CNY leader Skip Adams one of 670 bishops to attend once-in-a-decade session.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
By Renée K. Gadoua, Staff writer
Is the church heading to schism?
My sense, speaking as Skip Adams, is it's the opposite of that. Some of the alarmist press bore no fruit.
But you agree this was an important step in the life of the church. There's no question of that, but as they say, 'Reports of one's demise were greatly exaggerated.' The most important sense I got out of this conference is that it's clear to me that most members of the communion want to stay together, that there's as much or more about we agree than about what we disagree, and most want to work together to figure this out.
Discussions about sexuality came at the end. Was there an elephant in the room, a sense that you were putting off the difficult questions?
The process we were in had the primary purpose of listening to other people, don't speak too much. It wasn't to avoid anything. It was clear we were going to be talking about hard issues.
The beginning of the conference was to focus on things on which we do agree so that based on those places then we can have the more difficult conversations because a relationship has been established.
What did you hear?
In my Bible study group were members from Sudan. I heard their ministry context, the things they have to deal with day to day, HIV/AIDS, extremist parts of the Muslim community, issues about disease and poverty and illiteracy. People there, when they make a decision to get baptized, know they are putting their life at risk.
What else did you learn about how life is different in the United States?
I live in a culture that is used to exercising its freedom. We live in cultural context where those conversations can be had.
When you talk with people in other parts of the world, they are dealing with life and death issues. The conversations about human sexuality, they often don't have time to deal with it, and when it comes up they are dealing with a context in which homosexuality is criminalized.
What did you bring to the table in terms of explaining the American experience?
They were able to hear from me and other bishops from the U.S. about the possibility of the holiness of life of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) people.
We're accused of not embracing the authority of Scripture. I was able to explain to them I do embrace the authority of Scripture, but I understand some parts of Scripture differently because of my cultural context.
What do you make of the 200 bishops who boycotted the meeting?
I'm sorry they made the decision to stay home. I'm told that this was not a decision necessarily forever. I am aware there was a bishop from Nigeria who came in defiance of his archbishop whose wife was threatened and he had to leave.
What was the significance of Gene Robinson's presence?
I expressed my sadness that he wasn't a part of the regular invitation, but he got to talk with folks who wanted to hear from him about his ministry and his context and how he sees the work of the church in New Hampshire. I hear they're just busy doing God's work. They don't talk about sex every day.
How will this play out locally?
That's obviously yet to be. This will be in my conversations when I do parish visitations. I shared some of these things with the staff. I will share these things with the clergy. Because it affects me, it's going to affect the whole diocese.
What is also clear to me is I continue to want us to be a diocese where many theological perspectives can be held in tension and the center of who we are is Christ. We need to keep our eyes there as we figure out things. Full article
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