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A letter to the church from the 26th Presiding Bishop

A letter to the church from the 26th Presiding Bishop

A letter to the Episcopal Church from The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as she prepares to hand over the reins to her successor, The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, on November 1.

The Episcopal Church has come a long way in the last 10 years.  We are no longer consumed by internal conflict over various social issues.  We are clearer about who we are – a multinational church, with congregations in 17 nations, worshiping in countless different languages, thriving in international, immigrant, and multicultural contexts everywhere, and discovering the abundant life that comes in turning outward to love the neighbors nearby and far away.  We are far more conscious about our vocation as partners in the mission of God to reconcile and heal the world, particularly shaped by the Five Anglican Marks of Mission.  We are holding our identity as Episcopal Christians a bit more confidently, even in the midst of our diversity.  We are also more willing to hold that identity lightly and gracefully in engaging other Christians and people of other religious traditions, searching for what we dream of in common – shalom, the Reign of God, a more just and peaceful world, with abundant life for all creation.

I am deeply grateful for what God has been up to in the midst of our journey together, and I look forward to seeing how this church of the middle way will continue to lead and partner as we travel the road home, into God’s fullest dream of abundant life for all.  I thank the people of this Church and beyond for your prayers over the last nine years – especially in recognition that we do this work together, never alone.  May God bless the next chapter of The Episcopal Church’s engagement in God’s mission, as we go together into Galilee!
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


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Prof Christopher Seitz

My comments are routinely eliminated if they do not pass some kind of litmus test, but I would like to try all the same.

Fr. Cannady is surely correct to note that TEC is/will be a monolith. I am puzzled why this is a source of editorial elision.

I am of the firm belief that the one thing that divides revisionists is optics. One group is clear that eliminating opposition is without footnotes. The other holds an hourglass and says, ‘let’s accept those with whom we disagree, because they will time out in short order.’

That is where TEC now finds its character and identity.

Rod Gillis

One of the interesting pieces of analysis on understanding and utilizing survey data is found in the sociological analysis via the link below. This article also has a link embedded in the article I posted from the New York Times (above).

One of the interesting observations made is on the issues of politcal backlash. Liberals and moderates who previously identified with a religion stop identifying as part of backlash against the views of conservative leaders of said religion, or because of the association of the religion with conservative politics. See page 425 and following:

There is no good news for anyone in the Pew research, grasping at straws and cognitive dissonance aside. Conservatives blame crashing numbers on the liberal left, liberals blame it on conservative theology. Both accusations are something of a mug’s game.

There is, however, a sobering point with regard to a theological response. Decades ago, Bernard Lonergan talked about a scattered left captivated by this or that, or a solid right that wants to live in a world that no longer exists. What is required is a center that is able to work out what is required for a new cultural context. I’m not sure any institutional version of the church has got a handle on that. However, moving an existing rump into a Masada like conscience clause protected area or sideways into something like ACNA is not likely to produce viable adaptation.

JC Fisher

“While many have been beaten into submission”

There are many types of people in this world who are “beaten into submission” (my mind drifts to LGBT people in, say, Uganda, but that’s just one possibility).

Angry ex-Episcopalians are NOT one such group. As they say, Father Cannaday, “Come down off your cross: we can use the wood”.

Brian Cannaday+

I’m not going to engage in a tit-for-tat, as that kind of banter is unhelpful in my opinion. This will be my last response.

That said, two things…

1. To suggest I literally meant “beaten into submission” is hyper-sensitive. You may object to the wording, which is your right, but to zero in on that phrase deflects the conversation away from original point.

2. To suggest that faithful Christians who have left the Episcopal Church because of deep, theological conviction are of little consequence is, at best, a sad commentary on just how far intolerance has swung the other way. It also cements one of my original points, that the Episcopal Church is no longer a middle way, and hasn’t been for quite some time.

David Streever

If someone holds a deep, religious conviction that another person is ‘lesser’ and in that conviction they deny that person equality under the law, it is not ‘intolerant’ to refuse to engage with them. Please. That is a fallacy that was also used by pro-segregationists, Klansmen, and others who advocated for accepting racism. It was also used by men who objected to women’s rights and suffrage; the idea that people who dismissed them were the ‘new intolerants’.

Being intolerant is not, in and of itself, an evil or untoward act. I am intolerant of shellfish; it makes me ill. This is an understandable proposition.

I am intolerant of a person in authority denying rights to other people based on any criteria except immediate prevention of harm; this is another understandable proposition.

Most liberal, open-minded, people do not think it is acceptable to be intolerant of another because you think that the consensual sexual relations they have are ‘improper’ purely because of the sex of the individuals involved. When a liberal person states that someone opposed to rights for people in same-sex relationships is intolerant, they do not mean to imply that ‘intolerance’ is in and of itself a moral ill; certainly, all right-minded people would accept that I can be intolerant towards shellfish because I don’t want to die of anaphylactic shock. When we encourage you to stop judging others based on their sexual orientation, it is because we believe your view–no matter how sincerely held–is wrong and leads to an abuse of the people you are judging.

Brian Cannaday+

“We are no longer consumed by internal conflict over various social issues.”

This statement clarifies for me just how out of touch she is, has been, and continues to be. While many have been beaten into submission or left the church, the internal conflict is far from over. General Convention may have spoken, but those few “decision makers” are just as out of touch as the PB and in no way reflect the mind of the wider church as a whole in any theological or moral way.

Anyone who still refers to the Episcopal Church as the middle way is intellectually dishonest and lacks any true understanding of the definition of middle. This “middle” now resides (and has for quite some time) far left of center in every way imaginable (theologically, socially, politically, ideologically).

Harry M. Merryman

The “few ‘decision makers'” were, of course, *elected* (both Deputies and Bishops).

For some, it seems that a democratically-derived decision is only legitimate if it fits their own theological, social, political or ideological bent.

David Allen

Read any poll with a non-partisan mind, and you will see our country is still overwhelmingly conservative.

We’ve actually covered a few such polls here and they disagree with your delusion of the majority opinion of the US. Especially with regard to the social issues to which +Katherine referred.

Brian Cannaday+

I do not question the legitimacy, as you call it, of the votes taken, nor do I question the legitimacy of their elected right to take such actions. I simply made the point that those actions do not reflect the mind of the larger church. They reflect the mind of a small body of people who, in large part, are the same people who are elected time and time again. Our general convention is a mini-scale version of our country.

Read any poll with a non-partisan mind, and you will see our country is still overwhelmingly conservative. Yet, it has been overrun by the left.

Call the electorate disillusioned, full of apathy, or disconnected (all of which probably fit). The people we elect to General Convention are elected, in large number, for the same reasons.

Rod Gillis

In the face of trend lines and the larger social context, cognitive dissonance is an option I suppose.

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