Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Friday, June 30, 2006

Saying 'No' on the Journey to Saying 'Yes'

Many questions have arisen about the fact that there are no women on the slate of nominees for the election of a bishop in the Diocese of Newark.

Tracey Lind was a serious contender for nomination but she withdrew her name. In this sermon, appended below, she talks about the reasons for that decision.

I must tell you: When Tracey told me that she had withdrawn her name, I was devastated.

Simply, completely devastated.

I remember well the exact moment. We were standing in line, fully vested and waiting for the procession to begin at Trinity Church, Columbus for the Triennial Integrity Eucharist.

I burst into tears and wept and wept and wept. Right there on the sidewalk, in front of God, and all of my LGBT clergy colleagues.

I've known Tracey for years. She IS a bishop. The church, eventually, will hear her call and confirm it. I think she would have made a fabulous bishop for the Diocese of Newark. I would have loved to have had her as my bishop, my chief pastor.

I don't exactly know how to explain it. (Me, who is so good with words.)

She is, for me, an icon of sorts. A way to imagine the power of God. To imagine the authority of God in a new way.

She puts a (not 'the') feminine face on God - as holy yet irreverent.

Ruler and yet rebel.

Strong and yet deeply compassionate.

Warrior and yet vulnerable.

Intelligent, creative, energetic and imaginative.

I grieve the loss of her here in this diocese - the possibility of her - the potential of her.

And . . . and . . . and . . . I understand.

I have appended her sermon here, wherein she speaks of her decision to withdraw from the Newark election process.

God Bless you, my dear friend, Tracey. May all who see the things you do in the Name of Jesus give praise and honor and glory, always and everywhere, to God.

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind
A Sermon Preached on June 18, 2006
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 - 2 Corinthians 5:6-17 - Mark 4:26-34

Our Hebrew scripture text this morning says that God does not see as mortals see. "They look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart." These words have been on my mind for the past few days because God has been busy looking into my heart. By now most of you probably have read in the Plain Dealer about my decision to withdraw my name from consideration to be the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Newark. This morning I want to talk a bit about how this decision came to be and what I've learned from this discernment process.

First, let me say that I was incredibly surprised when I learned that our local newspaper knew that I was being considered for the position, but now I've come to realize that in this day and age of electronic media it's fairly easy to find out just about anything you want to know. However, I was very concerned when approached by a reporter at the General Convention who had heard a rumor that I had been pressured to withdraw my name for the sake of church unity. This is simply not true.

Since I did not want the newspaper to feed the rumor mill during this General Convention with the question of the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people at its heart, I talked to the reporter and explained my decision to withdraw from consideration for Episcopal leadership in the Diocese of Newark and to continue serving the church as Dean of Trinity Cathedral right here in Cleveland, Ohio.

For most of my life I have believed that one should always say "yes" to the call of service and leadership:

Will you run for student council...YES
Will you be captain of the team...YES
Will you convene this task force...YES
Will you chair this committee...YES
Will you volunteer on this board...YES
Will you serve God and God's church as a priest...YES
Will you be the rector of our parish...YES
Will you be the dean of our cathedral...YES

In my experience, one does not say "no" to God. You've heard me preach this message for over six years. Like Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, Jesus and all the rest, I've always believed that faithfulness is demonstrated by saying "yes." So when I was asked to consider the possibility of becoming a bishop in a diocese that I had served for almost fifteen years - the diocese that had ordained me to the priesthood - I said "Yes."

This was not the first time that I had been invited to consider Episcopal leadership, and it might not be the last time. Each time I have prayed about it, because as one who has pledged my life in service to the Gospel, I believe that I always must be available to consider the invitation by the Spirit to explore Episcopal leadership in our church. However, regardless of what newspaper headlines print, I am not on "a quest to become a bishop." Each situation has its contextual considerations. As I wrestled with the possibility of leaving Trinity Cathedral, moving away from Cleveland, exiting the State of Ohio and becoming the Bishop of Newark, I became deeply conflicted. And some of you have been privileged or burdened to know of my conflict.

On the one hand, it would have been a great privilege and challenge to serve as a bishop in our church, especially to serve as a bishop in my beloved Diocese of Newark. And I believe that my gifts and skills, my experience, and my manner of life would honor the office of bishop. I also did not want to disappoint some individuals in the Diocese of Newark who are really important to me...people who taught me how to be a priest and now have come to see me as one who should be a bishop. Moreover, at this particular moment in time, I did not want to disappoint my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers who are struggling for full inclusion in our church. I believe that competent and qualified openly gay and lesbian priest need to allow our names to go forward for consideration to the episcopacy. We cannot allow sexuality to be a criteria or obstacle for any level of ministry in the church. We cannot say, "Yes" to a moratorium on the consecration of gay and lesbian bishops. Gene Robinson should not have to continue to serve alone as an openly partnered gay bishop. These were the things that were pulling me toward Newark.

On the other hand, I am not ready to leave Trinity Cathedral; I am not ready to leave Cleveland; and I am not ready to leave Ohio. Our work together is not finished. We are in the middle of an urgent and absorbing mission to build a church that proclaims God's justice, love and mercy to all creation. No exceptions! We are just beginning to live into the fullness of Trinity Commons and our strategic vision of becoming one of the world's great cathedrals, a vibrant community of faith, and a leading institution in this city that so needs our leadership. I am deeply committed to and energized by our ministry of place; by our service to the hungry and the homeless; by our work and advocacy for peace and justice; by our arts and cultural programs, our educational offerings and our community partnerships; and let us not forget our upcoming centennial celebration of being a cathedral on the corner of Euclid and East 22nd Street.

I also have a fabulous group of colleagues in leadership. I have never worked with such wonderful staff colleagues in all my life. I am privileged to serve with a dedicated group of Vestry and Cathedral Council leaders, and all the rest of you who carry out mission and ministry in this place. And I believe, without a doubt, that I serve one of the best congregations in all of the Episcopal Church. I wake up almost every morning eager to come to work, and I really can't wait for Sunday morning worship.

I also believe in Cleveland. I believe in Cleveland with all of its challenges and potential, and I want to be a part of the revitalization and renaissance of this great city. I want to see the completion of the Euclid Avenue Corridor. I want to ride my bike from University Circle to downtown in a bike lane. I want to hop on the bus for lunch and get off at the Art Museum or Public Square. I want to see the redevelopment of the Flats, the lakefront and our urban neighborhoods. And we're still looking for our perfect house on Lake Erie in the City of Cleveland.

I also want to be involved in the work for regional vitality and equity. I want to help define what Northeast Ohio can become with the City of Cleveland at its heart and center. I want to help us move toward metropolitan and regional government, because as a city planner I truly believe that if our cities, suburbs and counties were effectively aligned we would have great cities in a strong region.

And above all, I want to be part of the brain gain, not the brain drain of this city and region. I have to tell you that I really think the Plain Dealer should not be writing headlines like, "Lesbian Dean Ends Her Quest to Become a Bishop." The Plain Dealer ought to use Trinity Cathedral and its Dean in the Believe in Cleveland campaign.

I've also come home to Ohio, a state where my family has lived for I think about ten generations. My mother grew up in a little hamlet near Ironton, Ohio down in the heart of Lawrence County and so did many generations before her. My father and his father grew up in Zanesville. I grew up in Columbus. I started college in Athens and graduated in Toledo. I went to graduate school in Cincinnati and now I'm here as a religious and civic leader in Cleveland. If I would just add Youngstown, Akron and Dayton to the list, I could have lived in all the major cities of this state. I am a Buckeye, and we still have the bowl of buckeyes in our foyer that the children of this congregation gave me when I came home to Ohio.

Our state is in the midst of a struggle for its soul. I don't say that lightly, I really do believe it. This is not the state that we all grew up in - those of us who grew up in Ohio. And I feel deeply called to be engaged in the struggle in this state. I am committed to my work with We Believe Ohio, a growing group of interfaith religious leaders. We are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Sikh. We are coming together from all sorts and traditions of faith, and we are trying to say that we might not agree with each other on everything, but we agree that the State of Ohio needs to be a place that ensures compassion, justice and inclusion for all people. It's hard to focus on the complex issues facing our state like poverty, public education, health care, job creation, taxation, and environmental protection. Those are the complicated issues, the tough issues, and if this state's political, civic business and religious leadership doesn't address them, then we're not going to be the Great Buckeye State much longer. I want to work on these issues and help this cathedral congregation lead on these issues. I want to help make Ohio a state where diversity and pluralism are respected, where religion is a freedom rather than a state-sanctioned imposition, and where all of God's children feel safe and wanted. I feel called here and now and this moment to be in the State of Ohio.

And finally I want to say to our families, especially our parents, Paul, Jean and Winne, that Emily and I love our life here. We love having our families close by and it's a joy to be with our parents during their "golden" years. We also love our friends. We feel very rooted here in Cleveland, Ohio.

