Friday, January 25, 2008

Louie's Pic

Gosh...I wish I had been as innovative as Susan Russell over at her blog...she had a pic of Louie that is totally cool. She uses it as an intro about Louie's visit to Fort Worth.

See her announcement of our event at http://inchatatime.blogspot.com/.
Calculated Benightedness

This from the current leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to the clergy and delegates…

“The following account appeared the next day in the Los Angeles Times. Please be aware as you read that the Times printed a correction today, saying that “although attendees walked toward the Communion table, only Christians were encouraged to partake of Communion. Out of respect for Hindu beliefs, the Hindus were invited to take a flower. Also, the article described Hindus consuming bread during Communion, but some of those worshipers were Christians wearing traditional Indian dress.”

The letter then went on to provide the first, already established as incorrect article.

What do you do with a group of people who are given the facts, acknowledge these facts and then proceed to that which has already been determined to be erroneous?

You shake your head, kick the dust off of your sandals and walk away, muttering prayers for the deliberately ignorant. All we can do is to “Assemble…and come together, draw near, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge—those who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save…” (Isaiah 45:20)

Today is the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. It is fitting that the current leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth would seem to be in such need on this day of days. For are we not in need re-evaluating our views when we deliberately and calculatingly hold fast to that which has been proven wrong?

Sr. Joan Chittister in her Visions and Viewpoints newsletter asked and answered the question: “What can we learn from the spiritual heritage of other traditions? Answer: that God is in the heart of humankind and if we listen clearly, we can hear that same voice in another language. We can hear the voice in the Koran, the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita, the Talmud and the Lotus Sermons. All we have to do is listen.”

The posting that created such a stir on the House of Bishops and Deputies listserve and had people from both sides of the fence agreeing with one another can be found at http://tinyurl.com/35zrcz. So this was a big deal in that most on both sides rarely find anything about which to agree. Calmer voices questioned whether or not any one had actually attended the service and why was everyone in such an uproar. Soon after a link to the LA Times correction was submitted to the same listserve - http://tinyurl.com/3djjwt. The gist of the uproar was the fact that non-baptized persons partook of the bread during the Eucharist. It was noted in the correction that this did not happen; rather, the Hindus who participated in the communion were actually Christians.

How quickly we jump to judge others! How slow we are to acknowledge our errors!

Does this correction by the LATimes satisfy the current leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of FW? Oh, no…much easier to loudly proclaim – DON’T confuse me with the facts!

I think on this day noted for St. Paul’s Conversion, we need to assemble...and draw near" and heartily pray for all those who so tenaciously cling to their ignorance in this benighted diocese. This messgage from the people who control the diocese is one which should be seen for what it is - yet one more attempt to take the truth and twist it to their convoluted ways. No one has to lie about Jack Iker or the people who blindly follow him...one only has to read the reports put out by them from their own offices. The truth is fairly clear...if one's eyes have not been blinded...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Louie Crew is coming to Fort Worth!

Yes, it seems an unlikely place for Dr. Louie Crew to place on his itinerary yet it is true. Unlike the Presiding Bishop, he needs no invitation from the current bishop of this Episcopal Diocese. He comes at the invitation of Integrity Fort Worth.

We are honored and privileged to have Dr. Crew in our midst. We give great thanks for all that he has done in the past – talk about standing on someone’s shoulders! I would daresay that Louie’s shoulders must be very large to carry so many of us so high. While we are not yet satisfied with the second rate status of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church, we humbly note that we would not even be second class were it not for the steadfast love and work of Louie.

So, it is with great joy that I invite you to come hear Louie speak in Fort Worth. This is a momentous occasion. Come be a part of it. Mark your calendars. Make your reservations.
Barbi
South Central Region
Vice President, Integrity

*******************************************************
News Release

Dr. Louie Crew, Founder of Integrity, to Speak in Fort Worth
by Katie Sherrod

FORT WORTH - Some people are threatening to split from The Episcopal Church because of its full inclusion of gay and lesbian Episcopalians in the life and ministry of the church. But many Episcopalians agree with the move toward full inclusion of all the Baptized, or want to learn more about it.

