Archive for the ‘Episcopalian’ category

Rowan Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

April 17, 2007

Melinda and I were in England in 2003 when Jeffrey John was elected as Bishop of Reading. It was widely known–both within the church and outside–that he is gay, and that his partner is another Anglican priest (although they don’t live together and never have, and profess to be non-sexual in their 20-plus-year relationship). Well, the conservatives went ballistic, using the old standby threat to storm out of the Communion.

[Sidebar: at that time, there was a cartoon in the Times of London on the front page, accompanying the article on the subject, in which this unsavory grizzled old man in clerical garb complete with tall pointed hat with a cross on it was sitting at the pub, leaning forward across the bar, smoking a cigarette, drinking, complete with beard stubble and flies circling around; the caption showed him saying something like, “I’ve just been appointed Bishop. Thank God I’m not gay.”]

Rowan Williams called Jeffrey John to London, where they had an hours-long meeting (five or six, as I recall), after which John announced that he would continue as priest but would not be serving as bishop. On television, John was shown making his announcement standing outside at the top of some steps, with all of the media people arrayed before him; Williams was a presence back behind him at the door, almost hiding–trademark eyebrows were the most evident feature.

People who knew both of them said that Williams had pulled every card from the deck, using “psychological torture tactics” to get John–a very strong character himself–to back down; these same people said that Jeffrey John would be fine, but that Rowan Williams was most likely changed forever, since he had been identified with the liberal wing of the denomination up to that incident.

Everything that has happened since then has, in my opinion, demonstrated this to be true. Of course, even though I have been disappointed with him as archbishop, I have great empathy for Williams–being in what is clearly a no-win position.

It will be interesting to see if this meeting does take place and what will come out of it.

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Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury bowed to mounting pressure today and agreed to meet the liberal American Anglican bishops in a last-ditch bid to prevent a disastrous split over homosexuality.

In a move that will dismay conservatives, Dr Rowan Williams said that he will meet the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops later this year even though they are still refusing to toe the majority line on gays.

Speaking at a press conference in Toronto, Dr Williams, who is on a short trip to Canada, said: “These are complicated days for our Church internationally and it’s all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations …

“My aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches.”

Although no date was mentioned, it is understood that he will fly to America in September, accompanied by a small group of primates and senior advisors. Conservatives said they feared that Dr Williams will succumb to American pressure and weaken the hard line taken by the Anglican primates at their summit meeting in Tanzania in February.

One conservative leader said: “The worldwide Church is unraveling fast and he is doing nothing stop it.”

At the summit, the primates, the heads of the 38 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion, issued an ultimatum to the American bishops, giving them until the end of September to reverse their pro-gay agenda or face expulsion from the worldwide Church.

The Americans last month rejected a key part of the primates’ plan, saying that they could not accept to the creation of a “parallel” Church for conservatives in America who have rejected their liberal leadership.

They have yet to respond to the primates’ demand that they unequivocally agree to moratoriums on the consecration of actively gay bishops and on same-sex blessings, though a number have said they will not exclude gays.

They also called for an urgent meeting with Dr Williams and senior primates, complaining that he has listened far more intently to the conservative wing of the Church.

Dr Williams described their initial response to the primates’ ultimatum as “discouraging” and said that the situation needed further clarification.

Pressure on him to agree to the meeting with the American bishops before the September deadline mounted after they learned that he was taking June and July off as study leave and August as annual holiday.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the liberal primate of Canada, urged Dr Williams to hold the meeting a week ago, just before Dr Williams’ trip to Toronto and Niagara to deliver a spiritual retreat to the Canadian bishops.

He also called on Dr Williams to postpone next year’s Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly gathering of all Anglican bishops in Canterbury, in an effort to defuse tensions.

In a lecture to theology students in Toronto this evening, Dr Williams warned both conservatives and liberals against “rootless” and “limited” interpretations of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality.

“Take Scripture out of this context of the invitation to sit at table with Jesus and to be incorporated into his labour and suffering for the Kingdom, and you will be treating Scripture as either simply an inspired supernatural guide for individual conduct or a piece of detached historical record – the typical exaggerations of Biblicist and liberal approaches respectively,” he said.

