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Re: [HoB/D] "Sustained Pastoral Care"

> It is not possible for the church to continue welcoming diverse
> beliefs while increasing political advocacy.  Individual members
> within the church can be politically active; however, when the church
> takes official positions on issues where members disagree, it creates
> winners and losers and causes division.  If diversity is our priority,
> the attention given to political issues will always cause
> disagreements that can undermine our ability to join together in
> serving our Lord.

"The Church was not afraid to vote at the Council of Nicea.  What makes us
think we're so important that we dare not make a clear decision?!"
exclaimed Bishop John Krumm over lunch at Casa Bandino in San Diego on
June 18, 1993.  He was agonizing over the stalling tactics at a recent
House of Bishops meeting.

"Gentlemen, I move that we pause for a moment of prayer!" exclaimed
Benjaman Franklin when his side was losing a debate in the Continental
Congress.  Alexander Hamilton countered, "Gentlemen, I move that we bring
in no outside interference."

The sexuality issues which you address prompted no reluctance to vote so
long as the vote was clearly against lesbians and gays, XXXXXXX. The 1979
General Convention rushed to judgment about the issue.  No voices then

said, This will create winners and losers; so let's not vote.  Nor should
there have been. It was right for the church to speak its mind.  My world
did not fall apart because lesbigays "lost" in 1979, nor will ECUSA fall
apart if General Convention 2003 calls for a rite for same-sex unions. Of
far greater harm is a church that prefers an illusion of unity sending
divisions underground and into back rooms and closets.

Many who most stridently protest any vote at General Convention, which
does have jurisdiction, were among the major forces pushing for a
"binding" vote on the same issue at Lambeth, which has no jurisdiction.  
At GC in Denver I bought an enamel pin inscribed "536-70" which one of the
groups hawked to memorialize the Lambeth vote against lesbigays.  

Several moderates have told me that they want to vote for a rite for lbgt
unions at GC 2003, and to their own surprise, say they will vote for it.
One noted that the rites are clearly coming soon, and argues that we need
to get it over with and learn to unite on other pressing needs and
concerns. Is there any deputy who seriously believes ECUSA can stop the
clock on this matter indefinitely?

Of course votes divide.  Many of my close friends were gravely hurt in
1976 when the church voted to ordain women.  How many would respect ECUSA
if we still refused to do so?  Most of my neighbors and family members
were gravely upset by the stands ECUSA took for racial justice in the
1960s, and especially hurt to see Episcopal priests among the Freedom
Riders who invaded my hometown.  How glad I am now that they came to
liberate us from the blindness of our prejudice. I shudder imagining the
Cotton Curtain still intact, as it would be if good people had refused to
vote out of fears of disunity.

I too care deeply about the unity of ECUSA, especially the integrity of
our witness.  My world will not fall apart if rites do not pass in 2003,
but ECUSA might compromise our convictions.  We undermine our moral
authority if we know what to do but fail to do it so that we can avoid a

Had AMiA folk not threatened to depart, very likely the rites would have
passed in 2000;  The 8th resolve (for the rites) of D039 failed by only
two votes in the clergy order and by only 5 in the lay order. AMiA left
ECUSA anyway, claiming they had seen the hand writing on the wall.

I grieve that AMiA folks left us after Denver.  I miss them and I respect
them for honoring the integrity of their convictions.

Healing and reconciliation are the main business of the Church.  We do not
heal or reconcile by political quietism.  If we wait until all agree
before we heal or reconcile, we will never heal or reconcile.  We are
reconciled with our enemies not by agreeing with them or changing them but
by loving them and forgiving them.  If we can't do that, we'd better not
pray "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."

Everyone deserves "sustained pastoral care."  I am embarrassed by liberal
and conservative bishops who are unkind or unfair to those with whom they
disagree.  Do we need to restructure our polity to change that?  I doubt
that would work.  We need instead to be born again, of a new spirit.  
Changing episcopal jurisdiction might distract from the change really
needed, namely a change of heart.

Healing does not require that offenses stop first.  Those who are wounded
may ourselves become instruments of God's peace.  Somewhere in my files I
have a huge folder labeled "Episcopal Snide," into which I poked a copy of
almost every nasty letter I received from a bishop for a couple of
decades, but I have forgotten where that folder is and would not want to
dwell on it if I found it, as many who wrote some of those letters long
ago became my friends.  We harm ourselves and others if we harbor
grievances.  That's why we have an altar in the Episcopal Church: not only
as the place to take all our grief and hurt, but also the place to LEAVE


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