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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Goodnight, Mother.

As many of you know, my mother died late Tuesday night, July 29.

Although she had been very ill a few months back, her recovery had been good and she had been doing quite well. In fact, I spoke with her the morning I left for the Lambeth Conference.

I had sent her a large vase of sunflowers for her birthday and she wanted to call and thank me for them. She sounded fine. She was 85.

While not unanticipated, this still comes as a shock. Things done and left undone. The passing of a generation. The beginning of a new understanding of my self. Everyone's new position in the family as the generation moves up one. The closing of so many important chapters. The beginning of new ones.

I got in from UK this afternoon. Ms. Conroy picked me up at the airport and we drove immediately to Massachusetts, stopping on the way to pick up a daughter who had flown in from Baltimore to Providence.

Mother's funeral is Friday morning at 9 AM.

Thank you for your prayers and calls and words of kindness and condolence. My sisters in the UK with whom I shared a house not from from the University of Kent and St. Stephen's were simply wonderful in their care and concern for me. I could not have been able to have made it through without them.

I am a grateful debtor for so many of their small, random acts of kindness.

On Wednesday night, one of my sisters drove me to Whitstable, a lovely sea town near Canterbury. We got our feet into the UK mud and ocean and then found a delightful restaurant where we had fresh oysters to whet our appetite. I had steamed mussels in white wine for dinner and she had the sea bass. Oh, and chips. Of course.

It far surpassed fabulous.

We sat and watched the sun set and I snapped this picture. We raised our glass to my mother's memory and blessed her to Jesus where she now finds her eternal rest.

Now, she knows the truth.

Goodnight, Mother. May you rest in peace and rise in glory.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pictorial Reflection: A little tour through an Olde English Church Yard

One of the most comforting places - the place where I visit at least twice a day - is the Church Yard of St. Stephen's, Hackington.

It is a place of solace, surrounded as it is by 'all the saints who from their labors rest'. Indeed, several of the previous rectors are buried in the church proper, their graves marked with their tombstones over which one must walk to the altar rail to receive Holy Eucharist.

I have read most of the tombstones, many of which reveal much about their lives. In between the names and the dates, one can read some of the lines of the stories of their lives - or, at least, their deaths.

I am so accustomed to seeing the doors to the entrance of a church in the color of deep red or royal blue that the door to St. Stephen's surprises me every time I see it.

Just beyond the doors, however, the gravestones call to me. I find them irresistible. I start off on the path and before I know it I am off the path, wandering over to another gravestone, curious to read whose dust might be singing 'Alleluia'.

I have not been able to detect a pattern to the way people are buried here. Some are by the door, others are by the wall; still others are in a grove of trees. Families do seem to be clustered together. Otherwise, there is no discernible hierarchy or 'preferred' spot.

Most of the grave sites are in very sad repair. Some are so covered by moss or worn down by the elements of time that the lettering is illegible.

It is obvious, at least to me, that some once had little gardens planted within the stones that mark the borders of the grave. Alas, there seems to be no one left on this side of Paradise to care for them or keep them up.

Still, there is a sense of peace which prevails here. The quiet is oddly calming and reassuring that "life is not ended but changed."

One is led to wonder what theology of death leads a person to guard his/her mortal body in the grave. Or, perhaps, what realities of the day prompted the fence around the grave.

The graves that are marked tell fascinating stories of the individual people and families buried there. Reading this one raises as many questions as it does provides information.

I am left to wonder about the young wife and mother who lost her husband and two children. Did she remarry and start a new life somewhere else? Since her surname would have changed, it would be hard to know if she is buried here with her new husband and family. I trust the sadness and tragedy of this woman's life, no doubt suffered at an early age, found at least a modicum of happiness and peace.

A few of the graves have monuments like this one - a lovely Celtic cross.

Or this one, which I found interesting in that it is not overtly religious. It is not an angel, but perhaps she held a cross in the arm that has been lost to the ravages of time. It is the only feminine image in the entire yard.

The little groves of trees provide shade as well as shelter. I love walking over to them and sitting in the cool of a shade in the midst of the hot weather we've been having of late.

Some of the newer graves have little bird baths or seats where one can sit and take a wee rest. This is one of the few with fresh flowers.

There are a few rose bushes - sweet, small pink buds which speak of the promise of new, resurrected life in Christ.

Of all that is of comfort here, however, it is the church bells that bring the deepest solace. They peal once an hour, on the hour, marking our mortal time and calling us to the presence of God.

In the roller coaster emotional life that has been Lambeth thus far, the church bells call me to another aspect of the church - a place which can provide us with the comfort and assurance of our faith.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

To be known is to be loved . . .

. . . . . . . .and to be loved is to be known.

It's our most ardent desire and deepest fear.

Give a listen to this modern Woman at the Well.

(Hat tip to

The Philadelphia Eleven: A Herstory of Women and Ants

It seems like only yesterday.

It was, in fact, July 29, 1974.

Which makes today the 34th Anniversary of the “Philadelphia Eleven” – the eleven brave women who were, the church would come to say, “irregularly ordained” by four courageous bishops.

The so-called irregularity resulted from the fact that although there was no specific canon that specifically prohibited ordaining women to the priesthood, the canons required a recommendation from the standing committee. The eleven women who were ordained that historic morning in July did not have such recommendation.

On August 15, 1974, the House of Bishops, called to an emergency meeting, denounced the ordinations and declared them invalid. Charges were filed against the bishops who ordained the women and attempts were made to prevent the women from serving their priestly ministries.

In September 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.

Anything sound even vaguely familiar here? In the midst of the Lambeth Conference, I am feeling like it is "deja vu all over again."

It reminds me of a story by a woman who was one of a long line of people who struggled in the second half of the eighteen hundreds in South Africa that women and blacks might eventually be treated as children of God. You have probably never heard her name but she is part of the long line that led to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. This is a story of God as told by Olive Schreiner of South Africa.

A woman on a journey asks, "Why do I go to this far land where no one else has gone before? I am alone, utterly alone. My efforts seem so futile. Who am I to change anything, to make any kind of difference?"

A wise old one, who stood close by, bid her to be silent and to listen to what she heard. She listened intently and finally said, "I hear the sound of feet, of a thousand times ten thousand feet that beat their way." The wise one said "They are the feet of those who shall follow you. Lead on. Go into the new land. Go directly to the water's edge. Where you stand now the ground will be beaten flat by thousands upon thousands feet."

