Archive for the ‘Episcopal’ Category

Episcopals at Lambeth

July 14, 2008

Anglicans, including American Episcopals are gathering in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference which begins in a couple of days.

In this photo and caption from Episcopal News Service, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, joins Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in procession before the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral July 13.

They are at Salisbury’s Cathedral Church of St. Mary , consecrated in 1258, which boasts the world’s tallest medieval spire, in the southern English county of Wiltshire. Wow, a 750 year old church.

Jefferts Schori, in an interview with Episcopal News Service, said earlier about the conference:

ENS: What message do you plan to bring to the Lambeth Conference?

KJS: That the mission of God is far larger than anything we disagree about.

She may have been thinking that when she said last week that she would explain the actions of the American Church, specifically, regarding Gene Robinson, the gay Bishop from New Hampshire.

In another interview last week, she said,“Some people think that you can read the Bible without understanding the original context and simply take literally what you read. We will interpret – and it’s an important part of faithful living. To assume there is only one way of reading is hubris.”

Anyone who reads this blog will realize that I share the Presiding Bishop’s feelings precisely. And, I am not even Episcopal! But I have followed the denomination and its bold moves to be inclusive closely.

Robinson was not invited to the conference, and he is OK with that. But he is in town, attending and speaking at events nearby. At St. Mary’s Church, Putney, ( another St. Mary’s) he preached yesterday in the face of protesters:

Listed in the church bulletin as a “quiet and reflective” service, it was noisier than usual, with a couple of dozen journalists, television camera operators and a packed church in attendance. Two demonstrators were also present, one carrying a placard outside the church and handing out leaflets saying the Bible prohibits homosexuality and one attempting in the church to shout down Robinson as he began his sermon.

Shouting “Repent! Repent!” the demonstrator was eventually drowned out by the congregation, which rose and sang — with organ accompaniment — the hymn “Thine be the glory, risen, conquering son.” He was escorted out by ushers.

“Pray for that man,” resumed Robinson, his voice shaking slightly. “Fear is a terrible thing. How sad that the Anglican Communion would threaten to tear itself apart over two men or two women who choose to make a Christian family together.”

Noting that several times in the New Testament, the words “be not afraid” and “fear not” appear, Robinson said “the Anglican Communion is going to be fine. Will it change? Probably. Is it going to be easy? Probably not.”

Here is a link to The Gene Pool the entire sermon, which is much more than the protest that you will witness. h/t to JaninSanFran for this.

Google led me to an article about a rugby player titled Robinson on the edge and I believe that description fits Gene Robinson both literally and figuratively. Not invited to the conference, but invited to and attending and preaching at events surrounding the venue, “Robinson on the edge” represents gays who have been on the edge for all of history.

Some would push the gays over the edge, others would reach out and pull them into the fold.

Read this, from the 365 widget to the left, and see how Robinson may be on the edge, but his reach will be inside the conference in a big way.

It will be interesting to follow the Conference, but like both Jefferts Schori and Robinson, I don’t expect any the debate to end at Lambeth.

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>Episcopals at Lambeth

July 14, 2008

>Anglicans, including American Episcopals are gathering in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference which begins in a couple of days.

In this photo and caption from Episcopal News Service, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, joins Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in procession before the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral July 13.

They are at Salisbury’s Cathedral Church of St. Mary , consecrated in 1258, which boasts the world’s tallest medieval spire, in the southern English county of Wiltshire. Wow, a 750 year old church.

Jefferts Schori, in an interview with Episcopal News Service, said earlier about the conference:

ENS: What message do you plan to bring to the Lambeth Conference?

KJS: That the mission of God is far larger than anything we disagree about.

She may have been thinking that when she said last week that she would explain the actions of the American Church, specifically, regarding Gene Robinson, the gay Bishop from New Hampshire.

In another interview last week, she said,“Some people think that you can read the Bible without understanding the original context and simply take literally what you read. We will interpret – and it’s an important part of faithful living. To assume there is only one way of reading is hubris.”

Anyone who reads this blog will realize that I share the Presiding Bishop’s feelings precisely. And, I am not even Episcopal! But I have followed the denomination and its bold moves to be inclusive closely.