“For the former, the work of the Spirit is more or less restricted to the transformation of the particular believer; for the latter, the life of the community is where the Spirit is primarily to be heard and discerned, with Scripture an illuminating adjunct at certain points.”


The Foreigner, the Eunuch, and My Neighbor

February 20, 2007

So just why is it that it’s okay for Christians to discriminate against LGBT people? And not just to discriminate, but to actually HATE us??? I’m particularly thinking this morning about what’s going on the the Episcopalian “communion” right now, but it’s a far broader question, of course. It has to do with the exclusion of anyone. If God includes–and it is clear to me that God does include, and that scriptural examples of exclusion are demonstrations of human failings–then who are we to decide to exclude?

Why is it okay for anyone to say that they’re better than anyone else?

At the small Presbyterian church to which I belong, we have tried very hard to make it clear that everyone–EVERYONE–is welcome to be a full participant in any and all parts of the community. We have ordained and installed several LGBT elders; we have had charges filed against us for doing so, and have prevailed. It would be easy to be smug and comfortable, but God brought us a “test case” so that we could learn more about being an inclusive community. This came in the person of a woman who is marginal in all kinds of ways. She is formerly homeless, now living with her non-Christian daughter in an uncomfortable compromise. She has severe mental and physical health problems, and is on welfare. She attends another church in addition to ours, but the people there are “mean” to her–and they won’t touch her… So we all hug her during the Passing of the Peace, and we pray with her when she’s there (and for her when she isn’t). This woman’s faith is strong and obvious, and she has been a blessing to us. More than that, she is one of us. Thanks be to God!

I had read this Bible study article by Ched Myers before, but I remembered it again this morning, thinking about the pain that is being caused to the LGBT “outsiders” who are part of God’s family in the Episcopalian community.

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A House for ALL Peoples?
A Bible study on welcoming the outsider.

THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TWO AMERICAS: that of rich and poor, of inclusion and exclusion. The America of inclusion found expression in the ideal of “liberty and justice for all,” and has been embodied whenever Indian treaties were honored, and in the embrace of civil rights, women’s suffrage, or child labor laws. The America of exclusion, on the other hand, was articulated in a Constitution that originally enfranchised only white landed males and has been realized in land grabs, Jim Crow segregation, Gilded Age economic stratification, and restrictive housing covenants.

These two visions of America continually compete for our hearts and minds, not least in our churches. On one side are the voices of Emma Lazarus in her poem “The New Colossus” (“Give me your tired, your poor…”), and Martin Luther King Jr. when he preached “I Have a Dream.” On the other side are those of George W. Bush’s imperial politics and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family.”

Perhaps the most consistent battleground between the two Americas, from inception to the present, has concerned immigration. Where our churches locate themselves on this political and theological terrain is profoundly consequential.

All social groups establish boundaries–whether physical impediments, such as fences or borders, or symbolic and cultural lines, such as language or dietary laws. Such boundaries can be a good thing, especially when they help protect weaker people from domination by stronger people. More often, however, boundaries function in the opposite manner: to shore up the privileges of the strong against the needs of the weak. It is this latter kind of boundary that characterizes the current U.S. immigration debate and that the Bible consistently challenges.

Torah warns the people not to discriminate against economic or political refugees, since in God’s eyes even Israelites are “but aliens and tenants” in the land (Leviticus 25:23). Instead they are to stand in solidarity with the “sojourners in our midst” (Deuteronomy 24:14). This is later reiterated in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). I want to go beyond these well-known exhortations, however, and examine one text from each Testament that together make a powerful case that the very health of our body politic depends upon our embrace of “outsiders.”

ISAIAH 56:1-8 is the opening stanza of the prophetic oracle sometimes referred to as “Third Isaiah.” The parts of the book of Isaiah known as second Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and Third Isaiah (chapters 56-66) represent the work of prophetic successors to the great eighth century prophet himself: the former during the exile to Babylon, the latter during the “reconstruction” period following the return. These writings arose out of prophetic “schools” (see for example 2 Kings 4:38), in which disciples recontextualized the word and work of their teachers in another historical moment. This is, of course, what all preachers do every time we try to proclaim the Word in the midst of a given social situation.