One of the most articulate voices on this subject is Dr. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity. Integrity is a nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and straight friends. Since its founding by Dr. Crew in rural Georgia in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in The Episcopal Church and equal access to its rites.

On Saturday, March 1, 2008, Integrity Fort Worth will host Dr. Crew, whose topic will be “Exceedingly Glad in Times Like These,” at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Crew will speak at 3:30 PM after the Holy Eucharist at 2:00 PM, led by the Rt. Rev. Sam Hulsey, retired bishop of Northwest Texas. Registration will begin at 1:30 p.m. There will be a reception in the parish hall following Dr. Crew’s address.

A native of Anniston, Alabama, Crew holds earned degrees from Baylor University (BA, 1958), Auburn (MA, 1959) and the University of Alabama (PhD, 1971) and honorary doctorates from three Episcopal seminaries: EDS (Cambridge, 1999), General (NYC, 2003), and EDS Pacific (Berkeley, 2004). He has held fellowships at UCal Berkeley, the University of Texas (Austin), and the University of Chicago. He is the author of more than 1620 publications.

An emeritus professor of English at Rutgers University, Crew taught there from 1989 to 2001 and served two terms as Chair of its Senate and a member of its Board of Governors. At other times during his 44-year career, he was a prep school master and a professor of black higher education in the rural south. He also taught for five years in rural Wisconsin and four years in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Dr. Crew’s contributions to the Church have been many. A five-time deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Newark, he chaired Newark’s deputation in 2006. He has served two terms on the Standing Committee of his Diocese, twice as its President, and is now clerk of the vestry at Grace Church, Newark. He is also the secretary of Province Two of the Episcopal Church as well as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations. He recently finished his term on the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, the body that governs the church between General Conventions.

Louie Crew and Ernest Clay entered a life partnership in February 1974.

******************************

This event is free if attendees pre-register online at www.integrityfortworth.org otherwise there is a
$5.00 Registration Fee at the door. For information, call 817-784-5132 or send e-mail to info@integrityfortworth.org

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spread the Word

One of today’s readings is Ezekiel 3:4-11. I think that I would like to relate it to today. I would like to read into the prophet’s words the idea that God is talking to us as Episcopalians, especially in the dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin.

We are being sent out to spread the word – the word of truth and justice, not to people from another denomination (although they might listen more nearly to us) but to our own. We are sent to a people who are refusing to listen to us; a people who are brazen and stubborn. But God is making us as brazen and stubborn as those to whom we are sent. Our brows have been made adamant, harder than flint. And we are not to fear these to whom we have been sent regardless of how rebellious they are. God is telling us to speak out, tell the truth and go to all those, especially those who are in exile and speak to them all. If they refuse to listen, we are to continue on, telling them that these are the “words of the Lord GOD.”

This morning I accepted a last minute invitation to attend a meeting of a group of people of a Fort Worth parish. They were meeting with some of the nominees for their vestry and convention delegates prior to the annual parish meeting coming up this next Sunday. They all had a lot of questions.

We have not been a questioning people in this diocese. We have been so intent upon just going about our own business within our parishes that we have merely ducked our heads when diocesan mandates are tossed at us. The “diocese” has said jump and we merely ask how high.
But that is changing. A lot of the change is of the current leadership’s own making…so many statements just don’t make sense or are just downright silly…i.e. the Epiphany card from the Presiding Bishop to the bishops of this Church – Mr. Iker was offended because the wise’men’ appeared to be wise women. Goodness…

Part of the change comes from the people wanting to ask questions yet not being able to get answers. It is the “father knows best” ideology. To question Daddy Dearest is to perform the ultimate sin. Forget Mother Nature…one does not question the bishop’s mandates.
As has been pointed out so clearly by Katie Sherrod and others, it is not heretical to disagree with the bishop.

