Right up front, let me say that I still have faith in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. She accomplished many things in Tanzania, and apparently did so without much help from any of the other Primates. Any person who’s ever been the first woman in a meeting full of hostile men, or the first person of color in a meeting full of hostile white people, has some idea of the pressure under which she was operating.
I want to cut her some slack here – something that would be much easier to do if she would offer some words to LGBT Episcopalians instead of talking about them. But that’s true of just about everyone, from bishops, to Primates, to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Rowan has a lot to answer for, not least of which is why Bob Duncan was invited to address the Primates and Gene Robinson was not.
After reading more reaction than is probably healthy to the Primates Communique, the Schedule, et al, I think it’s time for a reality check.
But first, a personal note: as an Episcopalian who lives in a diocese whose bishop has asked for Alternate Primatial Oversight, let me be as clear as I can be -- I do not want a Primatial Vicar. So if we start handing out PVs, I don't need one. I have a PB.
Back to the Reality Check -- this is no longer about Katharine Jefferts Schori. She has done her part. Now this is about all of us and who we say we are.
Long before Lambeth 1998, the schismatics in the church have been hailing first this meeting, then that meeting as THE meeting in which The Episcopal Church will [pick one] be disciplined, be kicked out of the Communion, be censured, be excommunicated, be disciplined in some horrible way—and if the schismatics had their wish, the presiding bishop would be publicly humiliated, if not put in stocks.
And lo, meeting after meeting occurred, and resolution after report was issued, and behold! None of these things happened. The only wounds we've suffered have been self-inflicted.
The Episcopal Church agreed, foolishly in my mind, to voluntarily absent itself from a couple of meetings of the ACC, and then shamed itself with the passage of B033 in Columbus.
None of the dire things predicted have been done to us because NO ONE has the power to do any of it to us—not Lambeth, not the Anglican Consultative Council, not the Windsor Report and not the Primates.
The one person with ANY power to do anything is the Archbishop of Canterbury and the most he can do is withhold an invitation to Lambeth.
While that might hurt some Episcopal egos and horrify some Anglophiles, the important question is—exactly how will not going to Lambeth affect our spiritual health and our ministries? I suspect, not at all.
What WILL dangerously affect our spiritual health and ministries is for us to do what the Primates are demanding—to single out one small group of Episcopalians and say to them, “We’ve been ordered to make you our scapegoats. Your lives, loves, and ministries are the sacrifices we are offering up to people who have no authority and who have squandered any moral capital they may have had by acting like bullies and by remaining silent as LGBT people in Nigeria are persecuted with the active ecouragement of that country's Anglican leadership. By putting you aside, by keeping you under wraps, we not only will get to go to Lambeth, we also will be praised for our willingness to sacrifice you in order to appease the loudest mouths in the Communion.”
And here is my prophecy – if we do this, within minutes of our caving in, Akinola and his American cronies will be saying, “It’s not good enough. You have to promise not to ordain any more homosexuals.”
So we will have sold off part of ourselves in order to gain, what? Demands that we sell off another part. And then another part, most likely bishops who are women. And then another part, most likely priests who are women. If I were a person of color, I’d be a little uneasy at this point.
These people are remaking the Anglican Communion into something I don’t even recognize and certainly have no desire to be a part of – and I fear The Episcopal Church is going to go along with them.
I left the Roman Catholic Church because rage was not the spiritual experience I was seeking. If The Episcopal Church, my refuge, my church, MY CHURCH, sells off my sisters and brothers, my beloveds, WHY would I remain? How could I remain? How could I kneel to receive communion at an altar rail gaping with empty spaces? How could I be part of a community so willing to sacrifice its integrity, to sacrifice who and what it is, to appease bullies?
I became an Episcopalian because it is a church that remembers we are commanded to love God with our whole hearts and our whole MINDS. I became an Episcopalian because they were moving toward honoring the ministries of ALL the baptized, not just the white, male, ostensibly straight baptized.
If we do this to ourselves—and we are the only ones with the power to do this to us—we will no longer be The Episcopal Church, even if the name remains the same.
We will have sacrificed part of the baptized to become something else, defined by someone else.
I am very afraid.