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Random Reflections on the Windsor Report



I do not understand the complaint that The Episcopal Church has not listened 
to objections in the Anglican Communion.  In 2003, TEC paid the way for over 
50 bishops outside the United States to attend General Convention, many of 
them persons who objected to the actions we were proposing.

Why did we do that?  To provide the consultation that now we are faulted for 
not providing.   All of these guests were  welcome to speak at any of the 
very open hearings.  All had an opportunity to witness to us.   Why did so 
few do so?

Imagine the missions TEC could fund with the amount of money spent on their 
international airfare, expensive hotel rooms and meals.

On the Sunday we voted on consents for the Bishop of NH, 
one of the most outspoken critics of TEC preached at General 
Convention (Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, far more opposed than his 
primate, the better known ++Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria).

Can you name another province of the Anglican Communion that is as open with 
its processes, another province of the Anglican Communion that as 
prominently exposes itself to the views of those who oppose it, and pays the 
way of doing so?   Can you name a province of the Anglican Communion that 
has invited the Bishop of NH,  now, or when he was bishop-elect, to come and 
meet with them so that they might examine for themselves the qualities which 
led the people in the Diocese of NH to elect him?

(And do we really want to start asking every bishop-elect to pass muster 
with every province of the Anglican Communion?)

Before GC 2003 our primate visited Nigeria and visited with clergy all over 
the country.  He opened himself to hear their concerns.

The Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice 
Concerns  and numerous other interim bodies have traveled extensively in the 
Communion and reported what they have heard to the General Convention.

Conservatives within TEC spent megadollars to assure well in advance of GC 
2003  that every deputy and bishop would be fully aware of the objections to 
our proposed actions there.  Do you believe that there was a single deputy 
who was unaware of the objections?

We heard the objections thoroughly and clearly.    There is a vast 
difference between hearing and agreeing.   TEC consulted extensively; we 
have just not been persuaded..

Those objecting showed almost no evidence that they had allowed themselves 
to be exposed to the evidence that had changed our own hearts and led us to 
reverse our policies, namely the witness of God's love in the lives of 
lesbian and gay Christians.

The Windsor Report says that we should have consulted with others in the way 
that Hong Kong consulted regarding its desire to ordain women.   That's a 
fascinating proposal given what really happened in Hong Kong.  Bishop Hall 
ordained Li Tim Oi in Hong Kong in 1944 as the first female priest in the 
Anglican Communion.  He did not consult  with others in the Communion.  The 
authors of the Report conveniently forgot that, and chose to focus on a much 
later Hong Kong consultation regarding women's ordination.

The Windsor Report says that TEC should provide much more rationale to 
support its decisions.  The Presiding Bishop has appointed a theological 
Task Force to accommodate this request.   I believe that we should always 
seize any opportunity to make our actions transparent.   I am less than 
encouraged to think that the objectors will attend to what we produce.   The 
authors of the Windsor Report  did not review or reference any of the BLUE 
BOOK reports from 1976 onward that have led to the Episcopal Church's 
decisions in 2003.  Those documents have been completely above board and 
available to anyone.

The Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998 have committed all provinces 
to engage in similar study and analysis, and almost none of those who object 
to the actions of GC 2003 have heeded their own Council.

More than almost any other lesbigay Anglican, I have had personal 
opportunity to engage in conversations with Anglicans around the world.  I 
taught in Britain twice, in the 1960's and 1970's  I taught for four years 
in Asia in the 1980s.   In the last 9 years I have traveled repeatedly  in 
Africa, Asia, and South America on official missions for TEC.  I have been 
much blessed by these opportunities, and I rejoice in the strong faith I 
have witnessed, often in places where people live under the extreme 
hardships of war, poverty, and disease.   I have found most Anglicans to be 
open minded, willing to hear me and reflect together on our common 
experiences as disciples of Jesus.

A few primates and other bishops have reacted quite differently,.  One 
primate viciously and verbally attacked me in front of his palace in Africa 
before most bishops of two counties -- with no provocation on my part. 
Another primate dashed from me twice when bishops tried to get him to engage 
in a discussion over lunch after he and I had both had roles in a liturgy at 
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine  in NY   Another primate who came to 
TEC ostensibly to listen to lesbians and gays, spent double the time he 
listened in telling the group of which I was a part how evil TEC to welcome 
us......

These did not reflect the kindness and compassion that I have experienced 
from most of my other contacts in their provinces.

In most cases these are reacting to stereotypes that they cannot sustain 
with careful attention to lbgt Christians.  Several bishops in Africa have 
told me that they have never met a lesbian or gay Christians; that did not 
hold most of them back from voting against us, however.  To many, a 
homosexual is a foreigner who exploits their children in sexual tourism.  I 
don't know any Christians who promote that despicable agenda, whether the 
sexual exploitation is heterosexual or homosexual.

The bonds that hold us together in the Communion have never been juridical, 
but rather bonds of affection.   We have not loved our Anglican neighbors as 
we have loved ourselves, and for that we must repent and steadily seek to 
amend our ways.   Rejecting  Christ's witness in our lesbian and gay 
neighbors is not the way to do that.

Folks on any side of  this current controversy may be wrong.   I do not 
intend to say on Judgment Day, "My name is Louie Crew and let me in because 
I am right about human sexuality."   I think I am right about my life 
commitment to Ernest Clay, or I would not have made that commitment.   But I 
could be wrong.

I am not wrong about God, however.   God's property is always to show mercy.

It is no accident that Jesus earned the reputation of being a friend of 
sinners.   He spent most of his time with sinners, not telling them how bad 
they were, but loving them, enjoying their company.   Otherwise, if they 
were anything like me or other sinners whom I know in this age, Jesus' 
friends would not have continued to invite him back.   Our Samaritan 
ancestor did not report "he told me how bad I am" but rather "he told me 
everything I had ever done."  Jesus was far more concerned with her thirst 
than with her sin.

Never in the history of Christendom has sexuality been a faith-defining 
issue, and much that drives the objections to TEC's actions at GC 2003 has 
little to do with sexuality.  The reactions relate much more directly to 
power and hegemony.

I rejoice that power has shifted from Europe, the USA, Australia and New 
Zealand to the Global South.  I rejoice that at Lambeth 1998 bishops of 
color were for the first time in the majority.  I understand their need to 
flex muscle, especially when the muscle is new and trying to grow.

I grieve that the new majority used so much of their time at the microphone 
and in the eyes of the world to address their objections to lesbian and gay 
Christians rather than to use every opportunity to tell the world about 
problems far more urgent -- war, famine, AIDS, economic exploitation in the 
name of globalization......    At least in part they have themselves to 
blame for not using their new power wisely.

I find it ominous that of  those within TEC who spent the most money 
coaching the new majority and encouraging them to give a high priority to 
voting on sexuality, a majority come from the states that supported slavery 
and have the worst record on commitments to racial equality.   Might they 
have other reasons beside concern over lesbigay Christians that led them not 
to invest at least as much energy into issues of economic justice, 
AIDS,......?

Yes, the TEC often mirrors the USA in being insensitive to others and in 
pushing to have our own way and in pushing our own way on the rest of the 
world.   However, in this instance TEC is not following the secular model. 
The US government and society do not embrace lesbigays.  TEC is following 
the model of Jesus, who always leaves the comfortable to care for the 
outcast.  The Windsor Report never even considers that possibility.

LC, Member of Executive Council, Newark deputation 





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