30 May 2009

News from Los Angeles

Okay, this is the third, count them, third post I've made today but this one is just too good to not post. It comes from the Diocese of Los Angeles which is seeking two bishop suffragans. Today is the deadline to accept or decline a nomination. One of the persons nominated is a very familiar face to our readers. This is the letter to the search committee released today:
Dear Julian & Bishop Suffragan Search Committee Members,

I am writing to thank you for the high honor of having been nominated for the position of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles -- and to say that after due prayerful consideration I do not believe that I am -- at this time -- called to the episcopate.

If I was, I could not imagine a better diocese to serve or better colleagues to serve with than those of you the Holy Spirit has called to empower us to call our next bishops suffragan. I may be a little biased, as I am a child of the Diocese of Los Angeles: born at Good Samaritan Hospital, baptized at the Old Cathedral and serving it first as a lay professional, then as a deacon and now as a priest. I not only have great love and affection for this my "home diocese" but in my eclectic career, I have also had some extraordinary opportunities to observe the wider church beyond our diocesan boundaries.

I served on the National Board of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW), as President of Integrity USA and as part of the team representing ECUSA to the Anglican Consultative Council in 2005. From those vantage points, I can truly say "there is no place like home" ... and while God is clearly not finished with the Diocese of Los Angeles yet, we are a blessed people who have been blessed by extraordinary episcopal leadership that has "brought us thus far on the way."

Los Angeles deserves the best possible candidates for bishop and we are trusting you to give them to us. You and the work of your committee will be MUCH in my prayers in the days and weeks to come as you discern for us who to consider as bishops to continue to lead us forward. I trust that you will be open to the Spirit working in and through you and through this discernment process ... and I trust as well that the candidates coming forward will be considered without bias based on any extra-canonical suggestions about requirements for the episcopate.

With deep gratitude to each and every one of you for your work and witness,

Susan [Russell]
To quote a friend of mine, "perhaps she should have done it - to scourage the HoB." I dont' always see eye-to-eye with Susan, but I think she would make one hell of a bishop.

The Office of Hispanic Minstry speaks on the Cutié reception

The Office of Hispanic Ministry of The Episcopal Church has issued a statement dealing with the recent reception of a Roman Catholic priest by the Rt. Rev'd Leo Frade, Ordinary of the Diocese of South East Florida.
As many of you know the Rev. Alberto Cutié has been received into the Episcopal Church as a layperson in the Diocese of Southeast Florida.

News surrounding this move has received a lot of attention in the press. I have had several phone calls from newspapers and many emails from people all over asking about how they can join the Episcopal Church.

My guess is that this Sunday many of our churches will be visited by people who are just learning about us. So I am writing to suggest that you prepare yourselves and your leadership to receive them. I recommend that you make copies of brochures about the Episcopal Church and that you might consider a forum after church to answer questions.

The scandal surrounding Padre Alberto and his girlfriend was unfortunate but because of his joining the Episcopal Church it has brought us to the attention of the public. I pray that we might be able to take advantage of this appropriately but without throwing this in the face of our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church. [Emphasis added]
It was originally reported that the statement came from the Rt. Rev'd Leo Frade, Ordinary, but the author is Anthony Guillien

I apologize for posting twice today.

Schofield's folly continues

Following the letter of deposition of priests earlier this week who were former members of the Diocese of San Joaquin, David Schofield, a former bishop of the Anglican communion, who was deposed and is leading a "diocese" that is not recognized by any Anglican institution with "world-wide" authority, issued a response
It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we received today a letter from Bishop Lamb wherein he purports to depose 36 priests and 16 deacons as of May 22, 2009. It is heartbreaking that The Episcopal Church chooses to take such a punitive action and condemn 52 active clergy with “Abandonment of the Communion” when all of these men and women are recognized around the world as priests and deacons in good standing within the Anglican Communion.Clearly, the traditional understanding of what it means to be a member of this historic Communion has been tragically altered by this action; and thereby The Episcopal Church needlessly isolates itself from their brothers and sisters around the world.

The Diocese of San Joaquin continues to reach out to the central third of California in active ministry. It will become one of 23 founding Dioceses, along with 5 more in formation, within the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America at its first Provincial Assembly in Bedford, Texas, June 22-25. Despite The Episcopal Church’s disregard for valid Anglican Orders and ongoing legal actions against us, the bold vision to bring all to an ever expanding knowledge and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ remains unchanged within the diocese. We rejoice over the growing number of ministries seeking to join themselves with us in the mission field God has put before us.

