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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