So, on one hand, I wanted to say "yes" and stand for election as the Tenth Bishop of Newark, to take my place in what really is probably a battle for the soul of our church and to go back to the place that made me a priest and taught me how to lead. On the other hand, I wanted so much to stay here with my family and friends and continue my work as Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. I felt so conflicted that I started asking God for a sign to help me make one of the most important and difficult decisions of my life. The sign didn't come immediately. I said to God: You've been so clear with me all of my life, where are you now when I need you. About a week ago I didn't get one sign; I got lots of signs - one right after the other. I'm not going to tell you about them now; I'm not ready to talk about them, and I don't know if I ever will be. But trust me, I received clear signs from God that said: "Tracey, stay in the city where you are and serve the church to which I have called you." I don't know why I got so many signs. I suppose God understands how desperate and stubborn I can be and how much I needed certainty and clarity. The signs were very clear--God wanted me to say "no" to Episcopal leadership in the Diocese of Newark and to say "yes" to Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio.

After many sleepless nights, numerous conversations and lots of prayer, I withdrew my candidacy before a slate of nominees was selected and announced, because once the slate for bishop is announced, there could have been no turning back.

In her new book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor records the wisdom of her first rector who said, "Being ordained is not about serving God perfectly but about serving God visibly, allowing other people to learn whatever they can from watching you rise and fall." (37)

So what have I learned in this process that might be edifying to you? What might you learn from my experience? I've learned that sometimes we are called to say "no" in order to be faithful and say "yes." I have said "no": to the possibility of serving God and God's church by becoming a bishop in the Diocese of Newark so that I could say "yes" to staying right here, serving God and God's church as the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio.

Our beloved Episcopal church is in the midst of a struggle for its soul - I think it's no coincidence that our 75th General Convention is meeting in our state capital. As we gather for worship here this morning, our bishops are gathered in Trinity Church, Columbus to elect a presiding bishop. Nobody knows what's going to happen. And our lay and clerical deputies from every diocese in the church are gathered in the convention center of Columbus, Ohio wrestling over the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people - over the consecration of gay and lesbian bishops and the blessing of our lives and our relationships. Our church is struggling with how to remain faithful to the consecration of Gene Robinson and how to remain in relationship with those who don't agree with that action.

My hope and prayer for the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church is that we won't go backward and that if we can't find a way to stay in unity we will find a way to live into a theology of proximity, agreeing to disagree, but remaining Episcopalians and Anglicans around a common table. For deep in my heart I believe that the things that separate us from one another really can be and are overcome in the oneness of God. I don't know what's going to happen in the next couple of days. I don't think anyone does.

But I do believe that God has not and will not forsake us. God has not and will not abandon this beloved church. Thus, like St. Paul who reminds us in his second letter to the Church in Corinth, right now we are all called to "walk by faith, not by sight," knowing, trusting and believing that God is good - all the time.

Personally, I look forward to the time when gay and lesbian clergy will be able to discern God's will for our lives without having it examined under a microscope or on the front page of a newspaper. I look forward to a time when nobody is scapegoat for the sake of expediency, politics and power. But that time is still probably a ways off. So this afternoon I'm going to sit in my backyard and watch the birds in the trees. And I'm going to remember that the realm and hope of God is really like a mustard seed. It's the smallest seed of all, and yet when it's thrown on the earth and grows up, it becomes big and strong - like a Buckeye tree - and it puts forth large branches so the birds of the air - robins, cardinals, mourning doves, woodpeckers, house wrens, cat birds, grackles, finches, blue jays and even pigeons - all of them will find a place to make a nest.

My hope and prayer for us today is that our ministry together at Trinity Cathedral - in the center of downtown Cleveland, in the heart of Northeast Ohio, in the middle of this great nation - that our ministry now and in the years to come will produce many little seeds that will grow into great big trees.

So to all of you who have wrestled and waded through this journey of discernment with me, I thank you. And to the rest of you, let me say, I am glad to be home!


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blessed Assurance

Many of you have asked me how I am doing. Am I getting rest? Am I okay?

I am deeply touched by your concern and the many, many offers of prayers.

I am still broken hearted about the injustice my beloved church committed in the name of 'unity' which seems a fickle, if not false god. But, I am healing. And, here is what is helping: gratitude.

I am deeply, deeply grateful for the love of my congregation, for the work of ministry we do together in the name of Jesus, for the community we have together, which is about a classical example of Anglican autonomous interdependence you can get at the local church level.

Oh, and Lenny and Coco, who greeted me with a five minute sustained joy-filled, unconditional love riot when I walked in the door on Thursday night.

As I type this, Lenny (Brisco - the punk from the South End of Boston) is snuggled at my feet. CoCo (Channel - the Upper East Side wonder pup, AKA "Ethel Fuzzbutt" when she hangs with the Bridge and tunnel Crowd in North Jersey)is trying to persuade her brother to go into my office where she has a stash of toys.

I have rediscovered that gratitude is the best balm for a broken heart, providing such deep joy as the apostle's knew.

We'll get through Canterbury's "Upstairs/Downstairs" Covenant creation, we'll weather the homophobic storms together, and get ready to fight the good fight another day not too far into the future.

Until now, rejoice with me that God is good, Jesus is our savior and the Holy Spirit is still around to guide us - it's just that she's really pissed.

I've just learned how to do this - here's a picture of CoCo and Lenny.

DON Announces Candidates for Bishop

Diocese of Newark Announces Candidates for Bishop

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark
announces the candidates for the 10th Bishop of Newark as presented by
the diocesan Search/Nominating Committee.

The candidates are:

The Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Congregational Development
Officer for the Diocese of California
The Rev. Mark Beckwith, rector, All Saints Church in Worcester,
The Very Rev. Petero Sabune, prison chaplain in the Diocese of
New York
The Rev. William "Chip" Stokes, rector, St. Paul's Church in
Delray Beach, FL.

Photos and a brief biography of each candidate are available on the
Search/Nominating Committee web site at

The Search/Nominating Committee began its work a year ago, initially by
preparing a profile of the diocese and those qualities sought in its
next bishop. The committee evaluated every person nominated thoroughly
and prayerfully before the final selections were made. The committee
based its choices solely on how the nominees matched the profile of the
diocese and did not eliminate anyone because of their race, gender or
sexual orientation.

"The Standing Committee is deeply grateful to the Search/Nominating
Committee for its hard work over the past year," said Edgar Kim Byham,
President of the Standing Committee. "They have admirably fulfilled
their charge from the Standing Committee to give us a slate of
candidates, any one of whom would make an excellent Bishop of Newark.

"These nominees, as well as those who may be nominated by petition, will
provide an outstanding opportunity for our amazing diocese, with the
help of the Holy Spirit, to discern who would best lead us into the next
phase of Christ's mission in northern New Jersey," he said.

Nominations by petition must be sent to Byham no later than 6:00 PM EDT
on Wednesday, July 5, 2006. Details for the process of nomination by
petition may be found on the web site of the Diocese of Newark at:

All the candidates will be invited to take part in a series of "Walk
Abouts" throughout the diocese in September, where they will meet and
talk to electors and others in the diocese. On September 23rd, a
special convention will be held in Newark to elect the new bishop. The
voting will be in two orders, clergy and lay, and a majority of both
orders on the same ballot is required for election. Following consents
from other diocesan Standing Committees and bishops, the new bishop is
to take over for retiring bishop John P. Croneberger in February.

The Rev. Sandye Wilson
(973) 763-3754

30 Years of Unreceived Gifts

Posted for Mark Delcuze, priest of the church, bon vivant, raconteur, and dear, dear friend.


1976 was such a great year. It was the year I graduated from high
school. It was the year of the American Bicentennial and it was the year
of the 65th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Having listened
to and read through ++Rowan's "reflection" it is clear to me that Rowan
(and much of Anglicanism) does not participate fully in the gifts of the
1976 General Convention. Let me illustrate:

In 1976 our Church embraced the ministry of women as full participants
in the ministry of presbyters and overseers. Thirty years later this is
not a value shared by all Anglicans. I am grateful that ++Rowan notices
that there are "local churches" that have women in these roles, but am
saddened that he does not say anything commendatory about them in his

In 1976 our Church greatly improved the Baptismal service with a clear
baptismal covenant setting forth the responsibilities of every member of
Christ's Body, the Church, for study, sacraments, repentance,
evangelism, seeking Christ in all and (yes, Louie is still right) doing
justice. Our current neuralgia seems to have overwhelmed ++Rowan's
reflection on the challenge and hope of the mission of the church in
favor of a discussion of the challenge and hope of its structure.

In 1976 our Church proposed a Book of Common Prayer included a catechism
specifying that "The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops,
priests and deacons". Ministry in ++Rowan's reflection refers
exclusively as the work of the ordained and primarily as the work of

In 1976 our Church resolved that "homosexual persons are children of God
and have full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love,
acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church". Here ++Rowan
does firmly stand against prejudice and bigotry, though one might find
his reflection falls short on acceptance.

In 1976 I still knew the tune to "Love isn't something 'til you give it
away". My prayer is that the gifts that our "local church" received
thirty years ago will some day be unwrapped by all God's people.

The Rev. Mark S. Delcuze
(Thrice a clergy deputy, but now a nutmegger cleric)
St. Stephen's Church
Ridgefield, CT

Monday, June 26, 2006

Diving Deep and Surfacing

Monday, June 26, 2006

I’ve found myself deeply challenged by the image of the church as the whale tangled in the waters off the coast of San Francisco, beyond the Golden Gate which I used in my sermon on Sunday.

