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GC2009: FROM MY EAR TO YOURS...

GC2009: FROM MY EAR TO YOURS...

By David W. Virtue in Anaheim
www.virtueonline.org
7/12/2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, at a press conference today, made the point that The Episcopal Church is not a national church, but an international church with 16 dioceses scattered around the world. (Dioceses can be found in Latin America, Central America, Asia and Europe). Now this begs the question that as we live in a post-colonial world, why are these dioceses still attached to TEC and why have they not been released to the local Anglican province where they are located? Why is the Diocese of Taiwan not affiliated to the Province of Southeast Asia? Furthermore, if TEC can have its offshore dioceses, why is it so wrong for the Anglican Province of Nigeria to have CANA on North American soil? Consistency is apparently the hobgoblin of small minds.

A question I had hoped to ask TEC's fearless leader, but was not able to, is this: Is TEC prepared for the consequences of passing a rite for same-sex marriage that could be seen as the final straw for global south Anglican leaders, as it makes a mockery of the Windsor Report and may deep six any hope of a Covenant being ratified? I shall ask it on another occasion to a couple of liberal bishops who will undoubtedly find the question offensive.

An Integrity reporter asked how the message of inclusion can be disseminated post GC2009. Jefferts Schori opined that she hopes that what happens here will energize people in their local congregations to get out and spread the message of full inclusion for absolutely everybody.

Another astute reporter asked about current ASA statistics indicating that TEC's numbers have shown a decline. What is the plan to reverse this trend? The Presiding Bishop replied that 19,000 more Episcopalians die every year than are born into this tradition. "We kept up statistically until the late 90's. We have not attended well to conversions from "none of the above" category of church goers. There is a hunger in the society around us for spiritual things. Everywhere I go, I talk with people about this. They come to me and ask me about spiritual matters. We didn't do an adequate job of evangelism. We have to learn to not wait for them to come to us. As Episcopalians, we are learning how to do that: to go out and find them. Part of the work of the public narrative is to prepare people to do that when they go home and teach people in their parishes and dioceses to do that."

Asked about the advent of the new North American Anglican province and how ABC Williams should approach the subject as the CofE Synod in York is wrestling with recognizing ACNA, Jefferts Schori said she couldn't really comment because she didn't know the details. "I hope and expect that the Archbishop and other visitors to this Convention will go home and talk about the departures and the pain they have caused this church; the pain to those who have stayed; the pain felt by those who were shut out of their former dioceses and the pain of the broken relationships between those who have gone and those who have stayed. The recognition of ACNA is likely to encourage more departures. Schism is not a Christian act."

Jan Mahood of Episcopalians for Traditional Faith (ETF) said there have been statements for several years that there are no outcasts in this Church. What about the traditionalists and those who prefer to use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer? If there are no outcasts will there be room for us at the table? The Presiding Bishop said the use of the '28 Prayer Book was a diocesan decision. "We have adopted a number of other rites," she opined. "It is an individual contextual decision."

Cheryl Wetzel of Anglicans United asked about consents for Northern Michigan wannabe Bishop Thew Forrester. The Presiding Bishop said the process isn't finished yet and until the final date (July 19 for Standing Committees and July 25 for Bishops), anyone is free to change their vote. The process isn't finished yet.

*****

Attended a Virginia Theological Seminary dinner last night, an inclusive event that saw TEC Presiding Bishop and the Sudan Primate, Deng Bul in the same room together. No, they did not come to blows. Outgoing VA Bishop Peter James Lee was honored for his service to the diocese while a young Black graduate gave a long sermonic rant about racism in Virginia. Dr. Ian Markham is a brilliant young Englishman who heads VTS and kept the ball rolling throughout the evening.

I chatted with the Sudanese Primate who is still adamant that Gene Robinson should be tossed out of the church, a position he advocated at Lambeth 2008. He was happy to reiterate it, again. He also extended a personal invitation to this reporter to come to the Sudan. He feels that international political pressure should be brought to bear to end the crisis in the Sudan which has seen millions displaced and killed. He is not convinced a two-country solution is the right way to go for his country.

Bumped into a high level muckety- muck from 815 at the dinner who assured me that Charles E. Bennison, the deposed Bishop of Pennsylvania, is truly finished even though procedures drawing out the pain have to be followed. Bennison can still appeal to the full HOB. For Bennison, who is still drawing a salary, fighting his deposition is all about salvaging his ego, if not his episcopacy. He will never resign, but he has no future either. He will never darken the headquarters of the Diocese of PA that much seems certain.

*****

Spent some time with Robert W. Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief and Development. I probed him about ERD being used as a political tool for pushing The Episcopal Church's gay agenda. He assured me that that was not the case. He said ERD is a separate non-profit organization. When he is in the field, it never comes up and he never raises TEC's stance on issues. "I stay strictly on focus about relief and development and we go into provinces regardless of what they think about TEC. We work in the Congo, Sudan and South Africa to name but a few countries. If there is a need we can meet, we meet it." I asked him about Trinity Wall Street's funding and why the need for both organizations. He opined that TWS focuses more on communication needs while ERD focuses on agricultural projects. Oddly enough, I found him both engaging and believable.

*****

Overheard, the wife of a prominent African American East Coast liberal clergyman speaking to a Convention goer:

Convention Goer: It's great that we send a guilt offering to foreign countries but we're not prepared to face up to the ghettos in our own cities.

Clergy Wife: Right, we pass the peace, but don't want to touch each other.

A downcast Bishop of Dallas, James Stanton left Sunday's Eucharist early, while congregants were receiving communion. VOL reporter Michael Heidt managed to ask a few questions:

VOL: A retired Bishop was asked yesterday about "how far" this Convention "would go." He answered, "As far as they can go."

Do you think they will? Stanton: I think they will. VOL: Bishop William Love (Albany) testified in favor of the Covenant resolution at a hearing of the World Mission Committee. He said that if the Convention adopts one of the LGBT resolutions and rejects the Covenant resolution, it will "rip the Communion to shreds." He received little or no comment from the Committee, why was that? Stanton: The Communion's already broken - they don't care.

*****

The Integrity crowd is very visible here and they are politicking like crazy. They are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of full inclusion for people with abnormal sexual behaviors. Their presence is solidly in the media room.

*****

Gene Robinson is worried. He wrote, "It seems likely the Deputies may come down overwhelmingly in support of faithful LGBT Christians, and the bishops will come firmly down against us. I recognize that's a short-hand way of putting the issue. It seems to me that the Deputies may ... recognize that Scripture does not forbid the faithful relationships we experience ... see and perceive the blessedness within same-sex relationships ... see the need for the church to participate in our covenants ... see that faithful Christians may serve (and, in fact, already are serving) in all orders (as bishops, deacons, and priests) in our church.

"And the bishops - some of whom personally see the same thing - notwithstanding all that - may decide to block any action for the sake of the Anglican Unity Tea they drank at Lambeth.

"Make no mistake: If the House of Bishops block the action of the House of Deputies, they will be telling me personally that they care more for the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, etc. than they are about me. Yes, I will take it personally."

END

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