She said, "How will I cross the stream?"

The wise one said, "Have you seen the locust how they cross the stream? First one comes down to the water's edge and it is swept away, an then another comes and another. At last with their bodies piled up, one on the other, a bridge is built that the rest pass over."

She said, "But, of those that came first, some are swept away and are heard of no more; their bodies do not even build a bridge."

“Yes,” the wise one responded, "Yes, and are swept away and are heard of no more. And, what of that?"

"And, what of that?" she echoed in amazement.

"They make a path to the water's edge." the wise one answered.

"And, over the bridge which shall be built of our bodies who will pass?", she asked.

The response of the wise one was: "The entire human race!"

And, the woman grasped her staff and turned down the path toward the water.

This is a story of God.

Let us sing the praises of our brave "ant-ies" on whose backs we all stand, forming a bridge as the pathway to the liberation promised in Christ Jesus.

Philadelphia 11 are:

Merrill Bittner
Alison Cheek
Alla Bozarth (Campell)
Emily C Hewitt
I. Carter Heyward
Suzanne R. Hiatt (deceased 2002)
Marie Moorefield
Jeanette Piccard (deceased 1981)
Betty Bone Schiess
Katrina Welles Swanson (deceased 2006)
Nancy Hatch Witting

Ordaining Bishops:
Daniel Corrigan
Robert L DeWitt
Edward R Welles
Assisting: Antonio Ramos

The Second Tuesday in Lamberth

Note: Today's theme is "Equal in God's Sight: When Power is Abused." Katie Sherrod, editor of The Lambeth Witness, asked me to do another "less than 400 word" essay about violence against women. This "Woman's Psalm" is the result of that request.

A Woman's Psalm

O God, I am a woman in a violent world*
let me know your peace.

Let blind rage born of despair*
not find its target in me.
Let the value of my life*
not be reduced to the jewelry I wear.

Let my family life not end*
that life in a gang may begin.
Let rape not violate my body*
nor anger ravage my soul.

Let fear not enter my heart*
but caution sharpen my mind.
Let the light of Christ so shine in me*
that I may reflect your love.

Let the joy that the apostles knew*
infuse my spirit and alleviate my pain.
Let Love who suffered and died on the cross*
find resurrection and new life
in the world you love.

O God, I am a woman in a violent world*
let me know your peace.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A little tour of St. Andrew's, Rugby

Before it becomes "old news" I thought I'd upload a few of the pictures I took while at St. Andrew's, Rugby and give you a little peek into the lovely church and rectory.

This is the yard of the rectory, with a lovely patio and garden. You can see a bit of their daughter Eleanor's swing in the back.

The weather was so perfect, we took almost all of our meals here on the patio, including a marvelous dinner party which featured lamb on the barbecue, perfectly executed by the rector ("Grilling really is a 'bloke' thing," said the rector's wife.), oven roasted potatoes and marvelously marinated and chilled veggies.

Another view of the garden. I am so deeply grateful for the wonderful hospitality shown to me by everyone at St. Andrew's. Do visit their web site. They've just become part of the network of Progressive Parishes.

Which Way Africa?

I love this picture because I have come to love the women in it.

Queen is the woman sitting on the left and Rose is the woman sitting on the right. Both women are from Nigeria, here with Davis Mac-Iylla.

I'm asking for prayers, right now, for Rose Ngeri. As I write this, she is up on the Campus of the University of Kent, trying to meet as many African bishops and their wives as she possibly can.

I passed her this morning, standing in front of the wall in the Church yard, praying. There was no denying that she was in prayer. There was no ignoring the power of that moment of her prayer.

I had no idea that it would lead to her feeling called to an act that can only be described as prophetic, if not something that may place her in danger when she returns home to Nigeria.

A few hours later, I was asked to proof read a leaflet she had prepared. Her intention is to put this in the hands of every African bishop she meets today.

When I first read this, it brought me to tears. As I just typed them into my computer, I found my hands trembling. I knew I had to share them with you.

One other preface: When Michael, who acted as her scribe, asked her if she was not putting herself in no small amount of danger, she said, with no discernible alarm in her voice, that we must understand that when the sexual orientation of gay men becomes known, they are tortured and/or killed.

What becomes of lesbian women, she was asked.

Oh, she said, they just send men to rape us. But, she added, deeply distressed, gay men are tortured and killed.

Here are her own words to her bishops and their wives:

"The Lambeth Conference, to me, is a place where you meet Bishops and people from all walks of life to share different views about lots of things we see and hear.

I gather that LGBT are welcome in the House of God by some people . . yet, denied the right of place in the same house of God by others.

Please, our African spiritual fathers, let us have a place in our churches. REMEMBER, WE WERE BORN OF YOUR FATHERS, MOTHERS, SISTERS, AUNTIES, COUSINS AND NEICES.

Our mothers did not ask for this group of children. Rather it is the content of the man deposited in the woman that came out the same way it is made by God.

African leaders keep passing laws against LGBT. Please, if I may ask, what crime have we committed?

Mothers, will you fold your arms and let your children die through torture? Why can't you ask them what crime your children have committed before they kill more of your children?

How long should we keep quiet about issues like this?

Which way Africa?"

Please take a moment from whatever it is you are doing and pray, right now, for Rose Ngeri.

Thank you.

The Second Monday in Lambeth

In the midst of the tensions that are building regarding the 5 PM Press Conference which will report the bishop’s 2-4 PM discussion the Anglican Covenant, I, and many of the women and a few of the men here at St. Stephen’s Communication Center are finding ourselves in the midst of a creative tension of sorts.

The nature and character of our worship experiences in daily morning and evening prayer as well as our Eucharistic celebrations are revealing the painful reality that we, ourselves, have a great many miles to go before we arrive at the full understanding of our work for justice.

I was not in attendance, having made a prior commitment to preach at St. Andrew’s, Rugby on Sunday morning, but apparently, the Eucharist which was celebrated this past Saturday evening was the proverbial last straw.

It began, I’m told, with an apology that, “apparently the Inclusive Language police were asleep” when the liturgy was being prepared. The priest who offered the apology seemed oblivious to the fact that his words of regret fell woefully short.

