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Friday, January 01, 2010

The Episcopal Church: 2009 Top Stories

It's that time of year, kids.  Time to look back on the year and name the stories that made the news in the world.

I want to do that in the world of The Episcopal Church.  

This is not an exhaustive list.  It's my list.  What's important to me and why.  There are also some stories within stories that you may think are the most important story.   That's okay.   Tell me why.

These are not in order of priority, just as they have occurred to me.

General Convention 2009 - the Christian spirit in which such a large group of people come together and really work hard at practicing their faith "in community" for two weeks. - especially the resolution of "gracious pastoral response" and the "reality check" on all the sacraments for all the baptized. The witness of some of our deputies/bishops to stand in solidarity with the workers' demonstrations at Disney.  

The Budget Cuts and the Downsizing at 815 -  the uncharitable - perhaps more aptly put unchristian - way in which the personnel changes were announced provide the model for how NOT to manage such an undertaking; the budget cuts challenge our faith in abundance or that God will provide -  a most difficult transition.

The Historic Election of Two Women Suffragan Bishops in LA - one of whom tests 'recommended moratorium' of the Windsor Report and the GC resolution.

Four Dioceses in TEC Reorganize even as those who have "left" have not really left:  San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy. - the faithful witness of many who had been kept silent.

The Ordination to the Priesthood of the First Women in the Dioceses of San Joaquin and Fort Worth.  I can hardly believe that this would make news at the end of the first decade of the third millennium.  As Flo Kennedy famously said, "If we really had come a long way, no one would be calling us 'baby'."

The Election and Non-consent of the Bishop of Northern MI - especially the way the internet and other 'social networking' tools played a significant role in that process.

The Episcopal Church's Response to the Proposed Anti-Homosexuality Laws in Uganda -
the commitment of (some newly elected) members of Executive Council to principles and their willingness to encourage our leaders to state publicly their against opposition to oppression.

The controversial process of establishing an Anglican Covenant with the release of the "Final Draft".  Interestingly enough, it has been endorsed by the ABC whose own diocese will not be able to sign on without an act of Parliament - a move, many predict, will not happen.

The various new efforts, nationally and locally, to use Technology as a Tool of Evangelism, as reported ASA numbers in TEC and all mainline churches are in decline.

The Increased Statements and Renewed Activism of Bishops regarding Health Care Reform, Marriage Equality, Reproductive Rights, and other "secular" matters (I'm Very Proud of my bishop, Mark Beckwith, for all of his activism in 'engaging the world'.)

V. Gene Robinson delivers one of the Benedictions at the Obama Inauguration providing a welcomed counterpoint (and, antidote) to Rich Warren's 'benediction'.

J. Edwin Bacon, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, caused quite a stir after being interviewed on the Oprah Show saying, "being gay is a gift from God."

Rome flirts with Canterbury - the historic change in the canons which will allow Anglicans to become part of the Roman Catholic Church while still keeping their liturgy.  Most conservative Anglicans, who were the intended object of the Pope's affection, seemed to say, "Thanks, but no thanks." 

I hesitate to include this, because I don't think it's news of any real significance, but like it or not:  Robert Duncan named Archbishop in ACNA.   The call themselves "Anglicans" because that's the identity of their liturgical style, but their theology is more traditional evangelical Calvinism than classical Anglicanism.  They are also not recognized by Canterbury as an 'official' part of the WWAC, but let us not forget (because some won't let us) that Duncan and the Mrs. have been invited to tea at Lambeth Palace and Gene Robinson and Mark have not - for whatever significance that has.

And last, but certainly not least, Voices of Africa - an important video produced by Katie Sherrod and Cynthia Black - exposes the lie that there are no - have never been - any LGBT people in Africa, and that it has been "imported" and "infected" onto African people.  

I don't think the release of this video is unconnected to the proposed new laws in Uganda and Rwanda which make being LGBT a capitol offense, or the draconian laws in Burundi.  I hope you will consider making a donation to IntegrityUSA  during the Twelve Days of Christmas to assist LGBT people in Uganda to have a place where they can meet in safety to worship and pray together.

Well, that's it.  That's my list.  It's certainly been a Very Busy Year in TEC, hasn't it?  I'm sure I've left something out.  If I have, please do let me know. 

I grow more and more convinced that this is one of the best times to be alive and be a Christian. It's certainly one of the most exciting times to be an Episcopalian and part of the World Wide Anglican Communion.  

As we begin the second decade of the third millennium, I find myself feeling deeply blessed.  May the God of Abundance continue to bless us abundantly with challenges and opportunities to see Jesus more clearly,  love God more dearly,  follow Christ more nearly, day by day. 

Oh, and a Very Happy New Year! 


whiteycat said...

Happy New Year, Elizabeth! Thank you for all of your excellent work on this blog.

May you enjoy good health and many blessings in 2010!

Padre Mickey said...

#11 Episco Bloggers meet in New Joisy.
Meeting you and everyone else was one of the highlights of my year!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo, reverenda y hermana!

Mary-Cauliflower said...

Thanks for this run-down of the year's events. I had friends at 815 who were affected by cuts, and their accounts of being let go have really shaken my trust in the church. I say this as someone who has worked in Corporate America and been downsized twice: you don't have to treat people like that.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Whiteycat. My pleasure

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Agreed, Padre. Amen.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mary-Cauliflower - It was an embarrassment of the first order. Made me feel ashamed.

motheramelia said...

Happy New Year Elizabeth. There's always food for thought here.

Bex said...

The "Episcopal Church Welcomes You" sign reminds me of how good I felt when "The Anglican Diocese of What's Happening Now" (or whatever it said) sign near the Cathedral in Peoria (Quincy) came down and the red and blue one was put back up.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Bex, really? Wish I had a picture of that. As a matter of fact, if you happen to know someone who has a picture of that sign, would you have them send it to me. Mother Kaeton at g mail dot com. thanks.