2/19/2009

How important is it to belong to the Anglican Communion?

In a blog entry titled, "Things I wish we could get right: I wrote the following, which got some important responses.

(iii) Resolutions of ANY body of the Anglican Communion have no juridical weight in any church in the Communion unless adopted as such by the governing body of that Church. So Lambeth 1998, res 1.10 can betouted as "the mind of the Communion" until the end of time, but no church in the Communion who has not assented to it is bound to it. That is why the Windsor Report is a report, the Lambeth resolution is couched in language of the gathered bishops with recommendations and urging of restraint rather than command, and the Anglican Covenant is not the Covenant until it is affirmed by churches. Everything else is politics.

(iv) The desire to be a world wide Anglican Church is the desire to be a little version of Rome or Constantinople. It's not worth it. The world does not need, and for that matter we Christians donot need, another Patriarchy."
Readers took these remarks and began asking about the value of belonging to the Anglican Communion. In a previous blog entry I suggested that the question of exercising "restraint" in order to keep the Communion together is a very different question when viewed as a gay or lesbian person in the church and viewed as a bishop or Primate. We have heard quite a bit from bishops and Primates and very little from those on whom "restraint" might look either like a restraining order or an opportunity for the practice of holy patience. I personally am opposed to what seems to me to be restraint by church leaders at the expense of, but without the engagement of, those who will most be restrained.

Two readers in particular made responses we might do well to read again.

Elizabeth Kaeton wrote, "The desire to be a world wide Anglican Church is the desire to be alittle version of Rome or Constantinople. It's not worth it. The world does not need, and for that matter we Christians do not need, another Patriarchy."

AMEN! Thank you for the courage to put into words that which many of us dared not say aloud.

I,for one, am sick unto death of having TEC and her stand for all the sacraments for all the baptized held hostage to membership in the Anglican Church.

There is not such thing as an 'Anglican Church'. There is, however, a World Wide Anglican Communion'. It is what I signed up for when I became an Episcopalian and what may just still be worth the struggle."


Bob G+ wrote,
"Mark - I agree with you concerning the above, technically. However,where does and how does an honest and respectful interdependence within the Communion come into play (regardless of how the other guys act toward us)?

For example, there is a push to have BO33overturned/overruled/called moot during our upcoming GC. We know how a good part of the Communion will react, even among those who are sympathetic to our position. Technically, we absolutely have the right within the Communion and within our polity to act however we determine we want to act. Yet, sometimes to act in ways that are technically permissible do not bring us to a good end.

As a priest that happens to be gay, I do not see the exercising of our right to forgo BO33 or rejecting the call of most of the rest of the Communion to maintain the moratoria as a positive way forward.

Why? Not because we do not have the right to do as we please for whatever reason(s), but because we do not live on an ecclesiastical island. If we exercise or legal right to determine for ourselves what we shall do regardless of international/inter-provincial reactions (even when we hate the other position), what comes of our GLBT brothers and sisters in most of the rest of the Communion where their only option is silence or violence when our place and voice and influence is denigrated even further or removed altogether from the greater Communion?

There has to be a point where our all-too-American hubris and unilateralism gives way. For the safety of and the yet-to-be-realized justice within the rest of the Communion for GLBT people (or anyone else), we may need to put aside full implementation of what we believe to be true and just within our own Church. For their sake, I’m willing to sacrifice a bit longer and steer away from what we have the technical right to decide and do.

Can we do that? Can we act in ways other than our American cultural proclivity towards hyper-individualism and unilateralism? I'm just asking, or perhaps seeking a different way forward."


Elizabeth wrote back,


"Bob G+ wrote: "If we exercise o(u)r legal right to determine for ourselves what we shall do regardless of international/inter-provincial reactions (even when we hate the other position), what comes of our GLBT brothers and sisters in most of the rest of the Communion where their only option is silence or violence when our place and voice and influence is denigrated even further or removed altogether from the greater Communion?"

As far as I'm concerned, this is precisely why those of us in the WWAC everywhere (and, it's not just"American hubris", BTW, but, for example, in the entire UK), need to take leadership in this issue.

I do not feel called to the episcopacy, having had the privilege and opportunity to test it three times, but I do believe it is sin - S.I.N. writ large - to prohibit or inhibit the spirit's call to all the people of God to all the sacraments and sacramental rites of the church.