It seems to me that the church is going to need divers – strong, experienced divers –to cut the church loose from the tangle of sin in which we’ve just placed her.

I am remembering, just now, that it was Carol P. Christ who wrote one of the first books on feminist spirituality. It was entitled, “Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest.”

A reader of this blog reminded me of the poem by Adrienne Rich: Diving into the Wreck.

It has become, for me, a poem for Katharine Jefferts Schori, our Presiding Bishop elect of The Episcopal Church and the first woman to be primate in The Anglican Communion.

It is a powerful metaphor for the work she must do – and a vocational call to all of us in the church who must dive deep and surface as we enter into this spiritual quest with her.

(Good thing she's a marine biologist!)

I reprint Rich's poem here. May it inpsire and challenge you as it has me.

Diving into the Wreck
Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.

I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.

We know what it is for,
we who have used it.

it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.

Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.

I go down.

My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.

The words are maps.

I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.

I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.

And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.

We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.

I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass.

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

From Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1973 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright 1973 by Adrienne Rich.

An Open Letter to my LGBT Sisters and Brothers

By V. Gene Robinson
Saturday, June 24, 2006

An Open Letter to my Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

From V. Gene Robinson, Bishop in the Church of God in a blessed place called New Hampshire:

Many of you have been writing to me, in the aftermath of General Convention, to ask what I am thinking, now that the Convention has called upon the Church to deny consent to the consecration of partnered people as bishops. Frankly, like all of you, my thinking is all over the map. But here is where I am, only a few days later.

Read the entire letter here:

Feeding on the Bread of Anxiety

Note: Katie Sherrod is one of my dearest friends and one of the most passionate, hardworking straight (but never narrow) ally and activist we have in The Episcopal Church. A film producer, she and her husband, retired priest Gayland Poole, live in Ft. Worth, TX, one of the most repressive dioceses in our church. I reprint her article here with a deep sense of gratitude.

By Katie Sherrod

At the end, it came down to this.

We tried to create a “diverse center” by throwing aside the dignity and ministries of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers.

We tried to build a bridge to Lambeth on the bodies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Episcopalians.

We tried to “create space for healing” by throwing some of our brothers and sisters out of the boat.

We tried to become “Windsor compliant” instead of focusing on being Gospel compliant.

And all of this because we were force fed the bread of anxiety and became agents of fear instead of agents of hope. There was way too much talk of “sacrifice” and “crucifixion” and none at all about resurrection.

From Day One, a small number of noisy conservatives were pumping fear into the Convention as hard as they could. English archbishops were flown in from England to add to the pressure. When the British bishops weren’t there in person, they were issuing letters of warning, which were quickly passed around by the conservative minority.

It almost didn’t work. This Convention was very clear that it did not want to go back on human sexuality justice issues. Finally on the last day the presiding bishop used the ugliest kind of coercion and distortion of process to get what he wanted.

In his address to the joint session of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, Frank Griswold tried to anger “the center” by telling them that “the fringes” had manipulated them. He made it clear that the “fringes” included LGBT people who are participating fully in the life and ministry of the church and want to continue to do so.

We-have-to-do-this-or-we-won’t-be-invited-to-Lambeth became his ultimatum. Then he brought out his biggest gun of all, Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori. Give Katharine what she needs to be at the table. The bishops caved.

And when Jefferts Schori was invited to speak to the House of Deputies, the deputies caved.

Fear triumphed over hope, appeasement trumped truth, bullying replaced leadership.

It was spiritual violence – to my GLBT brothers and sisters, to the bishops, to the deputies.

And all for what?

Within minutes, conservative Episcopalians were saying it wasn’t enough. To their credit, they had also said this on the floor of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. All along, they’ve said it wasn’t enough. In fact, nothing the General Convention could have done short of stripping Gene Robinson of his office, throwing him and all LGBT people back into the closet and locking the door, and then handing the leadership of the church over to Peter Akinola assisted by Bob Duncan would have satisfied them.

Why are we surprised? Appeasing bullies never works.

We had a chance to say, “We in the Episcopal Church value being part of the Anglican Communion. We love it and wish to remain to vital part of it. However, we are not of one mind on the issues presented in the Windsor Report. We are working out our own consensus on this. Please give us grace and time in which to work this out in the context of our polity. And then let us bring our lived experience in dealing with these painful issues to the Communion as our gift.”

That would have been the truth.

It would have shown respect for the Anglican Communion and for the decisions the bulk of people in this church support. It would have shown respect to the shrinking number of conservatives who are in pain over the direction of The Episcopal Church and it would have shown respect for LGBT people and their allies.

If Katharine Jefferts Schori walks across that bridge to Lambeth that we constructed of the bodies of our LGBT brothers and sisters, I pray that she will say this to the rest of the Communion.

The Episcopal Church’s struggle to extend the life of the church to all the baptized is a gift. If we don’t value it, why should we expect the rest the Communion to do so?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Out of the Whirlwind

Pentecost III – June 25, 2006
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham, NJ
The Rev’d Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor

Job 38:1-11
Ps 107:23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

Let us pray (sing):

My life flows on in endless song,
above earth's lamentation
I hear the clear though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

In the Name of God. Amen.

As many of you know, I’ve just returned from Columbus where I attended the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Those of you who have read my blog, “Telling Secrets” will be somewhat familiar with what I am about to say. Simply said, it was a 10 day emotional roller coaster ride.

General Convention was an historic gathering in which we elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, the bishop of Nevada, as the first woman to be our Presiding Bishop and Primate in the Anglican Communion. That was a moment of breathtaking amazement. The “buzz” on the floor of Convention was something akin to a Pentecost experience. We had done something bold and courageous and of the Holy Spirit. I was never more proud of my church.

We also soundly defeated the resolution for a moratorium on electing gay or lesbian people as bishops or blessing same sex unions as requested by The Windsor Report, a special gathering of Anglicans from around the globe commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury after the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire.

And then, at the 11th hour and on the last day of Convention, the Presiding Bishop, Frank Tracy Griswold, called a special joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to reconsider the moratoria, which we had previously rejected as contrary to our canon law.

In an unprecedented move, Bishop Griswold appealed to us to pass a carefully crafted resolution, B033, which asked “Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

Well! Talk about “out of the whirlwind!” The floor of convention was seized by a chaotic spirit. Most of us were stunned by the request. What does “exercise restraint” mean? And, what exactly is a “manner of life that presents a challenge to the wider church”? How does one define that? Who defines that? Indeed, our newly elected Presiding Bishop, as a woman, presents precisely such a challenge. She will not be uniformly welcomed in the corridors of power of the Anglican Communion.

Seasoned deputies were astounded – especially when we learned, later that morning, that the House of Bishops had passed the resolution un-amended. More unprecedented action was yet to come: no one was prepared for the request that the Presiding Bishop-elect come and speak to us before we took our vote. Indeed, since both Houses operate autonomously, the President-elect of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, called for a vote to ask our permission to have her speak to us. Bishop Katharine spoke to the current state of the church, calling up the image of conjoined twins – two bodies, two separate individuals, united in one being. The medical ethicists who consider the surgery, she said, operate on the assumption that it is wrong to separate the twins unless both can live full lives.

She continued: “I think we are in a church much like that. This creature, this Body of Christ, is not wholly one and it is not wholly two. The resolution which stands before you is far from adequate. I find the language exceedingly challenging, but my sense is that it's probably the best we're going to do today, and at this convention. I am fully committed to the inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church. I certainly don't understand adopting this resolution as slamming the door, and I do think that if you pass this resolution, you have to keep working with all your might at finding a common mind in this church. I don't find this an easy thing to say to you, but I think this is the best we're going to manage at this point in our history.”

The best we can do at this point is injustice? I’m still stunned by this, even as I know, deep in my heart and am loathed to admit, that, at this time in the life of the church, she is absolutely right.

Into this chaotic time in the life of the church comes the story of Jesus, calming the storm. “Peace! Be still!” he calls out to the sea. “And there was a dead calm.” As I have carefully considered Bishop Katharine’s words, I think there is reason to hope for the new leadership of our church and the new model of leadership she will bring to the Anglican Communion.

“Peace! Be still!” I did not know just how much I needed to hear these words from Jesus. To remember, when the storm is raging, when I am most fearful, that is the time to seek Jesus. Out of the whirlwind of the storms of our lives, the voice that spoke to Job is the voice of Jesus, who speaks to us today and says, “Peace! Be still!”

So, I have sought Jesus, in these last few days and, as I prayed I came upon another image of the church. In a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle there appeared the story of a female humpback whale which had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.

The 45-50 foot female humpback, estimated to weigh 50 tons, was on the humpback’s usual migratory route between the Northern California coast and Baja California when it became entangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots. She had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth – some so tightly as to cause visible cuts in her side. At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow-hole out of the water.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her ...a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, sometimes playfully, and seemed to thank them. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

The greatest damage done by convention was not so much the injustice visited upon an individual or select group of people as much as violence was done to the Church, the Body of Christ. Somehow, we have gotten this Church of ours bound up and weighed down, and we need to free her from the burden and weight of our sin of injustice and from the false gods we have created of unity and communion.

