Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blogging About the (House of ) Bishops

Some of you may be aware that the Episcopal General Convention, meeting now in Anaheim, has passed a resolution that allows for ordination of gay and lesbian folks to all orders (including being a bishop). If this is news to you, I commend to you this article from the Episcopal Cafe website. You will learn a bit about our polity in addition to the story of this particular resolution, called D025.

You may say, "Gee, I thought there already were gay and lesbian folks who are ordained in the Episcopal Church, and there's one bishop who is a partnered gay man- isn't that what caused all this argy-bargy?"

Well, there have been gay priests since...well, since the beginning of it all, I'd suspect, and until recent times they stayed closeted. Some dioceses in recent years have ordained gay and lesbian folk who pledged to remain celibate (the argument being that the poor things can't help the way they're made, but they do need to stay away from acting on it) and a very few have ordained gay folk who are partnered. But Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was the first out, partnered, gay person who was elected bishop.

And then all the hand-wringing began, from those folks in the US who thought it was just awful that this gifted priest in a long-time committed relationship should become a bishop.Many of these angry people are the same ones who were unhappy about women getting ordained (some still are). So a bunch of them left the Episcopal Church, saying we were apostates. Some affiliated with overseas dioceses who shared their conservative interpretation of the key passages in Scripture, and now some are trying to form a new province here in the US. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the primus inter pares among the church leaders, has been trying to hold the Anglican Communion together by hook or by crozier. He had hoped the Episcopal Church would do nothing that would cause further rifts in the Communion.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how many prefatory remarks there are in D025 about wanting to remain in the Anglican Communion and remaining in dialogue with those with whom we differ, the passage of this resolution will not comfort those who oppose the ordination of gay and lesbian persons.

But sometimes, as painful as it may be, it is important to do what is difficult and right rather than to strive for unity at all costs. The church has survived battles over everything from the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed to which way the altar faces to women's ordination. God and God's work survives our human struggles to understand what God wants us to do. This resolution, at this time and in this place, is necessary. All faithful Christians, be they straight or gay, should be fully included in all aspects fo the life of this church.

It is not intended to be easy. It is intended to be a faithful hard slog through the trenches until we figure it out.

Pray for those who rejoice at this resolution, for those who struggle with it, for those who minister to those on both sides of the issue. Veni, Creator Spiritus.

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