6/20/2010

Canon Kearon on Faith and Order: It is about troublesome TEC.

The Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that The Episcopal Church participants in formal ecumenical dialogues between the Anglican Communion and other churches be removed and its participant in the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) be recast as a "consultant" and removed as a participant. The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion did as proposed, and sent letters of dismissal and reduction in participation.

It is that series of actions that led to the extraordinary meeting of Canon Kearon and members of Executive Council on Friday, June 18th.

In that meeting Kearon said that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” What precisely did he mean by that?

He argued that "The Commission on Unity Faith and Order is central to our way forward as a communion. and a lot of effort has gone into making it balanced." He argued that "There is a logic which says if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn't represent that communion to the wider church."

All of this makes matters of sexuality - particularly the matters addressed in the moratoria on same-sex blessings and episcopal ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons - matters of "faith and order." Now how does that happen? What precisely is this business of Faith and Order?

The phrase, "Faith and Order" arise out of the Faith and Order movement that spawned the ecumenical movement of the 20th Century. Here is what an essay on the Faith and Order Movement on the World Council of Churches pages states:

"The desire to heal or prevent Christian division is as old as Christian division itself, which, as the New Testament testifies, dates to the very origins of Christianity. Yet in the modern ecumenical movement of the past century, the attempts to heal have quite broadly taken two complementary forms, which might be characterized as "discussing together" and "doing together." In any human division, whether on the level of a family, a friendship or an institution, reunion needs to be a combination of discussing -- what happened to bring about the division, what is it that really divides us, what can be done to bring us together, and doing -- beginning already to act in some way together and build, or rebuild, some kind of common life.

The movements which arose at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, movements which spawned the modern ecumenical movement, reflected these forms. The doing was represented by the Life and Work Movement, while the discussing was the task of the Faith and Order Movement. One needs to emphasize once again that these two areas of activity and their concerns were always seen as complementary: the discussing is about what Christians do and what they are, and the doing involves a great deal of cooperative discussion!

Today, the Life and Work Movement is represented in the World Council of Churches in those activity areas where the Christian churches act cooperatively: e.g., in education, humanitarian response, and programmes aimed against injustice and the abuse of people and the environment.

The Faith and Order movement is integral to the World Council of Churches. The aim of the Faith and Order movement has always been, and still is, "to proclaim the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ and to call the churches to the goal of visible unity". The chief means of achieving this goal is through study programmes dealing with theological questions that divide the churches."

The Faith and Order movement has to do with discussion - across divisions- of matters related to theological "problems." There is no suggestion in the World Council of Churches' material that any particular church need have a specific stance on an issue (that is that here might be internal divisions) and of course the World Council of Churches has no business determining that Anglican participation is a "church" participation. So no requirement exists that there be a consistant Anglican voice at the ecumenical table.

Suppose the matter concerned divorce and remarriage? Would Canon Kearon want to suggest that we could only be at the ecumenical table if we came with one voice on the matter? What about the inerrancy of scripture? or a specific sacramental theology of ordination? Surely representatives to ecumenical conversations from Anglican Churches could hold different views on such matters.

But Canon Kearon believes that "if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn't represent that communion to the wider church." And if he removes persons from TEC for no longer holding to moratoria regarding same sex blessing and ordination of gay and lesbian partnered persons, he is proposing both that those moratora represent something central to the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion and that there needs to be a consistent presentation of Anglican faith and order "out there" in the ecumenical world.

Lambeth 1998, Resolution 1.10 is invoked regularly as the proof that there is a mind of the Communion and the Windsor Report moratoria are dragged out as a way to make sure that representatives of the Anglican Communion shape their minds to fit the mind of the Communion. But of course that is mostly very hot air.

