July 2003 Archives

Now, this is an interesting finding! Doctors: Pedophile 'Cured' After Surgery

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I just read this from The Anglican Digest. I am thinking it may be one of those small items that change a basic perception of things! It was written in 1991 by The Very Rev. George Back, then Dean (and maybe still?) of St. Paul's Cathedral in Oklahoma City. It was reprinted by The Anglican Digest in light of what we are going through right now.


Conservatives? Liberals?
"I have heard rumors that conflicts between conservatives and liberals are tearing the Church apart. Don't believe it

"Few of these people exist. I have had letters and phone calls from some who claim to be one or the other. As far as I can tell, they are impostors. Of course, I can only judge from their behavior.

"If the Church had many conservatives, the buildings would be packed on Sundays as they keep the Sabbath holy. Our Church would have money since they would tithe 10% of their income. Our Church life would be glorious as they would undertake all the traditional Sunday School, retreat, and holy day obligations. An authentic personal morality would be exemplified in their holy lifestyles.

"If the Church had many liberals, they would be enthusiastically including people all the time. The Church would grow as they reached out to the poor and the isolated in various ministries. Our service ministries would be overwhelmed with volunteers and resources. An authentic social conscience would be exemplified in the compassionate lifestyles.

"Judging only by behavior, the Church has too few religious conservatives and religious liberals. God bless the ones we have; they are doing wonderful work.

"Then where is the problem? There are numerous anti-conservatives and anti-liberals . These are people who compare their particular ideology with other's actual behavior. Their convenient posture enables them to be both righteous and removed at the same time.

"Both know that others need to change their bad habits. The sins, failures, hypocrisy, and mediocrity of these others provide a good reason not to attend worship and not to give money and not to serve energetically and not to love affectionately in the Lord's name.

"Religion is behavior, not theology. To worship God with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength is not an idea, it is a practice. To love oneç—´ neighbor as an 'idea' is an illusion. Love must take up space and time; it costs lots of money and much energy.

"Church is a place for religious behavior, where one worships God and serves God's children. It is large enough to include true religious conservatives and true religious liberals, since they only emphasize one or the other aspect of religion.

"The Church will never be at peace until the commitment to God and the Gospel of our Lord take priority over any personal warp to some left or right ideas. People who have a primary commitment to their own opinions and a secondary interest in religion always threaten to destroy the Church.

"What good reason and right opinion do you have to excuse yourself from the costly practice of true religion?" (emphasis mine).

Well said, I think.

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Two days until the General Convention and a possible rift, a serious rift, in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality - particularly in the U.S. over the approval by the Convention of the recent election of a new bishop of New Hampshire, who is openly gay and living with a long-time partner. As Barrie said yesterday, "be rest assured, regardless of what you hear, this is not the first gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. He is just honest about it." Or, of the approval of the beginning stages of writing a rite for the blessing of same-sex unions.

As I said yesterday at Ascension, this whole affair is causing me a great deal of distress. I came to the Episcopal Church, really Anglicanism, because there was an allowance for a wide variety of often divergent opinions within the communion, yet everyone stayed together despite the rough and tumble world the allowance caused within the different Church provinces, dioceses, and parishes. The debate and argument brought balance. In my opinion, it brings about better theology and practice. There is less the attitude of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist side of the Church to say, "my way or the highway." So, now, over this issue, I see the Communion fraying. The conservatives are threatening to leave, to break communion, to cause schism. I understand fully that there are times when we have to draw lines in the sand. What causes me concern, and adds to my distress, is not so much the issue-of-the-day, which is homosexuality today, but the way we are going about dealing with our differences – the process of drawing lines in the sand. I think the conservatives within Anglicanism have been far too influenced by the Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches which have no problem whatsoever in splitting up, making accusation, and attempting to decide who is in and who is out of the Family of God.

So, here is the line in the sand for Anglican conservatives - homosexuality. It was women's ordination in the '70's. It will be something else during the next decade. The issues are not the problem, because there will always be issues, but how the differences of opinion concerning those issues are dealt with is the problem. The way this issue is being dealt with now, worldwide and in this province/country, is not the Anglican way. It is the way of the world and the way of the wayward Church, which thinks that one part can say to another part, "I have no need of you." Of course, Jesus and Paul said a lot about that, did they not?


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Okay, here is the latest from the prohibitionist side. I'm sure we are going to have some very good debates during classes come fall term, just a month and a half away. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will be speaking on this topic at the 9:00 am service at my field placement parish - Church of the Ascension on 5th Ave. I particularly like what Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa said, referring to member primates acting like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since they do not consider the A.B.C. to be doing his job - condemning homosexuals - then they will take it upon themselves to act in his sted. Since they do not consider the A.B.C. to be doing his job, they then will do his job for him and determine who is in and who is out of the Communion. (Technically this is not possible. They may determine that they will no longer be in communion with provinces or dioceses that accommodate homosexuals, but it is only the See of Canterbury who can determine who is part of the official Anglican Communion. After leaving, they may say they are the true Anglicans, but by their leaving they have proven that they are in fact not because they have violated one of the major tenants of the Anglican ethos, and if the See of Canterbury does not recognize their province, then they are in fact out.) Even while I was part of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Pentecostal side of the Church, I recognized that many within this group of people like to do such things. They will take upon themselves the role of God and determine who is in and who is out of the Church, the Body of Christ, those who have been reconciled to God (or in their vernacular, saved). The self-proclaimed conservatives in the American province continually try to usurp authority and property. It has always been the same going back centuries.

