Lifted from: An Inch at a time – Via the Los Angeles Times
Gay Episcopal bishop says he isn’t being ‘run off’
V. Gene Robinson says his detractors have not shaken his commitment and he’ll merely scale back when he steps down in January 2013.
By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
It was less than a month ago that V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, appeared in a YouTube video assuring gay and lesbian teenagers who were “in a dark place” that their lives would get better.
“I am an out and proud gay man who is also the bishop of New Hampshire,” he said, staring into the camera, dressed in the purple shirt of his office. “And I am living proof that it gets better.”
On Saturday, Robinson stood before a shocked diocesan convention and delivered a different message. Citing the strain of constant controversy, including death threats, he said he had decided to step down in January 2013, when he will be 65, seven years younger than the usual retirement age for an Episcopal bishop.
“The fact is,” he said, addressing his parishioners, “the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family, and you.”
In the aftermath of that announcement, Robinson insisted in an interview Monday that he was not throwing in the towel, and hadn’t been defeated by the detractors who blamed his election for widening a rift in the worldwide Anglican Communion over homosexuality.
“In no way am I being run off by those who opposed me or the positions that I take,” he said. “If death threats were going to scare me off, I would have left in the first year of being bishop when they were coming at me all the time.”
Rather, he said, he is resigning — not retiring — as bishop of New Hampshire at a normal age for someone to scale back, and he intends to be active in some role he has not yet defined. He will still be a bishop, he said, just not the leader of a diocese.
“There’s no question that I will continue to be active in trying to achieve full and equal rights for gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people, and I’m also very interested in how religion intersects with public policy,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said, he would remain “absolutely focused” on his ministry in New Hampshire. “I have never been discouraged by any of this,” he said.
“It’s a terrible thing that some people feel so angry and so hateful,” he added. “But that’s between them and God, and I have been able to keep my faith intact and have never wavered in loving this ministry.”
Those who know him say Robinson may have been feeling the strain of doing, in effect, two jobs: one as the head of a diocese of 15,000 people and one as an international gay rights icon who was a lightning rod for criticism.
“Gene initially simply wanted to be the bishop of New Hampshire — that was his vocation, his call,” said Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles, who in May became the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay bishop. “And I think he had to wrestle with the fact that the [gay] community worldwide had some expectations of him that he then had to consider … as he became a symbol and an icon for other communities around the world.”
“Certainly,” she said, “the stress of that, in and of itself, can wear you down.”
Robinson “paved the way for me and for others like me,” Glasspool added, noting that unlike him, she did not wear a bulletproof vest to her consecration ceremony and had never received a death threat.
Robinson’s election as bishop in 2003 was a seismic event in the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose U.S. branch is the Episcopal Church. It prompted dozens of U.S. congregations and several dioceses to leave the church and affiliate with more conservative Anglican churches overseas.
Christopher Sugden, a British Anglican who is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, a group that promotes orthodox teachings, said the communion remained divided by the decision to consecrate gay bishops.
“His retirement doesn’t change anything,” Sugden said. “The issue is the refusal of the Episcopal Church to adhere to the agreed doctrinal standards of the communion, and their leadership’s determination to promote, and in North America to enforce, ethical and doctrinal standards that are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture as received by the universal church. They have chosen to walk apart.”
To Robinson’s supporters, that break is a badge of courage. Margaret Porter, moderator of New Hampshire’s Episcopal Diocesan Council, said there had been little regret over Robinson’s selection and much sadness over his early departure.
“I think we knew initially when we took him that we’d be sharing him with the world,” she said. “That’s been a very positive thing.”
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
By Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press
The first openly gay Episcopal bishop said Saturday that he will retire in 2013, due in part to the “constant strain” on him and his family from the worldwide backlash against his election seven years ago.
Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration convulsed the global Anglican fellowship, said he was announcing his retirement early so the transition would be smooth for the Diocese of New Hampshire. He assured congregants that he is healthy and sober after seeking treatment for alcoholism five years ago. He will be 65 when he steps down.
Robinson revealed his plans at the annual diocesan convention in Concord.
“The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family and you,” the bishop said, in prepared remarks released by the diocese. “Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark.”
Robinson was surrounded by bodyguards and wore a bulletproof vest under his vestments when he was consecrated in 2003, an event celebrated far beyond the church as a breakthrough for gay acceptance even as it broke open a long-developing rift over what Anglicans should believe.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. body in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, a group of churches that trace their roots to the missionary work of the Church of England.
The spiritual head of the Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has been struggling to keep the fellowship together since Robinson was installed.
Episcopal and Anglican traditionalists overseas formed alliances and created the Anglican Church in North America as a conservative rival to the Episcopal Church.
Under pressure from conservatives, Williams did not invite Robinson to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops. Instead, Robinson flew privately to England and spoke at local churches while the other Anglican bishops convened.
Robinson and his partner of more than two decades, Mark Andrew, held a civil union ceremony in 2008, and the bishop publicly advocated for same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, which the state approved last year. Robinson also gave the opening prayer at a concert ahead of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.
The bishop’s retirement will not heal tensions among Anglicans, which go beyond Robinson. Episcopalians solidified their support for same-sex relationships last year by authorizing bishops to bless same-sex unions and by consecrating a lesbian, Assistant Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles.
In his speech Saturday, Robinson thanked congregants for supporting him through the tumult over his election.
“New Hampshire is always the place I remain, simply, ‘the bishop.’ This is the one place on earth where I am not ‘the gay bishop,’” Robinson said. “I believe that you elected me because you believed me to be the right person to lead you at this time. The world has sometimes questioned that, but I hope you never did.”
Lifted from: Walking with Integrity
For Immediate Release: October 18, 2010
Today, as leaders of Christian communions and national networks, we speak with heavy hearts because of the bullying, suicides and hate crimes that have shocked this country and called all faith communities into accountability for our words or our silence. We speak with hopeful hearts, believing that change and healing are possible, and call on our colleagues in the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
In the past seven weeks, six young and promising teenagers took their own lives. Some were just entering high school; one had just enrolled in college. Five were boys; one, a girl becoming a young woman. These are only the deaths for which there has been a public accounting. New reports of other suicides continue to haunt us daily from around the country.
They were of varying faiths and races and came from different regions of the nation.The one thing these young men and women had in common was that they were perceived to be gay or lesbian.
Each in their own way faced bullying and harassment or struggled with messages of religion and culture that made them fear the consequences of being who they were.
In the past two weeks, cities like New York have seen major escalations in anti-gay violence. Two young men attacked patrons of the Stonewall Inn, legendary birth place of the LGBT rights movement in the United States, locking them in the restroom and beating them while hurling anti-gay epithets.
Men on a Chelsea street, saying goodnight after an evening out, were attacked by a group of teens and young adults, again hurling anti-gay slogans and hurting one person badly enough to require emergency treatment. And nine young men in the Bronx went on a two-day rampage beating, burning, torturing and sodomizing two teenage boys and their gay male adult friend for allegedly having a sexual relationship. “It’s nothing personal,” one of the now arrested said. “You just broke the rules.”
What are the “rules” of human engagement and interaction that we, as people of faith, want to teach our congregants, children and adults alike, to live by?
Many have responded from within and beyond the faith community offering comfort and support to the families and friends of Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase and Aiyisha Hasan. Our hearts, too, are broken by the too soon losses of these young and promising lives, and we join our voices to those who have sought to speak words of comfort and healing.
Many others, however, have responded by adding insult to injury, citing social myths and long-held prejudices that only fuel division, hatred and violence – and sometimes even death.
We, as leaders of faith, write today to say we must hold ourselves accountable, and we must hold our colleagues in the ministry, accountable for the times, whether by our silence or our proclamations, our inaction or our action, we have fueled the kinds of beliefs that make it possible for people to justify violence in the name of faith. Condemning and judging people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can have deadly consequences, both for the victims of hate crimes and those who commit them.
There is no excuse for inspiring or condoning violence against any of our human family. We may not all agree on what the Bible says or doesn’t say about sexuality, including homosexuality, but this we do agree on: The Bible says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” Abiding in love – together – is the rule we must all preach, teach, and seek to live by.
People of faith must realize that if teens feel they will be judged by their church, rejected by their families and bullied by their peers, they may have nowhere to turn.
