1/11/2007

Enough: it is time to move on.

Several commentators have suggested that the time has come to say, “Enough!” It is a time of growing frustration by some of us with an emerging effort at governance by persons and bodies that have no mandate from any people of God to do so. The organized structures of the Anglican Communion, also known as the “focus of unity” and the “instruments of communion” have more and more acted as if they are the voices of a magisterium or a patriarchy, having powers beyond that of recommendation.

As some who read this blog understand, I am deeply committed to the bonds of affection that constitute the Anglican Communion. But in these last days I have increasingly come to believe that these bonds have almost nothing to do with the struggles both from within and from without to mandate from afar solutions to "our" problems. This is not the Anglican Communion to which I have given much of my ministry and energy. This is a perversion of fellowship into some other form of relationship. For a much better and quite readable statement on this I recommend Johnathan's essay. The Daily Episcopalian's expressions of doubt about the whole thing are also calm and reasoned comments.

With some fear and trepidation I offer the following as a statement of some of the concerns that others and I have. What value there is in this I do not know. We shall see.

This is a long piece, for which I am tempted to apologize. But instead I ask your patience. It is, after all, grist for the mill.

We will all be changed.

Mark

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The Vocation of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church has struggled to affirm its place in the organized structures of the Anglican Communion. The need to continue that struggle is now in question.


The continued participation of The Episcopal Church in the instrumentalities of the Anglican Communion is not essential to our continued faithfulness as a Christian body, nor is it the basis for our fellowship with other Churches in the Anglican Communion. We must not confuse the gift of fellowship for the vocation to which we are called.

The uninvited and unwelcome efforts to pressure The Episcopal Church to bend to the teachings of a supposed magisterium or the decrees of agencies of the Anglican Communion, teachings and decrees that have no authority save that which are self assigned must be countered by certain reminders of our own reliance on the essentials of Christian community, unencumbered by ecclesiastically “foreign” intervention.

Decent respect for the opinions of faithful Christians of all communities and communions requires that we should declare the reasons for our belief that The Episcopal Church is and always has been a freely gathered community of faithful Christians.

The Episcopal Church and its Call to Serve.

We as a Church have engaged the peoples of the United States and other countries in mission, and we are ordered as a Church as a missionary society. In these efforts God has challenged us at every turn to a vocation of pilgrimage, seeking always a better place, both here and in Promise. That vocation has involved at least the following:

  • The Episcopal Church asserts in its preface to its first Book of Common Prayer (1789) that “..when in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent with respect to civil government, their ecclesiastical independence was necessarily included…” and later “this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; for further than local circumstances require.” (pgs 10-11, Episcopal Church BCP) This Church has therefore held in tension two remarkable, but sometimes differing gifts: the gift of ecclesiastical independence and the gift of a Godly inheritance in the ministry and witness of the Church of England.

  • From the outset this Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, understood that we were ecclesiastically independent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the Church and State of England. In the United States there would be no Archbishops, no established Church. We would have no King or Governor to whom any attribution of divine right or power would be made. We would find ourselves numbered among the “different religious denominations of Christians in these States,” “left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective Churches, and forms of worship, and discipline, in such manner as they might judge most convenient for their future prosperity; consistently with the constitution and laws of their country.” (BCP, pg. 10)

  • We determined to be an Episcopal church, but not a monarchical or patriarchal church. Our bishops would be elected from among the clergy by lay and clerical members of a diocesan convention, would serve the pastoral and missionary needs of the respective dioceses, and would be paid from the offerings of the several congregations of their dioceses or from the missionary funds of the whole Church.

  • It was determined by the laws of the land that there would be no established religion, and The Episcopal Church came to understand its vocation to be a church for the whole nation. At every point in its missionary and ecclesial formation the Episcopal Church has sought, and often struggled internally, to open its heart and mind to greater inclusion of the peoples within its jurisdictions. That struggle is a mark of a church set upon the course of becoming a church for the whole people.

  • We have determined to be one with the Church of England in all “essential point(s) of doctrine, discipline, or worship,” departing not “further than local circumstances require.” Local circumstances required that we not engage the society as the established church and we are thankful for that. Nor did we feel that Archbishops, loyalty oaths to the head of state or the head of church, or discipline determined by ecclesiastical decree, were of the essence of the faith. We therefore felt it appropriate to order our common life as a free and independent body of Christians, related on the basis of essential doctrine, discipline and worship, to the Church of England. We are not now, and never have been, related to the Church of England in ways that would infer that the Church of England’s Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is in any way Archbishop, Metropolitan or Patriarch for this Church.

  • From our beginnings we also acknowledged our profound indebtedness to the Episcopal Church of Scotland who set apart our first bishop and gave us new ways of expressing the essentials of our faith in worship. We were, from the outset, aware of belonging to a wider Episcopal fellowship than that of the Church of England alone.

  • We have participated in this wider fellowship in many ways, but primarily in the gatherings of bishops from Churches related to the Church of England that began meeting in a decennial conference called “The Lambeth Conference,” the first in 1867, and in cooperative missionary efforts in the world. At every turn we have informed and have been informed by the ministry of the peoples of our several churches.

  • Our House of Bishops has enumerated in the Chicago – Lambeth Quadrilateral the basis on which union with other Christian bodies might be achieved. The introduction to that document, in its Episcopal Church version, (BCP, p. 876) assumes the Quadrilateral would require: (i) unity to be on the “deepest and truest” level, (ii) that we understand baptism as the basis of membership in the Holy Catholic Church, (iii) that we acknowledge the costly forgoing of “preferences of her own,” (iv) and that we not seek the absorption of various churches into one. This preparatory and spiritual quadrilateral introduces the now famous Quadrilateral and does so with the assumptions not of an established church, but a church in the midst of churches.

  • We have been an active agent in the wider Anglican Communion efforts to do mission in settings understood increasingly as contextual in nature. We have not been by any means perfect in this, but we have increasingly honored those we have ministered to, affirming them as persons and communities that would express the Christian faith as their context and circumstances would require.

  • In all this we have also been mindful of our own failings and those of our society. The Episcopal Church, to its great shame, did not take an official position on slavery in the years leading up to or during the Civil War, leaving the matter to the outcome of civil strife. As a Church we entered late into the struggle for equal rights for all citizens and in particular for women and for people of color. In the Church we began to address those changes in a significant way with the increasing inclusion of women in the governance of the Church and with the growing (but not yet perfected) effort to break down the power of racism in our lives and in our society.