I am sympathetic to some of their claims, such as a drift away from biblical authority and reliance and relativism, but in the same way, they charge the liberals of going to far, so they also go too far. Maybe it will be better to just get it all over with so they can leave and we all can get on with the more important things, except that our witness as Anglicans - to be able to stay together in union despite our very different ways of looking at our Christian lives and theology - will be once again be shot. Anyway, here is the article:



July 24, 2003

2003-167

Group ‘prepared to respond' if General Convention affirms Robinson, blessing rite

by Jan Nunley

(ENS) A group of 62 Anglicans and Episcopalians, including some primates and bishops of the Anglican Communion, held a press conference July 23 to announce that they are "prepared to respond" if the Episcopal Church's General Convention either confirms the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire or directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare blessing rites for couples living in committed relationships outside marriage. The convention begins July 30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The group gathered in secret at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia, for two days to craft their statement. "The proposed actions by General Convention…would shatter the church," the statement said. "The American bishops at this meeting have prayed, planned and are prepared to respond as faithful members of the Anglican Communion. Should these events occur, the majority of the Primates anticipate convening an extraordinary meeting at which they too will respond to the actions of General Convention."


Element of surprise

But under questioning by reporters, the group refused to divulge any specific plans. "Action will happen," said Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria. Another spokesman for the group, the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, explained, "We are trying to preserve an element of surprise. That is part of the strategy here."

Asked if it will make a difference if, say, Robinson were confirmed but the liturgy resolution failed, Akinola said, "No. Either one will cause a split. They are inextricably linked."

Plea for mutual accountability

On the same day the statement was released, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sent a letter to Anglican primates asking them to maintain "mutual accountability," not just on matters of sexuality but on issues such as lay presidency at the Eucharist and "alternative episcopal oversight" for dissenting parishes.

"We do not have a central executive authority in our Communion; this means we are quite vulnerable in times of deep disagreement, and need more than ever to pay attention to one another," Williams wrote. "… This is not to recommend a refusal to face circumstances or to avoid conflict at all costs. It is to acknowledge that who we are as Christians is connected to the worldwide fellowship to which we belong. Within a living Communion, we should never find ourselves in the position of saying, or seeming to say, to each other, ‘[I have no need of you' (I Cor. 12.21)."

Claiming a majority

The statement claimed that the signers represent "a majority of the world's 75 million Anglicans." Exact numbers are hard to come by, but according to the Anglican Communion Secretariat's figures, the seven primates listed represent a little more than 20 million members out of 76,650,449 worldwide -- 26 percent of the total.

When asked how many primates agreed with the group, Akinola responded, "Most primates are here in spirit. We know the mind of a good number of primates." He would only confirm being in contact with "6 or 7" of the primates.

Most of the names on the list are familiar as conservative activists in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Many have signed previous statements declaring their discontent with moves towards the full inclusion of homosexuals in the Episcopal Church, and are members or officers of advocacy groups such as the American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith/North America, and the Institute for Religion and Democracy.

Ten of the 15 American bishops are "bishops with jurisdiction," eligible to vote on Robinson's consecration. Their dioceses represent 185,766 communicants, some 9% of the American church. The clergy listed represent congregations with a combined average attendance of approximately 10,500 members.

A stream of statements

The Truro statement follows an "Open Letter to the Concerned Primates of the Anglican Communion," issued July 15 by 24
Episcopal Church bishops, who declared themselves to be in a state of "impaired communion," or broken relationship, with the
Canadian Diocese of New Westminster, which has authorized liturgies for blessing same-sex partnerships. They also committed to commit to "common responses" to what they described as "the deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church" over homosexuality.

In early June, fourteen of the 38 Anglican primates charged that "by deliberately and intentionally abandoning the established Anglican consensus, [the bishop of New Westminster] placed himself and his diocese in an automatic state of impaired communion with the majority within the Anglican Communion."

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold wrote to the primates July 22, asking for their understanding of the difference in context between their provinces and the American church over the understanding of human sexuality. "Over these last five years I have continually reminded our church that we are part of a larger reality called the Anglican Communion, and that what we do locally has ramifications both positive and negative in other parts of the world," Griswold said. "At the same time I am
mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in our own context and within the particular reality of our own Province; there is no such thing as a neutral reading of Scripture. While we all accept the authority of Scripture, we interpret various passages in different ways."

At least one African primate has already come out publicly against the Truro statement. "I believe that it is wrong and contrary to our Anglican Tradition and understanding of Canon Law to presume to interfere in the affairs of another Province," said Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa. "Such actions are a major threat to the fabric of our Communion. Let us respect the integrity of each Province.

"It would be profoundly inappropriate for any Province or any group of Provinces to presume to take on a role which properly belongs to the See of Canterbury, and with the whole Communion acting with the See of Canterbury."

