Integrity New York Farewells

18 05 2010

Last night the good folks of Integrity New York held a meeting in a diner to speak about “where do we go from here” and “what do we want to do”

Lots of great ideas were put forth onto the table, including how to spread our reach into New Jersey and Long Island and basically the New York Metro Area.

I pray that the nascent efforts on our part over the past few years will bear some wonderful and ripe fruit.  The desire and ability is there to have a vibrant chapter, but what is sadly lacking is people.

See:  The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. (Luke 10)

Still, it was nice to get together with the folks this week, and it was wonderful to have received some lovely gifts as a token of their appreciation for my efforts as convener.

There was a wire-metal cross adorned with a whole bunch of celtic shapes

There was a stained-glass type decal to put on the Blessed and Holy Jeep Saint Jeronica

And my personal favourite …. a copy of “Hymns Ancient and Modern.”  I have a small hymnbook collection from when i was child up to the 1940 and 1982 hymnbooks of The Episcopal Church and this will supplement them all quite nicely!

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on Uganda

4 12 2009

The Episcopal Church

Office of Public Affairs

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

concerning proposed bill in Uganda

[December 4, 2009]  The following is the statement of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori concerning proposed private member’s bill on homosexuality in the Parliament of Uganda:

The Episcopal Church joins many other Christians and people of faith in urging the safeguarding of human rights everywhere.  We do so in the understanding that “efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (General Convention 2006, Resolution D005).

This has been the repeated and vehement position of Anglican bodies, including several Lambeth Conferences.  The Primates’ Meeting, in the midst of severe controversy over issues of homosexuality, nevertheless noted that, as Anglicans, “we assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship” (Primates’ Communiqué, Dromantine, 2005).

The Episcopal Church represents multiple and varied cultural contexts (the United States and 15 other nations), and as a Church we affirm that the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema.  We are deeply concerned about the potential impingement on basic human rights represented by the private member’s bill in the Ugandan Parliament.

In the United States and elsewhere, we note that changed laws do help to shift public opinion and urge a more humane response to difference.  The Hate Crimes Act recently passed in the United States is one example, as are the many pieces of civil rights legislation that have slowly changed American public behavior, especially in the area of race relations.  We note the distance our own culture still needs to travel in removing discriminatory practice from social interactions, yet we have also seen how changed hearts and minds have followed legal sanctions on discriminatory behavior.

We give thanks for the clear position of the United States government on human rights, for the State Department’s annual human rights report on Uganda, which observes that the existing colonial-era law on same-sex relations is a societal abuse of human rights, and for the State Department’s publicly voiced opposition to the present bill.  We urge the United States government to grant adequate access to the U.S. asylum system for those fleeing persecution on the basis of homosexuality or gender identity, to work with other governments, international organizations, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide adequate protection for these asylum seekers, and to oppose any attempts at extradition under a law such as that proposed in Uganda.

Finally, we note that much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own Church.  We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior.  We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.

We call on all Episcopalians to seek their own conversion toward an ability to see the image of God in the face of every neighbor, of whatever race, gender, sexual orientation, theological position, or creed.  God has created us in myriad diversity, and no one sort or condition of human being can fully reflect the divine.  Only the whole human race begins to be an adequate mirror of the divine.

We urge continued prayer for those who live in fear of the implications of this kind of injustice and discrimination, and as a Church, commit ourselves anew to seek partnerships with the Church of Uganda, or any portion thereof, in serving the mission of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That Gospel is larger than any party or faction.  It is only in mutual service and recognition that we will begin to mend our divisions.

We are grateful for the willingness of the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace to hear this plea on behalf of all God’s people, and urge their continued assistance in seeking greater justice.  We note the impediments this legislation would pose to the ability to continue a Listening Process in which all of the Anglican Communion is currently engaged.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church

From the Diocese of New York

4 12 2009

I sit on this Committee:

A Statement from the Diocesan Committee on LGBT Concerns and the Diocesan Social Concerns Comission

As people of faith, we are saddened and disappointed by the New York State Senate’s vote against marriage equality for same-sex couples. The failure to enact this legislation means that families headed by same-sex couples, including families with children, will continue to be denied the same economic security and legal protections that heterosexual married couples have. It is disheartening and is not in keeping with the resolutions of our own Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons “are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens” (GC Resolution A-71, 1976).

Nevertheless, we ask that the people of the Episcopal Diocese of New York diocese, both straight and gay, lay and clergy, continue to keep faith and put their energy into seeing that marriage equality happens in the future. You may want to contact your state senators about their votes. (A listing of the votes of all New York State Senators can be found below.) It is especially important to contact those senators who voted for the legislation. They are our allies, and many spoke eloquently and courageously on behalf of equal treatment for all New York families. They deserve our thanks and support.