Robinson was not invited to the conference, and he is OK with that. But he is in town, attending and speaking at events nearby. At St. Mary’s Church, Putney, ( another St. Mary’s) he preached yesterday in the face of protesters:

Listed in the church bulletin as a “quiet and reflective” service, it was noisier than usual, with a couple of dozen journalists, television camera operators and a packed church in attendance. Two demonstrators were also present, one carrying a placard outside the church and handing out leaflets saying the Bible prohibits homosexuality and one attempting in the church to shout down Robinson as he began his sermon.

Shouting “Repent! Repent!” the demonstrator was eventually drowned out by the congregation, which rose and sang — with organ accompaniment — the hymn “Thine be the glory, risen, conquering son.” He was escorted out by ushers.

“Pray for that man,” resumed Robinson, his voice shaking slightly. “Fear is a terrible thing. How sad that the Anglican Communion would threaten to tear itself apart over two men or two women who choose to make a Christian family together.”

Noting that several times in the New Testament, the words “be not afraid” and “fear not” appear, Robinson said “the Anglican Communion is going to be fine. Will it change? Probably. Is it going to be easy? Probably not.”

Here is a link to The Gene Pool the entire sermon, which is much more than the protest that you will witness. h/t to JaninSanFran for this.

Google led me to an article about a rugby player titled Robinson on the edge and I believe that description fits Gene Robinson both literally and figuratively. Not invited to the conference, but invited to and attending and preaching at events surrounding the venue, “Robinson on the edge” represents gays who have been on the edge for all of history.

Some would push the gays over the edge, others would reach out and pull them into the fold.

Read this, from the 365 widget to the left, and see how Robinson may be on the edge, but his reach will be inside the conference in a big way.

It will be interesting to follow the Conference, but like both Jefferts Schori and Robinson, I don’t expect any the debate to end at Lambeth.

Notes on Religion

January 12, 2008

The Birmingham News at the end of last year had an article on the religion page about what a pivotal year 2007 was. Too bad I can’t find a link, but the article mentioned the deaths of James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner as a “passing of the guard among religious conservatives”.

The article also mentioned The Christian Coalition sitting out the 2008 presidential race, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals stating that he’d rather conduct a funeral (or wedding) than meet with presidential candidates and Pat Robertson’s coziness with Rudy Giuliani as indications that things are changing.

But are they really? Here’s a few thoughts on recent stories in the news.

Baptists

Kentucky Southern Baptist Seminary president Albert Mohler Jr. is being considered to head the denomination. Remember this is the guy who wants to carry the Ex-gay movement into the womb, suggesting that changing the sexual orientation of fetuses would be acceptable. What next, Albert? Examining fetuses and changing their race, gender and handedness to produce only straight white right-handed males? After all, their view of denomination domination includes treating women as second class citizens too.

I hope Baptists find a more compassionate, peace loving and tolerant person to lead them. But that would mean following the teachings of Jesus. That would require a paradigm shift for the Baptists and I don’t think they will go that route.

Methodists

North Alabama Conference Bishop William Willimon led a revival of sorts among Methodists urging a return to the roots laid down by John Wesley. Pretty good suggestions. “Wesleyans believe that our relationship with God is totally dependent on God,” Willimon said. “Wesleyans believe you are here because of God. God is an active force…We believe everybody is being loved and attracted by God even if they don’t know it.”

“He (Wesley) believed in religion of the heart, but he believed that the test of the heart is religion of the hands, not only how we believe in Christ, but how we follow Christ.”

My roots are in Methodism also, and I can’t argue with Bishop Willimon. Whether one is a Methodist or other denomination or no denomination or whoever, this statement, “the test of the heart is religion of the hands” is worth consideration.

Mormons

The Mormons are trying to play catch up as they change the words of their sacred text so match what science has shown us: that Native Americans are not direct ancestors of a lost tribe of Israel.

Previous editions of The Book of Mormon stated “After thousands of years all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the ancestors of the American Indians.”

Then came DNA, evidence of which contradicted their scripture. So now the scripture says the Lamanites “are among the ancestors.”

So the Mormons are conceding that science is accurate? Then when will they accept the science regarding sexual orientation and stop excommunicating members who are gay?

I’m not holding my breath, but we did buy one of these.

