Chicago’s new Episcopal bishop, national leader speak up for gay clergy —

Yes! This is what we hoped to see:

Chicago’s new Episcopal bishop, national leader speak up for gay clergy —

Chicago’s new Episcopal bishop and the church’s national leader sent a clear message Sunday about where they stand on gay clergy, a smoldering issue that threatens to tear apart the denomination.Wrapping up a five-day tour in honor of Jeffrey Lee, the new Chicago bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori declared that the American church will not stand alone in its support of gay clergy during an international meeting in July in Lambeth, England.

“Many more [bishops] than you might expect are sympathetic,” Jefferts Schori, the presiding Episcopal bishop, told parishioners at St. Nicholas Church in Elk Grove Village. “They are not, however, the loudest voices.”

Later in Chicago, Lee was seated at St. James Cathedral and reminded audience members of their call to ministry by virtue of their baptism, not their liberal or conservative interpretations of Scripture.

“That’s one of the tragedies afflicting the church right now,” he said. “So many of us seem to think that salvation depends on our theological correctness.”

I couldn’t go to the seating, but I was at the consecration. I like Bishop Lee, though; he stepped into his new role with aplomb once he was consecrated.

But Jefferts Schori’s comment regarding bishops’ support reassured Rev. Stephen Martz, the vicar of St. Nicholas, where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families are welcome to worship.

“It seemed to be an authentic remark,” Martz said. “I hope it’s true.”

It also reassured Rev. Alex Seabrook, 82, who was ordained in 1954 and attended the service at St. Nicholas to watch the presiding bishop baptize twins.

“I’ve seen the church of the past,” he said. “The whole service today was the church of the future.”

That’s us. The twin babies are the children of a woman priest, and they were held by two other woman priests.

I have pictures – lots of pictures! that David took, and I took a few, too. More later.

UPDATE II crossposted from the church blog.

Recessional Joy

This was how we all felt as Sunday’s service ended: full of joy, and not a little relief that we had managed to pull off such an important event as the visit of the Presiding Bishop to a small, suburban parish such as St Nick’s.

This was how the crucifers and torchbearers looked going in:

Tense Processional

As you can see, a little tense. But soon we all relaxed and enjoyed the service, which included plenty of music, the baptism of two wee little babies, and a great sermon by Bishop Katharine that took us all with her to on a recent trip to North Korea by way of illustrating the Gospel and other readings.

The images from her description of her trip with other Anglican dignitaries to deliver some charity gifts will remain with us for a long time; she noted how the tourist road was well paved, but the roads the North Korean people traveled were dirt. It was cold, cold, cold, and she hiked up a mountain called “Diamond” in a tourist area of the peninsula to see a famous old temple.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

More recently, she was out for a very early morning run just before dawn near Norfolk, VA (as a former, non-elite runner, I can almost relate – barely). She experienced God in the clear mountain air as sharp and cold as diamonds in North Korea, and in the lonely darkness before dawn in the smaller mountains of Virginia, with the East striped with a band of red that faded after only a few moments. She was preaching about mountains to people that live in the flatlands, but as a former mountain girl myself, I believe she was talking about their power to transfigure us and the way we see the world. And then how we’re charged with getting out into the world and climbing a few mountains ourselves, and overcoming obstacles.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

Presentation of flowers and a banner they made from the children of St Nick’s

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

Presentation of an empty case! It will contain a DVD of a roundtable discussion from our LGTB Spirituality group. It was Bishop Katharine’s response to this presentation which was quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

Katharine and St Nicholas

Katie Black and her mother Audrey Cannon present Bishop Katharine with a St Nicholas icon, signed by all of us.

Katharine and St Nicholas

Tim Black and Marty O’Rourke get ready to present Bishop Katharine with a hard hat from the Building and Grounds Committee. It was supposed to be symbolic of our hoped-for expansion project, but they also think she could find other uses for it.

Katharine and St Nicholas

And she wore it. I think Tim just saluted – former Navy man that he is.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

The younger parishioners take their responsibilities seriously when they bring the gifts to the altar.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

Bringing just one can of beans helps a hungry family, even if it’s too big to hold.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

The gifts of food for our pantry.

Let Them Eat Cake

Choirmistress Mary Gomez Fletcher threatens the choir with death if we blow the entry directs the choir.

Let Them Eat Cake

Cowed into submission, the choir performs “All Good Gifts” by Natalie Sleeth.
I’m the big red one in the middle of the second row. At least my part is straight.

St Nicholas Welcomes Bishop Katharine

The gifts of God, for the people of God.

There were many gifts and blessings; food for the pantry, two prayer blankets, icons, several donations in Katharine’s name to various MDG charities, a DVD from our LGTB Spirituality group, a St Nicholas ornament and icon for Katharine, and the greatest gift and blessing of all: sharing the Eucharist with her and with each other.

There were a LOT of people there from neighboring Episcopal churches and we saw many old friends and familiar faces. And afterwards, there was time to greet Katherine, visit with her husband Richard, and eat lots of cake.

Let Them Eat Cake

Bishop Katharine and her husband Richard, no doubt longing for cake (and coffee), wait to greet parishioners and visitors. Father Steve, in the middle on the right, may be trying to fit one more thing into the tight schedule.

Katharine and St Nicholas

Detail of the back of Katharine’s chausuble – I took this photo, having been released from choir jail duties.

Katharine and St Nicholas

The Rev. Alex Seabrook of St John the Evangelist, Lockport IL, has a heart-to-heart with Katharine. He was also quoted in the Chicago Tribune: “I’ve seen the church of the past,” he said. “The whole service today was the church of the future.” Mary looks on.
(I took this one, too)

Let Them Eat Cake

Wait… is this another press release? Father Steve had me send out dozens, in 5 different waves touching on different themes. Is this his way of alerting bakery workers to ++Katherine’s visit?

All photos are by David Gibbs except as noted.

Several blogs and news sites referenced this event or helped us get the word out, including The Lead, the Mad Priest’s blog, BeliefNet, and Episcope. See also our group page on Facebook!

[tags]Katharine Jefferts Schori, Episcopal, Bishop, St Nicholas[/tags]

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3 thoughts on “Chicago’s new Episcopal bishop, national leader speak up for gay clergy —

  1. I love the pic of Bishop Katharine in the hardhat! Cool. And, is it just me or do you seem to have a heavenly light shining on you in the choir pic?

  2. Not sure how, but the lighting effect is partly because the overhead spots got moved around a little. But I expect my husband David finagled the light settings a bit, too.

    Katharine was a lot of fun and a really good sport. The whole thing would not have made the Chicago Tribune (they had a big color picture over the print article) if it hadn’t been for that one comment. Since then I’ve seen the story propagate a bit – I hope she didn’t mind being put on the spot.

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