In calling your senators and in continuing to advocate, be sure to let them know that the Episcopal Diocese of New York remains on the record as supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples, as per our resolution at the 2008 Diocesan Convention. Although the governor and the senate leaders were told of this, we should continually remind them as we go forward, so as to balance out the voices of other religious groups that fought against marriage equality.

We need to keep the faith and continue to honor our covenant to respect the dignity of every human being.


Stephen McFadden
Chair, Diocesan Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns
Episcopal Diocese of New York

The Reverend Mark Hummel
Chair, Social Concerns Commission

Vote of each Senators is below the fold:
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The Other News from Last Week — Hate Crimes Bill

28 10 2009

In the excitement of last week’s announcement from the Vatican last week, quite  a few folks (me included) failed to mention something really important.

The United States Senate passed legislation making it a crime to assault someone because of their sexual orientation.

This bill, which earlier passed the House of Representatives, is on its way to the President’s desk for signature, which makes it federal law.  Unless I am mistaken, this is the first time that there is any federal law of any sweeping protection over those who are LGBT. Whether you are on the streets on New York, the suburban jungles of Connecticut, the back woods of the deep south, or in the wilds of Montana, it will be a crime to assualt anyone on the basis on their orientation just as it is because of their gender or race.

This is the camel’s nose under the tent. To quote the Arabian proverb in full, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.” It is a step to full civil equality in the eyes of the federal government.  The question is no longer “Will this happen?” but rather “When will this happen?”  and more importantly, “what can we do to hasten the day?”

Many, if not most, of us probably already live in areas where there are some similar protections or even greater benefits, so it is easy to see why this would have registered as a blip on the radar where we said “oh good!” or “it’s about time!” and moved on.

What did annoy me, though, and moved me to post about this was that I heard or read of some people saying “so what?” or “why do we need hate crimes legislation anyway?”  This is not coming from the usual sources.  I even remember reading a post on Andrew Sullivan‘s blog about it … written by Andrew … you know, that conservative HIV-positive, legally married gay man.

This bill is absolutely necessary, and Americans should all rejoice at its passage.  The Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming is even attending the signing ceremony, in no small part because the bill is named for Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die in October 1998.  Matthew, I understand, was a faithful Episcopalian and active in his parish.  Lest we think this bill is just about LGBT folks, I would like to remind you that James Byrd, Jr., an African American, was dragged to death that same year in Texas.

If there are any further doubts why this is necessary, consider this …

As long as racism, sexism, homophobia and heterosexism are still very much alive and well in this world, there will be a need for hate crimes legislation.

Where is the Gospel? (aka the return of the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility)

26 10 2009

Much has been said about the recent announcement from the Vatican about allowing disaffected Anglicans to become Roman Catholic and still retain much of their spirituality and liturgy.  Under this new “Personal Ordinariate,” this will allow for married Anglican deacons and priests, but not bishops.  Those who have been agonizing over the fact that the Anglican Communion works best on a missional and consensus-driven model rather than a magisterial way of governance will find safe harbour at the Vatican.  Of course, these clergymen (and yes, they will all be men, make no mistake about that!) will have to be re-ordained because the Vatican does not recognize the vaildity of Anglican Holy Orders.

Many questions arise out of this announcement, and the answers will probably be sorted out in the actual Apostolic Constitution document when it comes out over the next few weeks.

Some questions include (most of which have been discussed elsewhere):

  • What about bishops who are currently married?  One case in point is a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion over in the Philadelphia suburbs.  His commentary on the matter may be found in the NY Times at the link above.  He hopes that the sea of purple can be “grandfathered in” and presumably going forward, once the initial crop of bishops dry off from their swim across the Tiber, the celibacy requirement will be in force.  Regardless, I think the ban on married bishops will prevent many from leaving the Anglican Communion than we might at first be inclined to believe (i.e., I don’t see +Jack Iker of Fort  Worth, or any of our African Bishops running off to Rome any time soon).
  • Will this bring up again the taboo topic of discussing whether or not it is a right, good and a joyful thing to require the clergy to be celebate? This has been brought up several times over the past week, recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, which featured interviews with Jim Naughton of Episcopal Cafe; +Robert Duncan of ACNA; and Fr. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest in Washington, DC.
  • And what about the laity?  In the USA, Canada, and also to an extent the United Kingdom, I believe that lay participation in the councils and structures of the church is rather robust … Is there room in a top-down magisterium for such a group?
  • Oh, yes and the property questions, and what to do with their stipends, pensions, etc.