In the coming weeks and months and years, we are going to have to dive deep into our spiritual lives. I think each one of us will need to look deeply into our souls and enter the whirlwind where we encounter the living God. We need to ask questions, hard questions, of ourselves and our church. It will be dangerous work. Some will leave – and that will create another whirlwind of its own. But, just as the disciples in the midst of the storm of their day had to awaken Jesus, who was sleeping at the stern of the boat, we too will need to awaken the Christ within us, the Body of Christ, to address the injustice and violence which we, at General Convention, have done to her and to her children.

St. Paul’s words to another church in another time of turmoil, the ancient church of Corinth, may give us strength and courage to face our own present day crisis in the church: “We are treated as impostors, and yet we are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-13)

Into that whirlwind, and all of the whirlwinds of our lives, Jesus says, “Peace! Be still!” If we listen to those words, grace – abundant grace – will be available to us to act boldly and prophetically. We’ll not only be able to do justice, but we’ll love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Sing with me:

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

“As we work together with him, may we not take the grace of God in vain.” (2Cor6:1)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Letters, I get letters . . .

Saturday, June 24, 2006

One of the things that is astounding about this BLOG stuff is the comments section. I want to respond directly to two recent posts by way of also answering “But I don’t hate you.”

To Pilgrim and ew-3,

You haven't published your profile so I don't know anything about you, but you know much about me.

It feels rather cowardice of you both to throw pebbles at me from behind a screen, but that's one of the risks, I suppose, of this kind of communication in cyberspace.

I'm a rank neophyte to this kind of communication and am just learning that there are very few rules here. I may be more the fool for publishing my profile in cyberspace.

I thought (and correct me if I'm wrong) that the whole point of blogging is to have a place to express one's opinion.

So, I find it oddly amusing to be scolded for doing so because I happen to disagree with your perspective.

You certainly have a right to your opinion and to differ from me, but to scold me?


Well, perhaps you don't need to publish a profile after all.

Perhaps we know more about you than you want us to know.

To your point: You may not know this because you have neither heard me preach nor been in my congregation when I have held Adult Educational programs. As I have said, I had this blog spot created for me so I could be in touch with my congregation. I’ll now take the time to catch you up to speed on where I am / we are.

Just as I make a distinction between those on the Radical Left and those who are progressive and liberal, I make a distinction between those on the Radical Right and those who are conservative and moderate.

I have many, many conservative and moderate friends – indeed, many are members of my congregation – who genuinely struggle with the meaning of scripture, the tradition of the church, and the injustices they know to be perpetrated on LGBT people - both in our culture and in our church.

And, they are my friends.

One conservative posted here and with a gracious generosity comforted me and said that s/he was also not proud of the church’s action. I can’t thank you enough for that, whoever you are.

The folks on the Radical Right, however, are a completely different creature. "Mike in Texas" gives a good "snapshot" of who they are and what they believe.

Akinola and Duncan are just two of their leaders. Their members are legion.

They are not simply "organized to oppose (my) plans."

They have openly spoken of murder, punishment, prison and the denial of civil rights for LGBT people. And, they are quite serious.

They have publicly admitted that they want to "take over" or "supplant" The Episcopal Church.

Yes, I name that "evil."

Yes, I name that "heinous."

And, I do so with all the justifiable outrage I can still muster in this exhausted, bruised, broken-hearted body of mine. This kind of hatred and bigotry is not – can not – be of God.

This place of heinous evil is exactly where you land when you start with the position, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

A message of hate is still a message of hate. Even if you begin with the position that homosexuality is a sin, which I obviously don’t, there is nothing loving about it.

Think, for just a minute, if someone considered all sexual activity sin (And, there are those who do. St. Paul, for one thought marriage was not the highest state of spiritual life, but necessary for those who had to do something, for goodness sake, about their sexual urges. There are those I have met who quote these passages of scripture to me and believe them.)

Okay. You don’t feel this way. But, imagine with me, for just a moment, that someone considered your sexual orientation and your sexual activity to be sin. And they said to you, “Well, I hate your sin, but I love you as a sinner.”

Doesn’t sound very loving, does it?

Furthermore, ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner,’ places one on a slippery slope.

Because we are enjoined to ‘hate the sin’ we feel justified in an effort to take away the civil rights of “those sinners.”

We feel justified in sacrificing them on the altar of the false god of ‘communion’.

Indeed, we feel justified in doing so without even consulting the LGBT leadership in the 11th hour of General Convention, or to caution and warn them that this was the step that was going to be taken so we might have been prepared for the brutality of that act.

This position is diametrically opposed to the Word of God who said, "And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all to me."

As Desmond Tutu says, "All . . All . . .All . . .All. . ."

Initially, I cringed at Bishop Katharine's image of conjoined twins. I have been holding out hope. Hope of reconciliation. Hope of finding common ground. Hope of the Spirit of Anglicanism to rule the day.

However, I am coming to see the wisdom of it.

The Radical Right - like the Radical Left - are barely Christian much less classically Anglican - and for very, very different reasons.

The Radical Right, like the neo-Puritans, want to purify the church by imposing rigid rules and expelling those who will not abide by them.

The Radical Left wants to ignore doctrine and interpret the "all" of Jesus as "anything."

Neither position is one that belongs in the Body of Christ, much less part of the Anglican church.

I have distanced myself from those admittedly few on the Radical Left. I would urge you, if you find their position odious, to distance yourself and identify yourself apart from those on the Radical Right – whose numbers are growing daily.

So, scold me if you must. Think less of me as a clergy person.

What I know to be true is this: God loves the people on both ends of the spectrum as well as everyone in between.

That includes “them.”

That includes you.

That even includes me.

And, as for my "plan" - well, I think Bishop Gene said it best:

“Do you want to know what the so-called Gay Agenda is? I’ll tell you. The Gay Agenda is Jesus.”

And, Jesus said, “All.”

Friday, June 23, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

Friday, June 23, 2004

Okay, can I just say how WONDERFUL it is to be home again? To sleep in my own bed? To drink my own coffee in the morning (not the brown water in the hotel room) from my very own favorite mug? To have Lenny (Brisco) and CoCo (Channel) greet me with unrestrained excitement and unconditional love when I walk in the door and cuddle with me as I sit on my favorite chair?

Ah, these are the things that really matter.

Now that I'm home, it's fascinating to read the local 'take' on what we did during General Convention. Most folk here did not see it as a moratorium on LGBT bishops. They see it as an issue of consciousness - more of a loop hole than a barrier.

I'm absolutely amazed. Clearly, they don't know the subtlety of Anglican polity. When I tried to explain it, I got curious looks and the response, "Hmmm . . .That sounds like President Clinton saying, 'well, it depends on what 'is' is.'"

I now understand a bit better why the neo-Puritan/evangelical/charismatic folks on the Radical Right (not to be confused with conservatives)were so jump-up-and-down angry at the language of B033.

I suppose the ultimate reality of our deliberations and decisions in Columbus will be revealed after the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishops of the Southern Cone model what it means to "exercise restraint" - and simultaneously make us dangle in the breeze for a while.

I'm also amused by the buzz about our newly elected Presiding Bishop/Primate. The most frequently asked questions have to do with the spelling and pronunciation of her name.

To that end, I've written a little ode to Katharine Jefferts Schori.
(after "Liza with a "z - not Lisa with an "s"")

That's Katharine with an "a" not Katherine with an "e"
'Cuz Katherine with an "a" goes "ahhh" not "ehhhh".

Jefferts Schori stands alone
No hyphen in between

But it's "Bishop Katharine"
To the ABC.

On a less sanguine note - I was talking with a dear friend today, an almost
70 year old African American woman who is an Episcopal priest who has already
come "through many troubles, toils and snares," but would "give nothing for
her journey now."

She listened closely as I recounted my experience of General Convention.

I asked her what she thought of our newly elected woman Primate.

She sighed deeply and said,

"Listen, child, I have been around this church too long not to speak the
truth. When things are a mess, they always send in a woman to clean it up.
Then, if it all goes wrong, they can always blame her - and it will be all her
fault from the beginning."

She shook her head in a knowing sadness, held up one finger bent with
arthritis and added, "And, when things are absolutely beyond repair, they send in a
Black person."

"Now, she added," let me tell you about "exercising restraint."

She straightened herself up, looked at me dead in the eye and asked, "Do you
remember the language that was used in Brown v. Board of Education? They said
desegregation was to happen - are you ready for this? - with "all deliberate speed."

"All deliberate speed," she huffed.

"That was 1968. What year is it now? Huh, don't talk to me about
"all deliberate speed."

"When is Lambeth? Two years? When is General Convention? Three years?"

"Huh," she added, "And they say they're gonna 'exercise restraint'? Sounds
to me like they found a new way to say 'all deliberate speed.'"

She shook her head again and walked slowly to her car.

Just when I thought I had cried my last tear, I found myself weeping all
over again.

It's helped to be able to write this down and process it in my journal. I've decided to take a risk and post it here, feeling that some of y'all might be wondering if I've fallen off the end of the world.