We are, however, grieved that the leadership of The Episcopal Church feels compelled to create this unprecedented division between the ministries of The Episcopal Church and their brothers and sisters throughout the rest of the Anglican Communion. For our part, we continue to recognize the orders of those who are properly ordained according to the Book of Common Prayer and who have chosen to continue to serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within TEC.

May God bless all of us who share a common vision of ministry.
Note the closing "shared common vision of ministry" - David did not ask blessing on all of us, each and every one; no, just those on his side.

Dave continues to portray himself and the schismatics as the wronged party and Lamb's action is completely illegal because David says it is. "We are, however, grieved that the leadership of The Episcopal Church feels compelled to create this unprecedented division ..." Of course, David did nothing to bring division - he is merely the wronged party in a messy divorce which he did not want.

I still want to know what/where these twenty-eight "dioceses" are. Three, possibly four from TEC, three from the REC and where else?

I call your attention to the Christmas letter he wrote in 2008. This might be a good time to re-read that fiction.

One must had it to Dave; he is ever the master of delusion and denial.

29 May 2009

A "layman's" read on the Fresno summary judgment

Our friend and fellow blogger over at The Grapevine has posted an excellent non-legal-language explanation of the recent summary judgment against Schofield and his group.

The explanation, by a judge, is excellent and well worth your time to read. You'll find it here.

Warrant issued for Armstrong - again (Updated)

It seems that Armstrong did not appear for court Wednesday. This was to be his first court appearance since he was indicted by the grand jury last week.
11 News stopped by St. George’s Anglican Church, where Armstrong works now, to ask him why he didn’t show up for court. A church worker said he wasn’t there, even though his car was still in the parking lot.

A minute later, his secretary told us [Armstrong] was at the church, but was on the phone. When asked if he forgot about his court date she replied, “No” and went onto say that this was all a misunderstanding.

When [the news team left] the church, Armstrong’s car was gone.
I thought Armstrong said he and his "vestry" welcomed the opportunity to prove his innocence in court.

I really do feel sorry for him. It's never fun to be caught in a web of one's own making and see the reality close in about one's self.

You can read it all here.

UPDATE: Ann Fontaine at The Lead posts on the development in Colorado here.

UPDATE: James in Colorado reports that there was, indeed, a mix-up concerning the date of Armstrong's court appearance. Subsequently, the warrant was rescinded by the court.

I debated whether to remove the post altogether, but, since the story was reported in Colorado News papers and was "findable" on the web, I chose to leave my post up with the correction.

28 May 2009

Prayers for Honduras

I just heard of the 7+ earthquake that struck Honduras at 3.00 a.m. Many children have died. Pray folks.
    Most merciful God, in the midst of natural disaster
    we look to you in hope and trust,
    acknowledging that there is much in life
    beyond our present understanding.

    Accept our compassion for the suffering in Honduras
    bless those who are working for their relief
    and show us what we can do to share in their task,
    as servants of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
(Taken from New Parish prayers, Edited by Frank Colquhoun; Prayer entitled Morning, Noon and Night)

A Roman Catholic priest joines TEC

From the Miami Hearld, Jaweed Kaleem reports that
    The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, has left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church

    At a news conference in front of the church, Cutié is expected to announce that he will marry his girlfriend, whom media reports have cited as 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach.

    Cutié got into trouble with the Archdiocese of Miami earlier this month when compromising pictures of the 40-year-old cleric were published in the Spanish-language magazine TVnotas. The magazine's cover showed the priest in blue shorts lying on his back embracing a woman with long brown hair, a violation of his vow of chastity. Additional photos inside the magazine showed him kissing the woman.

    Such a relationship [marriage of priests] is not prohibited in the more liberal Episcopal church, which considers itself the ''middle way'' between Protestantism and Catholicism. It ordains women and has an openly gay bishop.

    Cutié is initially a lay person in the Episcopal church -- not a priest. The process of a Catholic priest becoming an Episcopal priest takes at least a year, experts say.

    On Thursday, Cutié knelt in front of his new bishop and a handful of priests as Frade recited the traditional words to receive a new member of the church.

    'We recognize you as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church;and we receive you into the fellowship of this communion. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you. Amen,'' Frade said.

    While not having the same authority as a priest, Bishop Frade plans to give Cutié special status as a lay minister, meaning he can preach in Episcopal churches but not celebrate the Eucharist, the symbolic body and blood of Christ. Frade will grant that authority to Cutié in a ceremony Sunday at the Episcopal Church of The Resurrection in Biscayne Park.