Episcopals

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefforts Schori is in town to preside over the consecration of Rev. John McKee Sloan as suffragan or assistant bishop for the diocese of Alabama.

Here is what Jefforts Schori says about the war. “My understanding of Jesus’ ministry is that he told us not to go to war, and that he is at heart a peacemaker. We understand our mission as a church to be reconciliation. There may be times when it is appropriate to go to war. I’m not convinced of that, but we live in a world that is not perfect.”

“We pray for the troops constantly, even as we pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq.”

She has a daughter who is a first lieutenant in the Air Force who was recently deployed to the United Arab Emirates, so I am sure she has given lots of thought to this war and war in general.

Give credit to the Episcopals for promoting peace.

>Notes on Religion

January 12, 2008

>The Birmingham News at the end of last year had an article on the religion page about what a pivotal year 2007 was. Too bad I can’t find a link, but the article mentioned the deaths of James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner as a “passing of the guard among religious conservatives”.

The article also mentioned The Christian Coalition sitting out the 2008 presidential race, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals stating that he’d rather conduct a funeral (or wedding) than meet with presidential candidates and Pat Robertson’s coziness with Rudy Giuliani as indications that things are changing.

But are they really? Here’s a few thoughts on recent stories in the news.

Baptists

Kentucky Southern Baptist Seminary president Albert Mohler Jr. is being considered to head the denomination. Remember this is the guy who wants to carry the Ex-gay movement into the womb, suggesting that changing the sexual orientation of fetuses would be acceptable. What next, Albert? Examining fetuses and changing their race, gender and handedness to produce only straight white right-handed males? After all, their view of denomination domination includes treating women as second class citizens too.

I hope Baptists find a more compassionate, peace loving and tolerant person to lead them. But that would mean following the teachings of Jesus. That would require a paradigm shift for the Baptists and I don’t think they will go that route.

Methodists

North Alabama Conference Bishop William Willimon led a revival of sorts among Methodists urging a return to the roots laid down by John Wesley. Pretty good suggestions. “Wesleyans believe that our relationship with God is totally dependent on God,” Willimon said. “Wesleyans believe you are here because of God. God is an active force…We believe everybody is being loved and attracted by God even if they don’t know it.”

“He (Wesley) believed in religion of the heart, but he believed that the test of the heart is religion of the hands, not only how we believe in Christ, but how we follow Christ.”

My roots are in Methodism also, and I can’t argue with Bishop Willimon. Whether one is a Methodist or other denomination or no denomination or whoever, this statement, “the test of the heart is religion of the hands” is worth consideration.

Mormons

The Mormons are trying to play catch up as they change the words of their sacred text so match what science has shown us: that Native Americans are not direct ancestors of a lost tribe of Israel.

Previous editions of The Book of Mormon stated “After thousands of years all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the ancestors of the American Indians.”

Then came DNA, evidence of which contradicted their scripture. So now the scripture says the Lamanites “are among the ancestors.”

So the Mormons are conceding that science is accurate? Then when will they accept the science regarding sexual orientation and stop excommunicating members who are gay?

I’m not holding my breath, but we did buy one of these.

Episcopals

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefforts Schori is in town to preside over the consecration of Rev. John McKee Sloan as suffragan or assistant bishop for the diocese of Alabama.

Here is what Jefforts Schori says about the war. “My understanding of Jesus’ ministry is that he told us not to go to war, and that he is at heart a peacemaker. We understand our mission as a church to be reconciliation. There may be times when it is appropriate to go to war. I’m not convinced of that, but we live in a world that is not perfect.”

“We pray for the troops constantly, even as we pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq.”

She has a daughter who is a first lieutenant in the Air Force who was recently deployed to the United Arab Emirates, so I am sure she has given lots of thought to this war and war in general.

Give credit to the Episcopals for promoting peace.

Near Death Experiences

October 1, 2007

On Sunday The Rev. John McKee Sloan was elected the new bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. Here is the news from The Episcopal Church online . Good fortune to “Kee” as he is known, and to the Church in general.

I read something about a person’s “near death experience” recently and it got me to thinking. You always hear about such experiences from a Christian perspective, but what about those of other religions or no religion who almost die. What do they see. CECW (conventional evangelical Christian wisdom) would tell us that they would not see the same bright light of God and feel welcomed and at peace and all the different things you hear about.

