Saturday, November 22, 2008

Missouri Shocked Me

If you've been reading this blog since I started it in 2006, you will know that this Southerner-turned-Easterner has felt adrift in Missouri. I love my parish. But the conservatism of this parish and diocese has often frustrated me.

Tonight, I am home from our Diocesan Convention, in which I served as a delegate and some other roles. And I am shocked. Completely shocked by the actions/votes we took.

Many you know there is s national move afoot to get dioceses on board to repudiate B033 and apologize for its effects, to ask General Convention to affirm same-sex-blessings, and to re-open the door to LBGT candidates to the episcopate. Some brave souls decided to try to get the Diocese of Missouri "on the record" supporting those initiatives, and I lent my support without much hope of success. You'll find those resolutions in our convention materials here. I had worked quietly to support these resolutions, but I did not believe they had a snowball's chance of passing in the Diocese of Missouri. I expected to be overwhelmed by "no," "no," and "no." Mind you, I walked into Missouri's diocesan convention yesterday believing they were right, and prepared for a quixotic battle to argue their adoption, but absolutely certain not a one of them would pass in this very, profoundly "red state" in which gay rights had falled 3:1 in a 2006 "popular" referendum.

I've had a miserable 30 hours. The "no" voices were heard clearly in yesterday's hearings and in today's vote. We heard "no" especially from the rural areas, and we heard "no" from those who fear being "overtaken by the liberal voice of this church." I even had to sit and listen to one woman who said we're making progress if "they" could merely call "us" "queers." [The mind boggles!] How my heart grieved. I had to sit while people talked about "lifestyle choices" and "the plain meaning of scripture." In a word, I had to sit politely while people spewed the VOL and SFiF party lines. But I knew this was coming, so I had brought plenty of Kleenex.

Thanks be to God, many other people came to the microphones. Some of them spoke to their own life and faith as gay/lesbian Christians in long-standing partnerships, and they wondered why this church would bless their house and cars and pets , but not bless their relationships. Many other people – especially heterosexual clergy – testified about the faithful lives of gay/lesbian Christian in their parishes. At one point, I got up to the microphone and (in a terrifying act) spoke explicitly as a lesbian to one of the resolutions.

Last weekend, I would not have bet a plug nickel that any of these resolutions would have passed in this conservative diocese.

But, my friends, all of them passed – all of them! – all four of them. Yes, everyone of them. Tonight, my head is reeling that all of them passed – and passed by such a wide majority that we didn't even have to count the votes. They all passed overwhelmingly. Overwhelmingly. In this conservative/moderate diocese. In this red state. My head is spinning.

I hope I'll be able to recollect myself and write more soon. In the meantime, here are the resolutions that passed in our diocese today. The first is strictly between us and our companion diocese of Lui in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The others are part of a national effort to bring these issues to GC09.

I am astonished. Truly astonished. That the Diocese of Missouri passed all these resolutions by overwhelming majorities is beyond my wildest imagining.

Hope and witness triumphed over lies and fear-mongering. Perhaps there really can be a new dawn in America.

That this could happen in the conservative Diocese of Missouri astonishes me beyond all words.

36 Comments:

Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Having lived here pretty much all my life, what I'll say is "Sometimes we surprise ourselves here." It's the constant battle between "What will people think" vs. Midwestern egalitarianism.

There has been this huge duality in the state for a long time. Missouri was historically New Deal Democrats but in recent years the so-called religious right took over. But if you can push the "fairness" button somewhow, that reaches rural as well as urban. All I can tell you is, "It's a funny state"...and maybe that's why I never cared to leave!

11/23/2008 12:03 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I think that often the brave testimony of gay and lesbian people who they know often start the willingness to change or at least the willingness to question.

11/23/2008 12:12 AM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

(First a small issue. The link to the resolutions doen't work.)

Your description is almost as wonderful as the ooutcome itself. After the experience of the last weeks and months and years and your whole life, you steeled yourself for the worst. And you heard the worst as voice after voice wrote off your story and your pain. Your account makes it appear that the anti- voices outnumbered the pro-.

And then the sudden and unexpected victory. Speechless joy. I can see it in your account.

God bless you, my friend. God bless you all.

11/23/2008 12:21 AM  
Blogger SCG said...

This is marvelous! And once again, it seems God is at work to bring about the change that is necessary to invite the "outcasts" back into the fold. Thank you and all who bore witness to your lives for speaking up. The more light you shed upon the dark descriptions that are out there about "us", the harder it will be for the fair-minded to believe the liars and thieves of Christ's message.

11/23/2008 7:22 AM  
Blogger FranIAm said...

