Saturday, March 14, 2009
The word is out
The Rt. Rev’d Marc Andrus, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, has announced that the Rt. Rev’d Peter Lee, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, will become the interim dean of Grace Cathedral effective upon his retirement as Diocesan in Virginia on October 1, 2009. Bishop Lee, who is 70, will serve for approximately one year.
My dear friend, John Kirkley, rector of The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco, has written about it in his usual intelligent and articulate way in his blog, Meditatio.
He writes, in part, “. . . Bishop Lee's selection is something of a disappointment to me. I'm unsure about his capacity to play an iconic role that is reflective of the reality and needs of the Diocese of California. During his tenure as bishop of Virginia, his official policy has been to refuse to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions and to ordain only those gay and lesbian people who agree to remain celibate. He has championed "Windsor compliance" in his diocese. He has not been a dependable ally or advocate for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church.”
I’m fascinated that not one of our worthy adversaries on the Right (some of whom are in the Diocese of VA) has picked up on the story.
Then again, they are still all atwitter and agog about the election of the so-called, “Buddhist Bishop” in Northern Michigan.
Sigh. It’s so embarrassing, isn’t it?
It’s an interesting move by Bishop Marc, an outspoken, bold advocate and activist for sacramental inclusion of LGBT people in the church, civil rights for LGBT people in this country, and human rights for LGBT people in the world.
To my mind, this is much like President Obama’s invitation to Rick Warren to give the Inaugural Invocation. Now, Marc Andrus would be the first to say that he ain’t no Barack Obama and Peter Lee is hardly Rick Warren, but as John points out, neither is the good bishop of Virginia a dependable ally for LGBT people in the life of the church.
So, why would someone like Marc Andrus invite someone like Peter Lee to be interim dean of a Cathedral like Grace in San Francisco?
I’ve been wondering what the Early Christians in Ancient Jerusalem must have said when they discovered that the one they knew as Saul who had persecuted them was now Paul and claiming to be one of them.
It is not recorded, but I’ll bet the grumblings in Jerusalem were loud and persistent and angry enough to be heard from Rome to Alexandria. Perhaps that’s why it took Paul so long – was it two or three years? – to finally get to Jerusalem.
It is seven months between now and Bishop Lee’s retirement and start date as Interim Dean of Grace Cathedral. General Convention is in July, just about the mid point of his exodus from Virginia to California.
It will be interesting to see how the good Bishop votes on critical issues like repeal of B033 and the flurry of resolutions on the Prayer Book Revision of the Rite of Marriage or calls for a Liturgy of Blessing for the Covenant between two people of the same sex. Or what he might have to say about ‘Windsor Compliance’ or the ‘Anglican Covenant’.
I don't expect this zebra to change his outward and visible stripes, necessarily. One of the geniuses of the Spirit of Classical Anglicanism is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in tension. Until just recently, we have also been able to hold two opposing bishops in tension. At the same time. In the same diocese.
I just wonder if Bishop Lee will "bloom where he is planted" in the rich progressive and liberal soil of SanFran.
I have no doubt that the LGBT folk in the Diocese of California will welcome Bishop Lee into their midst with genuine warmth and grace. I trust Bishop Lee will be equally warm and gracious unto them.
The question is: What will he do after he says, “Hello”?
You can be sure of one thing: Christians on the left, middle and right of theology and church politics will be watching closely.