Since the Muslim religion is the “suspect religion” de jour, I thought I would start there. Seems when they have a near death experience, it is much the same as Christians.

Here is the experience of a Muslim woman and also the story of “Muhammad’s Journey to Heaven.”

Let’s see, now who else do the evangelicals say is condemned…oh yeah, gay and lesbian folk, even if they profess to be Christian. So here are some gay and lesbian near death experiences to ponder.

Both of these links come from one source, near-death.com, where you can find a wealth of information about near death experiences of Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Jews, athiests, celebrities, children and more.

My conclusion is that we all experience nearly the same thing when we die or almost die, part of which is based on memory and the experiences we have had, part of which is based on physiology and what is going on in the body with neurotransmitters and other chemicals responding to changes in oxygen levels and temperature and such, and part of which is coming from the not fully understood realm of our common source, which, if you really think about it, would have no reason to treat any of us any differently, or put one group above any other group, and would “welcome each person back” whether it is through a spiritual embracing of a “spirit” or/and a physical re-joining with the chemicals that make up the earth.

In other words, we all return to that from which we come. And that should be enough to make anyone look at death, not with fear, but with a yawn, realizing that it’s just another step in the journey.

>Near Death Experiences

October 1, 2007

>On Sunday The Rev. John McKee Sloan was elected the new bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. Here is the news from The Episcopal Church online . Good fortune to “Kee” as he is known, and to the Church in general.

I read something about a person’s “near death experience” recently and it got me to thinking. You always hear about such experiences from a Christian perspective, but what about those of other religions or no religion who almost die. What do they see. CECW (conventional evangelical Christian wisdom) would tell us that they would not see the same bright light of God and feel welcomed and at peace and all the different things you hear about.

Since the Muslim religion is the “suspect religion” de jour, I thought I would start there. Seems when they have a near death experience, it is much the same as Christians.

Here is the experience of a Muslim woman and also the story of “Muhammad’s Journey to Heaven.”

Let’s see, now who else do the evangelicals say is condemned…oh yeah, gay and lesbian folk, even if they profess to be Christian. So here are some gay and lesbian near death experiences to ponder.

Both of these links come from one source, near-death.com, where you can find a wealth of information about near death experiences of Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Jews, athiests, celebrities, children and more.

My conclusion is that we all experience nearly the same thing when we die or almost die, part of which is based on memory and the experiences we have had, part of which is based on physiology and what is going on in the body with neurotransmitters and other chemicals responding to changes in oxygen levels and temperature and such, and part of which is coming from the not fully understood realm of our common source, which, if you really think about it, would have no reason to treat any of us any differently, or put one group above any other group, and would “welcome each person back” whether it is through a spiritual embracing of a “spirit” or/and a physical re-joining with the chemicals that make up the earth.

In other words, we all return to that from which we come. And that should be enough to make anyone look at death, not with fear, but with a yawn, realizing that it’s just another step in the journey.

Garden Work Day and Episcopal Inclusion

March 22, 2007

There will be a Garden Work Day at Jonesboro Community Garden on Saturday from 8 to 2. The garden will be at the corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington Street in Bessemer. We will be planting a wealth of shrubs and flowers and plants, creating a walking trail, installing benches and more. Please bring gardening gloves, shovels, picks, post-hole diggers, wheel barrows and whatever.

Also, Bobby and I will be cooking hotdogs for everyone. Remember the fun day and good dogs we had at this site last summer. Well, no volleyball this time, but later on in the summer? Who’s in?

The site is a vacant lot today, where a school building and school yard used to be. For those of you not from around here, I will post pictures of the garden as we progress.

Thanks to Vulcan Material Company Foundation for supporting this project in a big way, and thanks to Lawson State and the Bessemer Board of Education, and the City of Bessemer. And thanks especially to the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association and Erica Young in particular, for leading this effort.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s predicament regarding the ultimatum put forth by the conservative Anglican bishops to cease confirming openly gay bishops and to not bless same sex unions. Episcopal Bishops rejected this ultimatum and affirmed their support for gays, and rejected a key demand that they give up some of their authority to theological conservatives outside the U.S. church.

