Monday, July 28, 2008

On the Windsor front...

As stewards, we have some interesting opportunities. We are able to sit in on self-select sessions and hearings.

I've had the opportunity to attend both hearings from the Windsor Continuation Committee as well as a session on an introduction to the Anglican Covenant for bishops held by three members of the Covenant Design Group (+Chew, Scully, and Nottage) and +Tom Wright.

To quote a few attendees, the whole thing was depressing.

The first set of hearings, which was open to all bishops, invited bishops to speak at one of two microphones for up to three minutes. This first hearing was rather predicictable, with most bishops saying what they were expected to say. Most expressed a desire for unity and a continuing of communion.

Two points worth mentioning from this first hearing:
Bishop Sue Johnston, National Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Canada pointed out that human sexuality issues are ecumenical issues.

+Pierre Whalon pointed out that using TEC Convocation of American Churches in Europe as a model for nongeographic diocese was like using the Titanic as a model for shipbuilding.

The second set was a bit painful. Attendees were asked to look through the lens of "what personal sacrifice do I have to make?" Almost everyone who spoke was either American or Canadian, and they spent most of their time defending their position or themselves. A few bishops spoke of not being willing to sacrifice GLBT people/clergy... another basically said "We have same sex blessings in my diocese, so there." Which, while honest, did not help the dialogue.

I felt the most useful statements actually came from +Duncan Gray,
+Roskam, NY, who was the only person at all on any side of the issue to mention theology - requesting the opportunity to present a scriptural defense of a more progressive theology

+Sutton, Maryland who compared the use of the bible to subjugate blacks and perpetuate slavery to treatment of GLBT people. He was not, mind you, saying that the two sets of suffering were equal, but that the bible has been used for evil things. He said that any of the African -American bishops would be happy to discuss the issues with their fellow bishops.

A paper with preliminary observations was circulated, which called for a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops, the blessing of same sex unions, and of cross boundary invasions, which as a few people pointed out, seemed a bit like "I'll give you one moratorium if you give me one."
The plan seemed to give little assurance of this last one. There was also a question as to what the terms "moratorium" and "authorized" mean.

As a few British priests on staff here have pointed out, there are many issues with tactics on all sides, and people aren't speaking to the same issues. They aren't speak across to eachother but rather past eachother.

In regards to the Covenant, few people if any seem happy. While some agree that a covenant is necessary. I mentioned to someone on the design group what a member of my diocesan deputation said: that the appendix is diseased and needs to be removed. She laughed and actually agreed. She admitted the appendix was rushed, and could understand where I was coming from when I said that it was the only part that didn't seem biblically based.

In all, everyone was very defensive, with love. While I don't think an "Anglican Inquisition" would occur - especially since it would result in very few Anglicans and likely a surge in Lutherans and other mainline denominations, and that would just make us look dumb. We can't just kill people for that anymore... at least, not in the US or in England.


susan s. said...

Thanks, Allie.

johnieb said...

Thanks, Allie. My prayers for you and Luiz and all others who must endure this.

May the3 Godde of peace bring peace to your hearts, and may the light of that peace bear witness to all whom you meet.

JVZ said...

Your description of the Windsor hearings, your earlier observation on Lambeth, the WCG's proposals and ++Rowan's recent address all lead me to this conclusion: From the Windsor Report on, there has been attempt after attempt by ++Rowan, the Primates and others in Communion leadership to _manage_ the conflict. The conflict can't be managed by a Covenant nor by any institutional solution. The conflict can be lived with and the Communion preserved if the relationships being forged at Lambeth (and elsewhere) are allowed to be and to grow. Attempts to manage or resolve the issues will not work, and may just push people further by forcing choices no one is willing/able to make in good conscience. +Gene says something similar (and more eloquently) in his recent blog post. I pray ++Rowan and the bishops have the wisdom to see the futility of the managerial/institutional approach that has consistently failed, and to trust instead in the relationship building that, by all accounts, has been the greatest gift of this Lambeth.