She's asking both sides to tone down the rhetoric & forbear in ascribing motives to those we view as opponents, as we work through the Covenant Design process.
I've been out of the closet, working as a grassroots queer activist for 25 years, most often in very conservative small communities - i'm used to being patient yet still assertive, and i don't see that the temporary forbearance she requests is such a burden.
She asked for a pause, but not for our silence. She earnestly and explicitly asked glbt Episcopalians to bear witness to the fruits of the Spirit in their lives & ministries. That's hardly asking for a move backwards. Again, i take her at her word.
i'm going to try to fast from being rancorous towards those who oppose inclusiveness of glbt people at all levels within TEC. i'm going to continue trying to be a witness, in my parish & in my Windsor-bishop led diocese (Rio Grande) to the fruits of the Spirit in my gay Episcopalian faith-journey. i'm going to continue to engage people in discourse, especially those who have staked out their positions against glbt inclusion.
Time will tell.
Some local news - though the details are sketchy, it appears our Bishop has removed a rabidly contentious 'Network' rector from his post in Farmington, NM. Not what i would have expected from our (self-proclaimed Windsor) Bishop, if the early reports are true. Guess maybe the PB is right to advise against assigning motives to fellow Episcopalians without actually knowing them.
So what I would like to see the Bishops do in our communiqué is not only affirm our NO to oppression and our YES to inclusion but also to reassure people that we will always be at the table, always be willing to talk, and I'd like them to go further, to develop some new ways of speaking, some new methods of engagement with the wider AC that doesn't depend on the increasingly narrow-minded Instruments of Unity. They need to think outside the box.
My thoughts are tracking along much the same lines. I also find much to agree with in Ann’s “Fasting from Lambeth” article.
My faith journey as a queer Christian is still tentative, and I’ve only started participating in my nearby parish in the past few months. I was initially fearful after reading the communiqué, and then hurt & disappointed when reading ++Katharine’s response. However, after listening to ++Katharine’s talk at the church center and talking with some other folks in my parish, my concerns have somewhat calmed. My uneasiness hasn’t disappeared, it’s just quieted down a bit.
I’ve decided to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. Our parish will be holding a series of forums concerning the communiqué & the draft covenant, which will then be followed by a parish potluck with our Bishop, +Jeffrey Steenson, who proudly proclaims himself a 'Windsor Bishop'. At our progressive, welcoming, affirming and outspoken parish, many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to look the Bishop in the eyes and speak what’s in our hearts & minds. I doubt +Jeffrey’s looking forward to that!
I’ve also joined our diocese’s online discussion group, and have no reticence responding to the more conservative elements here when they speak up. I’m finding that my voice isn’t the only one in the Rio Grande diocese speaking out for justice and inclusion.
Regarding ++Katharine’s call for a fast, I don’t see it as much of a sacrifice for glbt folk in our conservative diocese. Instead it’s just more of the same. SSBs are already not permitted, most parishes are already not inclusive of glbt members, and it’s unlikely in the utmost that any glbt candidate for consecration would ever make it past the first interview. Heck, the runner up to +Jeffrey for our bishopric a couple of years ago was Martyn Minns himself, and he was a close second at that. So the fast is really just business as usual in our diocese.
What I find most striking in this whole WWAC brouhaha is that I don’t believe for a second that it’s really about glbt Anglicans. It’s about authoritarianism. The full inclusion of gay people in the life of the church is just the handiest excuse to widen the authority of a grasping few. The more mileage the ecclesiastical reassertors get out of making a bogeyman of glbt Anglicans, and the more the rest of us accept that their beef is mainly about glbt inclusion, the further they and their extra-provincial authoritarian partners will push.
Still, I do not feel secure as a gay Christian within TEC. Blessedly I feel very secure in my parish, but it’s like an oasis within this parched exclusionary diocese. If it weren’t for St. Michael & All Angels I probably wouldn’t even be a party to this situation. Since I am, I’m going to give ++KJS some slack. I believe she earnestly wants the inclusion of glbt people. Beyond that, I’m placing my faith in Christ; not the PB, not TEC, not the WWAC, certainly not Rowan Cantaur.
