INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2002 Integrity/Toronto.
The hard-copy version of this newsletter carries the ISSN 0843-574X
Integrity/Toronto Box 873 Stn F Toronto ON Canada M4Y 2N9
WELCOMING THE STRANGER IN THE CHURCH
by Sister Thelma-Anne ssjd
STILL WAITING AT THE CHURCH
The diocese of New Westminster has put same-sex blessings on hold as reconciliation talks are held with eight dissident parishes
RELEASE THE CAPTIVES!
a sermon by Canon Bill Morrison on Jesus' healing of the woman bent double, and the postponement of blessings
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Parallels between Bp Colenso (and the first Lambeth Conference) and Bp Ingham, by Bill Morrison
FLOURISHING IN FUCHSIA Integrity/Calgary reaches out at their Diocesan Synod
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Join the Integrity Canada mailing list for news updates
by Sister Thelma-Ann ssjd
As I began to write this article, I had a pretty clear idea of what I was going to say. I had it all worked out -- the parallels between integrating repressed psychological material and the welcoming into the church of those who have been ignored or excluded. The application to the situation of lesbians and gays and the turmoil produced by the events in the Diocese of New Westminster seemed obvious.
The further I went, the harder I found the going. Why? Well, for one thing, I began to realise the degree to which we in the Anglican Church are strangers to one another. We pride ourselves - and rightly so -- on being a church where diversity is welcome, where profound differences can co-exist. We have seen ourselves as an inclusive tradition, where liberal and conservative, protestant and catholic can live together in peace.
I think the present crisis has made me realise that we have maintained this self-image at a considerable cost. There has been little contact among the various groups. In large cities, in particular, one can choose a parish in which one can feel comfortable and never get to know how the other half lives. It is not uncommon to feel a little superior about our own brand of Anglicanism. -- we are the real, the representative Anglicans and the others are somewhat deviant -- but we can accept them as long as we don't have to deal with them. In short, we have become complacent.
That is the moment of truth to which the present crisis around same-sex unions has brought us. It is only when something happens that threatens our very sense of what it means to be Anglican that we are shaken out of our complacency. We feel that somehow the very foundations on which our life rests are crumbling beneath us. We are in a crisis of identity. Is the model of a broadly inclusive church, able to contain a wide variety of belief and practice, still viable? Has it ever been viable? And if not, is the alternative a tightly centralised body with the power to enforce uniformity of belief and practice? And whose belief and practice?
Perhaps it is part of the Anglican mentality that we have to be nice to each other, and that any conflict is a sign of hostility. So when deep-seated, passionately-held convictions bring confrontation, we want either to run away, or to pretend that things can go on as they always have, and everything will sort itself out. And so we remain strangers. But we no longer have that option. The very passion with which we embrace our convictions brings us face to face. We must face each other as enemies, or as sisters and brothers. Which will it be?
To become enemies can only further rend the body of Christ, and this is the direction we seem to be heading. Accusations of schism, exclusive claims of orthodoxy, threats of "swift and severe" reprisals, have created an atmosphere of conflict. But there are also signs of hope. Dialogue continues, however frustrating and painful it often is. In our yearly joint Eucharist, Fidelity and Integrity still affirm that what unites us -- our membership in Christ through baptism -- is greater than what divides us. There is a growing sense of responsibility to the goodly heritage which is ours. Schism does not solve anything. It is an easy and deadly way out.
What, then, are some of the signs that we want to bridge the gulf that now divides us? In the summary of the discussion on same-sex unions in the Diocese of Niagara I read the following:
I am often called an evangelical -- but I cannot find anything that Jesus said on this matter. I struggle with scripture on this matter, but I also think we should listen to what God is saying to us today. Where is God leading us? I look at many gay couples and I see many that have true love and a true spirit. The Spirit leads us to truth -- we need to understand it . . . I wonder why I can celebrate one kind of relationship and yet not another.
