Comments: news roundup

A small correction to the comments of Bp Andrew St John in the ABC Radio piece: The Southern Baptist Convention is not the largest church in the USA. The largest is of course the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted by Scott Knitter at Thursday, 30 October 2003 at 6:46pm GMT

I just want to say kudos on the outstanding interview w/ Andrew St. John, the Australian bishop (now serving as a priest in NYC).

So often when I read the foreign press on ECUSA matters, it seems as though the reporters and commentators just don't get us (ECUSA) at all. Maybe it's really necessary for non-U.S. Anglicans to serve in the States, to get a real sense of what we're about.

Bishop St. John clearly *does* get us. Where others see us as "pushing" something, we just see ourselves as "business as usual" (though of course, the "business" in this case is the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ). Where others see us as coming up w/ something out of the blue, consecrating a gay priest, we see ourselves as both
1) building on a both Anglican _and_ American charism of "proclaiming liberty throughout the land" (the inscription on our iconic "Liberty Bell"), as reflected in the Civil Rights Movement (esp. African-Americans, but other persons of color as well) and women's movements.*
2) operating in a God-given *democratic* process, over the course of many years. The idea that Episcopalians (and esp. LGBT ones) must "wait" on the Anglican Communion becomes particularly repugnant, when ECUSA has been struggling with (and through) these issues for more than 30 years---nevermind how long gay Christians had been struggling _before_ that.

Moreover, I think the precedent of the struggle for the ordination of women is particularly instructive. If the bulk of the Anglican Communion had come round on women's ordination in a timely fashion (10 years after ECUSA? Maybe 20 tops?), maybe Episcopalians would be more inclined to be patient. But that's not what we've seen (in virtually every nation, secular culture had to lead the way for the rights of women, before the Church caught up---nevermind that the New Testament should have pushed the Church to *lead* this fight).

Finally, if ECUSA had been inclined to hang back (that is, telling our outstanding LGBT leaders and faithful couples to hold back), the last couple of years and months have done much to dissuade us. The despicable rhetoric coming from Anglican bishops---despite what they promised at Lambeth---combined w/ the shameful treatment of Jeffrey John, have proven to the majority of ECUSA that the AC will *never* come around, until someone takes the initiative, and demonstrates that the _sky will not fall_ w/ gay bishops (and publically-blessed couples).

From the perspective of ECUSA, "the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now" (Romans 8:22). The AC is experiencing extreme labor pains, awaiting the birth of the new. If New Hampshire (and New Westminster) have "pushed", it's only in the sense of the mother who *must* push, or risk the life of both herself and her child. The pain on all sides at this point, is _excruciating_ (pun intended!). It's only after the birth, that life can go on: binding up what needs binding, healing what needs healing, and---though I don't like to contemplate this---cutting off what has become dead and deadly (recognizing that much of the AC will say the latter of ECUSA).

But none of this can happen until the labor is over, and ECUSA has fairly and justly "given birth" to her new apostle in New Hampshire. If seeking a rationale for ECUSA's process, I can recommend no better interpreter than America's greatest saint, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who wrote a book entitled "Why We Can't Wait."

Thanks again for linking this great interview!

*Civil Rights and Women's movements, understood in their Christian theological contexts, of _all_ persons being made in God's Image.

Posted by J. Collins Fisher at Thursday, 30 October 2003 at 8:48pm GMT