Here is a great commentary concerning gay marriage, which I came across on the Ex-gay Watch website. It says in a very cogent way what I have been thinking for some time, especially what a conservative position should really be on this issue. Most people on the prohibitionist side, especially the politicized Religious Right, do not argue from a philosophically conservative (political) position, but from a theologically conservative position made to look like a political position. Who speaks for philosophical conservatism? It is not most of the Religious Right!

Here is the link to the article, Rondi Adamson in the Christian Science Monitor

This is the best part, for me:

"I often feel the natural place for a gay person is on the right. Conservatives should be all about an individual's right to his or her own life, his or her own business, without the interference of hypersensitive, offended others. And it follows that true conservatives ought to support gay marriage, particularly those partial to family values. It's difficult to argue that society doesn't benefit from stable relationships. And what better way to encourage stable relationships than to support gay marriage? It is hard not to snicker at the idea that same-sex marriages would threaten straight ones. We straight people in Canada and the US have done a good job of bringing the divorce rate close to 50 percent all on our own."

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Okay, here is the latest from the prohibitionist side. I'm sure we are going to have some very good debates during classes come fall term, just a month and a half away. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will be speaking on this topic at the 9:00 am service at my field placement parish - Church of the Ascension on 5th Ave. I particularly like what Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa said, referring to member primates acting like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since they do not consider the A.B.C. to be doing his job - condemning homosexuals - then they will take it upon themselves to act in his sted. Since they do not consider the A.B.C. to be doing his job, they then will do his job for him and determine who is in and who is out of the Communion. (Technically this is not possible. They may determine that they will no longer be in communion with provinces or dioceses that accommodate homosexuals, but it is only the See of Canterbury who can determine who is part of the official Anglican Communion. After leaving, they may say they are the true Anglicans, but by their leaving they have proven that they are in fact not because they have violated one of the major tenants of the Anglican ethos, and if the See of Canterbury does not recognize their province, then they are in fact out.) Even while I was part of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Pentecostal side of the Church, I recognized that many within this group of people like to do such things. They will take upon themselves the role of God and determine who is in and who is out of the Church, the Body of Christ, those who have been reconciled to God (or in their vernacular, saved). The self-proclaimed conservatives in the American province continually try to usurp authority and property. It has always been the same going back centuries.

I am sympathetic to some of their claims, such as a drift away from biblical authority and reliance and relativism, but in the same way, they charge the liberals of going to far, so they also go too far. Maybe it will be better to just get it all over with so they can leave and we all can get on with the more important things, except that our witness as Anglicans - to be able to stay together in union despite our very different ways of looking at our Christian lives and theology - will be once again be shot. Anyway, here is the article:


"
July 24, 2003

2003-167

Group 叢repared to respond' if General Convention affirms
Robinson, blessing rite

by Jan Nunley

(ENS) A group of 62 Anglicans and Episcopalians, including some
primates and bishops of the Anglican Communion, held a press
conference July 23 to announce that they are "prepared to
respond" if the Episcopal Church's General Convention either
confirms the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New
Hampshire or directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and
Music to prepare blessing rites for couples living in committed
relationships outside marriage. The convention begins July 30 in
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The group gathered in secret at Truro Episcopal Church in
Fairfax, Virginia, for two days to craft their statement. "The
proposed actions by General Convention�would shatter the
church," the statement said. "The American bishops at this
meeting have prayed, planned and are prepared to respond as
faithful members of the Anglican Communion. Should these events
occur, the majority of the Primates anticipate convening an
extraordinary meeting at which they too will respond to the
actions of General Convention."


Element of surprise

But under questioning by reporters, the group refused to divulge
any specific plans. "Action will happen," said Archbishop Peter
Akinola of the Church of Nigeria. Another spokesman for the
group, the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Diocese
of South Carolina, explained, "We are trying to preserve an
element of surprise. That is part of the strategy here."

Asked if it will make a difference if, say, Robinson were
confirmed but the liturgy resolution failed, Akinola said, "No.
Either one will cause a split. They are inextricably linked."

Plea for mutual accountability

On the same day the statement was released, Archbishop of
Canterbury Rowan Williams sent a letter to Anglican primates
asking them to maintain "mutual accountability," not just on
matters of sexuality but on issues such as lay presidency at the
Eucharist and "alternative episcopal oversight" for dissenting
parishes.

"We do not have a central executive authority in our Communion;
this means we are quite vulnerable in times of deep
disagreement, and need more than ever to pay attention to one
another," Williams wrote. "� This is not to recommend a refusal
to face circumstances or to avoid conflict at all costs. It is
to acknowledge that who we are as Christians is connected to the
worldwide fellowship to which we belong. Within a living
Communion, we should never find ourselves in the position of
saying, or seeming to say, to each other, 措I have no need of
you' (I Cor. 12.21)."

Claiming a majority

The statement claimed that the signers represent "a majority of
the world's 75 million Anglicans." Exact numbers are hard to
come by, but according to the Anglican Communion Secretariat's
figures, the seven primates listed represent a little more than
20 million members out of 76,650,449 worldwide -- 26 percent of
the total.

When asked how many primates agreed with the group, Akinola
responded, "Most primates are here in spirit. We know the mind
of a good number of primates." He would only confirm being in
contact with "6 or 7" of the primates.