Too many things go unspoken in our communities. It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the diversity of God’s creation and the gift of various sexual orientations and gender identities – and to do that in a way that makes it safe for people to disagree and still abide in love.
It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the use and misuse of power and authority by those we entrust with our spiritual well-being. It’s time to make it safe for our clergy colleagues who are struggling to live what they preach, to get the help and support we all sometimes need.
The young people who took their lives a few weeks ago died because the voices of people who believe in the love of God for all the people of God were faint and few in the face of those who did the bullying, harassing and condemning. Today we write to say we will never again be silent about the value of each and every life.
To that end, we pledge to urge our churches, our individual parishes or offices, our schools and religious establishments to create safe space for each and every child of God, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. And we ask you to join us in that pledge.
Today, we personally pledge to be LGBT and straight people of faith standing together for the shared values of decency and civility, compassion and care in all interactions. We ask you, our colleagues, to join us in this pledge.
An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, “Guns Don’t Kill People — RELIGION Kills People!” In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it’s hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish.
The news is filled with the tragedies of teenaged boys who were gay and decided to end their living hell by committing suicide. Maybe they weren’t even gay, but merely perceived to be by their peers, who harassed, taunted, and threatened them unmercifully.
These were real kids with real names. Asher Brown, an eighth grader in Texas, shot himself in the head after endless bullying by classmates and despite attempts by his parents to get school authorities to take his harassment seriously. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his California backyard after relentless bullying by classmates. Asher and Seth were 13-years-old.
Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Indiana, was only perceived to be gay. But the unrelenting bullying ended with him taking his own life. Seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.
With the exception of Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.
Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn’t have contemplated — not to mention successfully accomplished — his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
No, Tyler was a victim — not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness–but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.
Despite the progress we’re making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion — and its general rejection of homosexuality — plays a crucial role in this crisis.
On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural” in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and “against God’s law and nature.”
Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.
You don’t have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word “abomination,” and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn’t have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.
Add to that the Minnesota Family Council’s Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is “homosexual indoctrination,” not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.”
Susan Russell from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, points out how ludicrous these statements are in her “An Inch at a Time” blog:
Thirteen and fifteen year olds are not ‘adopting a lifestyle,’ they’re trying to have a life! They’re trying to figure out who they are, who God created them to be and what on earth to do with this confusing bunch of sexual feelings that they’re trying to get a handle on. They need role models for healthy relationships — not judgment and the message that they’re condemned to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair.
On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”
It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.
I learned this in my dealing with racism. It’s not enough to be tolerant of other races. I benefit from a racist society just by being white. I don’t ever have to use the “n” word, treat any person of color with discourtesy, or even think ill of anyone. But as long as I am not working to dismantle the systemic racism that benefits me, a white man, at the expense of people of color, I am a racist. And my faith calls me to become an anti-racist — pro-active, vocal, and committed.
Some progressive religious groups — the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church — have long been advocates for LGBT people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has recently made great strides in welcoming gay clergy. And my own Episcopal Church has put itself at great risk on behalf of full inclusion of LGBT people in electing two openly gay priests to be bishops.
Still, even in these progressive churches, there is much to be done.
Cody J. Sanders, a Baptist minister and Ph.D. student in pastoral theology and counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, recently wrote on the Religion Dispatches website about how important it is for churches to act:
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publicly hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo? In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?
As good Christians and Jews we must work to change the religious thinking, rhetoric, and practice that communicates to our LGBT children that they are despised by their Creator. We must learn to object to anti-gay jokes the way we learned to tell our friends that we would not tolerate racist jokes. We must demand that our schools not only have antibullying policies, but that they follow through on stopping the practice of bullying. We need to lobby our congressional representatives for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390). And we must proclaim openly, loudly, and often that we love our children unconditionally in the way that God does — always wanting the best and most healthy lives for them.
These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It’s time for “tolerant” religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
Found on: An Inch at a time blog, Susan Russell
“Our communities are still pretty well divided up between the haves and the have nots, the white and those of darker hue, the straight and those who aren’t. Yet we’re all meant to cross over those boundaries that keep some enslaved to others’ definitions,” she said. “We are all invited to bathe in the river of freedom, to be washed clean of the shame of thinking that some are different enough to be pushed out of the community, away from the feast God has set from the beginning of creation.
“Healing and reconciling need our active labor and participation,” she added. “Disciples are supposed to build bridges wherever possible.”
It’s a crazy-busy day and I have no business starting it off by posting a blog — but here I am: moved by the witness of our Presiding Bishop’s July 4th sermon and wanting to make sure if you missed it, you get a chance to read it, too!
4 July 2010
Christ Church, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Greetings from around The Episcopal Church. Today is the day Americans celebrate the beginning of their struggle for independence from England – 234 years of it, to be exact. This annual Independence Day celebration is our reminder of civic freedom. It’s also a prayer book feast, a holy day, born out of the awareness that the gospel is most fundamentally about the liberation that God works in Jesus – liberation from slavery to all sorts of sin and bondage.
I gather that Australia doesn’t really have anything comparable. The release of transported convicts after their sentences were served, however, must have been met with a measure of rejoicing and a sense that life now held more promise. A ticket of leave was an invitation to cross into freedom. Other kinds of liberation must surely have attended the end of wars in which Australians fought, and the return of soldiers and sailors released from service.
In Elisha’s day, the Jordan River would have had a resonance with all those sorts of liberation or release from imperial control, occupation, slavery, prison, or wartime service. The Jordan River marked the border of the promised land, where Egypt’s former slaves crossed over into safety and the promise of plenty. The Red Sea crossing began their liberation, but it wasn’t finished until they crossed the Jordan into their new home. Naaman’s search for healing from leprosy is also a search for freedom from what his skin disease means. In his leprous state, he is unfit for office or leadership – his social freedom is severely restricted.
In the ancient world illness was often understood to be a curse. Healthy people avoided those who were sick, out of fear that they too might be infected or contaminated. Lepers became outcasts, unfit for human society. Throughout the existence of the disease, lepers have almost always been isolated and forced to keep apart from the rest of the community. In Europe in the Middle Ages lepers were so feared that they had to ring a bell and shout, “unclean, unclean” so that others could know and stay away. It’s very much like the way in which people with HIV or AIDS are still treated in many parts of the world.
When the bishops of the Anglican Communion and their spouses gathered at Lambeth two years ago, we spent one morning divided by gender – men on one side of the tent and women on the other. The organizers recognized that many of the women present would be unable to speak freely in the presence of their husbands or other men. Indeed, in the small group I was part of, bishops’ wives from Africa spoke about women in their own churches whose husbands had died of AIDS.
Those widows, even if uninfected themselves, would be pressured by their cultures to return to their husband’s village and marry one of his brothers, even if he already had a wife. It was an almost certain sentence of death by HIV. If the widow refused, the husband’s family would come and take her children and any land, house, and possessions she might have. If she resisted, they would simply put her out on the street. She had no legal recourse, and the church would not support her in either case – either in becoming a second or third wife or in resisting the cultural pressure to keep her children as a newly single woman. That position of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t is a pretty good definition of slavery, and AIDS makes many sorts of slaves.
Would that curing AIDS were so easy. Yet curing the isolation of the leper or the one with HIV is that easy – but it’s the supposedly healthy ones who have to wash away their uncleanness. It may take seven repetitions or more, but we’re the only ones who can fix the isolation of the leper or the different one – the other. That sort of social isolation or cultural imprisonment is a disease that comes from the supposedly healthy, from those who don’t want to be contaminated.
That’s at least partly what Jesus is telling his followers when he sends them out. Travel light – don’t bother with all that other baggage. Let go of all the impedimenta that want to tie you down to pre-conceptions, cultural taboos and expectations. Go and proclaim peace. Eat with anybody who offers to share a meal, offer healing to anyone who’s hurting, and tell them that God is near. And if you aren’t accepted, don’t fuss, just move on and try the next person. Healing and reconciling need our active labor and participation. Disciples are supposed to build bridges wherever possible.
Who or what needs healing around here? Who’s still enslaved, who needs cleansing, release, and restoration to community? Immigrants? Aboriginal peoples? Those with AIDS or the mentally ill? Who isn’t welcome at our tables – atheists? People who come from the other end of the theological spectrum?
