Four Years Ago Bishop Katharine Wrote

The larger church seems to be in a time of some anxiety,

but then we seem to live in especially anxious times. I spent a day in mid-June with a roomful of bishops who are enormously concerned about the election of Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor in New Hampshire, and about the possibility that General Convention will authorize the preparation of rites for blessing same-sex unions. If we can look at the situation dispassionately (which is far from easy), we soon discover that the same kind of furor accompanied the incorporation of non-white Episcopalians into the full life of this church, the ordination of women, and even the seating of women deputies in General Convention. The Holy Spirit continues to shake us up, whether we are ready or not. When we are confronted with an issue of inclusion, it seems to be an invitation to remember that the Body of Christ does not look just like any one of us, and that this Body is far more complex than we can imagine. We all reflect the image of God, but no one of us alone can reflect the fullness of God’s image.
Jesus spent his time hanging out with the folks on the margin, because too often the rulers/authorities/governing bodies in his society were busy worrying about boundaries ­ who was “in” and who was “out.” If we’re worried about whom to include, we’ve missed something essential about the gospel: Jesus invited everybody.
When we are faced with what a tough ethical question, how do we respond? As Anglicans, we look to three sources of authority ­ scripture, tradition, and reason. If we still cannot come to a consensus, then the advice of Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-39) is appropriate ­ “if this is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” Or as Jesus said so often, “by their fruits you shall know them” and “judge not, lest ye be judged.” Our task is to look for God in our neighbors, whether we agree with them or not.
There is room in this expansive church of ours for all ­ for those who agree with us and those who disagree, for those who seem to be innovating and those who see themselves as conserving the tradition — because it’s not our church, it’s the Body whom Jesus has called together.


The Episcopal Diocese of Nevada,

June/July 2003


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