I haven't.

I'm exhausted. Bruised. Broken hearted. It is still not well with my soul.

I was in class from 9:30 - 4 PM. I have not yet been to the office, but I have an Adult Education program tomorrow morning from 9:30 - 11 AM and a birthday party for my grand daughter, MacKenna Jane in the afternoon. I have a sermon to finish for Sunday and tons of books and articles to read for next week.

(Did I mention that I am still exhausted?)

I really don't know what I'm going to do about this Blog. It was only supposed to be for the folks at St. Paul in Chatham and only during General Convention.

However, as the newly elected national president of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, and with a newly elected woman as a Presiding Bishop and Primate, I'll be at Lambeth in 2008 and Anaheim in 2009 - which will come up really, really fast.

I suppose there will be a few things to write about.

Thanks to all of you who wrote me privately as well as left comments on my blog. Most of you were gracious and generous and more than kind. I do not know what I did to deserve such love and support but I won't question it and take it gratefully.

I'll leave you with this thought: One of the meditations given at General Convention included a scene from the film GETTYSBURG. I've been haunted by it ever since. I plan to rent the movie while I'm on vacation this August.

A colonel is addressing his troops, which include a number of captured soldiers who are told that if they try to escape, the orders are to "shoot to kill."

The colonel encourages them not to do that. Further, the prisoners of war are being asked to join the fight because, the colonel says, "What we are fighting for, in the end, is each other."

What we are fighting for, in the end, is each other.

Now, there's a sobering thought.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Can I get a witness?

I should have known The Witness would be on it.

Go to

Click on "Contents" and you'll get stories about Resolutions A161 and B 033, complete with ballot results.

While you're there, browse around. It's a great online magazine.

For your information

Some of you have asked where you can get more facts about General Convention in general and the story on Resolutions A161 and B033.

Try these two sites first: Scroll down past the resolutions to sermons and press releases. This will take you to the catalogue of all of the news stories that have come out of Columbus This is Susan Russell's Blog.

"The best we can do . . ."

The last legislative day . . . Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Okay. It’s really Thursday, June 22, 2006. I’ve hardly slept. I walked around the city until about 1:30 AM. I have no idea how far or where I went. The streets of the city – any city – are where I’ve most often found comfort. These city streets – even for the Midwest – did not fail.

The events of yesterday still hurt. A lot. Okay. More than a lot. Truth be told, I’m devastated. Shaken to my core. I found myself sobbing just now in the shower.

I’ve heard that Bishop Duncan and 11 others walked out of the House of Bishops meeting yesterday. I understand. Honestly. I’ve been tempted to do the same thing. Just walk away from it all. Who needs this? Why do I keep putting myself in a position of being abused? What kind of perverse love is this that I have for this church?

Funny. The one song I had in my head all night and woke up with this morning was Tracy Chapman’s, “Give me one good reason, and I’ll turn my back around.” I’m not sure there is a good enough reason.

I don’t know where to even begin to describe to you what happened. Even so, I am quite suddenly aware that, while I originally thought I would start this little blog for the folks in my congregation to stay informed of the activities of the national church, I am writing to a much larger, albeit unintended audience. All of a sudden, I feel the need to guard my words.

So, a disclaimer, of sorts: these are the words of a humble parish priest, one who desperately loves her people and they, by some amazing grace, love her.

I want only to be with them – when they give birth to their children, to baptize them and prepare their children to receive Holy Eucharist; to educate and inspire them – child and adult – in the scriptures; to get them ready for Confirmation and Reception and send them off to college; to have them return for the Sacramental Rite of Marriage or Blessing of Relationship; to bring them the Word and Sacrament of Jesus; to be with them in crisis, sit with the dying, comfort the bereaved, bury the dead; to nourish and sustain them with Jesus in this life and for the life to come.

I love them. They love me. It is a wondrous thing to behold. But, after General Convention 2006, I feel that our relationship is in grave danger – not because of the church, but The Church.

You’ll want to know what happened behind the headlines. I’ll tell you.

It was raining when I awoke – late – at the obscene hour (for me) of 8 AM. Indeed, I awoke to the sound of thunder rumbling loudly outside my hotel window. Strange, I didn’t remember hearing that on the local weather forecast.

I lingered through the morning, simply enjoying the luxury of time to linger, and to consider the hard work as well as the wonder of the past week. We had come to Columbus with a careful plan and had amazed ourselves by how much we were actually able to accomplish – including the wildly surprising and unexpected gift of the first woman Primate in the Anglican Communion.

It was a great time, I thought, to be an Episcopalian. I was never more proud of my church and her courage and her bold witness. I even began to think of how I might tell the story of this glorious time in the history of the Episcopal Church to my grandchildren.

I didn’t know the clock was ticking and this glorious time was really only a moment.

There was an anxious buzz in the convention hall. It seemed odd to have all those purple shirts among us, but a special joint session had been called. There was wild speculation about what the Presiding Bishop was going to tell us. I don’t think any of us could have predicted how bad it was going to be.

When Frank Griswold read the resolution, we were stunned. As I type the words in now, I still can’t believe that it passed both houses without amendment.

Here is Resolution B-033:

“Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

“Exercise restraint.”

I think that was an attempt at Anglican vagueness. That, along with “manner of life,” and “presents a challenge to the wider church.”

Didn’t work. It might not have been the “clarity” which Kendall Harmon and the AAC wanted, but Canterbury had spoken and we got the message loud and clear.

The bishops left the floor of the House of Deputies, whispering promises to vote this down. “Don’t worry,” they said, “it won’t come back here. We’ll take care of it.”

We went about our work – and, God knows, there was certainly a lot of it. We had not yet gotten to the resolutions which would call us to repentance and reparations for slavery, changes in our canons, new educational programs and liturgies – all of that still awaited our attention.

I’m sure everyone will have their own take on this, but here is the fact: While we worked and while the House of Bishops debated Resolution B-033, a terrible thunder and lightening storm raged outside. At times, the rain poured down so hard that people at the microphones had to raise their voices in order to be heard. Loud claps of thunder shook the roof.

I’m pretty clear about what was going on, but I’ll leave that to your own interpretation.

I’ve lost sense of the sequence of time, but it wasn’t a little more than an hour after the bishops left us that the President of the House, George Werner, called the newly elected President, Bonnie Anderson to cover for him at the dais. “I’m going to check in with Noah,” he said, making a joke that barely covered the real reason for his departure.

My stomach immediately seized in a knot. I knew then that the word was coming to us from the House of Bishops, and it wasn’t going to be good.

Things are pretty much a blur from this point on.

I remember the vote being reported: B-033 passed the House of Bishops without amendment and by an overwhelming majority.

I remember finding Michael Hopkins and Susan Russell to get their read on it. I remember them saying that we lost the vote of 20 of our bishop friends. I remember saying, “C’mon, we can push back on this.”

I remember that Susan wouldn’t look at me. I remember the pain in Michael’s eyes as he tried to sound positive and encouraging, when he said, “Okay, whatever, go ahead.”

I remember Bonnie Anderson calling our attention to the Presiding Bishop Elect, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, who wanted to address the house before we voted.

I remember the painful, heavy silence that filled the room as she spoke. Her address lasted less than five minutes. You can get her address online at the general convention web site. When I read them, I vaguely remember hearing her saying them, but I wouldn’t be able tell you everything she said and pass a lie detector test.

What I can still hear are her last words. They echo in my head. I can see them resting like a heavy, dark cloud over our heads.

“ . . . . but at this time, this is the best we can do.”

Then she turned slowly, sadly, and walked silently out of the room.

Everyone sat in stunned silence. Bonnie Anderson took a deep breath and encouraged us all to do the same. But, there was no air in that room. It had all been sucked out.

I sat in stunned disbelief.

The best we can do is injustice?

The best we can do is mediocrity?

You know the rest of the story. The House caved in to the strong arming of Frank Griswold and Rowan Williams. More than 75% of the clergy and laity passed B033 without amendment.

I had assumed that everyone in the Newark deputation voted against the resolution. I even reported as much to the reporter from the Star Ledger. Turns out, I was wrong. Bevan Stanley, rector of Christ Church, Short Hills, voted in favor of B033. He didn’t divide the vote, thanks be to God, but I think he’s going to have to deal with the repercussions of that back home.

I heard many say that they wanted to give Katharine an undivided church and a fighting chance to be invited to Lambeth in 2008.

Funny. Moderator Bob Duncan, the bishop of Pittsburgh, read a statement of disassociation from The Episcopal Church and he, along with eleven other bishops walked out.

Funny. She may not be invited to Lambeth anyway. Her gender “presents a challenge to the wider church and (may) lead to further strains on communion.”

Indeed, before long we heard from Canterbury. Turns out, we may not have saved the church from schism anyway.

Well, here. You read his words and tell me what you think:

"It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully.”

Funny – except it’s not. It’s tragic and appalling and absolutely heartbreaking. We are falling, headfirst, into the creation of a “magisterium.” We have become subject to “foreign rule.”