The bishops released a message yesterday, part of which said, “Finally, we believe that the leaders of the Church must always hold basic human rights and the dignity of every human being as fundamental concerns in our witness for Christ. We were, therefore, concerned that while the Communiqué focuses on homosexuality, it ignores the pressing issues of violence against gay and lesbian people around the world, and the criminalization of homosexual behavior in many nations of the world.”

The fact that the dissenting bishops are focusing on the way people are created rather than how those people are treated bring this verse (Titus 3: 9-11) to mind:

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.


My tip of the bishop’s hat today goes to the Episcopal Bishops who are standing up with integrity and strength against the bullying bishops of the minority. And who are more interested in continuing to do the work of ministering to those in need rather than judging and excluding part of the church community.
And speaking of inclusion, the Birmingham City Council is set to adopt (hopefully) a resolution next week affirming the inclusive policy of the city and celebrating its diversity. The resolution condemns racism and homophobia, and calls for swift investigation of acts against people on the basis of race and sexuality. This resolution is being introduced by Valerie Abbot and is sponsored in part by Equality Alabama and the National League of Cities and their “Partnership For Working Toward Inclusive Communities.” If you are interested in reading the entire resolution email me and I will forward it to you.
To support this effort show up at 9:30 am on March 27 at the City of Birmingham City Council chambers, third floor of city hall, 710 North 20th Street.
Would this type of initiative fly in Bessemer? Let’s find out.

>Garden Work Day and Episcopal Inclusion

March 22, 2007

>

There will be a Garden Work Day at Jonesboro Community Garden on Saturday from 8 to 2. The garden will be at the corner of Owen Avenue and Wellington Street in Bessemer. We will be planting a wealth of shrubs and flowers and plants, creating a walking trail, installing benches and more. Please bring gardening gloves, shovels, picks, post-hole diggers, wheel barrows and whatever.

Also, Bobby and I will be cooking hotdogs for everyone. Remember the fun day and good dogs we had at this site last summer. Well, no volleyball this time, but later on in the summer? Who’s in?

The site is a vacant lot today, where a school building and school yard used to be. For those of you not from around here, I will post pictures of the garden as we progress.

Thanks to Vulcan Material Company Foundation for supporting this project in a big way, and thanks to Lawson State and the Bessemer Board of Education, and the City of Bessemer. And thanks especially to the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association and Erica Young in particular, for leading this effort.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s predicament regarding the ultimatum put forth by the conservative Anglican bishops to cease confirming openly gay bishops and to not bless same sex unions. Episcopal Bishops rejected this ultimatum and affirmed their support for gays, and rejected a key demand that they give up some of their authority to theological conservatives outside the U.S. church.

The bishops released a message yesterday, part of which said, “Finally, we believe that the leaders of the Church must always hold basic human rights and the dignity of every human being as fundamental concerns in our witness for Christ. We were, therefore, concerned that while the Communiqué focuses on homosexuality, it ignores the pressing issues of violence against gay and lesbian people around the world, and the criminalization of homosexual behavior in many nations of the world.”

The fact that the dissenting bishops are focusing on the way people are created rather than how those people are treated bring this verse (Titus 3: 9-11) to mind:

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.


My tip of the bishop’s hat today goes to the Episcopal Bishops who are standing up with integrity and strength against the bullying bishops of the minority. And who are more interested in continuing to do the work of ministering to those in need rather than judging and excluding part of the church community.
And speaking of inclusion, the Birmingham City Council is set to adopt (hopefully) a resolution next week affirming the inclusive policy of the city and celebrating its diversity. The resolution condemns racism and homophobia, and calls for swift investigation of acts against people on the basis of race and sexuality. This resolution is being introduced by Valerie Abbot and is sponsored in part by Equality Alabama and the National League of Cities and their “Partnership For Working Toward Inclusive Communities.” If you are interested in reading the entire resolution email me and I will forward it to you.
To support this effort show up at 9:30 am on March 27 at the City of Birmingham City Council chambers, third floor of city hall, 710 North 20th Street.
Would this type of initiative fly in Bessemer? Let’s find out.

