Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pride and disgust the same week.

Last Sunday, my church elected +Katharine Jefferts Schori as our first female Presiding Bishop. I knew nothing about her; I'd been told by a friend that she didn't have a chance, and another nominee was a friend of another friend. He's managed to make progress among both the liberals and the conservatives, and I thought it would be him. It wasn't. She got it. The more I've read and learned about her, the happier and prouder I am.

Today, Reuters carried this headline: "Episcopal Church votes to avoid gay bishops." Apparently, we're bowing to the ones who would hold unity above justice, at the expense of good, qualified, and called human beings. Bishops Iker, Schofield, and Ackerman can be happy. ++Akinola of Nigeria can dance at his influence over us. I'm not.

The election of +Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 brought me back to this church. The legislative body assembled in Minneapolis didn't do a bloody thing wrong. They consented to the choice made by the people of New Hampshire, of who would best lead them. In so doing, they made this church safe for all people on every kind of margin. This week, some of those who voted for +Jefferts Schori are friends of mine. I am part of this. This is my tribe. I'm in seminary in an Episcopal institution. I'm considering what form my ministry will take. I am committed to being here. The issues I left over, at 22, are still very much present. But these people made progress in my absence, and I will join my efforts with theirs.

We had done nothing which called for repentance. Not in 1976*, not in 2003, not in 2006. It is not for human beings to stand in the way of God. An Australian Anglican friend put it this way: "My thoughts on schism are that women are the price Anglicans have been willing to pay for unity for decades. My response to that is that unity is the price I am prepared to pay for women."

Unity is the price I am prepared to pay for the respect and inclusion of all of God's people.

*September 16, 1976, on the very day I turned six, General Convention authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate.

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