I’m still pretty much in shock. I return this afternoon to my home and family. I’m looking forward to a birthday party on Saturday with MacKenna Jane, our granddaughter who is turning five. Her mom is expecting our fourth grandchild in a few weeks. I didn’t even have time to go shopping for her birthday present while I was here.

Life goes on. It always does. It always will. My life has been changed and transformed by this time in Columbus, and I’ll never again be the same.

I’m trying to get over this – put it behind me. I’ve blown my nose, wiped my tears, picked up my socks and I’m trying to get on with it. I’m afraid I’m not able to “exercise restraint.”

It’s so hard. There’s this very tender place in my heart from where it was punched and kicked and beaten up yesterday afternoon.

It is not well with my soul.

I will start working on my sermon for Sunday in a little while. I also have some course work to finish and a class to attend Friday morning.

I’ll be seeing my spiritual director and spend some time with my therapist. I’ll see my chiropractor and have an adjustment on my back. I’ll hug my family and kiss the grandchildren. Our dogs, Lenny and CoCo will love me and get all excited when I walk in the door. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get a massage.

I wish I could say I feel hopeful and confident about the future of the church. I don’t. I’m not even sure I can name or identify the entire range of my emotions. I don’t have the energy for anger. I just know that I feel very, very sad.

It’s not what I want, but, for right now, it’s the best I can do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Because you just can't make this stuff up - Chapter III

The Morning of The Last Legislative Day – June 21, 2006

My legislative committee (#10 Social and Urban Concerns) finished its business yesterday morning, so I got to sleep until the absolutely obscene hour of 8 AM today.

I haven’t had time to thoroughly read much less adequately respond to all of the many wonderful posts that have been written there. I took the luxury of wandering around some of them this morning, over my third (!!) cup of coffee.

I’m absolutely amazed and awed by this “Blog” stuff. I had no idea that this parallel reality was in existence. What an eye-opener into this Brave New World!

I learned long ago that the impulse to respond to scriptural challenges by the evangelical/neo-puritan/orthodox Radical Right is an invitation to a descent into the dark realms of sin and perdition. The set up is not to engage scripture for a deeper understanding or illumination of the gospel truth; rather, the exercise of what I’ve come to call “scriptural gymnastics” is the point in and of itself.

Thanks, but no thanks.

However, I will respond to the evangelical lament, “But, I don’t hate you, honest.” – but only after I’ve had another night’s sleep. (Or, maybe even three.)

One ‘blogger', a sister, “Peacebang” who lives, she says, in “Boston-ish” MA, posted the following on her Blog in response to my piece “Love Them Anyway.”

I just can’t stop giggling. And, I have repented and promise to go and sin no more.

You can find it here:

Or, for those of you who are not inclined to follow links, I’ve pasted it below.

Because, you just can’t make this stuff up! Enjoy!

What To Wear For A Crisis

A loyal reader alerted me to a lesbian Episcopal blogger who writes about attending General Conference and struggling mightily with the issues around radical welcome.

Sister, PeaceBang is 100% with you in spirit. God grant you strength and heart.

This blogger describes coming back from plenary sessions and getting dressed in a pair of gym shorts, a Red Sox shirt, a Red Sox cap and a pair of PINK FLAMINGO flip-flops to go down and have a meal at the hotel bar.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

I am still 100% with you in Spirit, sister, but not in style. It's time for an intervention.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord,

The work You call us to is hard indeed, and takes us down many a painful path. When our hearts are laden with sorrow and our spirits cannot find You, let us remember that we are nevertheless agents of your love. Give us the strength to remember this wherever we go, even so humble a place as a hotel bar. And Lord, give us the strength to look the part-- emissaries of grace, believers in beauty, people of dignity, representatives of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What To Wear For a Crisis:

A pair of nice, gently flared dark denim jeans, some fashionable boots to kick ass in, a tailored, white blouse, and a BIG cross. Cheery lipstick, and no mascara. Don't forget the white hankie in your pocket, and a packet of Kleenex in your purse.

Let us join in a responsive reading:

The only place that a clergyperson should ever wear sports regalia is while attending a game of that team.
All: We are believers in beauty.

The only place a clergyperson should ever wear pink flamingo flip-flops, if ever, is by the pool.
All: We are emissaries of grace.

The only place a clergyperson should ever wear gym shorts is at the gym.
All: We are dignified people.

This is the word of Truth. Thanks be to God.

Blogging Sister Friend, go in peace and sin no more.

Amen. May it be so - Elizabeth+ 062106

BTW: I trust you all have been getting "the facts" about General Convention from other sources - like the Episcopal Church General Convention site. These are just my musings and impressions.

You can get other slants on "the facts" from IntegrityUSA, TitusOneNine (Kendall Harmon), and, for those of you who are very, very brave, from David Virtue.

Be sure to wear your asbestos pumps and bullet-proof vest when you walk through those last two sites. And see how these Christians love one another.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a girl!

Tuesday, June 20th: A confession before bed.

The Episcopal Women's Caucus and Integrity held a party last night in honor of Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, our new Presiding Bishop and Primate.

The EWC had buttons made in pink which declare: "It's a girl!"

We have been inundated with requests for these buttons. Suddenly, it's all the rage - the must-have souvenier from General Convention 2006. We've had 2,000 more of them made and they'll be ready tomorrow.

I woke up yesterday morning, the first day of life in the Anglican Communion with a Primate who is a woman, and noted that the sky had not fallen. Neither had the world changed the rotation of its axis nor was the sun hidden by cloud or eclipse.

I do confess that my next thought was this: The Primate of The Episcopal Church is probably just waking up and was, no doubt, beginning to get dressed.

And, she's putting on her bra.

It's a brave new world.

Things left undone

Legislative Day #8 Tuesday 06. 20. 06

As thrilled as I was two nights ago with the election of the first woman as Primate in the Anglican Communion, I find myself deeply, deeply sad tonight.

Most of our day was taken up with the Windsor Report – to the detriment of the rest of the business of the church.

Oh, we did defeat – soundly – Resolution A161 (the moratoria), but it’s not over, friends. The fat lady has not yet sung, and she has been warming up all day in a back room at Lambeth Palace.

We understand that we have yet ANOTHER special order of business scheduled for the morning – a joint session with the House of Bishops.

Apparently, one of the members of the House of Deputies has been on the phone with Lambeth Palace all day, and we’ve been told that our resolutions are . . . what’s the word that’s being used ? . . . . I’m half brain dead from a combination of lack of sleep and the deadening dullness of the legislative process, but I think the words used were “insufficient” and “problematic.”

Well. There it is, then.

Canterbury has spoken. And we, in the colonies, are apparently listening.

I thought we did a brilliant job today. We expressed our regret in A160 and apologized for upsetting the communion. We soundly rejected A161, largely on the canonical questions I raised about discrimination.

In truth, however, the conservative/evangelical/neo-puritan Radical Right Wing of the church helped us to soundly defeat it. They hated that resolution almost as much as we did, but for very, very different reasons. Even so, I did the math. Even without the conservatives, we still would have carried the vote. Oh, it would have been a small margin, but we would have won it.

However, we wrote a blank check in Resolution A166 – the Anglican Covenant Development Process. We have no active participatory role in the development of this Covenant.

Take a minute to get your head wrapped around that one. I don’t think even the Radical Right has taken in the full implication of that one yet.

Okay, ready? I’m going to repeat it. Here it is again: We have no active participatory role in the development of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

We are “supporting the process,” and asking the Executive Committee and our members of the Anglican Consultative Council – who, you will remember, were DISINVITED while we continue to fully fund our membership – to “follow” the process of covenant development and report it to the 76th General Convention.

Nothing else. Our role is essentially passive. We granted ourselves no active participatory role in the development process.

So, here’s my question: How can there be an authentic covenant if there is not active participation of all of its constituent members in its development?

Ahem . . . . Can you say, ‘magisterium’?

It is becoming reality – The Episcopal Church is becoming more and more dominated by the same ‘foreign rule’ that provided the impulse for the first Reformation. Except, of course, that the purple sacristy slipper is on the other foot, as it were. Now it is England that is the “foreign rule” to America, instead of the Britons objecting to Roman rule.

As bad as that is, what makes me sad – to my very core – are the pages and pages of resolutions which will not be addressed tomorrow, our last legislative day. I look at my big, thick General Convention binder and it makes me weep.

Everyone talks about mission, and evangelism, and justice and our youth, and how very important that work is – and, it is. Most of it will go unattended because we have been completely absorbed ourselves in The Windsor Report. Ninety-five percent of the work that was done in the last three years and reported or acted on by this convention will not be addressed by the national church because we’ve indulged the platform developed by Lambeth Palace.

Here’s what I think. I think we should just ring up Lambeth first thing in the morning and ask them to send us the agenda for the day’s work.

Good morning, good sirs. Tell us, please, what would the Archbishop like us to do today? And, please do tell us what language he’d prefer. We speak only lowly American here, and you Britons speak the Queen’s English, which sounds ever so much more impressive and authoritative. This is, no doubt, why we buckle under so easily. (It’s a hackneyed saying that was never truer – England and America are two countries separated by a common language.)