Most of the names on the list are familiar as conservative
activists in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Many have signed previous statements declaring their discontent
with moves towards the full inclusion of homosexuals in the
Episcopal Church, and are members or officers of advocacy groups
such as the American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith/North
America, and the Institute for Religion and Democracy.

Ten of the 15 American bishops are "bishops with jurisdiction,"
eligible to vote on Robinson's consecration. Their dioceses
represent 185,766 communicants, some 9% of the American church.
The clergy listed represent congregations with a combined
average attendance of approximately 10,500 members.

A stream of statements

The Truro statement follows an "Open Letter to the Concerned
Primates of the Anglican Communion," issued July 15 by 24
Episcopal Church bishops, who declared themselves to be in a
state of "impaired communion," or broken relationship, with the
Canadian Diocese of New Westminster, which has authorized
liturgies for blessing same-sex partnerships. They also
committed to commit to "common responses" to what they described
as "the deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church"
over homosexuality.

In early June, fourteen of the 38 Anglican primates charged that
"by deliberately and intentionally abandoning the established
Anglican consensus, [the bishop of New Westminster] placed
himself and his diocese in an automatic state of impaired
communion with the majority within the Anglican Communion."

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold wrote to the primates July 22,
asking for their understanding of the difference in context
between their provinces and the American church over the
understanding of human sexuality. "Over these last five years I
have continually reminded our church that we are part of a
larger reality called the Anglican Communion, and that what we
do locally has ramifications both positive and negative in other
parts of the world," Griswold said. "At the same time I am
mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in our own
context and within the particular reality of our own Province;
there is no such thing as a neutral reading of Scripture. While
we all accept the authority of Scripture, we interpret various
passages in different ways."

At least one African primate has already come out publicly
against the Truro statement. "I believe that it is wrong and
contrary to our Anglican Tradition and understanding of Canon
Law to presume to interfere in the affairs of another Province,"
said Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa. "Such
actions are a major threat to the fabric of our Communion. Let
us respect the integrity of each Province.

"It would be profoundly inappropriate for any Province or any
group of Provinces to presume to take on a role which properly
belongs to the See of Canterbury, and with the whole Communion
acting with the See of Canterbury."

Here is the latest letter by the Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church USA, to the other primates of the Anglican Communion, deal with the homosexual issue coming up at General Convention. It is a good letter!

"July 22, 2003

2003-163

For the Primates of the Anglican Communion


My dear brothers in Christ:

I write you on the eve of the General Convention of the
Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to let you know some
of what is on my mind and heart during these days of prayer and
preparation.

I am aware that earlier this month a letter was sent to
"concerned primates" from a number of bishops of the Episcopal
Church, USA outlining what they called a "deteriorating
situation within the Episcopal Church and elsewhere." They
particularly pointed to two matters that will be before our
General Convention: one pertaining to the confirmation of the
bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the other
dealing with the authorization of the development of rites for
the blessing of same sex unions which would then be brought to
the General Convention of 2006 for debate.

The polity of our church places the election of a bishop and the
nomination process which precedes it entirely in the hands of
the electing diocese. The election then must be confirmed by a
majority of the diocesan standing committees (made up of clergy
and laity) and by bishops with jurisdiction, each voting
separately. When an election occurs within 120 days of a
General Convention, the General Convention becomes the
consenting body. Each bishop-elect must first gain the consent
of a majority of the dioceses in the House of Deputies, which is
comprised of elected clergy and lay members from each diocese.
Next, ballots will be received from bishops with jurisdiction
and the bishop-elect must receive a majority of those votes, as
well.

At this General Convention ten dioceses will present
bishops-elect for consent. The Diocese of New Hampshire and
their bishop-elect are the focus of attention, not because of
the competency and gifts of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson, or
because he was elected overwhelmingly by the clergy and laity of
a diocese in which he has served for 28 years, but because he
shares his life with a partner of the same sex. As Presiding
Bishop and chief pastor, my concern, as I said in a letter to
our bishops, is "how we move with grace through this time." I
am including a copy of this letter for your information.

This election, though profoundly disturbing to a number of
Episcopalians, is not surprising given that increasingly in our
part of the world there is an acknowledgment that some men and
women find that their deepest affections are ordered to members
of the same sex. Our church has a number of lay persons and
clergy for whom this is true. Some have chosen the path of
celibacy and others live within the context of a sustained
relationship. In this latter case we are not talking primarily
about sexual behavior which in both its heterosexual and
homosexual manifestations can be profoundly sinful and little
more than the compulsive pattern of lust so soundly condemned by
St. Paul. What we are talking about is the core of the personal
identity of men and women who share with us in the risen life of
Christ.

I, perhaps more than anyone else, realize how very problematic
this election is for some of you, as well as for some members of
my own church, including the bishops who wrote to you. I am
also aware of the efforts that have been made to draw you into
this impending debate. Because we are members one of another in
the body of Christ through baptism and are called to share each
other's burdens, your concern is appropriate and welcome. And
may I say that I am always grateful when one of you contacts me
directly to express your concerns.