One more thing: during fellowship today in the Parish Hall, someone opined that a possible outcome to this WWAC conflict is a return to the days when being in the Anglican Communion signified only a shared Anglican origin, not a required adherence to some authoritarian ecclesiastical criteria (I’m paraphrasing here).
One poignant moment of the day - i stepped outside for some fresh air while the rest of the folks were discussing effective responses to a worldwide pandemic. Across from the conference site is the Veterans' Cemetery. So many more white markers, spreading further & further across the hillsides. Taps were being blown, so the end of another life was being marked. Sadness as my silent prayer was offered for the consolation of suffering.
This morning i'm trying to catch up on all the blog posts and emails that i missed out on yesterday. Here's one i wanted to share. The following is an open letter from the Right Rev'd. Steven Charleston, retired Bishop of Alaska and currently the Dean and President of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
By now I imagine all of you are aware of the outcome of the Primate’s meeting in Tanzania, February 15-19, 2007, and the reactions to it. You know that many of us applaud the attention that was given to the Millennium Development Goals and the need for action in responding to the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS. You also know that many of us were deeply concerned about the call for the Episcopal Church to provide more assurances that we will not authorize same-sex blessings or consent to the election of a bishop who is living openly in a same-sex relationship. Finally, I hope you know how proud many of us felt at the way our Presiding Bishop conducted herself in this difficult role at such a difficult time.
Because you know all of these things, my purpose in writing to you is not to repeat what you may have already heard, but to invite you, as a member of the EDS family, to join me in making a witness in light of what we have learned from the Primates.
To everything there is a season. At EDS, we are accustomed to living in change. We understand that creation is as organic as human community. God’s engagement in our lives always evolves, grows, and challenges us to respond.
But some things do not change.
The heart of this community has always been its commitment to a gospel that supersedes all human institutions. EDS is a community centered in Christ Jesus. We believe that Christ calls us all to be witnesses to justice, to truth, and to compassion. Our faith in Christ impels us to embrace that call and live it out, no matter the consequences to our own comfort or convenience.
We will not change our devotion to doing what we believe is right. We will not delay justice for the sake of making our lives easier. We will not deny a truth that we are certain is from God. We will not play politics with human lives.
Let our witness be clear. Even in the midst of great change, EDS stands on the rock of faith that every human being is created equal in the eyes of God and that we are all acceptable to God in whatever roles of leadership we may be called to perform for the people of God.
This we will not compromise.
There is absolutely no reason that gay and lesbian people should be denied the right of a blessing. There is absolutely no reason that a gay or lesbian person can not be a respected member of the clergy of this church. There is absolutely no reason that we should abandon either of these positions for the sake of political accommodation.
To everything there is a season. This is our season to make a witness to justice. I hope all of you will stand with me in doing this with integrity, honesty and dedication. Millions of our GLBT brothers and sisters around the world, both those who can speak openly of their lives and those who must hide for fear of their lives, deserve our visible and unequivocal support.
Enough is enough. It is time to make our intentions clear, come what may. I pray that you will help EDS carry that message to every corner of the Church, in humility and with an open mind, but carry it with a resolve that will not bend under pressure or falter under threats. This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied. There is no easy way out of this choice. There is only a gospel way forward. This school intends to walk forward and we are prepared for the fact that many may not want to walk with us. If the Anglican Communion must separate over this fundamental issue of human rights, then so be it. To everything there is a season. Perhaps this is the season for the growth of the gospel in truth and in love in ways that we could never have imagined.
Episcopal Divinity School
February 21, 2007
The blogosphere is frothy with thoughts on both the Primates' communique and ++KJS's follow-up statement. The post over at Ken's Blog, Giving Up Church for Lent, really caught my attention. There are plenty of others linked to over at Thinking Anglicans. As always, a visit to MadPriest's blog will help keep things in perspective.
I'm off to Santa Fe today for a Home Care conference, so i get to miss out on today's further news & blogging.