And, in so doing so, we lead the way for LGBT people around the world. There are LGBT people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Rwanda who are finally finding their voice because of our . . . "actions". If you 'google' "Voices of Africa' you'll begin to see what I mean. Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod have been video taping interviews they have had with men and women from these countries. Their stories are deeply moving and transformative.

That's not hubris. That's leadership. That's taking a risk for the gospel message vs. biblical or religious literalism.

That's precisely what Jesus did in his day for the anawim of his ancient culture - touching lepers, healing a man born blind who was believed to have been 'punished' for 'the sins of the father', eating with prostitutes and tax collectors and other 'unclean' people, not instructing his disciples in the appropriate cleansing ritual before eating.

It's not about 'legal rights'. It's about having the courage to take the risk of the good news of Christ Jesus vs. following letter of scriptural or religious law.

Jesus called the 'anawim' - the outcasts - of his day 'beloved'. We should, too. And,when we do, when we live what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, "The Beloved Community," we always incur the wrath of those who want to keep the anawim the anawim.

That's a price I'm willing to pay. Why?Because, if we had waited for the rest of the communion to endorse the ordination of women, I would not be ordained today, 24 years later.


A third reader (JCF) recommended that I lift out Elizabeth and BobG's remarks and start a new blog entry so that this matter is central to the thread. (He was too polite to suggest that my blog entry was a bit scattered...) So here it is.


What began as observations about inter-church resolutions and the reality of the Anglican Communion gave rise to the question at hand: "How important is it to belong to the Anglican Communion?" I am particularly interested to hear from gay and lesbian members of one of the Anglican Churches, people who will bear the burden of any "gracious restraint" that may be exercised by bishops and Primates.


Elizabeth and BobG, with considerable passion, have written with grace. May we follow their model.

35 comments:

  1. Well, you've been busy then.

    :)

    Thanks, Mark,

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  2. Oh, dear, had I known you were going to highlight my remarks, I would have worn my very best cassock, surplice, tippet and hood. I am, at the very least, a good Anglican priest - albeit one of the female variety. And, feisty, to boot. One soon discovers that one can not be one without the other.

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  3. E.,

    Isn't there a pre-boomer song that goes something like that?....

    i.e. "....can't have one without the other?....."...golly, wish someone could name it for me.

    (sorry, Mark, didn't want to resist, delete if you wish of course)

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  4. There are but two choices. The first is full inclusion, full freedom, full equality for all God's children. The second is everything else. In my own personal instance, I was willing to risk everything I had so that a group of people could be free. I can do no less for my LGBT brothers and sisters. I do not enter into this thing lightly but knowing full well that the Anglican Communion may never be the same. So be it. There is no reason I can think of that would warrant US giving up someone else's God given rights. In fact, to do less is to sin. In my gracious moments I would like to think that I am open to alternatives but the plain fact is I cannot be. I wish we could all be friends but then I realize that friends are equals and there is a group that does not enjoy that equality. For me, I insist we work on equality then we work on friendship.

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  5. As a "conservative", I have to say that if I had your "liberal" views, Sir, I would not countenance BO33 type delay /compromise / injustice / sacrifice of integrity....... and, as a "conservative" I respect people who disagree and stand by their convictions but struggle with backroom, political settlements which are merely sticking plasters and all about preserving institutional unity for a while longer...i.e. not about people and not about faith. WOW - we are on the same page!

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  6. Scott, it's "Love and Marriage...go together like a horse and carriage..."

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  7. The "here I am, I can do no other" position is very appealing -- under the right circumstances, it's courageous, honorable, Romantic. On the other hand, if you took that position on every issue, you'd end up in a church with just your best friends (sooner or later, you'd probably end up alone, in fact). I think most of us in TEC would agree with the above two sentences, but disagree on where to draw the line.

    I am "a man under orders", and that's an important part of the draw of being a member of a church. I want to be part of something bigger than me, and I want to be called to obedience to something beyond me. On the other hand, I want to live with integrity.

    My fear is that the next Convention, shorn of most of the people who disagree with me on the issue of gay inclusion, will move all the way to my position in a single set of actions. As a result, the rest of the people who disagree with me will find no reason to stay. As a result of that, what's to keep me from the "I can worship God just as well by myself on a golf course on Sunday morning" school of thought? I'm not being challenged by the presence of anyone different from me in either case.

    I think a look at the recent history of TEC shows that there was a gradual, sometimes graceful movement in a loving direction. Love is hard work! I worry that an instant, easy victory in Anaheim will in fact not be victory at all.