Here is the problem:

(i) Whatever "Faith and Order" entail, it is mostly what is delineated in the Preamble to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, "the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer." Faith and Order are derivative of the ordered life of prayer and sacramental living derived from our practice.
(ii) Whatever else may be meant by "Faith and Order" it is mostly a product of the Faith and Order movement, which precisely concerns conversations where there is theological differences of opinion, working from there to greater unity.
(iii) In any even there is nothing that identifies specific "mind of the conference" resolutions of a Lambeth Conference as being "the mind of the Communion" such that if a member church does not agree it cannot be said to "share the faith and order of the wider communion."
(iv) And of course, lastly, there is nothing even in the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order to suggest that unanimity in viewpoint is a requirement for participation in the Commission.

Here is what the Anglican Communion pages has to say about IASCUFO.

"IASCUFO’s mandate was approved by the Joint Standing Committee in November 2008. The Standing Commission shall have responsibility:
  • to promote the deepening of Communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and between those Churches and the other churches and traditions of the Christian oikumene
  • to advise the Provinces and the Instruments of Communion on all questions of ecumenical engagement, proposals for national, regional or international ecumenical agreement or schemes of co-operation and unity, as well as on questions touching Anglican Faith and Order
  • to review developments in the areas of faith, order or unity in the Anglican Communion and among ecumenical partners, and to give advice to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of Communion upon them, with the intention to promote common understanding, consistency, and convergence both in Anglican Communion affairs, and in ecumenical engagement
  • to assist any Province with the assessment of new proposals in the areas of Unity, Faith and Order as requested.
It is the assumption of IASCUFO that there are both internal and external matters of unity, faith and order in play. The need for balance is real, no doubt, but in part it is needed to assure that all voices in the Communion are heard, even minority voices.

Canon Kearon justified canning Episcopal Church members on ecumenical dialogues because they might not hold to the "mind of the Communion" or because The Episcopal Church did not. He suggests that the Anglican Communion must speak with one voice.

Surely it would be just as honest to come to the ecumenical table and say that Anglican churches are not of one mind on the matters concerning the vocation of gay and lesbian persons. Surely it would be better to come to the ecumenical table and be clear that the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches and not a church bound to such dogmatic assertions as Lambeth 1998, 1.10 or other such statements.

But no, that has not happened. And Canon Kearon at Executive Council gave us no new information about all of this, only logic chopping of the worse sort and the clear sense that the matter at hand was simple: "...not been to get at TEC, but to find room for others to remain as well as enabling as full a participation as possible for TEC." In other words to rid the Communion of those troublesome people..

This is really bad news.

34 comments:

janinsanfran said...

Gay cooties are just so embarrassing to some people ...

I do feel a little sorry for individuals who have to carry water for this intellectually absurd bigotry but do not actually share it. I have no idea whether Canon Kearon might be among that number, but I am sure that in ecclesiastical high politics there are many who are in that position.

BillyD said...

Well, to be fair, it doesn't really matter what the paperwork says about the Commission - in a Communion where Lambeth suddenly become a legislative body and the proposals of the AoC are treated like papal bulls, it's obvious that the Instruments of Communion are making it up as they go along.

PseudoPiskie said...

It isn't about "troublesome TEC". It is about sex and the crumbling patriarchy. I don't understand why these men don't just cross the Tiber and get it over with. They insist on destroying the idea that people with differing opinions can still share the eucharist. Sad. When do we talk to the English parishes that need a home?

Lois Keen said...

"This is really bad news."
Really bad news for all of Christianity, not just TEC. A voice essential to more fully represent Christ has been silenced for the sake of what...? The charism that was Anglicanism's part in the kaleidoscope that is the body of Christ - decentralized authority, experimentation within the historical forms of worship and faithful exploration of doctrine and scripture, living with differences, diversity in unity - has been smashed. It no longer exists so long as Archbishop Rowan succeeds in forcing uniformity of mind. We are no different from Rome. Which may have been the point. The charism was smashed in order to make the Anglican Communion more palatable to Rome and the Eastern Churches. When that is done, there is no reason left not to swim the Tiber.