So, I report with a great deal of gratitude and thanksgiving, the laity in this diocese are awakening and talking about the wonders that they see. This is a good thing. It matters little if they agree. It matters only that they are talking together. As we talk, so we spread the word. This is a very good thing.

We will do as we have been told to do and continue to speak to our fellow Episcopalians – those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree – whether they listen or refuse to listen -- regardless of what words they use to deride us. Why? Because this is what we have been told to do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well, Here We Go Again...

So, mean old +Katharine is threatening poor little +Jack again. But even though she is so mean, Daddy Iker has made certain that Daddy Stanton will take care of his little trouble maker parishes when Daddy I walks away from the Episcopal Church. So nice of them to make arrangement for the renegade parishes who will suddenly be uprooted from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (according to JLI) and suddenly become part and parcel of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

Does it seem strange to anyone else that those parishes within the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth would have to petition to suddenly become a part of a diocese they do not want to be part of so that they can remain Episcopal? As if the diocese were a physical thing that JLI can carry around with him in his pocket? It does to me.

Only Jack Iker could work his magic on a group of people and have them believing that to stay in the Episcopal Church they have to become a part of a totally different diocese than the one in which they reside. As if the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth will suddenly disappear when Jack skips out to the Southern Cone...

How afraid does one have to be to fall for all of this? That is the frightening part of it all - not that Iker thinks it but that people actually worship the very ground he walks on and believe everything that he utters. And the clergy in this diocese...oh my gosh...how does one totally forget the idea of faith - what do they do to themselves to justify following this man? What is this costing them as individuals?

This particular blog tonight is just to testify to my absolute amazement at how far Jack Iker will go to get his way and how twisted he can make life seem. To see more details, go to Katie's blog - http://wildernessgarden.blogspot.com/ or to Jake's - http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/.

As for me and mine, we are heading back to Fort Worth for a couple of weeks. We think we found a place in St. Louis today - in the historic Benton Park. Totally cool. We will know more within the next few days.

Meanwhile, prayers for a safe journey tomorrow as we head back into She-ol.

Monday, January 14, 2008

From the Current Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

A Statement from the Bishop of Fort Worth on Bishop Schofield’s Inhibition

It comes as no surprise that the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church has initiated canonical actions against the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield to remove him from office. However, the matter is complicated by the fact that Bishop Schofield and the Diocese of San Joaquin, by constitutional action of their Convention, are no longer a part of The Episcopal Church. They now function under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone. Disciplinary actions cannot be taken by this Province against a Bishop who is a member of another Province of the Anglican Communion.
The House of Bishops of TEC can indeed prevent Bishop Schofield from functioning as a Bishop in congregations of The Episcopal Church. However, they cannot invalidate his consecration as a Bishop in the Church of God, nor prevent him from functioning as such in congregations that welcome and affirm his ministry as their Bishop.
The Bishop of San Joaquin has my friendship, my support, and my prayers during this time of turmoil in the life of our church.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo IkerBishop of Fort Worth

__________________________________________
I must say that neither does it comes as a surprise to me that Jack Iker would make this statement. What else can he say at this point? And while I always wonder why he doesn’t just sit back and hush, why would he say less at this point? He has gone so far, it would take so much courage to back down now.

Ok, so John-David is no longer a bishop within the Episcopal Church. Not a problem. Whether he is still a bishop or not in another denomination is of no importance to me. The only thing that matters is that he is not a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Sanctions, smanctions…kick the guy out.

So let John David play bishop in the Southern Cone. But take heed, all who would follow his lead. John David is no longer a part of the Episcopal Church, therefore he is no longer the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin – regardless of what he or anyone else says. There is still time though. The bishop of Fort Worth could stop all the posturing and truly work towards reconciliation.

