Friday, February 29, 2008

St. Deiniol's Postcard #5

by John Clinton Bradley


Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, presented the 6th paper, "Paying the Price--An African Perspective." He made the following key points...
  • He knew he was gay from an early age. Despite some anti-gay sermons he heard from Anglican priests, his own study of the Bible convinced him that homosexuality was not sinful. In the south of Nigeria where he grew up, homosexuality was tolerated if it was not flaunted. Homosexuality was also part of his tribal culture before the missionaries came. The same is true of other Nigerian tribal cultures.
  • If it is true the humans came from Africa, then Africa gave the rest of the world homosexuality!
  • He was headmaster of a church school. There were no complaints about his performance, but he was eventually sacked because of this sexual orientation.
  • After founding Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Church of Nigeria stated a smear campaign against Davis. Davis has refuted these charges.
  • Davis was arrested by the Nigerian police and held for 3 days. With the help of Colin Coward of Changing Attitude UK, he bribed the police and was released.
  • He received several death threats. He is currently living in exile in another West African country.

St. Deiniol's Postcard #4

by John Clinton Bradley


The Rev. Michael Hopkins, past-president of Integrity USA, presented the 5th paper, "Paying the Price--A North American Perspective." He made the following key points...
  • He was at Lambeth 1998. The night after resolution 1.10 was passed he wandered the streets of Canterbury deeply wounded. Despite the rejection he felt, he decide to stay within the church and work for its change.
  • The next day he wrote (prophetically) that resolution 1.10 would not be accepted by the Episcopal Church--that ordinations of gay and lesbian priests and same-sex blessings would continue.
  • The last 9 years have been a roller coaster ride for the LGBT faithful in both the United States and Canada as they have struggled to end "sacramental apartheid" (to quote current Integrity president Susan Russell).
  • LGBT clergy have often been called to dying parishes that no one else wanted--and helped them live again.
  • Most LGBT Episcopals are saddened by the ongoing schism within our own province and the Anglican Communion as a whole.
  • Despite Resolution 1.10, the Episcopal Church is increasingly attractive to unchurched LGBT people. Nevertheless, the ongoing controversy within our province has damaged our evangelistic efforts.
  • It is simple impossible for the Episcopal Church to turn back the clock as some in the Anglican Communion would like.
  • Resolution B033, passed by General Convention 2006, has had a chilling effect on LGBT clergy running in episcopal elections.

St. Deiniol's Postcard #3

by John Clinton Bradley


Savi Hensman, Vice-Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, gave the 4th paper, "Paying the Price-An Asian Perspective." She made the following key points...
  • This is not THE Asian perspective, but her perspective as a native of Sri Lanka.
  • Issues of sexuality are caught up with other issues--such as poverty, health, and human rights. She read from 3 recent news articles--China addressing the spread of AIDS among gay men. A young Iranian gay man sentenced to death in Iran. A gay Indian rajah adopting a boy as his heir.
  • Christians are a minority in Asia, and Anglicans are a minority among Christians. Most Anglicans work ecumenically.
  • Asian theology focuses on the marginalized, poor, and oppressed. She read from several Asian theological statements.
  • Attitudes towards homosexuality vary in Asia. In some parts of India same-sex relationships are tolerated. In some parts of Asia attitudes are hardening.
  • There is yearning in some parts of Asia for an imagined "golden age," which is used by conservative politicians against homosexuals.
  • Many Asian Christians (including Anglicans) have not thought or talked much about sexuality. This is partly because of their missionary heritage. Limited literature is available in Asian languages.
  • The former primate of Southeast Asia was especially unhelpful. He was extremely hostile to study of and dialog on homosexuality. The current primate is not as outspoken, but Southeast Asia has not responded to the Listening Process. When Singapore was considering decriminalization of homosexuality, Anglican leaders campaigned against it (while the Muslim leaders did not).
  • The Episcopal Church in Japan is much more open to diversity.
  • The rise of Christian and Muslim fundamentalism has caused some Anglicans to become hardliners on homosexuality. Other Anglicans feel called to work against discrimination.
  • The Bishop of Columbo has written very passionately in favor of inclusion.
  • To summarize, the situation in Asia is full of danger and opportunity.
An audio presentation from the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia was played. It included real stories from 4 people..
  1. A former priest who left the church to live openly with his partner.
  2. A homosexual man who once lived in a same-sex relationship but has now chosen to live in celibacy.
  3. A woman who started the process of becoming a man but stopped and is now married to a man and has two children.
  4. An openly gay priest who has a life partner.

St. Deiniol's Postcard #2

by John Clinton Bradley

The Rebuilding Communion Course continued this morning.

Richard Kirker, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement presented the 2nd paper, "Paying the Price--a British Perspective." He made the following key points...
  • He is retiring after the Lambeth Conference.
  • He is only one of thousands who have made a contribution to the struggle for LGBT equality in the Church of England. As a result of this witness, the Anglican Communion is moving in a more homo-positive direction.
  • Slavery and women's ordination have had to face the same barriers as LGBT equality in the Church of England .
  • The Church of England's avoidance of LGBT equality has embarrassed the church and inhibited evangelism.
  • The struggle for equality has polarized friends and colleagues. All manner of ungodly behavior has taken place in the name of preventing LGBT equality in the church.
During the question and answer period, Michael Hopkins, past-president, of Integrity said that many Americans believe that Rowan Williams' primary motivation on LGBT issues since he became Archbishop of Canterbury has been to prevent a split within the Church of England. He asked Richard to comment on this perspective. Richard responded that his view is too simplistic and the threat of internal schism is not as severe as Evangelicals would have us believe. Hopkins added that he thought the schism belief enabled some Americans to distance themselves from the debate and pretend it is not really about them.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Village, Lecturer in Practical and Empirical Theology at York St. John University, presented the 3rd paper, "Staring Into The Chasm: Attitude Toward Homosexual Among Anglicans in England." He made the following key points...
  • Attitudes toward homosexuality are changing in Western societies. British surveys show acceptance among the general population has greatly increased over recent decades.
  • It is now illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the England.
  • Vigorous debate continues in the Church of England. Who takes part in the debate? Where does the majority opinion lie? What do ordinary churchgoers think and how do they act?
  • In 2001 a survey was conducted by The Church Times on a wide variety of issues--not just homosexuality. 8000 readers responded, 5000 of whom were lay people.
  • Four questions on homosexuality were asked: 1) It is wrong for people of the same gender to have sex together? 2) Should homosexual couples have the right to marry one another? 3) Are you in favor of the ordination of practicing homosexuals as priests? 4) Are you in favor of the ordination of practicing homosexuals as bishops? All questions were answered overwhelming homo-negative. Only 10% of respondents were completely homo-positive in their responses, while 46% of respondents were completely homo-negative in their responses.
  • Older people are more homo-negative than younger people. Younger people are more homo-positive than older people.
  • Men were more slightly more homo-negative than women.
  • Rural respondents were more homo-negative than urban respondents.
  • Respondents who rated themselves as liberal in theology were more homo-positive than others, but not as homo-positive as one might expect.
  • Respondents who rated their church tradition as Anglo-Catholic or Broad Catholic were a bit more homo-positive that others. Evangelicals were the most homo-negative.
  • Statistical analysis suggested that the most homo-negative respondents more homo-negative than allowed by the survey questions.
  • In the Anglo-Catholic tradition, respondents are becoming increasing less homo-negative as time goes on. This is NOT true for Evangelicals.
  • Conclusions: 1) Lay people in the Church of England in 2001 were generally strongly against changes to traditional teaching on homosexuality. 2) Sociodemographic factors explained some of the variation in attitudes in ways similar to the general population. 3) Theological orientation explained much more of the differences. 4) The age distribution of attitudes among different church traditions suggest an every-increasing gap in attitudes towards homosexuality. 5) The basis of the gap is almost entirely related to theology and not to sociodemography.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

St. Deiniol's Postcard #1

by John Clinton Bradley


About 25 people gathered yesterday afternoon at St Deiniol's Library in Northern Wales for the start of the Rebuilding Communion Course. Several authors are presenting draft papers during the conference and listening to the responses of participants. The final papers will be published in book form around May 1 by Monad Press.

Peter Francis, Warden of St. Deiniol's, welcomed participants. He said the library was founded by William Gladstone--who was prime minister of Great Britain four times during the late 19th century, to house his extensive private collection. Peter noted that Gladstone became ever more socially progressive throughout his lifetime and no doubt would approve of his library hosting a conference on lesbian and gay issues within the Anglican Communion.

The first paper, "Lambeth from 1998 to 2008," was presented by Simon Sarmiento--editor of the Thinking Anglicans blog. His review of key events over the past decade or so included...
  • The acquittal of Bishop Walter Righter on charges of heresy (before Lambeth 1998) was the beginning of the current struggle in the Anglican Communion on LGBT equality. (This premise is presented in "Anglican Communion in Crisis" by Miranda K. Hassett.)
  • Lambeth 1998 resolution 1.10 was heavily amended from the sub-group's original. 526 bishop voted in favor of the resolution, 70 vote against, and 45 abstained. Between 100 and 200 bishops did not vote at all. In response, a pastoral statement was drafted by Michael Hopkins of Integrity. With the assistance of Colin Coward of Changing Attitude, 188 bishops eventually signed the statement--including 9 primates and 4 bishop who became primates. Rowan Williams was among the signatories.
  • In the Diocese of New Westminster, the diocesan synod vote 3 times in favor of same-sex blessings before Bishop Michael Ingham consented to allowing them. Approximately 50 couples have been blessed since the policy was implemented.
  • Gene Robinson was elected (on the 2nd ballot) and consecrated as the Bishop of New Hampshire in November 2003.
  • Civil legislation has made great progress. In December 2003, the UK Employment Equality Regulations were passed. In November 2004, the UK Civil Partnership Act was passed. In July 2005 Canada legalized same-sex marriages. In November 2006 South Africa did the same thing. There was no major political opposition to these laws. For most British, the attitude is, "Some people are gay. Get over it!"
  • The "Instruments of Communion" have met and responded to the controversy several times. In October 2003 the primates met at Lambeth Palace. In October 2004 the Windsor Report was released. In February 2005 the primates met in Dromantine, Ireland. In June 2005 the Anglican Consultative Council met in Nottingham. In February 2007 the primates met in Dar es Salaam.
  • As discussed in "Following the Money" by Jim Naughton, the controversy has been largely funded by American conservatives.
  • Some key conservative documents have included the January 2004 Chapman Report, the March 2004 Barfoot draft proposal for alternative episcopal oversight, the July 2004 interview of Peter Akinola in The Church Times, the September 2006 Church of Nigeria's official support of draconian anti-gay Nigerian legislation, and the August 2007 letter from Peter Akinola that was ghost written by Americans.
  • The Anglican Covenant may be sunk. A draft was in Annex 2 of the Windsor Report. "Towards an Anglican Covenant" was released in May 2006 . A preliminary report on the covenant was presented at Dar es Salaam. In April 2007 the Nassau draft was released. Only 13 provincial responses were made--including Lukewarm responses from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, USA, New Zealand, and England. The St. Andrew's draft was recently released. The bishops will discuss and comment upon this draft for 2 days at the Lambeth Conference. A 3rd draft will be presented at ACC-14 in 2009.
  • The Windsor Report was firmly against uninvited incursions across provincial boundaries. Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya have consecrated bishops outside their provinces. The Southern Cone is attempting to appropriate entire dioceses.
  • 14 primates refused to take communion at Dromantine, but only 7 refused at Dar es Salaam. Is this progress.
  • A "Global Anglican Futures Conference" will take place before Lambeth--partly in Jordan and partly in Jerusalem. The Bishop of Jerusalem is not happy about the conference being held in his diocese.
  • Over 800 bishop have been invited to the Lambeth Conference. 570 have accepted so far. Maybe 600-700 bishops will attend. This is compared to 840 in 1998. (Part of the difference is that assisting bishops are not invited.)

An Open Letter to the Powers That Be

Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori and President Anderson,

The following note came as a blog-comment to my post yesterday of the announcement of the March 29th special convention in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I want to share it with you and with others who have been working so long and hard to bring hope and new life to those committed to the mission and ministry of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Stephen's is but one of many "voices in the wilderness" -- and I hope his witness will be an encouragement to you as you continue to move that diocese and this church into God's future.


"I knew things were working behind the scenes, but I did not have a hint of what was to come until last Sunday, then it was confirmed yesterday morning at our parish staff meeting, then again reading the ENS at midnight. I havebeen literally shaking with excitement ever since.

When I arrive in the Diocese of SJ 11 years ago, I had no idea what was going on here. How quickly one learns upon spending some time in the valley.Many of your readers have only heard of what's happened, but it's only the tip of the iceburg and it's quite unbelieveable and unimaginable. Having said that, tears of joy, excitement and anticipation are being shed as we approach this monumental transition in the diocese.

Right now, I am beyond words. I'm all emotions but will happily share more when the time comes. Your prayers are felt and we ask that you continue your prayers for us."

Stephen Bentley
Stockton CA


With thankgiving for your ministry,
(The Reverend) Susan Russell
President, Integrity USA
All Saints Church
132 North Euclid Avenue
Pasadena CA 91101

Monday, February 25, 2008

Canterbury Campaign Launched

For details, visit the Integrity Website

Louie Crew to speak in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH - Some people are threatening to split from The Episcopal Church because of its full inclusion of gay and lesbian Episcopalians in the life and ministry of the church. But many Episcopalians agree with the move toward full inclusion of all the Baptized, or want to learn more about it.

One of the most articulate voices on this subject is Dr. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity. Integrity is a nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and straight friends. Since its founding by Dr. Crew in rural Georgia in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in The Episcopal Church and equal access to its rites.

On Saturday, March 1, 2008, Integrity Fort Worth will host Dr. Crew, whose topic will be "Exceedingly Glad in Times Like These," at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Crew will speak at 3:30 PM after the Holy Eucharist at 2:00 PM, led by the Rt. Rev. Sam Hulsey, retired bishop of Northwest Texas. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m. There will be a reception in the parish hall following Dr. Crew's address.

A native of Anniston, Alabama, Crew holds earned degrees from Baylor University (BA, 1958), Auburn (MA, 1959) and the University of Alabama (PhD, 1971) and honorary doctorates from three Episcopal seminaries: EDS (Cambridge, 1999), General (NYC, 2003), and EDS Pacific (Berkeley, 2004). He has held fellowships at UCal Berkeley, the University of Texas (Austin), and the University of Chicago. He is the author of more than 1620 publications.

An emeritus professor of English at Rutgers University, Crew taught there from 1989 to 2001 and served two terms as Chair of its Senate and a member of its Board of Governors. At other times during his 44-year career, he was a prep school master and a professor of black higher education in the rural south. He also taught for five years in rural Wisconsin and four years in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Dr. Crew's contributions to the Church have been many. A five-time deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Newark, he chaired Newark's deputation in 2006. He has served two terms on the Standing Committee of his Diocese, twice as its President, and is now clerk of the vestry at Grace Church, Newark. He is also the secretary of Province Two of the Episcopal Church as well as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations. He recently finished his term on the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, the body that governs the church between General Conventions.

Louie Crew and Ernest Clay entered a life partnership in February 1974.


This event is free if attendees pre-register online at otherwise there is a
$5.00 Registration Fee at the door.

For information, call 817-784-5132 or send e-mail to

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Boy’s Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town

Our good Integrity friend down Tennessee way, Nancy Mott, points us to this tragic tale in today's New York Times about the hate crime murder of Lawrence King, a gay teenager in California. Nancy writes to say she wonders whether our church will speak up. Well, will they? Sure they will. Sure they will.

The New York Times
February 23, 2008

by Rebecca Cathcart

OXNARD, Calif. — Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church here on Friday to remember an eighth-grade boy who was shot to death inside a junior high school computer lab by a fellow student in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex,” the Rev. Dan Birchfield of Westminster Presbyterian Church told the crowd as he stood in front of a large photograph of the victim. “Larry was a masterpiece.”

Read the whole sad thing here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let California Ring

On this Valentines Day as we celebrate the gift of love let's also celebrate the Equality California folks for pointng us to this great website featuring the stories of those whose love falls short of the civil protections of and are denied equal access to both the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

I was moved by the stories I read and encourage you to read them ... but the one I want to share here is Liam's ... who writes:

This movement has never been about the freedom to marry for myself; I can marry the woman I love someday. I am, however, part of the queer community—my Mom and her partner Nellie have been my model for a healthy, committed relationship for 25 of my 26 years on this planet.

My Mom is from Oakland originally, but I grew up in British Columbia, and got involved with the movement for the freedom to marry in Seattle in 2004. I couldn’t stand the way the conversation was being played out in the media and by people around me, particularly in the way it related to families like mine. I heard people who were reluctant to support marriage for my parents, allude to me as damaged goods. Everywhere, I saw families like mine discussed as a hypothetical moral issue, not as real people who deserve respect and support.

Read the rest of Liam's story here, and:
  • give thanks for the witness of kids who "get it" ...
  • give thanks for mothers like his who are raising children with the family values of love and tolerance ...
  • and consider "bookmarking" Liam's story -- and the next time someone asks you, in regard to marriage equality, "But what about the children?"
Answer, "Good question! What about them? Let me introduce you to Liam ..."


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Speaking of the Anglican Covenant ...

... thanks to Episcopal Cafe for this reflection by Immanuel Kant on the efficacy of Religious Covenents:

Immanuel Kant (1704-1824) on Religious Covenants.
From "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

"But should not a society of clergymen, for example an ecclesiastical synod or a venerable presbytery (as the Dutch call it), be entitled to commit itself by oath to a certain unalterable set of doctrines, in order to secure for a time a constant guardianship over each of its members, and through them over the people?

I reply that this is quite impossible. A contract of this kind, concluded with a view to preventing all further enlightenment of mankind for ever, is absolutely null and void, even it is is ratified by the supreme power, by Imperial Diets and the most solemn peace treaties.

One age cannot enter into an alliance on oath to put the next age in a position where it would be impossible for it to extend and correct its knowledge, particularly on such important matters, or to make any progress whatsoever in enlightenment. This would be a crime against human nature, whose original destiny lies precisely in such progress. Later generations are thus perfectly entitled to dismiss these agreements as unauthorized and criminal."

Hat tip Fred Quinn and Prof. Frank M. Turner, John Hay Whitney Professor of History Director, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Letter from "Lost and Confused"

"Annie's Mailbox" is a syndicated advice column written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column most of us grew up on. This letter, published yesterday, resulted in the "Integrity Central" phone ringing off the hook with folks calling "mostly just to hear someone say God loves them," reported Integrity Administrator John Clinton Bradley.


Annie's Mailbox®, February 6

Dear Annie: I am a male in my early 40s. My mother died a few years ago, and my grandmother shortly after, so life has been difficult lately.

Here is my problem: I'm gay and still in the closet to friends and family. At my age, single and never having dated, people have pretty much put two and two together, but I was raised to think this is not an acceptable lifestyle. If I were to come out publicly, I believe I would be made an outcast by my family and church.

The church I attend (which I love attending) does not accept gays. The official outlook is "hate the sin but love the sinner," which means I'd have to stop being gay to be accepted. It makes me feel I'm losing my connection to God and that breaks my heart. Annie, I didn't wake up one morning, decide I was tired of being heterosexual and switch over. This is all I've ever known. To make matters worse, I was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive. I have found a man I would like to spend my life with and he has been extremely accepting of my positive diagnosis. His family has accepted his sexual orientation, but he doesn't attend church.

I know counseling would help, but I can't afford it. Who can I talk to confidentially about being a closeted, HIV-positive gay man who doesn't want to lose his faith or family? — Lost and Confused

Dear Lost: You didn't specify your church's denomination, so we recommend Dignity ( at 1-800-877-8797 for Catholics; the Gay Christian Network (, P.O. Box 17504, Raleigh, NC 27619; Integrity ( at 1-800-462-9498 for Episcopalians; Seventh Day Adventist Kinship (, P.O. Box 69, Tillamook, OR 97141-0069; Metropolitan Community Churches (, P.O. Box 1374, Abilene, TX 79604; and of course, PFLAG (, 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Good luck.


Good luck and God bless ... and may God give each and every ONE of us the grace we need to respond to those asking the questions "Lost and confused" is asking AND the resolve to keep making the Episcopal Church a place where those who are "lost and confused" will not have to wonder if "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" sign applies to them!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

An Ash Wednesday message from Integrity President Susan Russell

Now IS The Acceptable Time

It is Ash Wednesday once more – the entry point for yet another 40-day Lenten journey toward Easter. We hear again the words as familiar as their outward-and-visible signs etched on our foreheads: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

On this Ash Wednesday, as the liturgical season shifts from Epiphany to Lent, we are called to make a shift, too. During these weeks since Christmas our lessons have focused on the “epiphanies” of those who encountered Jesus along the way and knew somehow, at some point, in some perhaps indescribable way, that they had experienced the holy: experienced what have been called one of the “Ahas!” of God.

And now our focus shifts, as it does every year at this time, from stories about those outward manifestations of God's presence among us to a more interior place as we journey with Jesus on the road we know leads to Golgotha – to the cross – and ultimately, to the resurrection. And so, on this Ash Wednesday, here is my annual advice for the journey ahead: Do not give up epiphanies for Lent!

Let us not become so inwardly focused that we forget to notice – to give thanks for – to respond to – those encounters we can and will have with the holy in the next 40 days. Let us not become so focused on our own “journey with Jesus” that we forget that as long as there are still strangers at the gate, walking humbly with our God is not enough: let us not forget that we are also called to do justice.

Let us do an even bolder and more prophetic job of claiming “justice doing” as essential to our identity as Christian people – as Lenten pilgrims. Let us, by all means, pray silently to our God who is in secret, but let us at the same time proclaim loudly to those who would dismiss our activism as “agenda driven” that our agenda is a GOSPEL agenda: that our call to do justice is rooted deep in the roots of our history as a people of God – in these words of the prophet Isaiah:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly.

“Here I am,” our God promises – ready to lead us through whatever wilderness we face: to accompany us wherever the journey goes. On this Ash Wednesday 2008, I wonder if a wilderness we are being called into is named “Presidential Election Year,” as I count the cost of the challenge to those of us who are called to be peacemakers – justice seekers – reconcilers – as the divisive and polarizing rhetoric of the political machine continues to ramp up.

And I wonder if a wilderness we are being called into is labeled “Anglican Politics” as those bent on dividing the Episcopal Church continue to work toward the schism they are determined to pull off here in the American Church, as bigotry continues to triumph over baptism with the exclusion of the Bishop of New Hampshire from the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference and as the 30-year old commitment to listen to the experience of the gay and lesbian faithful goes unfulfilled.

And I wonder if a wilderness we are being called into is named “Interfaith Dialogue” as we continue to live into the challenges of being peacemakers and bridge-builders with our Jewish and Muslim allies committed to a just peace in the Middle East.

Yet these are just some of the “wildernesses” into which we are called this Lent.

If we are to be a people who have bread to share with the hungry we must challenge those who would spend all our resources on arms for an immoral war that continues to kill Iraqi citizens and take American lives.

If we are to serve the God whose fast is “to let the oppressed go free” we must speak out when gay and lesbian families are threatened once again with becoming sacrificial lambs on the altar of presidential politics.

If we are to choose the fast Isaiah offers us this Lent, we must continue to undo the thongs of the yokes of racism AND sexism that continue to hold this country and this church in their grasp.

And if we are to live up to our baptismal covenant we must advocate for just immigration policies that will truly respect the dignity of every human being.

It is Ash Wednesday once more – the entry point for yet another 40-day Lenten journey toward Easter. And now IS the acceptable time. May we be given the grace to choose the fast our God calls us to choose … trusting that the One who calls us into this wilderness be with us and bless us on the journey.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Good News from Chicago

Good news for the Diocese of Chicago AND for the Episcopal Church in this Chicago Tribune feature on the February 2nd consecration of Jeffrey Lee as the new Bishop of Chicago:

Chicago's new Episcopal bishop,
national leader speak up for gay clergy

By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune reporter
February 4, 2008

Chicago's new Episcopal bishop and the church's national leader sent a clear message Sunday about where they stand on gay clergy, a smoldering issue that threatens to tear apart the denomination.

Wrapping up a five-day tour in honor of Jeffrey Lee, the new Chicago bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori declared that the American church will not stand alone in its support of gay clergy during an international meeting in July in Lambeth, England.

"Many more [bishops] than you might expect are sympathetic," Jefferts Schori, the presiding Episcopal bishop, told parishioners at St. Nicholas Church in Elk Grove Village. "They are not, however, the loudest voices."

Later in Chicago, Lee was seated at St. James Cathedral and reminded audience members of their call to ministry by virtue of their baptism, not their liberal or conservative interpretations of Scripture.

"That's one of the tragedies afflicting the church right now," he said. "So many of us seem to think that salvation depends on our theological correctness."

Read the rest here.