Friday, February 09, 2007

The Episcopal Church: Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori: Compassionate Communicator

There have already been many things written all over blogland about our Presiding Bishop's visit to the Research Triangle in North Carolina where she recently spoke at the meeting of the Episcopal Urban Caucus. One of the things I admire about our Presiding Bishop is that she's a breath of fresh air. She speaks from the heart and is open. No double speak, no lofty platitudes or intellectual airs. Instead, Bishop Jefferts Schori chooses to be a communicator. She does it in an open and warm manner and people leave her presence understanding what she said and where she stands (unlike the Archbishop of Canterbury who goes to an ethereal place whenever he opens his mouth). Rev. Pauli Murray was the United States first female African American Priest. Our Presiding Bishop was honoring her at Chapel Hill, NC last Thursday. This is one of several great interviews reflecting the beautiful way with words of Bishop Jefferts Schori: News reports of the Presiding Bishops visit to N.C. reported, "Jefferts Schori, 52, said Thursday she would not waver from forging a new way forward for the 2.4-million member Episcopal Church. That new way includes a commitment to the full equality of gays and lesbians, which she and many others in the denomination see as a new civil rights issue. "Our labors in this church continue to sing of hope for the full flourishing of all God's children, black, white, native, Asian, women, men, gay and straight," Jefferts Schori said. "As long as any of us is restrained by custom, law, prejudice or bigotry, we all remain in chains." WOW!! Thank you Bishop Schori. There's an important meeting of the Anglican Primates in Tanzania next week. Bishop Akinloa and his buddies most certainly do NOT want our Presiding Bishop seated. Even if it wasn't her support for gay folk, they STILL wouldn't want her seated because she's a woman. The Primate members of the Anglican conservative movement are PWP's (Primates With Penises) and they don't want women preaching in their churches let alone taking good paying jobs in positions of power. Actually, I think that the men want to be primates because they can get away with wearing pretty purple dresses and let's not even discuss the jewelry! So the global south wants The Episcopal Church thrown out of the Anglican Communion. In addition, a small handful of conservative Episcopal parishes in the U.S. want the same thing. But I doubt that anything much will happen. They will talk, discern and agree to meet again. Things in the church move slowly. If some of the churches in the U.S. leave the Episcopal church it won't have any bearing on my manner or worship at all. Besides, I can't see TEC ever becoming a really huge denomination where thousands gather in mega popcorn churches. I'd rather belong to a smaller church where members don't need to check our brains in at the door and aren't intimidated for believing in evolution. Last but not least, The Episcopal Church now has an official church blog. It is worth checking out at: Regards, Gordon

American Boychoir Presents Concert at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

February 3rd, 2007 St. Mark's Episcopal Church was blessed with a concert by the American Boyschoir. It was a wonderful concert with a diverse repertoire. It was a world class performance under the fantastic direction of Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Music Director. The reception afterward gave concert goers an opportunity to meet some of the choir members and the choir staff. A good evening was had by all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Rev. Ted Haggard MIKE JONES When I heard two days ago that one of Ted's spokesmen claims that Ted is "completely heterosexual," I raised my eyebrows because I knew that this was going to be one of those slick stories made up for the media. One of his ministerial reparation counselors, Rev. Tim Larkspur went on to say this his affair with gay escort Mike Jones was the only gay sexual contact he has ever had and that he is completely heterosexual."
This doesn't make any sense to me. In Ted's confessional letter to the congregation of New Life Church he said, "There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life." He admits in the letter that he is a "deceiver and a liar." I'd like to ask him, "which way is it, Ted? Were your trysts with the gay prostitute your ONLY gay experience or is it the only one your church investigators can prove? And when are you being a deceiver and a liar and when can we believe you?
And when I heard that after 3 weeks of counselling, he and his wife plan to return to school and become psychologists, I decided Ted needs to enter a long term treatment center for the mentally ill. He's had THREE weeks of counseling with minister friends after causing grief to his church members, family, friends and he thinks he can just become a psychologist before he gets his own life in order. I fear that without intensive therapy, Ted Haggard will be one of the most dangerous psychologists America has ever seen.
Another aspect of this story that bothers me is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Why did he drop out of the Haggard Counselling Team after just two days? Is Dobson one of those fair weathered friends? Skeletons rattling in the closet? Something come out in the first couple of days of counselling that rang alarm bells and made him want to run? Or did Dobson realize that Ted is gayer than Liberace and that it was going to take until Jesus comes to set him straight?
The one who shows the class and the best behavior in this mess is Mike Jones. When he visited New Life Church to see what it was like recently, he had nice things to say and appreciated that people who were nice to him and even said, "thank you" to him for letting truth come forth. Mike Jones brought Ted Haggard's deceit into the sunlight. He exposed Ted for
what he is: a man struggling with his sexuality and drug addiction vs his religion.
He showed New Life Church and the American Association of Evangelicals a man
who couldn't handle it except with deceit and lies.
Ted Haggard needs our prayers. He's hurting and may he one day he will accept
that he is a man who has feelings inside that are normal and created by God.
What's not normal is the denial and avoidance of who he is: A man with gay
attractions whom Jesus loves and cares for. My prayer is for Ted to heal from
the pain he has caused others and the torment he is going through. I hope that
one day he will come to realize deep down inside that he doesn't need to be anybody
other than the honest man God created rather than pretending to be something
he's not.
My hope also, is that Ted's minister counselor friends who are letting everybody
know that Ted is cured after three weeks are being honest and not being the deceivers
and liars Ted has been.

