Monday, March 05, 2007

That's a big 'no appeasement' to the primates
(politely worded)

The response from the Episcopal Church to the primates' communique´ is forming, and making it clear, the church will try to work with and remain in the Communion, but not at the expense of the gay and lesbian members of the Episcopal Church. Furthermore, the committee looks askance at the primates' tactics and demands of the church.

This is very good news for those who have been hanging on, and waiting, good news for those who have wanted a word of encouragement that the church will not desert them.

It's the word all of us who desire to be part of an inclusive church need to hear.

In related news, the Diocese of New Jersey expressed regret for the now-infamous B033: From an ENS article today, by Neva Rae Fox:

"After a lengthy debate which drew over a dozen speakers plus the introduction and subsequent defeat of two amendments, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey approved a resolution at its Convention March 3 that "expresses its deepest regret for the pain and anguish suffered by our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, their families, and friends, due to the adoption of [General Convention] Resolution B033."

The resolution also called to "offer forgiveness to each other and to others in the world-wide Anglican Communion as we seek to enter into deeper levels of communion with one another."

From the March 4 report of Executive Council's meeting, by Mary Frances Schjonberg:

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council, at the close of its three-day meeting in Portland, Oregon, acted "clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons."

"We wish clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons, particularly those perceived to be the least among us," the Council said in a letter to the Church issued at the end of the meeting. "We wish to reaffirm to our lesbian and gay members that they remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church.

"Further, we offer our prayerful affirmation to all who struggle with the issues that concern us: those who are deeply concerned about the future of their Church and its place within the wider Communion, and those who are not reconciled to certain actions of General Convention. We wish to reaffirm that they too remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church."

The letter said that the requests made by the recent session of the Primates Meeting "raise important and unresolved questions about the polity of the Episcopal Church and its ecclesiology."

"The questions facing us raise significant concerns for members of the Episcopal Church," the letter acknowledged ...

The Council authorized the appointment of a work group to consider the role, responsibilities and potential response of the Executive Council to the issues raised by the Primates. The work group will make a report and recommendations at the June 2007 meeting of the Council.

The Executive Council's letter was drafted by a committee appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson. It included Kim Byham (Diocese of Newark), the Rev. Gay Jennings (Diocese of Ohio), Bishop Wilfrido Ramos-Orench (Diocese of Central Ecuador), the Very Rev. Petero Sabune (Diocese of New York), the Rev. Winnie Varghese (Diocese of New York) and Belton Zeigler (Diocese of Upper South Carolina).

The entire Council discussed the draft, asked the committee to give it a second version, which the committee produced after about 45 minutes. The Council then approved the second version with no discussion. Council member Bishop Jon Bruno (Diocese of Los Angeles) and Bruce Garner (Diocese of Atlanta) were invited to join the second draft discussion.

During the discussion about the first version, Ziegler told the Council that the drafters worked "very hard to balance our statements of concern" for various groups within the church who may support or oppose the actions of General Convention.

Garner called for a clear statement about the continuing inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church. He said that the statement was needed because gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were "targeted" by the communiqué issued by the Primates after their Tanzania meeting. Those people are feeling "very vulnerable" and worried that they have been cast out of the Church or will be "exiled" soon.

He recalled that while being in church on Ash Wednesday he found it "painful for me to keep replaying parts of that communiqué and wondering if I was welcome in that place." Garner said that if he, who has felt for years that he was welcomed in the Episcopal Church, wondered how new members of the church must be feeling.

The Rev. F. N. "Butch" Gamarra (Diocese of Los Angeles) told the Council that he was conflicted between the desire to work for remain open to reconciliation and the "elephant in the room," which he said was the fact that the Church is getting "hammered" for being inclusive.

The people in the pews need to hear from the Council that "we are not appeasing" people whom he characterized as bullying and disrespecting the Episcopal Church, he said.

"The language is terribly important to people in the pews," said Bettye Jo Harris (Diocese of Hawaii). She described how her son feels as if he's been driven from the Church since the communiqué was issued.

In her closing remarks to the Executive Council, Jefferts Schori urged the members to live in the abundance of God's grace rather than in a model of scarcity. An attitude of scarcity can prompt "violent responses" because scarcity makes us feel that "our very lives are at stake."


Dennis said...

one small step - let's see how many other dioceses will follow this lead

Gordon said...

Your post is EXCELLENT! It gave a great description of what the Executive Council had to do to come up with the letter which has been read and re-read worldwide by members of the Anglican Communion.

I have a great deal of appreciation for Bruce Garner and his standing up for justice and for our leaders who welcomed his voice.

West Palm Beach, FL