Isaiah 56:1-8 is his “invocation,” setting a tone of radical inclusion, envisioning a time when people from all over the world, including ethnic outsiders and other minorities, will be welcomed as full members into God’s house. The prophet reiterates this theme at the close of his oracle as well: “The time has come to gather all the nations and tongues; they shall come and behold my glory” (Isaiah 66:18). This is the “new heaven and new earth” that Yahweh intends to bring about (66:22).

Scholars date Third Isaiah sometime in the first two generations of the exiles’ return from Babylon, between the reconstruction of the temple (circa 515 BCE) and the time of Nehemiah (circa 444 BCE). There were many issues facing those trying to rebuild Israelite society under the imperial rule of Persia. Those who had been exiled to Babylon were the upper classes of Israelite society: priests, managers, the landed aristocracy, scribes, etc. The peasant majority, however–the “people of the land”–had remained behind in Palestine, working the land and scraping out a living, as the poor have always done under any regime. As the elites began to trickle back, they set about trying to re-establish their title to land, social status, and political position.

Clinton Hammock, in a monograph analyzing in detail this social and historical context, argues that these returnees were a mixed bag and included land speculators and carpetbaggers trying to take economic advantage of the new settlements; priests determined to re-establish a cultic center as their power base; ultra-nationalists who saw a chance to rebuild old dreams of sovereignty; and political front men for Israel’s Persian overlords. They all agreed on one thing, however: They would define and lead the reconstruction project.

It is not hard to imagine, then, their conflicts with the existing population over property, politics, and religion, and indeed we hear allusions to this in Nehemiah 4-6. We need only think of the situation of Palestine since 1948, also a struggle between longtime residents on the land being disenfranchised by ideologically motivated and politically and militarily powerful “returnees.”

The strategy of the elites was to purge the “people of the land” by establishing new ethnic purity standards, focusing on shoring up boundaries of marriage and nationality. The Persians were supportive of such measures, as they wanted their colony to be ethnically uniform to better enable their imperial management. Thus Nehemiah forbids future intermarriages (Nehemiah 10), while Ezra goes further, demanding the divorce of foreign wives (Ezra 910). This position was likely legitimated on the basis of Deuteronomy 23:18, which specifically excluded “from the assembly” males who were not sexually functional, the “illegitimately” born and foreigners.

It is not hard to understand why the peasants resisted these attempts to exclude them, and Third Isaiah emerged as their advocate. He argues against the position of Ezra and Nehemiah, taking issue specifically with their view that the nation is best protected through purity codes. Instead, the prophet calls for the community to be preserved through ethical behavior: Whoever keeps the Sabbath covenant is entitled to full inclusion. He underlines the point using two “extreme” examples: eunuchs and foreigners.

The oracle begins with a dramatic exhortation: “This is what God says: ‘Defend justice! Do what is right! Then I will vindicate you!'” (Isaiah 56:1). From the outset the issue is justice, defined in 56:2 as obeying Torah, keeping Sabbath, and turning away from evil. The prophet is invoking Sabbath as the heart of Torah ethos, with its twin social concerns to 1) Constrain greed: Everyone must have enough and the gifts of creation should circulate rather than concentrate (Exodus 16:16-19); and 2) Deconstruct poverty: releasing those who groan under the burden of debt (Deuteronomy 15) and allowing the poor to glean the surplus of the fields (Exodus 23:10-12).

But Third Isaiah goes further, addressing those who are being legally and socially excluded on the basis of purity. We hear the voice of those who have internalized this rejection in terms of their self-worth and social prospects:

Let not the foreigner say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from his people’;
Let not the eunuch say ‘I am just a dry tree.’ For this is what God says… (Isaiah 56:3).

The excluded throughout history know all too well the self-hatred that comes with second-class citizenship: black children trying to scrub their skin white, immigrants changing their names, women keeping silent, gays and lesbians staving deep in a destructive closet–all to avoid the contempt of a society that barely tolerates them. But God, writes Third Isaiah, says differently; one commentator portrays the prophet’s rhetoric here as implying a new legal ruling on case law.

The eunuch who keeps the Sabbath covenant will receive “in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off’ (56:5 is a play on the Hebrew word for eunuch, which comes from a root meaning to castrate). The prophet knew very well that eunuchs were, according to Levitical strictures, supposed to be “cut off from benefits of cult and family life, which would mean their names would also be lost to posterity, an ancient way of rendering someone socially invisible.