    Presuming we can still afford to have a GC in Anaheim by the time summer comes. I say let's cancel the whole thing and reconvene in three years.

    Peace,

    Mark.

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  8. Being part of a worldwide fellowship of Christians is clearly not something I would preserve at any price. Few of us, for example, would be willing to pay the price that the Bishop of Rome requires. I greatly value the Anglican Communion as it has been. I recognize that it is changing and that some of the changes, i.e. the emergence of postcolonial voices, are to be celebrated. At the same time, if the Anglican Communion moves too far in the direction of Rome (it will be up to each member Church to decide how far is too far), I think we should reject membership or at least "covenanted" membership. The requirements of the Gospel and the Baptismal Covenant outweigh any other covenant. If our distinctive contributions to the life of the Communion are not honored, including the contributions of our LGBT brothers and sisters, then it isn't really full communion anyway. But, besides that, one is obedient to the will of Christ first and the institution second.

    For those who believe that our actions are tantamount to apostasy, the only choice is to renounce the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal choice. Others may believe that we have made a mistake, even a grave one, but still be able to keep their vows. For those of us who believe that full inclusion is not only permitted but required by the Gospel, the only option is to uphold and expand on those decisions which move us in that direction. The question is: will the Anglican Communion continue to be open enough to the local initiatives of the Spirit. If it is not, then it has lost its distinctive charism among bodies of Christians preserving apostolic faith and order. It loses much of its value in the process.

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  9. Mark (not Harris):

    I appreciate your concern. Progressive as I am, I hope the other voices will still be in Anaheim. More to the point, I think those who have left represent a regressive margin, and that some (perhaps even me) represent a progressive margin. As a Deputy, I will be surprised if there is a sudden sweep as you fear. I expect there will be movement; and for some - including, unfortunately, some foreign prelates - that will simply be icing on a flat cake. I don't, expect, however, that the House of Deputies, even as angry as many are, will simply punt on trying to maintain relations with Anglicans in other places.

    That said, I think it's already too late for the Anglican-Communion-as-we-once-knew-it. The FOCA/GAFCONites will not turn back. Nor will interest in a Covenant be the same between us "family of national churches" folks and the "we need to be more like a 'church'" folks; and those differences will take some time to sort out. Communion with other Anglican bodies around the world is certainly worth exploring. Thinking we can return to what the Anglican Communion looked like in 1990 is - well, hopeless at best, and delusional at worst.

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  10. As I try to both engage and observe (which isn’t easy and sometimes makes me schizophrenic), I’ve come to see a couple things.

    I can agree with Elizabeth that our presence and voice have encourage people in Africa and other parts of the Communion to begin to stand up and advocate for inclusion of LGBT people. Yet, part of the very reason for embolden, Anglican-provincial internal-advocacy is because we ARE a part of the Communion. If we continue on in a trajectory that to the world comes across as, “We are determined to do this… and don’t care what you think or how your culture understands or how it makes you feel,” and the result is that we are no longer part of the Communion, then our voice and influence are gone. In the very provinces that most need our presence and voice for the sake of GLBT people, if we TEC does not agree to basically two moratoria for the time being (for the time being!), those who boldly and at the risk of their own safety stand up will be left to the devices and desires of the likes of Archbishop Akinola, with no governor to temper their hatred and actions.

    Part of me wonders whether this is a generational shift in attitude – a GenX-Y “post-gay” understanding who and what we are and what we need. Kind of like the “post-feminist” attitudes of younger women. I don’t know, but my sense of self, my sense of acceptance or welcome, does not depend on whether we have another open, gay bishop over the next few years or whether we have liturgies for the blessing of same-sex relationships. If my sense of self depends on such things, then I’m depending on outward, temporal, and temporary things rather than God and God’s declaration of who and what I am.

    We need to not cut off our nose to spite our face – for their sake. We also need to consider our “weaker” sisters and brothers (Romans 14). Gay people - we need to consider the wellbeing of our sisters and brothers before we consider ourselves. BO33, in all of its lacking, should be maintained for the time being.

    We haven’t reached the end goal in this country or the West, yet, in comparison to how most other gay people have it in the world, I’ve got it good. Personally, I and a lot of other gay Episcopalians I know are more than willing to wait a bit longer, sacrifice a bit more, for the sake of those who face real violence every day of their existence. Keep BO33, for now – keep our voice and influence in the parts of the Communion where it is needed most. We can wait, for their sake. Some will be unwilling to wait, I understand, but I fear for some that their personal identity is so wrapped up in this issue that they cannot step back.

