Bringing the message home

Bishop Chris Epting sums it up quite nicely, here:

It’s a good thing we can take a deep breath and let other prayerful and thoughtful people in our Communion consider what we have done. For those who will do their theology by press release (rather than by prayerful thought) this will be a confusing exercise.

That goes beyond anything within our church, and in this era of Communications 2.0 (I know, that’s jargony), misinformation becomes a virus. For instance, take a look at this message being circulated after the poster read a completely erroneous story (since corrected) at the BBC website. It’s safe to say that we’ve had our hands full, as have other episcobloggers from both sides of the aisle, with our own clarifications, when we’ve had them, and with our frantic attempts to find them when we haven’t.

Meanwhile, we’ve been poking around at diocesan websites looking for letters from individual bishops. Many of them are underlining their contributions of time and resources to the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi, which has sadly seen very little air time in the mainstream press. Others are reaching out to help people understand the significance of the compromise, which winds up playing out in the media as we caved to the bullies to some and fell short of primatial demands to others. In the Diocese of Virginia, Bishop Peter James Lee, Bishop Coadjutor Shannon Sherwood Johnston and Bishop Suffragan David Colin Jones sent a response that included the following:

The formal response to the Primates’ Communiqué was adopted late Tuesday by the House of Bishops by a virtually unanimous vote. It reflected our very deep appreciation of the Anglican Communion and our strong desire to maintain and nurture our role within it, while asserting our determined commitment to include gay and lesbian persons in our common life.

…This reconfirmation constitutes our continuing agreement with that resolution and acknowledges that such language pertains specifically to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We also repeated our pledge not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. We noted that we hope to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide process of listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian persons.

We commended our Presiding Bishop for her plans to provide episcopal visitors for dioceses at irreconcilable odds with her own ministry as Primate and we support her commitment to consult with the wider communion in pastoral matters, seeking creative solutions that are in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his desire to include the bishop of New Hampshire at next year’s Lambeth Conference. We called for commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. We deplored the incursion of uninvited bishops into our dioceses.

No one achieved everything he or she wanted in our statement.

The whole thing is here.

Bishop Kirk Smith of the Diocese of Arizona spells it out thus, as posted on Nick Knisely’s Entangled States and practically a continuation of above:

What we did this week is a compromise, and like all compromises runs the risk of pleasing no one. Each side had to give up something in getting to this point. But there is some good news in this. I feel that we are in a much better position to move ahead, both in our own American Church and with the larger Communion. There was a greater spirit of cooperation and consensus among liberal and conservative bishops in the House than I have ever seen. We have also strengthened the bonds of common mission between ourselves and most (not all) of our brothers and sisters in Africa. The clearer language about same gender blessings allows me to revisit this topic, which I plan to do with the clergy at our annual retreat in January.

To those for whom this has opened old wounds, I again counsel patience, even though I understand that might ring hollow. I do believe we are moving in the right direction, even though slower than many would like. Still, the goal of full inclusion is closer than it was before and we now have a better chance of being one people united in Christ when we get there.

His whole letter is here (Thanks, Nick+). His entire letter really gets to the heart of why this is difficult for everyone but still, to him at least, is progress.

More as we find them.

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