  • As a Church we have set ourselves on a course to grow as a community of believers no longer separated by our prejudices, origins or social status. Nothing, we have learned, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. At the same time we have determined to hold one another accountable in forms of church governance that increasingly attend to those who have previously been excluded.

  • To this end we have subjected ourselves as a Church to the criticisms and support of people of the churches of the Anglican Communion, those of the wider Ecumenical community of which the Anglican Communion is a particular example, and of Christians everywhere. We have valued both criticism and support as part of the companionship we have with all communities of Christians.

The Challenge to our Vocation as a Church:

Yet we find now that in many respects the wider instruments of the Anglican Communion, and in particular the body of ecclesiastical personages called the Primates and Moderators, have challenged our vocation – a vocation to be a church increasingly inclusive of all the peoples of the jurisdictions and areas in which we are present, contextually responsible to the concerns as understood locally, and to the land itself, and open to God’s promise in Jesus Christ that all has been made new.

Such a charge requires that we list the efforts to impose oppressive restrictions on our life as a Christian community, impositions that minorities in our own Church in concert with members of other churches in the Anglican family have attempted to effect:

· The Episcopal Church has been subjected to the widest sort of criticism in the Windsor Report and has made great efforts to address the concerns raised. We have not been in any way encouraged by the Archbishop or the Primates; rather they have lifted the Windsor Report from its status as a critique and a set of recommendations to that of a litmus test of loyalty to an emerging power, an international church with the structures of a Patriarchy.

· The Episcopal Church has been charged in the Windsor Report with breaking the bonds of affection that holds the Anglican Communion together. This is stated as a matter of the immediate past, occasioned by the ordination of a partnered gay person as bishop. Yet those bonds were broken in many cases by others much earlier, and for our decision to ordain women, a decision taken as a matter of moral urgency in our own church.

· The Episcopal Church has been accused of having acted without prior consultation in the ordination of women, in the ordination of gay and lesbian persons, in the blessing of same sex partnerships and in the ordination of gay and lesbian persons in such committed relationships. There is considerable evidence that nothing we have done has been without open discussion both among ourselves and with Anglicans elsewhere. What has become apparent is that the accusation is that we acted without permission, and the assumption has been made that we ought to have sought such permission.

· The Episcopal Church is accused from within by a minority of its own members of having “left” or “walked away” from the Anglican Communion. Those voices have been joined by voices from other parts of the Communion. Yet we have been faithful members of this fellowship. We have participated fully in its life. We have been engaged in mission efforts throughout the world, honoring the concerns and needs of the peoples among whom we have served, and in cooperation with other mission agencies and churches. We have made our contributions to the working groups of the Communion. We have supported greater communications among the churches of the Global South. We have supported the rapid indigenization of ministries throughout the world. We have supported the central budget of the Communion. The Episcopal Church has not walked away or left the Anglican Communion. We have dared to consider the Windsor Report and the statements of the Primates as matters for our deepest consideration and as the basis for engagement, rather than as mandates requiring our acquiescence.

· The Episcopal Church has considered its presence and engagement in the life of the Anglican Communion to be an expression of its vocation in the world. But we have in these past several years been increasingly shunned –

· We have been asked to voluntarily withdraw our representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council;

· Several Provinces have declared that they are no longer in communion with this church and they have undertaken alternative or parallel church development in the jurisdiction of this Province, this without regard to the Windsor Report, several Lambeth resolutions or ancient canon.

· Our former Presiding Bishop has been shunned by other Primates, without objection from friends or host;

· Our Presiding Bishop has been told by at least one other Primate that he will not sit at table with her, and there has been no objection from friends or host;

· The Archbishop of Canterbury has consistently engaged the organized minority in the Episcopal Church in ways that encourage their refusal to comply with the decisions of this church, and has done nothing to moderate their actions;

· The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed committees and commissions whose work is described as advisory and then applied that advice in ways that appear directive and advance interference in the life of a Church not his own;

· The Archbishop of Canterbury has convened a Panel of Reference that has interjected its opinions regarding The Episcopal Church and its intention to be fully inclusive of women. He has raised no objection to the recommendation of the Panel that The Episcopal Church be asked to assure that “theological views on the ordination or consecration of women should not be a ground on which consent might be withheld by the Province/House of Bishops.” (Panel of Reference report on Fort Worth, 17b)

· He has raised no objection to the recommendation that “the Archbishop of Canterbury continue discussions with the Diocese of Fort Worth and with the Episcopal Church with the aim of securing the place of Fort Worth in the Communion.” (17d) This in total disregard of the fact that the Diocese of Fort Worth already has a place in the Communion by way of its inclusion in The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church as a Faithful Community.

We have not been wanting in attentions to those who are our critics, but we cannot continue further in acquiesce.

The Episcopal Church cannot claim to be without fault in these matters, and indeed it has stated again and again, and particularly at the 2006 General Convention, its willingness to both hear and heed the call that it be receptive of the godly advice of the wider fellowship of the Anglican Communion. It has expressed its regret for having contributed to strains in the bonds of affection that holds the Anglican Communion together as a fellowship.

But we cannot be subject to interference by others in the determination of the application of our own canons or to the disrespect to jurisdictions of this church or the officers of its administration.

We are a church that ordains women, and we have elected a woman as Presiding Bishop, Primate and Chief Pastor. While there may have been in this matter accommodation for the sensibilities of particular bishops or dioceses that accommodation is drawing to a close. Our Presiding Bishop is the Presiding Bishop for this church as a whole. Those who have problems with her gender will have to be patient (for no bishop serves forever) or leave.

We elect our bishops and their election is subject to consent by elected lay and ordained representatives of dioceses (remembering that bishops too are elected leaders). We pray that these representatives are guided by the Holy Spirit. It is not a matter for other Churches to determine if we are right or wrong in so electing. We are willing to receive recommendations regarding restrictions on the matter of consents, but we cannot have them mandated from afar.

We are in the process of working through the context in which we will affirm and bless gay and lesbian partnerships. We are not of one mind in the matter. But we are determined that God is working a purpose out in our struggles as a church to be as open to God’s blessings as God is open to blessing.

In all this we believe we are a faithful Christian community, a Church among the people we have been called to serve, and in all essentials a body of believers committed to the catholic and reformed faith we have received.