There is at least one sort of division that your context and mine share – between the inside and the outside of the church. There are growing numbers of people who think that Christians are bigots, hypocrites, and uninterested in those who differ from them. The only real way to cross over that boundary is to leave these communities of safety and go on out there to find those who think we’re unclean. We’re going to have to wade into the river, even if, like the Brisbane, it does have a few bull sharks in it. There are far more dangerous creatures walking around on both banks. It’s past time to go swimming.
Will you let go of the extra sandals, bags, and preconceptions we so love to haul around? That river of life is filled with healing and freedom – thanks be to God!
Gene Robinson’s Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events
Sunday afternoon, HBO televised the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial — a concert planned by the Presidential Inauguration Committee — to kick off the festivities surrounding Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday.
Openly gay bishop Gene Robinson delivered the opening prayer before the start of the concert, but the prayer was not included as part of HBO’s broadcast.
Contacted Sunday night by AfterElton.com concerning the exclusion of Robinson’s prayer, HBO said via email, “The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show.”
Uncertain as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show, we followed up, but none of the spokespeople available Sunday night could answer that question with absolute certainty.
However, it does seem that the network’s position is that they had nothing to do with the decision.
We have also contacted a spokesperson from the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) for their explanation and will post what we learn either from PIC or HBO .
Wherever the fault lies, this is yet another unfortunate turn involving GLBT concerns over Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to deliver the prayer at Obama’s inauguration. Many in the gay community saw Robinson’s selection to deliver Sunday’s prayer as an olive branch.
But given that most Americans could not attend the concert, instead having to watch it on television, the decision to not broadcast the prayer is being seen by many in the GLBT community as a slight.
The exclusion of Robinson, even if unintentional, does not reflect well on the Obama administration’s ability thus far to think through these sorts of nuances.
After days of controversy and outrage from the religious right, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson opened Barack Obama’s inauguration concert on the National Mall today with a request that the nation pray for “understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah.” But only the people AT the concert heard that, because HBO did not televise Robinson’s message.
Who engineered this blackout of Robinson? I suspect we’ll hear lots about this in days to come.
UPDATE: The 7PM rebroadcast of the show was identical, no Gene Robinson.
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
© Copyright 2004-2006 by The Diocese of New Hampshire, The Episcopal Church
It’s very early on Sunday morning. The quiet outside belies the exuberance that promises to explode today here in Washington.
This new “chapter” in my “Canterbury Tales from the Fringe” blog needs to be renamed, of course. It could be “Mr. Robinson goes to Washington,” or “Oh my God! How did I ever get to this moment?” Instead, I’m calling it “Washington Tales from Closer to the Center.” After the experience of being on the fringe in Canterbury this summer, I am struck that the new President of the United States is including me in a way the Anglican Communion was not able to this summer. Funny, isn’t it, and sad, that the culture is modeling for the Church the inclusion meant for all of God’s children.
One of the great bishops of the Episcopal Church, Stephen Bayne, once said, “MISSION is looking around and seeing where God is already at work, and joining God there.” God, and God’s mission, will go on, with or without the Church. My prayer is that all of us in the Church will “see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up,” (from the opening collect for ordinations, which I prayed at an ordination yesterday morning). In his invitation to me to offer the invocation for the opening inaugural event, I hope that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people everywhere will feel “raised up” by the events here in Washington. I know I carry all of you in my heart.
Arriving at National Airport yesterday was like coming into a recently-stirred-up anthill. But there were no angry, impatient voices (okay, I did hear one!), no one in a bad humor. Faces filled with anticipation and sheer joy at being here. Was it my imagination, or were all the African-Americans walking just a little bit taller? I think so. I hope so. And so was everyone else.
I am, to say the least, overwhelmed by the possibilities of this day. Not just offering a prayer for the nation and the new president, but helping to kick off the beginning of a new era of hope in this nation. The hope that then-candidate Barack Obama talked about — and which was often decried by others as hopelessly (literally) labeled as unrealistic and maudlin — is about to become reality. The future won’t be perfect, of course, and the new president won’t be either. But what a new beginning!
I am also overwhelmed and humbled by the task ahead of me. This prayer has weighed on my heart for several weeks now. My words will be the first heard by the crowds who will have been standing, waiting, for six hours to witness this event. I figure they’ll be ready to listen, and grateful that the event has finally begun, or maybe they’ll start chanting “Springsteen” or “Bono” and wishing the clergy guy would just get out of the way. Either way, I will attempt to get the crowd to pause for a moment before the fun begins, and join me in a prayer that we can all pray together.
I have received a lot of critical email since announcing that my prayer would not be overtly or aggressively Christian, as most of the inaugural prayers of the last 30 years have been. My plan is to address this prayer to the “God of our many understandings,” acknowledging that no one Christian denomination nor no one faith tradition knows all there is to know about God. Each of us is privy to a piece of God, as experienced in our faith tradition. My hope is to pray a prayer that ALL people of faith can join me in.
In the end, in addition to doing all this for God, I will be thinking of three kids in the teeming crowd of people today. One of the priests in my diocese, Teresa Gocha, and her husband Jim, adopted three children, Martin and Malcolm, African-American boys, and their mixed-race sister, Margaret. They’ll be here in Washington to witness the inauguration of someone who looks like them! They will never forget it, of course. But what they’ll REALLY remember is that someone just like them can be president, can be acknowledged for who he is and not just the color of his skin. Everything changes this week for Martin, Malcom and Margaret. It changes for all of us. This is not something that the American people alone have done. This is God’s doing.
Pray for me today. Pray that I can point to a God who loves us all, who yearns for the best we can be and do, and who is constantly raising up those of us who have been cast down. Thanks be to God!
Found on: At an Inch at a Time
1. I will be blogging from Washington, using my summer’s blogspot: “Tales From the Fringe” (Perhaps this should be renamed “Tales from Closer to the Center” but I didn’t have time!)
2. Sunday’s opening inaugural event at the Lincoln Memorial will be taped by HBO. What I DO know is that HBO will be airing it on Sunday evening — and the signal will be available to EVERYONE, WHETHER OR NOT you are a subscriber to HBO!
4. On Tuesday night, after attending the LGBT ball, sponsored by HRC and others, I will be Jon Stewart’s guest on The Daily Show, a special live-from-Washington edition. At least here in the East, it is broadcast at 11:00pm on the Comedy Channel, and then rebroadcast the next night. Check local listings.
This promises to be an awesomely wonderful time. I am so honored and humbled to be so included. The President Elect has invited me to attend a small, private worship service on the morning of the inauguration, to attend the swearing in/inauguration itself, to view the parade from the Presidential viewing stand, and to attend the National Prayer Service at National Cathedral on Wednesday.
I hope that through these invitations, in some small way, ALL of you will feel included in these events by our next president.
Please pray for me as I undertake this awesome honor. I hope to do us and the Episcopal Church proud!
Rachel Maddow – “How did you they approach you and what are all the events that you are going to take part in?
+Gene Robinson – “Well they approached me by telephone, its a wonderful and long standing custom, we even have telephones in New Hampshire it’s quite amazing…”
Bishop Robinson was on the Rachel Maddow show tonight. It was a good interview and +Gene was well spoken.
Listen to the interview below…
Bishop Gene Robinson on Rachel Maddow Show
It was a busy news day – so I only put up the items I thought were important for the moment, as I was busy all afternoon. First there was Rev. Bacon on Oprah speaking to his statement that “Being gay is a gift from God.” If you wish to explore this comment you can navigate to the All Saints Webpage and listen to his sermon from Sunday.
When God created man and woman, God said it was good. We are all created in the image of God, man, woman and child. Therefore life being a gift from God, then the lives we live are gifts from God as well. It’s very simple. It just matters in what direction you read your bible from.
Let us look at some scripture for those of you who have your bibles handy. Let us turn to the Gospel of Matthew and the 22 chapter verses 34-40.
The Greatest Commandment
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:”Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I have heard this passage of scripture read twice in two days and it is resonating with me tonight as I write this. There are some Christians who defy and deny these passages and still claim to Love God and some of their neighbors. They justify hatred and exclusion with their bibles but do they truly READ their bibles? Are we listening to the same God? Are we reading the same bibles? apparently not…
You cannot say you love God and not love your neighbor. It is as simple as that. You cannot say you are a Christian and hate or merely tolerate your neighbor. “For the least of these, you have done to my bretheren, you have done to me.”