Over these last five years I have continually reminded our
church that we are part of a larger reality called the Anglican
Communion, and that what we do locally has ramifications both
positive and negative in other parts of the world. At the same
time I am mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in
our own context and within the particular reality of our own
Province; there is no such thing as a neutral reading of
Scripture. While we all accept the authority of Scripture, we
interpret various passages in different ways.

I believe that the report of the House of Bishops Theology
Committee, which was shared with you, can be helpful here. In a
section entitled Living In Disagreement it states: "Our present
conclusion is that equally sincere Christians, equally committed
to an orthodox understanding of the Faith we share, equally
looking to Scripture for guidance on this issue, are deeply
divided regarding questions with respect to homosexuality. It
will be crucial for all parties in this debate to ask God's
blessing on their ever-deepening conversion in Christ, and to
pray for God's love and forgiveness to be granted to all.
Faithfulness and the courage to offer love and acceptance to
those with whom we disagree is the great need of the moment."

As Professor David Ford told us several years ago during one of
our primates meetings, we are in the process of becoming a
communion. I have reflected often upon his words and come to
see more and more that communion is not a human construction but
a gift from God. Communion involves not only our relationships
to one another on earth but our being drawn by the Holy Spirit
into the eternal life of communion which belongs to the Holy
Trinity. Communion on this earth is always in some way
impaired, both because of our limited understanding of God's
ways and our own human sinfulness. Because we have been
baptized into one body through the death and resurrection of
Christ, we cannot say to one another "I have no need of you."(1
Corinthians 12:21) This means that maintaining communion is a
sacred obligation. It is not easy and involves patience with
one another, ongoing conversion, and a genuine desire to
understand the different ways in which we seek to be faithful to
the gospel. Declarations of being "in" or "out" of communion
with one another may assuage our anger or our fear, but they can
do little to show our broken and divided world that at the heart
of the gospel is to be found a reconciling love that can embrace
our passionately held opinions and transcend them all.

Please know how deeply I value each one of you as fellow
pilgrims on a continuing journey into the ever unfolding truth
of Christ. Grounded in Scripture, the historic creeds, the
councils of the church and the sacraments of the new covenant,
it is my prayer and deepest hope that our General Convention
will reflect the mind of Christ such that our church can be an
authentic sign of God's reconciling love.

Yours sincerely in Christ's love,


The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church, USA"

comments? e-mail me

Lots of stuff has been going on, but no time to deal with them all. I am writing more and more in my paper journal - I just like it better. Coming next week, we have the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA. This is a defining moment for the Episcopal Church with larger implications for the entire worldwide Anglican Communion. The Rev. Dr. Jeffries John was appointed Suffragan Bishop in Reading, England. Because of the outrage and stated intent to no longer be in communion with the Church of England by conservative Provinces in Africa/Asian/Third World in the Communion, he resigned stating he did not want to be the center of schism and disunity. Now, the conservative Bishops/Provinces are saying the same about ending communion with the Episcopal Church USA because of the new Bishop-elect of New Hampshire, who is gay and in an open long-term same-sex relationship. There are many elements with the Episcopal Church itself who will not stand for the election of an openly gay bishop in a relationship, despite the fact that the national Church can do nothing in and of itself to stop the election of a diocesan bishop.

Schism, I'm sure, will come if the House of Bishops votes to affirm the decision of the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire. This isn't an appointment, as in England. This is a situation of members within a diocese electing their new bishop. Many people will leave the Episcopal Church if the new bishop is affirmed. This is the line in the sand for many. Of course, there have been many lines-in-the-sand over the last millennia.

Here is the latest letter sent by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA to the other Anglican Primates around the world. I think it is a very good letter! One consideration that those who are threatening schism will not acknowledge is that if they chose to no longer be a part of the Episcopal Church USA or if their province will no longer be in communion with the Episcopal Church USA, that changes nothing, absolutely nothing, with regards to who is a member of the Body of Christ, the one true, Holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Members of the Body of Christ are determined by Christ, not the councils of "man." So, they say they will no longer be members or in communion with us - it is a meaningless statement because we are all still part of the one Body, whether any of us like it or not. We do not have a chose of who is in and who is out of that Body, even though we can determine with whom we associate. However, the association of like-minded people does not make the Body exclusively theirs or ours, no matter what we say or want.

Here is the letter. It is rather long, but good.

"
July 22, 2003

2003-163

For the Primates of the Anglican Communion


My dear brothers in Christ:

I write you on the eve of the General Convention of the
Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to let you know some
of what is on my mind and heart during these days of prayer and
preparation.

I am aware that earlier this month a letter was sent to
"concerned primates" from a number of bishops of the Episcopal
Church, USA outlining what they called a "deteriorating
situation within the Episcopal Church and elsewhere." They
particularly pointed to two matters that will be before our
General Convention: one pertaining to the confirmation of the
bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the other
dealing with the authorization of the development of rites for
the blessing of same sex unions which would then be brought to
the General Convention of 2006 for debate.

