strident cry from some quarters, "We have no need of you unless you repent and conform to our views regarding homosexuals!"

++Rowan has boxed himself in (he would say his role as Archbishop of
Canterbury has thus situated him) to cut off any serious claim that he might have to a pastoral response to lgbt Christians. I used to feel that he needs to visit Samaritan wells, but he has long ago done so, and a friend of mine is even a "fairy at the bottom of his garden" quite literally.

I was one of seven lgbt leaders with whom ++Rowan met privately at General Convention in Anaheim this summer: we each had a limit of 90 seconds to speak to him, and he spoke for no more than 5 minutes. Most of us described our ministries -- sharing the living water which has blessed us. We did not go away, as did our Samaritan ancestor, proclaiming,"He told me everything I had ever done!"

Our Baptismal Covenant is enough for this and any conflict the Communion might have, but it is TEC's bounden duty to enter into the conversations about a proposed Anglican Covenant. Executive Council is right to take seriously all drafts. The proposed covenant is not the vehicle that I would personally have chosen for the conversations, but it is the main vehicle we have right now. Most hostile provinces have deliberately defaulted on their formal commitments to listen to lgbt persons.

I find it interesting how few provinces of the Anglican Communion have responded to the drafts of the Covenant. Low response may derive from lethargy or possibly from an unwillingness to give the sexuality debate the attention that some have lavished upon it.

The low response may also derive from a shrewd awareness that any new authority to force conformity on this issue may well bite back on other issues not now foreseeable.

Bonds of affection have served us well in the Communion's history: juridical or curial pronouncements inhibit bonds of affection.

Given other major crises of our time, it is not reasonable to think that conformity of practice regarding responses to lgbt Christians should have the high priority it would have were it to become the only issue on which the Communion has fundamentally changed the way it makes decisions and exercises authority.

The Anglican Communion is a secondary result of colonialism. The sexuality debate derives much of its energy from the pain and injustice that colonialism long heaped on those who have only recently become a numerical majority of the Communion. I rejoice in their opportunity to flex their ecclesial muscles, and I am not surprised that they have chosen to do so on a subject that they think is not present among them, at least not present in a way likely to surface among their leadership.

As recently as 1979 TEC's House of Bishops officially held the views of Lambeth 1998 on this subject, and many, perhaps most, of those voting thought that the "issue" and lgbt Christians were not coming near their congregations or dioceses. Yet behold: "Yoo-hoo. Hi there! Helloooow? Yo bro!"

We don't need divine intervention to help us cope with these challenges: God already has given all that we need: be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven an old queen like me.


Well said, Louis.