    In previous interviews, Frade had said he and Cutié had spoken following the media frenzy surrounding the priest, which included an appearance on CBS' The Early Show and Spanish-language network Univisión, in addition to national and international newspapers.

    In the interviews, Cutié has said he loves the woman and hinted at marriage and kids in the future.
Now, this is coming from a man (Cutie) who told the GLB community they must be celibate. Well, that was other people - his want is more important so it's fine to leave the "only true church' to have his cake and eat it too.

I wonder, will he be more sympathetic to the plight of the millions who do not have the same right, under church law, to express their sexuality? Or, will he be just one more hypocrite?

I fear it will be the latter.

26 May 2009

Did same-gender marriage win the day?

The Daily Kos has an interesting take on the Court's decision today.

According to many legal experts, the court interpreted the Prop 8 in the narrowest possible way thereby making handing down a major defeat for the amendments supporters. The only "thing" the same-gender marriage supporters lost was the word "marriage."

Seinica Doane, an attorney, says the only thing "we" lost was the word "marriage." Read it here.

The California Supreme Court Enshrines Discrimination

The California State Supreme Court has ruled that the majority, regardless of how narrow that majority is, and regardless of their irrational reasons, has the right to negate/remove the civil rights of a minority citizens of of California.

To my friends who have had their civil rights removed, although only in "word" apparently, in the midst of your despair, remember we shall not rest until your rights are restored and protected.

Jesus said, "Whatsoever you do to these, the least of my brothers, you do to me."

On to November 2010 when we shall undo the stain on our state.

The court ruled that the 18,000 same gender marriages are still valid.

The shining start of the CASC is Justice Moreno who issued the dissenting opinion in which he said:
Under the majority’s reasoning, California’s voters could permissibly amend the state Constitution to limit Catholics’ right to freely exercise their religious beliefs (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4), condition African-Americans’ right to vote on their ownership of real property (id., § 22), or strip women of the right to enter into or pursue a business or profession (id., § 8). .....

Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. This could not have been the intent of those who devised and enacted the initiative process.

In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.
We should all write him and thank him for his clear understanding of this issue.

25 May 2009

Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof

Tomorrow, Tuesday 26 May will be a monumental day in the history of California. The State Supreme Court announce its decision regarding Proposition 8, same gender marriage.

But of more importance, by its decision, the Court will tell us if it is the "right" of the the small religious majority to enforce their will over the rest of the population of California. Make no mistake, the objection to same-gender marriage is solely a religious argument.

Will the Court allow deliberate discrimination to be enshrined in the California Constitution? We can only wait. The time for praying for the justices' decision was over some time ago. We do, however, need to keep them in our prayers.

Regardless of what the decision is, the issue will not be settled. Same gender rights will continue to appear on the ballots for years to come. The religious right will never accept equality - it is counter to their fundamental theology.

This will not be the first time the issue of discrimination has been addressed by the legislature and courts system in California, nor will it be the first time gross marriage discrimination has been enshrined in the California constitution.

At the turn of the 20th Century, California was caught in the grips of "Yellow Peril" - the anti Asian hysteria that was ubiquitous in California and the Western Coast of America. That discrimination was based on irrational arguments and religious fundamentalist theology.

The anti-Asian marriage laws passed directly affected the Diocese of California and my own parish.

John Abbott Emery, the brightest start in the history of the Episcopal Church in California, saw his ecclesiastical career ended because of the marriage law. His daughter, Helen fell in love with a young Japanese nobleman studying for the priesthood at CDSP. They were married and the bigotry that was unleashed ruined several families.

The following is from a paper I wrote for a sociology class I needed for my degree. The story of Emery was incorporated into my parish's history (which I also wrote).
    In 1922 Archdeacon Emery’s career ended in one of the most notorious scandals of the history of the Diocese of California—indeed, in the history of the State of California. Emery was forced to resign his position “for the good of the diocese.” The scandal, which resulted in the end of a brilliant career, concerned the 1904 extension of the antimiscegenation statutes of California and Oregon.
    The Aokis, who had moved to Lake View Colony, Washington, were the target of appalling harassment, culminating with the passage of the Cable Act in 1922 which deprived Gladys of her U.S. citizenship. She was forced to emigrate to Japan with Aoki. While waiting on the dock to board the ship, complete strangers physically assaulted her. Helen did not regain her American citizenship until Gunjiro’s death 23 years later.