Lots of questions, not a lot of answers …

For those of us in the US, and perhaps Canada also, this will not prove to be such a big deal.  Actually, I think it affects the Anglicans in Europe much more so than here in North America, which tends to be the consensus amongst the Anglican pundits.  The Anglicans in North America who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are busy forming their own parallel province, so I doubt seriously anyone will want to take advantage of this move … However, one really big question I have is ….

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Holy Week in Review

13 04 2009

Well, we have come through the solemnity  of Holy Week and have come through to the other side into the brightness of Easter.  Our Easter celebrations were absolutely wondeful.

At our Easter Vigil we welcomed 12 newly minted Christians into the Body of Christ, about half of whom were adults.

Had the usual Great Red Neck Easter Brunch with SIR and some fellow southerners.  My dish of choice was the “Kentucky Hot Brown” at Bar Americain.  A Kentucky Hot Brown consists of a piece of French toast topped with turkey, cheese grits, some melted cheese, gravy, bacon and a tomato.

Gastronomical heaven.  Bliss.

We had a special guest at our 11am service on Sunday.  Former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea attended services at Grace 😀 .   According to the rector, they were very attentive, engaged in the sermon, and genuinely seemed happy to be there.  The sermon was excellent (and, by coincidence, had a few of the same points I made in my own reflection) and one of his best.

Our evening service was well attended and the congregation was also more engaged than they usually are.  Our 6pm service on Easter is full of those who look at all the goings on and listen to the sermon and basically dare you to move them.  I wound up doing everything but preaching and celebrating as we didn’t have a crucifer scheduled for the night … so in addition to that I also had altar guild duties, was a lector and a chalice bearer.

It was a very busy day, but very invigorating and fulfilling on many many levels. Our attendance was also up from last year (about 2000 between the Easter Vigil, 9am, 11am and 6pm services).

Reports of the death of the Episcopal Church, I am happy to say, are greatly exaggerated, at least in one corner of the East Village in New York City.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Prophecy in +Pittsburgh

7 04 2008

(Hat tip to Fr Jake)

Normally I do not comment heavily on our issues in The Episcopal Church, but I thought this was very interesting ….

Bishop Robert Duncan is claiming to have received a prophecy, as stated here. It has been very difficult to log onto the page all morning, but here is the text:

Beloved in the Lord,
As the Februar y TRINITY was going to press, a prophecy was sent to us by the Revd. Mark Stibbe,
Rector of St. Andrew’s, Chorleywood, Diocese of St. Alban’s, England. Most of the clergy remember Fr.
Stibbe as the keynote presenter for our fall clergy conference. The conference was a spiritual high-
light of the year and extraordinar y time of fellowship and ministry among our ordained leaders.
Mark has of ten been to Pit tsburgh and is a great friend of Bp. Joseph Garlington and of our brothers
and sisters in Covenant Church. The prophecy speaks for itself in the context of the momentous events that swirl around us. Our God loves us and loves His bride, the Church. I hope you will find as much encouragement in these words as the Leadership Team did.

Faithfully your Bishop,

+Bob Pittsburgh

The Year of the Gate —

Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.

Isaiah 62:10
In Hebrew, the number eight is rendered by the letter CHET, which is depicted in the form of a GATE
The number eight is related to new star ts and new life in the Scriptures – the most notable being the resurrection of Jesus which occurred on the eighth day…
Eight is the number of the gate… And I sensed the Holy Spirit saying simply this:
2008 is the year of the open gate. Prepare to pass through the gate. There are new beginnings ahead for those who have been waiting patiently for their moment to come. Obstacles are being removed. The Father is breaking his children out of a sense of captivit y to past restrictions. The anointing for new beginnings is on many in this year. The time of frustration and exile is coming to an end. This is the Lord’s time for his people to rise up and follow him through the gates of opportunity. New star ts are looming. Many are on the point of experiencing the new life that convergence brings. And the true church – even though it will know many trials – is on the point of experiencing new life, a new season of vitality and creativit y, a brand new Reformation. A highway is being built, stones are being removed, and a banner is being raised for the nations. So get ready… and do not be afraid. Do not be anxious. 2008 is the year of the gate… And there is a BREAKER ANOINTING on those who are pushing up to the threshold of their opportunity:
One who breaks open the way will go up
before them; they will break through the gate and go out.
Their king will pass through before them, the
LORD at their head

Micah 2:13

Now, some of you may know that I spent some time in the Assemblies of God and considered myself a Pentecostal for a number of years. At 17, quite by accident and totally unlooked for, I was “slain in the Spirit” and “Baptized by the Holy Ghost.” As such, I am familiar with things like speaking in tongues, healings, and prophecy.

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