Another encouraging sign is the admission of the Canadian House of Bishops that they are not of a common mind and yet, in the words of Michael Valpy, have "voted to maintain spiritual unity because the alternative was much worse." Still another is the suggestion by Paul Feheley, mentioned in the last issue of Integrator, of a model of separate and overlapping dioceses, acknowledging that "there needs to be space in the Anglican Church of Canada for people on each side of this discussion."
For my own part, I am passionately committed to an inclusive, hospitable Anglicanism which can live with uncertainty, and I am appalled at the thought of a tightly centralised Anglican Communion with power to cut off controversy and discipline "deviants". I am with equal passion committed to the belief that our Anglican church cannot claim to be inclusive, hospitable or welcoming until its lesbian and gay members are fully accepted and integrated into our life -- and that includes the blessing of unions. But I acknowledge and respect the passion and conviction of those who sincerely hold the opposite position. Somehow our opposing convictions must be held in tension until the Spirit leads us into a truth that can both embrace and transcend our hopes, our fears, and our limited vision.
A prayer we use from time to time in our Community says it all for me:
Look kindly on our world, O God, as we suffer and struggle with one another. Give us work till our life shall end, and life till our work is done. Look kindly on your Church, as we too suffer and struggle with one another, and may the light we have seen in Jesus illuminate and brighten all the world. Amen.
(New Zealand Prayer Book)
After the House of Bishops met in October, Bishop Michael Ingham indicated that the diocese of New Westminster was going to proceed with a rite for blessing same-sex unions -- as the three votes of synod asked. The next month, however, he indicated that he would delay implementing the blessings "as a gesture of goodwill" to the eight dissident parishes in New Westminster. The parishes, who call themselves the Anglican Communion in New Westminster, are engaged in a process of reconciliation with the bishop (as recommended by the House of Bishops in October). At the moment, because they are at odds with both the bishop and the synod on the matter of these very blessings, they are withholding funds that would normally be going to the synod on a monthly basis.
Bishop Ingham has said that he has set aside the blessings to take pressure off the discussions between himself and the eight parishes. He has also said, in radio interviews, that this delay is temporary, and that he sees it being in terms of weeks rather than in terms of months.
It is, nonetheless, disappointing and discouraging news for lesbians and gays in New Westminster and across the country. It is a case of yet-further delay, remarkably similar in feel to Bishop Ingham's refusal of assent after the motion passed a second time in 2000. It is charitable to hope that this ongoing attempt to reconcile with the dissident parishes is going to accommodate them within their diocesan family. A more cynical view would suspect that this reconciliation would disintegrate immediately should the blessings take place -- and that the eight dissident parishes will make that clear. One wonders if reconciliation with the lesbigay people within New Westminster would ever be pursued to the same extent as it has been with the eight parishes.
This sermon on Luke 13. 10-17 (the healing of the bent-over woman) was preached by CANON BILL MORRISON in the churches of St. Martin in the Fields and St. Columba's, Strawberry Vale, Victoria BC , in late spring 2000. This was just after the decision of the synod of the diocese of New Westminster to approve (the second time) the blessing of same-sex unions, and Bishop Ingham's withholding of his consent.
"Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage?"
This woman had been in her crippled state, bent over -- bent double is what the Greek says -- for eighteen years. Which leads me to ask how old she was. She might have been an old woman, like my mother who became more and more bent over as she grew older. It seems to me, though, that the woman might have been just 18, and that the spirit that afflicted her was the patriarchal culture she was born into and had lived in all her life. The patriarchy that named God "he" (and therefore assumed that all "he's" were God), took it for granted that woman's place in society was to be subservient to her male owner, and allowed her to speak -- if she ever spoke at all -- from some place metaphorically down around his ankles. This patriarchy is represented by the oh-so-erect and upright male leader of the synagogue who opposed Jesus when he emancipated her.
It occurs to me that the church has the knack of siding with the ruler of the synagogue, instead of with God, when people afflicted by the sickness of the society around them hear Jesus say "you are free from your ailment." Many in the church fought the emancipation of women tooth and nail. Two centuries before that, church leaders opposed the abolition of the slave trade. In the years leading up to 1968 the debate was angry and acrimonious against those who sought to change our Church's laws regarding divorced persons and remarriage. "Let them remain bent double", is basically what was said. "They don't deserve to stand beside us who are erect and upright in all our ways."