The restrictive and punitive efforts of the various “instruments,” commissions and committees of the Anglican Communion are contrary to our understanding of our vocation as a Church and may indeed make our continued engagement with Anglican Communion structures as they now stand increasingly difficult, if not impossible. The emergence of instruments for a magisterium and a patriarchy in the Anglican Communion are contrary to our understandings of our vocation and of union in its “truest and deepest” sense.

It is our intention to continue to be in communion with as many of the churches of the Anglican Communion as will have us. We will seek other companions not of this flock as well.

We will not confuse that continued fellowship with the possibility of a break in relations with one or the other of the various bodies that constitute the structures of the Anglican Communion – vis: the Primates Meeting, The Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

We believe there is no need for any of the breaks in the bonds of affection that tie us together as a fellowship. These bonds are of fellowship, not of some exercising lordship over others. We have only one Lord, Jesus Christ, all others are with us companions on the Way.

The desire by some in the Communion to be an ecclesial kingdom like other kingdoms – that is to say to become a patriarchal international church – is misplaced. We desire neither Rome nor Geneva – neither an international hierarchy nor a state / city church. There is no need for an Anglican equivalent to the Patriarch of Constantinople or Rome. We are protestant, catholic, and free.

We will seek companions in Christ where they may be found, and in all things we will seek companionship with Christ who has found us.

As for those who wish to disenfranchise or shun us, “we must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation,” and hold them, as we hold the rest of the Christian churches of the world, in our prayers and with the hope of more gracious times when God will grant us greater, deeper and truer union.

39 comments:

  1. Amen.

    What a wonderful summary of our position.

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  2. Bill Carroll11/1/07 10:48 PM

    Amen and amen, Mark.

    The Anglican Communion as we have known it will not survive. The group that ultimately lays claim to the name may have little to do with the best in historic Anglican thought and practice.

    Anglicanism will survive, however, in the sense that some Christians share a complex and not always lovely history and in the sense that people remain rooted in comprehensiveness, sacramentality, and the Books of Common Prayer.

    May we ever be catholic, protestant, and free. And may we continue to forge bonds of affection with all people.

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  3. Thank you, Mark. Very well done.

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  4. Not ready to move on - but surely my bonds of affection have been strained near breaking.

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  5. We well-reasoned statement that expresses the views of the majority of Episcopalians. ++Rowan Cantuar has broken the china in the store by pandering to the bullies.

    John Henry

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  6. Thank you. There is nothing more to say other than may God show us the way forward. It is time to end the strife and return to our mission of reconciling people to God and each other in Christ.

    "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

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  7. Excellent. I hope that someone close to the powers that be print this out and put it under their nose (anyone able to get a copy of this to the PB?)

    We will need to prepare to support the moderates in England and parts of Australia and other countries who will be chased from their parishes once we go our sep. ways. We will need structures in place to provide them with a living and a place to meet and worship. We can be assured that the Akinolas and Rowans will be moving fast to put boots on the ground in the US to care for those who will follow their path (and rightly so). We will need to do the same in places like England and the rest of the world. As Americans we tend to forget our allies when we clear out of a battle zone. In England and these other places we will need to put a structure (and cash behind it) to support those who stand for a full inclusion of all people in the life and ministry of the church.

    and this will perhaps be a better use of our support than giving it to the ACC and other so-called instruments of "unity"

    Also, we need to begin laying the talking points for the split.

    1. we will not cease to be Anglican. There are plenty of other denominations from the same tradition who are not united. We will continue to be the Historic and Traditional Anglican Church in America. We need to lay this in place or the folks who are after our church will use this scare the average pew member into leaving and following them. We have to prepare the ground with the right arguments already out there - learn from the way that progressives ignored this stuff in politics until recently.

    2. We have to have some big new unions with the Lutherans and others in place. Other progressive mainstream churches are facing the same issues. If the progressives Methodists are looking for a home we will be there waiting. This needs to get in place soon.

    3. The Presiding Bishop needs to get a top notch marketing house on board yesterday. We need an exciting marketing package. Please ignore all of the previous efforts. They were lame. No gimmicks house, either. Look for the real pros, like Burnett in Chicago, etc.

    Excellent article.

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  8. From an English perspective, I agree with all of the above - but just want to offer one caveat. Please, American Episcopalians, don't leave the Communion prematurely. I guess I'm asking you to stay until - as may happen - the conservatives actually kick you out.

    I realise this is a great deal to ask of you. It's essential that the name of Anglicanism / Episcopalianism is retained by the pro-unity moderates. Don't allow the fundamentalists to claim the term "Anglican". It needs to be clear to history who is responsible for our separation.

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  9. Hear! Hear!
    Hard to believe that we need to issue another Declaration of Independence.

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  10. Dear Father Harris, I appreciate the pain expressed so well in your letter and pray God's healing power for all those who share in that pain. But I feel your missive is
    filled with self-serving sophistry. It presents a false reality and claims a moral high ground that does not exist.

    By way of analogy, I think the best comparison is one that,I, as one from the Gulf South, have in my cultural history: the grand speeches of my predecessors who decried federal intervention in the local politics that prevented African Americans from exercising their full rights to citizenship. "We are autonomous!" they claimed in righteous indignation, insisting that no one had a right to obstruct them in their vocation as segregationists. So, too, responded the Afrikaners in South Africa as the world, and particularly the Church, rejected their heresy of apartheid.

    To present the reality that you have conveniently ignored, I have taken the liberty of sharing a few key excerpts from a paper I recently wrote. I have eliminated the footnotes to simplify reading. I also apologize for its length, but I believe your letter deserves a substantial response. I also posted this at Stand Firm, where I encountered your letter.

    In 1963, Anglican clergy and laity from all over the world met in Toronto as part of the landmark meeting of the Third Anglican Congress. It was a time of great hope for the Anglican Communion. Kennedy reigned in Camelot, the remaining colonies of the former British Empire were well on their way to nationhood, the Second Vatican Council was in session, and the time seemed ripe to embrace a new vision for the Anglican Communion: “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ” (MRI). MRI envisioned a future in which a radical ecclesiology would replace colonial relationships rooted in Western hegemony. As Ian Douglas notes, MRI celebrated the commitment of constituent members of the communion to “interdependence, mutual responsibility,” and to relations characterized by “equality and partnership between all Anglicans.

    We must be clear that this vision is one to which ECUSA committed itself. This is not a new magisterium foisted upon an innocent American church. This is the answer the global communion gave over forty years ago when it asked itself the question, “what does it mean to be the church in a post-colonial world?” The bonds of affection forged at that congress 43 years ago are the bonds that ECUSA has been charged with ripping asunder.

