Tuesday, May 22, 2007

If there was ever a time for prayer and for LGBT Anglicans to find their voices

Once again the 'Bullies of the Patriarchy' have spoken, and this is where we find ourselves...

A Statement from The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire
With regard to the Issuance of Invitations to the Lambeth Conference, 2008
May 22, 2007

It is with great disappointment that I receive word from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I will not be included in the invitation list for the Lambeth Conference, 2008. At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a “listening process” on the issue of homosexuality, it makes no sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from that conversation. It is time that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion stop talking about gay and lesbian people and start talking with us.
While I appreciate the acknowledgement that I am a duly elected and consecrated Bishop of the Church, the refusal to include me among all the other duly elected and consecrated Bishops of the Church is an affront to the entire Episcopal Church. This is not about Gene Robinson, nor the Diocese of New Hampshire. It is about the American Church and its relationship to the Communion. It is for The Episcopal Church to respond to this challenge, and in due time, I assume we will do so. In the meantime, I will pray for Archbishop Rowan and our beloved Anglican Communion.

And if that weren't enough, I'd refer you to http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/ which is currently carrying a statement from Archbishop +Peter Akinola declaring that if Martyn Minns is not invited to Lambeth, 'it will be viewed as withholding invitation to the entire House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria.'

This from the man who walked away from the confraternal celebration of the Blessed Sacrament in Tanzania- showing open contempt for his Sister & Brother Primates.

This from the man who acted in blatant defiance of the Tanzania Communique by once again poaching in the American Province and by consecrating a 'Nigerian Bishop' within the same territory- and act of open contempt for the people and priests of our Episcopalian sister church and of its duly elected, consecrated and installed Primate.

This from the man who has backed the inhumane legalization of homophobic legislation within his own province, and who has called for the life imprisonment of LGBT Nigerians.

I've got only two words for you +Peter- I lovingly pray for you daily as my brother in Christ, but you're really starting to piss me off- and that's not even personal!

And as for Rowan... I pray for you also, but you've made a very serious categorical error m'dear. No comparison whatsoever can be made between the validity of the consecration of +V Gene Robinson and +Martyn Minns. One was the prayerful and legal action of the people and priests of a diocese under a duly consecrated Primate of the Episcopal Church. The other was an act of contempt and defiance, not only against that Province and its Primate, but against the whole communion with schismatic ends in mind.

Of course all of the above is only one side of the coin... As I reminded a friend in faith earlier today, despair is not a luxuary to even be considered at times like these. Besides which, it's only a consideration if we look no further than all the noise, threats and contempt of the Bullies of the Patriarchy.

The glorious and over-riding truth of all this is that before and after it all is This is the church of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God and so thankfully there is a bigger picture, there is a long-range view. This is not just an acrimonious exchange between the voices of inclusive witness to the good news of Christ Jesus and the voices of conservatism.

Christ meets us in the dance of process- and never was this more true than now.

Secondly, blessedly it's not all noise and acrimony.

Never have I been so proud to be a gay man of faith, when I read, meet and listen to my radiant LGBT sisters and brothers and the voices of our families, friends and alies, as we have all found voice in this 'listening exercise.' Honestly.... I am not able to recall one instance of acrimonious name-calling, threat, violence or contempt from my wondrous LGBT tribe in these past months- no matter how heated the discussion might have become. Yes, I have taken some flack over coining the prase 'Bullies of the Patriarchy' but I calls it as I sees it, and by their fruits ye shall know them.

Which doesn't let any of us off the hook... This latest manouever from Lambeth only makes our voices, our visible presence in the church more essential. Personally, I have already begun to work on a list of all of the Canadian Diocesan Bishops to be distributed as widely as I am able. Rather than a petition- which usually only gets skimmed, I will be offering this list to be used for personal messages to each Canadian Bishop.

What will we ask for ? It's early days yet, but my personal inclination is to personally ask each Canadian Bishop to boycott Lambeth rather than to become party to a public act of contempt towards our sister, The Episcopal Church, its Primate and a duly elected & consecrated Bishop.

(In addition to my usual e-mail network, I intend to post the list here)

And in the meantime, my heartfelt thanks to my radiant LGBT sisters & brothers of faith, and to all who have made our cause your own. Please know that you all are a constant embodiment of Christ Jesus for me, and a reminder of Christ's passionate call to the life He truly wants for us all.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just Whose Church do They Think It Is?

