Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sacramental Inclusion

I have to say that I thought ++Katherine did a good job in her conversation with the Church yesterday. While I know that she is on the side of LGBT folks I also know that she is trying to straddle a wide chasm of opinion on the inclusion of everyone in all aspects of ministry. I also think the fact that she says "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters" is commendable as this is an acknowledgement that LGBT people are at least party to the conversation. Many bishops and theologians speak in "code" and that is never very helpful as to clarifying their position.

What was probably the most painful (but true) phrase was "those not sacramentally included" in the the ministry of the Church. This can mean both ordination and any sort of sacramental acknowledgement of the relative holiness and wholesomeness of a same gender partnership. In a way I appreciated ++Katherine speaking in truthful words about this because the truth is that LGBT people are not included yet. LGBT clergy are "problems" in deployment as one bishop once told me. So where do we go from here? What hope is there that things will move a little more in the direction of equality and justice as far as LGBT persons are concerned.

At the ground level in some dioceses same-gender blessings occur. This is a typical Anglican fudge which allows for a broad diversity of practice while not making it an official rite of the Prayer Book. Yet some bishops have backed off from unofficial permission for this pastoral rite by their clergy in the name of Bo33 Those bishops must live with that decision, but unfortunately so do their dioceses and more unfortunately so do those LGBT clergy and laity who live in them. BO33 seems to have become the new 'golden calf' of unity---warding off hostile outside forces, calming hostile inside forces and letting the liberal bishop's feel smug that they have left the door cracked for future justice to enter from.

The election in the Diocese of Chicago with The Rev. Tracy Linde's presence on the ballot as a partnered lesbian will surely raise anxiety around the Church. Its a shame. Tracy is a very gifted priest as Dean of the Cathedral in Cleveland (go Indians!) and has a congregational development expertise added to an advanced degree in urban planning. Some will vote for Tracy because she's gay and others won't for fear of causing a stir in the "wider Communion". Either side is effectively barred from voting for Tracy because she is the most qualified candidate. I pray for the day that Tracy (and those who follow her) will be "just another candidate" ---- a truly level playing field for the God-given gifts and charisms for ministry may be considered alone. But this is most likely not the day. Even if elected, most bishops have already committed to not consent to the election and consecration of a partnered gay person.

And while we are on that topic, the truth is that I doubt whether they would allow an unpartnered gay person either!

The solutions? 1) Lots of prayer, lots of prayerful discernment on what God is calling all of us to in this "season of fasting" 2) Come out! If you are closeted, you are the missing person to change some one's heart on this whole matter. The more "out" LGBT persons can be, the better for the health of the Church. 3) Get involved locally, at the Diocesan level and nationally---these conversations and decisions are made at various level of the Church structure---do them a favor if you are a LGBT person and be present to speak up for yourself and your brothers and sisters.

4) The possible reversal of BO33 is a possibility given how we have seen it used this triennium. Ask your Deputies about this, and if you are a Deputy think about that.

And in all things be generous, loving and truthful. Our passions, angers and disappointments are no excuse to ridicule and shut down others. If I remember my old non-violent rules ---which actually comes from the work of Martin Luther King,Jr.---your witness is always an invitation for others to join you.


Post a Comment

<< Home