    In the unanimous opinion of The Windsor Report’s authors, ECUSA denied the bonds of communion with its refusal to hear and heed the voices of its fellow Communion partners with respect to the consecration of Bishop Eugene Robinson. The history of Communion efforts to dissuade ECUSA from that action (and to repent of it once taken) reveals the depth of that intransigence.

    1. At Lambeth 1998, delegates expressed the mind of the Communion on matters of sexuality with over 90% approving Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which “reaffirmed the universal teaching of the church on matters of sexuality.”
    2. The primates meeting in Oporto in 2000 repeated this reaffirmation.
    3. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in September 2002 called on “dioceses and individual bishops not to undertake unilateral actions” in matters of sexuality.
    4. The primates meeting in Brazil in May 2003 repeated this reaffirmation.
    5. Robinson was elected in New Hampshire within 120 days of General Convention 2003 (GenCon03), requiring by canon that his election be ratified at GenCon03.
    6. The Archbishop of Canterbury issued ‘Letter to Anglican primates, July 23, 2003 repeating the ACC plea
    7. GenCon03 heard a formal plea not to ratify Robinson on behalf of the primates by Archbishop Josiah of Kaduna
    8. An emergency primates meeting in October 2003 pled that ECUSA refrain from consecrating Robinson
    9. ECUSA Presiding Bishop, who signed the emergency primates meeting report just weeks before, led the consescration of Robinson on November 2, 2003
    10. Lambeth Commission On Communion issued TWR October 2004 calling on ECUSA to repent of her actions
    11. The primates meeting at Dromantine 2005 accepted TWR and repeated its call for ECUSA to repent of her actions
    12. The ACC, meeting at Nottingham in June 2005, accepted TWR and repeated its call for ECUSA to repent of her actions
    13. ECUSA, at General Convention 2006 (GenCon06) refused ‘to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation’

    This history of ECUSA’s resistance to the pleas of those with whom she is pledged to be in communion is remarkable. As Bishop NT Wright told the General Synod of the Church of England, “Never before in the Anglican Communion has there been a moment when, after each of the four so-called Instruments of Unity have advised against a particular action, a Province or a Diocese has gone ahead with it unilaterally.” The reactions of the primates to GenCon06 similarly reflect the reality of broken bonds of affection. Said Southern Cone Archbishop Greg Venables, “At General Convention in the United States in 2006, the decisions made and the actions taken have made it perfectly clear that ECUSA is not willing to comply with the minimal requests of the Windsor Report.” The Kigali Communiqué of the Global South primates meeting echoes this acknowledgement of ECUSA’s rejection, and also observes “that a number of the resolutions adopted by the Convention were actually contrary to the Windsor Report.” Moreover, the Global South primates noted with regret that, in addition to this rejection, ECUSA “perversely” elected as Presiding Bishop one who “holds to a position on human sexuality – not to mention other controversial views – in direct contradiction of Lambeth 1.10 and the historic teaching of the Church.” This history of seeing the counsel of the world merely as “interesting ‘suggestions’” is hardly the behavior of one committed to discernment in communion.

    Philip Turner explicates ECUSA’s intransigence by pointing to the “notion that Episcopal office is to be used as a “prophetic” lever to pry people loose from the encrusted positions of the past, a notion whose origin he traces to the 1966 Pike Affair. Pike told Look Magazine that Trinitarian doctrine “is...not essential to the Christian faith.” A heresy trial was rejected, and Pike was cast as a martyr by the emerging ECUSA majority, who see the pursuit of social justice in the secular world as “more important” than “defend[ing] the positions of the past, which is a past that is altered by each new discovery of truth.” Twenty-three years later, the bishops of New York and Washington, D.C. began ordaining non-celibate homosexuals to the priesthood. Heresy charges against the bishop of Newark, Walter Righter, were dismissed in 1990 on the grounds that the ordinations were in keeping with ‘core doctrine’ because of the “new learning” that homosexuality is a ‘justice issue’ that must be advanced by prophetic action. Thus, for many in ECUSA, resisting the counsel of the world is justified based on the notion of the Episcopal office as the locus of prophetic action.

    Though well-intended, these attitudes of resistance are profoundly destructive. ECUSA attitudes towards other provinces are distinguishable in their charity and intent, but not in their concrete effect. The common effect is a refusal to be subject to the other, particularly in a spirit of mutual discernment on Windsor’s presenting issue of homoeroticism. The reasons may differ, but their consequences do not. The effect is the perpetuation of unilateral, non-dialogical, non-permeable power relations between North and South.

    No matter how benevolent their face, ongoing de facto segregations of God’s people “are actual perpetrations of subtle aggression, injustice, and non-violent violence which undermine [the] radical [post-colonial] ecclesiology” envisioned by the 1963 Anglican Congress; “racially correlated lived-inequalities are actual violence.” To borrow from Rowan Williams, the Episcopal Church’s claim to a prophetic vision “is a nonsense (and worse)” to the extent that ‘non-violent violence’ is “built into its own life and structures.” In other words, ECUSA’s claim to the role of social prophet at the same time as it is denying the overwhelming voice of the global communion is as absurd as George Wallace’s similar claim as he sought to stand against the “army” of Martin Luther King.

    It should not surprise us that the good ship Ecclesia Episcopae , having lost her way in the Enlightenment storm, is about to splinter on the rocks. When this story is told to those who follow, lest they founder in future storms in the same way, it will be a story about how ECUSA lost her compass. Seeking truth, she sailed without her calibrated compass right into secular shoals, and was lost. Now, the ships who sail under the flag of Ecclesia Anglicana must send lifeboats to all survivors.

    Without our true compass we founder. And our compass is communion. As John Howard Yoder reminds us, “Because God the Spirit speaks in the meeting, conversation is the setting for truth-finding.” But ECUSA has shutdown the conversation and declared herself a lonely prophet. This is her error. For shutting down conversation is the power tactic of Caesars and paternalists. Words of prophecy become empty nonsense when spoken by bishops of the wealthiest nation on earth persisting in flagrant disregard of the counsel from their sisters and brothers of the former colonized lands. To deny their concerted voice about the common life, like my own white grandparents suppressing the voices of African-Americans with literacy tests and poll taxes, is to claim a neo-colonial privileged voice that reserves for itself the finest pews in the church while sending the slaves to the balcony. In so doing, ECUSA perpetuates non-violent violence, and thereby tears her prophetic utterance from its roots in the common life which distinguishes the people of God, “a community which trusts God and itself enough to live in honesty and acceptance.

