12/09/2008

Why having Bishops and Archbishops is really OK, sometimes:

There are times when being an Anglican and an Episcopalian is just right...including the business of having bishops. Here are a few who this week have done brave and courageous work:

Archbishop John Sentamu, Archbishop of York gets two stars: (i) He wrote a scathing critique of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and a plea that he step down or be pressured out of office and be made to stand trial for his offenses. (ii) He made a plea that the Church of England remain established and be radically and inclusively open to all in England as sanctuaries for faithful people of all religions. Ruth Gledhill gives an summary of his speech HERE.  It also helps that the Archbishop of York jumps out of planes, pitches tents in York Minster and cuts up his collar on TV.
Bishop John Chane spoke out clearly and distinctly on the matter of the formation of a new church called, "The Anglican Church of North America," that professes to be a "province in the making."  He wrote a letter to his clergy and cut through to the core. Read excerpts from his letter, and find the link to the full letter  HERE. He says, among other things, "The movers of the proposed new province embarrass themselves, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion by the self-serving media coverage they have worked so hard to achieve."
Bishop Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, has put the matter of same sex blessings on the line, having put forward rites for the blessing of same sex unions. See the report HERE, and Susan Russell's report HERE. 
Becoming clear about just what constitutes doing a rite right is helpful: it tells us what we are talking about and what we mean in such blessings. More importantly it finally puts in place, out in the open, a stance that is a statement of real support for gay and lesbian Christians. The decision by the Diocese to take this step will have considerable impact on the discussions of the matter leading up to the next General Convention and beyond. That, joined with the similar efforts in other dioceses, both in the US and Canada will provide models for such blessings from which we can learn much. 

Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana has announced his retirement following a ministry that has included massive pastoral, social and theological efforts to help people in Louisiana cope with and understand Hurricanes  Katrina and Gustav. The Living Church reports on this HERE.  (Photo from The Living Church website) ENS reports on it HERE.
He has given his all to the people and church and with an honesty that is typical of him he put it plainly, ""My struggle with health issues since Katrina has not been a secret. My PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] was exaggerated by the experience of the mandatory evacuation in Hurricane Gustav. The symptoms that accompany the PTSD now seem deeper and more frequent. After talking with various health professionals, it seems best for me that I take a significant rest, which means an absence from the stress and strains of the episcopate. I considered and explored the possibility of a medical leave and even a sabbatical. I could not bring myself to do this for there is no assurance that I would be back to lead the diocese. I am not willing to ask this diocese to take such a risk."Until his retirement date, planned for the end of 2009, he says, "I shall remain bishop of this diocese until the day of my retirement and I shall do all in my power to see that we stay on this path to biblical justice, the building of the Beloved Community, and the realization of the New Jerusalem midst our ruin and degradation."   His is an amazing ministry.

Each of these bishops have found themselves in the midst of the issues and cares of the world and have not avoided them.  About each of these bishops there are those who have and will find fault. But each has responded to the pastoral and social concerns with care and commitment and joy in believing. 

Sometimes I am very proud to be part of a church with bishops, who in the best of times are the pretty good shepherds we were looking for.  (Remembering that there is actually only one Good Shepherd -- all the rest of us stumble a bit.)

27 comments:

  1. What an excellent post! Thanks.

    I learned just today that three of our four Los Angeles Bishops (the exception being Bruno) will be retiring in the next little while. I believe Bishop Anderson is first.

    I have only met him twice, but I found his perspectives and personal history refreshing and wonderful. He will be Missed.

    Bishops Talton and Carranza and just wonderful. Bishop Talton confirmed me and presided over our last EFM graduation.

    I was lucky enough earlier this year to meet Bishop Carranza and have the chance to speak to him about a number of issues in the church. What a warm and loving man. We had a long conversation about gay marriage in the church (shortly before Lambeth) and he said something to me along the lines of this: To focus on something that doesn't exist in the Bible as a means to deny marriages of love to exist--while denying or ignoring actually existing language about divorce--says a great deal about the problem. It's not the Bible.

    I just loved having the opportunity to talk to Carranza... then had to skip off in my choir robe and pretend to be a soprano.

    I believe Bishops Talton and Carranza will be retiring in June of 2010.

    Boy, will both of them be missed.

    I am SO lucky to be in the Los Angeles Diocese under Bruno, Anderson, Talton and Carranza!

