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.)