    And thus ECUSA must be disciplined. Yet her place in the meeting must be protected from the angry mobs who would deny her voice, for the hope remains that she will return in penitence to prophesy in the place where prophecy finds it depth and authenticity, the shared life of forgivenness where truth is found.

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  11. Thank you, Mark. You have articulated the best of what many of the best in our church have been struggling to say -- and you have done so with power, grace and clarity. I have longed so see something like this.
    Tom Woodward

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  12. Good article. I really do sympathize, but I'm not quite there yet. Ever since the ABC's statements this summer, I've been getting closer. But, today's statement from the AB of S. Africa gives me some hope that it is not quite yet time to give up the fight.

    UTS

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  13. Thanks to all of you for your comments. Craig David Uffman's response is a reminder that the events of the past few years are many and the interpretation of them varied. I particularly liked CDU's reference to the MRI document.

    I wrote a paper on MRI as an unfulfilled promise for the Standing Commission on World Mission. It was incorporated in our report to the General Convention 2006. My sense is that MRI did not finally take hold and that we are suffering the consequences. But MRI was not about a greater hierarchy, but about mutuality and interdependence in the body of Christ. It was about mission.

    CDU's read of the events of 2003 and beyond are that The Episcopal Church did not adequately respond to the calls that it repent of its actions. The judgment that we did not do so is a contributing factor to the break / stretch in communion that we are experiencing, but I would submit that is the earlier unfinished business concerning the inclusion of women in ordained ministry, and beyond that the unfinished business of calvanism regarding the bible that is the source of the break. Bishop Robinson is only the last in the long series of sins for which our critics are demanding repentance. Interestingly, the demand for our repentance is billed as the requirement for continued engagement with the Communion, not a beginning place for any reassessment of everyone's stance on the matters.

    Thanks to Craig David Uffman for his contribution. Thanks to all of you for your comments.

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  14. Couldn't have said it any better myself. I'll be linking to your post as we speak.

    Grace and peace.

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  15. Mark, I didn't know whether that last 'thank you' was a signal that the time to comment was over and we should move on. Having never been overly compliant I shall just add a thought or too nonetheless.

    I thought the sentiments expressed here in were quite appropriate given the circumstances - especially given the dreadful way your Presiding Bishop has been treated by some detractors around the world and ignored and patronized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The whole issue of 'engaging with the people of America' as a church with its own vocation not under the thumb of foreigners needs to be said and will need to be reiterated again. There was, however, a note of finality about the whole thing that disturbed me. No - I'm not an American - just a bog standard middle of the road Canadian presently working with the Scottish Episcopal Church (the other Episcopal Church - lighter, tastes less filling) and I had brought up my deck chair, a bag of crisps and some Pimms and Lemonade in a jug awaiting the start of the battle and what do I see? A well reasoned voice already writing the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Uh - Mark - it's early days yet. Some conflict is redemptive - true, it's being handled rather badly now - true an unspeakable group of bad haircuts - Episcopal Tokyo Roses and Lords Haw Haw - are claiming victory with respect to TEC's exclusion from the Anglican Communion. But we all know that we're going to be facing this ourselves some day. C'mon Mark - you folks joined two world wars late. Now you're in the thick of things before the rest of us and you want to play the isolationist card? Save your treaties for the end of the day.

    RR

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  16. JP -- Yes indeed. It's important to stick it out, and I still hope we can find our way to communal unity. If I can't have that without disdaining people, though, I want the folks who are focused on exclusion to be the ones who do the excluding.

    Interdependence and mutual responsibility do not equate to obedience or hierarchical authority.

    I am willing to bend over backward to try to engage in real reflection with people I disagree with, and to work through the points of our disagreements patiently; I am even willing to wait quite a while for people to be willing to talk to me at all. But if bending over backward becomes, well, back-breaking -- if the efforts are not reciprocal, and the people I want to be in conversation with want only to dictate to me what I must think or do or say to be worthy to enter into dialogue -- I have to choose to stop.

    I'm afraid that that's what we're seeing now. I hope it's not -- I would really like to see actual conversation on issues not only of sexuality, gender, and spirituality but of power and authority as well. I'd like us to find new ways to see each other, to see and love like Christ.

    So I will stay in this conversation as long as it can continue; I won't be the one to turn away. But I also will not abandon God's call to me, and I will continue to follow it as best as I can discern it. I will have faith that God is speaking to those I disagree with, and working in their lives as in mine; but I cannot go against the experience of my own life and my own call. If that means that others leave me, I will grieve, and go on with my work to the best of my ability.

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  17. Thank you, Mark, for this wonderful summary, is it too strong to call it a manifesto?

    I lived in the Deep South during the social changes of the '60's and in the Diocese of Virginia during TEC's changing attitudes toward women in the '70's, so I am able to see in CDU's long comment the challenge he faces reconciling his Christian witness to the changing culture in America. But criticizing TEC's "refusal to be subject to" the pleas of other provinces by consenting to Bp. Robinson's election is a two-edged sword. It is the so-called orthodox primates and bishops who are now refusing to be subject to the canons and constitution of TEC and to its new PB. If it is destructive for TEC to resist the entreaties of others who do not understand or share our vision of our vocation, is it any less destructive for Anglican leaders to say to gays and lesbians, "we have no need of you?" How is this rebellion not destructive of the Church's mission?

    There is, IMHO, a profound difference between "unilateral decisions" and "autonomous" ones. TEC is autonomous and democratic, guided, we believe, by the Holy Spirit in ways that can seem unsettling, even destructive, of our comfort zones. For women some thirty-five years ago and gays in this decade, isn't it at least possible that the Spirit is once again speaking "out of the box" that we thought we'd carefully defined to hold Him?

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  18. Well said, Mark. I fear that CDU is fairly describing the state of things from his perspective; the one that assumes a legislative or at the very least doctrinal teaching authority for Lambeth: the very thing Lambeth rejected for itself at its foundation; and, in truth, the source of all our woes at present. Anglicanism appears since 1998 to be going the way of Israel when she wanted to have a king like all of the other nations. I remain optimistic that a remnant will remain, and it may well be that TEC is at the heart of it.