The polity of our church places the election of a bishop and the
nomination process which precedes it entirely in the hands of
the electing diocese. The election then must be confirmed by a
majority of the diocesan standing committees (made up of clergy
and laity) and by bishops with jurisdiction, each voting
separately. When an election occurs within 120 days of a
General Convention, the General Convention becomes the
consenting body. Each bishop-elect must first gain the consent
of a majority of the dioceses in the House of Deputies, which is
comprised of elected clergy and lay members from each diocese.
Next, ballots will be received from bishops with jurisdiction
and the bishop-elect must receive a majority of those votes, as
well.

At this General Convention ten dioceses will present
bishops-elect for consent. The Diocese of New Hampshire and
their bishop-elect are the focus of attention, not because of
the competency and gifts of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson, or
because he was elected overwhelmingly by the clergy and laity of
a diocese in which he has served for 28 years, but because he
shares his life with a partner of the same sex. As Presiding
Bishop and chief pastor, my concern, as I said in a letter to
our bishops, is "how we move with grace through this time." I
am including a copy of this letter for your information.

This election, though profoundly disturbing to a number of
Episcopalians, is not surprising given that increasingly in our
part of the world there is an acknowledgment that some men and
women find that their deepest affections are ordered to members
of the same sex. Our church has a number of lay persons and
clergy for whom this is true. Some have chosen the path of
celibacy and others live within the context of a sustained
relationship. In this latter case we are not talking primarily
about sexual behavior which in both its heterosexual and
homosexual manifestations can be profoundly sinful and little
more than the compulsive pattern of lust so soundly condemned by
St. Paul. What we are talking about is the core of the personal
identity of men and women who share with us in the risen life of
Christ.

I, perhaps more than anyone else, realize how very problematic
this election is for some of you, as well as for some members of
my own church, including the bishops who wrote to you. I am
also aware of the efforts that have been made to draw you into
this impending debate. Because we are members one of another in
the body of Christ through baptism and are called to share each
other's burdens, your concern is appropriate and welcome. And
may I say that I am always grateful when one of you contacts me
directly to express your concerns.

Over these last five years I have continually reminded our
church that we are part of a larger reality called the Anglican
Communion, and that what we do locally has ramifications both
positive and negative in other parts of the world. At the same
time I am mindful that each of us has to interpret the gospel in
our own context and within the particular reality of our own
Province; there is no such thing as a neutral reading of
Scripture. While we all accept the authority of Scripture, we
interpret various passages in different ways.

I believe that the report of the House of Bishops Theology
Committee, which was shared with you, can be helpful here. In a
section entitled Living In Disagreement it states: "Our present
conclusion is that equally sincere Christians, equally committed
to an orthodox understanding of the Faith we share, equally
looking to Scripture for guidance on this issue, are deeply
divided regarding questions with respect to homosexuality. It
will be crucial for all parties in this debate to ask God's
blessing on their ever-deepening conversion in Christ, and to
pray for God's love and forgiveness to be granted to all.
Faithfulness and the courage to offer love and acceptance to
those with whom we disagree is the great need of the moment."

As Professor David Ford told us several years ago during one of
our primates meetings, we are in the process of becoming a
communion. I have reflected often upon his words and come to
see more and more that communion is not a human construction but
a gift from God. Communion involves not only our relationships
to one another on earth but our being drawn by the Holy Spirit
into the eternal life of communion which belongs to the Holy
Trinity. Communion on this earth is always in some way
impaired, both because of our limited understanding of God's
ways and our own human sinfulness. Because we have been
baptized into one body through the death and resurrection of
Christ, we cannot say to one another "I have no need of you."(1
Corinthians 12:21) This means that maintaining communion is a
sacred obligation. It is not easy and involves patience with
one another, ongoing conversion, and a genuine desire to
understand the different ways in which we seek to be faithful to
the gospel. Declarations of being "in" or "out" of communion
with one another may assuage our anger or our fear, but they can
do little to show our broken and divided world that at the heart
of the gospel is to be found a reconciling love that can embrace
our passionately held opinions and transcend them all.

Please know how deeply I value each one of you as fellow
pilgrims on a continuing journey into the ever unfolding truth
of Christ. Grounded in Scripture, the historic creeds, the
councils of the church and the sacraments of the new covenant,
it is my prayer and deepest hope that our General Convention
will reflect the mind of Christ such that our church can be an
authentic sign of God's reconciling love.

Yours sincerely in Christ's love,


The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church, USA"

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What do I say? It's

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What do I say? It's funny or it's odd, what word best describes what I'm thinking or feeling? Perhaps no other words except the simple expression of what is going on. Why do I feel the need to preface a remark? I have come to appreciate being by myself over the past several years, not borne of necessity, but by mounting preference. Yet, when alone, when I can do whatever I want whenever I want without the need to consider another person, a creeping sense of loneliness rises within me. I do enjoy solitude, and I know that being alone is only temporary, yet the feelings are there nonetheless. A common feeling, I suspect. Loneliness is a common condition, I know.

Sam left on Sunday, and it was quite nice seeing someone from "home." My parents left this morning, and it was very good seeing them again - my Mom's first time in New York. We walked until our feet and legs were worn out. I was looking forward to getting back to my haphazard routine - spending time reading and getting my new room in order, but as I left the Close on my way to Big Cup, this sense of dread and loneliness took hold. Why? I'm not sure, but I live through it. I'm glad Ashton is coming tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I missed him this week.