No…I don’t suppose that he can.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What is at Stake for Episcopalians
in the Diocese of Fort Worth?
The Rev. Thomas B. Woodward
Will address many of the issues facing the Episcopal Church
from his perspective as a priest for 42 years.
Saturday, January 19, 2008 2:00 p.m.
Sid W. Richardson Hall, TCU
Lecture Hall 2
Ground level, SE part of the building
2840 W. Bowie Street
Fort Worth, TX
Sponsored by Fort Worth Via Media Admission is free, but reservations should be made at http://www.fwviamedia.org/
or
817-229-7257
to insure adequate seating
Fr. Woodward, who lives in Santa Fe, recently guided the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande in finding constructive ways to deal with conflicts.
Location: The Sid W. Richardson Building is located one block north and one block east of the new TCU Bookstore at the NE corner of Berry and University. The Richardson Building is the "newer" part of two connected buildings on the north side of Bowie Street.
Parking: There are large parking lots NE of the Sid W. Richardson building. The closest one is east of the TCU Library, but there are others N and NE of there. On Saturdays, the only "Reserved" parking spaces are the ones that are marked "Reserved 24 Hours." The building is accessible for wheel chairs with ramps and an elevator.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Symbols and Idols

Reading the book, Honest to God by John A. T. Robinson, I was particularly struck by his thoughts on symbols and images. He writes that these have a “powerful” and “proper place” within our awareness of God. These only become idols when the same become “indispensable for the apprehending of the reality.” When these images/idols become so necessary to the idea itself that without the image the idea is tarnished or even destroyed, then the images/idols become dangerous to the point of being a barrier to an understanding.

As a child growing up in rural central Texas, I recall quite clearly the objections to John Kennedy as President. He was a Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics worshipped idols, wore crosses and prayed to Mary and other saints – just like the Baptists did to Jesus. To pray to anyone other than Jesus or God was sinful. Amen. That was the end to that discussion.

I had a friend that was Roman Catholic. Her home was full of crosses and statues. I worried for Janie’s family but I loved looking at the statue of Mother Mary holding the baby Jesus. The crucifixes scared me some but fascinated me all the same. I suppose that to my beloved grandmother, she feared these symbols for the very idea that someone might need them to be more aware of God.

Yesterday Canon Charles (Chuck) Hough was at Trinity in Fort Worth explaining why he and others of their “kind” had deemed it necessary to leave the Episcopal Church…although we were reminded several times that their “kind” was not leaving TEC at all, merely helping to form a “realignment”.

As I read this book, many of the things that Canon Hough said came flooding into my mind. He talked about the “intolerance of the leadership of TEC” using the “canons as weapons” against his “kind”. He further lamented the “forcing of innovations”. He spoke to the differences between himself as a "anglican catholic" and others who were "protestant." Neither of us wee wrong, he said...we were just different. The only solution to his and others of his “kind” was realignment within the Communion.

He spoke to the issue of women’s ordination as one of these “innovations”. He said that it was the “lack of surety” – since so many within the Anglican Communion do not ordain women, then it cannot yet be considered a definite. I asked the question – At what point will you know that women as priests is a certain thing? Just how many within the Anglican Communion will have to agree?

His answer: “When the “Church catholic” makes it a definite” as they did with the idea of the Incarnation, then it can be considered fully accepted. Well, hmm…Why not just say…Never?

The most notable statement that Canon Hough made was this: “My theology hasn’t changed since I was a boy.”

Fear of seeing God as something other than a male…fear of inclusive language…fear of women as priests, bishops and presiding bishops…or as Magi…holding onto the theology that one possessed as a mere child…I think that these things are very telling. It is a wonder that they allow the idea to persist that Jesus was born of a mere woman.

These things – these ideas and images – these have become idols to Canon Hough and his “kind”. They cannot let go of the theology that they learned as a child at the knee of some long gone priest or bishop. Rather than viewing it as a starting point, they view it as the absolute. He learned it all then, kept it close to him and will allow nothing to change it.