Who I would not like to be

March 1, 2007

One person I would not like to be is Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She has the unfortunate, but very important, task of leading the Episcopal Church through the debate that could end up seeing the church break away from the worldwide Anglican Fellowship over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. To her credit, Bishop Schori has been supportive of inclusive polices regarding gays and has said she does not support efforts to remove Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop from New Hampshire, from his post. Now the church faces an ultimatum from the Anglican leaders to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize prayers for same sex couples. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, leading the way of religious intolerance, in 2006 issued a statement affirming their “commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity…”

The Episcopal Church has a history of social justice, although at times having to play “catch up”, for instance, issuing a condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979 and declaring the practice of racism a sin in 1991. And they have been a leader in the inclusion of women in all roles in the church, culminating with the election of Schori last year as the first woman to ever hold the position of presiding bishop although there are still dioceses that do not allow women priests. So it is no surprise that the Episcopal Church would be a leader in the inclusion of homosexuals, nor is it a surprise that they can’t just put their foot down and say “No” to the Anglican demands. Episcopals are never quick to do anything, to make decisions, or to develop new policy. And maybe that is as it should be, to prevent knee-jerk decisions and pop-cultural influences.

But this issue has already been decided. In 2000 the Convention affirmed “the variety of human relationships in and outside of marriage,” and in 2006 affirmed “support of gay and lesbian persons and children of God.” In fact, way back in 1975 the Convention declared that homosexuals are “children of God” and are “entitled to full civil rights.” And of course in 2003 The Right Reverend Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in the Church.

And if policy is not enough, across the country gay and lesbian persons are serving in numerous positions in the church, from lay leaders to deacons to priests. If one looks at the work that these people do, and the results of their efforts, there is no doubt that God is blessing their work and is pleased with their inclusion. In fact, the very diocese that Robinson is leading continues to be blessed and to bless others. Would God continue to allow His blessings to flow forth from homosexuals if He was not pleased with their work?

Last night Schori led a webcast in which she addressed the issue of homosexuality and the church. Her call for “a season of fasting –from authorizing rites for blessing same sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions” puts the brakes on full inclusion as she attempts to buy time for reconciliation. This is just putting off the inevitable. No one believes the Nigerians are going to reverse course from calling for criminalization of homosexuality to acceptance and full inclusion. And while Episcopals endure a season of fasting, gay and lesbian parishioners and friends are left hanging. They are the ones suffering, as they are being denied full inclusion and participation. Gene Robinson’s response to Schori’s webcast can be read at http://www.nhepiscopal.org/artman/publish/article_426.shtml. He points out that Jesus calls on the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins. He responds to her call for forbearance by wondering “ How will we explain this “forbearance” to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this “forbearance” to GOD?”

1995 was The International Year of Tolerance and that year I was asked to submit a Lenten Devotion for a booklet my church was printing. What I said yesterday about tolerance not withstanding, I want to share what I wrote:

The reading was Luke 6:27-37 and the key verse was verse 37: Do not judge
and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.

Nineteen ninety five has been designated as the International Year of Tolerance. Amara Essy, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, says that intolerance leads to isolation of individuals, violations of human rights, and ultimately poses a threat to international peace and security. Intolerance is unacceptable.

Birmingham author Lynn Duvall in her book Respecting Our Differences, gives several reasons to become more tolerant. 1) The more one learns about others, the less one has to fear. We can learn about other people, and respect them, even though we may not agree with them. 2) Tolerant people are more self-confident and comfortable in all situations. If we are to effectively share our lives and faith with other people we must be able to relate to them in relaxed ways that do not threaten or in which we do not feel threatened. 3) Tolerance makes life more interesting. Without diversity the human race would be “bo-ring.”

Jesus showed tolerance in his ministry and He shows tolerance with each of us today. He did not limit his teachings to those of one faith, even though He lived in a world of religious intolerance; or only to those of His gender, although He lived in a sexist world; or to those who lived a good life, even thought it was unpopular to associate with sinners. Jesus said to love your enemies, to be merciful, to be non-judgmental and to be forgiving.

My prayer is from a hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson.

Let their be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God, our Creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony.

From 1995 to 2007, and during this season of Lent, this message still holds true. Leaders of the Anglican (and Episcopal) Church, as well as leaders of our nation, need to develop tolerance and understanding. Peace.

