Monday, July 28, 2008

Would I Leave TEC?

Others are playing the parlor game I suggested last night, and I'm glad they are. I'm sure there are other, powerful voices, but these are just a few I have noticed tonight.

Cany (who is definitely more than "Just Another Black Sheep") tells a moving story about how he found his way back to the Episcopal Church, only to contemplate having to separate from it. Read it all here, but I found this especially moving:

There is a hollow place in my heart in typing this, reading the words that I myself am typing about my potential for leaving a church I have come to so love and respect. I don't let things go easily. This will be no different. I will have to reflect carefully and pray a lot over the many, many months to come. I can kneel at the rail with those who fully disagree with me. I cannot, however, belong to a church that doesn't respect all people and/or which does not include all people in every level of its Episcopacy.The simple matter of it is, however, that if TEC truly does not welcome all because of "who" someone is, then I don't belong there, either. While I am straight, if those who are not are not treated as I am, I simply cannot abide that, spiritually. Reject them, reject me.While some have chattered that Lambeth makes little difference, I do not share that view. I am fully set to accept that TEC leaves or is tossed out of the Anglican Communion or is considered an impaired Communion member. I can live with that. I cannot, however, live with TEC that rejects full inclusion in our church.
Even MadPriest quits fooling around and gets very, very serious here. He suggests the bishops at Lambeth face two options and "option one" is "going for a policy, wrapped up disingenuously in claims of unity and democracy, that excludes gay people from full personhood and membership of the Church." He concludes:

The problem for those of us in the Anglican Church who are not bishops is that, should our leaders go for option one we will all become complicit in their treachery and responsible for all future acts of violence against gay people, just as I would have been guilty for the deaths in Iraq had I voted for Blair a second time. This will become even more acute if we are forced by the proposed "Inquisition" to keep quiet about our own views. If regarding gay couples as sinful is made an equivalent doctrine to believing in the Incarnation of Christ, any Anglican of integrity will have just two choices: to leave the church they love or to publicly condemn the doctrines of the Church until the Inquisition throws them out.
I was also moved by the commentary offered by James here, at The Three Legged Stool:

I really like the bit [quoting Damian Thompson in Monday's Telegraph] “Yet hope springs eternal in the Anglican breast.” I really, really like that because it is so true. And why is it true, because Jesus goes before us and we follow in his steps.
The sad thing, though, is that Thompson, a Roman Catholic, and most of the press do not realize that this is not over sexuality or even gender: it is over power, who wields it (abuses it), and who is abused by it.
I wonder, is this the last Lambeth Conference?
I have not yet read all the analysis that has followed from the Windsor Group's "third reflection." But I certainly am not sanguine about their proposal. They demand that TEC and other churches step back from the Gospel as we have heard it, in order to cave in to the terror and hatred of the reactionaries. [Yes, I call them "reactionaries" intentionally.] Maybe the bishops gathered at Lambeth will concur with them. Maybe my own bishop will vote with them. If that happens, I will have to re-evaluate my participation in the Episcopal Church.

And let me remind you that I did that back in 2006. I took a sabbatical from TEC. I tried to find another church that offered me the faith, the faithfulness, the liturgy that I had found in TEC. I couldn't find it. If the bishops at Lambeth go with this proposal from the Windsor Group, I now recognize I will not find another church I can attend. There just aren't any out there. Instead, I will have to join the growing number of people who observe Sunday mornings at Starbucks with the New York Times.

I pray most fervently that my bishop and many other bishops will save me from that abysmal, secular retreat. I know this sounds hyperbolic, but I mean it: I pray that the bishops at Lambeth will save the Anglican Communion.

Mind you, I'm ready to ditch it. If the bishops at Lambeth cave in to the papers being offered by the Windsor Group, the Anglican Communion will be dead, and I will move on. But I hope and pray they will find another way.

The Episcopal Church was my last, best hope against fundamentalist Christianity of either the Roman or the Protestant kind. I pray the bishops at Lambeth will keep steering the middle course. But, tonight, I am not optimistic.


Blogger StLouisJohn said...

But, tonight, I am not optimistic.

Nor am I Lisa. Reading your blog tonight leaves me both said...and strangely relieved. Sad, because of the talk of departure. Relieved...because I'm not the only one feeling this way.

I too, am tired of "the fight" the name calling, the negativity. I don't want to be around it. Even remotely.

Love, peace and prayer to you...


7/28/2008 8:50 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I am not contemplating leaving because I intend to continue the fight for full inclusion and this is where I have I have a place and a voice. Pam Chinnis, the first woman President of the House of Deputies told me one day when I was threatening to leave over something -(it never stops) - sure you can leave but there is injustice and exclusion everywhere - why not work where you have a some access to changing one of those institutions. Leaving would mean letting "them" win. I don't say one has to go to a church service that is abusive - but I am staying in the institution. At least this one is moving in the right direction - however slowly.

7/28/2008 9:53 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

StLouisJohn ... I think we just need to watch and see what our bishop does. If he stands with the traditional meaning of Anglicanism, then I'll be there with him. If he signs onto this stupid WCG statement, then I am outta here. Like you, I want the fighting to stop. I want to be part of a church that can welcome sinners who seek to touch the hem of Jesus' garment.

7/28/2008 10:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Ann, I'm not threatening to leave TEC as long as it remains the church I joined and which I love. But if our bishops sign on to this WCG pottage ... if TEC kowtows as KJS and the bishops have kowtowed before ... if they ask us to "forebear" or "stand in a crucified place" yet again ... then I would retreat from TEC.

7/28/2008 10:05 PM  
Blogger WilliamK said...

Dear Lisa (and others),
I was feeling very depressed about the future of my place in the Episcopal Church a few days ago, and thinking of various "leaving" scenarios (United Church of Christ, MCC, Old Catholic ... neo-pagan!!) ... so I can fully identify with the painful despair expressed in this latest post. But, in the last day or so, even with the news apparently getting worse, I have read several reminders of an important hopeful FACT about our church. Our bishops CANNOT consent to anything on our behalf over there, not collectively, and certainly not individually. Whatever set of demands might be set before TEC, it is only our General Convention that could agree to them, and I just don't see GC2009 doing that. So, whatever nonsense might happen in Canterbury, I'm not going to worry about it. I have faith in our wonderful polity and thank God for the wise men who gave it to us. Let's not jump ship (yet!). If they push us ... okay ... but I'm not voluntarily walking the plank.

7/28/2008 10:36 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

having read lots of bishop blogs and Trevor Mwanba's statement I am weirdly hopeful

7/28/2008 10:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

WilliamK & Ann: As long as this church of our continues being The Episcopal Church, I will have a home here. But if the bishops or the GC cave in to the fundamentalists, then that's when I will have trouble. And I hope our bishops begin to draw that sharp line at the Lambeth Conference. Given how they behaved in the HoB in March 2008, I am not hopeful. And yet I hope and pray.

7/28/2008 11:03 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

As a Naval Reservist in Canada, I had the displeasure and misfortune several years ago of have a Commanding Officer and an Executive Officer (both posted in from outside) who took it upon themselves to rid the Naval Reserve of some "deadwood." And I was part of the deadwood, according to them.

At the height of it, I would arrive at the unit on a training night and go straight to the heads (aka the washroom) to vomit. It was physically oppressive to me to be in that building.

But it was MY Naval Reserve Division, dammit. And I was double damned if I was going to let either of them drive me out of it.

Both of them have been out of the Navy for several years. The career of one whithered away. The career of the other ended in ignominy.

Today, I am the Executive Officer. Ironically, it fell to me to represent the unit at the funeral of one of the two men who had set out to end my career.

I love my Church, and it is worth fighting for.

If I leave, how am I different from those "conservative" schismatics who claim to be part of Rwanda or Uganda or Kenya or Nigeria of Argentina?

7/29/2008 1:40 AM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I am torn, Lisa.

I do not want to give my support to a church that welcomes only some people.

At the same time...Ann and Malcolm are right. If we leave, we help to ensure that GLBTs will be permanently excluded from the life of the church.

Elizabeth Kaeton has a great post today on the Philadelphia 11---those women who put themselves on the line so that women could follow their call into the priesthood. I'm sure you know the crap they took (and that some women priests still face)---but they pressed forward.

And that is how I, who have now been a member of three parishes in three different states, have always had a female rector...

The question I have to keep asking myself is "If I don't stay and fight this out, who will?"

I cannot ask anyone else to do the same---particularly someone who *is* GLBT. But my story is not your story--I can talk all day long about my passion for inclusion, but I cannot make the case to bishops or deputies in the way you can.

Loving someone who is gay is what changed my mind about the work of God in the lives of GLBTs. I suspect it is the ONLY thing that changes most people's minds. If you go, they cannot learn to love you...


7/29/2008 6:35 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I certainly hope no one leaves even if the Lambeth follies take a negative turn. Where would we go? How can we abandon the struggle? I know it is hard, very hard sometimes. I remember my own tears of pain on the floor of the HOD after B033 was passed. But as Wormwood pointed out, often it is knowing and loving a gay person that can change hearts and minds. If we all leave, we no longer challenge people to love.

7/29/2008 12:08 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...


I too just offered a post on how I am likely to proceed forward if this continues to head in a dehumanizing direction:

7/29/2008 3:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for telling your story, Malcolm. I'm with you. Sometimes it just makes me sick.

Tonight, I feel more inclined to fight for our church.

7/31/2008 10:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Doxy, I very much appreciate what you're saying. But I am tired of fighting. When we are beset by so many foes, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, I too often wonder whether it's worth the energy to try and save this Anglican Communion.

I found a home in The Episcopal Church. I would hate to lose it. But I need to be prepared to do so.

7/31/2008 10:03 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You ask a difficult and germaine question, Robert: "Where would we go?" Indeed! Where the hell would we go??

For me, it's the Episcopal Church or nothing. I've explored other options in times past when this church has hurt me.

7/31/2008 10:06 PM  

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