But the charism that was Anglicanism is still essential. As I remember someone quipping once a long time ago, if there were no Anglicanism, it would be necessary to invent it. TEC must stand firm in the faith as we understand it, that the hope of the poor - the outcast, the shamed, the damned - not be taken away.

David and John said...

We can add this to the growing number of reasons to immediately stop funding the ABC and his drive to rid the communion of TEC.

By "stop funding" I mean only what goes to (or is funneled through) the Anglican Communion Office and/or the ABC. We can be better stewards of our money by giving it directly to mission work in the Communion and right here in the states.


Instead of funding our own persecution we should be funding evangelism and relief efforts. Maybe ++Williams will learn first hand that his actions do indeed have consequences.

Lapinbizarre said...

"His Master's Voice" on TEC as a roadblock to unity with Rome? The Roman Church's teachings on pretty-well all aspects of sexuality have been so resounding a success that it's difficult to counter the strength of the argument.

Bonnie said...

Hi Mark--

Why is it that when discussing 1.10, they always ignore this:

"We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;"

If their current behavior is any indicator of their assurance, we are in deep trouble.

Also, I believe at the 2008Lambeth Conference they did discuss creating a Faith and Order Commission which would function as one of the instruments of unity. I don't know the "end game" on that one but judging from the current language, I'd have to believe that they did establish such a commission.

IMHO this is also worth the read, just for a breath of fresh air, from the last Lambeth Conference:

http://davidrossdale.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/if-resolution-110-is-important-what-about-resolution-19/

Anonymous said...

How about we respond to the extraoridianry emergency in Haiti and take the money in the ECUSA budget for the Anglican Communion and rebuild the diocese of Haiti with it instead?
jason

R said...

Thanks for this close analysis, Mark.

It seems to me we're troublesome because we refuse to accept the premises the ABC has adopted -- that Lambeth I.10 and Windsor are binding and enforceable upon provinces. Oh, except their not.

Why, I wonder, was it so difficult for Canon Kearon to simply say that he dismissed our representation from Anglican ecumenical dialogues simply because the ABC says he can. . . the constitution of the Communion notwithstanding?

Wow.

theshe said...

Totally agree with DavidandJohn...and I think there will be many English parishes that need a home, as PseudoPiskie says.

Douglass said...

I am glad that you raised the analogous issue of the remarriage of divorced persons.The Windsor report states that marriage should be between a man and a woman "in life-long union". Why is the Anglican Communion not breaking apart over the issue of divorce? It is difficult to find an answer to that question that does not involve homophobia.
I was a participant in the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in Halifax this month. In discussing the Mission of the Church, Canon Kearon added, as an aside, that actions which break apart the Communion are destructive of our Mission. The context was obvious. By contrast, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church spoke on the same theme and graciously kept to the text. She spoke eloquently about the Mission of the Episcopal Church throughout the world and about our close partnership. It is clear to me, having listened to both of them, "ubi caritas et amor est".

Doug Dalton

Bob G+ said...

I know most people in TEC leadership have thought long and hard concerning all that has transpired these past 7 years. My opinion is not a particularly popular one, but from where I sit it is becoming more prominent, to the chagrin of some.

I think that too many of us are still unwilling to consider that we could be wrong in the ways we are acting with respect to the rest of the Communion and even with segments within our own American Church.

Mark, you wrote: “All of this makes matters of sexuality - particularly the matters addressed in the moratoria on same-sex blessings and episcopal ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons - matters of "faith and order." Now how does that happen? What precisely is this business of Faith and Order?”

Just to set up bit of context: As a gay priest serving in an urban area in a neighborhood and a parish with a lot of gay people (although admittedly, mostly younger than Baby Boomers), I wish there were representatives on Executive Council and the other committees and councils of this Church that actually represent the attitudes and understandings of the growing number of gay clergy and lay people I know, including me. As one whose sexuality you are talking about, I disagree that Kearon’s statement or the ABC’s actions make my sexuality (partnered bishops or union blessings) congruent with “faith and order.”