This is a good segue into my next topic.
AHSC: My Monday night class. Tonight we moved further into “relationship” with our home groups. For the duration of this term we have been placed in “home groups” and there are six people in my group. 2 men, 4 women. Now that the full class is in attendence we hastily move forwards. This is a class about communication…
I have to set a goal for this term. I have been thinking about it all night, amid everything else that is going on in my life. I think I can name what it is that I want to achieve this semester. I want to feel secure in my speech. I want to feel like I have earned something in 40 years of life. I want to be in communion with my brothers and sisters. I don’t want to [or more to the point need to] have to justify who I am or what I am, or why I am persuing the degree I am seeking now. I want to become free. [not that I am not free today]
I just feel like there is an UNBURDENING coming. I can feel it in my bones. I can sense it around me. I sit in that clasroom on Monday and I sense freedom coming in a round about sort of way. I cannot speak of others from the class or my instructor, because of the confidentiality clause we all agreed to. But I have my suspicions – I listen really well to terms that are being used in community. I hear words like partner, instead of spouse, I pick up on a free spirit and a commitment that was made long ago, they say when some women mate, they mate for life… [don't worry if you did not get that reference, if you didn't get it, then I am not going to explain, you weren't meant to get it.]
This week I have a journal to write, in the “I” form. I also have to get a bag, for class. I have to decorate it on the outside with things that identify me to the outside world. Things that I identify to others around me. Inside the bag, I have to place items, that are of a more personal nature. And I must choose what those things are. So I sit here and ponder another disclosure activity. Because much of what is personal to me and sacred, is part of my story disclosed in a particular form or use of words. We were told not to wait till the last minute to do either journal or the bag. We were told that we needed to think about these activities and our goal for the semester. I’m thinking…
What am I going to place in my bag? What would you place in your bag? What are you comfortable sharing with few people? What identifies you outwardly? and What identifies you on the inside? What do you hold personal and sacred? And what would you feel comfortable sharing with someone you just met?
I can’t tell you how excited I was that I got my Sydney EQT’s in the mail today. They are the Holy Grail of wrestling shoes. They were the ultimate purchase I have ever made on EBAY. I just had to share that for some strange reason…
Back to me…
One of my kids is facing a real dilemma tonight. His father is on dialysis and is very sick. This man has a death wish and wants to die. Earlier today I got the call that he was very sick and needed medical attention, of which dad said no to first off… The day progressed and I went to class.
I was not even in the front door after class, I was still changing over to cozies and calming down and the phone was ringing. Dad is now in the ER and doesn’t look like he is going to make it… ok, rational thought. What happened, what did the doctors do and what did they tell you? they took labs and x-rays. Well, he’s in the hospital, at least he is being cared for now.
A couple hours later the phone rings again… He is better, at least he is still living. If dad had his way, he’d be dead already. Karl is a licensed EMT for the state of Texas. He is trained in emergency medicine and triage abilities. So, following his training and respecting his license, from now on, you can use this right and privilege to get him medical care in the future. Karl was forced to call 911 on his father because he thought the man was going to die on his watch.
Karl Sr. has a death wish, he is suicidal by your own admission and he skipped dialysis once again, and so on… We spoke on this topic at great length. Tomorrow Karl Jr. is going to tell the doctors the truth. If the man is going to die, let him die on someone elses watch, not yours. If they release him without this knowledge, dad will end up right back where he started or even worse, DEAD. And that is what he wants.
This weekend Karl is supposed to go see his very special friend a few hours away, and I counseled him to tell the doctor the truth so that the man can get proper care and supervision by medical specialists who can, for the time being, keep him alive. Because you can’t leave town if your father is loose and at home. If he dies on your watch and you did nothing to stop it, this will taint the man you become and overshadow you for the rest of your natural born life. His parents placed certain buttons in him very carefully. Between Tom, Michael and myself, we have tried to remove and reprogram these buttons.
It just isn’t really pretty. He is a danger to himself and to others. That will get you at least 72 hours of supervision and alert social services and psychiatry and maybe they can get involved.
So tomorrow is not here yet … Let us Pray … for them both …
The Very Rev. +Gene Robinson has been asked to pray at the inaugural concert on the mall in Washington D.C. +Gene will stand on the same spot that Martin Luther King once stood when he gave his “I had a dream speech.” A number of other ministers, preachers and ordinands will pray over the first opening days of Barack Obama’s presidency. He needs all the prayer he can get, for the mess that GWB is leaving him when he leaves office.
Barack has a rapport with +Gene. They met prior to him winning the presidency of the United States. I personally KNOW +Gene Robinson. We have met, he preached here at the Cathedral and I think that if you are going to invite someone to pray for you and your presidency and by extension, the nation, +Gene would be right up at the top of my list of ministers to do that.
I applaud Barack Obama. Let us stand in unity with the Obamas in this very special time in their lives as well as our own. Unity is what is needed right now, not discension and rancor. Let us not try to divine they where and why of these decisions, but let us ponder that a Power Greater than ourselves have devined this to be, and so it will be. God is moving in striking ways. You should be paying attention to that movement, because it affects you too. And wouldn’t you feel terrible if God walked past you and paused to greet you and you were paying attention to something else, and you missed Him.
The universe is shifting. People are changing and let us add our voices to the prayers of the men and women who will be leading Barack Obama into office. Let us pray for Michelle Obama and Sasha and Malia. They must be terrified at this huge move the bubble is closing in on them as the day draws near. And let us welcome them into our family. As the world welcomes them as family.
Where will you be on January 20th???
Found at: Episcopal Cafe Site
Updated with links at bottom.
We received this email from Bishop Robinson this morning:
I am writing to tell you that President-Elect Obama and the Inaugural Committee have invited me to give the invocation at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, “We are One,” to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm. It will be an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the “I have a dream speech” was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.+Gene
(Editor’s note: There will undoubtedly be some controversy over whether Gene was invited as a response to the intense criticism of Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. We don’t know. We’ve been sitting on this news since just before Christmas, so it has been in the works for a while. But if Gene had been contacted before the Warren selection was announced, it seems unlikely he would have spoken out so strongly against the choice.)
It’s a mark of Obama’s raw power at the moment as much of his unifying message, that he can bring in fundamentally opposed Christian leaders like those two, without either walking out. (Though, to be fair, they’re a safe 48 hours apart.)Still, it’s a mark of just how different, when it comes to mainstreaming gay leaders, it is to have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican, or even than a 1990s Democrat.
The Huffington Post chimes in, as do the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Human Rights Campaign and New York magazine’s Daily Intel. The Boston Globe has also filed a story. To see Integrity’s press release click Read more.
Integrity is delighted at today’s announcement of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson’s role in the upcoming Inaugural celebrations. Following on the heels of yesterday’s selection of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins as the first woman preacher for the January 21st National Prayer Service, today’s news is yet another indication that we are entering an historic era of diversity and inclusion.
“Bishop Robinson’s selection by the President-elect to pray God’s blessings on the opening event of the Inaugural week is good news not only for gay and lesbian Americans but for all who share the audacious hope of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal,” said Integrity President Susan Russell.
“It also gives us hope that the age of an ‘America’s Pastor’ is behind us and that we enter a new era where diverse voices of faith speak from the particularity of their own experience of God’s grace, love and power. While there are many miles to go before we are done with racism, sexism and homophobia in this country, we look forward to Barack Obama’s inauguration, to Sharon Watkins’ sermon and to Gene Robinson’s prayers as signs of great progress and profound hope.
Image Credit: John Robertson
BANGOR, Maine — The man Maine Episcopalians chose a year ago as their bishop presided Friday over the 189th convention of the Episcopal Diocese.
Bishop Stephen Lane, 59, told the more 300 lay and clergy delegates attending the annual convention at the Bangor Civic Center that he was looking forward to “many long years in ministry with you.”
He also stressed the importance of the church’s annual gathering.
“It is here that we consider together the mission of God and our ministries as followers of Jesus Christ,” he said in his first convention address Friday afternoon. “It is here we adopt a budget for our life together. It is here that we worship God together. This is an occasion to be celebrated and savored.”