Christian pediatrician denies child service because parents are tattooed
Apparently Dr. Merrill stopped reading the Bible right after "Suffer the little children..." That this guy can literally advertise himself as a Christian, when he's obviously just a self-righteous bigot.
Christian Medical Services
Gary A. Merrill, M.D.
2920 F Street, Ste. C-6
Bakersfield, CA 93301 ... (661) 324-8990
If you watch the video of this story on the KGET website, keep watching for another story on the prevalance of exorcisms in that community. Oy, again!
It’s only been two and a half months since my return to Church, following a 20+ year aversion to nearly all things Christian. Today was the first time I’ve attended the 11:15 Choral Eucharist. Turnout is much higher for this service than for the early Plainchant service, and the bigger crowd has scared me off previously. I’m really glad I went. The service was wonderful and the people were just as warm and joyful as the folks at the Plainchant Eucharist.
I even saw a friend of mine at church today! Not exactly unexpected, since i already knew that he sometimes visits my parish. He told me recently that he was discouraged by the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ vibe felt by glbt folks downtown at the Cathedral of St. John, where he has been very active along with his husband. Visiting such a welcoming & openly affirming parish like St. Michael & All Angels is all that’s keeping him in TEC. Such a shame that dedicated Christians can end up feeling unwelcome in their own parish. I’ve known the both of them for about three years, and it’s partly the unspoken witness of their faith that re-opened my heart to the Church.
New member classes start next week, and it looks like I’ll be attending. Where will this lead? Will I seek to be received into the Episcopal Church? Who knows? Right now I’m only committing to attend the class orientation a week from Tuesday. One step at a time.
Bishop Spong’s book continues to fascinate me. I've shared some of the ideas therein with my partner and that's prompted some amazing discussions. He wants to read the book once I’m done. Given that his aversion to all things Christian is so much stronger than mine ever was, his obvious desire to explore Spong's views amazes me.
The Primates’ meeting still draws my attention, but I’m much less mesmerized by it now. So far the news has bolstered my optimism a bit, though it's tempered with my usual healthy cynicism. My anxiety is moving on to concern about the meeting’s aftermath. I’m leery of the increasing vitriol of TEC dissenters. I fear that gay people will continue to have the mantle of scapegoat unfairly laid upon us.
At the same time, I harbor an honest feeling of sorrow for the dissenters. Heck, if I had never awakened to the gift of being gay, I’d probably share their position. I just can’t bear the burden of their projections any more. Thankfully, I’m beginning to believe that TEC may not require that of us; God certainly does not.
I'm happy for Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, that he was able to meet Akinola face to face again and remind him of their previous meetings.
While my anxiety surrounding this meeting still troubles me, i'm finding that it is superceded by my faith & hope. Naive, perhaps, but it's a pleasant change from my usual cynicism. It helps that i'm trying to limit my obsession with the latest news from Tazania and instead devote my free time to study, prayer and an occasional foray into the blogosphere.
I've started to read Spong's "A New Christianity for a New World," which is proving to be far more absorbing than i expected it to be. Since i'm naturally (and pleasingly) bewildered by my return to life in the Church, i don't thus far feel threatened by any of the ideas in the book. Everything is open to questioning in my theological explorations. In fact Spong's book is rather exciting!
So far i especially love a song entitled "Paradise Road" from another of their albums, "Voices from Heaven".
You can find out more about the choir on their website.
Bringing on more satire this morning, i point you toward a handy guide to Biblical intepretation, courtesy of America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers.
If satire is a little more than either your brain or your sense of humor can handle right now, why not try a game of Nubby Bunny Concentration instead?
i readily admit that i am not an exegetical expert. However, i have noted that the scriptural passages most often cited by some Christians in judgment of glbt folk address only specific behaviors, and that there exist no passages in the Bible that address sexual orientation as it is generally understood today.
In my interactions with other glbt people who have any history with institutional Christianity, i find it telling that we share so many experiences of having been judged and/or rejected in the name of religion just for being gay. Even more telling is that nearly all of us experienced this well before any same-gender sexual encounters. We had not yet sampled what we were told was forbidden, yet our churches were already ushering us out of the garden. Most of us weren’t even adults yet when the communities of faith that nurtured us turned their faces away.