My take on Canon Kearon’s statement is one of what we do, how we act towards others, how we engage the rest of the Communion, and not over what we believe about same-sex bishops or the blessings of unions.

You may want to conflate our actions and their reactions with regard to TEC and the rest of the Communion with beliefs over sexuality (my life), but please stop it. None of these recent actions are about what we may believe as a Church concerning same-sex anything or even our advocacy for our beliefs. We are being spanked because of how we act, not for what we believe, and just like petulant children when we get spanked we scream and yell about how unfair it is that we have to bear the consequences of our actions. We are being given a "time-out," and we don't like it.

We are getting a time-out because we acting arrogantly and self-servingly. We act as if we are not part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We act vaingloriously as if we are so incredibly wise, knowledgeable, and “prophetic” that we don’t need to listen to anyone else.

We are acting as a Church in the same why our State Department and Military leadership acted under George Bush. We can do whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever we want, unilaterally because we are Americans and that makes it right! We claim over and over that we "listen," but we still act like Bushy Americans. Are we so blind that we cannot see that as a Church we are acting like the “ugly Americans,” imperialists, paternalists thinking that we know so much better than all others, particularly those backward Africans? And to add insult to injury, we are actually claiming “colonial victimhood” because the English ABC is beginning to take action - fairly, I might add.

But again, these are just my opinions. I could be wrong - honestly

Bob+

Bob G+ said...

A couple more thoughts:

You wrote, “But Canon Kearon believes that ‘if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn't represent that communion to the wider church.’"

Well, of course. As for the rest of the paragraph, I disagree with your take. Again, it is how we act, not our beliefs. And, of course, Lambeth represents the “mind of the Communion” at least at the bishops’ level. Yet, the democratically governed ACC also agreed (if I’m remembering correctly), so we can say that the “mind of the Communion” is not where TEC leadership is.

You wrote, “Whatever ‘Faith and Order’ entail, it is mostly what is delineated in the Preamble to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, "the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer." Faith and Order are derivative of the ordered life of prayer and sacramental living derived from our practice.”

Well, here is another problem. Point (i): Our own Church, our own bishops, won’t even abide by our own Canons or Constitution or General Convention. Simply take open communion as an example. We can’t even “faith and order” ourselves within our own institution, and we are to be trusted by the other Provinces, by the ABC, by other Traditions that we as Americans can faithfully represent some sort of coherent Anglican Communion position within ecumenical relationships? I don’t blame anyone for not trust us – heck, I don’t trust us.

Thanks for indulging me.

Bob+

Nom de Plume said...

Don't look now, but the latest propossal to amend legislation allowing for the ordination of women bishops in England will put the C of E offside vis a vis the Order of the Church within the Anglican Communion, if it is adopted.

I suppose we can look forward to a Pentecost letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury qua Instrument of Communion to the Archbishop of Canterbury qua Primate of All England.

Allen said...

OK, so Windsor and Lambeth 1.10 are not enforceable on the Provinces; so you say. Has it occurred to you that TEC is STILL the outlier as compared to the rest of the majority of the Communion? Out of step with the developed and developing mind of the Communion? The councils of the Communion have said so for years, so why the shock?

I really can't understand why all this angst. You knew that this was coming. So many revisionists have declared in so many words that belonging with a larger Anglican Communion just isn't important. OK, you're getting your wish. But you shouldn't be allowed to speak your minority voice in an officially representative fashion in ecumenical dialogues. Being "out of step" is the goal of TEC, so go for it.

WHY. DO. YOU. CARE. NOW?

Just go for the alternative North American and spotty global federation that you have been cobbling together and be happy.

Kearon is right. Things HAVE broken down, but will move on much better without TEC pushing and shoving in the councils of the Anglican Communion. And TEC will absolutely thrive without the rest of the "few who don't want to be with us." Keep the money. People can still be united without the building and tea parties. GAFCON proves that.