    There is a whole lot more I can write to flesh-out my thoughts, but I don’t want to bore everyone (as if I haven’t already). One thing I will touch upon (which took up several more paragraphs that I cut) is that we all have to be careful not to become the very kind of people and take upon ourselves the very attitudes that we love to negatively associate with others. (Like, American becomes the worst of Al Quaeda by torturing “enemy combatants” in order to save our own butts.) We have to avoid being the “ugly Americans,” the unilateralists, the arrogant types that are hell-bent in doing our “American” thing regardless of the consequences to other peoples.

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  11. John-Julian, OJN20/2/09 11:33 AM

    I remember the very real tears on the floor of the House of Deputies when B033 was passed -- not as a motion of substance, but as a "gift" to the new Presiding Bishop. And has that solved things? -- or even eased them significantly? It has not.

    That kind of compromise with integrity will never do any good. It sometimes holds things off for a brief period, but eventually it eats itself and disappears.

    If anyone is seriously looking for justice, then I suggest that only LGBT people and their friends/family (say, Integrity and PFFLAG) be allowed to vote on these issues! Then, if there is to be "gracious restraint" it will be those who are being restrained who can say whether they will choose such sacrificial restraint OR whether they will ask the REST of the Church to join with them as brothers and sisters to take a stand against injustice.

    None of us has the right to deny, deprive, denigrate, or otherwise disparage ANYONE else for ANY reason. If non-gays think LGBTs should be degraded, then they should move to degrade themSELVES as well. No blessings for gays? Then no blessings for ANYONE! No episcopacy for gays, then no episcopacy for ANYONE! It is noble to make a sacrifice; it is scurrilous to demand that anyone ELSE make a sacrifice. Remember the nobility of the Danish royalty under the Nazis: when Danish Jews were required to wear a yellow star, the Danish King appeared wearing a yellow star.

    Sacrifice is the essence of love; but causing the sacrifice of OTHERS is the essence of evil. They did it to Jesus, and we ought never to do it again -- ever!

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  12. Brian Lewis20/2/09 1:16 PM

    The question of the cost of belonging to the Anglican Communion or the emerging "The Anglican Church" is important for every member church, what follows is the speech I made to the Church of England's General Synod in the recent Covenant debate.

    "I want to focus on what I think is my deepest concern with the Covenant as we are discovering it through this process.
    This Covenant introduces a new principle into the life of our church, the Church of England. The principle that where issues are perceived as "controversial or new" then the Church must act on "shared discernment". Well of course everything is controversial to somebody and everything is new the first time it arrives, and so this process of shared discernment internationally is a new principle that has wide ranging effect.

    My concern is that whenever we want to make any change in the life of our church this Covenant will be used as a brake. Those opposing the change will be given a new implement in their armour. We will hear the cry "what about the Covenant, what about our international partners".

    I believe that had it been in existence the Covenant would have been used to argue against the first ordinations of women to the priesthood, certainly to the episcopate, against permitting marriage after divorce, or admitting to communion those who had married after divorce. That was controversial, new, no shared discernment internationally.

    Indeed if the principle had been around early enough in our Church’s life surely we would not have had an English Bible or an English Liturgy. There was no international shared discernment there.

    Our authority? the authority of scripture, attending to scholarship, the critique of reason, withstanding the scrutiny of open debate, dealing with the reality of experience - that is how we have discerned truth in the Church of England. That‘s what has lead us to who we are today.

    But is there such a problem today? Haven’t we solved all the big questions, can’t we stay where we are?

    We are called to proclaim afresh the gospel in our generation and that inescapably means wrestling with the challenges of our culture in our day. Our culture in our day That is our task and surely our desire.

    I remember the Archbishop of Canterbury once put it succinctly saying “if there is one thing I long for above all else, it’s that the years to come may see Christianity in this country able again to capture the imagination of our culture”

    We are not going capture the imagination of our culture by handing over to the wider communion the responsibility for deciding which challenges we are allowed to face, and what our response might be.

    The Archbishops’ Council report “Into the New Quinquenium” put the challenge this way; the life of the Church is expressed “in its transforming engagement with the society in which it is set”.
    I am not arguing for some uncritical acceptance of the mores of English culture today but I do suggest we should not imagine that we can meet that challenge by first satisfying the demands of other cultures, or importing others’ solutions either from America or Nigeria.