    Bishop Nichols was willing to “expend political capital” to protect Emery. However, upon the passage of the Cable Act, the loss of Helen’s citizenship and subsequent immigration to Japan, the stress proved too much for the archdeacon’s wife, and the Emerys divorced. Although Bishop Nichols could protect Emory from the interracial ramifications, it was virtually impossible to protect Emery from both the racial and divorce scandals.
    Emery’s love for Nichols was so great that he would not risk being a source of further injury to the bishop by waiting to be dismissed. Instead, Emery resigned his position in 1922. He traveled extensively in Europe where he died in London and is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

    Emery’s sister, Julia, was also forced to resign her position as national secretary of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions of the Episcopal Church and her position as first president of The UTO.

    It is almost beyond comprehension to those living in 2006 that such venomous hate of those different than ourselves could have caused the ruination and disintegration of two families.*

    There are three direct connections to the Emery/Aoki scandal and Saint James’ Church. The first is the archdeacon himself. The second connection regards the women of the church. When Saint James’ Church learned that Helen was engaged, The Guild of St. James’ Church showed their progressiveness and not only sent a William IV silver tea set to the engaged couple but also went on record supporting the impending interracial nuptials. St. James’ Church was the only Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California to support the marriage. The support was not popular in the community but the women were resolute in their support. The Guild went farther and reached out to the small number of Asians living in the North County and offered any assistance necessary to combat any repercussions they might experience.

    The third connection is the most astounding: the priest who married the couple, H. W. McGowan, would be sent to serve as vicar of Saint James’ Church six years after officiating at the wedding.
Helen said of the crowd who jeered her,
“The people who so indulged themselves were, I believe, a fair sample of that class of citizens which pry into private affairs with which they have no legitimate concern. Probably not one person in the crowd at the station could have given an intelligent reason for their hooting.
The same may be said of those who are so violently against same-gender marriage today. The only "intelligent reason" they could give is a religious reason based on faulty theology.

If the court's decision enshrines the right to legally discriminate against those one does not like, it will be a repeat of a century ago when irrational arguments were allowed to ruin the lives of tens of thousands of people.

This blog and its owner stand with Jesus against discrimination of any form. We stand for the rights of all people to marry. Just as the religious right will never accept equal rights for same-attracted people, We shall not accept discrimination at their hands. Injustice for any is injustice for all.

If the decision is against justice, we will "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof" (Leviticus 25.10 - inscribed on the "liberty bell.")

Pray brothers and sisters, that calm heads prevail regardless of the announcement.
Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream
Amos 5.24

*Unfortunately, it is not inconceivable. We see the same hate directed toward those of same-gender attraction.

24 May 2009

Prayers needed for Joshua's family

Fr. Scott asks our prayers for Joshua, the grandson of a parishioner. Joshua was killed by a driver who had been drinking. The accident happened about 5 p.m. today, Sunday 24 May.

Please pray for Joshua's family.

Let us pray:
    O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Joshua, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.
    Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with Joshuah's family, and all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed
though the mercies of God, rest in peace

Exaudi - Easter VII

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

Psalm 1; Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19
    Introit: Hear, O Lord, my voice with which I have cried to Thee, alleluia; my heart hath said to Thee, I have sought Thy face, Thy face, O Lord, I will seek: turn not away Thy face from me, alleluia, alleluia. -- (Ps. 26. 1). The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?
Everybody knows that oysters sometimes make pearls; and that fascinating reality has been used to illustrate many a point. But here’s an old truth said in a new way, a way that gives it more power. It seems pearls aren’t automatic. When an oyster -- who must ordinarily have an enviably calm life lying around eating soft, pleasant food -- somehow gets a bit of sand inside its shell, then one of two things will happen. The oyster will create a pearl, or it will die. The pearl, a thing of beauty and value, is the oyster’s way of staying alive after something very irritating has gotten past its shell, into its heart.

That little bit of marine biology is background for today’s Gospel -- not to present any sermonic pearls; be they pearls of wisdom, or pearls of great price. Instead, let’s examine the grain of sand, a bit of irritation, something small and rough that can slip past our shells and give us all something to work on. We -- and indeed the church itself, in this and every generation -- need to work on this bit of sand very carefully. It will not go away; and we will either make of it a pearl, or, in one way or another, we will die.