One of the things the convention did was to call for the national church to change its stance on the election of gay and lesbian clergy as bishops. By a show of hands, the delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for the Episcopal Church at its General Convention next summer to repeal a resolution, known as B033, that was passed two years ago. The original document called upon the national body to restrain from approving the election of gay and lesbian bishops.
Bishops are elected by delegates to diocesan conventions but the national body must “consent” to those elections. Supporters of the repeal who attended the 2006 General Convention told the Maine convention Friday that B033 was passed at the eleventh hour under pressure from the retiring Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and the newly elected bishop, the Rev. Katharine Jefforts Schori.
Jefforts Schori expressed concern that she and other American bishops would not be allowed to participate in the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops from around the world held every 10 years. It was held in Canterbury, England, in July and August amid anxiety over a possible schism.
Concern over whether the denomination would split began five years ago when the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. American bishops consented to his election.
The Anglican Communion, headed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, demanded an apology from the Episcopal Church and a moratorium on the election of gay and lesbian bishops. Several dozen congregations and a few dioceses have left the Episcopal Church over the issue.
Peter Bickford of Christ Episcopal Church in Norway told the convention Friday that he had voted for B033 but had done so reluctantly. He urged delegates to pass the proposed resolution to repeal it because it was in conflict with Canon Law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“After prayerful consideration, I believe we need to pass this,” said Geoffrey Schuller of Mount Desert, who worships at Saint Saviour in Bar Harbor. “This is our position [concerning the election of gay and lesbian bishops] and we need to come to terms with it. We need to consider the feelings of the Anglican Church, but we need to take a stand.”
The Rev. Barbara Clarke, who recently retired after serving St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Brewer, urged the convention to pass the resolution. A lesbian who has been in a committed relationship for many years, Clarke called B033 a “de facto denial of access” for gay and lesbian clergy to the possibility of being elected bishops.
Lane did not vote on the issue but Robinson participated in his consecration service earlier this year.
“My greatest joy, as your new bishop, has been meeting the people of the Diocese of Maine,” Lane said. “Everywhere I go, I’m impressed by the energy and the commitment of our congregations. Most have a solid worshiping community and are engaged in serious ministry to the larger congregations.
“And yet everywhere I go, I encounter concerns about aging congregations and shrinking budgets,” he continued. “Parish leaders are concerned about burnout and succession planning. I’ve been asked if I intend to close congregations or merge them. People are very concerned about the future of their churches. And so am I. It seems to me that we need an alternative to simply letting the economy have its way with us.”
Lane said that he did not intend to close churches, but pointed out that the diocese has many small congregations. The diocese has 66 parishes that are served by 29 full-time clergy. Nearly, 40 percent — a total of 26 congregations — need diocesan grants to stay afloat.
The bishop said that he wanted the diocese and congregations to engage in priority setting and strategic planning over the next year two years. He also announced a committee to study how the convention is planned, where it is held, and whether the work can be completed in one day instead of two.
The convention is scheduled to conclude today.
Found on: Walking with Intergrity
Below is the relevant portion of Bishop Chapman’s charge to his diocesan synod on Thursday…
“Synod 2007 adopted a motion ‘requesting the Bishop grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that he authorize an appropriate rite and guidelines for its use in supportive parishes.’
“For a year now I have reflected on how I should respond to the mind of Synod. I have prayed for God’s guidance, sought the counsel of fellow bishops, and listened carefully to all who have spoken from various perspectives. In forming my response to this motion I have been strengthened in my conviction that God remains faithful in guiding His Church to the truth, that our chief call on this matter is a pastoral one, and that we are challenged to proclaim a prophetic voice to the Church and to the world.
“When we gather at Synod, we pray that our church will be guided by the Spirit of God. I believe God is faithful to us in this and as we discern how to proceed, the decisions we make, informed and shaped by healthy debate and conversation, are the result of the leading of that same Spirit for which we have prayed.
“With the benefit of scientific and medical knowledge we know sexual orientation is a given and a gift from God in the lives of all people. Our challenge is to determine how all persons may rejoice in and celebrate this God given gift so it honours our creator and gives dignity to the creatures of God. I believe our dealing with the issues of human sexuality is fundamentally a pastoral matter. How is God calling us to proclaim the gospel, the good news of Jesus, to those whose sexual givenness has resulted in their marginalization and has often made them victims in their communities, families and churches?
“I am mindful that we do not normally act in isolation. The question of blessing same-sex civil marriages is before our sister and brother Christians in many Dioceses and Provinces of the Church. My observation of how various parts of the church deal with the question leads me to believe that we will not go forward at the same pace nor with uniformity. At the Lambeth Conference this summer the Bishops of the communion articulated a strong desire that we remain together as a communion. Equally strong were convictions held on all sides of human sexuality issues.
Moratoria emerging from Lyambeth, while reflecting a majority view, hold neither the command of consensus nor the proscriptive authority of legislation. In other words, it appears that a majority of Bishops desire a moratorium but a legislation or decision has yet to be taken. As well, majority support for a moratorium was not evident among the Bishops from Canada, the United States, South Africa, Brazil, Scotland, Ireland and the Congo to name just a few provinces.
At this juncture I believe some are being called to speak with a prophetic voice, challenging long held assumptions, unseating prejudices, and advocating on behalf of those whose circumstances to not permit them to advocate for themselves. Others are being called to speak with a voice of caution calling the Church to evaluate and test all positions with the longstanding three-fold reliance on tradition, reason, and scripture.
While the prophetic voice and the voice of caution may not find a common place within the Chruch from which to speak they can both be embraced within the breadth of the body of Christ. For reasons, perhaps known only to God, I believe we, in the Diocese of Ottawa, are among those who have been called by God to speak with the voice of a prophet. Synod 2007 reflects this communal desire. It is our voice that is called to affirm that all people are loved, valued and precious before God and the Church. It is our voice that is calling to affirm that all unions of faithful love and life-long commitment are worthy of God’s blessing.
“It is my intention to place before the Canadian House of Bishops, next week, my prayerful hope regarding the issue of ‘blessings’. It is important that I honour the collegiality of the Canadian House; we are, after all, an episcopally led and synodically governed church. It is my intention at this meeting to discuss my hope which includes my desire to make the following statement: ‘That we, in Ottawa, begin to explore experientially, the blessing of duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; to charge the Doctrine and Worship Committee with the responsibility to develop an appropriate rite for this blessing. Upon the authorization of a rite, I will give my permission for one parish within the Diocese to offer the blessing of civil marriages between same-sex couples. Discernment continues!’
This hope is not and must not be understood as a conclusive statement affirming that the church must and ought to proceed with the blessings of same-sex civilly married couples. As the church was not able to come to a clear mind regarding the benefits of the ordination of women to the priesthood until the church experienced the priestly ministry of women, so must we take the process of discernment to a place beyond discussion. We have talked about this issue since I was a seminary student in the mid-seventies. In order to further the discernment process, we must ‘experience’ the issue as church before clarity of heart and mind might be attained.
For this reason, I hope to proceed, but slowly and cautiously. This would be an initial step from which we can observe and learn. If we are to interpret our scriptures using prayerful reason in interpretation and application as generations before us, most especially on matters that reflect a historical context and appear inconsistent with a scriptural mandate, e.g., divorce, slavery, usury or the role of women, then, we must encourage discernment fully and completely.
What I propose will allow for a continuation of our discernment process without obligation or a non-negotiable commitment. Our process will allow ourselves to be better informed as we go forward to General Synod 2010 where this issue will be discussed again.
“Within one month following the completion of the House of Bishops’ meeting next week, I will make a conclusive statement to the Diocese regarding next steps.”
Fr. Geoff Farrow – with Rev Susan… Read His Blog Here…
There are little blessing, THEN there are really ‘BIG’ blessings… Bishop Robinson is a Big Blessing.
On Wednesday morning, as I was driving to the Woman’s Empowerment Conference in Long Beach, California; my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the telephone number which was displayed but, that’s not all that unusual for me these days. So, I answered the phone and to my surprise, it was Bishop Gene Robinson.
