Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Skip mentioned in his email this morning the big meeting of Episcopal Bishops taking place in NOLA this week, seems it made the front page of the Times-Picayune. I'm using my response to him regarding the controversy for today's post. Conservative friends and family members can stop reading here unless you're ready for elevated blood pressure. I'm about to expose my left leanings.

For a better understanding of just what is at stake in the NOLA pow-wow, read Bishop John Spong’s letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams. Spong represents the most liberal viewpoint in the Episcopal Church, but I more often agree with him than not. The conservative element wants to take TEC (The Episcopal Church) in a direction which is most un-Anglican. With the Church of England being founded on a more moderate theology (based on Scripture, Reason, and Tradition) than the mother church in Rome, a lot of us are wondering why this recent turn back to, what looks to a lot of us like, the Roman Catholic way.

It’s all about patriarchal power and control, in my opinion, and those who have been dissatisfied ever since TEC began ordaining women priests, then women bishops. A few got their noses out of joint when the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal were updated. The final straw was the ordaining of the gay bishop in New Hampshire. Even though it was approved by a (dare I say praying, Spirit-led) majority in both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (lay and clergy, we’re very democratic), a small percentage of our bishops has been crying “heresy” ever since. They’ve done everything they can to derail the train headed for Progress in the 21st Century. Yes, it caused some defections, but it also attracted a lot of folks who felt disenfranchised by other denominations.

Most of the dissidents are located in areas where – surprise, surprise – Southern Baptists dominate. You can imagine the grief and ridicule our priests and bishops got from their local Ministerial Associations, letters to the editor, etc. when our General Convention left all the other Protestant churches in the dust of yesteryear by adopting a more inclusive doctrine. I can’t help but believe they are being heavily influenced by their ultra-conservative peers.

Our local parish continues to keep the conflict out of our day-to-day operation, but we have a handful of unhappy parishioners, all of whom are heavily involved in Cursillo, and who are not in total agreement with our progressive direction. That they have stayed with a parish that welcomes, even employs a female priest, a gay staff member, and elected a couple of gay vestry members, as well as female vestry members, is encouraging to me. I just wish the others who are unhappy could be as reasonable and as charitable.

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