I suspect there will be an end run by the House of Bishops tomorrow to answer the demands for a moratorium on the election of LGBT bishops and the authorization of rites of blessings for same sex partners. I don’t know if the Senior House (the House of Deputies) has the good will to entertain the heavy hand of authority from the councils of power in our church. I think we’re already really, really pissed off.

I only know that whatever more time we spend on the demands from hallowed halls of Lambeth Palace, the less time we’ll be able to spend on the demands from the people who live on the streets of America.

The more time we spend ‘submitting’ to the so-called ‘requests’ and ‘invitations’ of The Windsor Report, the less time we will spend tending to the cries of the poor.

If I had my way, we’d close this last session of General Convention with a Service of Repentance and confess our most grievous sin of creating and worshipping false idol of unity, communion, and conformity.

For all that we will leave undone, Lord, have mercy.

Elizabeth+ 06.20.06

A Hermeneutic of Suspicion

Legislative Day #7 06.19.06

One of the liberal male deputies accused me today of being paranoid.

I said that I wasn’t paranoid. Rather, like all those of us who function within the framework of liberation theology, I operate out of a hermeneutic of suspicion.

He laughed and said, “I’ll have to remember that!” As if I had made it up as a joke.

I’m as serious as a heart attack.

We spent the first five full days of this convention playing church in the old boy network style of church politics. Lots of easy banter. Lots of story telling. Lots of lovely strolls down memory lane. Lots of “affectionately straining the bonds of affection” with some pretty inappropriate ruling by the House – all in the name of collegiality, of course.

Some of you know me well enough to understand (and hopefully forgive) my bluntness, but for the first few days, well, the legislative sessions of this convention has felt like the ecclesiastical version of that old game I understand some play called ‘slap and tickle’.

Quite abruptly, the game has ended and we were presented, just three days from deadline, with the bulk of the resolutions from Special Committee #26 in response to the requests from The Windsor Report. We made lots of rules today in order to deal with these resolutions in a timely manner: just two minute presentations from deputies – 45 minutes worth of debate – no amendments presented until after 30 minutes of debate.

And, we were told – at 5 o’clock today when we FINALLY started to get to the meat and potatoes of the resolutions – we were going to deal with these resolutions as long as it took to get them done. Everyone had visions of it being 10 PM and no supper, hopelessly deadlocked over the tedium of word-smithing a resolution.

(As I was being kicked out of convention hall at 7:30 by the Convention Center Security, I realized that this had all been a bluff. We couldn’t have stayed there all night even if we had wanted to. I swear, I wanted to ring someone’s neck!)

We passed one resolution: A 160, which we felt we could live with. No “repentance” but, rather, “mindful of the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” – which was language right out of The Windsor Report. We offered an apology but not for consenting to the election of the bishop of NH. Rather, we apologized for “those who were offended” and asked for forgiveness for our precipitous behavior.

We made one minor adjustment to the language, and it passed handily by more than 76% margin.

A161 is the most problematic. It combines the two requested moratoria – on the election and consecration of LGBT people as bishops as well as authorizing of liturgical rites of blessing for LGBT people.

It is, in a word, evil.

I make no exaggeration here. It is evil.

Frank Wade, the co-chair of the Special Committee, prefaced our work by saying that sometimes, you have to “jump high” in order to get a better perspective – to see the bigger picture – of the real work that needs to be done. It’s not about the individual, Frank told us in his rich, melodious, senatorial tones which we’ve come to recognize, but it’s about sacrificing the individual for the whole and wholeness and w/holiness of the rest of the Body.

Fine. I’m with you Frank. Except, it was LGBT people who were being asked to sacrifice themselves (“fall on your own sword,” as one bishop strong-armed me in saying) on the altar to the false god of the Anglican Communion. Or, the false God of clarity.

Name your false god. Convention floor was thick with them today.

But, here’s the really heinous thing: After asking “bishops, standing committees, and search committees” not to consider LGBT people for the episcopacy, the final ‘resolve’ asks convention – are you ready for this? – to apologize to LGBT people and their supporters for hurt by these decisions.

I am absolutely speechless!

In other words, we are going to do mutilating surgery without anesthesia and we know it’s going to hurt, and you won’t look anything like the Child of God we’ve told you that you are when we’re done with you, so we’re going to apologize ahead of time.

Or, as one of the members of the Special Committee asked us, “Think of the upside of this resolution, he chirped. No one likes it.” Hearing the convention growing restless, he added, “We know that this resolution stinks. Just hold your nose and vote.”

Just hold your nose and vote??????? Are you kidding me????

I’ve never heard Jesus say that. Now, I know that Kendall Harmon has said publicly that “most Episcopalians don’t know Jesus,” and perhaps he’s right. The Jesus I know, near as I can remember, never said, “Hold your nose and follow me.”

The way I remember it is this (and you’ll correct me if I’m wrong): Jesus said, “Pick up your cross and follow me.”

But he never said, “some of you pick up your cross.”

Or, “Hey, you, over there. YOU pick up your cross.”

Can you believe one Christian – one Christian ordained in God’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic church – asking this of other Christians?

As one of the deputies wisely commented, “If you have to apologize for your behavior before you do it, perhaps you ought not do it. Perhaps your behavior is wrong.”

Gee, ya think?

Not to mention in absolute opposition to our canons. We have two canons which deal with non-discrimination, and includes the category of LGBT persons.”

I think we can overturn this heinous resolution tomorrow morning – the conservatives hate it as much as we do, but for completely different reasons.

Reminds me of that old story about Forrest Gump being interviewed before getting into heaven. Gabriel asks him, “How many days in the week begin with “t”? Forrest thinks for a while and says, “Two.” “Right,” says God, but how did you get that answer, thinking that the correct answer is “Tuesday and Thursday.” Forrest says, “Oh, that is easy. The two days of the week that begin with “t” are Today and Tomorrow.

Which goes to the point of saying that sometimes there is more than one right answer to the same question. And that you can be right for all the wrong reasons.

We are being asked to sacrifice something for our membership in the Anglican Communion
We are told that this is good for us and good for the communion.

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Whenever you see a man coming at you with the intention of doing you good, you should run 100 miles in the opposite direction.”

As I leave to begin another day on the floor of convention, I will continue to operate out of this hermeneutic of suspicion. I am ready to make the sacrifices necessary to be true to myself and what I know of Jesus, who said, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Elizabeth+ 06 .19.06

Monday, June 19, 2006

Alive with joy!

Legislative Day # 6 Sunday, 06.18.06

I hardly have words to explain.

So, let me quote scripture.

Imagine Pentecost.

Read Acts 2 – especially vs. 15 when Peter says,

“Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning (substitute 4 o’clock in the afternoon).”

“No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be,
God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all
and your sons and your daughters
shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall
dream dreams,
Even upon my slaves, both men and
in those days, I will pour out
my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heave above
and signs on the earth below.

Got the picture?

That’s what it was like.

At least, that’s what it was like when I walked into the floor of General Convention a little after 3:30 PM.

The place was absolutely alive with joy!

The exact moment of the election? Well, that’s another story.

I had decided that I would take the afternoon off. I had arranged with one of the alternate deputies to cover for me. I had the whole afternoon planned: I would walk the 8 blocks to the local CVS and buy some laundry detergent to wash my blouses and, (as my southern friends say so delicately), “smalls.”

I also picked up some healthy munchies for the convention floor table: almonds, pistachios, goldfish. The legislative process is painstakingly slow. It takes an enormous amount of energy to watch paint dry. A body has to find strength somehow.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. It was hot, but tempered by a lovely breeze that kept the sun from being too strong. People were out walking, enjoying the day. Father’s Day.

Around 3:05 PM, I was walking back down High Street, just crossing Gay Street (I kid you not), when a sudden gust of wind just about blew me off my feet. My General Convention name badge twirled round and round, and my skirt got caught in the scaffolding of the construction site I was walking under. It literally took my breath away.

Then, into the sudden calm, my cell phone went off. A friend in Convention Hall text messaged me to say that he had just heard a rumor from a very reliable source that Katherine Jefferts-Schori had been elected Presiding Bishop. Had I heard anything? No, I typed back. Within five minutes, the information was confirmed. We had elected a woman as Presiding Bishop with the necessary vote on the fifth ballot.

I smiled broadly, looking for all the world and the people passing me on the side walk like a fool. Then, I felt a chill go through my entire body, over taking me and waking every nerve with joy. I whooped and danced a dance to Shekinah, the Holy Spirit.

People looked at me with startled looks. A homeless man looked up absently from his place on the park bench and smiled. Although he had no idea of the particulars, he immediately recognized joy when he saw it and waved his hand in the air and whooped with me. I dug into my pocket, found a dollar bill and some change and gave it to him. He whooped and hollared and danced with me. A few well dressed folk made a wide path around me on the sidewalk.

I didn’t care. I knew. I had known it in the morning. I think I had known it all along.

I had awakened at 5:30 AM to be at the Triennial Episcopal Women’s Caucus Breakfast which began at 7 AM. I have served on the board for a term and as the incoming national president, I wanted to be there to help with the set up.

As I looked over the possibilities of choices, I decided to honor my hunch about Bishop Katherine’s election by wearing purple: my skirt, blouse and sandals were purple.

