Via (The) Media: Telling The Good News

Proclaiming Good News, when the world looks for bad news | Seven whole days
Candles and vestments were at the center of controversies that nearly tore about the Episcopal Church. In the nineteenth century, lawsuits were filed, schism was threatened, and the church was distracted by fights over things that we take for granted today. Is there a lesson for us?

Scott Gunn’s got a point: we’ve been letting the Bad News Boys (and make no mistake, they’re mostly male) drive the news van for far too long. Time to take the wheel and tell the good news, and the Good News, and assure seekers that they will find a welcome at church, and not a nasty back-biting fight.

Make no mistake, a lot of Episcopal churches have lost members. A lot of Episcopal dioceses have lost entire parishes. Even one diocese, and possibly one or two or three others, may try to secede and align with one of several conservative African dioceses. This looks bad… but on the other hand, a lot of very unhappy people have left in order to find a place more in line with their views.

And that means there’s more room for seekers, except that they are put off by the endless, clergy-driven controversies. Which means that potential seekers need to be reassured that the doors are open, the welcome mat is out, and that for the great majority of Episcopal parishes, the “gay thing” isn’t an issue at all.

They need to be sure that they’re being drawn to a community that will include them and be glad of their presence, not just of the presents they bring…

In my own parish, we’re experiencing slow but steady growth, since the merger. In my pre-merger parish, we were NOT growing, but slowly losing people. That had as much to do with perceived decline as it did with the fact that we had a gay vicar; we experienced growth during the time of the previous vicar, who was also gay. However, she was female, while the last vicar was male. Somehow, it was easier for otherwise conservative people (especially male parishioners) to come around to the idea of a gay priest if she was female. It was just one of those things, possibly unique to our parish.  Also, there was definitely an element of “abandon ship.”  We’ve recently welcomed back a family that had left the old Holy Innocents fold, and had gone on to a more viable-looking mission farther to the south. Well, that mission is being closed, unfortunately, and so the family has found their way to our doors (and greeted with great joy). Their vicar was unceremoniously told by the diocese that her mission was redundant, so she’s come to us (with her tiny twin babies) too.

Being welcomed with open arms is really important. As Holy Innocents, we were sorry to see the one family drop away, because we were hurting and every drop in attendance was like another nail in the coffin. But as St Nicholas, we are happy to offer them an enthusiastic welcome home.  There is nothing to forgive, there is only a sense of things working themselves out. In the case of their vicar, we grieve with her at the loss of her church and standing, and we support her and offer her a place of refuge and refreshment.

I recently had an opportunity to be welcomed while on vacation in Maine; I’ll be writing about that as soon as we’re settled in after the trip. It’s going to be an example of how to do welcome right, and how to do church in a new way that springs from old, old roots.

Bishop Gene: Gagged, or Gag-making

This makes me sick to the stomach and sad, but The Lead was kind enough to link here in their post.

The Lead
The Archbishop of Canterbury has denied the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire permission to preach or preside at the Eucharist during his visits to England this year

No word on whether the appearance with Sir Ian McKellen is still planned, or if it already happened, as it wasn’t dated when I blogged about it before.

Bishop Gene Sadly Reports

According to a comment from Fr. Jake’s place, Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson has been advised that he will not have the Archbishop’s permission to preach or celebrate the Eucharist while in England during the Lambeth conference – the conference he was pointedly not invited to attend. This was at a service at a London-area church attended by one of Jake’s commenters. If true, I’ve lost much respect for the ABC. – Comments

Sir Ian McKellen: Gandalf In An Emphatically Pointed Hat

Yes, I’m a major Tolkien fan. Yes, I’m a liberrrl Anglo-Cat’lick Episcopalian. Yes, I cried when I read this. I make no apologies.

Sir Ian McKellen becomes bishop for a day – Telegraph

Never one to shy away from controversy, Sir Ian McKellen is secretly plotting to launch a campaign to shame the Anglican Church over its refusal to give equal rights to homosexual clergy.

In an act of solidarity with the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Church’s first openly homosexual bishop, the celebrated actor intends to read out a sermon written by the prelate, who has been barred from the landmark Lambeth Conference this summer that is seeking to prevent a schism over the issue.

Standing alongside the bishop, who will remain silent throughout, the star of The Lord of the Rings will deliver a broadside against the Church’s attitude to homosexuals with the kind of passion and force normally reserved for his performances on the stage.

++Katharine: Building Bridges

Episcopal Life Online – NEWS


Our Bishop ++Katharine has been in Israel living out Holy Week with an ecumenical group, walking the walk and talking the talk. The linked article tells more about the Good Friday pilgrimage along the Via Dolorosa, and how the group negotiated traffic, curious and incurious people on the street, and even an angry person who spat at them.

