"...for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Matthew 25:43-43
When I read the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at Zanzibar, I was greatly heartened. For him to speak to the issue of slavery and our sins of omission, it seemed as though his sermon held an underlying warning to make certain that the very same sins were not repeated. I still believe that is exactly what he was warning. However, it would seem it fell on deaf ears.
I know that when we initially founded the group - Fort Worth Via Media and also the Via Media USA - one of the primary concerns was that we not make this about the "gay issue". We wanted so clearly to be a voice for the broad middle, hoping that once our voices spoke in clarity that others would join in our cry for this Episcopal Church. Many in the founding group were not "pro-gay" per se. They were not sure of their own particular stance toward the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop in this church. We knew there were others who also were concerned about "homosexuality" yet wanted to remain Episcopalians in the Episcopal Church. We didn't want to scare off what we deemed as the majority that sat in that "moderate" middle group. I think that time is past and that many have firmly taken up the stance that we cannot be a church bent on following the gospel of Jesus if we cannot include every member.
I firmly believe that this whole mess is NOT about the gay issue -- it is about power and authority and who has it and who doesn't and who wants more of it. However, be that as it may be, gay and lesbian Episcopalians are the ones suffering. So, whether it is truly deep down about gay and lesbian issues or not, it is about gay and lesbians in this church. We are being used as the fodder.
I would like to say that I am firmly a part of the Anglican Communion. Honestly, in the past, it always 'sounded' classier than Episcopalian. 'I am an Anglican.' I didn't hardly know what it meant. Historically, I knew some of the facts. Mostly I didn't know anything. I do now. And one thing that is clear to me above all the facts, all the rhetoric -- clear as blue October skies in Texas -- I am NOT a part of the Anglican Communion. They told me so yesterday. They said it loudly, clearly. It is still reverberating in my heart and mind. I am not an Anglican.
The roots of this Episcopal Church are Anglican but just as this country weaned itself from its English roots by revolution, so was this church cut from its Anglican roots by the same.
I am saddened that the Anglican Communion cares not at all for me and for others like me. I feel as though I have been cast off, flung to the side -- a dirty sock tossed carelessly into the corner without even a thought as to who will pick it up, clean it and return it once again to its proper place to be yet used again and tossed aside. I am tired of being used and abused.
I am disheartened that the words of a relatively few highly placed primates sitting in a circumstance obviously far removed from the same people that Jesus walked amongst carries so much weight that the gifts of gays and lesbians in this church and the entire Anglican Communion are not just ignored but deemed unworthy.
I do not believe that our Presiding Bishop bought into this rhetoric. I cannot allow myself to believe that at this moment. Yet, should she tell me and others that we are loved yet once again, it will come as a bitter balm if there are words only and no action. We are wounded. A pat on the head will not heal us. It was never enough but it offered hope of a future action. It is time to act.
I am hopeful that Bishop Katharine will come back to our church and continue to lead us into a new and deeper understanding of the mission of this church. That mission, I firmly believe, involves recognizing by action that gays and lesbians are true and full members of this body. At this particular moment, the hope that she, the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies and the Executive Council -- all vital parts of this Episcopal Church -- will make a way for the gifts of the gays and lesbians in this church to not only be recognized but utilized.
We are wounded and we cannot wait one hundred years for this Episcopal Church to recognize that.