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  19. I said for some time that a schism (probably along the lines of the 18 Global South primates who refused to receive communion with Presiding Bishop Griswold at Dromantine) seems inevitable, given that they will never accept the basic assumption of the Windsor Report that it is possible that the full acceptance of gays & lesbians may occur in the future (if not yet). The purpose of the WR was to find the common ground & the reactions to it indicate that the amount of common ground is, sadly, simply inadequate.

    I also believe that there is some post-colonialism payback being played out here that probably has to run its course.

    As to the suggestion that TEC did not respond to the WR -- that is obviously not true -- it is just not the response that certain people wanted. Those bishops who have refused to engage in dialogue with the LBGTQ community (preferring to imprison them instead), engaged on boundary crossing & rejected the main contention of the WR (that we are in a transitional period when we have to find out how to achieve the highest degree of communion possible) are the ones who have refused to deal with the WR (while pretending to be its defenders).

    Should the fundamentalists & homophobes succeed in taking over the WWAC, "Anglicanism" will continue to survive in The Episcopal Church & we will not be alone.

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  20. I fully concur with Fr. Tobias Haller's words of reason. Historically, Lambeth Conference resolutions have always been advisory, not mandatory. Now Lambeth Resolution I.10 is the LAW of the Communion. The Windsor Report was to generate discussion about an Anglican covenant. For certain primates and metropolitans the WR is the LAW, while they are at liberty to ignore its recommendations averse to episcopal border-crossings. ++Rowan Cantuar has, sadly, always followed the trend, currying favor withg those "cherry pickers" who turn those portions of the Lambeth Resolution I.10 and the WR, which suit their purposes, into LAW.

    John Henry

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  21. I am a diabetic. (Yes, this is on topic, please give me a few lines.) I have opportunities, every day, to simply die. All I have to do is skip the insulin, and eat the fudge, or eat nothing and take the insulin. Some days, many days, as I deal with a bi-polar out of control son, 47 weeks a year on the road, arthritus pain, and a host of minor issues, I am so tired. I could give up so easily. Just another piece of pie, a couple glasses of beer and no pain from another needle. I get so tired of fighting.

    And yet, never, not once have I considered that approach. I can understand why so many diabetics, men in particullar, do, but not me. I will go out kicking death in the teeth, screaming at the devil and fighting for every breath.

    I think we need to confront evil. When you name the horrible sin against hospitality that was Dr. William's conduct at the last "primate's meeting" and the amazing will to continue that sin in the next, we need to say, "evil." When he acts as he did, Dr. Williams shows us the true sin of Soddam.

    We need to name evil, refuse its demands and refuse it the victory of our withdrawl. We need to say, this is wrong, this is evil, but we are still here, willing to sit at the table, discus, pray, even repent where we have erred.

    We should plan for the ultimate act of sin against the Spirit, Dr. Akinola will demand we be excluded and Dr. Williams will ignore the laws of hospitality. Dr. Akinola errs, Dr. Williams sins, horribly. But, excluded we will be.

    So, yes, we must begin to establish what we will take of our heritage and never relinquish. We need to seek out alternate ways of fellowship with those who will join us in resisting sin against the Spirit.

    But we must also remember whom it is who leads us. As He named evil in the temple, so should we. As He refused to be moved to violence in the Garden so should we. As He survived the worst the evil could do and proclaimed His open invitation and faithfulness on the journey to the witnesses, so must we.

    I am so tired. The church subjected to insult, dishonesty, and horrible violations of hospitality, is so tired. But we must walk the walk, and we must be willing to take the blows. If we are to be faithful to our calling as you brilliantly articulated it, that is the road before us.

    God help us all!

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  22. From Terry Sparks - used by permission
    Maybe I'm missing something here. I don't know a lot about high finance and such, and I've forgotten what the original proposal was. Maybe withholding money makes sense, maybe it doesn't. But I shudder at the "twisted", "evil", "wicked" parts, and "[not pretending] that we could be like Jesus." I think it's better for our collective souls if we try to look at public, strategic actions in terms of what they can do to build up God's inclusive kingdom.

    I get angry, too, and I despair. I believe I've even been known to call ++Akinola "evil" in private conversation. I've often felt that, ironically, all this turmoil over gay people in the church is driving LGBTQ people farther away from the church rather than drawing more of them into fellowship with us, and I've sometimes felt like dropping out of the church myself, just to avoid the grief of hearing all this agonizing and drama. It's all pretty icky, like my family when I came out a thousand years ago.

    Absolutely I agree that we cannot back down from our demands for justice or take any "blame" for what's going on. But I believe we're called to behave in a way that would lift up Christ and say to gay people everywhere, "here's how we make a spiritual home for you, and now, or after the dust clears, please come and join us in showing the world the power of being a loving faith community."

    Here's a little quote from The Witness just 7 months ago about a sermon by +Gene (remember him?) at General Convention:

    "Once again, let us return to the stories of the first century Church and its witness, which ultimately brings us here as the Church of the 21st century. Look at what they did. They didn't denigrate their enemies, they didn't doubt that their enemies were children of God. Rather, they spoke of God's love for themselves and what Jesus Christ had done in their own lives, breaking loose the bondage of sin and death which keeps us all from the abundant life promised by the Savior. By word and example, they proclaimed what God had done in their lives, and then let the Spirit do the rest."

    Robinson continued this line of thinking in a coda to his sermon, in which he answered for the congregation the questions he has repeatedly been asked about his experiences of the last triennium: " 'How do you do what you do? How do you seem calm and loving, even when insults are coming your way, even when Holy Scripture is being flung in your face like mud?' " The answer he shared was to quote extensively from John Fortunato's 1982 book Embracing the Exile, in which the gay Episcopalian author described a vision he'd had in which God had talked with him about loving his persecutors. Despite our enemies' ridicule, scorn, and even torment, God tells Fortunato to "LOVE THEM ANYWAY [emphasis added]." The vision ends with God enveloping Fortunato in "two strong, motherly arms" and "We wept. For joy." Much of the congregation did the same; there were few dry eyes as the sermon drew to a close.

    And here's a useful memory from Matthew 5:

    43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

    44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    So hard to live up to! But where are we if we don't try?

    Thanks, and may God's love and grace be with us all.