This is GOOD NEWS for TEC. You won! Just start dancing and hollering instead of wondering why people took you seriously and gave you an equally serious response.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

We are getting a time-out because we acting arrogantly and self-servingly. We act as if we are not part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We act vaingloriously as if we are so incredibly wise, knowledgeable, and “prophetic” that we don’t need to listen to anyone else.

Sorry, Fr. Bob--that is just nonsense.

We have been listening and talking and arguing about same-sexuality for FORTY YEARS. And in that time, people have come to know faithful LGBTs--some of them partnered--who clearly do the work of Christ in the world.

Either Jesus meant it when he said we would know his followers by the fruits of their lives---or he was a liar. So which is it? If we see Christ in those with whom we live and labor, why should we deny Christ in them to suit those who willfully refuse to see?

And why should we be punished for choosing those whom we know to be servants of Christ to lead us? Bishops may be bishops for the entire church--but they lead locally. Under our constitution and canons, those who must live under the Bishop's jurisdiction have a right to choose those they believe God is calling. If you suggest that dioceses call bishops just BECAUSE they are gay or lesbian--or in order to stick a thumb in the eye of other Anglicans--I suggest you are not paying attention. And that you have a very unflattering opinion of your fellow Christians.

And if you want to be part of a church where you have no say in choosing your bishop, I suggest you go to Rome. Although, since you are openly gay, they aren't likely to welcome you.
Doxy

Kevin Montgomery said...

Bob+,
How would you suggest that we should have acted? Perhaps we should have been a little more deliberate about the process, being more intentional about consultation and developing a theology to undergird all of this. I'd also add that it might have made more sense to settle the question of same-sex unions before that of ordinations, or at least episcopal ordination. However, for consultation and discussion to take place, there must be those on the other side who are willing to engage in it. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. In fact, I'd say that Lambeth I.10, as opposed to the more nuanced report that was developed leading up to Lambeth '98, is a clear example of an attempt to end debate and declare it a settled question when it was far from settled. For the conservatives to yell and scream about not being consulted if quite ingenuous when they either refused to come to the table or refused (and continue to refuse) to listen if they did.

So again, what would you suggest we should have done? Not allow ordinations of gays and lesbians or bless same-sex unions until there was a greater consensus in the Anglican Communion, which never would have happened, in which case you yourself never would have been ordained? Should we have done like the Church of England and have a dishonest Don't Ask Don't Tell policy? It's easy to say we've acted arrogantly, but unless you give specific examples and provide an alternative course of action, it's very helpful.

K. Töpfer (aka Martial Artist) said...

Bonnie,

"Why is it when discussing" scripturally proscribed behavior some persons "always ignore" the fact that Lambeth 1988 Resolution 1.10 is not about orientation, but about behavior?

Does that not strike you as, to put it charitably, somewhat disingenuous?

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Dennis said...

Bob,
That is simply not the case. As one gay man to another, I suggest that you talk to a few more of us in the Church. Most of us (All?) are delighted at the fact that we have a Presiding Bishop willing to stand up and say no to Rowan and Nigeria and Sydney and the Southern Cone.

And there is no need to come down with a case of Stockholm Syndrome over this. We don't have to be Patty Hearst and help the captors. Rowan and the leadership of the ACO are wrong. Love, tolerance, acceptance, inclusion are always the right thing to do. Rejection and exclusion are always the wrong thing to do. Don't feel obliged to defend the undefendable.

Lionel Deimel said...

Thank you, Mark, for the history lesson. I had been unclear about where the “faith and order” phrase came from.

One of the issues at stake is the character of Anglicanism as represented by the Anglican Communion. Disagreement over doctrine has been in Anglican’s DNA, and, in representing ourselves to other Christian groups, we should be displaying that diversity, not hiding it. But, of course, the ABC and his henchmen (or is he theirs?) are trying to excise that messy part of our DNA from the Anglican genome.

TEC should not be criticized for what it is doing now, but for what it failed to do in October 2003, namely, tell the Communion we have done what we have done, and no one has the right to tell us what to do. The Communion did not have that right then, but it is seeking it now.