Bishop Robinson for those of you who may be unfamiliar with his story, enjoys the singular distinction of being the first openly gay man to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Not unlike the story of the first violinist at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra who took ill and the post was given to a guest violinist. The guest violinist was apprehensive about her new responsibility. Turning to the second violinist she asked, “When do I start playing?” The second violinist answered reassuringly, “Don’t worry, just don’t be the first.”
Being first, is always disconcerting, if not outright frightening, because there is no precedent. You are breaking new ground; you are breaking the established norms and rules. Many people will take exception to what you’ve done, and will throw everything at you to discredit you. They will vilify you and make an example of you to serve as a warning to others. If you manage to pull it off, to break through, to open a new door; you will be a trail blazer, a pioneer, and a visionary.
Bishop Gene took all of those risks. His family and his partner stood with him in the sanctuary on the day of his consecration. They heard the hurtful, hateful things said by some during his consecration liturgy. Bishop Gene opened a brave new door for gay and lesbian people that day. He continues to weather attacks and insults from members of his world wide communion. With the sustaining love of his family and his partner he continues to serve both God, the Church and humanity in the face of bigotry, opposition and hatred. Through his courage, fifty years from now, others will not have to suffer what he has suffered. The Church will have healed and grown because of Bishop Gene’s self-sacrifice. Bishop Gene is a hero for me and a living testament of the human spirit’s strength to overcome fear, and the hatred it generates, through the power of love.
My wristwatch informed me that it was a long conversation with Gene Robinson; but to me, it brief . We spoke of the difficulties facing both the world-wide Anglican communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Both faiths, are international in character and both have the majority of their membership residing in the Third World. While these Third World societies are culturally vibrant, they suffer economic poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa has been socially and economically devastated by the AIDS epidemic. Inter-tribal wars have claimed countless lives and economic colonialism has kept many of these newly created nations impoverished. In addition, these societies tend to lack basic social infrastructures such as adequate health care, social services, and education. As a result of their exploitation, they are suspicious of any new social insights introduced by foreign sources.
When fighting to survive, innovation is a gamble you cannot afford to lose. The fruit of this colonial legacy is that the indigenous bishops are resistant to any new ideas that come from these former colonial powers, which have a history of subjugating them. It is the Anglican bishops of these nations that have so vociferously protested Bishop Gene’s consecration. The “idea” of an openly gay bishop with a partner is unacceptable because it adds another stress to a society that already finds itself at the breaking point. Of course, these same bishops take exception to women being ordained as deacons and priests (let alone consecrated bishops) for the very same reason.
This presents a moral quandary for the universal Church. Which course do you take? Do you risk losing members from more developed societies, or from developing societies? Do you ask for continued, perhaps lifetime, sacrifices from some to calm the fears and apprehensions of others? What is just, what is sensible, what is the best way to proceed?
What does begin to emerge from all of these questions is that the argument against both the ordination of women and the acceptance of those with same sex orientation is far more sociological than theological in its nature. Perhaps, this why the late Pope John Paul II forbade the subject of the ordination of women from being discussed in universities. While such repression may temporarily delay discussion and debate, it does not resolve the underlying issues and simply contributes to a future cataclysmic confrontation and possible schism.
All of this took place on a cell phone conversation on a drive to an event before breakfast with a most extraordinary person who is a personal hero and inspiration to me: Bishop Gene Robinson.
I write this as we fly from Heathrow to LAX on the Monday after Lambeth Conference 2008. The map on the airline video monitor tells me we’re somewhere over Greenland. My watch tells me it’s either coming up on 2pm or 6am …depending on whether I want to be on London or L.A. time. So I’m in a very “in between place” at the moment.
And so, I believe, is our Church and our Communion.
There is much dust yet to settle before it will be possible to make whatever sense we will eventually make out of the just concluded Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. I’m not going to attempt to make any sense of it myself … not from this in between place. But I am going to offer some thoughts … at least in part so I can get them out of my head and settle in to the nap I should surely be taking at this point of this journey home – whatever time it is!
There were many good things that happened in Canterbury between July 16 and August 3:
Despite the dire predictions of a coup d’état, instead of an outbreak of schism there was an outbreak of civility. The interactions between the bishops over their two-week conference were marked by generosity and by a holy curiosity and genuine interest in learning from each other about mission and ministry in the various parts of the global communion. Building on those relationships – one-on-one, diocese by diocese, year by year – will continue to build up the bonds of affection that make up the fabric of this global communion of which is our Anglican family of faith.
The Indaba process offered a model of listening and reflection that might be the best souvenior any of them will bring home from their trip across the pond. I wondered aloud with a few of our bishops if we might not think about a way to bring that process home to the U.S. and imagine it as a means for conversation that would involve the whole church as we move toward General Convention 2009 and look beyond in our mission and ministry.
There was tremendous effort, energy, prayer and practice generated to make this Lambeth 2008 an opportunity for bishops from around the Communion to reflect on the multitude of issues that challenge us as Anglican Christians to live out our faith in the world. While our differences on human sexuality inevitably dominated the press reports, they did not dominate the daily discourse, where the bishops’ agenda focused on the kaleidoscope issues and opportunities that both challenge and bless us as a global communion.
After a decade of drum beating and saber rattling by the conservative fringe seeking to replace the generous comprehensiveness that is our heritage as Anglican Christians with a narrow orthodoxy that is not, the bishops in their weeks of reflection and the Archbishop of Canterbury in his 2nd Presidential Address clearly came down on the side of diversity. Despite both external and internal pressure for “resolutions” that would bring “clarity” on questions that challenge us, there was explicit recognition that those who disagree with the majority perspective reflected in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are, in fact, faithful Anglican Christians and fall within the parameters of “the faith received through the ages.”
The opportunity to witness with LGBT Anglicans from around the globe to the Good News of Christ Jesus present in our lives, our relationships and our vocations was an incredible privilege. Our allies included the UK and Canada, Mexico and Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. The production of the “The Lambeth Witness” – a daily news and reflection paper – allowed us to resource our bishops with the voices they had committed to bring into their discussions at Lambeth Conference: the voices of the voiceless LGBT faithful who remain invisible strangers at the gate in much of the communion.
I want to applaud the extraordinary lengths to which so many of our bishops went to be supportive, available and active toward the goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ. I can’t possibly name them all … thankfully, they were too numerous to easily count, but want to call out +Tom Ely (Vermont) for his dogged faithfulness in organizing, cheerleading and networking; +Marc Andrus (California) for being fabulous in general and for his support of Voices of Witness: Africa in particular; +Mark Beckwith (Newark) and +Bruce Caldwell (Wyoming) for their work with the Chicago Consultation; +Gayle Harris (Massachusetts), +Nedi Rivera (Olympia) and +Chilton Knudsen (Maine) for their unfailing good humor, honesty and transparency; for all the “blogging bishops” who helped keep us clued in; for +Cathy Roskam (New York) who risked speaking truth to power on gender violence and has the scars to prove it; and my own bishops –+Jon, +Chet, +Bob & +Sergio – for not forgetting for a minute that as bishops they are shepherds to all their sheep: not just the straight ones!
I also want to note those bishops who do not agree with the inclusive perspective we understand to be God’s will for this church and yet stood in solidarity with us against those who would divide us from each other and from our Anglican brothers and sisters. +Duncan Gray (Mississippi) and +Charles Jenkins (Louisiana) are but two who spoke publicly and eloquently in that regard … and I know there were others.
Revisiting all that was good and holy and hopeful about this Lambeth Conference somehow makes the actions of the last day of the conference all the more difficult to fathom.
+Rowan Williams and his conference design team set the tone for reflection and deep listening to God and to each other during the opening retreat days of the conference, created a process of faithful conversations within the Indaba Groups informed by the daily Bible Studies and invited as plenary speakers visionary leaders like Brian McLaren and Jonathan Sacks. They resisted the conservatives within the conference who pushed for opportunities for “up or down” votes, the Gafconistas outside the conference pushing their schismatic agenda and the media covering the conference trying to manufacture controversy in order to have something to write about.
And yet, at the 11th hour — in his final Presidential Address and at the Press Conference following — +Rowan Williams managed to snatch the defeat of a guarantee that issues of human sexuality will stay on the front burner of communion discourse for the foreseeable future out of the jaws of the victory of a conference what was on the verge of finding a new way forward in faith for those committed to walk together in spite of their differences.