There really is no accounting for grace or the power of the spirit. So often it does not seem to prevail and then it does.

This is amazing - Thanks be to God!

11/23/2008 7:53 AM  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

Great news. Folks can see many the great resolutions that are coming out of Diocesan conventions at a page on the Integrity site available here.

11/23/2008 8:50 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Robert is right on target. It is the business of changing one person's mind at a time that starts to getting people of having that little inking of "fairness" and that little inking of "what our baptismal covenent really means." It doesn't mean to write in a single group of people in pencil and sit there with the eraser over the page.

I know for me, it was watching the 15 years of my friend H. in his coming out process. I didn't understand it at all at the time, but I knew I could never desert him as a friend.

Then it was the realization that I was just "ambiguous" enough in my own demeanor that I was being lumped in with "them" and it made me think, "Hey, wait a minute...if this is just a tiny glimpse of how "they" are treated...well, it ain't right, and I don't like it one damn bit!"

Then, as the years rolled on, and I watched the struggles of friends, parents of gays and lesbians, etc., well, my sense of "this just ain't right" grew and grew, and as it grew, I realized that the next move was to simply love all these folks, with no strings, and to be fearless when others said ignorant things, to read and understand my Bible better so I had something to counter ignorant people hiding behind their Bibles, and to show my love openly for my gay and lesbian friends.

What a radical concept. But it is just slow as hell one person at a time...

11/23/2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Congratulations, Lisa!

But change is indeed coming, although taking its time.

11/23/2008 9:00 AM  
OpenID bfelice said...

These are the amendments,in pdf format, as presented to the 169th Convention and available on the Diocesan website (with the exception of G-169 Campus Ministries which was not revised just before the floor opened)

http://www.diocesemo.org/downloads/08resolutions.pdf

And readers not attending might also be interested in Bishop Smith's address (and challenge) to the Convention and to the Diocese.

http://www.diocesemo.org/newsevents/2008/1122083120.htm

11/23/2008 9:07 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, y'all. I just popped onto the Intertubes and am grateful for your warm and insightful words. Off to church I go now; I'll write more this afternoon.

11/23/2008 9:07 AM  
OpenID bfelice said...

There is a minor change to one of the resolutions, but we won't have the official resolutions (as amended) online for a couple of days.

Beth Felice
Diocese of Missouri

11/23/2008 9:17 AM  
Blogger Fred Schwartz said...

For those of us in San Joaquin you give us much to hold on to and even greater hope! The psirit moves in mysterious ways his wonders to behold!

11/23/2008 11:44 AM  
Blogger Hilary said...

There's still enough of an optimist inside me to think that maybe "those people" who were - as you had done - forcing themselves to politely listen to what you and the other supporters said, and maybe, just maybe, changed their minds and their hearts because of what you said. Then voted accordingly.

It also makes me happy to think that perhaps it means we are growing up as a society and as a church.

Congratulations on speaking up Lisa! It couldn't have been easy!

11/23/2008 1:06 PM  
Blogger Lelanda Lee said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! I am overjoyed for the Diocese of Missouri. Praise God, because there is hope for the rest of us who aren't there yet in our dioceses. Your description of what happened in Missouri is testimony to the need to keep on keeping on. To keep speaking up, to keep showing up, to keep the issues in front of the diocese, and to keep pushing for change.

11/23/2008 1:21 PM  
Blogger Tobias Haller said...

Thanks be to God, who is apparently continuing to work his purpose out in spite of much opposition! The arc of justice and love will prevail against the bigotry that clothes itself in religion.

11/23/2008 1:51 PM  
Blogger Bill Carroll said...

Way to go, Missouri!!!

11/23/2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger BentonQuest said...

Good for you! Here in Michigan, we had a few very vocal and uninformed folks come to the microphones. But our resolutions passed by large majorities also. I think people are beginning to see the truth and are not finding it scary at all.

11/23/2008 4:14 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Praise God, Lisa! This is wonderful news, and so awesome that God has used you right where you're at.

I'm fairly moderate/conservative politically, and definitely orthodox, and evangelical theologically. My mind has been changed over time. So, I know that these folks can be reached.

It is not a hopeless case at all as many would imagine.

It seems that God has put you in exactly the right place. Although, I can't imagine how difficult it must be at times.

Thank you so much for your faithful witness, Lisa, and for all of your service to our Lord.

11/23/2008 4:28 PM  
Blogger Mike in Texas said...

Wonderful news, Lisa.

Thank you for your part it making it happen.

Your elation is contagious. You've made my day.

