Saturday, July 11, 2009

Episcopal Church: The Time is Now

I believe that, three years ago, B033 passed in a moment of fear.

As I walked around during the early part of the Columbus Convention in 2006, the place was abuzz over who would be the next Presiding Bishop. Person after person expressed their impressed opinions of the Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori. “She’s so articulate, she’s brilliant, she’s personable, thoughtful, spiritual, etc etc etc. Then everyone would end with the words, “Too bad she’s not electable,”

Well, we all know what the Holy Spirit did...

None of us non-bishops know what really happened next, but I think what I like to call an “oh s#%t” moment happened. There was an onset of fear that the conservative wing of the church and perhaps the rest of the Anglican Communion would never embrace a female bishop after receiving no contrite action on the Windsor Report.

So B033 was hatched...

I believe the hope was that this would give the new Presiding Bishop a chance of acceptance with the rest of the Communion.

The cost, however, was great: a heavy burden on the clergy and lay deputies to approve something they disagreed with, a sense of betrayal to the GLBT leaders in the church, disappointment to Episcopalians who thought that the barriers of discrimination were coming down, and a message to those outside the church that the Episcopal Church was stalling on the promise that all were welcome to full inclusion of the church.

The ironic thing is, it didn’t work. The conservative wing still left, and the general reaction of those looking to punish the Episcopal Church for lifting up GLBT people was “not enough.”

I will acknowledge that B033 was passed by the House of Bishops in 2006 with the idea that “this was the best we can do right now.” I will accept that action then as a well-intentioned mistake.

The mistake must now be corrected.

The window of opportunity for the Episcopal Church is near closing. For once in the last 100 years, the church is leading the cause of inclusion. We pathetically waited too long for the full inclusion of African Americans and women, as the rest of our society moved on and lumped us with other churches as “out of touch” with real life. If we wait any longer, we will once again only be “catching up with the times, and apologizing for our hesitation and short-sightedness.”

1 comment:

Jeffrey Shy said...

Fr. Kurt,

Thanks for your thoughtful essay. In my own blog, , I have stated very similar things. I am particularly fearful of the "where we are" option that is being floated at GC as the response to B033.
We got all the backlash last time with no gain. I believe that the backlash is already planned and set to go no matter what GC decides. Let's do something this time that makes it "worth it." I agree. We have the window and the momentum, and it may not last long.