Not only were they, in fact, dismissive and insulting, but also hurtful and alarming. Rather than address the powerful nature of words and their meaning, his words fell on the ears of many as a statement of a failure to have been ‘politically correct’.

What will it take, many of us wondered, for those men and women who are leaders and members of organizations named ‘Inclusive Church’ and ‘Changing Attitudes’ and ‘Integrity’ to understand that if these are the images of the nature of the work of justice, then the language we use for God and humankind – especially when we gather for prayer – must be a reflection and an embodiment of the integrity of our work?

If we are about the business of the promotion of changing attitudes that bring our church to an understanding of ‘full inclusion’, then it is critically important that the words we use are not only inclusive but, in fact, expansive enough to carry and convey the hope and conviction of the changes we are promoting.

My friend, Kathy Ragsdale, and I were discussing these things this morning and she made what I consider a point that is central and critical to understand. She said that if we focus our work on dismantling sexism, then the work of dismantling heterosexism will follow. If, however, we focus our work on dismantling heterosexism, our efforts will always fall short.

I couldn’t agree more. Then again, I’ve always maintained that the ‘original sin’ of the scriptural understanding of Eden is sexism. As I have noted on previous occasions, Suzanne Pharr’s book, “Homophobia: A Tool of Sexism" makes this abundantly clear.

We need to understand the interlocking nature of oppression – all oppression. It is not a coincidence that poverty and disease affect women and their children around the world in disproportionate numbers. Women and their children also suffer from little or no access to education and health services as compared to men.

The Millennium Development Goals provide clear evidence of this. Three of the eight MDG’s (numbers three, four and five), in fact – specifically address the abysmal situation around the globe for women and children; the rest clearly affect them disproportionately.

If we do not come to the work of the injustices we personally experience without an understanding of the interlocking nature of oppression, our work not only lacks credibility, it also lacks integrity with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If our work for justice for ourselves is not also deeply rooted and grounded in justice for all, it begins to reflect the situation described by Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer who cautioned that our work needs to be for ‘justice’ and not ‘just-us.’

It is painfully ironic that the very ones who listen to Desmond Tutu preach that “All . . . all . . .all” are brought into the expansive and loving embrace of God in Christ often only hear “Me . . .me . . .me.”

If the language we use as a faith community in common worship is not expansive enough to reflect our commitment to and passion for justice for all of God’s children, our prayers are but our own injustices clothed and enshrined in beautiful, precious words; they become like empty tinkering cymbals or noisy, gonging bells.

I bid your prayers for us, here in Canterbury, England, who are praying and working for change in the minds and hearts of our beloved Church. May the work of justice, and our words of prayer for justice, begin in our own hearts and minds and flow from our lips like an ever flowing stream of righteousness and hope.
May we become, more and more, what we profess to be: the Body of Christ who loves us all – old and young, black, brown and white, male and female, rich and poor, enslaved or free, LGBT and straight – unconditionally.

Is Jesus the only way to God?

Note: The theme for today, Monday, July 28, is "Engaging with a multi-faith world: the bishop, Christian witness, and other faiths." This is what I wrote for today's Lambeth Witness.

Is Jesus the only way to God?

That’s the question I hear behind today’s theme, “Engaging with a multi-faith world: the bishop, Christian witness, and other faiths.”

It’s an important question to ask in the midst of the multicultural and pluralistic reality of our post-modern lives. It’s a daunting task to try and accomplish in less than 400 words.

My particular perspective is that of a woman who is a mother and grandmother. I am also a priest who has the privilege of ordained leadership in my community of faith as well as one of several religious leaders in the wider, religious and cultural community of the highly pluralistic Northeast Corridor of the United States where I call home.

I claim my gender and place in my family first not because I value it any more or less than my priesthood; rather I believe that being a woman and a parent and grandparent influences the way in which I serve and lead in the church, my family of God, as well as colors the way in which I function in the human family. That clergy sometimes use the title, “Father” or “Mother” is not coincidental.

Parents, good parents anyway, seek to help their children become who they are as individuals who gain their identity, in part, because of their relationship with the various individual members of their family.

The South African idea of “Ubuntu” – “I am because you are,” as articulated by Desmond Tutu has deep resonance with the Western European idea of “I and Thou,” as articulated by Martin Buber.

In the family systems theory of Murray Bowen as applied to parish families by Edwin Friedman, this process of developing authentic identity in the midst of others is known as ‘self-differentiation.’

We are Christian not only because of our relationship with Jesus, but because we know the Christ in ourselves and as revealed in relationships with others. In our baptismal covenant in the church in the USA, we promise to see Christ in all peoples – without stipulation to their particular religious affiliation.

If we fail to see the Christ in Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindi, and others, it is not the fault of their faith, but of how we are living into our faith.

Is Jesus the only way to God?

Someone once asked the great Louis Armstrong, “Pops, what is Jazz?”

The Great Satchmo laughed and said, “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know,”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Realm of God is like . . .

Note: I had the rare privilege of preaching at St. Andrew's, Rugby, UK today. (Yes, this is the 'original home' of the great game of Rugby.) I had the enormous privilege of preaching in - and dancing out of - the great pulpit there. You'll see what I mean when you read the sermon. I think I gave them a decidedly American image of the church which, I pray, gave them yet another image to consider of a place, not unlike their own, which is striving to bring about the Realm of God.

“The Realm of God is like . . . “ Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Proper 12 A – XI Pentecost – St. Andrew’s, Rugby, UK
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton

First let me say how delighted I am to be able to be here with you this morning. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve seen Mark and Annabelle, when they were in my home Diocese of Newark, as part of a pulpit exchange.

I thought I’d never see them again on this side of Paradise, much less this side of the Pond. It’s been wonderful to reconnect as if no time at all has past, as baptized sisters and brothers in Christ who share a common faith and a common passion for proclaiming and living into and out of the Good News of Jesus.

Of such is the Realm of God.

I am here for the Lambeth Conference, that once-upon-a-decade meeting of bishops and primates from around the entire WWAC. They gather to think Very Big Thoughts about Very Important Issues, and perhaps, make a pronouncement or two concerning the state of the world and the state of the church about which a majority of them agree.