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  2. Bp Chane complains that the new proposed province is a repudiation of Rowan Williams. But the diocese of LA are to begin to violate Rowan Williams' moratoria and that is not a repudiation?

    Have a blessed Advent season, Mark+: Come let us adore Him.

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  3. "But each has responded to the pastoral and social concerns with care and commitment and joy in believing".

    Mark, as you say, there will be disagreements. But, Bishop Chane definitely gets my Raspberry Award. While you praise him for being prophetic about GLBT issues (apparently and increasingly most important), one wonders what in him was at work when he weighed in to shut down a street mission in DC, quoting that Church/State shouldn't mix. This knowing that his own cathedral has a charter from Congress? Come on!!

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  4. Bishop Jenkin's retirement should draw attention to the fact that there are many in that region who are still working to repair the damage of Katrina and rebuild people's lives. Their efforts do not attract the attention of blogs or newspapers, but the labor on, never the less. Let us give thanks for their witness, and let us not forget the suffering both their and in our own midst.

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  5. Bishops are like the little girl with the curl:

    When they are good, they are very, very good. But when they are bad--they are horrid!

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  6. "To learn in this context that Duncan, Minns and their allies think that the most important issue facing the church is the sexuality of the Bishop of New Hampshire suggests a level of self-absorption that is difficult to square with the teachings of Christ."

    Bp. Chane is one of my absolute favorites in the "pull no punches, tell it like it is" category. Preach it, brother!

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  7. Allen, the Central Union Mission has not been shut down, and the bishop has no interest in shutting it down. He joined a suit to oppose a property transfer that benefits the mission--which hires only Christians--at the expense of the District of Columbia.

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  8. I am full of admiration for Bishop Jenkins, who speaks with great candor about his Katrina conversation experience and who has poured himself out for his people. This is the first I've heard about his retirement - God bless him!

    Mr. Arabin

    PS. Poor Allen - does he have nothing to do but sit in front of his computer screen waiting to pounce on Preludium posts? At least you keep him occupied, Mark!

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  9. Mark, thanks especially for your acknowledgment of the excellent ministry of Bp. Jenkins. I shall miss having him as my bishop.

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  10. Don't cry for me, Anonymous. Mark is keeping me out of jail by providing a venue for my insanity. If it weren't for this blog I would be a dirty old man on a park bench.

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  11. Thanks, Jim, for providing us with the truth about Bishop Chane and the DC ministry in question.

    Since we now have proof that Allen is not above posting deliberate falsehoods, I think I now no what to make of his claims about the ASA of ACNA.

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  12. Beautiful post. I admired it when you first put it up, but have only now got round to thanking you.

    So only one side is accountable for its actions, RobRoy? ("... the diocese of LA IS to begin to violate Rowan Williams' moratoriUM", by the way.)

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  13. O Malcolm,

    Bishop Chane IS part of a group of plaintiffs who want to stop a Christian mission in DC.

    Central Union Mission, (since 1884) has been providing social and spiritual services to Washington, D.C.’s homeless and those battling addictions. The District of Columbia's government wanted to give Central Union Mission the Gales School, a historic school building near Union Station. In exchange, the mission wanted to give the District three adjacent parcels of land on Georgia Avenue and Newton Place, a key area of the city. Sounds like an OK thing. Property for property. No real government donation to religion. Community helping community. Nothing out of the taxpayer's pocket. Fair exchange. Keep success since 1884 going.

    But, Bishop Chane is now in it with the “separation of church and state” mantra to forbid the planned agreement between the D.C. government and Central Union Mission.

    Bishop Chane is leagued with the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Topping the list of eight plaintiffs is...the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane.
    No bystander, he.

    Interestingly, (coinicidentally??) Bishop Chane's cathedral suffered unexpectedly severe financial set-backs and had to choose drastic layoffs and program cuts...after his decision.

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  14. Perhaps Allen should get his own blog instead of taking up so much thread here.

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  15. Nom de Plume11/12/08 1:37 PM

    Bishop Chane's letter is magnificent. I love his use of language as much as the content. But, at the risk of sounding churlish, I would point out that most of North America is found outside the borders of the United States, so the new Province would need more than the approval of the Presdiing Bishop; it would also need the approval of the Primates of Mexico and Canada. I daresay they also would not approve it.

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  16. It's difficult to run a successful blog when your stock in trade is nitpicking what other folk have written, Counterlight.

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  17. As usual, Allen simplifies a much more complicated issue by not telling us the full story.