While interminable debates rage regarding the authoritative Biblical stance about same-gender sexual activity, it is indisputable that there is nothing in the Bible supporting the judgment of gay people on the basis of our intrinsic orientation. Yet judgment, shame and rejection are common in the personal experiences of gay people who were raised in communities of Christian faith.
Personally, i think this is the main reason why we glbt folk bristle so much at the "love the sinner, hate the sin" line. We’ve already been the recipients of judgment & shame from our churches because we were gay, and that was when we were still virgins. After all, if they couldn’t love us then, why on earth would we trust such a smarmy line now?
Is it possible that same-gender sexual activity is outside of God's will? I certainly accept that a complete knowledge of God’s will is beyond me (and beyond any other fellow human, except for Christ) though to be completely honest i don't see how the way I naturally love can be outside of His plan for me. What i will never accept are pronouncements from any other sinner that my sexuality is a sin, no matter what authority they cite. The Holy Spirit itself is certainly able to convict me of my sins, and that is the only authority i am willing to accept when it comes to my sexuality. To date, despite my daily prayers which include petitioning God to make me aware of where i fall short of His will, He's been silent about any concerns with the gender of my partner.
To my fellow Christians who feel sure that any same-gender sex is sinful, and are compelled to judge my sexuality, I offer this quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Tolerate no belief that you judge false and of injurious tendency: and arraign no believer. The man is more and other than his belief. God only knows how small or large a part of him the belief in question may be, for good or for evil. Resist every false doctrine: and call no man heretic. The false doctrine does not necessarily make the man a heretic; but an evil heart can make any doctrine heretical."
(Thanks to Mark Diebel for reminding me of this quote by posting it in his comment over at Fr. Jake’s blog)
Soulforce is an organization founded by the Rev. Mel White that strives to combat religious & political opression of LGBT people through relentless non-violent resistance. One of their annual efforts is the Equality Ride.
From the Soulforce website:
In March 2007, fifty-six young activists will board two buses and begin a two month long journey that will take them to thirty-two colleges that have policies banning the enrollment of openly LGBT students. Through dialogue with administrators, faculty and students, the young activists of the 2007 Equality Ride will make clear the harmful effects of the false notion that homosexuality is a "sickness and a sin." To make public their case for equality, the young activists on the Equality Ride will hold vigils, Bible studies, class discussions, community forums, and press conferences.More about Equality Ride 2007 here.
You can sponsor a rider here.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 9:59 a.m. ET
DENVER (AP) -- One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is ''completely heterosexual.''
Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.
''He is completely heterosexual,'' Ralph said. ''That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing.''
Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.
''If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly,'' he said. ''We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened.''
Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was also forced out from the 14,000 New Life Church that he founded years ago in his basement after Jones alleged Haggard paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to ''sexual immorality.''
Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.
Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.
''This is a good place for Ted,'' Ware said. ''It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed.''
It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.
Dialogue among people of widely divergent views and beliefs can be productive. That's obvious. i suspect such dialogue has the greatest potential to yield fruit when all involved are making a similar degree of personal investment in the process.
So is there room for dialogue among people who don't agree on foundational issues? Yes, if the personal stakes of the people involved are comparable.
PANEL DERAILS BILLS THAT TARGET GAY MARRIAGE
Steve Terrell | The (Santa Fe) New Mexican
February 2, 2007
Same-sex marriage isn’t legal in New Mexico, but a House Committee on Thursday halted attempts to carve in stone a state ban on gay marriages. On party-line votes, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted to table two measures that targeted gay marriage. The actions effectively killed the bills for this session of the Legislature.
House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Rep. Gloria Vaughn, R-Alamogordo, would have let state voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. House Bill 395, sponsored by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, would have put that definition of marriage in state statute.
“Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they chose,” Bob Adams, speaking for a group called the Alliance for Marriage, told the committee. Adams, a West Virginia native, was the ‘‘expert” testifying for Vaughn’s resolution. Adams said “radicals” had “thrust this issue” on the American people.
However, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, countered, “Nothing is more radical in my mind than to amend the constitution of New Mexico. ... This is one of the most intrusive forms of government intrusion I can think of.”
Several spectators testified against the bill. Virginia Macias of Albuquerque said she was there to support her son who is gay. “I like traditions, but you can’t hold on to traditions if they’re going to squash equality,” Macias said.
Marshall Martinez of Albuquerque said the legislation would lead to more young people leaving the state to seek more tolerant communities. He also said the measures would add to the “emotional confusion” of young gays struggling with “coming out” to their parents.
All four Democrats on the committee voted to table the measures while the panel’s three Republicans voted against the tabling motion.
Still on the docket for this year's session: Bills that firm up the extension of benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees and a Domestic Partnership bill that would grant all state benefits of marriage to non-traditional couples, including same-sex couples. Please keep the NM Legislature in your prayers!
RULE TO PROHIBIT GAY TOPICS PROMPTS MOVE
By DIANA DEL MAURO | The (Santa Fe) New Mexican
January 31, 2007
After 26 years, the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department says it won't hold its annual conference at Glorieta's Baptist-owned conference center because of attempts to restrict discussion of gay issues. A spokesman for the state agency said Tuesday that this summer's gathering will instead be held at Sandia Pueblo's resort complex near Albuquerque.
Last year's Conference on Aging drew about 1,000 people to the LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, a 2,000-acre wooded campus southeast of Santa Fe owned by a Southern Baptist organization in Nashville, Tenn. The state agency paid about $51,000 to host the three-day event, and some guests bought rooms and meals on the campus while they attended talks about Medicare, lifestyle issues and other topics related to the elderly.
Marketers for RainbowVision, a new residential community in Santa Fe that caters to the aging gay population, made a presentation at the 2006 conference titled "Designing Communities for the Gay and Gray." No one made an issue of it during the conference, according to Joy Silver, president of RainbowVision Properties Inc. Later, however, center manager Hal Hill, a newcomer to Glorieta, questioned why the department's contract shouldn't include a requirement that prohibits teachings that would be in opposition to the Baptist heritage.
Hill said Tuesday that the problem isn't the notion of a retirement center for gay people, but teachings that run counter to "what the Bible tells us in regard to family. It's not a public forum, so to speak, in which any group can come and express anything they want to," he said of the Glorieta center, established in the 1950s as a training center for Christian leaders. "We can't have those things that would undermine our reason for being here."
For more than two decades, the state agency had agreed to a contract that included a provision dubbed "Preservation of Religious Voice and Rights," intended to prohibit teachings that would be in opposition to the Baptist heritage. Then, a year or two ago, when the agency's lawyer found the requirement bothersome, the Glorieta center agreed to remove the clause from the contract, according to Hill.
For this year's conference, Hill called for reinstating the provision. But the state agency wouldn't sign on to it. "It is the Department's opinion that proposed contract language, in addition to e-mail messages regarding the contract, would have denied First Amendment rights to individuals and/or aging network providers," John Arnold, a spokesman for the agency, wrote in a statement concerning the change. "Because the Department embraces inclusiveness and diversity," the statement continued, "it decided not to return to Glorieta because it cannot legally or philosophically agree to discriminatory conditions that infringe on the freedoms protected by the First Amendment and discriminate against any particular groups or lifestyles."
In a unanimous vote on Jan. 25, the Conference on Aging Planning Committee decided to schedule the August 2007 event at the Sandia Resort Conference Center. Details are being finalized, Arnold said.
Hill said he was sorry to see the Conference on Aging move to another venue. "We will miss having that group on campus," he said. The annual event, held at the height of the conference season, also represents a "significant" loss financially, he added. Hill emphasized the Glorieta center takes a stand on values yet welcomes both secular and religious conferences. "There was not, and is not, anyone that we're trying to exclude," he said.
RainbowVision's Silver said she was pleased with the state's action. "I think that people need to know that the state stands for all us," Silver said, "and I think that's laudable."