The grit, like the oyster’s sand, is well hidden in pleasant, soft food. The Gospel we just heard is a portion of what is called the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. It is after supper “in the night in which He was betrayed.” Jesus is praying for his disciples, and for us. He prays for our unity, for our joy, and for our safety and protection. Jesus says that we are not of the world, but that we should none the less remain in the world -- for our ministry is to be in the world, and for the world.

Now remember, when Jesus says “world” here, He is not talking about the created order: rocks and trees and rabbits and things like that. He is talking about human society organized as it sees best for its own purposes.

He is talking about business as usual; about the government, the society, the culture, the various human institutions; the world in that sense, doing what it usually does.

And Jesus says of his disciples that the world has hated them because they are not of the world. This hatred is to be the fate, indeed it is to be a real, distinguishing mark, of all who follows Jesus. They are to stand out because they don’t really fit in.

The bit of grit is this: When was the last time the world hated you because you belong to Jesus and not to the world? When was the last time your faith so set you apart from business as usual that you were met with anger, ridicule, or hatred? How about a little bit of contempt? Mild dislike? How about a tiny bit of irritation?

Hey, maybe Jesus was wrong; maybe, these days, we really are of the world, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But somehow that’s doubtful. Or maybe the Kingdom of God has arrived, and we just missed everything about it except for how convenient it is for us. But that’s doubtful too.

We need to ask whether we have become so totally caught in our culture, become so totally of the world that we have to work hard to discover if we are different, and how we are different, and what it looks like for us to be different, and whether it is worth it to be different.

In many ways it was easier for the early church. As an occasionally persecuted minority in a pagan culture, a lot of things were clear. For example, Christians couldn’t attend the public games, they couldn’t hold several types of jobs, they couldn’t join the army, and so on. The world often ridiculed or hated them -- and both sides pretty much knew why.

It’s not so easy these days. Modern attempts to come up with lists of popular things Christians can’t do have usually been rather silly. And we Episcopalians have been downright smug in pointing out that we aren’t like those people (you know, the Baptists, and others) who say you can’t dance or wear make-up or go to movies.

By the way, have you ever noticed that nobody ever really nails us on that? Instead of trying to establish God’s disapproval for the waltz or bingo, they could really hit home if they responded to our self-righteous lack of lists with another question. What if they said, “OK, have your martini and go to the dance, but before you do, tell me how your faith does affect your life; show me how it makes a difference.” That is the grit for us oysters.

One way we try to get out of this pinch can cause a lot of trouble. That way is saying that it is the Church’s job to fix the world so there will be no conflicts for us to worry about. So from time to time, we rear back and try to change everything within reach so we can be both righteous and of the world at the same time. We do that in all sorts of ways, from all sorts of directions. Now, on one level, this is good. It is very important that we engage the world and try very hard to make things better. We need to do this; but we need to avoid getting confused about what that means. And we get confused easily.

It is not hard to forget that God will bring in the Kingdom, not us. And even worse, we find it very easy to begin supporting what we think is a good cause, for Christian reasons, and then to end up holding onto the cause and forgetting the Christian part of it altogether. Of course, the best way to tell whether the cause or the Christianity is more important is by looking at how we treat people who don’t agree with our cause.

And we get confused when we forget that the Lord does not call us to be powerful or effective as the world sees power and effectiveness. The Lord calls us to be faithful -- to live his life, to follow his steps. Part of that involves remembering that, of the twelve disciples, Judas was the most effective at using both money and the powers that be to get what he wanted. Just trying to fix things doesn’t get rid of our problems, either.

This is grit, not pearls. We don’t have a list of rules telling us how not to be of the world because we know that it isn’t that simple. Still, we do know, and we must never forget, that the way we treat each other, and the way we treat our bodies, and our time, and our money, and the things we call “mine” -- these are and will remain very important. And our Lord has something to say about them. We also know that all the good works, reforms, and changes we make, as important as they are, will not take away the problem, either. This side of the Kingdom, the world as Jesus spoke of it of business as usual, this will always, in one or another, be the alternative to faithfulness, and not the means to it.

We need to make our own pearls, or we will die. We need to look honestly at the world, at the culture around us, and at we are -- and who the Lord would have us be. We must always make choices. We may even discover that Jesus was right, and that, in one way or another, the world will hate us. But the Lord continues to pray for us, we are promised all of the help we need. And pearls come from the oddest places.

The Rev. James Liggett has been rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Big Spring, Texas since 1994. He is a native of Kansas and a graduate of the University of Houston and the Episcopal Divinity School. He has served parishes in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Fr. Liggett and his wife Kathleen have a 20-year-old son.