    Bishop Chane, et al, are not opposed to the Central Union Mission, or its historic ministry. The plaintiffs are not opposed to the mission of the Central Union Mission, what is plainly stated in the lawsuit is that they are opposed to using government money to fund this ministry as it is currently extended to the homeless.

    The primary ministry of the Central Gospel Mission is to convert people to Christ. This is stated by their Exec. Dir. Before qualifying to be assisted by the Mission with baths, laundry, food and shelter each day, the homeless are required to participate in religious services and instruction.

    The City of Washington DC has agreed to swap the land owned by the Mission for the Gates School plus $7M. The land is currently assessed to be worth less than the school alone. The swap would be a net gain for the Mission of $12M to continue its mission; the coercion of the homeless to attend religious services and instruction before being assisted.

    The lawsuit by Bishop Chane, the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, two homeless men who currently refuse to use the Mission, and a number of local taxpayers, asks two things of the Mission and the City; either that the Mission actually purchase the Gates School for its assessed value, or that the current exchange proceed with the proviso that the mission stop coercing its clients to participate in the religious services and instruction before receiving assistance.
    ******
    Thank you Nom de Plume for recognizing that Mexico is part of North America, however numerically tiny our province!

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  18. Bizarre Rabbit,

    You are probably right, but we can still hope.

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  19. Since I do not respond to David's snarls and ill-manneredness, I would just say check out Central Union Mission's website. Get an education about what goes on in DC. Wonder why Bishop Chane spends energy taking on a homeless shelter rather than opening one on Nat Cat's grounds.

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  20. Lapinbizarre writes, "So only one side is accountable for its actions, RobRoy? ("... the diocese of LA IS to begin to violate Rowan Williams' moratoriUM", by the way.)"

    I think the point is that with the new province, the foreign interventions will cease but the diocese of LA will start violating one of the moratoria (Connecticut to follow?) and with the repeal of B033 this summer, then the other moratorium will be violated.

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  21. I know this is taking this thread off-topic, but I am left gobsmacked by the supposed "ministry" of Central Union Mission, in their coercion.

    I know it allows the temporarily healthy, temporarily sober (we'll all be "out of it", one day!) and already-housed to feel all superior n' all, but for CHRISTIANS to behave in this way?

    Did Jesus DEMAND people submit to "religious instruction" before feeding or healing them?

    I just don't get it. :-(

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  22. "Since I do not respond to David's snarls and ill-manneredness..."

    ...we'll just have to put up with yours.

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  23. Nom de Plume12/12/08 8:38 AM

    Thank you Nom de Plume for recognizing that Mexico is part of North America, however numerically tiny our province!

    Thank my geography teacher, David. We're all in this together.

    Is there any discernable ACNA action in Mexico, or are they really just a US-centric group with a few Canadian wannabes?

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  24. The moratoria were strangled in their crib by Venables, who announced *at Lambeth* for Pete's sake that he would not abide by them. Right about that same time Orombi made a similar proclamation from Uganda.

    I think that Bruno and L.A. are unwisely giving ammunition to the Duncanites, but not even the most relentlessly dishonest among us (I will refrain from naming names) can seriously argue that Bruno killed the moratoria.

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  25. Nome de Plume, I have not heard of any so-called Orthodox activity here in Mexico. I think they are pretty much in the USA and Canada. ACNA was probably less awkward than the Anglican Church in the United States of American & Canada, in spite of its inacuracy.

    I try to point out that No. Am. goes all the way to Panama and includes the islands of the Caribbean and Central Western Atlantic which actually has 5 provinces total; ACoC, TEC, la Iglesia Anglicana de México, the Church in the Province of the West Indies and la Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America, plus the extra-provincial la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba.

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  26. Nom de Plume12/12/08 4:58 PM

    I try to point out that No. Am. goes all the way to Panama and includes the islands of the Caribbean and Central Western Atlantic which actually has 5 provinces total; ACoC, TEC, la Iglesia Anglicana de México, the Church in the Province of the West Indies and la Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America, plus the extra-provincial la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba.

    I suppose if you're going off-shore, then you also need to include the extra-provincial diocese of Bermuda.

    Glad to be surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.

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  27. JCF, this "no soup until you've listened to the sermon" type of mission used to be quite common, domestically as well as in the foreign field. It's what led to the charges of some missionaries in China turning out what were called "rice Christians" - people who needed to be fed, and were willing to pretend that they had been converted in order to get it.

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