They do this after following a process which is decidedly not, we have been repeatedly assured, legislative, authoritative or binding in any way. Except, of course, for something called The Anglican Covenant of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is very keen for us to have but to my ears sounds like an oxymoron.

Anglican. Covenant. To my American Episcopal ears, that sounds as thoroughly un-Anglican as I could ever imagine! As near as I can figure, we already have a covenant – the one God gave to Abraham and Sarah – and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Thus far, the bishops have been kept busy enough to stay out of harm’s way. They’ve been on three-day retreat to reflect on ‘Anglican episcopal identity’ (read: what it means to be a bishop), had a March on the streets of London to demonstrate their support for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (although to see it from the TV, it looked a bit more like a ‘Stroll for the MDGs’, didn’t it?), following which they all had proper tea with her Majesty.

We are informed that the bishops begin their day with Eucharist, study the Gospel of John in small Indaba Groups, listen to a plenary session on Very Important Issues which they have self-selected and then discuss (or, more likely, opine) together before having lunch and running off for the day to a veritable feast of ‘fringe’ events provided by various groups with Very Important Causes.

Please let me rush to assure you: Of such is decidedly not the Realm of God.

I can ‘t imagine Jesus saying, “The Kingdom of God is like more than 650 Princes (and, if there is to be sauce for the goose and the gander I suppose it’s fair enough to say 17 Princesses) of the WWAC meeting together, while one quarter of them stayed home in protest.

Likewise, I’m quite sure Jesus would never say, “The Realm of God is like a the WWAC, deeply torn and broken over the self-inflicted wounds of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.”

Scriptural images of the Realm of God have little to do with institutional religion. In this morning’s gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus gives us the following images of the Realm of God:

* a tiny mustard seed
* yeast in the midst of flour; hidden treasure
* a pearl of such great price that it is worth sacrificing everything you own in order to attain it
* a net cast randomly into the sea which brings in a great catch of fish of every sort and variety.

The Realm of God, says Jesus, has to do not with the obvious, but with the hidden and discrete. It has more to do with possibility and surprise than that which is certain and predictable. The Realm of God also is about risk and sacrifice, Jesus tells us, and surprisingly great diversity and variety.

Allow me to tell you a story about a time when I got close enough to be surprised by an image, a glimpse of the Realm of God. When Mark and Annabelle and I first met, I was just home from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, having attended as the Canon Missioner to The Oasis. It was a pretty difficult time, and I came home feeling spiritually battered and bruised and my soul was dry and arid.

If you don’t know, The Oasis is a mission, started by Bishop Jack Spong in the Diocese of Newark, with LGBT people, our families and friends, which seeks to provide an avenue of hope and healing for all those who have been broken and deeply wounded by the heterosexism and homophobia of the world – and, sadly enough, the sin and brokenness of the institutional church.

My office was in the diocesan center, located in the heart of Newark, NJ, in a section of that once great city which is just now emerging from the devastation of the Race Riots of 1967.

One dismal, rainy day in the fourth week of Lent, 1999, I was sitting in my office when the phone rang. It was Bishop Spong, asking me to run an errand for him which involved carrying important papers to the Dean at the Cathedral, a pleasant five minute walk up Broad Street, past the new plaza in front of NJPAC.

My mood, however, was as foul as the weather. I was not pleased to have to interrupt my very important work to run an errand for the bishop. Didn’t he know that I had important work as well? Couldn’t this have been handled by one of the secretaries? For that matter, couldn’t he have done this himself later in the day or week? I sighed deeply and resigned myself to the assigned task at hand.

I bundled myself up against the cold drizzle and made my way up Broad St. when, much to my distress, I saw Frank coming in the opposite direction. Even more distressing, Frank saw me, and I knew there was to be no escape. I was going to have to engage in conversation, such as it was, with this madman.

Frank was, at the time, a man in his late forties who had been broken by the horrors of what he saw and what he did as a soldier in Viet Nam. Homeless, Frank wanders the streets of Newark, but his favorite haunt is NJPAC.

He loves to lurk about the pristine plaza of gentrification in Newark, I suspect as a haunting reminder to all the finely dressed women and men who come for an enjoyable afternoon or evening of performing arts; that not all things are being renewed or revitalized in this gritty urban reality.

“Hello, Frank,” I called to him. He stopped just a few menacing feet in front of me. I had never been in such close physical proximity to Frank and my body was instantly repelled by the odor of his clothing, the wiry mess of his hair which served to compliment, in it’s own strange way, the wild look in his eyes.

Frank came even closer and shouted into my face, “I CAN CHANGE THE WEATHER.” Perhaps because I was in such a foul mood, I decided to engage him, and in not too kindly a manner, I’m now ashamed to admit.

“What ever do you mean, Frank?” I asked, almost demanded, clearly annoyed. And, that’s when Frank knew he had me in the palm of his hand. Frank took a few steps backward and then proceeded to do this amazing dance – sort of half marshal art, half ballet. (Note: Yes, this is where I danced.)

In wide, graceful movements, right there on the plaza, in front of me and God and a few startled and alarmed passers-by, Frank said, “You see, when I was in the hospital, after the Nam,” he said, “I was abducted by aliens and taken into their ship.”

His whole body now seemed to follow his finger, pointed somewhere into the gray, drizzle. “And they inserted antenna and radar into my body, here (pointing to an elbow), and here (not to the tip of his earlobe, and here (to a place behind his knee.”

“So,” he continued his soliloquy-as-dance, “when I turn just so, (now carefully aligning his elbow, ear and knee with an invisible beam which made its way to him through the drizzle), I. CAN. CHANGE. THE. WEATHER.”

And then, Frank did something that pleasantly surprised more than startled or frightened me. Something I had never seen Frank do before. Frank looked me directly in the eye and he saw confirmed there something that he might have only guessed.

Frank saw past my foul mood and deep into the frustration I had been feeling about my work. He saw the anger that had begun to creep into my heart because I was beginning to suspect that the institutional church hierarchy was not taking either me or my ministry as important or necessary. Even worse, Frank saw the aridness that was the state of my spirituality at that time, the brokenness of my soul and the confusion over my own vocation after Lambeth 1998.

