Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies have offered opening remarks at the meeting of the church’s Executive Council, which is meeting today through Thursday in Chicago at the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Here is some of what the Presiding Bishop had to say:
The budget stalemate in Washington, DC gives evidence of intransigence and exceedingly narrow understandings of the function of governing. We can see abundant evidence of the poorest and weakest residents of the United States bearing the brunt of this failure to govern. The immigration summit that took place in that city last week was another example of where the poorest and most marginalized among us suffer because of the failure to govern. This church has continued to advocate for a speedy and just resolution of both impasses.
We have a similar reality within this Church, having to do with the United Thank Offering. The political theater has not been dissimilar to what is going on in Washington, DC, though I do believe there is more will here to find an effective resolution. The same sort of political conversation and negotiation will be needed within and outside the Church to resolve both situations. The reality is that the negotiation needs to happen face to face, in incarnate conversation rather than in the blogosphere. Politics of all sorts, civil and ecclesiastical, must take place in ongoing conversations that seek and expect a resolution that was not initially evident. Both will take some conversion. The role of others is to pray and encourage, rather than lob judgments or condemnations.
And here is an excerpt from the Rev. Jennings’ remarks:
While we were in DC, Bishop Katharine and I attended a meeting with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and six other House members active in working for comprehensive immigration reform. Besides being struck by the fact that Nancy Pelosi looks just like my mother—I am not kidding—the thing that stuck with me after that meeting is how the politicians implored the church leaders to stay active in the immigration debate and other matters of policy that require the moral leadership of people of faith. As Leader Pelosi said, “Don’t agonize, organize,” and she was clear that faith-based organizing and advocacy is a critical factor in passing legislation that respects the dignity and worth of every citizen in a country that proclaims itself to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. And make no mistake, speaking with the collective voice of The Episcopal Church out of legislation adopted by the General Convention, is powerful and makes a significant difference.
It is precisely because we are a post-establishment church that we must speak and advocate for the values of the kingdom of God—here at Executive Council, at General Convention, in Washington DC and everywhere else that the lives of the people of God hang in the balance. We don’t do it because we are powerful people or because once upon a time, lots of presidents and legislators and CEOs were Episcopalians. We do it because Jesus commands us to light up the whole house, not to hide ourselves under a bushel. We speak not because of who we used to be, but who God calls us to be, now and forever.