Friday, October 30, 2009

Celebrate with us

The ordination of Susan Slaughter to the priesthood is an historic moment for the Diocese of Fort Worth and has occasioned great rejoicing in the diocese. St. Luke’s in the Meadow is a small parish that is working hard to accommodate this big event in the life of their parish and of the diocese.

Many people have inquired about how they might help St. Luke’s as it prepares for the Nov. 15 event, or contribute to a gift for Susan, or both.

People wishing to assist with the expenses of the reception and flowers can send a check to St. Luke’s in the Meadow, 4301 Meadowbrook Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76103. Please indicate “Women of St. Luke” in the memo line, as that is the organization in charge of arrangements.

If you would like to send a card or a letter to Susan, please send them to her via St. Luke’s in the Meadow at the address above.

Many of you know that St. Luke’s recently purchased a whole new set of lovely vestments, but a gift of a new chasuble just for Susan in celebration of this event has already been made.

Additionally a gift of a set of stoles in all the liturgical colors is being prepared. If you would like to be part of this historic occasion in making the gift of stoles, please send a check made out to the Diocese of Fort Worth, with “Susan Slaughter gift” in the memo line and mail it to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, 3550 Southwest Loop 820, Fort Worth, TX 76133.

Any funds left over from the purchase of the stoles will be donated to Susan’s discretionary fund.

For more information, please contact Margaret Mieuli at .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Colbert and the pope

I am a former Roman Catholic. I left because passive acquiesence to patriarchy was not the spiritual experience I was seeking. I wanted to love God as I was commanded, with my whole heart, my whole soul, AND my whole mind. That's why I was attracted to the Episcopal Church.

And here's the best explanation I've heard as to why the pope's recent invitation to disgruntled Angllicans is not attractive. It takes about 6 minutes to watch.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Holy Water Under the Bridge - Randall Balmer
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

With Great Rejoicing!

It is with great rejoicing that we make the following announcement.

Thirty-three years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, the first woman will be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

At 5:00 P.M. on Sunday Nov. 15 in St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. [Ted] Gulick Jr. will ordain Deacon Susan Slaughter to the priesthood.

She will be the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the history of the Fort Worth diocese, which was founded in 1983. The Rev. Ms. Slaughter also will be the first woman rector of a parish in the diocese. The Episcopal Church approved women’s ordination to the priesthood and episcopate in 1976 and the first women were ordained priests in January 1977.

Susan Slaughter

When Susan Slaughter was 8 years old, two friends, independently of each other, invited her to go to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston, TX.

“I loved the liturgy, joined the junior choir and was confirmed at age 12. I was the first in my family to attend and be confirmed in the Episcopal Church,” she said. She soon brought her parents and brothers into the church with her.
She graduated from Bellaire High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. She married Jerry Slaughter and then went on to get a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from North Texas State University in Denton, TX. Susan and Jerry each had two children when they married. When Jerry died in 2007 they had been married for 28 years. Susan has seven grandchildren.
She completed seminary training at the Anglican School of Theology, Dallas, TX and is currently enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX. For the past several years, she has served as deacon at St. Luke’s in the Meadow. Her leadership and ministry helped stabilize that parish through the rocky time prior to the departure of the former bishop and other diocesan leaders and in the transition time after their departure in November 2008 and before the diocese was reorganized in February 2009.

She began sensing a call to the ordained ministry in the 1980s when she became actively involved in lay ministry at her home parish of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, TX.

“Before initiating Stephen Ministry in my parish, I began noticing an internal struggle regarding my possible call to ordination,” she said. The Stephen Ministry trains and organizes lay people to provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around their congregations.

She talked with her rector. But no matter how supportive her rector may have been neither Bishop A. Donald Davies nor his successors Clarence Pope and Jack Iker would ordain women to the priesthood. So she developed the Stephen Ministry program, served as lay reader and server, led women’s Bible studies and taught adult Christian Education.

“Believing I was particularly suited to coordinate, train and supervise Stephen Ministry, I attempted to rationalize my not pursuing ordination. When I could no longer deny the persistent drawing, I met with Bishop Pope. In my particular diocese women were not candidates for ordination to the priesthood. Once again, I tried to push aside the sense of call,” she said.

