Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episcopal Church Convention: What does this all Mean?

Do25 has now passed both houses of the 2009 General Convention.

There is an incredible amount of opinions as to what the Episcopal Church is doing and not doing, as well as countless others analyzing these positions. I've put down my understanding of what D025 means, and it's relationship to B033 in the earlier posts, but I thought I would point out some of the other reactions with links and quotes.

Diana Butler Bass, the insightful lay writer, wrote this article called "Not Angels, but Anglicans."
In plain English, the Episcopal Church has now formally recognized the lived reality of faithful same-sex Christian couples in our community and that the Holy Spirit may call persons in such relationships to Christian ministry--even the ministry of bishop. This affirmation doesn't demand that anyone do anything or anyone be forced to believe something they find offensive. Indeed, in the resolution, the church stated that Christians are not of a unified mind and that Christians "of good conscience" may disagree in regards to these concerns. But the resolution also does two important things: 1) it recognizes that many, many Episcopalians are perfectly comfortable and open to being part of a diverse spiritual community that includes gay and lesbian brothers and sisters; and 2) that local dioceses may chose their bishops by discerning the best candidate for ministry without restriction placed on sexual identity. Some may argue that the Episcopal Church has broken faith. No, Episcopalians are struggling to be faithful and to live justly as our society widens its understanding of human relationships and marriage. The attempt to do so is not somehow "secular" or untraditional. Rather, adapting to local cultures is an important part of being Anglican.

Bishop of Durham
NT Wright, wrote an op-ed in The Times entitled "The Americans know this will end in schism":

Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”.

Not so, says Episcopal Priest Scott A. Gunn, Rector of Christ Church Lincoln, RI, in his blog entry "When Tom Wright gets it totally wrong..." He takes Wright's arguments on one by one, concluding:

Let’s all be clear about two things. First, the Episcopal Church is (imperfectly, to be sure) trying to answer God’s mission imperatives in this place and in this time. Second, we are committed to our bonds of affection with our sisters and brothers overseas. To say otherwise is to distort the truth and to refuse to listen to what our General Convention and our Presiding Bishop have repeatedly said.

Nick Knisely, Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix AZ, writes that the Episcopal Church has sent no clear single to walk apart from the Anglican Communion in "Wait..., what?":

For my part, I did no such thing, nor to the best of my knowledge did anyone at the deputations around me on the floor. We tried to express our internal conflict as best we could. It’s hard to understand the import of what happened. We believe that there will be more partnered gay and lesbian bishops in the future. We strongly desire to be allowed to remain a part of the Communion. We don’t see those two statements as contradictory, but others do.

The lack of clarity is not meant to be obfuscatory - certainly not on my part. It represents the muddled and confused place the Episcopal Church finds itself right now. It’s was not meant to, and it does not deliver clarity according to the standards of those demanding it. It struggles to be honest.

There's a great deal more out for yourself.