    Brian Lewis

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  13. Please forgive the "preachiness," it's an occupational hazard! I'm a straight female priest who's trying to figure out, in the current Anglican climate, just what the Gospels are about, i.e. what was Jesus all about? In all the hoo-ha about covenants and restraints and consensus, etc., I keep thinking about the life of Jesus and how, as he went about challenging the unhealthy systems, his group of supporters got smaller and smaller. He didn't wait for the system to come to consensus about him. In fact, the only consensus it came to was to get rid of him. It feels to me as if something like that is happening to TEC. If we believe that we're following in the way of Jesus, then we may have to come to terms with being crucified. We may end up as a very small group, at least for a while. I feel our challenge is to decide if what we believe is worth "dying" for.

    Quoting The Rev. Darryl Dash, "Jesus may want to lead us as churches to places that will hurt our church's growth and health. He may want to lead us to places in which our churches won't even survive. The issue isn't church growth or health. The real issue is whether or not a church is willing to follow Jesus. What about this - a church that is willing to die to its own interests and welfare, to pick up its cross, and follow Jesus? What about a church that, if faced with a choice between following Jesus into unknown and dangerous territory, and taking a safe route that would lead to growth and health - what about a church that would willingly take the dangerous route in order to follow Jesus?"

    These are some of my thoughts in this turbulent time. If there is to be an Anglican Communion, then let it be what it always was: a group of churches held together by ties of affection and hospitality. To be held together by anything else is pointless, to my mind. Is TEC willing to live without those who no longer hold it in affection and who no longer offer it hospitality for the sake of following Jesus?


    Pat

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  14. "How important is it to belong to the Anglican Communion?"

    More important than who wins Best Picture at the Oscars.

    Less important than how we live out our baptismal promises.

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  15. God knows, nobility has its place in the human enterprise. You, Bob G+ are a noble man.

    That being said, I am reminded of the early church's intelligence and wisdom, as attributed to Irenaeus, who said "the glory of God is (hu)man(kind) fully alive."

    We only need to look as far as the cross to know that this is true. Our little human lives are not about being noble qua noble. Our lives are about something that stands in the shadow of the cross of Christ.

    B033 was not about being noble.

    B033 was about being foolish for Christ's sake. Time has proven that we were generous to a fault, extravagant and wasteful with our love of Jesus for the sake of our new Presiding Bishop.

    What the church needs now is the generosity and foolishness of our courage to speak a word of truth in love about our lives of faith. About LGBT faithful lives and loves.

    And, pray that +++Rowan, who it is rumored will be in attendance, will listen as we finally, forcefully and, perhaps, even foolishly, reepal B033 - in no uncertain terms.

    One last thought on nobility. My now, recently sainted mother would often advise, "If you bend over too far, your rear end shows."

    Take these somewhat crass words of wisdom from the American born daughter of a peasant woman to your heart and ponder them deeply.

    I think you will find.there, a diamond in the rough.

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  16. Once again, and especially as Williams is supposedly coming to twist GC's arm I tell you that by these moral gyrations to preserve a corrupt "communion" we are participating in the oppression, not - NOT - alleviating it.

    I never thought I would agree with Observer, but our leadership has shown an absolute lack of moral discernment in attempts to stay in the Old Boy Network - to play at Rome.

    What we've done to encourage GLBT and, indeed, progressives throughout the world has been despite and outside of the AC, not because of it. Enough. IF these mutilations of our conscience are the necessity to belonging to the AC - which has become an Anglican Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, accomplishing nothing and promising all - then we will continue to damage those we seek to help.

    We are responsible.

    I'm not trying to denigrate anyone, but remember that vacillation and deceit born of cowardice is just as damning as hubris.

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  17. First, a unified church is a blind church, it's assumption is that the creation we minister to is all the same. Every healthy family knows that there is no "sameness" of mind or spirit amongst its members, every parent knows not every child is the same nor can be nurtured by the same formulas. We first have to ask what our "job" as christians is, Is it to seek shelter and hide? Is it to seek comfort in the like mindedness of our pewmates? Is it to force "correct" living of the community around us? Is being a christian just what we do in corporate worship?
    My personal belief is that we are to example the gospel to the best of our ability. The gospels are pretty situational, four books, four accounts with not a small amount of variation. The general message is the same but told in different ways.
    As a gay man (you asked) the value of the communion is great, only if it is indeed one of love, not law. As a Christian gay man who lives in southern California, the value of the communion is only good if it encourages me to DO THE WORK here with the people who need most to know that God is real, and here. and doesn't have a gate keeper or a purity code, and if God does, well it isn't me, I won't be that stumbling block.
    As an American Episcopalian the communion has no value to me, if it encourages the continuing view that christians are a bunch of hypocrites who focus more on exclusion and sameness, hate and judgment, pomp and edifices, than the teachings of Jesus, here in our land. If it keeps people scared in the pews certain of their superiority, it has no value. If it's desire is to shout loudly that we, by virtue of our unity, we hold the truth, ti has no value. If it teaches that my salvation is dependent on the sort or condition of my neighbor or pew mate, minister, pastor etc, rather than my personal beliefs and how they manifest in my life, then it has no value.