And that’s when Frank did a most amazing thing. He smiled the biggest, brightest smile I have ever seen on anyone. It melted the wildness in his eyes so that I could see his kindness and compassion. It opened his soul so that I could see his humanity. I tell you, it was nothing less than a little miracle.

That silly, goofy, bright smile contorted his face with such a sense of The Absurd that it caused a second miracle to occur. I laughed. Right out loud. About absolutely nothing. And, absolutely everything. About the absurdity of life. About my own delusions of what and who was Very Important. About my way-too-serious understanding about myself and my work which led to the illusion that everything is Very Serious.

I laughed about my own spiritual blindness and resistance to head the words St. Francis reportedly advised his monks: “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words. St. Francis is also attributed with this thought: “You may be the only gospel anyone gets to read today.”

That’s when I realized that Frank was right. He had, in fact, changed the weather. The dark clouds of my foul mood had miraculously lifted and the sun was now shinning in my soul. Oh, it was still drizzling rain and bitterly cold, but in that moment, on the plaza of NJPAC, in the gentrified section of the City of Newark, the Realm of God had come very near.

Yeah, verily, I say unto you that the Realm of God is like a homeless veteran who offered a mustard seed of faith. It is like a woman who found a block of leaven to mix into the dry flour of her soul.

Behold! The Realm of God is like the WWAC finding the treasure of Anglicanism in the midst of the rocky fields of theological division and ecclesiological strife. It is like the great pearl of the Way, the Truth and the Life of Christ, which is worth sacrificing our sense of orthodoxy to achieve the radical idea of peace with justice and mercy.

The Realm of God is like the bishops at the Lambeth Conference who find themselves precariously perched on the rim of The Abyss, peering into the Great Void of Schism, who choose to trust Jesus instead of their own diverse human interpretations of Holy Scripture and cast the net of Evangelism wide enough to catch all – all – all the vast diversity of humanity – old and young, rich and poor, free and oppressed, male and female, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – and bring them to the Body of Christ.

The Realm of God is as close to us as our next breath and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – which can keep us from it. Neither height nor depth, nor life or death, nor angels or the powers of the world or the princes of the Church can keep us from the love of God made Incarnate in Christ Jesus.

Yes, there will always be an England, and I believe with all my heart that there will always be the mystery and miracle that is the Anglican Communion, despite the brokenness and unhappiness which presently exists.

St. Paul reminds us, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Together in Christ we can alter the environment in our church, and change the weather from the gloom of schism to the bright day of unity. We simply have to look past that which is external and into each other’s eyes to see what lies deep and hidden in each other’s hearts.

May it be so, now in the hour of our need and forever more.. Because your life and my life and our lives together in Christ may be the only Scripture anyone gets to read. Because our world is too dark and too broken a place for us to play polite church games with one another


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rowan keen on "Faith and Order"

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams backs 'Anglican Inquisition'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has backed the creation of a new body to rule on controversies in the church, which has been likened to an "Anglican Inquisition".

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 6:43PM BST 25 Jul 2008

Dr Rowan Williams said there was a "very strong feeling" within the 80 million-strong Communion that guidance is needed on questions of Biblical teaching, which have led it to the brink of schism over sexuality.

He said he was "enthusiastic" about the idea of a Faith and Order Commission that has been proposed by a group set up to resolve the crisis triggered by liberal Americans, who in 2003 elected an openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson.

But liberals claim the Commission - which would be based on a code of Canon Law and which is being proposed in addition to a new set of rules to bind the provinces of Anglicanism - has echoes of the medieval Inquisition, which was used to enforce Roman Catholic doctrine and punish those condemned as heretics.

It came as the most senior Catholic in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, warned of the "shadows" spreading over the relationship between Rome and Canterbury caused by the liberal attitude of some Anglican churches towards homosexuality and the introduction of women to the clergy.

Asked about the Commission at the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of 670 Anglican bishops in Canterbury, Dr Williams said: "There's a very strong feeling that we need another kind of structure in the Communion that would be a clearing house for some of these issues.

"There's quite a head of steam behind that, just to sort out the kind of issues that have arisen and what kind of level of seriousness they are at and how they may be addressed. I'm actually quite enthusiastic about that."

But it is unlikely it will be supported either by hardline conservatives, who set up a new movement in Jerusalem last month and who are now trying to establish a new Anglican province in America, or by liberals who want national churches to be autonomous.

A spokesman for John Chane, the liberal Bishop of Washington, said it was "troubling but unsurprising" that bishops and officials were recommending new structures that strengthen their roles "at the expense of clergy and lay people".

Read it all here:

GREAT NEWS: UK Grants Asylum to Gay Nigerian Anglican

Integrity USA Press Release
26 July 2008


CANTERBURY, UK— Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay Anglican and activist who fled Nigeria in 2006 following death threats, has been granted asylum in the UK. "LGBT Nigerians live in fear of their lives once they come out of the closet," said Mac-Iyalla. "Now I can work on their behalf from the safety of a base in London."

Mac-Iyalla first sought safety in Togo where he was the victim of a violent assault. On the same day as this attack, a friend and fellow gay Anglican activist was severely beaten while representing Davis at his sister's funeral in Nigeria. Mac-Iyalla then sought refuge in the UK where even more threats followed him. Once British police determined the threats were from outside the UK, Mac-Iyalla decided he had no option but to seek asylum in Britain.

Mac-Iyalla is at the Lambeth Conference to share his and other stories of gay Anglicans in Africa.

Davis Mac-Iyalla is available for comment and interviews.

Press contact in the UK:

* Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:

* Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

Lambeth: Class Photo

Lambeth Conference 2008

Lambeth Women - 2008
18 in attendance out of 24 in the WWAC
And, of course, one Presiding Bishop and Primate

Lambeth Women 1998
11 in attendance out of 11 in the WWAC

Let us pray that at Lambeth 2018, there are twice as many women in this picture.

Thanks to the Rev'd Dr. Cynthia Black, the multi-talented if not (as yet) unofficial Lambeth Photographer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lambeth Conference makes the big time . . .

. . . . as "The Theater of The Absurd"

Okay, kids, gather 'round. You gotta see this.

Lambeth Communications officer Paul Paul Feheley, please take note:

This is what happens when there's no "real" news for journalists.

And, my question is, if the folks on Comedy Central "get" how the Anglican Communion works, why can't some of her own bishops?