I am beginning to find the Anglican wars very tiresome. I offer this piece of wisdom from my poem “Christian Unity”:

So let us vow to never fight
About who’s wrong and who is right
Concerning truths we cannot know
That turn our Christian friend to foe.

David |Dah • veed| said...

You confuse me Bob+. Should TEC not act on its beliefs? Should TEC not have ordained you?

markottawa said...

It's rather bizarre to suggest that the TEC did anything unique and hasn't listened to others.

First, the UCC, ELCA, United Church of Canada, Uniting Church of Australia, Old Catholics, Scandinavian and some German Lutherans and others all bless gay unions. The PCUSA is close to do the same thing. Other mainline Protestant denominations have "Open and Affirming" congregations where they advocate something similar.

You can find books from almost every denominational perspective advocating that gay people be ordained and that gay relationships are holy and deserve blessing, and that includes quality works from Roman Catholic and Orthodox backgrounds. These books and their authors have played a big role in our 50 year conversation.

The TEC has listened and listened. It's not alone. It's not even alone in the Anglican Communion.

MarkBrunson said...

Bob,

The problem is that TEC are children - - but so are the ones thinking they have the "right" to do the spanking or decide the truth.

We're all kids in a one-parent household.

Now, the idea that - somehow - it is arrogant to make decisions for TEC's processes, TEC's leadership, and TEC's governance, while making no insistence that any changes occur in any other province, is, in any objective sense, not true. Sorry. Just not. There is absolutely nothing - nothing - that changes the "faith and order" of any other church. The anglican communion has never had legislative authority, so the insistence that, somehow, magically, churches are tainted by tangential contact is, frankly, disingenuous at best.

The idea that there is wisdom in placating what is clearly a violent, destructive and ignorant mindset is not an idea that should be lauded, but condemned! The claim that keeping that mindset in communion somehow actually aids the eradication of that violence, destruction and ignorance has proven fruitless. Only the power of secular pressure stopped the abomination of the Uganda legislation.

Finally, as a gay man, whether you are a priest or no, please don't speak for me on this subject. Nothing you've said is recognizable in either my attitude, or that of any gay men or women I know in my small, southern and relatively conservative diocese.

Bob G+ said...

Kevin – I’ve written several versions of my response to you and all of them have been way too long - even this is way too long. I think I will make a couple assertions that will hopefully answer your question without boring you and everyone else to death with drawn out details.

I agree with you that starting with a strong theological and Biblical apologetic for any fundamental change to the prevailing understanding within the Church universal (since we consider ourselves not only part of a Communion but also part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church) is of paramount importance. What little and inadequate theology we’ve done has been after-the-fact and attempts to justify what has already been done, rather than building a strong argument before we act so that we are ready for opposition. I say inadequate because our justifications and attempted theological explanations do not forthrightly deal with the arguments of those opposed to our “innovations.” For whatever reason, we will not meet opponents on their page in the book. Even if they will not agree, we still should do (and could have done) the work beforehand.

There has been building over the past 35 odd years a method of dealing with change within the Church that relies far too heavily on secular civil-rights arguments and within the cultural domains of political-correctness, identity-politics, and multiculturalism. These are completely inadequate justifications when building an apologetic that deals with Church matters related to fundamental change. Our way of viewing the world and change should not rest on issues of “rights,” protests actions to force change, “speaking truth to power,” etc. As the American Church, it is our profound hubris and self-serving attitude that compels us to believe that we can act unilaterally and not feel the need to give good, honest, and relevant explanations for why we want to make a change – before the fact. In so doing, we as a Church act just like the Bush administration’s State Department and Military when acting unilaterally with no regard to world reactions.

Finally, we’ve talked this to death. The problem is that some assert that the “talking” is the work. It is not. It is necessary, but it is not the work. Likewise, we think that “feelings” are a most important aspect of anything we do. Our goal is to make people feel good about their selves – affirmed. This is the domain of psychotherapy, not theology and not the Church’s work for the “cure of souls.”