Symbols, images and ideas are not bad. It is ok to have crosses and statues and to call God “Father” … or Mother. What is wrong is when the symbol becomes so fixed, so rigid that we can no longer see around it. When that happens, the symbol/image/idea truly becomes an idol, a false god. What is so sad is to become so fixed as to be able to state that our theology has not changed since we “spoke as a child”… Even sadder is the idea that our theology is so right that there is no room at the table for those who disagree with us.

I believe that we have proof positive that the current Diocese of Fort Worth is a place wherein spiritually starved persons reside. False gods abound. I do believe that the need for a male priest/bishop/primate has for too many become “indispensable for the apprehending of the reality.”

These Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and San Joaquin will be all right. In fact, both may be better than they have ever been before. What we need to do is pray sincerely for Canon Hough and his "kind".

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Truth teller, vision weaver

I have to take a moment and give thanks. This has been an especially thankful time in my life as I have mentioned in other blogs lately. Yet today, I give thanks for Katie Sherrod and the witness that she is to this church and to so many of us in this Diocese of Fort Worth.

It is an awesome thing to watch, this effect that she has on a group of people. I have watched as she soothes an anxious group, or even as has been known to happen, Canon Hough looking to her for affirmation of a historical fact or figure regarding the diocese. Too often in the past, I have witnessed the fear that creeps out of others like a black cloud over a room when she rises to speak. This is nothing against her…it is just the panic coming from those who hate all that she stands for and is willing to speak against. It is very telling.

Thankfully today, I had the opportunity of watching the positive effect that Katie Sherrod has on a room full of people seeking truth.

The two of us were invited to meet with a group of concerned parishioners from a local parish. Their concern arose from the fact that they just weren’t getting enough information. At each question, a “need to know” factor was being imposed. Someone deemed that they had no need to know. So, they wanted to speak to someone outside of their parish. They chose wisely in asking Katie to answer their questions.

One person posed a concern of how to respond when questioned by another as to what authority do we claim to express the views we embrace. As I listened to her weave a mesmerizing story of how we claim that “authority” to speak out against that which we deem misguided in this diocese, I pictured Katie hovering over us with a large darning needle and long strand of thread. Each time I hear her tell it, it is as though it is the first time that I have heard it. She quietly reminded us all that it is through our baptisms that we are connected with Jesus Christ and that it is by that very baptism that we claim membership in that one Body and one Spirit; one hope in God’s call to us. She reminded us that we are firmly knitted together through that baptismal covenant and our promises that we will not only proclaim the Good News of God in Christ but that we will seek and serve God in ALL persons, all the while striving for justice and peace among all people, remember that we are to respect the dignity of every human being. It is our duty and responsibility to speak out against unanswered questions and half-truths and deliberately misconceived ideas.

It is in that vision, that I clearly see Katie’s mission in this church. She has been knitting for a long while now. She speaks out so clearly…so strongly…so quietly. The unarmed truth she speaks comes from the Holy Spirit. Within it is a peace that passes all understanding. She speaks the truth of unconditional Love.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy New Year...a few days into the year!

We are still celebrating the blessings of Christmas. Just said "see you in just a little bit later" to two of the grands. We will say "later gator" to the other two tomorrow. All with lots of reassuring that we are not going away for ever...just for a little while.

Lots of stuff going on in our lives. Lots of really silly immaturity ongoing within the current leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. See Katie's blog, Can't Even Swim, for more on that...http://wildernessgarden.blogspot.com/. We have learned over the past few years that those who oppose the dictatorship of this diocese don't have to wait very long for entertainment. We have also learned that we never have to lie or exaggerate; we certainly don't have to work at making the leadership look silly. We just sit back and watch. They do such a wonderful job all by themselves.

So...more on that later. Just wanted to let it be known that we did make it into the new year with gratefulness and thanksgiving.