Today, in a rather bizarre move, the church, at least in the Diocese of New Westminster, has said to its members who have been bent double by society's homophobic disease that, "Yes, we've heard you speaking down there, and the synod agrees that you really out to be allowed to stand up here beside us. But it's going to be really hard for some of us to adapt to that change, so would you mind staying down there for just a while longer, to give us time to get used to it? We know it's uncomfortable, but, after all, you are used to it, aren't you? So we really aren't asking for that much, are we? And remember, we really do love you!"
The difficulty, when you are one of the upright who stand erect and proud in the glorious liberty of the children of God, is that it's hard to hear the voices coming from "down there." They're distant, faint, and easily ignored, these ankle-biters. And because both the voices and the people are small, it's easy to dismiss them, belittle them, and ignore them.
Two other factors complicate the situation. The first is that, when you are the upright who stand erect and proud in the glorious liberty of the children of God, it's too easy to believe that this liberty is restricted to people like you, and is not to be shared. Non-male, non-adult, non-white, non-straight, non-English speaking people don't qualify. So go away!
The second factor is that, when you are the upright who stand erect and proud in the glorious liberty of the children of God, you can start to believe that you're there because you deserve it; and that conversely those around you who are crippled and bent double are there because they deserve it; and that it's all the will of God.
And the really terrible thing is that all this elitist, exclusivist, patriarchal thinking -- the oppression of women, slavery, racism, the vilification of gay people -- all of it is solidly based on the Bible. The ruler of the synagogue is correct -- the Sabbath is not a day for work, not even for the work of God. It's right there in the Bible. And what horrifies the synagogue official, I think, is that Jesus doesn't care. Jesus doesn't care about those biblical rules. If following Bible rules means people remain in a state of oppression and suffering, then Bible rules must be swept away. "The Sabbath is made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath."
What is more, if the rules are to be swept away, then so are those who impose them. That fact is evident both to the ruler of the synagogue, and to the crowd of ankle biters who have been watching all this from outside, "rejoicing at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing."
To paraphrase Jesus' words from our text, "Ought not these persons, children of Abraham whom Satan bound for so many long years, be set free from this bondage?"
by Canon Bill Morrison
The first Lambeth Conference, held in 1867, was called to deal with the heresies of the Bishop of Natal, John Colenso. Bishop Colenso's "errors" related to the authority of scripture, and to human sexuality, and dealing with them raised issues of authority and jurisdiction.
It sounds very familiar, doesn't it?
Colenso, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge before he was made bishop of Natal, was a "broad churchman" with what we might call "modernist" and "liberal" leanings. He wrote a book in which he said that the details of the book of Genesis could not possibly be literally or historically true. With regard to human sexuality, he declared that, in the context of his African diocese, it was pastorally inappropriate to require men coming for baptism to give up all but their first wives and disown all their children except those of the first wife.
For holding such views he was deposed by the "high church" bishop of Cape Town who had appointed him in the first place, and another bishop of Natal was consecrated. Colenso appealed to the English Privy Council, and they ruled that Bishop Gray of Cape Town didn't have the authority to depose anyone, and restored jurisdiction to Colenso.
Conservative Evangelicals in South Africa were opposed to Bishop Gray's high church views, and used the Colenso affair to create a splinter church called The Church of England in South Africa (CESA). The conservatives, of course, hated Colenso even more than the catholics, and they claim that they were well on their way to seceding from the Church of the Province of Southern Africa before Colenso came along.
We can see many parallels between how bishops Colenso and Ingham are treated. Bishop Ingham's "sins", in the eyes of his critics, are rejecting the authority of scripture and advocating a non-biblical sexual ethic. The result is a dispute over authority and jurisdiction, and schism (or at least the threat of schism).