But ++Katharine is also building bridges – there were two photos near the top of the photo that said “Click for more information,” and with this one, the text is:

ELO photo/Matthew Davies
Following the March 21 Good Friday liturgy at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was greeted by the Rev. Gideon Uzomechina, an Anglican priest from the Diocese of Niger in the Church of Nigeria, who is visiting the Holy Land with more than 200 pilgrims from the Christian Association of Nigeria.

This simple greeting between clergypersons of two very different national churches in the Anglican communion, in Jerusalem, speaks directly to the heart; let our divisions cease.

It will be interesting to see the contrast between this invited and warmly welcomed visit, and a later one best described as unannounced and problematic.

Also, I hope this genial young priest doesn’t get in trouble with his Bishop and Archbishop for not remembering that the Americans are evil gay Satan worshipers, and that their leader is a heretic girl that likes to dress up, a thought expressed by a local Traditionalist Catholic gentleman on one of my Flickr photos.

Some People Are Invited Rather Than Barging In

I wish the disloyal opposition of the Episcopal/Anglican flavor of church would take note:

The Lead

Marking the annual Palm Sunday celebrations and the start of a week-long visit to the Holy Land, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached March 16 at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem at the invitation of Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

See? Bishop Katharine was invited. She did not barge in on her host and announce plans for a big “No Gurlz or Gayz” party in his house, over his objections. That’s how it’s done.

Bad Bishop: Not Fooling Anybody From The Bully(ing) Pulpit

IOL: Mugabe is ‘a prophet of God’ – rebel bishop

Last year, Kunonga withdrew from the Anglican province of Central Africa to set up his own province in Zimbabwe, ostensibly in a row about homosexuality.

But his critics claim he was really just preserving his own position. The mother church fired him last month. He has been steadily abandoned by all the parishes in Zimbabwe and now serves a community of only a few dozen worshippers who fill a few pews in the cathedral on Sunday mornings.

“We will not use the cathedral for services again until we have reconsecrated or sanctified it from the act of sacrilege done by Kunonga in that place,” said Bishop Bakare, who was brought out of retirement from eastern Zimbabwe to take over the cathedral parish temporarily.

Africa and its Anglicans is the “big stick” in the Communion, used by conservatives to try to verger we misguided majority-liberal, minority-conservative American Episcopalians into line. We’re constantly being reminded that there are far more Nigerians, Kenyans, Zimbabweans, Ugandans and other Africans in the pews in the Southern Hemisphere than there are English, Europeans, Canadians, and Americans in the Northern half of the globe (the Kiwis and the Ozzies mostly align with the North, with some standout exceptions).

Is this truly the example we are supposed to follow? Fall in with intolerance simply because there’s far more bottoms in the pews in countries were corruption and violence against gays are understood to have the Church’s blessing, or at least its acquiescent silence?

Kunonga, now deposed Bad Bishop of Harare, is failing to rally his base from the evidence in this story; his flock have caught on to his ways and have voted with their feet. They don’t bother about his assertions about homosexuality corrupting the Western church, and are making it clear that they would prefer to follow another leader. He still has a bully pulpit, the cathedral church, but with only a few dozen parishioner-thugs, he’s really just a pulpit bully preaching to an empty building behind padlocked gates.

The Zimbabwean Anglicans will need to do some serious purifications after he and his dirty laundry are finally kicked to the curb.

Bad Bishop of Harare: Loose Canon

Nolbert Kunonga, deposed bishop of Harare in Zimbabwe, is notoriously known as the “Bad Bishop” around here. He’s been embroiled in a dispute with his diocese where he’s currently squatting in possession of the cathedral, and refusing to allow worshipers, priests, and the acting bishop access. He commented recently in an interview:

“The cannons(sic) are clear on the issue of homosexuality. We are not doing anything new, but we have joined other dioceses elsewhere that have rejected homosexuality and decided to break away from their provinces.

“If they do not see anything bad in homosexuality then for us there is no compromise,” he said (emphasis Blogula Rasa’s).

I sometimes think that Bishop Kunonga may be the loose “canon” of the more literalist, conservative, or “rejectionist” wing of the Anglican ecclesiastical sandbox. He seems to be privy to some of the playbook, or at least knows what buzzwords to use to best effect in the ongoing spectacle of scandal that he seems to relish so much. He’s using the “homo-sexxuls R evul” argument in such a transparently self-serving way, too. Fortunately, many of his former flock are on to his ways – they may not approve of gay people, much, but they don’t really care what goes on in other countries, they’ve got much bigger problems than bothering about the sex lives of those crazy, self-indulgent Americans.

Hmm. As the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth appears to be getting ready to do its own joining with other dioceses  elsewhere that have rejected homosexuality and (attempt to) break away from its province, Bishop Kunonga seems remarkably well informed for a man half a world away. He’s one of the In Crowd, I guess.  But will he be sitting with the cool kids at the GAFCON lunch table? I wonder.  He’s not as all-powerful as he seems to think he is.

Via Zimbabwe: Anglican Church Saga – Kunonga Remains Defiant (Page 1 of 1)