I am pleased that our missionaries are going out knowledgeable about the Windsor Report. Missionaries to China did not allow girls to attend our schools with bound feet. Missionaries to South India served mainly the Dalits. It is tremendously important for our missionaries throughout the world to be sensitive to and concerned about lesbigays and all others marginalized in the cultures where they will serve. These are tense times for all missionaries, but of course that is not new. Jesus calls us to be "wise as serpents, gentle as doves." The Windsor Report puts human sexuality, and specifically homosexuality, front and center as part of the context in which all of us must exercise that discernment. Lesbians and gays have not asked to be at the center of this controversy, any more than did the uncircumcised at the Council of Jerusalem; but that is where we find ourselves, with a marvelous opportunity to proclaim the ancient message as still News and still Good -- that God loves absolutely everybody. I am grateful to know, and not surprised to know, that almost always at least one gay or lesbian person is among each group of missionary candidates. I well understand that they are not identified primarily by their sexual orientation. Indeed, I would hope that no lesbian and gay Christians are identified primarily by our sexual orientation. Those whom we serve, not ourselves, are at the center of our ministry. By the same token, we all need to be careful not to pressure lesbians and gays to violate their wholeness by keeping quiet about who they are. It is as who we are, not masquerading as someone else, that each of us has been redeemed. The pressure on all disciples of Jesus should be to bear witness to this amazing grace. Lesbian and gay missionaries sometimes discover our "family" in delayed epiphanies, as Esther did when Mordecai turned up. It is important to discern how to live with that revelation of "family" responsibly -- not for personal protection, but for the good of all. Lesbians and gays can offer much help to missionary colleagues as all seek to minister to and WITH the marginalized. Lesbians and gays are fiercely marginalized in most places where missionaries will serve. Joy! Louie [author of the resolution that created the Young Adult Service Corps] ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bob Kinney" <BKinney@etss.edu> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 3:37 PM Subject: [HoB/D] Outgoing Episcopal missionaries wrestle with Windsor Report News release Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest Outgoing Episcopal missionaries wrestle with Windsor Report contact: Bob Kinney email@example.com 512.472.4133, ext. 343 AUSTIN, TEXAS - Outgoing missionaries of the Episcopal Church discussed intensively the Windsor Report during their recent orientation before mission service. The discussions were prompted by the missionaries' call to minister in regions of the Anglican Communion where many Anglicans remain puzzled and angry about the 2003 General Convention's decisions about the election of Bishop Gene Robinson and the exploration of blessing same-sex unions. "Missionaries best exemplify the Anglican Communion because they cross borders to be in relationship with others," said the Rev. Jane Butterfield, who slated a discussion of the Lambeth Commission on Communion report at the orientation session here. Butterfield, mission personnel officer of the Episcopal Church, joined the Rev. James Lemler, the new director of mission for the Episcopal Church, and the Very Rev. Titus Presler, seminary dean and former chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, in discussing the Windsor Report with 20 missionaries-to-be during the January orientation program on the campus of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. The orientation's webpage is at www.etss.edu/Mission05Home.shtml "You will be the first outgoing missionaries to have the Windsor Report when you leave for your assignment," said Dean Presler. "The report is very important in many provinces you're headed to, and the issues are emotional for all. Mission is relational and inter-Anglican relations have been deeply affected by the current tensions." Presler urged the missionaries to "work intensively through the many issues yourselves and with others, practice the art of listening and aim for fruitful dialogue." He called for "a high quality of discourse" and cautioned against saying "hurtful things to those with whom you disagree." "We're living in a time of whitewater change in the world and in the church, and leadership requires learning," declared Lemler. "This is a crucial moment in the history of the Episcopal Church, and we should use the Windsor Report to strengthen mission." Saying he brings urgency and hopefulness to his new ministry, Lemler encouraged the missionaries to explore the themes of "Companions in Transformation," the world mission vision statement that the 2003 General Convention commended to the church for study. Dean Presler and two Episcopal bishops - the Rt. Revs. Theodore Daniels, of Texas, and John Lipscomb, of Southwest Florida - traveled to three provinces in East Africa last summer for "candid and substantive" talks with church leaders about the turmoil in the Anglican Communion. A report of their trip is at www.etss.edu/deans_notes.shtml Despite the controversy, no Anglican province or diocese has asked the Episcopal Church's Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to recall missionaries or stop sending new ones, Butterfield said. More than 90 missionaries currently serve in 36 countries throughout the world. Many companion diocese relationships remain strong amid the current tensions, she said. After being commissioned at the conclusion of the third annual orientation program held at the Seminary of the Southwest, the 20 new missionaries - ranging in age from the 20s to the 60s - will go to mission sites in Brazil, China, El Salvador, Honduras, Kenya, Panama, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania and other African countries. The group includes nine members of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) and several clergy. Buttressed by two weeks of discussions of scripture, mission theology, cultural dynamics, evangelism, interfaith relations, medical needs, financial issues and security issues, and living a missionary identity, the new missionaries have learned the importance of another skill - listening. "The General Convention's decisions were made without enough discussion with the larger Anglican Communion," said Wesley Fletcher, a young adult from West Texas who served in Uganda and assists in coordinating the YASC program. "So now we have to discuss it. It seems simplistic to say this - but it isn't," she said.
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