It's just a question.

Lambeth Officially Declared A "No News" Zone

I went to my first Lambeth Press Conference with the Archbishop of Canterbury today and all I got was this lousy blog.

I'm not kidding.

I was completely underwhelmed.

With only 30 minutes allotted for the press conference, we heard first from Archbishop Paul Sayah, a Maronite who said he was originally from Lebanon, who is Archbishop of Haifa, representing the The Holy Land.

He rehearsed for us the history of the Anglican - Roman Catholic dialogue (Yawn!), who mentioned that "they" were having the same difficult discussions, "calmly" he emphasized at least three times.

We were later told that there are in attendance: 8 Lutheran, 8 Orthodox, 4 Oriental Orthodox and 8 Roman Catholic bishops and 18 other "non-episcopal" churches with representatives at Lambeth. (There, don't you feel better that you now know this?)

At 13:45 (1:45 PM) Rowan took the microphone. Mind you, there were at least 40 journalist and other media folk (including Matt Kennedy who was, bless his heart, furiously live blogging in the back of the room) who were clearly trying to be polite and contained, but were also obviously anxious to get their questions asked and answered.

Rowan looked quite natty and very happy to see us and wanted to talk 'briefly' about three things: the "narrative" or process of the Conference, yesterday's 'march' on London, and the ecumenical component of the conference which was the highlighted theme of the day.

I guess 'briefly' is British for "I'll talk as long as I damn well please."

He seemed quite happy with it all. Really happy. Even the parts that were "dealing with difficult issues." I think what he was really happy about was the fact that the longer he talked, the fewer questions he would have to entertain.

He had lots of reason not to want to field questions.

We had been given a "press blurb" earlier in the morning from the Windsor Continuing Group which dropped the mild bomb that, in addition to the "Listening Process", the "Hermeneutics Project", and the "Principles of Canon Law Project" they were "commending a suggestion for the setting up of an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on the ecclesiological issues raised by our current 'crisis'".

I'm not making this up. "Faith and Order Commission." Didn't they have one of those in the Harry Potter series? And, as I recall, it had as ominous a purpose as this one sounds like it would have.

Dr. Sherrod. Paging Dr. Katie Sherrod.

"Archbishop," she said, really laying her accent on thick, "I'm just a laywoman from Texas and I hope you can help me understand about this Windsor Continuation process."

Rowan was clearly charmed (And, really, who wouldn't have been?). Katie continued, "Given that the Anglican Communion is not a church and the Lambeth Conference has no real authority over anybody or anything, well, can you help me understand?"

Rowan sat forward on his chair, at the ready to help a damsel in distress. "If this is so, then by what authority does THIS conference purport to create a Covenant much less a curia with the authority to discipline anyone?"

She's a pip, Our Katie. They don't come any smarter or with more savvy. I've never known anyone to plays 'beat 'em at their own game' better than she does.

Rowan's eyebrows moved up and down as his thoughts moved from his brain to his mouth. "Ah yes," he said, "you see, we're working toward 'consent' verses 'coercion' but if we don't have consent, I fear we'll move farther and farther apart."

The crowd in the room grew restless to move on to their question, but Rowan wanted to address Katie's point about "church" - which he acknowledged was not only correct but said, "that's a good point."

"We're not a Lutheran Federation, but we're also not the Roman Church. We're somewhere in between the two," and then he paused for emphasis, "which is exactly where we belong."

That was really the big news, at least from my perspective. I don't think he answered any of the questions to any of our satisfaction.

For example, this model does not take into consideration the democratic way The Episcopal Church USA, as well as many other North American churches, function. No mention of that and no opportunity for follow up questions.

In the Windsor model, consent vs. coercion applies only to Primates and then, every ten years, to bishops. There really isn't any vehicle for the voice, much less the vote of the other three orders of ministry: laity, priests or deacons.

It's deeply troubling. We are constantly being asked to "understand the cultural context" of others, but no one seems to take into consideration, much less respect, our particular cultural context.

On the lighter side, it was sort of fun to see the dynamics between certain journalists - before and after the conference. Most of the conservative / orthodox journalists reconnoitered after the press conference, comparing notes and impressions.

I heard David Virtue bluster that he thought this "Faith and Order" Commission was a way to keep other "orthodox bishops" from going over to GAFCON.

Yeah, right, David. As if GAFCON were even a viable option except for the megalomaniacs of the church.

One of his writers, Hans Ziegler, seems really stuck on Bishop Christopher, who was defrocked by the Archbishop of Uganda for his ministry with LGBT people in his diocese. There's an obvious point to be made there. I'm just surprised he's being so transparent about it.

I did see Ruth Gledhill who sauntered in wearing a white low-slung skirt which sat low on her hips and a pink, fairly immodest camisole top. Okay, so it's another fairly warm day today but this IS the church, for goodness sake.

Good grief, I must be tired. I'm sounding like my grandmother.

As I said, Matt Kennedy was there, "live blogging" the "no news" conference, bless his heart. I went over and introduced myself and found him to be a delightfully charming young man with impeccable manners and very blue (if not a bit blurry) eyes with a mischievous twinkle I would have expected from someone named 'Kennedy'. His momma clearly raised him well.

I wonder what might have happened if he hadn't found Jesus through Bill Bright's 'Campus Crusade for Christ'? Pity. Too late now. He and his wife have already left The Episcopal Church and is 'standing firm' in his belief.

Our loss. And, his.

Me and Matt Kennedy. Talking like two mature adults who love Jesus. Who wouldda thunk it, eh?

And now you know just how slow things really are in the press room. Not so in the Market Place, where I'm off to 'schmooze' with assorted bishops and spouses.

That's where the action REALLY is - and, probably should be.

In community.

Not media spin.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Live - from St. Stephen's Parish, Hackington

It's quiet today, thank the sweet baby Jesus and all the angels that sing him to sleep. The bishops and the Integrity film crew are all up in London today for the Millennium Development Goals March. Well, actually, it looked more like a 'stroll' on the telly. All very proper and contained, with deliberate restraint.

Later, they'll have proper tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. All in good order, you know.

So, let me take this quiet time to show you around a bit.

The above is the entrance into St. Stephen's, Hackington, our gracious host while we're here in Canterbury. It's a delightfully typical English church, completely surrounded by the parish cemetery - or, as they like to say here "all the saints, who from their labours rest."