11/23/2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, that is terrific news. I am so pleased. I hate that you had to sit and listen to the ugliness, but perhaps the ugliness persuaded some folks to do the right thing.

And the stories! Listening to the stories of LGTB folks can change minds and hearts.

Thanks be to God!

11/23/2008 5:19 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Oh, Lisa, what grace-filled news you bring to us all. Congratulations to the Diocese of Missouri - and to you and all who spoke their truth.

11/23/2008 5:38 PM  
Blogger jerseyjo said...

Lisa, Beautiul writing. I am in tears. Thanks be to God. Thanks for your witness.

-- J

11/23/2008 6:08 PM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

Lisa, I suspect your own powerful witness in the diocese had a part to play in these votes.

I am so happy for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and for all the gay, lesbian and straight people who inhabit it!
Tom Woodward

11/23/2008 6:19 PM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

Lisa, having been stuck on the second floor both days and bone tired to boot, I discovered late yesterday afternoon that the resolutions had passed.
I know you all said they wouldn't. :-) Maybe it is because of my tainted Fort Worth perspective, but honey, this diocese may be "conservative" but it is not self righteously fundamentalist. That is a HUGE diff.
To know us is to love us -- no truer words were ever spoken in this instance. There are so many faithful lesbian and gay people in this diocese. Each one of you (us) is a witness to God's precious love. And that love is contagious.
So hats off to you, to Donald, Jay, Lydia, Jason, Ann, Todd, oh my goodness how could you all possibly be named?
You all are the greatest and I am so proud to be a part of the "us". :-)

11/23/2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger KJ said...

Thanks, thanks, thanks be to Go!

I'm just back from my CI class, at which we spent most of the afternoon sharing our spiritual stories. What diversity! But what amazes me time and time again is that what church used to attempt to separate us from God, our sexuality, God used in many of us to draw us back.

If not TEC, who? If not now, when?

11/23/2008 6:22 PM  
Blogger susankay said...

Thanks for this. It made me "cry for happy"

11/23/2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger susan s. said...

This is absolutely wonderful!!!!

11/23/2008 8:37 PM  
Blogger Freedom Bound said...

Alleluia!

I shall say the Te Deum at Matins tomorrow with this in mind, sister. :-)

XX

11/23/2008 8:57 PM  
Blogger Frair John said...

Thanks and Praise be to God!

Your brave testimony to the truth helped forward the Gospel.

11/23/2008 9:00 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

Best news I've had in ages, Lisa! Congratulations to you and thanks be to God for the outcome.

Pax,
Doxy

11/24/2008 6:22 AM  
Blogger Doorman-Priest said...

What wonderful news!

Amen.

11/24/2008 7:14 AM  
Blogger Pfalz prophet said...

Lisa, I loved your post, your incipient despair and your total surprise at your convention's actions. I share your surprise. The Spirit appears to have moved over the face of the Show Me state and changed some hearts and minds. Could the Kingdom of God have come close to you last week?

11/24/2008 12:58 PM  
Blogger renzmqt said...

Tears of queer happiness from a brother in spirit in the U.P. You rock!

11/24/2008 5:39 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

Yeeeeee Ha! Good on you. And thanks to all the angels who worked overtime.

11/24/2008 7:41 PM  
Blogger Lauralew said...

Sorry I'm late to this, Lisa, but I'm so happy. I'm from mid MO myself and like Kirkepiscatoid said, sometimes we surprise ourselves. Fairness is huge. I'm with you, Sister, and thanks for sharing your experience. It is so hard to be honest sometimes.

11/26/2008 6:55 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Deep thanks to you all for your heartfelt comments. Yes, I have had a very emotional week. I apologize that my day job and the holiday weekend has kept me away from the blog.

Just so you know: I do not claim to have had a major hand in that vote. Folks like Jay, Don, Lydia, Todd, Matthew, Anne, and others did much more than I.

I will never forget Mike coming to the microphone, having been a Deputy at GC06 and "begging our forgiveness" for voting for B033. Many of us needed to hear that word of repentance.

Nor will I ever forget Todd's speaking to the convention, saying he and his spouse of many years are not 6/7 Episcopalians, but deserve all the sacraments of the church.

Nor will I forget Matthew speaking bravely and passionately about these issues.

I've been amused by the hatemongering blogs that have used this post for target practice. [You know who they are.] My joy is so great that they are like little tadpoles around a giant whale.

It was an honor to do my small bit.

Now ... we must move on to Anaheim and be sure our church sheds those odious and hateful shackles. Let this church be what she is! And let the Anglican Communion do what it will. But let us be faithful!

11/29/2008 8:00 PM  

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