The parallels are even closer when you consider the role the diocese of Sydney plays in all this. Sydney has long maintained friendly and supportive relations with the CESA -- its second bishop came from Sydney, and CESA's theological college is an off-shoot of Moore Theological College in Sydney. Today, some of the strongest opposition to New Westminster's decision regarding the blessing of same sex unions (to say nothing of one of its strongest opponents, the Rev David Short of St. John's, Shaughnessy) comes from Sydney. The conservative "solution" to the New Westminster situation is to reject the authority of the synod, and the bishop's authority and jurisdiction, and to propose schism in the form of "alternative episcopal oversight" for the parishes that now call themselves "The Anglican Communion in New Westminster."
It should not be surprising that there has been strong reaction to Bishop Ingham's action by other Canadian bishops. Some of the strongest protest against Colenso also came from Canada. John Travers Lewis, the Bishop of Ontario, deplored the presence in the church of one who rejected "the Inspiration of the Bible," and, in language reminiscent of the Essentials movement, called for the creation of "a new article or articles" to unambiguously enshrine biblical inerrancy as Anglican doctrine.
Bishop Ingham has announced that he is delaying the implementation of the blessing of same sex unions in order to talk some more with its opponents. Given the history, I think this is a futile action. In South Africa, in Sydney, and elsewhere, the immediate reaction of conservative evangelicals in the church to the introduction of something they don't like (from candles on the altar to the blessing of same sex unions) is to say, "We're outta here." This conversation has been going on for 25 years in Canada, and the mind of the synod of New Westminster has been known for five. It is not something that has happened suddenly and without warning, as they make out. A few weeks' further talking isn't going to change anything, at least in the short term.
The long term could be different. It took the Lambeth bishops 100 years, but in 1968 they finally adopted Bishop Colenso's position on polygamy. And perhaps the greatest irony of all in this comes from George Carey himself. Preaching at the 300th anniversary of the United Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in June 2001, Carey upheld John Colenso as one of the heroes whose vision and dedication were being commemorated that day.
By Peter Tovell
Annual Synods, what would we do without them? All those endless discussions on the budget, a chance for disaffected delegates to rant, motions that seem to come out of nowhere and lots of Anglican-type "anxious" discussion... Actually the Diocese of Calgary's Synod this year had little of those familiar themes. Instead, discussion sprang from other sources: the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench had just ruled that the Anglican Diocese of Calgary was not involved in the running of residential schools and should not be party to any litigation arising from any claims; a new $2.5 million church has just opened in a fast growing area of Calgary; Bishop Barry Hollowell gave the Diocese a new vision: "Growing Tomorrow's Church Today: claiming God's promises for our people, our programmes and our property"; and Integrity Calgary had its first display table at Synod, ever.
78% of the 213 delegates visited our display table over the two day Synod. Our display was strategically located at the centre of the display area at the rear of the meeting hall and identified with our ten-foot long "Integrity" banner (in fuchsia letters) prominently placed along the front of the table. The table and banner were in direct view of the head table and the whole room. The focus of our display centred on putting a face on Integrity by having pictorial displays of members at our services, socials and Pride Week activities and to tell delegates about ourselves and what we stand for.
The Diocese of Calgary takes in the southern half of the province and Integrity is known both positively and negatively in the urban centres of Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer. For those in the rural areas, however, we're an unknown quantity. It's those delegates we chose to target and it was from those delegates that we got the most positive response. Accordingly there were a number of inquires about how we see the church moving forward on full inclusion specifically in light of New Westminster's vote on blessing same sex unions, and requests to visit parishes in a couple of cities. Most encouraging was talking with younger delegates who don't see homosexuality as an issue, for them it's the issue of what inclusivity in the church means.
From a review of the comments on the evaluation forms passed out to all delegates, it was apparent that Integrity's presence at Synod made an impact on the delegates and that they know there's an active and growing lesbigay Christian community in the Diocese of Calgary.
Integrator goes out every other month to keep readers abreast of developments of interest to lesbigays and our supporters in the Anglican Church. If you would like more frequent and more in-depth information, you might consider joining the Integrity Canada email newsgroup. This circulates news items soon after they break. The group is fairly low-traffic (five or maybe ten emails a month), but it carries more information, and more promptly, than Integrator can.