Thursday, July 9, 2009

We're glad you're here, but...

That was one of the statements from Bp Bill Love of the Diocese of Albany. He rose to speak against a resolution in the Ministry Commission. The resolution would make it so that glbt persons in relationships could not be denied access to the discernment process for ordination.

As I said in a previous post, the strongest voices against full access to the sacramental life of the church are gone. But we still have very conservative bishops who have not left. Bill Love is one of them. Are we happy they're still with us? Are we happy that they have the courage to speak? As he said, "I'm welcome as long as I keep my mouth shut." He spoke many of the statements that we have heard so long -- it's the lifestyle, not the individuals; this is in direct violation of Windsor; following my conscience; this is in direct violation of what the Lord has said in Holy Scripture; TEC is not inclusive to those in opposition to this lifestyle; I have gay clergy but they are celibate... He spoke of his difficult work keeping the Diocese of Albany together and in the Episcopal Church because of this issue.

He was asked if he could continue to live with the local theological option regarding this issue, which is the current status in TEC. He didn't directly answer the question but did say that he would hate to see TEC officially endorse something that he couldn't support as one who has an orthodox understanding of scripture.

It was fascinating to me to listen to him. I heard similar statements in the late 1980s when I was in the Diocese of Albany -- but then it had to do with why the sitting bishop would not allow me into the discernment process for ordination. Then, it wasn't my lifestyle; it was my plumbing -- the shape of my body. (Can being a woman be considered a lifestyle, I wonder?) Here was another bishop of Albany holding the line on excluding another portion of God's people. And he was speaking from his heart. On one level it was difficult to listen to him; it was the same ol' same ol'. On another level, he was very quietly passionate about his desire to follow his understanding of scripture, morals, and ethics.

He spoke immediately following the testimony of a woman from Ohio -- a vocational deacon -- who has been in a 38-year same-sex relationship.

He was asked if his mind would change if/when New York State legalizes marriage for all persons. He said no.

But he alluded to the possibility that passage of this kind of resolution could be the straw that sends him and other conservatives like him over the edge and out of TEC. But it also sounds like staying in TEC is possible as long as nothing is official and local option prevails.

He wouldn't ordain heterosexuals in extra-marital relationships either. But, then, heterosexuals have the option for marriage that gays don't. Another old but valid argument. But I don't think he gets that line of thinking...

Something positive for me was that he didn't use words like heretic and sodomite and unnatural and a variety of even nastier words to make his point. I almost felt like it would be good to sit and talk with him and listen even more. And I had a feeling that he might even listen to me and that we might come to some kind of compromise for continuing to live together in TEC. But I suspect that's either my own naivete speaking or my own wishful thinking.

We do need folks like Bill Love in the church. He feels deeply about his faith and his understanding of scripture. But we also need to find a way that he can function as a bishop and not block the gay person who is trying to answer, with all her heart and soul and depth of faith, a call from the Spirit to the ordained life. For some reason, I think that is still possible.


  1. So I see the ABC thinks others believe our response mechanisms are too slow? But then, aren't these the same people telling us we are going to fast?

    Which is it!?!?!?!

    Good luck trying to figure it out :)

  2. oops, sorry ... "too" fast... Of course what they really want is not communication, but conformity.

  3. Hey, Liz! Out here in non-Disneyland, many of us had been waiting for the HoD's "special order" session this evening, in which "conversation about B033" had been promised.

    (BTW, I tuned into that highly touted GC Media Hub at the appointed hour, but that site continues to be virtually useless for live webcasts. I've never even been able to get the page to load properly ... even on a T1 line. Finally, I resorted to Baby Blue's site to catch amateur video of it. Pity when we have to go to our Worthy Opponents to get timely news about our own church.)

    But I digress ...

    It looks like you all had about 1/2 hour of history rehash from the committee, then half-hour of sharing with a rank stranger. I'm very eager to hear your thoughts about the utility and the time-stewardship of that exercise.

  4. I agree that we need people like Bill Love in the Episcopal Church. Would that he/they would stay. Perhaps you are naive or wishfully thinking, but that is what has (sometimes unexpectedly) forged some excellent conversations you have had with other delegates in years gone by. Please do not lose that.
    I remain without optimism that GC09 will pass anything definitive about accepting GLBT persons to live out their baptismal promises with the rest of the Church. But I continue to pray that it will.

  5. I have to say, Lisa, that the Public Narrative model used yesterday was -- IMNSHO -- a complete waste of time. Of course, it's always nice to meet someone new and hear their story, but we needed to be focusing on B033 and why it happened. We didn't. Too many deputies weren't even at the last GC and had no sense of the pressure that was put on the HoD.

    We're at a point now where we need to just vote on a resolution to deal with B033. Enough is enough.

  6. If nothing passes, Richard, I will lay it squarely at the feet of the bishops. The mood in the House of Deputies is such that I think we can make some very strong statements forward. I don't have such confidence regarding the purple-shirted.