Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Bishop of Missouri Speaks

It's been a couple of weeks since the bishops formed the dance-line and departed New Orleans. I now discover George Wayne Smith, the bishop of Missouri, has posted a statement on the diocesan website, dated October 2. As far as I can tell, it wasn't widely distributed; when I went seeking it today, I found it about four levels down on the diocesan website. Here it is, with not a jot or tittle changed.

Personally, I want to slam heavy objects against the wall. But perhaps you friends and counselors will help me see something good, something -- anything -- of integrity, in this statement.

October 2, 2007

O God, Holy and Undivided Trinity, the infinite love within your own life is the life of the world and the glory of your people: In your great mercy mend the broken places in your creation, and draw your people from the discord of our ways more fully into the likeness of the unity which you share and enjoy for all ages, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

You doubtless have had access to various news reports coming from the New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops late last month. I'll not rehash those matters you can find in more detail elsewhere, but I will put before you some impressions from the Bishops' meeting.

First, the location. We were in the Gulf Coast region shortly after the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the place remains a mess. Despite all the information I had absorbed through the media since August 2005, my sense from being there, on the ground, was simply overwhelming. The loss is tragic in all its particulars, but the enormity of it lies beyond description. Neighborhoods lie destroyed for miles, and entire coast lands, a waste. The aftereffects of this catastrophe and its horrors have been compounded by bureaucratic bungling—some would say malfeasance. The storm and the bureaucracy, together, have laid bare the sins of racism and classism, not only in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but in our entire nation.

The Bishops were blessed to have time in the community. Among a dozen other workers, I spent a day at a house in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, doing nothing more complicated than hanging sheetrock. But incidental conversations with longtime relief workers and people in the neighborhood proved rich beyond measure, and I was very glad for this hot, humid day of working.

Second, there are the matters of Communion. For the first two days of our meeting, we heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and from others on the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. Some of their words were often difficult to hear, and the tone was occasionally disturbing. Nonetheless, it became obvious that most of our visitors desired that the Episcopal Church find a way to remain in the Anglican Communion. They came not to deliver an ultimatum but to seek clarification, a matter often misunderstood in the media. That is to say, these visitors came as our friends.

Some few of these visitors took the trouble, as friends will do, to show, point-by-point, what clarification might look like. And thus, during the final two days of our meeting, we worked on addressing these issues, point-by-point. The final resolution passed by a voice vote, with a single bishop voting in the negative. The work of drafting this resolution was purposefully more consensual than adversarial in style. Documents receiving the consent of a vast majority, by their very nature, are prone to imperfection. In particular, they are likely to leave unsaid the important, pointed word that might erode a consensus. The blogosphere is alive with the naming of such imperfections. More important for me is the fact that the House of Bishops, a place of rather sharp division, even fractiousness, in the recent past, has worked to find ways to move toward one another. This is no small miracle. And we have awakened it seems, to the gift of Communion, which must not be squandered.

Finally, let me reiterate what I have said before. One purpose that I have clearly in view, in working to sustain the highest level of Communion possible, is to make sure that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have a place in that Communion—and that, in fact, there will be a Communion left for their full inclusion. Or, to put it another way round, any Communion excluding these our brothers and sisters would be less than complete. I cannot envision the work ahead as a choice, either gays and lesbians or Communion. I see the struggle instead as generational, requiring catholic patience and the constant beseeching of His Holy Spirit, who can turn the world.

I write you as one filled with hope, in the aftermath of this recent meeting. My desire, in writing to you, is that I convey some small measure of that hope to you.
OK. I'm waiting for the punch line. What "small measure of hope" is my bishop offering? For the life of me, I can't find one word of hope in his statement.


Anonymous january736 said...

As we used to say when I was in the Army; "No guts, no glory".
TEC has turned a deaf ear to the calling of Holy Spirit to be a place of courage for the radical Gospel of God With us: Emmanuel. That is a sin: denying the movement of the Spirit.
No guts, no glory.
I'm thinking it's time to move on. TEC is afraid, and fear inhibits growth. Too bad: It could have been a wonderul voice in the world.

10/05/2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous january736 said...

I apologize for taking up so much discussion space: I just have to share this with someone! recently, at a meeting with our newly consecrated Diocesan, he patted himself and HOB on the back for THE statement,adding "Everyone had to give up something. The Conservatives had to sacrifice, too." Excuse me? What? WHAT? The Conservatives have had to sacrifice their rage at having me in the pew,a "full and equal member" (Yeah, right!), the Conservatives have had to sacrifice their demand that I be labeled a sinner and disciplined for being who I am.
I am deeply saddened by that remark. There is NO understanding of what we are experiencing, none.
Well, there you are. Thanks for listening.

10/05/2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Linda McMillan said...

...and the constant beseeching of His Holy Spirit, who can turn the world.

So it's the Holy Spirit's fault that the bishops are a bunch of pussies? Just want to make sure I understand that.

Sorry I'm always so pissed.


PS - No foolin' the word verification for my comment is FUCXUTP which is pretty close to right on target.

10/05/2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, I understand why you want to slam heavy objects against the wall. Where is the sacrifice for any but LGTB church members? It's like the Iraq War. Only the few make the sacrifices. The other folks talk about sacrifice. That is all.

What I understand him to be saying is that the hope is for the next generation.

No hope for you! Next.

You laugh or you cry.

10/05/2007 8:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

January736, I agree completely. Completely. Last night, when I found my bishop's statement online, I only had energy to post it with minimal comment. Tonight I have offered more discussion. As you'll see there, I'm ticked at many of the same things as you.

10/05/2007 9:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Bless you, Grandmère Mimi. You really do get it. I am grateful to you.

10/05/2007 9:02 PM  

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