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A preview of Bishop Michael Curry agenda as the next presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church

A preview of Bishop Michael Curry agenda as the next presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church

The Charlotte Observer reports that Bishop Curry held a Q&A on Sunday about his possible agenda as presiding bishop, signaling a focus on an authentic form of personal evangelizing.

From the article:

“We’ve got to get to the day when the average Episcopalian is in touch with their own faith story and faith journey and is able to share that appropriately and authentically,” Curry said. “That may be the game-changer. … We’re good about doing. We’re nervous about talking.”

Such evangelism, Curry said, isn’t about converting people – “that’s God’s job, not ours” – but is about helping them “find their way to God.”

Curry also advocates for a church with a plurality of views, noting that he supports equality for people who identify as LGBT, but will never require clergy to perform marriages that they object to. Curry was an opponent of the North Carolina ban on marriage for same-sex couples, but says that he remained in connection with clergy who supported the ban.

The full article contains more text and a video of his talk.

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Philip B. Spivey

Diana Butler Bass is quoted in today's edition of Religion Dispatches as saying that "...institutions naturally do two things really well and that is rules and rituals. And they do one thing really poorly, and that is relationships." Later she opines: "Can we build institutions that are more about relationships and renewal?"

I concur with her assessment of institutions and some are more remiss that others. I'm not quite sure what PB-elect Curry means when he speaks about reorienting our church to be less inward looking and more outward looking. This vision can be interpreted in several ways. My vision would look something like this: Less inward looking about the business of church---rules and rituals---and more outward looking at the at the community of people around us; all of them. As several of you above indicate, our churches are not always the most safe and welcoming environments to be in. Jealousy, competition, turf-doms, careerism and judgement are rife. I don't think we can ---or should--- rebuild our church, but a shared vision for the 21st century keep us vital and relevant.

I think we have work to do on ourselves if we are to survive as anything more than a relic of the past. Evangelism begins with each other. Evangelism begins with supporting one another in our (Baptismal) Covenant with God. Evangelism begins when we stop trying to be something we are not. Evangelism begins when we become models of the Middle Way. This kind of evangelism moves us "outward" in new and powerful ways.

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Eric Bonetti

Agree, Anne. And the church needs to revisit its commitment to ethical organizational behavior. With so much time and resources consumed by the property litigation, many dioceses have outdated policies on harassment, retaliation, and other issues. Bad behavior encompasses far more than stealing or sexual misconduct, yet you would never know that if you examined our organizational policies, procedures, and decisions.

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Anne Bay

These sharings are heartfelt and show a lot of thought on the subject. It does indicate how many differing ideas are in the church on the issues regarding LGBT. Almost all of the young people I know that are 30 and under do not go anywhere near a church and have nothing good to say about them. It's clearly an issue that won't be solved anytime soon. One thing that is clear is that times have changed and the church needs to keep up. As my mother said the reason she chose to become an Episcopalian was because the Episcopal Church wanted you to use your brain. And it's quite evident that one's sexuality and gender identification is extremely complex and we are just beginning to understand how it works. It's not about choice. It's the real deal. Using the bible to hold on to information proves not only out of date, but horribly errant in my view will become more and more unused. With modern education and scientific data progressing at break-neck speed the ideas of old will be just that. A lot of what we didn't know and understand will become known and insights will develop in ways we never could imagine. With regards to a Diocese refusing to marry same-sex couples and sending them to other Dioceses to do so is repugnant to me. The church should be for everyone, including the LGBT community and not just a chosen group. I can tell for a lot of bishops this isn't something that they can get their belief systems in line. It will take several years to smooth out how the church responds to providing a church for everyone in equal treatment.

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Jerald Liko

Everything I've read or seen from +Michael indicates that he wants to reorient the church into an outward-facing movement rather than an inward-facing institution. A dream deferred is a dream denied, and I don't take lightly the pain of LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are unwelcome in certain dioceses/congregations. But I also see the desire to purge the fading remnants of LGBTQ exclusion as an inward-looking matter, that is, it is principally motivated by the concerns of people within the church about the conduct/beliefs of other people within the church. I think the election of a new PB offers us a chance to re-focus on new challenges and frontiers of inclusion, with more focus on our own roles to play and less focus on correcting the shortcomings of our conservative brethren.

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JC Fisher

[Last comment today here, promise! JCF]

Jerald, if I may draw an analogy---

The movement is called "Black Lives Matter" because, for the most part, the lives of non-Blacks (esp Whites) can be ASSUMED to "matter".

Similarly, I am interested, ALMOST exclusively, in an evangelism that prefers LGBT people (and BEGINS by denouncing homophobia everywhere, most particularly in EVERY church).

Why? Because heterosexual (and cisgender) people, God bless 'em, ALWAYS get evangelism that assumes/is aimed toward them. [E.g., even the "are we doing enough for young families" perennial evangelism question assumes these "young (het) families" already HAVE their children, ignoring the difficulties that same-sex couples have in gaining custody of the children many so desperately seek.]

We're to go seek the LOST sheep. I don't mean that LGBT people are "The Lost", in the language of (blasphemous) Judgmentalism. I mean that, overwhelmingly, the church historically has said "Get Lost!" to LGBTs. >:-(

If TEC has a "preferential option" for LGBT people now, it doesn't mean we'll lose the vast (heterosexual) majority (far from it!). It means that by putting "the last first", TEC will model the Kingdom of God. And there's no Good-er (nor more persuasive) News than that! 😀

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Jean-Marc R.

What strikes me is that every comment here focuses only on LGBT issues while Bishop Curry focuses mainly on evangelism. Maybe we should begin to think of all these non believers who are hungry of God and who need us to help to find Him through Christ. It doesn't mean social justice isn't important but it means we need to see where our priorities are.

[Jean-Marc R. - please add your first and last name when commenting as per our guidelines. Thanks, Editor]

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Doug Simpson

Jean-Marc, as JC pointed out below, I think a strong position can be made that the issue of LGBT equality WITHIN the Church is not just a social justice issue but also the opportunity to evangelize to those spiritually hungry LGBT souls out there who feel lost, abandoned, and abused by their Church. Sure, it might be an inward position canonically, but it is an outward example to the entire LGBT community.

Show the LGBT community that they are truly welcomed, loved, and supported in TEC as a full partner in God's Grace and you will be adding their chairs to Jesus' Table.

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JC Fisher

...but my point Doug, also, is that by focusing on evangelizing LGBTs (bringing them the Good News of their God-Given GOODNESS!), we are doing the "Seek Ye First" thing. We all remember the second verse, right? "...and all the [straight people] will be added unto you, Allelu, Alleluia!" 😉

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