There are so many fascinating graves, some so old the names are no longer legible. One is of a 15 year old boy, "Killed (not died) in an accident," it reads, in 1854 and then, sadly: "He will not grow old." The grief his parents' bore is still palpable all these centuries later, isn't it?

One is of a 3 month old girl, died in 1867 on which is noted: "Of such is the Kingdom of God."

There's also this plaque in the church which reads: "On the south side of the chancel and within the rails lie the remains of Mr. William Bunce of Camberwell, Surrey. Son of the Rev. John Bunce. Formerly vicar of this parish for more than half a century and of Mr. William Carter also of Camberwell and a native of the City of Lichfield. The former died 22 August 1831 aged 76 years and the later, 2 September 1836 aged 83 years. They had lived in a course of uninterrupted friendship for sixty years. And in the grave they are not divided."

Whew! Makes my eyes sweat. You can read the "Cardinal Newman/Fr. Ambrose St. John version of this in The Lambeth Witness, Issue 3, July 23.

Bring your tissues.

The Parish Hall where we are working is just across the way from the church. Lovely, actually. The neighborhood is bustling with traffic and kids on bikes.

Here's the view up the road toward University of Kent. There's a most dangerous "traffic calming" thingy to the far left of the picture which you can't see. The British love "roundabouts" and "traffic calming" which I suppose is necessary when you drive as they do - not only on the wrong side of the road (tee hee), but also like veritable bats out of hell.

No joke. I drive in the passenger seat with my 'eyes wide shut', as it were, most of the time. No wonder they need something to calm the traffic.

You can see the Beverlie Pub up there on the right.

Here it is. They have amazing fish 'n chips (Though not wrapped in newspaper. Against the law, you know. Pity about that, in'it?), but I was told they charge too much. Seven pounds and a half. You can get them around town for three pounds and a half. Or I'm told.

No matter. Either way, the dollar is so far down in value it costs twice as much as you might get it at home. Thanks, Shrub.

Here's Jon Richardson, hard at work. No. Honestly. He's one of the hardest working folk around here.

I am absolutely convinced that if we asked John Clinton Bradley, the coordinator of the Communications Center, to get together with Jon Richardson to try and find an end to the War in Iraq, our troops would be home at the start of the new school year.

The communications place is a whirl of intense activity. Folks from Changing Attitudes UK and Changing Attitudes Nigeria work together with Inclusive Church UK, Integrity USA, TransEpiscopal, Episcopal Women's Caucus, the Chicago Consultation and a list of other groups I can't think of this very red hot second.

There's Jon Richardson, John Clinton Bradley, Carol Cole Flanagan, EWC and Chicago Consultation, and Susan Russell, all hard at work.

Ah, yes, and finally, one snap of the Market Place, which is twice as big as I remembered it from 10 years ago. Lots more booths hawking lots of stuff - the usual coffee mugs, baseball caps, etc. to purchase, lots and lots of organizations happy to tell you about their work and ministry.

This is the Changing Attitude/Integrity space which features lovely, comfortable love seat (of course!) and overstuffed chairs where one can sit down and have a chat and visit. Bishops wander by when they're not in session ('Indaba Groups") - some averting their eyes as if to avoid the "cooties" and others sitting down and engaging in fairly intense conversation.

This is our film crew, Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod with long-time Integrity NY saint, Phil Nicholson, packing up after filming one of Bishop Gene's visit to the Market Place.

It's an amazing experience. The excitement that surrounds one of his visits is like unto a 'rock star'. Everyone wants to tell him how much they admire him and to thank him for his courage and witness. The nice fellow over at the Coffee stand made a latte just for Bishop Gene and absolutely insisted that he take it for free. He did so with tears in his eyes saying, "It's an honor to serve you, sir."

It's hard not to get all girly-burbly when this happens.

If only the rest of the Anglican Communion could see this.

One last image. This is where I come to sit in the morning, mid afternoon and early evening. It's just to the left of the entrance to the church.

It's lovely and quiet, shady and cool. I want to build one in the back yard of the rectory when I get home. Two poles on the side, three across the back, three across the top. If I plant in August, think it would be covered with wisteria or clematis before the end of September.

It's also surrounded by gravestones which make for fascinating reading while I'm sitting there with my mug of hot tea.

All perfectly lovely, as they say.

Alright. That will be just about enough of that. It's back to work for me. I'll be writing a sermon for Sunday - preaching at St. Andrew's, Rugby, about an hour or so outside of London. And, I want to tell you all about last night's premier of "Voices of Witness - Africa." Very, very powerful.

Ta for now.

(Have you noticed? I've got the "Madonna English" thing down fairly well, right?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Here, there and at The Berverlie Pub

Together again for the first time: Jon, Michael Herself and Allie. We've just finished our proper Pub supper, and not a few pints of ale, and still looking good to go for an evening that would not yet be over - not by a long shot.

It was really wonderful to be together and share our impressions (read: dish) about our different perspectives of the Lambeth Conference, as well as to catch up on what was going on in our individual lives.

Later, we were joined by our friends from Changing Attitudes/Nigeria who are also here. There's Davis along with Rose and Queen. Rose is a cook in Nigeria and Queen is a hair stylist and masseuse.

Many of you already know Davis. I'll have a lot more to say about Rose and Queen when I have a bit more time to organize my thoughts. Their stories are, like so many of LGBT voices out of Africa, stories of courage and hope.

The Integrity film "Voices of Africa" is being shown tonight as one of the Lambeth Fringe events. You can see it here.

Meanwhile, the "situation du jour" has to do with some vandalism of our daily publication, "The Lambeth Witness." This is the second consecutive day this has happened in the exact same spot, so we're working with those who have authorized us to make this publication available on campus to come up with creative solutions to prevent this from happening again. You can read all about it here.

You can get that and other issues of "The Lambeth Witness" which is available on line at "Walking With Intgrity" where it can not be folded, spindled or otherwise mutilated. We have an office machine that seems to be doing that fine all by itself.

Reality in Context

Apparently, there's been quite a stir in the Anglican Press about yesterday's call by the Archbishop of the Sudan for the resignation of the Bishop of New Hampshire (USA).