    Terry Sparks

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  23. A pertinent cartoon from colonial Boston. http://historyproject.ucdavis.edu/khapp.php?SlideNum=1253

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  24. Mark,
    This is exceptionally well-done and in the style and language of Mr. Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. It is past the time that we must recapture our ecclesial independence in the spirit of our founders. The presumptive reaches for dominance by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other "Instruments of Unity," or whatever they call them, must be resisted. How would you effect this separation in a formal way? I think it is time to do this in a formal way.
    Phillip Cato

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  25. The orthodox in the Anglican Communion are not asking TEC to bend to a "supposed magisterium" of other churches.

    They are calling TEC to submit to the magisterium of Scripture, the Creeds and the Fathers.

    As the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral says (which Canon Harris himself claims to respect), TEC is (or, rather, was) commited to:
    ---
    (a) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
    (b) The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
    ---

    Yet TEC's leaders -- in preaching, in action, in Convention -- have rejected these basic tenents of Scriptural morality, Creedal belief, and Christian theology.


    So now, when member churches and primates of the Anglican Communion repeatedly, and in sundry ways, call TEC to repent and return to this basic Scriptural and Creedal Christianity, they are derided by the likes of Canon Harris as asserting a "supposed magisterium" and "teaching and decrees that have no authority."

    No, dear friends, not so. The primates' call is not to a novel magisterium of the Anglican Communion, but to the ancient magisterium of Scripture and Tradition. Their call is not to vacuous statements of no authority, but to the divine authority of Scriptural teaching and apostolic decrees.

    And as TEC choses to ignore this call and to go its own way, it does so by rejecting not a novel and arbitrary Anglican Communion, but by rejecting the ancient and immutable teachings of our Lord and His Church... goes its own way not by faithfully resisting foreign authorities imposed upon it from without, but by faithlessly rejecting the divine Authority revealed to us from above.


    Yes, it seems that TEC has indeed chosen a new vocation for itself over the last 40 years -- one that abandons the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral for secular humanism; which abandons Scripture and Tradition for infinitely mutable personal "Experience"; which abandons the authority of God and the love of Christ for the empty rhetoric of human speculation and sin.

    A new vocation which abandons the Anglican communion, breaking those living bonds of affection forged in unity with our Lord and His words ("if ye love Me, keep my commandments") for the sake of its affections for the deadly bonds of false teaching, of human sinfulness and of spiritual destruction.

    So, yes, since this is the new post-Christian vocation of TEC, then truly time has come to "move on". If TEC will only belittle and mock the voices of her Anglican brethren who call her back from her infidelity to our Lord and Savoir, then yes, the time has come for TEC to "move on."


    Because when you pipe your apostasy to them, the faithful primates will not dance. And when you laugh over your immorality to them, they will not rejoice. For it is better that TEC should cut itself off from the Church to "move on" than that the whole body be cast into hell.


    I can only pray that those faithful Christians still in TEC shall not "move on" from our Lord with it, but instead turn about -- con-vertere -- and return to Him.

    Let those who are now in the Babylon of TEC, Repent! For our Lord is merciful and gracious, and full of compassion. But Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, the habitation of devils, who hast made all nations drink of her fornication, shall suffer the fierceness of His wrath, and be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.


    Faithfully,
    LP

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  26. Yet TEC's leaders -- in preaching, in action, in Convention -- have rejected these basic tenents of Scriptural morality, Creedal belief, and Christian theology.

    You would make your brothers and sisters LIARS, LP.

    Tremble, that you would DARE to claim such Divine Omniscience!

    [Mark: an outstanding contribution. Thank you!]

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  27. obadiahslope14/1/07 6:44 AM

    I suspect Mark gets it exactly right when he says "My sense is that MRI did not finally take hold and that we are suffering the consequences. But MRI was not about a greater hierarchy, but about mutuality and interdependence in the body of Christ. It was about mission."
    My feeling is that if ECUSA had seized the opportunity to support MRI with its human, theological and financial resources as a partner to the third world provinces, we might see a very different dynamic in the communion today. From the progressive point of view it might be viewed as a wasted opportunity by TEC.
    As I view this from an evangelical part of the communion, and very consious of how your resources would dwarf ours, I am tempted to be relieved that you did not seize this opportunity, tempered by a regret that what are now known as the MDGs were not advanced in years past.

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  28. Tim McMichael14/1/07 9:33 AM

    It is interesting to see all the cool aid drinkers. We need to determine if we can find common ground with historic Christianity or (in the case of my congregation), decide to depart in peace and let the Episcopal Church sink.

    Mark my words, the Episcopal Church that has declined year after year as it has moved farther away from the faith. Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) nationally is a little over 700,000 now - several dioceses have had drops of over 20% in less than a decade. Some are down close to 25%. The Episcopal Church is on a glide path with oblivion.

    Change your ways, embrace the biblical ways. Turn from the evil of homosexuality, self importance and pride, suing people that oppose you, and persecuting those who are faithful. Pick up the cross and follow the savior. If you don’t you will die the second death.

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  29. Jeez, that last contribution by LP makes my blood run cold! I think of what the church of my childhood looked like and felt like - unchanged since the post war era. I think of the liturgical movement - liturgies striving to speak truth to a new generation - the dedication of all those people of my grandparents' generation (largely disapproved of by my grandparents) who departed in spirit from the spirit of their age in order to work across lines of colour and class and culture. The 'parish eucharist' - those terribly folk liturgies of the sixties and early seventies which had their place even though they are laughable by today's standards. All that work - all that creativity - all that faith yearning to speak and preach Christ to culture and where do we end up? Listening to some fellow prattling on about "Babylon the mother of harlots!" Up here in Scotland it's only the very ancient membership of the Wee Frees who use language like that and yet there seems to be no end of conservative blog-commentators who'd ape them word for word.

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  30. The Episcopal Church in 2007 reminds me of Democrats in Congress in 2003, facing George W. Bush's demand for war: naive, acquiescent and helpless to prevent the great evil to come.

    Jefferts-Schori needs to stand up against Akinola and Williams his appeaser. That doesn't mean walking away, but holding her ground and claiming it in the Name of Jesus Christ.

    Amen to Preludium.

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  31. Um, Tim McM, this morning I (and every other Episcopalian) drank the Blood of Christ, not Kool Aid.

    Seriously, do you think your kind of hyberbolic insult is going to PERSUADE those of us who believe that TEC is embracing the biblical way, and following the Savior?

    Lord have mercy!

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  32. Did you read Bp Paul Marshall's letter on this subject? It was posted in HOBD today (Sunday).

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  33. First of all, membership in my parish is increasing.