After eleven years of taking seminary courses for her own edification and continuing her discernment process, she met with Jack Iker, the newly consecrated bishop.

“He pointed me in the direction of another diocese. Circumstances prevented me from entertaining the possibility of relocating,” she said.

When she learned women could be ordained deacons in the Fort Worth diocese, she again tried to discern the nature of her ministry. Eventually she returned to Iker believing that her call must be to the diaconate. She was ordained a deacon on Oct. 12, 2002. But over time the realization grew that her call was to the priesthood. After Bp. Gulick was elected, she visited with him and he and the Commission on Ministry agreed she was called to the priesthood.

“It is with a deep sense of awe in the mysterious ways of our Lord that I arrive at this moment. I am filled with gratitude toward those persons, lay and clergy, who have encouraged and supported me over the years. St. Luke’s in the Meadow has been especially supportive and has helped me discern more clearly my true vocation,” she said.

This day was a long time coming. Indeed, had the Rev. Ms. Slaughter lived in any other diocese, she would most likely have been ordained a priest years ago. The long awaited fulfillment of her call adds a deep sweetness to the day.

History of women’s ordination in diocese

The Diocese of Fort Worth was formed from the western part of the Diocese of Dallas, in part out of opposition to the ordination of women to the priesthood. The founding bishop, A. Donald Davies, and both his successors, Clarence C. Pope and Jack L. Iker, all left the Episcopal Church over women’s ordination. Under those bishops, women feeling called to the priesthood either had to give up their call or leave the diocese to be ordained elsewhere. At least fifteen women have done so—and all have been invited “home” for the ordination.

The diocese reorganized after Iker’s departure and elected Bishop Gulick as provisional bishop in February. Under his leadership two women priests have been licensed to serve in the diocese—the Rev. Ms. Maurine Lewis who retired to Fort Worth from the Diocese of Milwaukee in 2008 and does supply work among the displaced parishes; and the Rev. Ms. Melanie R. Barbarito, who was hired in August by All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth as parochial associate for evangelism and engagement. She came to Fort Worth from the Diocese of Missouri. She is the first woman to be hired on the staff of a parish here.

But the Rev. Ms. Slaughter is the first woman from this diocese to be ordained a priest, an event that marks a historic turning point in the life of diocese and perhaps more than any other one event, signals what a new day it is in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

A second woman, Deacon ClayOla Gitane, will be ordained on Dec. 5 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth by the Rt. Rev. Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera of the Diocese of Olympia. The Rev. Ms. Gitane began the process while Jack Iker was bishop. He refused to ordain women to the priesthood and so she had to leave the diocese to pursue her call. This will be the first time a female bishop has performed an episcopal act in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Shield the joyous.

Friday, October 02, 2009

David Letterman, creep

David Letterman admits on his show that he has had sex with women who work for him -- and the audience laughs.

He told about this on the air because someone was apparently trying to extort money from him by threatening to tell about the sex with staffers unless Letterman paid him off.

Letterman claims he was admitting the sex because he "has to protect these people." The audience applauds.

What a great guy! Right.

Well, no.

Yes, extortion is wrong.

But a boss sleeping with women on his staff also is wrong. One also assumes it's against the policies of CBS for a boss to have sex with people who work for him or her. What will CBS do now? You can bet that women all over the network are watching this carefully, because if they do nothing, any protection these women have from sexual harassment becomes meaningless. Any supervisor accused of harassing an employee for sex will be able to point to Letterman and HR suddenly can't do much.

Let's talk about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is all about imbalance of power. It's about women [and yes, men too] feeling pressured to have sex with the boss because, well, he's the boss and could have them fired.

It's about "creating a hostile work environment." That doesn't just mean having to face demands for sex every day at the office -- although that is terrible enough.

Let's imagine how all the women on the staff of the Letterman show feel now? Every one of them now is being looked at -- did he sleep with her? Or her? Is that why she got that raise? Did that one refuse and that's why she's now working weekends? What about the one who was fired? Was it because she said no?

Men in the office are probably wondering if that's why they got passed over for an assignment they wanted. Will their resentment be aimed at Letterman? Not a chance. They will resent the women for "using" sex to get what the men thought they deserved.