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First fireworks in NYC. Ashton and I walked to the East River (almost) to see the fireworks last night. They were great. I kept telling Ashton that the fireworks for the 4th in Akron were terrific, and they are. In comparison, New York to Akron, well, the NYC fireworks were up and down the river. The same display simultaneously repeated four times in sync along the river, so if you take one of the four displays, it was as good as the Akron fireworks, but the NYC were repeated x4. I simply love fireworks!

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I have always considered myself to be just another "Joe" on the street. Nothing special, nothing terrific, just an average Joe. I have always fought against this feeling of elitism that creeps in from time to time as I look around me and see how people live, what they do, and what they say. Not so much that I feel elitist, but that as differences appear, I fight the fear that I might become elitist. As much as I don't want to admit it, education does bring about differences and distinctions between people. Often the distinctions make a huge difference in the institutions we find ourselves apart of and to which we are beholden. It can be embarrassing, and makes one wonder why certain people percolate to positions of influence and authority when they do nothing but cause derision or harm to their cause. Is it that they just yell more? Is it that they find people who are even less aware or rational or sensible then themselves, thus a following?

I fight an attitude of elitism. I know from where I came. I know that wisdom is born out of experience more than from education. Experience knows no boundaries between rich and poor, educated and uneducated. Wisdom is often found in what the prevailing culture believes to be most unlikely places. I know, perhaps because of my education, that I am not really just an "average Joe." If I look at our population, those with undergraduate college degrees comprise around 30% of the population (depending on which statistic one considers valid). Those with graduate degrees comprise around 5%, and those with Ph.D.'s around 3% of the population. So, what does this mean?

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I wonder about the state of the Church. Of course, many have wondered about the state of the Church since the Church began. Nothing new, nothing different, but yet another person wondering why the Church shoots itself in the foot constantly. The Church, which is a broad and undistinguished term for all the people who belong to the institution, comprised of different sects and institutions. More accurately, I suppose, the Church, no matter what should be, is really the institutions made up of the leaders and those who yell the loudest and longest. I think most people just sit on the sidelines and get riled every now and then. The leaders run the institution, whether the Roman church or a Congregational church. Anyway, there you have it.

The Church is a fallible institution because it is made up of fallible people. An institution that is destined to fail in so many ways, yet through this institution God has chosen to make His appeal. Like the Hebrews of old (and even now), God chose a people to bless and to demonstrate to the world what it is to be a people under the hand of God. Wonderful. Nevertheless, the people always rebelled and could never find it within themselves to trust God. They new better. They wanted their own way, and God allowed it. They got what they asked for. Today, under the "New Covenant" of grace, the Church takes upon itself the position of being God's representative. God chose this structure to make know what it is to live under His grace. But, like ancient Israel, we do not trust. We seem to think we know what is best for ourselves, and really for God, too. Perfection cannot be expected from the Church, even though many parts of the Church like to think they are in perfection. Self-righteousness has always been with us.

However, many within the Church do absolutely stupid things that do nothing but cause harm to the cause of Christ.

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I finished Recent History. In many ways, it brought up similiar feelings as when I read Lake Effect last summer.

Now, today, I got into Young Man from the Provinces. He, the author, writes about growing up in a violent alcoholic family (his father, who would beat him and his mother). He had a couple reoccuring nightmares. One, a big black bear would slowly raise the bedroom window inch by inch

More stuff from the court ruling prompted by another Focus on the Family e-mail update about gay marriage and public opinion.

"Most Americans Oppose Gay "Marriage," Gallup Poll Says
By Steve Jordahl, correspondent

"A majority of Americans still thinks marriage should be
limited to a man and a woman. A recent Gallup Poll found
55 percent of Americans oppose same-sex "marriage", while
only 39 percent said gay relationships should be given the
same rights and privileges as traditional marriage.

Jan LaRue, legal policy director at Concerned Women for
America, said this issue is a matter of common sense.

"This is morally repugnant to most thinking people," LaRue
said. "Thankfully, the majority will prevail as to
preserving marriage to a man and a woman."

They are depending on majority opinion for their justification of establishing laws that impinge upon the equal treatment of one group of people. By using majority opinion, they run the risk of majority opinion turning against their issue, their understanding of things, their desired morality and laws. If we look at additional studies, at least the results of which I have read from numerous sources, the trending majority opinion is against their desired end, so why continue to lift up that argument to justify their position.

As politicized Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians, when the rubber hits the road, they don't care about majority public opinion. They are simply using this argument now because it supports their position. They believe that God will support their campaigns and their positions, so therefore they will win. If their positions (which they consider God's positions) are not supported by majority opinion, it is simply proof that our culture has rejected God's ways, to our own destruction. If majority opinion does not support their positions, then they will discard majority opinion as a justification in a New York minute.

They continue to attempt to insinuate that anyone who is moral, sane, and intelligent will obviously support their position that marriage is only between one woman and one man, as the past 3,000 years of history supports. All one has to do is look at history beyond the past 200 years to see that most marriages really looked very little like marriages today, but they still attempt to demand that history support their position of one woman and one man freely marrying out of love.

