...and I'll tell you what it is: What has me bothered is the continuing unrest in the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which we refer to, in the United States, as the Episcopal Church. A Church body that is in full communion with my own. You see, the American branch of the Anglican communion has taken a courageous, and wholly Christian stance (in my view) by not only ordaining women, but electing openly gay people to serve as priests. This has caused a great deal of unrest in American church, as you might imagine.
It was reported, three days ago, in the Washington Post, that Colorado's largest Episcopal Church, Grace Church & St. Stephen's academy (est. 1872), in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has elected to leave the American Episcopal church, and enter into association with an ultra-conservative Anglican church body from Nigeria.
Why? Because various congregations in the United States want to use the word of God to codify their bigotry.
This isn't a new thing, unfortunately. In recent years, the Episcopal church has done some things that don't sit well with it's more conservative members. First, in the 1970's the U.S. church started ordaining women as Priests, Next, in 2003, an openly gay Priest, The Reverend Gene Robinson...
...was elected and consecrated as the Bishop for New Hampshire. In 2006, a woman, Bishop Kathrine Jefferts Schiori, of Nevada, was elected as Presiding Bishop for the entire American church.
That did it! The conservative elements had had all they were going to take. Many Parishes left after the consecration of the gay Bishop, and over the past year, dozens parishes had elected to leave the church with Jefferts Schori's ascension and the determination of the national church body to continue to bless same-sex unions and refusal to exclude gay members.
I, for one, applaud the action of the Episcopal church. At a time when many churches are taking the stand of exclusivity, as if the church is some sort of country club that needs to keep out the rabble, and in some cases deciding to not decide, the Episcopal church has taken a stand, that I consider to be in line with the theology of Jesus Christ: That all are welcome.
I mean, I could get deeply scriptural here, but I won't... there are plenty of places you can find that if you want. Here it is: Why is it that churches will split over homosexuality, but not over adultery? over homosexuality, but not over lying; sexual infidelity or "sexually inappropriate" behavior by the Pastor; theft; spousal abuse; and on and on? I'll tell you why... because people like having another group to hate... and it is particularly helpful to hate a group that you can get the clergy to agree with you on. You see, we Christians like to feel holy when we sin.
I'll say that again: We Christians like to feel holy when we sin.
It isn't fashionable to be openly racist in America anymore, especially in the church, but thankfully we still have one group that we can openly attack, and we can even try to use scripture against them You guessed it, gay people. Isn't that great? black people, white people, Latino people... we can all hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and exclude gay people from the body of Christ! AMEN!
I'm ill about it.
My oldest sister is gay. She is an ordained minister. She is leaving her church. She has to, before the congregation that loves the way she preaches the gospel, finds out about her love life. I have friends, some of whom read this blog, that no longer are active in their churches, because of the stances of their churches. I have a friend that is seeking ordination in the very same denomination that is struggling on this issue, and I am very proud of the courage that she has shown in the face of all of this furor.
People the world over have tried to cover their hatred of gays by quoting a few passages from the Bible while conveniently forgetting the most important parts of the Gospels: "For you are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." **Please note that this passage from the second chapter of Ephesians doesn't add the caveat "unless you are a homosexual"**
If nothing that I have said makes any sense to you, let me close with this: Excluding someone from your church or it's sacraments because of their sexual orientation is not only a sin, but it's un-American.
That's what I said, un-American. You see, we claim to cling to the notion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
You see, the pursuit of happiness, which includes matrimony, is an American right. A right. A right that the church shouldn't be able to ignore because of the bigotry of some adherents.
American slavery began to be abolished in 1863, and it took until 2000 for the last prohibitions against interracial marriage to end in this country. It may take a long time, but I say to those who are waiting... be of good cheer, history is on your side.