    As an Episcopalian, I am saddened by the decision of some Episcopal parishes in Virginia to leave the church. I am also incredulous. The members of Truro and Falls Church have now declared that belonging to a church that permits gays and lesbians to become bishops is too great a tax on their conscience, while belonging to a church that believes gay people should not be seen eating together in public is not.

    I find it ironic that Bishop Gene Robinson, who was open about his sexuality, had to wear a bullet-proof vest to his own ordination while Ted Haggard, who lied to his family, friends, community and congregation about his sexuality for decades, became a trusted advisor to the president of the United States. It is difficult to see a death threat as anything other than hatred. And Ted Haggard and other religious leaders campaigned for legislation which would institutionalize that hatred in our Constitution. So where, as Episcopalians, are we to stand?

    Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church. I would expect this from Fred Phelps but not from an Anglican archbishop. I don't even know where to begin so I won't. The only "satanic attack" I see here is that of the persons, presumably Episcopalian, who threatened the life of Gene Robinson.

    If Gene Robinson had lied about his sexuality would he have been an acceptable bishop to the parishes in Virginia? Surely no one believes that Gene Robinson is the first gay Episcopalian (or Catholic) bishop, although he is the first to proclaim so publicly. He has publicly asked that we not blame our Episcopalian brothers and sisters for believing what we were all told as children about what the Bible says about homosexuality because he, like the rest of us, was taught the same things. But to continue to believe these things as adults is to deny that God gave us brains and intended that we use them.

    When Canon Minns states, referring to the Virginia churches, "A burden has been lifted," I find this disturbing. I do not consider my LGBT friends to be a "burden" in any sense of the word. Neither would I consider anyone born left-handed, with red hair, or seven feet tall to be a "burden." I would consider them all to be a part of the normal spectrum of humanity. Homosexuality also occurs in the animal kingdom. Are we to believe that non sentient creatures made homosexuality their conscious choice?

    In other writings of Canon Minns, he has asked for "honesty." Is it honestly the position that the current opposition towards full inclusion of LGBT people and the blessing of same sex unions all boils down to Leviticus? Should we look to the ancient middle east for knowledge and enlightenment on matters of human sexuality in the 21st century? Should we now look toward Africa?

    The Bible is the lens through which we Christians get a glimpse of God. Should we worship the lens? Or should we listen to what God is telling us through the Holy Spirit? Deep in our heart of hearts do we really believe that God is calling us to proclaim that LGBTs are less deserving of God's grace than heterosexuals? Or that they can receive God's grace, but only if they publicly deny who they are?

    BTW, the Bible was written by men. Men decided which books would be included in the Bible and which would not. The creeds speak of Jesus’ birth and death but say nothing about the message of his ministry. The Bible tells us that the sun revolves around the earth and that the moon is a source of light. Should we disbelieve what the Bible tells us about astronomy because we now know better but still continue to refer to the couple in the next pew as “an abomination” because of the authority of the unknown writers of Leviticus?

    I've read the discredited "research" on gays that James Dobson and others spout. On the other hand, I've known gay people my entire life and my experience tells me that sexual orientation, like skin color and country of origin, has nothing whatsoever to do with character. My wife and I have never felt that our marriage was "threatened" because we associate with gays. Nor have we ever been "recruited." Nor can we recall the day we signed up for heterosexuality.

    I don't know what the gay "life style" is. People who travel the country in Winnebagos or attend garage sales every weekend have a "lifestyle." LGBTs have a sexual orientation. Nor have I ever seen a copy of the "gay agenda." It seems obvious enough that LGBTs simply want (and deserve) all the civil rights and privileges that my wife and I enjoy.

    My reading of the Bible tells me that Jesus stood with, and stood up for, the marginalized. Some in TEC seem to be standing with President Bush, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps and the other marginalizers, for reasons unfathomable to me. Remarks by some of these people have caused real harm to people for whom I have tremendous admiration and respect as towering examples of faith and witness.

    The recent New York Times piece stated that some of the unhappy Episcopalians in Virginia see a "leftward drift" in the Episcopal Church, and have for many years. My response to that is "Thank God." How far right should we lean back? Should we bring back segregation? Slavery? Voting by male property owners only? There was a time before WW II when FDR pushed an anti lynching bill. He could not muster the political muscle to pass the bill. Do we want to go back to those times?

    Still today, sadly, there are Americans who are willing to murder gays simply because they are gay. In my mind, anyone who sees fit to deny the full humanity of LGBTs, and especially those who do so in public forums as religious leaders, help to create a political and social atmosphere in which this can happen more easily.

    As Katharine Jefferts Schori has said, “Our focus needs not to be so much on internal politics but on serving the world.”

    I choose to stand with Gene Robinson, not Ted Haggard, although Rev. Haggard would be welcome at my church at any time, as would any other person, whoever and wherever they are on their journey of faith.

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  34. I am inclined to think your position is a bit premature. I do appreciate your willingness to begin to examine the possibility of us having to go it alone. We may have to do that. If we do we will need to be able to find avenues through which our call to mission may be conducted. I do not remember seeing this discussed in your beautifully written paper or in any of the comments which have been submitted.
    I also am concerned that we not give CANA, AAC, and all the other pasteboard organizations created by Duncan, Iker, Anderson and the IRD the satisfaction of saying that we are the schismatics. Leaving is what they want us to do so that they may claim that we have admitted our guilt on the human sexuality and "orthodox" issues. Somehow we have to stay the course that we have embraced with the Holy Spirit so that our positions on the scriptures, authority, women, and homosexuality have been made for our culture and are not necessarily for all cultures at this time. If we withdraw, others may well perceive us as unwilling to stay the course on anything, and therefore, untrust worthy in a battle of any sort both at home and abroad.
    We are in the middle of a time of testing. Will we turn and run taking our money with us? Will we stand our ground and come to some mutual understanding? Will we get kicked out the the communion? If the latter happens it is over something that we value, and we will be respected by others. If we leave, the respect is lost. If we stay and come to some mutual talking points, we may then choose to stay or leave.
    Our PB deserves our support. She is a reconciler. Let us stay with her until we see whether her presence will ultimately be accepted at the table, or we will be forced to leave. We elected her knowing that her presence might well force the issues. It appears that she is ready to address the issues. I am ready to walk with her in any way that I am able especially to pray. Should she decide to recommend that we go it alone and raise that question with us, then we have a great document to bring to the table for discussion.

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  35. These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

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  36. Thanks for your nice post!

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