Thursday, February 13, 2014

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If you scratch my back…

In addition, we expect to use $312,000 in 2015 to support the Anglican Communion Office, in response to a request from the Presiding Bishop.  If approved, this will raise our ACO commitment from $700,000 for the triennium to $1,012,000.  According to Presiding Bishop Katharine, her request came not only in recognition of greatly improved relations with the Communion, but also as a gesture of support for some very beneficial work, such as the continuing Indaba project and reconciliation work.  We did not officially vote on this request at this meeting, because it affects the 2015 budget, which does not come up for an official vote until October.  However, I expect we will approve it then.  Note that our 2013 and 2014 payments to the ACO were made as if we were spreading a total of $1,012,000 over three years.  If the increased 2015 budget is not approved in October, the ACO will experience a severe cut, to $25,333 in 2015.

I’ll scratch yours.

Archbishop Justin has welcomed news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford

Archbishop Justin said: “I am delighted by the news that the Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori is to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford. This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ.

“Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, ‘In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.’

“It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”

More than once, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Already I can hear the arguments being pushed back at me, about compromise, about the wishy-washiness of reconciliation, to quote something I read recently.  But this sort of love, and the reconciliation between differing groups that it demands and implies, is not comfortable and soft and wishy-washy.  Facilitated conversations may be a clumsy phrase, but it has at its heart a search for good disagreement. It is exceptionally hard edged, extraordinarily demanding and likely to lead in parts of the world around us to profound unpopularity or dismissal. 

This sort of gracious reconciliation means that we have to create safe space within ourselves to disagree, as we began to do last summer at the Synod in York, and as we need to do over the issues arising out of our discussions on sexuality, not because the outcome is predetermined to be a wishy-washy one, but because the very process is a proclamation of the Gospel of unconditionally loving God who gives Himself for our sin and failure.  It is incarnational in the best sense and leads to the need to bear our cross in the way we are commanded. 

Let’s bring this down to some basics.  We have agreed that we will ordain women as Bishops.  At the same time we have agreed that while doing that we want all parts of the church to flourish.  If we are to challenge fear we have to find a cultural change in the life of the church, in the way our groups and parties work, sufficient to build love and trust.  That will mean different ways of working at every level of the church in practice in the way our meetings are structured, presented and lived out and in every form of appointment. It will, dare I say, mean a lot of careful training and development in our working methods, because the challenge for all institutions today, and us above all, is not merely the making of policy but how we then make things happen.

We have received a report with disagreement in it on sexuality, through the group led by Sir Joseph Pilling.  There is great fear among some, here and round the world,  that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word. And there is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that many see akin to racism. 
Both those fears are alive and well in this room today.

If you still don’t know why the “Anglican legitimacy” question is dead then I’m sorry but I’ve got nothing more to tell you.

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