I love the color purple, but for years I had not worn it, always concerned that someone would suspect me of having “purple fever,” meaning that I had ambitions to become a bishop. When asked, I would always laugh and say, “Oh, I hope God loves me more than that.” And, I suspect God does – at least I pray s/he does.

Finally, when I turned fifty, I decided that I was not going to let the insecurities of others influence my choice of clothing. I decide that I was self-differentiated and confident enough to have finally achieved a measure of healthy autonomy (the second milestone after trust, as described in Eric Erickson’s Stages of Development), to wear what I wanted to wear without being dictated by the neurotic concerns of others.

So, today I wore purple for Bishop Katherine. It was my outward sign and symbol of the inward and spiritual hope I carried into the day.

And, I was not disappointed. The Holy Spirit has not yet ceased to disappoint.

There are some continued evidences of the aftermath of her presence:

Marge Christie was the first lay deputy to confirm Bishop Katherine’s election. Marge, now in her mid-70’s, was one of the founding members of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus and one of the major pioneers for the ordination of women. This is, no doubt, her last convention. Hearing her confirmation at the microphone was like hearing the Song of Simeon,

“O Lord, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;"

I’m told that, after the election was announced, Bishop Barbara Harris, tears streaming down her face walked over to Bishop Katherine to embrace her. As she did, she was overheard to say, “I never – ever – thought that in my lifetime, I would see this.” And then, they both sobbed in each other’s arms.

“ . . . for mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

I’m also told that Bishop Gene Robinson was heard to say, “Thanks be to God. At last, I’m finally old news!” And the place erupted in hearty laughter.

Bishops came wandering into the House of Deputies looking absolutely awed and amazed. Over and over and over again they said, “My God. My God. Isn’t this amazing?”

And, they said, “What is the Holy Spirit doing to The Episcopal Church?”

The House of Deputies was absolutely alive with joy. People weeping in a kind of happiness which approached bliss. People hugging and rocking each other. People bursting into whoops and cheers and peels of laughter. People stunned into awe and wonder, scratching their heads and looking off into space.

And then, there was the deputation from Ft. Worth: glum faces talking on cell phones. People were respectful and let them have their space, but it was painful to see this little island of misery and sorrow in the midst of unabashed joy.

It wasn’t twenty minutes later and the politics had begun. Well, the progressives had “won” this one. Now, would the LGBT community be willing to sacrifice themselves for the Windsor Report? The Anglican Communion has already been "seriously impaired" (Gee, I thought it had already been "broken") by the election of a woman as Primate. We wouldn’t want to further compromise the communion, would we?

As if the LGBT community had somehow engineered the election of the Presiding Bishop!

Never mind. Tomorrow is another day. I suspect that the mood of the house is not predisposed to sacrificing anyone on the altar of the false idol that has become The Windsor Report.

I heard someone say, "We are to be compliant to the Gospel, not the Windsor Report."

That won’t stop the bloody battle. Swords are drawn. Battle plans are made. War has unofficially been declared. By Monday afternoon, it is bound to get very, very ugly.

Some expect the LGBT community to fall on their own swords in the name of unity.

We won’t, of course.

How could we?

Shekinah is in the house!

For the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church, we have a woman as a Presiding Bishop.

When a woman who is a priest holds up a host and says, “This is my body,” the Incarnation comes alive in a whole new way.

When a woman who is a bishop holds up the host and says, “This is my body,” we begin to understand something new about the power of God to raise up and empower the lowly.

I have never seen it, but I suspect that when a woman who is a Presiding Bishop holds up the host and says, “This is my body,” we will be invited even deeper into the mystery of our Triune God.

Listen! Can you hear it? The Magnificat is being chanted by the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

Is it any wonder that the church is alive with joy!

Elizabeth 06.18.06

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Psalm 30:5

Legislative Day # 5 Saturday, 06.17.06

It was a fairly slow day on the floor of convention, today, thanks be to Sweet Baby Jesus and all the angels and archangels who sing him to sleep.

Most of the morning was taken up with legislative committee work. My legislative subcommittee met at 7 AM for 30 minutes before the Hearings began at 7:30 – more on that later.

The rest of the morning was taken up by the UTO (United Thank Offering) Eucharist, which featured eucharistic music composed by the Director of Music at All Saints’, Beverly Hills. The setting was commissioned to celebrate the ministry of Frank Griswold and it was lovely.

The psalm setting (124), however, was composed by the Director of Music at Trinity, NYC, and it was dreadful. Perfectly dreadful. I can’t even begin to describe it, but even now, I’m glad not to have to listen to it ever again.

The preacher was Jenny Te Paa, from Auckland, New Zealand. She is the only indigenous lay woman to be appointed head of a Theological College in the Anglican Communion. As an academic, her sermon was more a lecture – a rather long lecture. She is also one of the authors of The Windsor Report. My take away line from her sermon was, “We need to stop allowing sophistry masquerading as timeless theology to rule our church.”

That was music to my ears!

I had lunch with about 100 other fans of Geranium Farm, a web site for the work of the Rev’d Barbara Crafton, Episcopal priest and author of several books – The Sewing Room, being one of them – Geranium Farm being the latest. It was just delightful.

Back to the legislative sessions at 2 PM which are seriously behind.

It’s been enormously frustrating – what’s that old saying about “watching paint dry”? That would be about our speed of operation. The afternoon legislative session saw the election of a new Vice President of the House of Deputies, the slate for Trustees for General Seminary and Executive Council accepted, and the confirmation of several bishops, including Mark Andrus of California. Michael Barlowe, one of the candidates who ran against him and a priest on diocesan staff in that diocese, was one of his presenters. Lovely.

One bishop confirmation is still hung up in committee – the bishop-elect of Northern California, a twice divorced and three times married man. There’s been quite a controversy swirling around him for that – waged mostly by the orthodox/fundamentalist/evangelicals who, I think, feel compelled to make an example out of him because of the brouhaha they’ve started over homosexuality. The word is that he’ll be confirmed, all right – after a sufficient amount of righteous indignation has been expressed, enough anxiety generated and enough bible passages and verses cited.

The rest of the afternoon and early into the evening was dedicated to a tribute to outgoing President of the House of Deputies, George Werner. I had to leave at 6 PM to attend an Integrity strategy session, and they were only half way through the agenda. (YIKES!).

You will be glad to know that I was in my room at 9 PM. I have just finished a lovely supper, in my P-jamma’s, and a lovely steaming hot cup of tea by my side. I’m planning to be in bed by 10:30 as my day begins at 6:30 AM for the Episcopal Women’s Caucus Breakfast at 7 AM tomorrow.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

My day began with a lovely surprise. Charlie Herrera testified before my committee: Social and Urban Affairs (I sit on the Human Sexuality Subcommittee) on Resolution D047, entitled “Justice, Respect and a Living Wage,” which actively supports the rights of workers to form a union, called for an increase in the support for the passage of ‘living wage,’ and challenged our church to hold its meetings and conventions in union hotels.

Charlie is 16 years old and a member of House of Prayer Episcopal Church in Newark, NJ where I was briefly Priest-in-Charge about 10 years ago. House of Prayer is also less than 2 miles from St. Barnabas where I served for about five years as Vicar of the Church and Executive Director of the AIDS Resource Center, so I’ve seen Charlie grow up.

He was representing the Diocese of Newark which proposed and sponsored the resolution and was the only one there (besides me) who was able to speak to it. I didn’t need to. He was very, very effective.

He presented the information in that almost-but-not-quiet-smartass way that 16 year olds have – the real message hovering just beneath his presentation being: Aw, c’mon! You mean you adults don’t know this stuff and you have to have someone like me break it down for you!

I especially loved it when he said, “We talk about the great work we do as a church – justice for this and justice for that. Who do you think put those pitchers of fresh water on your table? Who put those clean table clothes on your table? Who do you think cleans these carpets after we leave? And these people – many of them immigrants – do not even make minimum wage, much less a ‘living wage.’ C’mon, people. This is your chance to improve the lives of people right here.”

Was this the same scrawny little boy, all fidgety and squirmy, who, as I recall, established a little Sunday ritual of his own? He would race from the church as soon as I had given the dismissal and head directly to the Parish Hall, grab a fistful of cookies and run out into the church yard, his mother chasing right after him yelling, “Charl - eeeeeeeeee!”

Was this the same six year old kid whose mother taught him to speak Spanish (the language of his father), French (the language of his mother), and English, who would look at me dead-on when I tried to engage him in conversation, take a very deep, bored sigh and say, “en francais, s’il vous plait.”

Could it be that this very substantial young man, with broad shoulders and a stubble of hair on his face who used to play with his “hot wheels” under the pews while I preached who was now representing the Diocese of Newark on a major issue of justice?

Indeed, it was. The one and the same.

I was so proud to have walked with this young man, even for just a brief time on his journey, I nearly burst.

It was a wonderful start to a day that had its own challenges, but every day has its own challenges at General Convention. The clerical deputy from Easton sitting next to me said just the other day, just as the afternoon legislative session began, “They say it’s always 2 o’clock in hell.”

I came away remembering a verse from Psalm 30:

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

And, so it was. Thanks be to God.

Elizabeth+ 06.17.06