By pushing his preference that the American and Canadian churches abide by the moratoria on blessings of same sex unions and the consecration of any more openly gay bishops, he undid in a two-hour span a good percentage of the good work that had been accomplished over the two- week conference.
He was unwilling to let stand the Indaba Reflection reports as a mind of the communion declining to draw lines in the sand that would further polarize us on our differences on human sexuality and continue to distract us from the other issues our Gospel mission and ministry crying for our attention. After two weeks at Lambeth Conference, the mind of the bishops to live with those differences rather than let them be the divisions the Gafconistas insist they must be offered a great whiff of hope to the end of the sex wars and a vision for the beginning of a new way of being communion together.
Instead, Williams turned a blind eye to their leadership and threw down a gauntlet to the Americans and Canadians – challenging them to make the “Sophie’s Choice” between the full inclusion of their provinces in the Anglican Communion or the full inclusion of their LGBT baptized in the Body of Christ. Some bishops have already responded – including Marc Andrus in an ENS article:
Andrus said California would not abide by the moratorium on same-sex blessings but that he takes it “as incumbent on me and on us in the diocese to actively labor to both understand the position of those to whom that moratorium is important, and to convey the reality of our life together to the world.”
And I was grateful to see this quote from the Integrity Lambeth Response Statement included by ENS as well: “there is nothing ‘generous’ about asking the LGBT faithful to bear the burden of unity of the Anglican Communion on their shoulders and there is no theological defense for sacrificing a minority of the baptized to the will of a majority.”
So there you have it. And now I’m ready for my nap.
[Episcopal News Service, Canterbury] The buses bearing the 2008 Lambeth Conference’s 670 purple cassock-clad bishops had barely arrived at Canterbury Cathedral for the 18-day gathering’s final Eucharist August 3 when reactions to the event and its final reflections document began to appear.
The reactions ranged across the spectrum of opinion, with some urging decisive action in concert with the comments made in the reflections document and some cautioning against making legislation out of a document that is a self-described narrative of the conference.
Noticeably quiet on that day was the Global Anglican Future Conference, which held a June gathering of conservative Anglicans and Episcopalians in Jerusalem. Its silence was noteworthy considering that the absence of the so-called GAFCON bishops is referenced in the introductory section of the reflections document.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said near the end of his final presidential address that “in the months ahead it will be important to invite those absent from Lambeth to be involved in these next stages” of the efforts to maintain the communion. “Much in the GAFCON documents is consonant with much of what we have sought to say and do, and we need to look for the best ways of building bridges here,” he said.
Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, who emerged as a GAFCON leader during its June gathering in Jerusalem, said August 4 in a short news release that “our absence focused minds on the problems within the communion and spoke louder than our presence would have.”
A two-sentence statement appeared August 4 on GAFCON’s website, saying: “The Primates’ Council of GAFCON will wish to study the outcome of the Lambeth Conference carefully and consult with those they are leading. They are meeting towards the end of August and will make their response following that meeting.”
There was still a day to go before the reflections document was released when the bishops of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa issued a statement August 2 calling for “a spirit of mutual submission to prevail and for unity to be restored.”
Bishops Mouneer Anis, Derek Eaton, and Andrew Proud said that the gathering had been a “most valuable opportunity to express our thoughts and concerns and to listen to the concerns of others.” They called for movement on the Windsor continuation process, the Anglican covenant and the moratoria — called for in the Windsor Report (in Section D) — on authorizing public rites for blessing same-gender relationships, consecrating people involved in same-gender relationships and crossing diocesan and provincial borders to exercise episcopal ministry.
The three argue that the first two moratoria “pertain to central moral teaching while the last is a matter simply of administration and good order.”
The statement was issued from the Lambeth Conference, according to the text, and is currently also signed by bishops and primates Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean), Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi), Dirokpa Balufuga Fidèle (Congo), John Chew (Southeast Asia), Stephen Than Myint Oo (Myanmar), Valentino Mokiwa (Tanzania), Daniel Deng Bul Yak (Sudan), and Justice Ofei Akrofi (West Africa), John Wilson Gladstone (South India) and Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania). The current version of the statement notes that the list of signers is being updated.
The signers said that they “stand in solidarity with all the faithful Bishops, Clergy and Laity in the United States and Canada and elsewhere who are suffering recrimination and hostility perpetrated upon them by their dioceses and/or national churches which have not unequivocally complied with the specific Windsor proposals required of them in full.”
They said the communion “is at the probable brink of collapse” and that the May 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) ought to endorse the proposed Anglican covenant. They called on the Lambeth Conference to give “clear endorsement and immediate implementation” of the Windsor Continuation Group’s July 28 proposal for a pastoral forum.
The continuation group, charged with the implementation of the some of the Windsor Report’s recommendations, proposed that the forum that would rapidly “engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.” The forum could “offer pastoral advice and guidelines.” It could also develop a plan to hold “in trust” alternative Anglican groups that have attempted to organize people who disagree with the Episcopal Church’s stance on the issues involved in the moratoria so that they can prepare “for their reconciliation within their proper provinces,” the continuation group said.
While the reflections document says the idea of a pastoral forum was supported by many Lambeth bishops, it did not outline the implementation the statement signers called for. Williams said in his last presidential address that he would “look within the next two months for a clear and detailed specification for the task and composition of a pastoral forum.” Williams did not say where that “specification” would come from, although the continuation group has said it will meet in the fall to consider what it heard from bishops at Lambeth.
The Global South leaders’ statement also charges that “substantial theological voices outside of the Western world have not been present in the evening plenary sessions of the Lambeth Conference,” calling it an example of the “continuing patronising attitude of the West towards the rest of the churches worldwide.” The signers deem the perceived lack to be part of what they call “attempts to cause divisions and break the bonds between churches in the Global South,” adding that “the realities in our churches are often misrepresented and misunderstood in the West.”
The statement says that the Global South Primates’ Steering Committee will meet soon to discuss “how to move the global Anglican Communion substantially and effectively forward.” The signers pledge to work with “all orthodox groups in the United States of America and Canada: to listen together to what Lord Jesus says to his church today, to draw strength and insights from one another, and to take fresh initiatives in upholding and passing on the faith once delivered to the saints.”
On the day after the conference, Diocese of California Bishop Marc Andrus described as “profound and generous”
Williams’ suggestion in his final presidential address that “there will be some who cannot abide by these moratoria, and in this they signal that there are steps to deeper unity they cannot take; or it may be that they conceive of deeper unity in other ways.”
Andrus said California would not abide by the moratorium on same-sex blessings but that he takes it “as incumbent on me and on us in the diocese to actively labor to both understand the position of those to whom that moratorium is important, and to convey the reality of our life together to the world.”
Andrus echoed others’ reactions when he noted that “the document is not legislation.”
“We will pay close attention to it, but we must not reify the agreement points in it into laws, and we should resist interpretations that seek to employ those agreements as laws,” he wrote.
On August 3, Integrity USA’s Susan Russell warned of a similar tendency, urging bishops to “resist the temptation of those who will try to turn this descriptive document into a proscriptive edict.”
She also challenged the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to partner with the House of Deputies “to break the cycle of being bullied into bigotry and distracted from mission and ministry by those who would exclude us because of our commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.”
“We look forward to General Convention 2009 and the opportunities we will have there to move the church further forward on the journey toward full inclusion,” Russell continued.
“We remind our bishops that we cannot live up to our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being if we tell some of them that they are good enough to arrange our flowers, play our organs, direct our choirs, teach our Sunday Schools, and lead our worship — but not good enough to have their vocations affirmed and their relationships blessed,” Russell said.
Referring to suggestions made during the conference that the proposed Anglican covenant and the moratoria might be ways that members of the communion might be generous towards each other, Russell argued that “there is nothing ‘generous’ about asking the LGBT faithful to bear the burden of unity of the Anglican Communion on their shoulders and there is no theological defense for sacrificing a minority of the baptized to the will of a majority.”
Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee said August 3 in a video log that he had come to understand “like never before” how physically dangerous it can be for some Anglicans to discuss homosexuality. He said he came “face-to-face with fellow believers who hold a view of Scripture that I cannot understand.” Lee said that he did not get answers to the questions he asked them about how the issue of the full inclusion of homosexual persons can rise “to the level of saving [the] faith or should be the cause of the breaking of communion.”