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  18. Elizabeth Kaeton mysteriously writes, "I am, at the very least, a good Anglican priest"

    I contrast this with Jesus' response, "Why do you call me good? No one is good — except God alone."

    I looked at the stats for her parish. The numbers for attendance are not dismal like many smaller parishes, and in fact have increased by ten or so. (The membership to attendance ratio is some of the highest that I have seen, ~5.2.) But she is part of the leadership of a miserably failing diocese due to a failed premise, "The Church Must Change or Die." And she and others are implementing those disastrous changes on the national church.

    I honestly often wonder if the liberal leaders ever wake up with twinges of guilt, asking "What if I am wrong and I have brought schism and decline to a once great denomination on incorrect suppositions?"

    I DO wake up at night with the words of a wonderful song going through my head,

    "When it's all been said and done
    There is just one thing that matters
    Did I do my best to live for truth?
    Did I live my life for you?"

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  19. Robroy offered a musical interlude for Elizabeth. Here is a little ditty just for him:

    "You dont know whats going on
    You've been away for far too long
    You cant come back and think you are still mine
    You're out of touch, my baby
    My poor discarded baby
    I said, baby, baby, baby, youre out of time"

    Rolling Stones
    Out of Time

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  20. Father Mark,

    Thank you for posing this question and giving us an opportunity to see an exchange of ideas between Elizabeth and Bob G+.
    And so, here I am, one of the LGBT faithful active in my local parish in a fairly conservative diocese, but not sporting plastic around my neck responding to your query.
    I have not wanted to exit the Anglican Communion for many reasons. Most especially, because I believe that as ham-fisted as Americans may appear to other countries, we can be generous, too. And we have the resources to assist our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Communion. And being part of a global community, such as the Anglican Communion, seems more in keeping with all that I have read up to now about God's people in the world; that scattered, we're lost, but together, we're found.
    And so that's all the "up" side of being in the Communion. The problem that I have as a lesbian is the idea that in order for some to accept our (TEC) presence in the community, TEC must reject me and metaphorically (or, I think some might want literally) throw me under the bus. All because of one aspect of my being. Meanwhile, the TEC responds with not wanting to throw me under the bus, but instead asks me to take my seat at the back of the bus where the fumes are most prevalent, and--oh please--just sit there and be quiet and live with these rules that recognize you as 3/5 a person. All of this done to appease those who are threatened and fearful of people who have been in the church for years, but are now not being quiet about this one aspect of their God-created character.
    All of this fretting reminds me of the story of the loaves and the fishes, where the disciples are surveying this crowd of five thousand and seeing only five loaves and two fish and thinking, "There's not enough here!" And Jesus blesses the bread and fish, and not only is there enough, there's leftovers! The message I get from that story is "Everyone who comes to the table will be fed." Why do those who are so afraid of me believe that my presence at the table means there won't be enough to go around? O, ye of little faith!!
    I do not believe the Anglican Communion can stay the same... and include me and others like me...not just in the United States and Canada, but Africa, Europe and Asia, as well. And I do not believe TEC can continue to create artificial barriers to full participation in the life of the church as God keeps calling more and more LGBT people back into relationship. There's simply not enough room at the back of the bus, and some of us will have to sit in the middle... or even the front. But nobody's getting kicked off the bus! The only way a seat frees up is if someone decides they're getting off. And some have, and I hope they catch the next bus.
    I do not like schism, but I do not like being treated like less than who I am: a member of the Body of Christ. And so change must happen. I just hope that everyone will remember that God feeds us all.

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  21. Once again I point out that the only national church in the Anglican Communion ever to censure Peter Akinola for his fascist actions in Nigeria was the Anglican Church of Canada.