The line from +Sudan that has not made the press but is on the recording is: "We love him. We don't want to exclude anyone, we just want them to go away."

Well, and there it is, then. So, why all the flap?

Reality, like scripture, is best understood in context.

I can tell you that the journalists here at the Lambeth Confernce are frustrated by the slow pace of any "news" coming out of "The Big Blue Tent" where the bishops gather. Others who were here 10 years ago are, quite frankly, angry because, unlike the last Lambeth Conference in 1998, they are being denied access not only to listening in on the bishops' discussion, but also to some fringe group activities.

So, necessity being the mother of invention, the necessity of their need to write stories that will sell papers is a real . . .well . . . 'mother'.

Most people here have simply shrugged their shoulders with deep chagrin or asked incredulously, "Hang on! The AB of Sudan doesn't have enough on his hands with genocide, famine, diseases and epidemics like TB and AIDS, debilitating, grinding poverty in the midst of profit margins that soar on the backs of the oppressed and the accumulation of obscene affluence, the rape of men and women and trafficking of women and young children (just to name a few of the problems) in his own country? He has to be outraged at Bishop Robinson who isn't even in his midst?"

As the British are of't want to say, "Well, there you have it."

It's pretty clear that there is a very, very strong desire among the men and women in purple to try and repair the damage in the Anglican Communion - some to the point of 'peace at any price', others to the point of recognizing that discretion is the better part of valor and still others to the point of being deeply committed to 'truth and reconciliation' as the way to peace.

This is not to say that the damage will, in fact, be repaired, but not too many here want to tear off the tender healing that is already beginning to happen in the Indaba groups (well, those who understand how to use the process and haven't already rejected it).

Comments like those from the AB of the Sudan are seen, at the very least, as not being helpful. And so, most either deflect (see above) or ignore.

I strongly urge everyone - on either side of the issue - who really want to stay in the WWAC and see her maintain the historic and always delicate balance of the wide spectrum of theological and liturgical diversity, plan to do exactly the same.

As one journalist said to me just the other day, "I became an Anglican, at least in part, because it seemed to me to be a church for adults with mature spirituality who love Jesus."

Me, too. Didn't you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's been a good first day

At half past five (that's 5:30 PM in "American") we're set to have our daily "debriefing" session and then it's off to the local pub for proper fish 'n chips with Michael, Jon, Luiz and Allie.

I spent the morning orienting myself to the neighborhood and the Market Place. Tomorrow, I'll sort out my official press pass and begin attending the daily press conferences. If I can figure out how to work my new digital camera, I'll have more pictures to send.

Bishop Gene stopped by to visit the Communications Center before lecturing at the Law School. Jon snapped this for me of the two of us. It was so very good to see Bishop Gene and to know that he really is doing remarkably well. He can only do this because the man is clearly to the position born - despite the bishop of Sudan's call for his resignation this afternoon. Story to follow (check the Integrity Website.)

While you're there, check out The Lambeth Witness - our daily newsletter from the perspective of "the outsiders" here in Canterbury.

You'll also find this picture, which wins the award for Best T-shirt at the Lambeth Marketplace.

Michael: Ginger Snaps with His Grace

Note: Michael Sniffen, canonically resident in the Diocese of Newark but presently Associate at St. John's, Laddingtown, LI, is one of the Lambeth Stewards.

I'm meeting him for dinner later tonight, which will be the first time I will have seen him since 'landing'. We're also meeting with Allie, Luiz and Jon - it should be grand fun. This is an excerpt from one of his notes to me about his experiences here:

" . . .I also received my invitation to the garden party yesterday. I knew the invitation would be a nice keepsake, but it really is priceless!

"The Lord Chancellor is commanded by Her Majesty to invite Michael Sniffen to a garden party at Buckingham Palace for those participating in the Lambeth Conference."

How is that for something you would never hear back home?!

I had tea yesterday with Rowan Cantaur, several other bishops and the patriarchs of many orthodox churches. It was out on the lawn and the weather was beautiful.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury put milk in his tea and reached for a cookie, he leaned across the table to me and said - "I rather fancy ginger snaps."

I have not seen that announcement in the press yet, but I did keep the ginger snap wrapper from tea for a sermon I'm working on. Or perhaps I will just slip it under the fair linen at St. John's!

At this same tea, I was talking to +N.T. Wright who somehow lost his vestments en route to Canterbury. After much joking about it, he said "well, if we manage to keep the Anglican Communion together - who cares what I'm wearing, right?"

Right on, +Tom!

The moral of the story is that the Anglican Communion is stronger than many are willing to acknowledge and it is not going to collapse anytime soon.

After all, it's not build upon vestments or ceremonial. It's powered by ginger snaps.

(The picture above is of Michael being fitted for a new cassock. The WWAC may be powered by ginger snaps, but as Michael is discovering, it never hurts to have another 'little black dress' in your closet.)

A feminst perspective on social justice

'The Lambeth Witness'- the daily publication of Inclusive Church and Integrity, is on Day Three. We're following the themes of the day being discussed by the bishops. Here's my entry.

I spent my first morning at Lambeth getting acclimated to the geography of my Canterbury neighborhood before venturing out to the Market Place.

I was very keen to visit the booths where there are women’s ministries, but I especially wanted to get to know the women of WATCH (Women and The Church). From everything I’ve read, WATCH seems to be the Church of England equivalent to EWC (Episcopal Women’s Caucus) of which I am president.

Imagine my surprise when I was introduced today to Christina Reese, the president of WATCH. I was surprised because I had met her just the day before. Turns out, we’re roommates in the same house.

The Holy Spirit is clearly in this place and She is up to her usual tricks. She’s also simultaneously providing a wonderful reminder to laugh at myself once in a while.

I was listening to the description of a project WATCH is doing in collaboration with the IAWN (International Anglican Women’s Network), which describes itself as seeking “to empower women to participate in decision-making in the councils of the Church. . .”

“This is really wonderful, “ I said, “How did you come up with the idea for this project?” One of the women smiled kindly and said, “Well, we asked the women what they needed, and this is what they told us.”


Social justice, from a feminist perspective, is not just about “doing good.” It’s about listening, hearing, and empowering participation in decision-making – as the rest of the mission statement of the IAWN states – “ . . to meet challenges with courage and hope.”