Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Clarity Here

A June 16 Richmond Times-Dispatch interview with Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori provides more clarity on the denomination’s stances on controversial issues.

*On the mission of the Episcopal Church: “The church’s role is to remember what God’s mission is and that’s the healing of the world.”

*On gay and lesbian issues: “The full inclusion of gay and lesbian people is part of our mission.”

*On opposition to a woman being presiding bishop and women's ordination: “Three diocesan bishops out of 110 in the Episcopal Church hold that opinion. . . . It's not apparently been a problem.”

*On why it’s exciting to be an Anglican today: “The very fact that we're having controversy means that … opportunities are enormous to grow individually and as congregations, as faithful people, to grow in service to the rest of the world.”

None of these statements is revelatory; they repeat either themes of Jefferts Schori’s tenure as presiding bishop or statements made by other Episcopal Church leaders. What is different here is that she has provided short, direct answers that cut through any confusion:

*Her reference to “the healing of the world” takes all of her themes concerning the “dream of God,” “coming home,” the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),, and distills them down to five words.

*Her summary statement of the church’s stance on gay and lesbian issues probably is the most clear, succinct statement anyone has made to date.

*Her statistics regarding opposition to female bishops (and female clergy in general) focus only on bishops and ignore laity. Similarly, her descriptions of departing Episcopal congregations recently have focused not on the number of people leaving the denomination, but the number of congregations lost. In both cases, she chooses smaller numbers that boost her cause.

*She reiterates her oft-repeated view that dealing with controversial issues produces spiritual growth. She does not look at controversial issues in terms of how they go against Scripture or the traditions of the church.

Back in February at the Episcopal Urban Caucus meeting, Bishop Jefferts Schori predicted that clarity would prove forthcoming as to where the Episcopal Church stands on controversial issues. With the House of Bishops and the Executive Council at this point apparently agreeing in their lack of movement toward meeting Anglican primates' requests, and with Bishop Jefferts Schori making statements like these, "clarity" may have hit a new high watermark.

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