Instead, God promises an honored place in the “house,” something better than pride of genealogy or title to land. This is symbolized by a special “monument” and an “everlasting name.” (Playfully, the Hebrew word rendered as “monument” is yd, which can also be a euphemism for “penis.”) This is a poignant word to the current debate over exclusion of lesbian and gay people from full status in church and society.

The only people below eunuchs in the social hierarchy were foreigners–and this is exactly who the prophet next addresses. If foreigners follow God and observe the Sabbath covenant, “I will bring them to my holy mountain, and their sacrifices will be acceptable. Because my house will be known as a place where all nations pray” (Isaiah 56:7). This is Third Isaiah’s answer to Ezra and Nehemiah’s culture war on those who didn’t fit the national ideal.

In his view, the Jerusalem temple was meant to be a world house, not a national shrine (as every other temple in antiquity was). Yahweh welcomes whosoever desires to follow the Way, regardless of who they are in their somatic or ethnic identity. Third Isaiah’s perspective did not, however, prevail against the ethnocentric strategy of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, many of those kicked out of the newly proscribed Judean body politic ended up as the despised “Samaritans” of Jesus’ day. But God’s Word did not prove fruitless.

MORE THAN FOUR centuries later, a young Jesus of Nazareth, preaching his first sermon, looked hard at his audience and proceeded to read from the heart of Third Isaiah’s oracle (Luke 4:18 parallels Isaiah 61:1). Jesus may have staked his entire ministry on a reappropriation of this prophetic tradition. He invokes it again at the culmination of his struggle with the public authorities in Jerusalem: In the midst of his dramatic “exorcism” of the temple, Jesus quotes directly from our text: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Luke 19:46 parallels Isaiah 56:7). It was this vision of radical inclusion that animated Jesus’ constant transgressions of the social boundaries of his day: eating with lepers, hanging out with women, touching the impure, teaching the excluded. More than anything else, it may have been what got him strung up.

Jesus most clearly addressed this issue in an oft-overlooked parable found in Mark’s gospel. “There is nothing which goes into you that can defile you; only that which comes out of you defiles you” (Mark 7:15). This teaching is another prophetic skirmish with the social function of the purity code. Mark’s Jesus is defending his disciples’ practice of sharing table fellowship with the “unclean” outsider (Mark 7:1-5) by insisting that “What goes into a person’s body from the outside cannot contaminate it” (7:18). Mark presents this parable as one whose meaning the disciples must not miss (7:17)!

Jesus is proposing the physical body as a symbol of the “body politic of the nation (a metaphor employed also by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12). His point–which echoes exactly Third Isaiah’s argument–is that the social boundaries constructed by an exclusionary purity code are powerless to protect the integrity of the community, which can only truly be “corrupted” from within. In what may be at once his most radical and most widely ignored teaching, Jesus rejects all culturally proprietary boundaries that allegedly protect a community from perceived external threats. Scapegoating or excluding outsiders cannot protect us; we must look to our own ethical behavior. “Only that which comes out of you defiles you” (Mark 7:20).

The episodes that immediately follow in Mark’s narrative underscore the point. Jesus’ own male and ethnic honor is challenged in the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman. In the sole gospel instance of Jesus losing a verbal joust, he concedes the justice of this female foreigner’s insistence upon inclusion (Mark 7:24-30). The expanded circle of enfranchisement is then illustrated by the feeding of Gentile multitudes (Mark 8:1-9). Jesus then warns his disciples to “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Herodians” (8:15), which represents the social and political exclusivity that jeopardizes the “one loaf around which the church is called to gather.

TO BE SURE, issues related to the continuing and often involuntary migration of peoples, and to the geopolitical definition of human communities, are complex in the modern world and deserve our careful reflection and deliberation. But these are finally theological and pastoral issues for Christians, and we must seek to know immigrants and refugees not as statistics but as human beings who endure extraordinary hardship and trauma in their struggle to survive.

And for U.S. citizens, these are issues of national identity. Israel’s ethic of compassion toward outsiders was shaped by its own history of pain: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21). We, too, are a nation of immigrants. Amidst the current culture wars that marginalize immigrants and refugees, then, our churches must choose which America we embrace. To do that we must “hear and understand” Jesus’ teaching afresh (Mark 7:14), and that of Third Isaiah before him. If we refuse to take sides with today’s outsiders, we too are “without understanding” (Mark 7:18).