I will leave things here, at this point. I don’t really know if I answered your question, Kevin, but it is an attempt.

Arthur Schopenhauer said/wrote, "All truth passes through 3 stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident." Patience is a virtue!

Bob G+ said...

Dennis - I am very aware of that side of the argument. I'm not saying that the PB should not stand up to those who fight against the inclusion of LBGT people. We should be strong advocates of our positions, but not acting unilaterally with our normal American condescension and arrogance.

What I am saying is the way we have handled the process of change has been inadequate, wrong, and has done a lot to exacerbate the problems we are now facing.

Bob G+ said...

Mark - First off all, I'm not talking about placation.

Secondly, I'm not speaking for you. There are varied positions within the gay community, both secular and within the Church. I don't presume for one moment to speak for all gay people. I will, however, speak my mind and say that I hear from more and more gay people, priests and lay, that the prevailing attitude, or politically-correct position, within the Church does not represent their thoughts and feelings. We may absolutely disagree, but as honest Anglicans we should still come together around the altar of God in worship and fellowship.

Kevin Montgomery said...

As for ecumenical discussions and the "concern" that the diversity could confuse ecumenical partners, such as the Roman Catholic Church (hardly a reputable partner these days). That is, of course, total horse-hockey. Even the RCC maintains conversation with such traditions at Baptists and even Pentecostals yet still finds ways to continue these discussions despite even less coherence of voice than found in talks with Anglicans.

MarkBrunson said...

And I'm telling you - as are the rest of us - that we are hearing differently.

The only ones excluding those who can't accept gays and lesbians are those who can't accept gays and lesbians. You seem to be trying to lay the blame at the feet of those who are being victimized.

If all you're worried about is the ability to come together around the altar, that ability is there. It is the unwillingness of those who claim Truth and Authority for themselves above others who are the problem. Speak to them.

Caminante said...

Sorry, Bob, but as a lesbian priest, I am not willing to contribute to my oppression.

Sometimes doing what Christ taught (c.f. the lesson from Galatians we just heard recently) means going against the institutional church. I'll go with what Christ taught, a gospel of inclusion, rather than human-made dictums on the sinfulness of sexuality which still hasn't even accepted women be they straight or lesbian.

Kevin Montgomery said...

Bob,
Talking about what we SHOULD have done is fine and good, but it doesn't get us anywhere. The main question I still have is this: What do we do NOW?

If we have so badly screwed this up by our "arrogance," should we not just get rid of what has resulted from that arrogance? As a gay priest, are you saying your ordination is a mistake? Are you willing to step down from ordained ministry for the sake of making nice with Nigeria? Are you willing to call on all openly gay clergy to do the same and for those whose same-sex couples who've had their unions blessed in the church to say those were also mistakes?

Again, I ask, "What do you suggest we do? What is your plan of action?"

Bob G+ said...

Kevin – I worked at Kent State University for 10 years before going to seminary. Between the different colleges of the University, there were often great differences in administrative and educational philosophy. Often, there were some real battles between them as the University tried to build and convey a unified image of KSU, which was (and of course still is) necessary for perspective students and their parents to have faith and trust that the institution could effectively educate students and for outside funding organizations to have any confidence that the University could fulfill its obligations. Ultimately, the President of the University and the Board of Trustees were responsible for setting a unified tone and policy that the University presented to the outside world.

If the University's President was unable to manage all this and was unsuccessful in forming and enforcing a common position and image of KSU as a whole to the outside world, the President and her administration would have failed in their duties. If a representative of the University to the outside world was unable to support the policies and vision of the institution as a whole (regardless of internal dissension) and publically made comments to such, s/he would not last long as a representative of the University. If a dean of a college continued to publically oppose the official policy or procedures of the University as a whole, s/he would not last long.