And yes the fast from the chaos of contention has continued, as my silence in this space bares witness.
There is only so much toxicity one can suffer and still carry on with day-to-day commitments.
And unfortunately our dear Communion has been awash with it of late- with not enough shining exceptions

Which makes me wonder?
Do these vitriolic voices of 'dark ages' Christianity ever ask themselves just what a message they are sending to the church and equally to those outside the church?
Likewise, does even one of them ever consider the lived-consequences of their enraged pronouncements & threats?
I have yet to hear or see any collective act of repentance for Christianity's role in supporting slavery and rascist regimes; for the suppression, objectification and exploitation of women, for countless antisemetic pogroms and the Shoah; so I'm not expecting an apology any time soon for the Churchs' role in the countless teenage scuicides of LGBT youth, and the violence and discrimination which continues daily against my LGBT sisters & brothers.
But do they ever stop- even if only to take a breath and wonder how they sound, what message they are sending to the world at large and to the future Church?

http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/213177 is a recent article from the Toronto Star about the current tour of Charlie+ Masters, the head of 'Anglican Essentials', the Canadian reactionary lobby of fear and now violence.... I add 'violence ' because of some of the material contained in this article... and I quote

If that happens (The Bishop's Recomendations for Pastoral Care) Masters says Essentials will petition Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the church, to recognize his group as the official Anglican Church in Canada. 'It's possible that by the end of June, the face of Anglicanism in Canada will change.

Those of you with better memories than I will be able to recall the infamous memo, quoted several months ago on several inclusive sites; written by the conservative lobby in the Episcopal Church, more than seven years ago.... strategizing the violence to the Communion and attempted scism they have carried out in the Episcopal Church.

And here we go again- the 'bullies' threatening to break what they are unable to dominate.
And before anyone jumps down my throat for using that word let me simply ask..... which quarter has resorted to threats, name-calling, walking away from the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament, breaking the conditions of the Tanzania Communique, and when one deadline wasn't enough, turned around and issued another- to ++Cantebury himself to 'return'.

Of course the glorious truth is that the bullies have not been the only ones who have stepped up to the plate in these very sad and trying times... Our dear Church and the larger communion of faith has been so mightily blessed by so many courageous, articulate, grace-filled witness to the limitless inclusivity of Christ's love and passion for humanity. And nothing has moved me more deeply ( except perhaps the consecration of dear +Gene) than so see so many LGBT brothers and sisters of faith for the first time claiming their place in this discussion.

Personally, the closer we get to the ACC National Synod in June I become more concerned that the Canadian Church may falter in responding to what I believe to be Christ's call to lives of faith beyond fear, patriarchy and the limits the patriarchy imposes on God and man alike.
Wether or not the ACC fails to act with the same radiant courage as TEC, I would ask for prayers for the meeting in June.

As one very dear and oft-quoted brother-in-faith reminded me 'we are a people of hope-' no matter how battered and tried that hope might be at times.

In the long haul I have no doubt that we will live to see the Church be joyously overcome with the inclusive renewal we are being called to. But it's like my answer to a gay brother the other day, when he asked why I even care what's going on in our beloved Communion.... In the long run it's really got very little to do with the 'bullies of the patriarchy' it's all about Christ- His call, His promises... and yes His vision for His church. So that's why ...


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Great ++Katherine- Awesome!

For the last couple of weeks I've been on my own 'fast' from much of what's been passing as news within the church.
Being Anglican and gay man of faith can be pretty exhausting in times like these, and yet there have also been many grounds for gratitude, not the least my Zen sitting practice and the witness and community of so many brothers and sisters of faith.
And then there's ++Katherine's letter of April 30th, when so many of us were shaking our heads over the act of contempt announced for this week-end by ++Peter Akinola & + Martyn Mins.
Thank God for ++Katherine, and the grace and skill she has shown in these times.

And now you can read her skillful letter to ++ Peter Akinola

Was there ever a time more in need of our prayers for the future of our church?

The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola
Primate of All Nigeria & Bishop of Abuja
Archbishop's PalacePO Box 212 ADCP

My dear Archbishop Akinola:
I am writing this letter with my prayers for you and for the entire worldwide Anglican Communion from a fellow child of Christ.
I understand from press reports you are planning to come to the United States to install Martyn Minns as a bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. I strongly urge you not to do so.
First, such action would violate the ancient customs of the church which limits the episcopal activity of a bishop to only the jurisdiction to which the bishop has been entrusted, unless canonical permission has been given. Second, such action would not help the efforts of reconciliation that are taking place in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion as a whole. Third, such action would display to the world division and disunity that are not part of the mind of Christ, which we must strive to display to all.
I would carefully ask that you reconsider your plans to come to this country for this purpose. This request stems from the hope and vision of reconciliation which was the mind of the primates as we met in Tanzania.
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori