Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ENS | Presiding Bishop engages in a live 'Conversation with the Church'

"The recent Anglican Primates' Meeting and the Episcopal Church's mission in the world were the focus of a one-hour February 28 live webcast, in which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori engaged in 'A Conversation with the Church,' from the studio facilities at New York's Trinity Church, Wall Street..."

Click here for the entire story.

ENS | Presiding Bishop's webcast gets reviews from participants, viewers

"People around the world, as well as the 25 in the webcast studio facilities of New York's Trinity Church, Wall Street, listened on February 28 as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori discussed the recent Primates' Meeting and answered listeners' questions..."

Click here for the entire story.

Letter from Christian leaders in condemnation of Nigerian legislation

February 27, 2007

Honorable Senator Ken Nnamani
President of the Senate
Owa Building
Enugu South, Enugu State
Via email:

Honorable Senator Ibrahim Mantu
Deputy President of Senate
Panshin Road Opposite Mangu Local Government Secretariat
Mangu, Plateau
Via email:

Honorable Senator Nnamani and Honorable Senator Mantu:

It has been called to our attention that a bill now before the National Assembly would strip a section of the Nigerian people of their basic human rights. The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 goes far beyond banning equality in civil marriage. It is an assault on everyone's basic freedoms. As leaders of faith communities, we believe that respecting the dignity of every human being is a core spiritual value. We urge you as civic leaders to respect human dignity by rejecting this bill.

The bill says that the law will provide five years imprisonment to anyone who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex," helps or supports a same sex marriage, or "is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private." It will also prohibit adoption of children by lesbian or gay couples or individuals. Arresting people for these acts challenges fundamental freedoms under the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law and standards, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

This proposed legislation also hurts Nigeria in its struggle to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. This bill would drive part of the population deeper into invisibility and silence-cutting them off from any sort of education concerning how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights affirms the equality of all people. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria acceded to in 1993, protects the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders says that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: a) to meet or assemble peacefully; b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups."

Most importantly, this bill would strike at the equality, dignity and respect due all people in Nigeria. As faith leaders we are committed to building bridges of understanding across divides of difference. We believe all people of faith are called to work together for a world of justice, peace and equality. We urge you to resist the polarizing rhetoric of some narrow, religious ideologues and instead affirm the fundamental values of freedom reflected in the Nigerian Constitution.

We are asking that you oppose this bill and protect the equality of all Nigerians. Your assistance is necessary in order to overcome the discrimination that takes place in the world today. We are depending on you to do all you can to prevent this bill from being passed and to take a stand for the basic human rights of all people.


Rev. Dyan Abena McCray
Founding Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church
A Member of the Unity Fellowship Church Christian Movement
Washington, DC

Rev. Paul R. Abernathy
Rector, St. Mark's Episcopal Church
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

Jonathan Abernethy
Assistant to the Executive Officer
Episcopal Diocese of California
San Francisco CA

Rev. Elder Arlene Ackerman
Metropolitan Community Church of New York
Landisville, PA

Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr
That All May Freely Serve
San Rafael, California

Rev. Elizabeth Alexander
The Church of Gethsemane
Brooklyn, NY

Rev. Donna E. Allen
Founder and Pastor, Ph.D.
New Revelation Community Church
Oakland, CA

Rev. Dr. Robert C. Angus
Parish Associate, Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church
Washington, DC

Rev. Dr. Randall C. Bailey
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible
Interdenominational Theological Center
Atlanta, GA USA

George Balgan
Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada

Rev. Earl David Ball
Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ, USA
Easton, Pennsylvania

Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe
The Episcopal Diocese of California
San Francisco, CA USA

Rev. Anne K. Bartlett
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church
Ashland, Oregon USA

William Bartosh and Anthony Saponate
Lay Vicars
St Matthew's Episcopal Church
San Ardor, CA

Rev. Karen Bear Ride
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
Vice President for Student Services
The Iliff School of Theology
Denver, Colorado

Rev. Michel Belt
St. James Church,
New London, CT, USA

Rev. Wilfredo Benitez
St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Garden Grove, California

Rev. J. Brad Benson
Rector, St. Thomas' Church and Vicar
Church of the Good Shepherd
Bath, NY USA

Rev. James N. Birkitt, Jr.
Communications Director
Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Susan N. Blue
St. Margarets Episcopal Church
Washington, DC

Rev.Teresa T. Bowden
Wahiawa, HI

Rev. Polly M. Bowen
Diocesan Coordinator
Education for Ministry, Diocese of Western New York

Rev. John Paul Boyer,
M.V.D., M.Div., M.A.(Oxon
Rector, St David's Episcopal Church, West Seneca, NY,
Bishop's Theologian, The Episcopal Diocese of Western New York,
Ecumenical & Interfaith Officer, The Episcopal Diocese of Western New York

John Clinton Bradley

Rev. Wayne T. Bradley
Minister of Music
The First Congregational Church of Forest Glen
United Church of Christ
Chicago, IL

Rev. Pamela C. Braid
United Church of Christ.
Orlando, FL

Rev. Judith Brain
Pilgrim United Church of Christ
Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

Rev. Elder Lillie Brock
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches - Region 7

Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Director, Disciples Justice Action Network

Rev.Lea D. Brown
Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church
Wichita Falls, KS, USA

Rev. M. F. Buckingham
St. Peter's Episcopal
Niagara Falls, New York

Rev. Pat Bumgardner
Senior Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church of New York

Rev. Felix A. Burrows, Jr.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Washington, DC

Rev. Laine Calloway
Diocese of WNC
Chair of Gay and Lesbian Ministries

Rev. Dr. Phil Campbell
Iliff School of Theology
Denver, CO

Greg Carey
Associate Professor
Lancaster, PA

Rev. Lee J. Carlton
Senior Pastor
Cornerstone Metro Community Church of Mobile

Rev. Michelle Carmody
Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Dr. Mari E. Castellanos
Public Life and Social Policy Office
United Church of Christ

Rev. Ignacio Castuera
Pastor, United Methodist Church

Right Reverend John Bryson Chane
Eighth Bishop of Washington
Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Rev. Otis Charles
Bishop of Utah (retired)
San Francisco, CA

Beryl T. Choi
Priest in the Episcopal Church of the USA

Rev. Dr. Ken Clark
Retired Canon Theologian and sometimes dean,
St. John's Episcopal Cathedral
Albuquerque, NM

Rev. Dr. Deborah L. Clark
Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ,
Pastor of Edwards UCC
Framingham, MA

Rev. James A Clark Jr,
Indianapolis, IN, USA

Lars Clausen
Ordained Lutheran Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Pamela Cooper-White, Ph.D.
Professor of Pastoral Theology
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
and Adjunct Priest
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, Philadelphia

Rev. Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England

Jimmy Creech
Executive Director
Faith In America, Inc.
Raleigh, North Carolina

Rev. Laurie Crelly
United Church of Christ
White Bear Lake, MN

Rev. Karen Curtis-Weakley

Rev. Richard L Dalton
Metropolitan Community Church of the Sierras
Reno, Nevada, USA

Rev. Martha Daniels
Metropolitan Community Church - Windsor
Windsor, ON, Canada

Rev. Ann B. Day
ONA Program Coordinator
UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns

Rev. Susan G. De George
South Presbyterian Church
Dobbs Ferry, NY

Rev. Maureen Doherty
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Waverly, Iowa

Rev. Philip W. Dougharty
St. John's Grace Episcopal Church
Buffalo, New York

Rev. Dr. Stanley L. Dull
The Church of the Epiphany
Cape Coral, Florida 33950

Rev. David W. Dyson
Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church
Brooklyn, New York

Rev. Dr. Christopher East
Epiphany Presbyterian Church

Emily Eastwood
Executive Director
Lutherans Concerned/North America

Rev. Terri Echelbarger
Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church
San Mateo, CA

Rev. Lynn Chester Edwards
Retired Episcopal priest
Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Rev. Paul W. Egertson, Ph.D.
Bishop Emeritus
Southwest California Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rev. Ken Ehrke
Senior Pastor
Agape Metropolitan Community Church
Fort Worth, Texas USA

Rev. John A. Ekman
Presbyterian and New England Congregational Church
Saratoga Springs, NY

Rev. Marvin M. Ellison, Ph.D.
Willard S. Bass Professor of Christian Ethics
Bangor Theological Seminary
Portland, Maine

Christine Emery
Pilgrim Congregational Church
Lexington, MA

Rev. Mary-Lu' Esposito
Rindge, NH

Rev. Allen W. Farabee
The Religion and Human Rights Project
Buffalo, NY

Rev. Jill Farnham, M.Div.
Metropolitan Community Church of the Hudson Valley

Rev. John T. Farrell, Ph.D.
Christ Church Bay Ridge
Brooklyn, NY

Rev. Jerre W. Feagin
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
North Tonawanda, NY

Rev. Dr. Terry Fitzgerald
United Congregational Church United Church of Christ
Worcester, Massachusetts

Rev. David K. Fly
Episcopal priest (retired)
Rolla, Missouri

Rev. Ann Fontain
Diocese of Wyoming, USA
The Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. John C. Forney
Coordinator, Common Ground and Special Projects
Progressive Christians Uniting
Chino, CA

Rev. Anne C Fowler
St John's Episcopal Church
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Rev. Robert Gamble
Retired Elder
Minnesota Annual Conference United Methodist Church
Faith Family Fairness Alliance

Rev. J. Michael Garrison, D. D.
Bishop of the Episcop Diocese of Western New York
Buffalo, New York, USA

Rev. Christopher George.
Metropolitan Community Church Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas

Rev. David Gillentine
Associate Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas
Nevada, USA

Rev. Robert Jay Ginn, Jr
The Oratory of St. Francis (Episcopal)
Templeton, MA

Rev. Katharine Givens Kime
Trinity Presbyterian Church,
Atlanta, GA, USA

Rev. Todd I. Goewey
Staff Clergy
Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa
Tampa, Florida USA

Rev. Harry T. Grace, Jr.
Executive Director,
Happening National Incorporated a ministry of The Episcopal Church for high school students

Rev. G. Green
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Kenosha, WI

Rev. Louise Green
Director of Social Justice Ministries
All Souls Unitarian, Washington, D.C.

Rev. Lowell E. Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Rev. Lauren A. Gough
The Caritas Community
Binghamton, NY

Rev. Edgar A. Gutiérrez-Duarte
Associate Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Paterson, NJ

Rev. Debra W. Haffner
Religious Institute
Norwalk, CT

Rev. Susan Halcomb Craig
Honorably Retired
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Scott Haldeman,
PhD, Assistant Professor of Worship
Chicago Theological Seminary
Chicago, Illinois

Rev. C. Melissa Hall
All Saints Episcopal Parish of Hoboken
Hoboken, NJ

Nancy A. Hardesty
Professor of Religion
Clemson University
Clemson, SC, USA

Douglas Harding-Elder
Faith Full Gospel Fellowship
Castro Valley, CA

Rev. Michael E. Hartney
Priest in Charge
Episcopal Parishes of Schuyler County, NY

Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Executive Director
Alliance of Baptists
Washington, D.C.

Rev. Margaret R. Hawk
New Creation Metropolitan Community Church
Columbus, OH, USA

Dr. Holly E. Hearon
Prof. of New Testament
Christian Theological Seminary
Indianapolis, IN

Rev. Pat Hendrickson

Rev. John Mark Hild
Metropolitan Community Church of Pueblo Colorado USA

Lida I. Hill
Leader for Wonderful Wednesday Worship at Grace by Day
Birmingham, AL, USA

Rev. John B. Hills
Priest (retired)
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan
Grand Haven, MI

Rev. Canon Jack Hilyard
Trinity Cathedral
Portland, Oregon USA

Rev. Malcolm Himschoot
Plymouth Congregational Church
Minneapolis, MN

Rev. Dr. Judith Hoch Wray
Minister Elder
Park Avenue Christian Church,
New York, NY

Rev. Virginia Holleman
The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration
Dallas, TX

Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
The Episcopal Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene
Rochester, NY

Rev. D. Scott Howell, Sr. Pastor
First Congregational Church of Montclair, NJ

Mary E. Hunt
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
Silver Spring, MD, USA

Rev. Michael Hydes
New Light Metropolitan Community Church
Hagerstown, MD

Rev. Canon John X. Jobson
Retired Priest
Diocese of Long Island, NY

Rev. Patricia Johnson
Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Sioux City, Iowa

Rev. Jonalu Johnstone
First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City
President, Interweave Continental

Rev. John M. Kauffman
Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church
Altadena, California

Martha S. Kimball
Member of Church Council and Former Chair and
Current member of the Open and Affirming Committee
Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC
Lexington, MA

Rev. John L. Kirkley
The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist
San Francisco, CA

Harry Knox
Director of Religion and Faith Program
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
Washington, DC

Rev. Dan Koeshall
Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church
Colorado Springs, CO USA

Rev. Drew A. Kovach
MD, MDiv.
Fellowship of Saints Cosmas & Damien,
New Catholic Communion,
Honolulu, HI

Rev. Peter Laarman
Executive Director
Progressive Christians Uniting
Los Angeles, CA

Rev. Ronald G. LaRocque
Interim Pastor
Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church
Brookfield, IL

Rev. Martin Lawrence
Church of England Parish of Cranham
Diocese of Chelmsford, MA

Robert Leckey,
Archdeacon of Undermount
Diocese of Niagara,
Church of the Redeemer
Stoney Creek, Ontario

Geoff D. Leonard-Robinson
Senior Minister
St. Luke's Metropolitan Community Church
Jacksonville, FL USA

Steven Leonard-Robinson
St. Luke's Metropolitan Community Church
Jacksonville, FL USA

Rev. Joanne Leslie, Deacon
Holy Faith Episcopal Church
Inglewood California

Rev. David T. Lewicki
Associate Minister
Marble Collegiate Church
New York, NY

Rev. Kate Lewis
St. Cross by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
Hermosa Beach, CA

John M. Lewis, Senior Warden
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Rev. W. Wayne Lindsey
Senior Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas

Rev. Arthur S. Lloyd
Retired priest
Episcopal Church
Member, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice and Episcopal Urban Caucus.

Carol Lowe
Clergy Intern
Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church
San Mateo, California, USA

Rev. Ms. Vanessa L. Lovelace

Rev. Sandra R. Mackie
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Peter J. Madison
St. John's Episcopal Church
Union City, NJ

Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker

Bruce Kent Mason
Western Regional Vice President
Integrity, Inc.
SS Peter and Paul Episcopal Church
Portland, Oregon

C. Lee MacCallum
Olivet Presbyterian Church
Staten Island, NY

Rev. Wayne MacPherson
Pastor, Bethlehem United Church of Christ
Chicago, IL

Rev. Lou McAlister East
Epiphany Presbyterian Church

Rev. Richard W. McCarty
Holy Relationships

Rev.Deacon Leann P. McConchie
Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, ECUSA

Rev. Janet McCune Edwards, Ph.D.
Pittsburgh, PA USA

The Rev. Deacon Marla McGarry-Lawrence
St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church
Portland, Oregon

Rev. Joseph McGowan
Pastor, Altadena Community Church
United Church of Christ
Altadena, CA

The Rev Colleen McHale O'Connor
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
LeRoy, NY

Rev. Jack McKinney
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Raleigh, North Carolina

Rev. Jeremy McLeod, Pastor
Wellspring United Church of Christ
Centreville, Virginia

Rev. Bradley E. Mickelson, Pastor
New Spirit Community Church in Oak Park, Illinois

Rev. Terri Miller Senior Pastor
Valley Ministries Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Babs Miller
That All May Freely Serve, Texas

The Rev. Ronald H. Miller, Ph. D.
Episcopal priest (retired)
St. Katherine of Alexandria Episcopal Church
Diocese of Maryland

The Rev. Edward J. Mills III
Episcopal priest, Kingsport, TN

The Rev. Albert N. Minor
Ecumenical Officer
Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee

Rev. Charles Mitchell, PhD.
Parish Associate
First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York

Pastor Robert L. Morgan
Founding Pastor, Potter's House Fellowship Church
Co-founder, Reconciling Pentecostals International
Tampa, FL

Bonnie Moore
Church of the Trinity Metropolitan Community Church
Sarasota, FL

Rev. Paul E. Mullins, pastor
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church,
San Francisco, CA

Rev. Wes Mullins, Assistant Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church of Portland

Rev. Thomas E. Murphy
Retired Episcopal priest
Ashland, OR.

Rev. Robyn A. Murphy
Pastor of Christian Education
All God's Children Metropolitan Community Church
Minneapolis, MN

Rev. Dr. Max A. Myers
Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Western New York

Rev. Dr. Alex Nagy

Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock
Director, Faith Voices for the Common Good
Member First Congregational Church Berkeley, CA

Rev. Russell A. Newbert
Church of the Ascension
Buffalo, NY 14209

Canon Richard T. Nolan, Ph.D.
Retired Priest-in-Residence
Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church
Lake Worth, FL

Fr. Steve Norcross
Episcopal priest in Portland, Oregon

The Rev. David Norgard
West Hollywood, CA

Rev. William J. Nottingham, Ph.D.,
President Emeritus
Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada

Rev. Dr. Kenneth H. Orth
United Church of Christ Minister with Standing in the Metropolitan Boston Association of the United Church of Christ
Member of Old South Church in Boston
Boston, Massachusetts

Rev. Canon Ronald D. Osborne
Episcopal Church, Diocese of Iowa

Dr. Jane Park Cutler
Chair, Social Justice Committee
St. Luke's United Methodist Church
Indianapolis, Indiana

Rev. Dr. Janet L. Parker
Pastor for Parish Life
Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ
Atlanta, GA

Rev. Edward J. Peck, Jr.
Episcopal Priest, retired

Rev. Ken Pennings
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
Madison, Wisconsin

Rev. Thomas J. Philipp
Old South Haven Presbyterian Church
Brookhaven, NY

Rev. Mark Pridmore
Eternal Joy Metropolitan Community Church
Dayton, OH

Don Portwood
Pastor and on behalf of Lyndale United Church of Christ
Minneapolis, MN

Rev. Dusty Pruitt, D. Min.
Minister, United Church of Christ

Rev. Marge Ragona
Bethel - A House of God for All People
Birmingham, AL

Annie Rawlings
Interim Associate Executive Presbyter for Social Witness
Presbytery of New York City
New York, NY

The Rev. Michael F. Ray
St. Thomas's Episcopal Church
New Haven, CT

The Rev. Rodney Reinhart
Rector of St. Clement's Episcopal Church
Harvey Illinois
Vicar of St. Joseph/St. Aidan's Episcopal Church
Blue Island ,IL

Nigel A. Renton
Secretary of Convention and Lay Deputy
Diocese of California

David Reppert,
Moderator, Philadelphia Association,
United Church of Christ

The Rev. Canon Virginia Rex Day
Trinity Episcopal Church
Mt. Pocono, PA

C. Jack Richards
Interim Conference Minister
Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Alex L. Richardson
Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro
Jamestown, NC

Rev. Becky Robbins-Penniman
Lamb of God Church
Fort Myers, FL

Rev. V. Gene Robinson
Bishop of New Hampshire
The Episcopal Church, USA

Stephen P. Rockwell
Managing Director

Rev. Susan Russell
All Saints Episcopal Church
Pasadena, CA

Rev. John A. Russell
St. Patrick's Episcopal Church
Cheektowaga, NY

Rev. Barbara S. Sagat
Metropolitan Community Churches
Waterville, Maine

Rev. Jason W. Samuel
Transfiguration Episcopal Church
Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Rev. Hugh Sanborn
Fort Collins, Colorado

Rev. Sarah Sanderson Doughty
First Presbyterian Church of Lowville, New York

Barbara Satin
Former Moderator
United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

Rev. Paulette T. Schiff
Priest in the Episcopal Church
Long Island, NY

Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer
Health and Wholeness Advocacy
Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ
Cleveland, OH

Rev. Kay Seitz
Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas
Denton, Texas, USA

Bishop John Selders, Jr.
Amistad United Church of Christ
Bishop Presider - The Interdenominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries, Inter'l (ICLCM)

Rev. David Selzer
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
Buffalo, NY

Rev. Glenna T. Shepherd
Senior Minister
Metropolitan Community Church of Portland
Portland, OR

Most Rev. Mark S. Shirilau, Ph.D.
Archbishop and Primate
The Ecumenical Catholic Church
Irvine, CA

Gordon L. Shull
First Presbyterian Church of Wooster, Ohio.

Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Metropolitan Community Church
Washington, DC

Rev. William G. Sinkford
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Rev. Doreen Smalls
St. Mary's Circuit of The United Methodist Church

Rev. Robert R. Smith
Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion
Norwood, New Jersey, USA

Rev. Robert R. Smith, Rector
Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion
Norwood, New Jersey

Rev. Christopher A. Smith
Albany Via Media Board
St. Ann's Episcopal Church
Amsterdam, NY

Rev. Trudie Smither
St. Christopher's Episcopal Church
Dallas, TX

Rev. Stephen B. Snider
The Episcopal Church USA

Dr. Jennifer Snow
Associate Director
Progressive Christians Uniting
Los Angeles, CA

Rev. Tim Solon
Rector Emeritus
St. Christopher's Episcopal Church
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Rev. Danny Spears
Metropolitan Community Church of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, Texas (USA)

Rev. Daniel Stern
Broadview Community United Church of Christ
Seattle, Washington

Rev.Robert E. Stiefel, Ph.D.,
St. Thomas Episcopal Church,
Dover, New Hampshire

Rev. Jennifer H. Stiefel, Ph.D.,
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Dover, New Hampshire

Claire A. Stiles, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Development
Eckerd College
St. Petersburg, Florida USA

Rev. Ralph W. Strohm
St. Simon's Church
Buffalo, New York

Rev. Diane Souder
Priest, Episcopal Church
Diocese of Arizona

Rev. Jean K. Southard
Stated Supply Pastor
First Presbyterian Church of Waltham, MA

Rev. Marilyle Sweet Page
St. Mark's & St. John's Episcopal Church
Rochester, NY

Rev. N. Sullivan
Word of Fire Ministries
Philadelphia, PA

Rev. Charles R. Sydnor, Jr.
Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Rev. Neil A. Tadken
Assistant Rector
St. James' Church
Los Angeles, CA

Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite
President and Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary, IL

Rev. Neil G Thomas
Senior Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles
West Hollywood, CA

Rev. Lisa A Thompson
The Gathering Place Worship Center
Austin, Texas

Sharon P. Troyer, Ph.D.
Welcoming Community Network
Independence, Missouri

Jane Tully
Clergy Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
New York, NY

Rev. Karha` Us, MSN
Metropolitan Community Church of the Hudson Valley, NY

Rev. Charles Valenti-Hein
Pastor, Memorial Presbyterian Church
Appleton, Wisconsin

The Reverend Frieda Van Baalen Webb
Associate, Saint David's Church,
West Seneca
Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

The Rev. Mieke Vandersall
Presbyterian Welcome
New York, NY

Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
Program Director
Institute for Welcoming Resources

The Rev. James W. Walkup
Doctor of Ministry
The Counseling Center
The Reformed Church
Bronxville, New York

Rev.. Paul E. Walker
Christ Episcopal Church
Belleville, NJ

Rev. Gene Waller Owens
Diocese of Atlanta, GA

Rev. Stephen J Waller
St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church
Dallas, Texas

Rev. Stephen J. Waller
The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle
Dallas, Texas 75209

Rev. Kerry Walters
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
Lewisburg, PA

Rev. Canon Daniel S. Weir
Saint Matthias Episcopal Church
East Aurora, New York

Carole Weissman
Church of the Trinity Metropolitan Community Church
Sarasota, FL, USA

Nevin L. Wertenberger
Metropolitan Church Ocala
Ocala, FL.

Rev. Mona West, Ph.D.
Church of the Trinity MCC
Sarasota, FL

Troy Wheelhouse
Atlanta, GA

Rev. Stephen J. C. Williams
Episcopal Church USA

Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson
Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Catherine Windsor
The Episcopal Church USA

Bonnie Winninger
Waverly, IA 50677

Rev. Canon William L. Wipfler, Ph.D.
Former Director of the Human Rights Office
National Council of Churches USA;
Former Associate for Human Rights
Anglican Office at the United Nations

Rev. R. Stewart Wood, Jr.
Retired Episcopal Bishop, Diocese of Michigan
Quechee, VT

Dawnne Woodie
Executive Director, Outreach Program for Transgenders In Crisis

Rev. Thomas B. Woodward
St. Bede's Episcopal Church
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Rev. S. David Wynn
Church of the Trinity Metropolitan Community Church
Sarasota, FL, USA


All Saints Episcopal Parish of Hoboken
Hoboken, NJ

Bethel - A House of God for All People
Birmingham, AL

Faith Family Fairness Alliance
Minneapolis MN

Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church, California
Mitchell F. Henson, Senior Pastor
Pastor Michael Quishenberry
Pastor Denise Kasischke

New Spirit Community Church
Oak Park, Illinois

Saint Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
Santa Monica, CA

St. Luke's Metropolitan Community Church
Jacksonville, FL USA


His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Republic (; FAX: 234-9-314-1061 or 234-9-234-7546)

Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, (;;

Senator Julius Ucha, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary (;;

Aminu Bello Masari, Speaker of the House of Representatives (

Honorable Bala Ibn Na' Allah, Chair, House Committee on the Judiciary (

Honorable Saudatu Sani, Chair, House Committee on Women Affairs and Youth (

Honorable Peter Igbodo, Chair, House Committee on Human Rights (

National Human Rights Commission (;

Christian Leaders in US Condemn Nigeria's Anti-Gay Bill Persecution and Hatred Not Christian Values

For Immediate Release

(New York, February 27, 2007) - A pending law in Nigeria that would impose brutal penalties on all relationships, activism, advocacy, and shows of affection among lesbian and gay people violates basic religious principles of respect for human dignity and life, a group of more than 250 Christian leaders said in a letter to the Nigerian government today. The draconian bill - poised to pass possibly as early as this week - would introduce criminal penalties for any public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people, as well as for same-sex relationships and marriage ceremonies.

"Christianity teaches us to respect all our sisters and brothers, and that includes lesbians and gays," said Reverend Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Pastoral Life at All Saints Episcopal Church. "Whether in Nigeria or in the United States, the Christian value of human dignity for all is paramount. We call upon the government of Nigeria to respect basic human dignity and reject the persecution of lesbians and gays by withdrawing the proposed law."

The bill is entitled "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006," but goes much further: it would attack all lesbian and gay individuals, families and human rights. The bill would provide for five years' imprisonment to anyone who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex," "performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage" or "is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private." Any priest or cleric aiding or abetting such a union could be subject to the five-year prison term. The law would also prohibit adoption of children by lesbian or gay couples or individuals.

Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria. Nigeria's criminal code penalizes consensual homosexual conduct between adults with 14 years' imprisonment. Shari'a penal codes in effect in northern Nigeria continue to punish "sodomy" with the death penalty.

"I join spiritual leaders around the world in calling upon the Nigerian government to respect the dignity of its gay and lesbian citizens, just as the God who made us cherishes all of his children," said the Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, Episcopal Bishop of Washington.

The letter by Christian leaders denounces the impact the law would have on lesbian and gay individuals and families, and on HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. It also underscores Nigeria's international legal obligations to fundamental freedoms. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights affirms the equality of all people. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria acceded to in 1993, protects the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders says that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: b) to meet or assemble peacefully; and b) to form, join and participate in nongovernmental organizations, associations or groups."

"As a Black Christian Leader in the United States, I am keenly aware of the effects of legalized discrimination," said Reverend John Selders of Amistad United Church of Christ. "We are all God's Children and have a right to share in the recognition of our human dignity."

"The core of the Christian gospel is hospitality, love and justice, but the proposed law stands in stark contrast with each of these values," said Reverend Rebecca Voelkel, ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. "As Christian leaders, it is our ethical and moral obligation to speak loudly and clearly against such discriminatory legislation."

For more information, please contact:
David Lohman (Minneapolis, Minnesota): +1-612-821-4397

For related material, please see:
* Letter from Christian leaders in condemnation of Nigerian legislation (February 28, 2007).
* Statement from United Nations independent experts on proposed Nigerian ban on same-sex relationships (February 23, 2007).
* Coalition letter to President Obasanjo regarding bill to criminalize gay rights (March 23, 2006).

In addition to the Reverend Susan Russell, Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, Reverend John Selders, and Reverend Rebecca Voelkel, more than 250 religious leaders signed the letter to the leadership of the Nigerian Senate in condemnation of the bill to criminalize gay rights. See letter for full list of clergy signatories.

A Conversation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

The webcast can be accessed by clicking here.

Dean Richardson's Letter To The Editor

February 28, 2007

Letter to the Editor
Union Tribune
San Diego, CA

Dear Editor:

I spent a portion of the day preceding Ash Wednesday catching up on the news from the Anglican Primate’s meeting in Tanzania. The primates (the leaders of our global communion) distributed a communiqué at the conclusion of their talks that contains several suggestions/demands that many in our church will surely find provocative. Some of the primates found the Episcopal Church’s recent response to their concerns regarding the ordination of gay/lesbian bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions to be deficient. They call on our bishops to unequivocally renounce both practices until there is greater consensus in the Anglican Communion on the topics, and they have set a deadline of 30 September, 2007 to receive our assurances. They ask that bishops not intervene in the affairs of other dioceses while these matters are being weighed and they also recommend that all civil lawsuits regarding church property be shelved.

Previous responses to similar demands were tempered by a broad commitment to the spiritual aspirations of gay and lesbian Christians and a desire to maintain the integrity of the communion. Many doubt that action in the near future will deviate wildly from actions taken in the recent past. This being the case, it appears the question has now been called; will we be a church that welcomes faithful gay and lesbian Christians, honors the role of women in leadership, strives for justice and peace, and respects the dignity of every human being (including immigrants, low-wage workers, those torn by war, the hungry and homeless, and those living with AIDS, among others), or will we be something less than that?

The Most Reverend Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria and a leader of the primates opposed to the position of the Episcopal Church, likens homosexuals to animals. What does it mean to be “in communion” with a leader who holds such views? Further, what does it mean when Archbishop Akinola and his followers refuse to worship with those who, persuaded by the gospel, stand by a contrary position? The beauty and strength of Anglican spirituality has always been found in our willingness to kneel next to the person with whom we disagree and say common prayers. We hope that this sacred sensibility will prevail in the days ahead. If that is not possible, then we pray that God will again do what God does best - announce the new creation.

The Very Reverend Scott Eric Richardson, Dean
Saint Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Word of Hope to my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters in Christ from +Gene Robinson

In light of the recent Primates Meeting and our Presiding Bishop’s communication to the Church, I received the following plea from a dear and trusted sister:

“Gene, I don't know how you are this night, or if you can summon a word of hope, but the eyes of many LGBT people and our faithful allies are looking to you, tuning the ears of our hearts to hear where you see the hand of God in what feels like deep, deep betrayal.”

After a good number of sleepless nights and prayerful days, let me tell you where this gay man and Bishop of the Church stands, with respect to our beloved Church and our trustworthy and faithful God:

Let’s remember that, for now, nothing has changed. The Episcopal Church has been bold in its inclusion of us, “risking its life” for us in dramatic ways over these last few years. Not perfect, but bold. Just because The Episcopal Church has been invited to subvert its own polity and become a Church ruled by bishops-only, a Church that is willing to sacrifice the lives and ministries and dignity of its gay and lesbian members on the altar of unity, does not mean that we are going to choose to do it. That is yet to be determined. Let’s not abandon hope simply because that is possible. The Primates have the right to make requests of us (nevermind the threatening tone of those requests). We do not have to accede to those requests in exactly the terms in which they are made.

Nothing is surprising in this development. None of us thought this issue was settled, did we? None of us expected our detractors to stop their efforts – whether their goals be genuinely about the authority of scripture and its playing out in our lives as Christians, or whether those goals have more to do with power and money and influence. (BOTH are represented in the actions taken.) We are fighting a larger battle here. As you have heard me say before, we are engaged in the beginning of the end of patriarchy. Did any of us believe that such a battle would be won without resistance? Did any of us believe there would be no more bumps in the road? Did any of us foresee smooth sailing into the future?

We still have countless allies. We are not engaged in this struggle alone. There are countless heterosexual members of this Church who now “get it.” They have heard our stories, felt our pain and taken up our cause as their own. There are countless heterosexual families who have joined The Episcopal Church (they are numerous in my own diocese) because they want to raise their children in such an inclusive Church. There are countless lgbt people who have come to our churches for the comfort and solace and grounding in Christ that we offer – and we dare not lose hope or momentum for them as well as ourselves.

Most importantly, God is still with us. And by “us,” I don’t just mean gay and lesbian people. God is still with God’s Church – frail, cowardly and misguided as it can sometimes be, human nature being what it is. The Church is not ours to save or lose – the Church belongs to GOD, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I believe that we are meant to use the institution of the Church – yes, even boldy risk its existence – to further NOT our own agenda, but the agenda of God. I do not equate the two. Our vision of the Church is only partial; our grasp of what God wants is as susceptible to our self-focused distortion as anyone else’s. But we are called to witness to OUR vision of God’s will and combine it with all the other imperfect visions of God’s will (yes, even those of our detractors), and come up with as perfected a vision as we can muster. The Church has been wrangling over those different visions since its inception – and that will never change. The question for US, however, is: Will we continue to put forward faithfully and respectfully and tenaciously OUR vision into that mix, or will we be intimidated into doubting our own vision of God’s will for the Church – or worse still, leave?

God will continue to show forth God’s glory and God’s goodness in our lives. The reason that we have made progress with our brothers and sisters in the Church is that GOD has shown forth God’s glory and goodness in our lives so strongly, that God cannot be denied at work in us. Many of the faithful have changed their views on homosexuality because they see GOD showing up in our lives, our ministries, our relationships and our families. That is the witness we can and must continue to make to the Church – not pointing to ourselves, but to the God we know in our lives. As I have said before, and will continue to say: JESUS is our agenda – the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, and the sins of the whole world, so that we might know God’s love and goodness in our lives. In the end, God will reign, and all will be well. I believe that with my whole heart.

Lastly, I give thanks every day to God for the fellowship we share. Part of what gives me relentless hope is my fellowship with YOU. What an honor and privilege it is to hold you in my heart as brothers and sisters in the faith, colleagues in ministry and faithful members of the Church. Can you imagine a more wonderful, fun and courageous group of “companions along the way?” Let our joy, our humor, our devotion to the Lord and to His Church be signs of the abundant life given to us in Christ. Let gay and lesbian people everywhere witness our joy, let them wonder how we can be so hopeful in the face of such overwhelming odds against us, that they want what we’ve got – a relationship with the living God that brings deep joy and abiding peace. Let us be ready to tell them the story of our own salvation at the hands of a loving God. And let us welcome them into our blessed fellowship, the Church.

I don’t know if this is the “word of hope” my friend asked for. It has little to do with events in Tanzania or even the Episcopal Church, and everything to do with God. But it is the hope that keeps me going. My faith is not in myself or in our “cause.” My faith is not in the House of Bishops or the General Convention to get it “right” anytime soon. It is, rather, the faith that people of countless generations and innumerable circumstances have found in our loving and trustworthy God. It is the faith Jesus said it was “blessed” to be persecuted for. It is the faith that Christians have always found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and God’s desire, willingness and power to bring an Easter out of ANY Good Friday. It is the faith that in and through the Holy Spirit, God continues to fulfill God’s promise “to lead us into all truth.”

I may utterly fail; I will undoubtedly disappoint God in my inability to be the person God created me to be; I will predictably confuse my own will with God’s will. But whatever the next weeks, months and years may bring, whether the Episcopal Church “comes through” for us or not, GOD will not fail, GOD will never disappoint, and GOD will never cease to pursue God’s will for my life – and yours – and for the world.

A Response to: A Season of Fasting: Reflections on the Primates Meeting, the Presiding Bishop’s message to the Church

FROM: The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

I have the utmost regard and respect for our new Presiding Bishop. Her leadership in these difficult times, not to mention her sheer courage, continues to inspire me. As I vowed at her investiture as Presiding Bishop, I will do everything I can to support her in this ministry. That includes disagreeing with her views when I think it would build up the Body. What follows are my responses to those portions of her communication to the American Church dealing with the demands/threats made to The Episcopal Church related to those members of Christ's Body who happen to be gay. Allow me to offer a different reading/critique of our Presiding Bishop's words, and then propose a different way forward.

"What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting - from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other."

I am reminded of the joke about the chicken and the pig, each asked to contribute to breakfast - the chicken's eggs require a significantly smaller sacrifice than the pig's bacon! Let us be clear: what is being asked of both parties is "a season of fasting from" accepting the Church's gay and lesbian people as full members of the Body of Christ, a season of fasting from "respecting the dignity of every human being." If The Episcopal Church decides to do that, let's call it what it is: a sacrifice borne most sacrificially by its gay and lesbian members.

[In citing the early church's debate over dietary laws] "The needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured, are an important consideration in making the dietary decision."

If there ARE "needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured," they belong to the faithful members of the Church - in The Episcopal Church AND around the Anglican Communion - who are being denied full membership in the Body of Christ because of their same gender love. Is there even a single instance in which Jesus was willing to forego ministry, love and inclusion of the marginalized in order to protect the "sensitivities" of the Pharisees and Sadducees?! What would Jesus' reaction have been to those same Pharisees and Sadducees if THEY had claimed to be the victims of Jesus' insensitivity?

"The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the main stream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected."

There are MORE than TWO parties here. I would maintain that NEITHER the Episcopal Church NOR the vast majority of the Churches represented by the Primates are the "weaker members." Rather I would say that the "weaker members" are those gay and lesbian members of the Church of Nigeria, whose Church is supporting the criminalization of all association between them in their country. The "weaker members" are the gay and lesbian members of the Episcopal Church, who have to go looking - sometimes in vain - for a congregation who will accept them as full members of the Body of Christ. The stronger/weaker dichotomy is NOT between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion, but between the Anglican Communion in all its manifestations and the gay and lesbian Christians around the world trying to find a place within it. For the first time in its history, and at the hands of the larger Communion, The Episcopal Church may be experiencing a little taste of the irrational discrimination and exclusion that is an everyday experience of its gay and lesbian members.

"Each party in this conflict is asked to consider the good faith of the other, to consider that the weakness or sensitivity of the other is of significant import, and therefore to fast, or 'refrain from eating meat,' for a season. Each is asked to discipline itself for the sake of the greater whole, and the mission that is only possible when the community maintains its integrity."

I certainly believe Paul when he says that no part of the Body can say to another, "I don't need you." On the other hand, I don't ever recall Jesus saying that the "greater whole" is the be all and end all. Doesn't Jesus challenge the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins? Preaching good news to the poor, binding up the broken hearted, releasing the prisoners and proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor involves SACRIFICE on the part of the greater whole. That's part of what angered his own hometown synagogue when he preached these powerful words from Isaiah. Touching the leper required SACRIFICE of ancient and firmly held beliefs. Eating with sinners was a SACRIFICE of the greater whole's sensitivities. I would humbly submit that such sacrifice is the only way that our "community maintains its integrity."

"Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season."

Where is the "justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy" for the Church's gay and lesbian people in this threat from the primates? While the vast majority of the Anglican Communion AND the vast majority of Episcopalians may be willing to "forbear for a season," the world's gay and lesbian Anglicans long to hear the words spoken to Jesus at his baptism: "You are my beloved. In you I am well pleased." Who will speak those words to them, while the rest of the Church forbears for a season? How will we explain this "forbearance" to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God's table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this "forbearance" to GOD?

Allow me to offer an additional reading of scriptural references to "fasting." In addition to St. Paul's "pastoral" fasting, should we not also consider Isaiah's notion of "prophetic" fasting?

4Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
6Is 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?
7Is 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? (Isaiah 58: 4, 6-7, NRSV)

Fasting that focuses only on the self is not, in Isaiah's mind, the most pleasing to God. For the past many months, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has spent far too much time and money and focus on this debate. I believe that the majority of us - certainly in The Episcopal Church, and possibly in the Anglican Communion as well - want to set this aside and get on with the work of the Gospel. What would it be like if we fasted in the way that God, through Isaiah, suggests: to fast from our internal squabbling for a season, and turn our focus to the world's homeless, hungry and poor, in this and every land? What if we focused on what we say is our top priority - ministry to a world in pain through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals - and simply fasted from this self-focus?

The changes in our polity proposed by the Primates can only properly and canonically be responded to by the laity, clergy and bishops gathered in General Convention in 2009. The Primates' demands can be seriously, prayerfully and thoughtfully considered at that time. What if we stated, simply and calmly, that the Primates' September deadline is impossible under our polity, and pledge ourselves to feeding, housing, and clothing the poor and binding up the physical and spiritual wounds of the world's neediest for this season, until 2009? What if we gave up our internal squabbling for a season, took no precipitous action, and turned our focus to the world that Jesus Christ gave his life for?

This way forward may not be acceptable to many in the Communion who want this settled now, once and for all. So be it. Nothing we do will settle this once and for all. Does anyone believe that our full compliance with the Primates' demands, our complete denunciation of our gay and lesbian members, or my removal as bishop would make all this go away?! We cannot determine what the response to our actions will be. We can only decide what our faithful response will be to the demands made of us.

If the response of the Archbishop of Canterbury to our prophetic fasting should result in our not being invited to the Lambeth Conference, then let us offer that denial as part of our fasting. Let us dedicate the diocesan and personal resources that would have been spent on Lambeth to projects involved in furthering the Millennium Development Goals.

During the debate over the consent to my election, I am told that the Bishop of Wyoming noted that not since the civil rights movement of the 60's had he seen the Church risk its life for something. Indeed, I think he is right. This is such a time. A brief quotation hangs on the wall of my office: "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." Now is the time for courage, not fear.

I pray that in the days ahead, as the Executive Council meets in Portland, the House of Bishops meets in Texas, and the General Convention (the ONLY body which has the authority to respond to the demanded changes in our polity) meets in 2009, that we contemplate our call to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" to those who have been denied it for so long and commit ourselves to the kind of fast that is pleasing to the Lord.

Bishop Roskam Discusses Tanzania On Talk Of The Nation

In the civil war over homosexuality in organized religion, the Episcopal Church faces division over its acceptance of gay bishops and same-sex couples. It's one of the most divisive issues to major religions since slavery. Guests debate the issues surrounding homosexuality in the church community.

Click here.

Dean Ewing Comments On Tanzania

The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church

An Open Statement to the General Seminary Community
On the Primates Meeting in Tanzania, February 15-19
The Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing
Dean and President

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The outcome of the recent primates meeting in Tanzania has been a source of considerable concern among many members of the Seminary community including me. I refer you to the website of the Episcopal News Service for details. All of the news is not alarming; excellent progress was made by the primates in a number of important areas including ways to improve theological education Communion-wide, methods for achieving Millennium Development Goals, and the decision to pursue an international study of approaches to scriptural interpretation.

As I'm sure you know, however, it was the primates' evaluation of our Church's response to the Windsor Report and the resulting series of demands they have made on our House of Bishops that has caused what can only be called a firestorm of reaction throughout the Episcopal Church. To summarize: last summer in response to the Windsor Report our General Convention passed a resolution which, though it may have lacked absolute specificity, was quite clearly a moratorium on future openly gay or lesbian bishops in the Episcopal Church. Also in response to Windsor, the Convention refrained from taking up discussions on the blessing of same-sex relationships, which had been high on the agenda of previous Conventions. Saying these measures showed a "lack of clarity" and represented an "ambiguous stance," the primates have called upon our House of Bishops to make an "unequivocal common covenant" to refrain from authorizing blessings and to withhold consent specifically from any anyone who has been elected to the episcopacy and is living in a same-sex relationship.

The consequences specified for non-compliance and a firm deadline of September 30, 2007 have made it quite clear that we have received an ultimatum. However we feel about these demands, which the primates insisted our Presiding Bishop bring back to us, we must commend the dignity, and grace with which she represented our Church. Her composure and patience were admirable.

A forum on the primates meeting is being organized here at GTS and will take place in the near future. I urge you to attend. The documents from the Primates Meeting are complex, and as a seminary we are committed to studying them and contributing to the wider conversations about the tensions being experienced in the Communion. In addition, I have asked faculty members with expertise in the areas related to these recent events to make themselves available to the media to respond to questions. We are issuing a press release with details on this.

As many of you know in 1994, four years before I became Dean, General became the first Episcopal seminary to allow same sex couples to live together on campus. This was not an easy decision and the negative reaction following it was significant. That decision has enabled General to become a far more inclusive community. In addition to our resident students and faculty members, committed same-sex relationships are found among our trustees, our alumni/ae, and our staff. As Bishop Mark Sisk said in a powerful statement this week, "They are we." I want you to know I consider these gay and lesbian relationships just as godly, grace-filled, and worthy of blessing as those of heterosexual couples, and I will never abandon or compromise this belief for the sake of political expediency or the maintenance of temporal ecclesiastical structures.

I know the primates' demands are of deep concern to those who will be graduating from GTS and who will be ordained in the Episcopal Church. I have a deep personal conviction that all people, including gay and lesbian persons, should have equal access to all orders of ordained ministry including the episcopate. I find the primates' demands deeply troubling in this regard.

Many question whether the House of Bishops by itself is able to provide the assurances demanded by the primates without violating our Church's polity, that includes the laity, priests, and deacons. I share this concern.

I sincerely hope that in addressing the primates' concerns our Church will be able to maintain its status as a full member of the Anglican Communion. General Seminary over the years has been enriched by embracing the fullness of the many diverse Anglican traditions and cultures. We have welcomed students and visiting professors from all parts of the Anglican world, including the Global South. Our graduates and faculty members minister throughout the Anglican Communion. We intend to continue in this tradition of a comprehensive Anglican vision. In ministering to the poor and suffering of our world and in growing in insight and hope, these relationships are of critical importance.

However, this must be done without compromising our Church's progress toward full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in all areas of our life together. I have frequently been frustrated by the churches in general and the Episcopal Church in particular when we have been fearful to take a strong stand for justice; today I am humbly proud of our Church's stance. As one of the Anglican Communion's most inclusive churches, we have a prophetic voice and a witness to our sisters and brothers worldwide. As much as we need to be in communion with Anglicans around the world, they also need our voice. It is important to find a way to maintain our worldwide relationships, for both sides.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Hunger for True Communion

Further thoughts on the Primates Commnique from Tanzania
The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Rector, the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene, Rochester, New York
Past President, Integrity

A week from the issuance of the Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, a careful read and re-read of it, significant prayer and conversation, and listening to the audio of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s presentation to the staff at the church center in New York, leads me to the following places:

* It is very painful to be in a place of considering whether it is right to remain in the Anglican Communion or not. Being a part of the worldwide fellowship—in all of its diversity—remains important to me. I care enough about Anglicanism as a way of being Christian that I do not want to leave the conversation on its continuing development. I too, like the Presiding Bishop, “hunger for a vision of a world where people of vastly different opinions can sit at the same table and worship at the same table.” This is a true hunger for true communion.

* Having said that, a state of some separation may be necessary for a time. It may be that only in that state of separation can the real conversation happen. It too much feels like we keep trying to get the other to say things about themselves that are not true in order for us to stay together. The one thing we might be able to agree on is that in any counseling situation that is a very bad place to be in, and no way forward. Separation is risky. Ironically enough, lesbian and gay folk know much about this dynamic. Many of us either are separated from our families of origin or spent a significant amount of time separated from them. In my case it was the latter, and it was only in that period of separation that both the rest of my family and I were able to grasp our deep need of one another and able to clarify how we felt and thought (including being able to let go of constantly being in a reactive state). If we do have to let go of one another I hope it is in this sense and not in any kind of “I have no need of you.”

* In any statements that the House of Bishops or the Executive Council or the General Convention makes in an attempt to state our desire to remain in Communion, I ask that the following three things be included as an honest statement of who we are (the inability to do this would signal that it was not actually a healing process that the primates had in mind, but an exercise in domination).

* A significant portion of our Church clearly does not receive the teaching of Lambeth 1.10 that “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture” and we are unable to accept that it is “the standard of teaching” in the Anglican Communion even as we recognize that perhaps a majority of persons in the Communion hold it to be true.

* Baptized persons, including clergy, who are gay or lesbian, many of them living in same-sex relationships openly in our faith communities, are valued members of the Episcopal Church. That is a simple statement of who we are, even though we understand that a significant number of Anglicans worldwide do not understand how this can be so.

* The pastoral life of many of our parishes includes these persons and the fullness of their lives, something that we committed ourselves to in 1976 (a commitment that, in part, prompted the first call for dialogue on this issue by the Lambeth Conference of 1978). Conversation with this pastoral practice must be part of any Communion-wide listening process for it to have integrity for us. At the same time, we expect to have to be in dialogue with fellow Anglicans who absolutely disagree with us on this matter.

Right now I do not want to comment further on the structures being proposed for alternative oversight, although I remain deeply troubled by them. I have needed to focus on where the Communiqué most directly impacts my life and that of my local faith community.

Lastly, I continue to hear something that I first heard at our General Convention last summer, that there has to be some sacrifice on “this issue” if we are going to be able to continue to do mission with the truly suffering of the world. I would hope that this rhetoric would be taken off the table. It is degrading all around. All of us want to do mission with the truly suffering of this world and all of us are doing it in varied ways. I trust that all of us will continue to do them even if for some reason we are cut off from official Anglican channels of doing so. My own suspicion (partly coming out of my own experiences in Africa) is that channels will remain open with Anglican partners even if official channels are closed.

Bishop Curry Comments On Tanzania

Some Preliminary Thoughts from The Bishop after the meeting of the Primates
of the Anglican Communion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I want to share some preliminary thoughts after the recent meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Dar es Salaam. I am not seeking to address the issues and substance of the communiqué of the Primates, or the implications of it. Rather I want to suggest a frame work for faithfully, carefully and pastorally walking through this moment of history in our world and church.

First, while this may seem self evident, I encourage us all to read very carefully, and indeed, prayerfully, the documents and statements that have emerged from the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. In moments of deep conviction and difference I find it helpful to step back, slow down, breathe deeply, and ponder slowly. It is important to hear what is and isn’t being said. Further, the communiqué is a highly nuanced document, and it will take some time and reflection by us all to understand a reasonably shared interpretation of what it is actually saying.

At this point there are four key documents, all of which can be found on the Anglican Communion News Service and Episcopal News Service. Links to these can be found at the conclusion of this letter.

1. The Primates Communiqué
2. The February 20, 2007 press conference of the Archbishop of Canterbury
3. The Reflection of the Presiding Bishop following the meeting
4. The draft of the Anglican Covenant

In particular I encourage us all to read the careful reflection of our Presiding Bishop and Primate, Bishop Katherine. One of the reasons I will not make premature public judgments about the meaning of all of this is that it will be important for me to hear directly from our Primate, as she was present at the council, and also, as I trust her wisdom and judgment. Hearing and discernment of the mind of Christ happens in the community of the body of Christ. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20) Therefore I look forward to hearing from our Executive Council which meets from March 2-4, and await the assembly of the House of Bishops, March 17-22, where my ears will be open and my voice will be heard.

Second, we must prayerfully and carefully allow the councils of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops and the Executive Council to think through, deliberate, pray over and seek to discern that which is a faithful response for us to the actual, not the perceived, request of the Windsor Report and the Primates Communiqué. Through our various councils working together, we as the Episcopal community, seek to hear the voice of Jesus and follow our best understanding of his way and will. We must trust these councils of the church.

Third, and this is a more extended reflection, I am convinced that we must see this in a broader context of our church struggling to be faithful to its gospel calling to be a church that is truly catholic. This struggle may, as similar struggles in the past, lead us as the church to a new awareness of God’s purposes among us. Let me say a bit more about that.

Earlier this morning I was re-reading an essay reflecting on the late Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s book, The Gospel and the Catholic Church. It has been some years since I first read Lord Ramsey’s book, and my copy has been lost. Unfortunately it is out of print. But this essay reminded me of one of the Archbishop’s clear insights and affirmations. The church catholic has been called into being and given life by the Gospel, the Good News of God, disclosed in Jesus the Christ.

That is part of the message of the Day of Pentecost. On Pentecost people of various tribes and nations, representing the whole of humanity, were enabled by the Spirit to hear and declare the Good News of God in their various tongues (Acts 2:11). In that experience the church catholic, a community of faith embracing and yet transcending the varieties and differences, all sorts and conditions of our humanity, was born. The living out of the Gospel of Jesus is what gave rise to the catholic church.

This was a stunning and critical moment in human history, but the implications of that only unfolded over time, with great struggle and difficulty. For example, the inclusion of Gentiles in what was essentially a Jewish movement provoked a major crisis in the church. In this act of inclusion ethnic, social, cultural and religious boundaries, customs and traditions were crossed. Read the accounts of that struggle to include Gentiles (Acts 10-15).

In time it became clear that the Spirit of God unleashed in the teachings and life of Jesus, clearly challenged prevailing understandings of the traditions of Judaism to move beyond the surface of the tradition to the depth of the tradition where God’s purpose and intention might be discovered. That crisis was not resolved quickly, or easily, or without great pain. One need only read Paul’s tension filled narrative composed years later, recounting his clash with Peter over how to practically live out the catholic impulse of the Gospel in terms of how Jewish and Gentile Christians should relate to each other (see Gal. 2:11-21).

That early crisis, in time, led to a stunning breakthrough, the emergence of the church catholic, the body of Christ, embracing and including a variety and diversity of nations and peoples, transcending social, ethnic, cultural, national, tribal, ideological differences in a unity born of baptism into the body of Jesus Christ.

We may be living through a very similar period in the history of the church, and indeed in the life of the world. Now the living out of our catholicity as a church may be in tension with itself. On the one hand to be a catholic church means that we are part of the body of Christ, universal, embracing, through baptism into Christ, many peoples and nations. This catholic conviction of the Gospel is what lies behind the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19, 20). Our Anglican heritage and expression of catholic Christianity is our way of participating in the church catholic.

And yet, on the other hand, that very Gospel based catholic impulse is the one that calls us to be a community that welcomes, embraces and includes all the baptized holding the faith of Jesus. “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28) Seeking to live out this very gospel based conviction of our catholicity in the American context has brought us as the Episcopal Church in tension with many of our brothers and sisters in the world wide Anglican Communion.

We are in the midst of trying to work out what it means and how to be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We are struggling, as Peter and the first church did, to figure out the way that follows in the footsteps of Jesus. We are laboring to be what Jesus intended when he said, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.” (Mk. 11:17)

That Gospel vision is not one quickly attained or easily realized. The arduous task of faith in a time such as this is to labor on diligently in the daily work of the Gospel that is ours, to engage prayerfully the issues before us in our church, and at the same time to wait patiently.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Your brother in Christ,


The Anglican Communion & the Episcopal Church: The Way of Vulnerability

Sermon for Lent 1C The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
February 25, 2007
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13
The Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene

Let me say first of all that I did not want to preach about the Anglican Communion and homosexuality this Sunday. As you will see in the newsletter that arrives this week, my intention this Lent is that we do some serious naming of the realities in the streets around us, lamenting those realities, and further prepare ourselves spiritually for participating in God’s work of reconciliation and transformation.

I still intend for us to do that the rest of this season. But today I have to say something about what is going on in our church.

Not all of you are aware of what I am talking about, so let me try to bring you up to speed quickly.

The archbishops and presiding bishops of the 38 member provinces (who are referred to as “primates”) had their annual meeting, concluding this past Monday. Our new presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, was present for the first time. There had been some uncertainty about how she would be received. The good news was that she was seated, the first woman ever in that body. She was even elected to their Standing Committee by the other primates from North and South America.

Trouble did surface mid-way through the meeting when seven of the primates absented themselves from Holy Communion, issuing a statement that they could not in good conscience receive Communion with her.

Then came the final communication from the meeting. It stated explicitly that the Episcopal Church has departed from “the standard of teaching on human sexuality” as stated by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 and that “the episcopal ministry of a person living in a same-sex relationship is not acceptable to the majority of the Communion.” It then declared that the Episcopal Church is in a “broken relationship” with the rest of the Communion, and sets out several things that must be done “for there to be healing in the life of the Communion.”

As I read the document, these are the three things that are required of us:

Accept a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in their relationship with the Episcopal Church. Our presiding bishop would appoint two of five members. This Council would choose a “primatial vicar,” who would provide alternative leadership to those in the Episcopal Church who disagree with the actions of our General Convention and do not wish the oversight of their own bishop or our presiding bishop. This “primatial vicar” must come from among those Episcopal Church bishops who are compliant with the supposed standard of teaching on human sexuality.
Our bishops are required to “make an unequivocal common covenant” that they will not “authorize any rite of blessing for same-sex unions” nor vote in favor of such a rite at General Convention.
Our bishops are also required to declare that they will not consent to the election as a bishop of a person living in a same-sex relationship. The bishops are given a deadline of September 30 to meet these two requirements.
If we do not satisfy these requirements than “the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the [Episcopal] Church in the life of the Communion.” Presumably this means that our bishops will not be invited to the next Lambeth Conference (in 2008) and we will be suspended from participation in all other international Anglican bodies.

All of you know that it is impossible for me to be objective or dispassionate about all of this. I am personally affected by it, as is Mary Ann, and, if for no other reason than the nature of our relationship, so are we, together, as a parish.

Our life together, however, is not directly, immediately threatened. The Primates are not going after openly gay or lesbian priests (yet), and there is no “authorization” of same-sex blessings in this diocese even though many parishes like ours offer that pastoral response with our bishop’s knowledge. Our bishop has assured me that situation is not going to change. Our bishop, in fact, remains strongly supportive. For those of you who have not seen it, copies of his public response to all this are in the back of the church.

In a letter to the clergy of the diocese who are gay or lesbian, he spoke even more strongly.

Please know that I will not abandon you nor will I sit silently while some try to wrest our openness away from us. I can tell you, “This is a ditch I am willing to die in.” You all are doing such excellent ministry, and thankfully, those who choose to look can see it. I am grateful to you, and I can only imagine God is too.

So there is no direct, immediate threat, except on an emotional, and therefore spiritual, level and, of course, that should not be discounted.

I do want you to know, however, that I am not able to be objective about these requests as much because of my commitment to Anglicanism as I understand it as because I am a gay man. I believe these proposals and the way at which they have been arrived are a betrayal of our heritage and signal a massive shift in our way of being church together. What I hope our bishops, in particular, understand, is that it is precisely our way of being church together that has made us a haven for so many. We are a kind of “church of last resort” because of our increasing openness. At least for us in this country, I believe we will be committing evangelical suicide if we completely capitulate to these demands.

As for our presiding bishop, I can tell you I am terribly disappointed in her, but I do not blame her for this and I still believe her leadership bears much promise. I would not have wanted to have been in her shoes in Tanzania, and I believe she was able to keep things from being even worse. In my response to her actions, I must both find a way to let her know that Irespect and support her, but I must also speak truth to power.

It is the prospect of doing just that—speaking truth to power—that causes me to reflect on today’s Gospel and perhaps salvage this sermon time for some spiritual benefit for us.

That is what Jesus is doing in the Gospel this morning, he is speaking truth to power (and, please, do not hear that I am comparing the presiding bishop to the devil!). In doing so, he is laying out a personal agenda which says no to the power of wealth and domination—both political and spiritual domination—itself. He is saying “no” to the achievement of his vision by means of control.

This pleases God. If this desert experience was a test for Jesus than he passes with flying colors, and then when he emerges from it and joins the masses of ordinary folk attracted to the river Jordan by the message of his cousin John, God’s response is, “You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.”

I wrestle with Jesus’ embrace of vulnerability as a way of life, the way, as we call it, of the cross. In the current circumstances I wrestle with whether or not I (and we) are being called to be vulnerable and whether that might mean submitting to what is being asked of us. On the other hand, I do not see Jesus in this story submitting to power, but calling it out, naming it for what it is and refusing to participate in it, though not in a way in which he seeks his own domination of it.

The way of the cross, the way of vulnerability, at this point in the life of the Episcopal Church may very well be to say “no” to participation in a scheme of domination masquerading as healing. It may be to live in the wilderness of separation from our brothers and sisters for a time, although, I assume still doing everything we can to do ministry with them for the sake of the most vulnerable of the world.

If there is a separation I trust it will be in no sense a “thumbing our superior noses” at the rest of the world, nor certainly saying “we have no need of you.” If there is a separation, I pray that it is temporary, and for the sake of all of us being in a place where we can actually better speak out truth and listen to one another’s truth. This is the way of vulnerability.

It is this way of vulnerability, this way of the cross, that Lent confronts us with each year. It is the way to our freedom, although we have a great deal of trouble believing it. Truth to tell we really do prefer the god that the devil offers Jesus, the God of domination and control, the God who saves by manipulation and miracle. We get, instead, the God of the cross, who saves by dying and teaches us the way of disarming love and costly truth telling.

This is not the way being offered to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. It is not the way we will heal our Church. It is not the way we will transform our streets or our own lives. The only way for all those things to happen is to tell the truth, cost what it may, and trust in the God who leads his beloved children through the desert back to the water of life.

The Rev. Rod Reinhart's Sermon On Tanzania

Lent I, Feb. 24 2007, Harvey IL

The Season of Lent…. season of repentance… season of change
The slow and painful time when we remember the moment Jesus Christ turned his face toward
Jerusalem and began his slow march to the cross.
The season of Lent
The time we remember that Jesus Christ took upon himself the full
burden of our sin… our greed… our prejudice… our faithlessness
Our sickness and our fear
The season of Lent
The time we open our lives to God and ask him to turn our face
toward our own Jerusalem so that we can see the profound
and cruel depths of our own sin… our own prejudice… our own
faithlessness… our own sickness and fear…
and realize anew we were the one who hung Jesus on the Cross
That we were the ones who screamed for his crucifixion
We were the ones who hammered in the nails

This season of Lent… 2007… strange and painful things are happening in the world. Our Presiding Bishop, Primate of the American Church has just returned from the meeting of all the Anglican Primates… the major leaders of the world-wide Anglican Communion. There, she was told that the American Church must stop the progress we have been making toward full justice and inclusion of all baptized Christians within the life of the church.
There, she was told that the American Church must refuse to bless and recognize the faithful, loving relationships of gay and Lesbian Christians. There, she was told that the American church must refuse to allow qualified and faithful gay clergy to seek the office of bishop. There, she was told that the American Church must either deny, exclude and mistreat a faithful minority of its members or be excluded and denied full membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
This decision comes at a strange, ironic and contradictory time of year. It comes just at the beginning of Lent… the season of repentance for our sins. It also comes in the Middle of Black History Month… the month in which we celebrate the ways that
racial and ethnic minorities have struggled for full inclusion and equality in society.

And the irony is that this movement to force the church to exclude the one minority from the life of the church was led, in part, by Minority Bishops from countries that we used to call the Third-World. These bishops are from nations that have struggled to achieve acceptance and equality and fairness within the life of the church.

And they had partners in this action. Their partners were a
collection of extremely wealthy powerful conservative, American church leaders… a group which has claimed, over and over again, that they are a small, powerless minority fighting for their rights amid a large, insensitive, liberal powerful church. And both groups seek to gain power and control over the entire American Church.
by forcing the church to exclude one of its important minorities.

And the ironic contradiction is that the one minority that included true victims of prejudice and discrimination has immediately sought to victimize others once they come into power. And their wealthy, conservative extremists partners seek to gain power by pretending to be poor, victimized minorities. Perhaps we might say, here as Lent begins, that these important religious leaders have succumbed to the sin of Power and Pride. They seek to enhance their power and bask in their pride by trying the steal the faith, the hope and the place in the church so painfully found by their brothers and sisters who are lesbian and gay.

Our Gospel today gives us a powerful reflection of this new situation. Satan offers Jesus all the powers of the world. All he has to do is bow down and worship the Devil. All he has to do is abandon his mission… give up everything he knows to be true and right… and betray the deepest truths of his soul.

How often did Martin Luther King and the great heroes of the Civil Rights Movement face this same choice? We can imagine that people with great money and power may have said things like:
“Give up these demands for justice and equality… and we’ll give you anything you want. Stop marching for freedom… Stop demonstrating for equality… and we’ll give you all the power… and luxury and good times you could ever desire.” I bet the mayors, bank presidents, country club presidents and sheriffs of the big southern cities tempted King and the other leaders of the movement over and over again. Thank God they had the courage the courage to say… “Get thee behind me Satan… Thou shalt worship the Lord your God… and only God alone.”

These issues that beset the international church are very complicated and controversial. Many fine and faithful people hold very different and contradictory opinions. Today, many deeply religious people hold up their prejudice and bigotry as if it were the absolute will of God. But didn’t our parents and grand parents see this same thing happen in the churches across America fifty years ago?

During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King and many our revered leaders had to contend with highly religious people who believed that their deeply held prejudices… their power and their pride… were the absolute will of God. Well… those kinds of people were wrong then… And we believe they are still wrong today.

As we enter into this season of lent, let us remember that Jesus calls us to build a world where all people can be accepted as equal brothers and sisters, in spite of racial, ethnic, religious or sexual differences. Let us remember that Jesus calls us to build a church
where all Christians are called to serve God as equal brothers and sisters, whether they are black or white, male of female, gay or straight… no matter what language they speak or what country they call home.

As we enter this season of Lent, let us remind our Bishop… and our Presiding Bishop… and the other Bishops of the church… that
they are called to be faithful and to do God’s work… even when the rich and powerful of this world tempt them to fall into the sin
of seeking power and pride by giving up God’s call to build a world where all of God’s people can be accepted, saved, holy, righteous and free.

As we enter this season of Lent, let us remember that power and pride can be very good things. They are important nutrients for our soul. We need power and pride to do God’s work and hold fast to who we are and what we believe. But when the lust for power and pride cause people to do cruel and evil things, then they have become poison for the soul and a cancer upon the spirit and must be repented, forgiven and removed.

As we enter into this season of Lent, let us look at ourselves and
ask what we can do to purify our hearts so that we do not victimize ourselves or others with our own wrong use of power or pride. When have we blindly wounded those we love… or those we influence by bad decisions, unkind words or foolish actions?
When have we wounded ourselves or our world through our own
blind, thoughtless and foolish ways?

As we enter this season of Lent, let us remind ourselves that Jesus
died… and Jesus rose again… so that all humanity might be redeemed, accepted, equal and free. As we enter into this season of
Lent, let us re-double our efforts to build this church, and to do God’s will. Let us be faithful to God who created us… Christ
who redeemed us… and the spirit who empowers us… Amen

The Rev. Rod Reinhart
St. Clement’s Episcopal Church
15245 S. Loomis, at 153rd St.
Box 2307
Harvey Illinois, 60426