Ched Myers worked for many years on immigrant rights issues. He lives and works in Oak View, California, with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (

Copyright Sojourners Apr 2006

An Open Letter to my GLBT Brothers and Sisters in Christ, from Gene Robinson

June 28, 2006

June 24, 2006

An Open Letter to my Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

From V. Gene Robinson, Bishop in the Church of God in a blessed place Called New Hampshire:

Many of you have been writing to me, in the aftermath of General Convention, to ask what I am thinking, now that the Convention has called upon the Church to deny consent to the consecration of partnered people as bishops. Frankly, like all of you, my thinking is all over the map. But here is where I am, only a few days later.

First, let’s give ourselves some time to recover. In the first few moments of having the breath knocked out of us, we struggle just to breathe, unable to think about much of anything other than getting some oxygen back into our lungs. We have been dealt a blow that has knocked the wind out of us. Let’s be kind to ourselves, breathe a little, before we try to move on. Nothing has to be decided or done in the next few hours or days. Let’s catch our breath, remembering that breath is a powerful image of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Let’s allow ourselves to be re-infused with that Holy Spirit which has never abandoned us, no matter what the Church does or doesn’t do.

Let’s remember what DID happen at the General Convention. Faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians showed up and witnessed to the power of Almighty God working in and through their lives. You would have been SO PROUD of Integrity, Claiming the Blessing, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, The Witness, and countless other groups speaking on our behalf. Susan Russell, Michael Hopkins, Carol Cole Flanagan, Elizabeth Kaeton, Bonnie Perry and others too numerous to mention put their hearts, souls and every waking moment into representing ALL of us so very well and so faithfully. We owe them such a great debt. Faithful gay and lesbian Episcopalians were EVERYWHERE, witnessing to God’s saving grace in their lives – being so joyful and filled with God’s Spirit, there was no denying God’s love in their lives.

We gathered at Trinity Church to celebrate the eucharist as the people of God. Not only were the nave and balconies filled, but the basement and sacristy as well, with gay and straight alike proclaiming God’s love for ALL of God’s children. It was a glimpse of heaven, and of the Church as it ought to be. Let’s not forget that we have been given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet where the marginalized are given an honored seat at the table.

The Episcopal Church declared its opposition to any constitutional amendment – federal or state – which would short circuit gay and lesbian couples seeking the civil right of having their relationships legally acknowledged.

On Sunday, we elected a Presiding Bishop who is committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people into the life and work and leadership of this Church. The Spirit was palpable, once again in Trinity Church, as the election balloting unfolded before our very eyes, pushing forward to the election of the first woman as Primate and Presiding Bishop. If indeed, as I have often said, this fight is really about the end of patriarchy, then that patriarchy was dealt an awesome blow in Katharine’s election. When the primates next meet, it will be a new day, and at the table will be a representative of the world’s majority – women – incarnate in our primate. Thanks be to God for that! You go, girl!

To our joy, the House of Deputies refused to give in to threats from within and without our Church, and decisively rejected the call to withhold consent from partnered people elected to the Episcopate. We thought that was the end of it. But alas, it was not.

Frank Griswold – who, let us remember, has been a sometimes reluctant, but ever faithful champion for us, and who has paid a great price for presiding at my consecration – brought back the “moratorium” resolution in a heavy-handed and inappropriate way (in my humble opinion). He seemed absolutely intent on getting this resolution through as a way of getting us all to the Lambeth table.

I don’t know whether or not our Presiding Bishop-elect was coerced or merely persuaded to join in this appeal, but it is clear to me that her support for such an action provided the push needed to convince the Deputies to adopt a resolution more prohibitive than the one they had rejected the day before. Gay and lesbian deputies, many in tears, not to mention our straight allies, rose to the microphones to pledge their support of our new primate as she goes off to represent us in unfriendly places, to “give her what she needs” to continue the conversation. The scene of gay and lesbian deputies, willing to fall on their own swords for the presumed good of the Church, voting for this resolution against their own self-interest was an act of self-sacrifice that I won’t soon forget.