Before the reflections document was released on the afternoon of August 3, South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence, who later called Williams’ comment about GAFCON “a crucial and gracious overture,” told reporters that he had witnessed a “new prince” being born at the group’s Jerusalem meeting.
“It was an awkward and messy birth,” he said, reading from what he called his “morning meditation.” Lawrence said he knew that his role is now to “hold together as much as I can for as long as I can that when he comes to his rightful place on St. Augustine’s throne in Canterbury Cathedral he will have a faithful and richly textured kingdom.”
Planet Out – Gay and Lesbian News Service…
SUMMARY: “If the North American churches don’t accept the need” to deny gay bishops and blessings, says Anglicanism’s leader, “we are . . . in grave peril.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, struggling to hold together the troubled world Anglican family, urged church leaders gathered Sunday in England not to consecrate another gay bishop, saying the fellowship will be in “grave peril” without a moratorium.
In his final speech at the once-a-decade, Williams said Anglicans need “space for study and free discussion without pressure” about whether to accept changes in traditional biblical understanding of same-sex relationships. He also asked churches to refrain from adopting official prayers for blessing same-gender unions.
“If the North American churches don’t accept the need for moratoria, then to say the least, we are no further forward,” Williams said at a news conference ending the 20-day assembly in Canterbury. “That means as a communion we continue to be in grave peril.”
The 77 million-member Anglican Communion has been splintering since 2003, when the U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. of New Hampshire.
Williams barred Robinson and a few other bishops from the meeting, and designed the event without legislation or votes, instead focusing on rebuilding frayed relationships.
Still, more than 200 theologically conservative bishops boycotted the gathering, upset that Williams had invited Episcopal leaders who consecrated Robinson. In June, just before Lambeth began, those same conservative bishops formed a new global network within the communion that challenges Williams’ authority but stops short of a permanent split.
Williams does not have the authority to force an agreement among the conflicted groups. The 38 Anglican national churches, including the U.S. Episcopal Church, are self-governed and loosely connected by shared roots in the missionary work of the.
But the 650 bishops at Lambeth said Sunday in a statement, which they called their ”reflections” on the meeting, that ”there is widespread support across the communion” for an extended moratorium on gay bishops and on blessing ceremonies for same-gender couples.
”A fellow Christian may believe they have a profound fresh insight,” Williams said in his final address. ”But the Christian with the new insight can’t claim straight away that this is now what the Church of God believes or intends.”
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a brief statement that did not address the requested bans. She said the communion ”is suffering the birth pangs of something new” and urged patience in the church.
Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno told Episcopal Cafe, the blog of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., ”for people who think that this is going to lead us to disenfranchise any gay or lesbian person, they are sadly mistaken.” Same-sex marriage was legalized in California in June.
Thealso has parishes that permit blessings for same-sex couples.
No one expected the Lambeth Conference to definitively heal the rifts among Anglicans. Still, other Christians watched the gathering closely.
The communion is the third-largest religious group in the world, behind Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Many Protestant churches are also struggling with how they should interpret what Scripture says about gay relationships and other issues.
Anglican internal problems are also hurting their ties with other Christians.
Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the , spoke at Lambeth, urging the bishops to maintain Christian tradition. What is at stake ”is nothing other than our faithfulness to Christ himself,” Kasper said.
Vatican and Anglican officials have been in talks for years about reunifying — an effort complicated by the Church of England‘s recent move to accept female bishops. Anglicans split from Rome when England’s King Henry VIII bolted in 1534 after he was refused a marriage annulment.
The bishops at Lambeth discussed a proposed global covenant that would set some requirements for membership in the communion. Williams said Sunday that he plans a meeting early next year of the 38 Anglican national leaders, or primates, to move ahead with the idea. But it will be years before any agreement is reached.
Williams and the bishops also urged a moratorium on church leaders taking oversight of breakaway parishes in an Anglican territory that is not their own.
Conservative Anglican leaders from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere now have authority over seceding Episcopal parishes. One diocese, San Joaquin, based in Fresno, Calif., has broken away, and two more — Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, Texas — are poised to do the same this fall.
Robinson traveled toeven though he wasn’t invited, meeting with overseas bishops and serving as what he called a “constant and friendly” reminder of gays in the church. His spokesman did not return a call Sunday seeking comment.
Statement by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the conclusion of the 2008 Lambeth Conference
Found on: Walking with Integrity
Many bishops came to this gathering in fear and trembling, expecting either
a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the
cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been
just the opposite. We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together,
and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ. We know more of
the deeply faithful ministry of those in vastly differing contexts, and we
have heard repeatedly of the life and death matters confronting vast swaths
of the Communion: hunger, disease, lack of education and employment,
climate change, war and violence. We have remembered that together we may
be the largest network on the planet – able to respond to those life and
death issues if we tend to the links, connections, and bonds between us. We
have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to
maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and
discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of
something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet
we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time
patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the
leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Peter Heals the Crippled Beggar
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him…”
This gospel story is our story. We belong in the center of things, and that is very good news. But we dont get to stay there. We have to go out in the streets and find all the people who still think that they’re not worthy, who still think God couldn’t possibly love them, and bring them inside the temple.We need to learn to run and leap and dance and laugh and sing as one of God’s own, and invite others to dance too.
In the Eye of the Storm. Pg. 83-85, +Rev. Gene Robinson
It’s time that progressive Christians rescue the bible from the Religious Right, which has held it hostage and claimed it as its own private territory for far too long. It’s time that Christians and Jews actually read the holy scriptures that they claim as the basis of their beliefs, instead of simply believing what others tell them it says.
It’s time we use reputable scholarship, sound reason, and thoughtful exploration to understand what the words of scripture meant to the person that authored them and what they meant to the people for whom they were written, before deciding whether or not those words are binding on people outside that ancient cultural context.
It’s time that progressive religious people stop being ashamed of their faith and afraid to be identified with the Religious Right, and start preaching the good news of the liberating Christ to all God’s children.
“Many Anglicans from around the world continue to call on me to resign my position as bishop, naively believing that if I went away, this issue would go away, and the church would return to its quiet, peaceful existence – though the church has never, in its two-thousand-year history, enjoyed a time free of conflict.”
Excerpts from: In the Eye of the Storm, pgs. 18, 26.
+Rev. Gene Robinson
I have decided not to make any official kind of response. It seems to me that the challenge is not so much to me as it is to the Episcopal Church, and specifically to its House of Bishops, our polity as a Church, and the canons which were followed to the letter in my election and consecration.
But I will reflect on a few questions raised and thoughts I’ve had since.
First, this is also about the faithful people of New Hampshire who called me to be their bishop. Everyone
seems to forget that I am not here representing myself, but rather all the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire, with whom it is my privilege to minister in Christ’s name. They have called me to minister with them as their Bishop, and suggestions that I resign ignore the vows that I have taken to serve myflock in New Hampshire. I would no more let them down or reneg on my commitments to them than flyto the moon. We may be the one diocese in the entire Communion who is, for the most part, beyond all his obsession with sex and are getting on with the Gospel. They would be infuriated, as well they should be,if I entertained any notion of resigning. And it is not just Gene Robinson who is being denied representation at the Lambeth Conference, it is the people of New Hampshire who have been deprived of a seat at the table.
Second, those calling for my resignation seem to be under the impression that if Gene Robinson went away,
that all would go back to being “like it was,” whatever that was! Does ANYONE think that if I resigned,
this issue would go away?! I could be hit by a big, British, doubledecker bus today, and it would not change
the fact that there are faithful, able and gifted gay and lesbian priests of this Episcopal Church who are known and loved for what they bring to ordained ministry, who will before long be recognized with a nomination for the episcopate (as has already happened in dioceses other than New Hampshire), and one of them will be elected.
Not because they are gay or lesbian, but because the people who elect them recognize their gifts for ministry in that particular diocese. We are not going away, as much as some would like us to. That toothpaste isn’t going to go back into the tube! Not if the Bishop of New Hampshire resigns. Not if the “offending” bishops leave the Lambeth Conference. Not ever.