By Marc Handley Andrus
First, The Episcopal Church has always seen itself as existing in our culture, not outside or above or in opposition to our culture. For over a century, Episcopalians look to the model of Christ transforming culture, rather than, say, Christ against culture. Even the idea of Christ transforming culture has evolved, so today many Episcopalians look for the divine at work far beyond the reaches of our church buildings, and beyond those who identify as Episcopalians or even as Christians.
On marriage equality, our church has traveled on pilgrimage with our culture. Sometimes we have led in advocacy for marriage equality, and sometimes we have learned from the culture and from leaders outside the church. We have developed rites for blessing and marriage for all, and we have extended the support of the church to LGBT people in the form of premarital counseling and the integration of same-sex couples into loving communities of faith. The historic social prominence of The Episcopal Church lays some extra responsibility on us to use our influence for good. Thus we have advocated with courts and lawmakers at every level of government to promote marriage equality.
What about the charge that we have thrown away tradition? Over and over I’ve heard people jokingly (mostly) call our church, “Catholic light,” and claim (this, almost always derogatorily) that The Episcopal Church has no clear moral standards. It is easy for such a church, the argument goes, to irresponsibly accept culturally-led innovations like marriage equality.
The second thing about Episcopalians and marriage equality, then, that is important to say at this moment is that we are a church that believes Christ continues to be with the world, moving with us, helping us find meaning in moments of joy and also loss and pain. The Christ whom we recognize is the one who speaks in John’s Gospel, saying, “There are many things I would teach you but you cannot bear them now … the Sprit will lead you into all truth.” For Episcopalians, tradition is a moving force that is not only dynamic but that changes quality over time, and we might liken the change to be one of more light being cast into the world.
We overturned nearly two millennia of set tradition when we began ordaining women 34 years ago. We repudiated the traditional tolerance of slavery and racial prejudice in the mid-20th century. We traded our cultural privilege and hegemony as a largely Anglo denomination for the wealthy and have deliberately become more and more consciously a church for all. In all these things we have prayed and thought and been in earnest conversation in and out of the church, and believed that in the end we have discerned better the mind of Christ than we had in the past. the rest
Charges of TEC-Related Fraud and Bribery Filed Re: Election of Tanzanian Primate
The general synod of the Anglican Province of Tanzania held an election on Saturday to select a primate, and now a complaint has been filed with the provincial House of Bishops to suspend the results of the election pending an investigation into charges of fraud and bribery.
Elected by just three votes on the third ballot was Bishop Jacob Chimeledya, a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary—but the total number of votes cast in the election was four more than the number of clergy and laity present and voting.
The runner-up was the existing primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa, who had been serving since 2007, and who was eligible for one more five-year term.
The complaint asks the House to annul the election, and to remove from their offices the synod’s General Secretary, Dr. Dickson Chilongani, and its Registrar, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi. It alleges that the election had been rigged by means of “walking around” money to the tune of $50,000, spread among those who voted for +Chimeledya, and that the money came from a source within the Episcopal Church (USA)...
A.S. Haley: Hostilities in South Carolina Postponed for the Nonce
The initial skirmishes in the litigation between Bishop Mark Lawrence's Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church (USA) have been postponed to yet another day. ECUSA had been due to respond to the Diocese's complaint for declaratory relief on March 4. But the Diocese recently amended its complaint to add three new plaintiff parishes and one new defendant, the ersatz "Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
An amendment of a complaint automatically gives the defendants another period in which to respond. So ECUSA's (and its remnant group's) responses will now (by agreement, in exchange for ECUSA's stipulating to the amendment) be due on April 4.
Meanwhile, buried in an ENS story about the meeting of the Executive Council
recently in Linthicum Heights, Maryland was this tidbit:
In other plenary business Feb. 26, council:
* authorized a $250,000 line of credit for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
Now, this is an interesting number. If the "Episcopal Church in South Carolina" is prepared to concede the legal issues in the Diocese's complaint (chiefly, the rights to the Diocese's name and identity, and the rights of the individual parishes to their own properties), then two hundred and fifty thousand dollars is not necessary for such a purpose. Five thousand dollars (even at the "discounted" rates charged to the Church by the Chancellor's own law firm) would be more than ample with which to concede the merits of the Diocese's lawsuit...