Whether we like it or not, the Anglican Communion Instruments of Unity have asked this Church of ours and the other Provinces to hold off on doing three things for the sake of the whole. That is the official position of the Communion as a whole, whether we or the Ugandan Church accept it or not. Canterbury can’t force us to toe the line or remove our primates, but the ABC also doesn’t have to have any particular people on the commission and committees under his domain that are to represent the Common as a whole.

Why do any of the Provinces (including ours) that continue acting unilaterally and not for the sake of the whole expect to have the right to be on Communion-wide ecumenical or faith and order commissions? How do we expect those Churches with whom we are in ecumenical dialogue to have any faith or trust that anything constructive will be accomplished or common agreements upheld? Do we understand that we have squandered our trustworthiness? We live in a fantasy world if we think it can be otherwise.

Bob G+ said...

Caminante - I know all to well the violent incidents and discrimination perpetuated upon LGBT folks in this county. We have a long way to go, but...

Do we really think it is fair to compare what we experience in this country with what gay and lesbian people are experiencing in Uganda, as an example? That is oppression! Frankly, what we experience in the U.S., with exceptions, is inconvenience.

For me as a gay Christian to attempt to claim that I am "oppressed" when I look at brother and sister LGBT Christians in those countries and what they face every day is profoundly self-centered. It is not following the Gospel of Christ to not consider the others' best interest before my own and to act accordingly. Sorry, but they are oppressed, and what I - and most all of us in this country - face by comparison is nothing.

For their sakes, I would certainly be willing to forgo another gay bishop or having my relationship blessed by this Church for even a decade longer, because neither of those things infringe upon my life in a substantial way. Facing life in prison or death as the course of national law, well, that is of a whole different kind of thing.

Christ's Gospel of inclusion does not mean that I can put my self interest before those who are in far worse danger. For their sakes, I would rather do what is necessary to assure that our voice of moderation and advocacy is maintained within the Communion - for their sakes.

Do we really want a Gospel of inclusion, or for only those who agree with us or like us to be included?

Bob G+ said...

Kevin - Yeah, I know. We can learn, however, what to do with the next issue - whatever it may be - and how we react and respond from here on out.

Kevin, and everyone, what I am advocating has nothing to do with placating anyone or "making nice with Nigeria." Please understand that.

What do we do now? Well, not cry out in outrage like children when the consequences of our actions have been levied against us, as we've been warned would happen eventually for a few years.

What else should we do? We should demand that the "spanking" is done equally - Nigeria, Uganda, et.al., should have to pay the same price for their refusal to abide by the moratoria. But, we don't make demands with an arrogant, condescending, and self-righteous attitude (which on the world stage Americans and Episcopalians tend to do of so well).

Was my ordination a mistake? No, I don't think so. Do I believe that the consecration of a gay bishop in a relationship is wrong? No, but again what I am talking about deals with the way we are handling these issues.

If I thought that my giving up my license to do priestly duties would save the lives or freedom of gay Ugandan Christians, well depending on the circumstance, I may well do so. (Considering that doing so does not at all mean that I stop being a minister of Christ in accomplishing his will in the world, I just couldn't do priestly duties in this Church.) I don't have the "right" to be a priest.

I cannot speak for other gay priests concerning what they should or shouldn't do. I will, however, advocate for a way the institution should deal with these issues internally and externally.

As we are removed from committees and commissions, and perhaps from the Instruments of Unity, I truly fear concerning the "freedom" the nefarious people in certain Provinces will sense to do to gay people whatever they want. Regardless of their bravado, our presence in the Councils of the Church and calling them to account for their extreme hatred of gay people does have an effect in moderating their positions and actions. That will be gone. What then? I don't know.

Bob G+ said...

Ya'll, we can go on with this for a long time. I just have to much to do to continue.

I pray God's will be done within each of us, within our Church, and within the Communion. I pray for discernment, wisdom, and restraint for Katherine, Rowan, and the Primates of the other Provinces. In the end, God will accomplish His will regardless of or in spite of us all. We all fall short, but God's grace is sufficient.

Please pray for the LBGT believers in those countries where their lives are constantly in peril.