Frankly, I really don't care whether gay people are allowed to bind their relationship under the same name, "marriage," as straight people, but within the civil arena gay couples whom so desire should have the same civil rights and responsibilities as straight couples who desire to legalize their relationships. This will become the prevailing policy because it is just, even just before God. Taking this position does not mean that anyone has to agree with homosexuality or stop advocating that homosexuals change. It simply means that a group who desires the same goals and morals supported by "straight marriage," has the same civil rights and responsibilities of other groups who desire the same thing – to legalize their relationships and desire to bound one to another.

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I'm working through my thoughts on the Supreme Court judgment concerning Texas vs. Lawrence. It is unjust, I think, that sodomy laws are applied to homosexuals and not heterosexuals. It is dangerous, however, to formulate and enact civil policy and laws based on emotion or to justify based on individual wants or thoughts. I understand that there are many who believe any kind of homosexual expression is immoral, and for the sake of social stability that the people's representatives have the right to enact laws that support the public's notion of morality. The problem is that the majority in a pure democracy can enact laws that do unjustly discriminate - it is the tyranny of the majority. Another example of the tyranny of the majority is the treatment of blacks in this country, or laws that prohibited inter-racial relationships and marriage. We live not in a pure democracy; we live in a republic where elected representatives legislated on behalf of their constituents. This offers some protection to the whims of change and the fickleness of public opinion - the tyranny of the majority. Within our system, the courts offer a counter-balance to the legislature, which can still enact on behalf of the public, unjust laws.

However, the Constitution has nothing to say about sodomy laws, whether homosexual or heterosexual. To find a Constitutional right to acts of sodomy is not plausible, it is establishing law centered on the morality held by the nine justices of the Supreme Court. I agree, I think, with Justice Thomas' statement that if he were a legislature, he would overturn the law, but as a justice, he would not because under this issue as it stands it is the responsibility of the legislature make law, not the Supreme Court. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court, or the court system in general, to create rights where rights were not honestly established in the Constitution. I think a more correct justification for overturning the Texas law would have been through equal protection under the law, as Justice O'Connor cited, rather than a right to privacy. Does a legislature have the right and with the support of public to pass laws establishing moral behavior. Yes, we do it all the time. Honestly, we do, that is what law is.

While I benefit from the ruling, I think it would have been better to continue our advocacy with the public in order to change their attitudes, which would eventually be reflected in legislation and the overturning of unjust laws. Having a court force the issue on an unwilling public is not the best way to honestly cause change in peoples' individual beliefs and feelings. The problem is that sometimes with some issues the length of time to cause the change in public attitudes, and thus laws, to end unjust laws unequally applied to all is the defining issue. If the Supreme Court had not acted concerning race laws, we may still have states with laws denying blacks equal access and equal treatment under the law. So, here we are with sodomy laws and the Court's ruling.

More to come, and possibly a total change of opinion. The fact is we pass laws to regulate morality all the time. To deny that is ridiculous. Is appealing to the courts for redress the best course to take? It may be the most expedient, but is it the best? I'm not sure at this point.

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Since the Religious Right lost concerning their position on sodomy laws due to the recent Supreme Court ruling, they are now attempting to refocus on their arguments that the homosexual "lifestyle" is horribly unhealthy and that homosexuality should be opposed and prohibited because of the mental and physical health of homosexuals themselves. Never mind that the exact same problems exist with heterosexuals. Statistically, I have no idea which group has the greater instances per capita. Anyway, here is an e-mail update from Focus on the Family.


Texas Case Spotlights 'Gay-on-Gay' Domestic Violence
By Terry Phillips, correspondent

SUMMARY: What is the greatest danger to gays; being the
victim of a so-called "hate crime" or the victim of
violence from a partner?

The recent murder of a Texas woman by her lesbian lover
has again raised the issue of gay-on-gay domestic
violence. It's the secret homosexuals don't like to
confront.

It's not that homosexuals don't know that violence against
one another is a major problem; they just don't want it to
become common knowledge, according to Robert Knight,
director of the Culture and Family Institute in
Washington, D.C.

"Homosexual activists are worried people who don't agree
with their political agenda may seize upon this and say,
'See, this is another reason to dissuade people from
getting involved in homosexuality,' " Knight said.

The statistics prove it to be a very compelling reason.

" 'We believe as many as 650,000 gay men may be victims of
domestic violence each year in the United States,'
according to two homosexual activists who wrote a book
several inches thick on the subject," reports Gary Glenn,
president of the American Family Association in Michigan.

Other data suggests lesbian domestic violence is at least
equal in extent.

"There is a book called 'Violent Betrayal,' by Claire
Renzetti, in which she documents women are four times more
likely to be victims of domestic violence in a lesbian
household than in a married household," Knight said.

But the huge disparity is in the reality of a gay being
victimized by a partner, rather than by a gay-basher.
Glenn concluded that if mainstream media want to be
effective rather than politically correct, they would
shine the light on the semi-secret of homosexual violence
against one another.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: We suggest the following resource as
an aid for those wanting to get out of the gay lifestyle
-- or for those who know someone who might: "Helping
People Step Out of Homosexuality," By Frank Worthen.

http://www.family.org/resources/itempg.cfm?itemid=3520&refcd=CE03FCZL&tvar=no

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