    TEC didn't. Nor did the CofE. Nobody else has done this. Why not? Where is the church's leadership on issues that really count?

    I'm sorry, but I simply don't see TEC as any great moral exemplar, since it's apparently willing to sit back and be silent on issues of much greater importance than the ones being discussed here.

    What is the great moral example it's setting here?

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  22. Hi Mark--This is a great post. Episcopalians are beautiful people and great leaders. I hope B033 will be overturned and we will continue our role as leaders world-wide, with or without the Anglican Communion. We have to stop allowing our world-wide identity to be defined by the Anglican Communion. If someone crunched the numbers, I think it's a good possibility that our witness, mission, money and ministry is substantial in helping to allevate the hunger, fear, injustice and oppression in many countries. And that is what Jesus is calling us to do and be as a people. So, we should just keep doing what we have always done and off load all of the weird baggage we seem to be accumulating from the Anglican Communion.

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  23. Mark, thank you for allowing a place for these wonderful voices. Having read them I am right now convinced of only one thing: that there must be a definite and important gay presence at General Convention. I do not believe that anything pertaining to these issues can be seriously discussed, let alone voted on, without substantial gay input at GC. And I do not believe this input can be provided by straight persons, no matter how well-intentioned. It must come from members of the gay community. How do we help that to happen?

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  24. Robroy,
    Elizabeth has a much wider mission than shown by the attendance at her church. I am sure I am not the only one who (because I live in a Gafcon diocese) look to her and other similar priests mainly in TEC for spiritual comfort and guidance.
    It is only the knowledge that there are priests like her and most importantly a gay bishop that encourages me to continue worshipping in the Anglican communion rather than MCC. I pray that TEC will continue to witness to the Anglican communion by accepting GLBT people as equals.

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  25. More words from a straight woman, and an old one at that. IMHO, living the Gospel has little to do with attracting great numbers.

    The Host's Nest said:

    If we believe that we're following in the way of Jesus, then we may have to come to terms with being crucified. We may end up as a very small group, at least for a while. I feel our challenge is to decide if what we believe is worth "dying" for.

    Yes.

    She quotes the Rev. Darryl Dash:

    What about a church that, if faced with a choice between following Jesus into unknown and dangerous territory, and taking a safe route that would lead to growth and health - what about a church that would willingly take the dangerous route in order to follow Jesus?"

    What about a church like that?

    Jesus asks each of us to take up the cross and follow him. He never suggested that we should lay crosses on the shoulders of others. In fact, he excoriated the Pharisees who laid heavy burdens on others, without lifting a finger to help.

    There are always those who say, "Wait!" BO33 gained TEC nothing.

    I signed up to be an Episcopalian, a member of the Episcopal Church, and a part of the Anglican Communion. I do not want to be a member of a world wide Anglican Church.

    May the Spirit of the living God guide the HOB and HOD as they gather at GC.

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  26. Let's see... LGBT people should be institutionally marginalized - indefinitely - to satisfy an ecclesiastical and sexual majority (for the time being anyway).

    Remind me again: Who are the "weak" and who are the "strong" in such a situation? Is it really the way many think?


    To the question: Full communion is important, but not so important that the price of such communion should be exacted indefinitely in human flesh by perpetuating emotional - and all too often physical - violence against LGBT people.

    Fortunately, many Anglicans around the world have no interest in making sex a bottom-line defining issue of church unity.

    christopher+

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  27. No, christopher: gay Episcopalians should attempt to stay at the table to influence the Anglican Communion in a better direction - for the sake of other gay people who have it far, far worse than we do.

    Yes, we can leave instead, and do exactly as we wish - but what will that have accomplished? We'll merely be a small American church without any influence on anything or anybody else. We will have left the table when we could have stayed and argued and convinced and persuaded.

    That's one choice, all right. Not a very interesting one, in my opinion.

    (I wonder if we'll ever get around to condemning Peter Akinola officially after we leave? Well, by that time, it won't really matter - we'll have totally missed the boat by that time anyway. And who will care?

    I wonder, too, if I can somehow join the Anglican Church of Canada....?)

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  28. As a straight, white, male cleric in late middle age, I have tried to see what burden laid upon my LGBT parishioners and friends as the price for remaining in the Anglican Communion. In 2005 I wrote "Have We Made an Idol of the Anglican Communion?" and have just posted it in my blog - http://frdanweir.blogspot.com/2009/02/have-we-made-idol-of-anglican-communion.html

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  29. "We'll merely be a small American church without any influence on anything or anybody else"

    Since when is following Christ with all your soul, with all your heart and with all your might about being a big church that influences anything or anyone else?