To see an excerpt of the kind of dishonest life Ted Haggard lived you might want to see this clip from one of his sermons. It was also in the movie Jesus Camp:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori
Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams
The ABC has been suffering with a terrible disease for many years. For a long time, there was not a diagnosis. In more recent years he' s finally got a diagnosis:
Next week the Anglican Communion Primates are having a primates meeting in Tanzania. Some of the global south primates have there underwear all in a wad because the ABC decided to invite the primate of The Episcopal Church (well, yeah. TEC pays a lot of money to the coffers of the Anglican Communion.) The global south primates are furious with him for inviting her without their permission. They just can't stand the thought of being in the same room with the American Primate, PresidingBishop Katharine Jefferts -Schori.
So much for the Anglican principals of discernment and listening.
Last night I received an email from Jeff Martinhauk, seminary student and computer whiz.
Being a very active social justice person, I was thrilled that Jeff had taken on the task of writing an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury with a petition for folks to sign. I'm not going to explain all of what Jeff says when I can put it here in Jeff's own words.
February 6th, 2007 An Open Letter to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury Prior to the Meeting of the Primates in Tanzania February 6, 2007 Your Grace, I write to you not as a part of any organization or group, but on my own accord as a member of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion. As a gay man in this great church, I am slowly realizing the mistakes we in the gay and lesbian community have made in our efforts to bring our unique perspective on the Gospel message to our brothers and sisters in Christ within this church. Perhaps in an effort to assimilate into heterosexual society, we have been overly prepared to make apologetic arguments based on similarities with our straight counterparts. We seem to have placed our trust in the established leaders and processes of the church, hoping that if our arguments are strong enough that our case will be heard with a sympathetic ear. Of course history has never, to my knowledge, shown that the oppressed have made much progress by placing hope in the powers of the institutions that oppress them. We cannot make progress with apologetic arguments, attempting to assimilate into institutions held by primarily heterosexual males who have never experienced our oppression. Isn’t that why the high priests rejected the message of Jesus, a fellow Jew? I need not remind Your Grace that the fear of change is a powerful resistance to the prophetic voice, as it was for Caiphus. “What will it do to our institutions?” “What will it do to our own positions?” “How will we be remembered as leaders?” These must have been difficult questions for the Sanhedrin as they conspired against Jesus. Questions with answers that Jesus apparently felt were worthy of martyrdom.
Some argue that the “nature or nurture” discussion has an impact on our fate. I say to them that being “gay” or “lesbian” in the U.S. is a social construct. Sexual attraction is not something we choose, but claiming our identity as “gay” or “lesbian,” is. Just because our identity is a social construct does not de-value it. Gender roles are social constructs. There are, I hope, few that would say that the gender roles of women in the patriarchal society of the Old Testament (or even the New Testament) should be held up in today’s society—although, as Your Grace knows well, exactly which gender roles are appropriate today is still a heated topic in the Communion, depending on the cultural context of the discussion. Just as racism is a social construct with very real consequences, gathering its existence from the brokenness of humanity, those suffering from the oppression of racism must claim their identity and move forward shining light into the blindness of their oppressors that they may see, and in so doing freeing themselves from the chains of oppression. So too we gay and lesbians, as a distinct people of God, must claim our identity and move forward, letting our own light shine with the light of the Gospel that we might be free in Christ Jesus, even as we struggle to loosen the blindfolds within our own church that others might see.
What has been lost in the discussion in the Communion is how our identity is directly tied to the debates we are having. It seems to me that discussions about whether or not to have gay and lesbian bishops and whether or not to have gay and lesbian marriages, have been removed from the point at hand—what it means to gay and lesbian people.
We need gay bishops because of the significance of having prominent, Christian leaders who can speak out about our lives. They can rid us of the closet. They can prevent oppression. When a young man is attacked because he is gay and left for dead, strung up on a fence in Wyoming by his murderers, would his attackers have known better had they seen an active gay Christian, preaching and teaching the Gospel? When a young teenager stands in the bathroom of her parents’ house, contemplating suicide because she knows that she is the only one in the world that feels the way she does, might she feel different if she had a role model providing a healthy Christian model of living, who also happened to be a lesbian? When an aging gay couple must face life or death decisions and have only each other for family but are denied the same decisions as a heterosexual couple in the hospital, with the state, and in the church because they were not able to get married and so now prepare for death as single people, they face an unnecessary and terrible agony. The list goes on. If the church in any way judges our lives differently, the church participates in the violence that is perpetrated against us. If the church sends our culture a message that it is ok to discriminate against gay and lesbian people—whether through the rites of the church or in its theology—then it also tells the straight people in our culture that it is ok to perpetuate violence, agony, and suffering upon us. Love and discrimination simply are not compatible. Our culture has learned that. Separate is not equal.
Though I have already said that appealing to a position of power from a position of oppression has historically been fruitless, I still write in the spirit of God’s eternal hope for the hopeless. Will Your Grace be an instrument of hope for ALL of us? Will Your Grace help create a Communion in which difference does not diminish under a central authority, but thrives because it is cherished and celebrated as the diversity of God’s full creation?
As the Focus of Unity for our Communion, I beg Your Grace not to appeal to irrelevant procedural issues which may or may not have been followed, nor to the red herring of possible communication difficulties in other parts of the church. Rather, I beg you, to consider those of us within your care as the Focus of Unity who are marginalized, who deserve God’s love, who are part of this great diverse Creation, and who need to hear what we have not heard directly yet: namely that God loves us, that God does not endorse violence against us, and that the way to prevent that violence is through Jesus Christ as our liberator and savior. Can the Anglican Communion be a place where all of the Body of Christ is welcome?
Yours in Christ, Jeffrey J. Martinhauk Please sign the Petition to the Archbishop here or