Keeping us in conversation with the Anglican Communion was the goal – for which the price was declaring gay and lesbian people unfit material for the episcopate. Only time will tell whether or not even that was accomplished. Within minutes – yes, MINUTES – the conservatives both within our Church and in Africa declared our sacrificial action woefully inadequate. It felt like a kick in the teeth to the ones who had gotten down on their knees to submit to the will of the whole, even though the price of doing so was excruciating. Such a quick, obviously premeditated and patently cruel reaction from the Right can be seen only as the violent and unchristian act it was.

So what now?

It is too soon to strategize, too soon to know what it all means. But here are a few things I DO know:

The Spirit IS working in the Church. We cannot claim that the Spirit is working in the Church only when we get our way. We must continue to believe that that Spirit is working even when the Church takes an action which hurts us, when it seems to take us in the wrong direction. We are in this struggle for the long haul, and so is the Spirit. We cannot fathom at the moment how this turn of events serves justice. But God will not be mocked, and God will be our salvation. Let’s not forget that.

We are STILL loved beyond our wildest imagining. That was true the day before Convention; it is still true. This vote does change that. Just because the Church lost its courage, just because the Church was willing to sacrifice US for access to a conversation with Anglicans around the world (which they hardly seem ready to engage in themselves), it does NOT mean that God has changed. If you listen carefully, God is STILL saying to God’s lgbt children, “You are my beloved. In you I am well pleased.” This vote may say a lot about the Episcopal Church, but it says NOTHING about you and me as gay and lesbian children of God. Blessed Martin Luther King once said, “Pontius Pilate’s sin was not that he didn’t KNOW what was right, but that he lacked the courage to STAND UP for right.” Pray for the Church.

We are in this for the long haul. OF COURSE there are going to be bumps along the road, perhaps a few places where the road has washed out completely. The journey toward justice is neither a straight line nor easy. Just ask our brothers and sisters who are people of color, and still experiencing the pain of racism. Just ask our sisters who still pay the price of sexism and misogyny, both inside and outside the Church. We follow a savior who dealt with plenty of setbacks and disappointments – not to mention being “done in” by his friends. We are in good company here. But we won’t last for the long haul without Jesus! Let’s keep saying our prayers and listening to the One who knows and shares our burden.

We’ll be watching. Now that the Anglican Communion and the majority of Convention have gotten what they asked for, let’s see if anything changes. Will the rest of the Communion finally be willing to engage in the listening process promised for the last 30 years? Will anything be done in the domestic dioceses of this Church to move us along, or will this only be seen as a “blessed” respite from this debate? Will the Network dioceses and parishes give up their blatant drive to split this church apart and join us in our efforts to be reconciled, or will they only cry “not enough” and demand more? We’ll be watching – and we’ll want the “middle” to give us an accounting of what this Convention vote got them. And we’ll be asking, “Was it worth declaring us less than children of God, marked as Christ’s own forever?”

We are not defeated, for God is still with us. Let’s remember that at its best, the Church has pushed the “pause” button, not the “stop” or “reverse” buttons. If we continue to make our witness, and if those for whom this sacrifice was made continue to threaten and make one-sided demands, the Episcopal Church will see its mistake and find its prophetic voice again. Maybe it will even repent of the harm done to us in this faithless and fearful act. Time will tell. In the meantime, we are not defeated, nor will we be paralyzed by this sad and woeful action. Dwelling on what happened and why will not serve us or the Church well. We need to turn away from yesterday and focus on tomorrow.

We know how all this is going to end. It is not arrogant to say that we believe we know how all this is going to turn out. It will end with the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the life and ministry and leadership of the Church. It will take a long time. Some or all of us may not live to see it. But happen it will! In a strange way, I think the conservatives know it too. All we’re arguing about now is timing. It will be enough for each of us to play her/his own part. Each of us can provide a pair of shoulders for someone else to stand on, just as surely as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This is a never-ending march toward justice for ALL, and NO ONE is going to be left behind. In the end, the reign of God will come. And oh what a privilege it is for each of us to play a small part.

We are worthy of God’s love – NOT because of anything we have done, but because God has MADE us worthy to stand before God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I said at Convention, the Gay Agenda is JESUS! If we keep that ever before us, in the end all will be well.

I love, respect, appreciate and honor each of you more than you could ever know. Please keep me in your prayers, as you will be in mine. And to God be the glory!