The Very Rev. Tracey Lind has gained the media's attention as being an openly lesbian, partnered nominee for bishop of the Diocese of Chicago. But her beliefs about staying in the Anglican Communion bear some examination.
In a 2004 essay in the progressive publication The Witness, Lind argued that if the Anglican Communion were to stand against the "full inclusion" of gays and lesbians, then faithfulness to Jesus might require leaving the Communion:
"My sisters and brothers in this enterprise we call Anglicanism ... if the conversation does not shift to the real issues [and, from Lind's perspective, away from the "scapegoating" of gays and lesbians], then perhaps the words of Jesus about leaving house, fields and families behind might even come to include the Anglican Communion. For in the end, it's not about the church; it's about the Gospel."
Let's see here. Lind at minimum foresaw the possibility of, and arguably advocated for, people leaving the Anglican Communion if the Communion ultimately proved rejecting of the Episcopal Church's stance in favor of "full inclusion."
That leads me to a question: How is Lind's view concerning leaving the Anglican Communion substantially different from the view concerning leaving the Episcopal Church allegedly held by Mark Lawrence at the time of his first election as Bishop of South Carolina -- the view that lead to the smear campaign against Lawrence?
Because at worst, progressives could claim that Lawrence at minimum foresaw the possibility of, and arguably advocated for, people leaving the Episcopal Church if TEC rejected the orthodoxy of the Anglican Communion.
Lawrence, to whom consent was not granted this last spring and who has now been elected by South Carolina a second time, was pilloried for, among other reasons, the supposed threat of leading that diocese out of the Episcopal Church. His greatest "sin," to Episcopal progressives, seemingly consisted of statements like this one: "I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion."
Is that any more radical a statement of potential leave-taking than what Lind said? Of course not, particularly when your consider that Lawrence said the following just one paragraph prior: "I would ask you to consider the fact that many of us want to remain in the Anglican Communion as well as The Episcopal Church."
Compare that last statement with how Lind ended her essay: "For now, I'm going to stay at the table [in the Anglican Communion] with walking shoes on my feet."
If Lind made her comments today, would they lead to strong opposition to her candidacy -- or election, if Chicago chooses her -- the way that Lawrence's statements did? Would the Episcopal Church's much proclaimed desire to stay in the Anglican Communion lead individuals, groups, or diocesan standing committees to raise a major brouhaha concerning Lind or any other potential bishop with a similar viewpoint -- to the point of seriously waylaying the potential bishop's consecration?
I think we all know the answers to those questions.