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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Reconciliation: Not for Sissies

The HOB/D listserv is abuz with astonishment (and, appropriately so) at the recent decree of the Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev'd Peter Beckwith, in which he states that he will personally interview each and every candidate for Confirmation and/or reception, to be certain that their faith is authentic.

( If that link isn't "hot" try )

This, after the rector, the only ordained woman in that diocese, informed the bishop before his visitation that two of those preparing for Confirmation were lesbian.

Just about six years ago, I spent a week with him at the Cathedral in South Bend, IN (where Fred Mann was previously Dean and Ed Little is presently bishop) as part of the work of the New Commandment Task Force (NCTF), the creation of the Rev'd Brian Cox of the Diocese of LA, and initiated and promoted (at our own expense) by him and the Steering Committee of Louie Crew, Ted Mollegen, Dorsey McConnell, Elizabeth Kaeton, and Mary Hays.

The original committee - which began in Seattle (AKA "the Seattle 22," which included the likes of those such as Bob Duncan) - also included Richard Kew and Ed Bacon. (If that link isn't 'hot' try:

I clearly remember the last day of our gathering. Bishop Beckwith, in tears, said that he had never experienced a week as we had just had. He said, his voice cracking with emotion and holding my hand tightly, that he had not known either Louie Crew or Elizabeth Kaeton before this week, and that, as he had come to the end of it, he could not imagine being in a church without Louie Crew or Elizabeth Kaeton.

Indeed, he was so enthusiastic about the work of the NCTF, that he came with us to 815 in NYC to ask the Presiding Bishop for his support - both financially and spiritually - to continue this work. We had hoped to conduct meetings with the House of Bishops and four regional gatherings of deputies before General Convention 2003. Elizabeth Kaeton and Mary Hays agreed to co-chair this effort.

That never happened.

The rest is, as they say, history.

This is the report we filed at the end of that gathering.

The signers of this statement:
The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, the Rev. Tony Clavier, Dr. Louie Crew, Ms. Judy Fleener, The Rev. Brian Grantz, The Rev. Margaret (Peg) Harker, The Rev. Canon Mary Hays, The Rev. Bennett Jones, The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Kaeton, Mr. Doug LeBlanc, The Rt. Rev. Ed Little, Dr. Patrick Malloy, The Rev. Dorsey McConnell, Mr. Ted Mollegen, The Rev. Ian Montgomery,The Rev. John Scramm, Dr. Claire Tenny, and Dr. Kern Trembath

Post note:

Gracious, I've been at this effort for reconciliation in the church for so long, I also remember a "Pentecost Meeting in the Desert" - at a (now defunct) Convent outside of Reno, NV (the former site of the camp for the workers of the Hoover Dam in Boulder City, NV) in, oh I think it was 1995 which included the likes of Katie Sherrod, Betty Gilmore and retired Bishop of Colorado, Bob Frey - another complicated man - who once told me over breakfast coffee in the refectory that he loved me and always wanted to be in the church with me.

And, the check is in the mail.

Read, and weep with me:

Report to the Church from:
New Commandment Task Force
Regional Reconciliation Meeting #4

Meeting in South Bend, IN, November 13-17, 2000

During our week together we came to understand that we share a number of spiritual and relational core values. We all stand together at the foot of the cross and are in need of redemption. We experienced profound grief at "our unhappy divisions" (BCP 818).

While not agreeing in all things, we entered into challenging and rewarding theological discussions through Bible study, prayer, and the Holy Eucharist. We encountered a sacred candor that allowed us to hear Christ speak through others.

While we struggled with issues of application and interpretation, we discovered that we all yearn to live under the authority of Scripture. We believe the Word of God is infallible in that it always accomplishes that for which God gave it to us.

The enemy is not my opposite. We see the gap between us as the problem to be addressed. We have looked into the face of people with radically different views, who may yet go separate ways, and have seen the face of Jesus. And we have looked into our own hearts and seen our own complicity with evil--by our diminishing of others. We recognize that Satan takes great joy in our divisions. In the service of ideology we have sometimes hurt other disciples. We repent.

We respect the pastoral care bishops extend to those in their own dioceses with whom they agree. We urge that bishops be just as accountable in the pastoral care they give to those with whom they disagree, both within their dioceses and in the House of Bishops. We ask them to embrace their calling as agents of reconciliation, manifesting generosity toward parishes that feel alienated. We hope that accommodations can be made pastorally and informally, rather than juridically. We further urge the bishops to lead the Church into greater reliance on spiritual discernment and away from the legislative process as a means of addressing conflicts of conscience.

We hope the Episcopal Church will welcome back lay and ordained people who have left. We ask bishops to be generous with letters dimissory for those who feel called to leave.

For congregations struggling with their future in the Episcopal Church, we urge the Church to develop deliberate processes, carried out in a spirit of charity and discernment.

We all expressed hope that we could remain together as Episcopalians and that this work of reconciliation will become a permanent vision for the Episcopal Church. We recommend developing a third option, framed not exclusively along conservative or liberal lines. We remember bitter conflicts throughout Anglican history that have threatened to divide our Communion. Many who came before us stayed in the Church without the triumph of their perspective. Because the Anglican Communion stayed together, it emerged both scarred and enriched.


Suzer said...

I recently spent a three year sojourn in the United Methodist Church. One of the major reasons that I returned to the Episcopal church was the ruling that pastors were allowed to reject GLBT people from membership at their discretion. There was a huge outcry within the UMC, but apparently not enough to challenge that decision. Is the Episcopal Church now going to take the same route? We don't have to accept or confirm GLBT people? What about baptism? What about communion -- will bishops be allowed to deny that to GLBT people, too? Are we heading the way of the UMC? If so, I'll once again be heading elsewhere. I'd rather see schism than this.

... said...

There are lots of us, LGBT and otherwise, who feel the same way, Suzer. My hope, prayer and (on less cloudy days) belief is that this will come to pass. Not unlike our secular society, ECUSA is going through some growing pains.

Casting off thousands of years of false and misinterpreted doctrine, primitive fears and cultural prejudices doesn't come without resistance, but from my time as a behavioral analyst, I can tell you that the stronger the resistance to change gets, the closer we are to the change occurring.

Take heart and hang in there.
God bless, Jeffrey

Grace said...

What do you think happened to this man, then? How could his heart so totally change in only a few years? Has anyone asked him?

I'm not a member of your church, but I find it difficult to understand.

Robert said...

Better Yet what happened to Mistress Hays+ (A term she's earned for doing Duncan's dirty work).

I was at the preconvention meeting at Geof Chapman's Church, St. Stephen's, and all these people could talk about was the dying Episcopal Church. There was the litany of praises to God for sending us a new prophet, +Robert Duncan, praises bordering on worship of his holiness and Mary Hays literally a glow sitting next to her leader. How do you go from reconcilliation to supporting the meaness and divisiveness that comes from the Network?

I left this meeting my my rector and another vestry member just in shock. It's a game for the Anglican Franchise, property and assests.

This is a cliche but Would Jesus not confirm these folks at St. Andrew's? Would Jesus promote an enviroment of dissention and hatefulness?

Peace, Bob