Yes, indeed, it will do wonders for the morale of the staff.

Letterman said it himself. He's a creep. But he's also a creep who very likely violated company policies that could get people fired.

Let's hope the policies work and do exactly that.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Covenant matters and Iker update

The Living Church reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Diocese of Central Florida to the effect that only provinces may sign onto the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Dioceses and parishes can vote to "endorse" the Covenant, but it will have no "institutional effect."

Some of us have been saying this for a long time, so it's nice to have Canterbury finally write something that is fairly straightforward and unambiguous on the matter.

Episcopal Cafe and Mark Harris both offer good commentary on this, and Mark also points his readers to an excellent blog on why the covenant is a bad idea for Anglicans.

[If you are not already reading the Cafe and Mark on a regular basis, you should be, because both sites do an excellent job of keeping up with developments in the Anglican world.]

World Anglican Forum is the blog of Bruce Kaye, who describes himself as an "Anglican theologian, Foundation editor of the Journal of Anglican Studies. Currently a Visiting Research Fellow in History at the University of New South Wales and a Professorial Associate in Theology at Charles Sturt University . Web site".

He writes:

"There are four reasons why this covenant is not a good idea for Anglicans.

1. It is against the grain of Anglican ecclesiology (what we think the church is)

2. It is an inadequate response to the conflict in the Anglican Communion

3. In practical terms it will create immense and complicating confusion about institutional relationships and financial obligations.

4. It does not address the key fundamental issue in this conflict, how to act in a particular context which is relevant to that context and also faithful to the gospel."

The whole article, as well as previous ones, are well worth your time.

The Cafe also offers these observations on items posted on the website of our former bishop:

[A week after the Sept. 16 hearing] "Iker's diocese filed a 'Motion for reconsideration of Court’s Sept. 16 decision.' Evidently, upon reflection, the September 16th decision was no victory.

"Most recently, on September 29th, he wrote:

"'I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to join me in a morning of fasting and prayer this Friday, Oct. 2nd, as Judge John Chupp considers three motions we have put before him in the 141st District Court. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center, located at 200 E. Weatherford Street (one block east of the old court house, on the south side of the street)....The last motion requests that the Court correct its Rule 12 ruling of Sept. 16 so that it will permit the local Plaintiff attorneys, Jonathan D. F. Nelson and Kathleen Wells, to represent only the people who have hired them, not the Diocese [Iker's group] and the Diocesan Corporation.'

"I'm no lawyer, but isn't that what the judge ruled on September 16th?

"Food is not allowed in most courtrooms in the United States.

"In a not so unrelated development, Iker's standing committee is also reassessing its relationships with ACNA and the South Cone and put forth the following resolution for the group's November convention:
WHEREAS, this Diocese continues to desire to maintain the highest degree of communion possible with other Anglicans in North America and throughout the world,
AND WHEREAS, this Diocese recognizes that certain theological differences exist among the constituent membership of the newly constituted Anglican Church in North America, as well as in the wider Anglican Communion,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, meeting in its 27th Annual Convention, does hereby commit to continued participation in the development of the Anglican Church in North America, acceding to the Constitution and Canons thereof during this process,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Diocese maintains its status as a member diocese in the Province of the Southern Cone while the formal process of recognition of this new province continues in the Anglican Communion.

"Emphasis added. The constitution of Iker's group asserts it is part of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the See of Canterbury. Legal risks are sufficient to justify the logic of this resolution. The second whereas is in there because there are chronic divisions in ACNA even at this early point in its existence."

Read it all at the Cafe.

I can't help wondering if the Iker folks' commitment to "continued participation in the development of the Anglican Church in North America, acceding to the Constitution and Canons thereof during this process" will be any more meaningful than their earlier promise to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

I don't know if they've also promised to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Southern Cone, which do not have ANY provision for a diocese outside of those listed. The Constitution of the Southern Cone defines membership:
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, which shall henceforth be called The Province, is
composed of the Anglican Dioceses that exist or which may be formed in the Republics of
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and which voluntary declare themselves
as integral Diocesan members of the Province.

Note there is no provision for dioceses such as San Joaquin or Fort Worth to legally be part of this province.

Apparently when you are creating a reality in your own image, laws and vows become very elastic things.