    Those churches that persecute lgbts do so despite your presence. They have made their purity cult a yardstick for faith while in Communion. What influence is this, you're having on them?

    If you want to be a true beacon, go and be a true beacon and shine. You might even gain influence - visibility does not depend on being "in communion" with people who won't even take communion with each other.

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  30. I want to add a point about the Covenant. I went to a "Walkabout" meeting last night for the all candidates up for the new bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Long Island. Questions about the Anglican Communion were asked all the candidates; all said that it is important for us to remain in the Communion. A particular question went to one of the candidates about the proposed idea of a Covenant.

    The candidate said that this Church has always moved into Covenants - from the beginning with the Scottish Episcopal Church to more recently with the Lutherans and with the Methodists - covenants finished and in process by other names. He said that we don't seem to have a problem entering into covenantal relationships with others outside of Anglicanism, so why are some so opposed to a covenant between Anglican provinces? A good question, I think. He did say that sometimes being around "family members" is far more difficult that being around "friends." If we are trying to be healthy, absenting oneself from a family or being kicked out of a family is never a good option.

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  31. Elizabeth - I don't think I've ever been referred to as "noble." I've been called plenty of other names, but Noble? I'm a bit embarrassed.

    I'm not trying to be noble or a martyr, but I do try to take the two great commandments of Jesus very seriously. What is it to love my neighbor, after loving God with everything I am and have?

    My "rights" are meaningless in comparison to the well being of the other. Loving myself begins not with the way pop-psychoanalysis may describe it (as useful as psychotherapy is), but loving myself begins with God's definition of who and what I am (all of us are). When I grasp that (which I barely do), then Jesus as my example shows me that I am to die to self for the benefit of others.

    By degree, the vast majority of gay people in our Churches have lives that are far, far more safe and accepted than do people in most of the rest of the world. There is still a way to go in this country, I know. I just finished reading a book on GLBT people in Arab countries - terrible. It does me no harm to wait a bit longer. If we don't wait, real physical harm is the expected possibility for TBLG people in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, and many other provinces around the world. I'm repeating myself, I know. I’m just afraid that our American political culture has overwhelmed us and that our identities are more American than Christian.

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  32. I know this is my third post in a row, forgive me. When I say uphold BO33 for now, I in no way suggest that we are any less vigorous in our advocacy for the inclusion, privileges, and responsibilities of gay people in the Church worldwide and for our safety and respect.

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  33. Well, it's been a real, active, vital whirl in my congregation which is, as robroy points out, actively destroying the rest of the WWAC just be being in existence in the corrupt Diocese of Newark. I've been away for a while, and I apologize, but looks like I might just get the last word on this thread - always deeply satisfying to an uppity woman.

    This is surpassed only by sharing the privilege with another uppity woman. So, I'll share this with Susan Russell, who made the argument most succinctly:

    "How important is it to belong to the Anglican Communion?"

    More important than who wins Best Picture at the Oscars.

    Less important than how we live out our baptismal promises.

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  34. No, christopher: gay Episcopalians should attempt to stay at the table to influence the Anglican Communion in a better direction - for the sake of other gay people who have it far, far worse than we do.

    Which is exactly why we must leave, seeking to establish our own international ties.

    Please, face reality - we are not at "the table" in the AC! We have not, cannot, and will not make anything better for anyone through the AC. I find that argument entirely disingenuous, and, perhaps, simply a way to keep us from actually having to do anything ourselves.

    Repeat to yourself, regularly - "We are not now, nor have we ever been at the Anglican Communion's 'table.'"

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  35. Mark wrote: "Repeat to yourself, regularly - 'We are not now, nor have we ever been at the Anglican Communion's table.'"

    Mark, this simply isn't the case.

    We sit in the councils, our voices are heard even if not always listened to, and our Primate engages with the others. We may be hated in parts of the Communion, but so what! I'm afraid to think of what the Communion would support and do if we (and the CoC, CoE, etc.) where not present with it.

    Our American presence in the ACC and within all the organs of the Communion gives us influence on the over all shape and state of the Communion - and for the sake of the oppressed in other lands. We won't always get our way, but mature faith doesn't always demand everything or else.

    If we withdraw or get "kicked-out," our voice is gone, period, and then this small denomination's voice by itself without the Communion in places like Nigeria is meaningless.

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