Friday, March 23, 2007
What has and has not been decided
Recently Bishop Chris Epting on his blog pointed out that the House of Bishops had made clear that the primatial vicar plan was out of sync with the polity of the Episcopal Church. He also made it clear that responses on the other issues brought up in the Primates Communiqué had not be “ruled” upon because the Executive Council and the HOB both have studies underway as to process, theology and proper response.
This is typical of Chris, who was my ex-husband’s best friend in his youth. He wants everyone to understand and be very clear about the process and what has and has not been decided. In the time I have known and known of Chris, he has stood slightly to the right of middle, but his tact and diplomacy are undoubtedly of good use in his function as Ecumenical officer for the church.
The headlines in blogdom and the printed media seem to indicate that the House of Bishops has rejected the Communiqué in its entirety. This is not true. While they have affirmed the place of the GLBT persons in the Episcopal Church, they are proceeding according to church polity (decisions made by General Convention that include bishops, priests and laity). I am pleased that they are doing this. To deviate from our polity in the face of pressure from the Primates would mean that my inclusion in the church was in danger. If the House of Bishops alone could decide that no GLBT person (or anyone who might call into doubt the beliefs of another national church) could be consecrated bishop, it’s just a step before they decide, as Nigeria may be doing, that gays don’t belong in the church at all.
Of course, I am glad to see various bishops state their own beliefs about the Communiqué and its demands, but they are not the entire church – not the right nor the left. We are all the church. Right now, each one of us matters in making this decision. I am not leaving the church or feeling afraid because they are following the canon law as set forth by our General Convention. I am saddened that some bishops and people cannot see that GLBT folk are very much like themselves. We eat, sleep, vote, work, pay taxes and worship in the same manner. We are glad, sad, angry, or content just like they are. We have children and are single. We care for the elderly and the sick. We tithe and we work within the church and without.
However, in the midst of our following proper procedures, the rest of the Anglican Communion and certain parts of our Episcopal Church have no compunction about going ahead with plans to secede from the Episcopal Church or to push us out of the Communion. I’m not sure the Anglican Communion as a whole will allow the US church to be pushed out. Many other churches are only a step behind us in our interpretation of the gospel. We may see a different communion spring forth in response to the various interpretations of Holy Scripture, but I believe they will be called by another name. Maybe not. This is just my opinion.
Right now, I am secure in the knowledge that our House of Bishops and the Executive Council are following the steps that we, the entirety of the Episcopal Church, have set out as proper procedures. Lord, give me patience, but hurry!