>Who I would not like to be

March 1, 2007

>One person I would not like to be is Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She has the unfortunate, but very important, task of leading the Episcopal Church through the debate that could end up seeing the church break away from the worldwide Anglican Fellowship over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. To her credit, Bishop Schori has been supportive of inclusive polices regarding gays and has said she does not support efforts to remove Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop from New Hampshire, from his post. Now the church faces an ultimatum from the Anglican leaders to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize prayers for same sex couples. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, leading the way of religious intolerance, in 2006 issued a statement affirming their “commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity…”

The Episcopal Church has a history of social justice, although at times having to play “catch up”, for instance, issuing a condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979 and declaring the practice of racism a sin in 1991. And they have been a leader in the inclusion of women in all roles in the church, culminating with the election of Schori last year as the first woman to ever hold the position of presiding bishop although there are still dioceses that do not allow women priests. So it is no surprise that the Episcopal Church would be a leader in the inclusion of homosexuals, nor is it a surprise that they can’t just put their foot down and say “No” to the Anglican demands. Episcopals are never quick to do anything, to make decisions, or to develop new policy. And maybe that is as it should be, to prevent knee-jerk decisions and pop-cultural influences.

But this issue has already been decided. In 2000 the Convention affirmed “the variety of human relationships in and outside of marriage,” and in 2006 affirmed “support of gay and lesbian persons and children of God.” In fact, way back in 1975 the Convention declared that homosexuals are “children of God” and are “entitled to full civil rights.” And of course in 2003 The Right Reverend Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in the Church.

And if policy is not enough, across the country gay and lesbian persons are serving in numerous positions in the church, from lay leaders to deacons to priests. If one looks at the work that these people do, and the results of their efforts, there is no doubt that God is blessing their work and is pleased with their inclusion. In fact, the very diocese that Robinson is leading continues to be blessed and to bless others. Would God continue to allow His blessings to flow forth from homosexuals if He was not pleased with their work?

Last night Schori led a webcast in which she addressed the issue of homosexuality and the church. Her call for “a season of fasting –from authorizing rites for blessing same sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions” puts the brakes on full inclusion as she attempts to buy time for reconciliation. This is just putting off the inevitable. No one believes the Nigerians are going to reverse course from calling for criminalization of homosexuality to acceptance and full inclusion. And while Episcopals endure a season of fasting, gay and lesbian parishioners and friends are left hanging. They are the ones suffering, as they are being denied full inclusion and participation. Gene Robinson’s response to Schori’s webcast can be read at http://www.nhepiscopal.org/artman/publish/article_426.shtml. He points out that Jesus calls on the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins. He responds to her call for forbearance by wondering “ How will we explain this “forbearance” to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this “forbearance” to GOD?”

1995 was The International Year of Tolerance and that year I was asked to submit a Lenten Devotion for a booklet my church was printing. What I said yesterday about tolerance not withstanding, I want to share what I wrote:

The reading was Luke 6:27-37 and the key verse was verse 37: Do not judge
and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.

Nineteen ninety five has been designated as the International Year of Tolerance. Amara Essy, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, says that intolerance leads to isolation of individuals, violations of human rights, and ultimately poses a threat to international peace and security. Intolerance is unacceptable.

Birmingham author Lynn Duvall in her book Respecting Our Differences, gives several reasons to become more tolerant. 1) The more one learns about others, the less one has to fear. We can learn about other people, and respect them, even though we may not agree with them. 2) Tolerant people are more self-confident and comfortable in all situations. If we are to effectively share our lives and faith with other people we must be able to relate to them in relaxed ways that do not threaten or in which we do not feel threatened. 3) Tolerance makes life more interesting. Without diversity the human race would be “bo-ring.”

Jesus showed tolerance in his ministry and He shows tolerance with each of us today. He did not limit his teachings to those of one faith, even though He lived in a world of religious intolerance; or only to those of His gender, although He lived in a sexist world; or to those who lived a good life, even thought it was unpopular to associate with sinners. Jesus said to love your enemies, to be merciful, to be non-judgmental and to be forgiving.

My prayer is from a hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson.

Let their be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God, our Creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony.

From 1995 to 2007, and during this season of Lent, this message still holds true. Leaders of the Anglican (and Episcopal) Church, as well as leaders of our nation, need to develop tolerance and understanding. Peace.