Friday, July 17, 2009


OK, against my better judgment, I am going to start posting Twitter updates. If you are a Twitter person, and want to receive updates, there is a button on the blog you can click to "follow" me. Mostly I will be posting tweets related to upcoming events or news about All Saints, and not (as on Facebook) whether I went to Crunchy's or Harrison Roadhouse for a burger.

So if you want Twitter updates about All Saints, click the magic button, or follow me at RevKit (or email ...

I'll be working on my hip social networking skills now ...

+ Kit

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Hopeful, and Quintessentially Anglican, Approach

Resolution D025, as passed at General Convention yesterday, offers the Episcopal Church an astonishing way forward in the great messiness that has marked the debate about full inclusion of GLBT people.

Quite simply, it tells the truth. It tells the truth about who we are as the American branch of the Anglican Communion. We are a church that has listened to the lives and stories of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters; we have observed them exercising holy and life-giving ministries in every corner of the church. We are a church that understands them to be baptized people, the same as anyone else, and we are a church with laws (called canons) that particularly forbid non-discrimination in the ordination process. We are a church that is not of one mind on how to move forward on the question of ordinations of GLBT people, and is not of one mind on blessing of same-sex unions, or marriage -- in states where that is legal -- between two people of the same gender. We are a church where some dioceses will ordain gay and lesbian people, and some dioceses will not.

We are a wonderful collection of faithful people on a journey to deeper understanding and love of one another, led by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But it is a journey, and it is not over yet, and so this resolution offers a wonderful declaration of where we are right now, vis a vis the Anglican Communion, the question of gay ordinations, and our ongoing differences of theology and interpretation.

This resolution does four very important things:

1) It affirms our intention and commitment to remain in the Anglican Communion, continuing to do ministry and mission in developing countries, and continuing our financial support of $661K of a $1.8 billion budget -- a significant contribution from any one member church -- for Anglican Communion programs and ministries. It says that we intend to stay at the table and play.

2) It recognizes that we have participated fully in a "listening process" requested by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988 and 1998, to listen to the experiences of our GLBT brothers and sisters. And what we have discovered is ... wow! They are people. And Christians! And they do wonderful ministries at every level of the church! And generally function like every other baptized person.

3) It reminds everyone that our church has laws (canons) and some of those laws relate to ordination, and that those laws have non-discrimination policies attached to them, and that there is no LEGAL impediment in our church to QUALIFIED, DISCERNED, GLBT folks to being ordained, provided they go through discernment processes like everyone else and are selected for the ordination track.

and finally, and most important, and most ANGLICAN of all it says,

4) We understand that good and faithful people are not of one mind about this stuff and we are on a journey together and we are not going to agree on all of this right away.

So, does this mean that gays are allowed to be ordained? In dioceses where they are currently being ordained, that will probably continue. Sometime soon, some diocese will probably elect another gay bishop (note ... we've always had gay bishops. Bp. Otis of Utah came out after he retired.). Other dioceses won't be ready yet. No diocese will be forced to ordain GLBT people.

Will we get kicked out of the Anglican Communion? That's still a future possibility. However, we are not alone. Other provinces of the communion are also moving forward with rituals for blessings of same-sex unions, and are ordaining qualified and called gay and lesbian persons. Our mission and development work in the Global South continues to express our love for all our brothers and sisters, and our willingness to work together on areas where we do agree, to end poverty, to increase health, to create fulfilling lives for all God's children. The Archbishop of Canterbury said as much to General Convention ... that if the Anglican Communion didn't find the Episcopal presence so necessary, this would not be so difficult.

However, the "restraint" exercised by the Episcopal Church for the last three years, (a resolution passed in the waning hours of the last General Convention called for restraint in the elections and consecration to the order of bishop of people whose "manner of life" posed a difficulty to the wider communion) did not stop bishops from crossing provincial and diocesan boundaries. It did not stop other bishops, parishes, even entire dioceses from trying to leave the Episcopal Church. It may have gotten our bishops to the Lambeth Conference, but the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a canonically elected, approved and consecrated bishop, was still "uninvited." Other bishops from the global South still stayed away from Lambeth, unwilling to share fellowship and communion with "heretical" bishops.

So perhaps it is just time to tell the truth. We do want to remain in the Anglican Communion. We do understand that GLBT people have gifts to offer our church and our world. We intend to follow our canons. We know that people are not of one mind about this, and we intend to go forward together anyway, messy, confused, but together.

And hopeful.

+ Kit

Monday, July 13, 2009

How to Start Your Monday

1) Sit still in a place that you like. It should not be a place where you see any work or tasks that you need to accomplish.

2) Sit there for five minutes. Be aware of your surroundings, the temperature, the sounds you hear, the things you see. Be completely present to the moment and to the place. If your mind starts running ahead to what you need to do today, just set that aside and return to quietly observing your surroundings and being present.

3) Say "Thank you." Take three deep breaths. Stand up slowly.

Now go about your week.


+ Kit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

From Hatred to Hope

I went to downtown East Lansing this morning to check out the Sidewalk Sale, and ended up in Kirabo, the fair trade store. At the checkout counter, there was a basket of these tiny crosses. They are made from spent bullet casings left over from the brutal civil war that raged in Liberia in the 1990s. The artisans who make them created them to witness to the triumph of hope and healing over the hatred that destroyed so much of their lives and well-being.

My last parish had a number of Liberian members, refugees from that civil war. Their stories were challenging, horrifying, and tragic. Although many of them, in the end, were able to tell their own tales of redemption. The one story each person always told however, was of unswerving faith in God. When a roomful of Liberians sings "It is Well With My Soul" at the top of their lungs, and when you know what they have come through and risen above, how can you not believe?

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.

+ Kit

Friday, July 10, 2009

Back to Blogging -- General Convention Thoughts

Hello, there has been a hiatus in my blogging efforts. Periodically in my career as a writer I have simply run out of things to say (this can be a problem when preaching almost every week!). I try to respect those periods as times of silence and restoration, and allow God to work with me when my busy brain and keyboard fingers are still for a while.

Nonetheless, "Saints Alive!" is back for now. I want to share with you some thoughts about our church's General Convention, meeting in Anaheim, California. General Convention is the governing body of the Episcopal Church. It meets every three years in a legislative/party/family reunion/convention type setting to do the work of the church. To decide the direction of our denomination. To rewrite the canons (church laws) that govern how we work together. To pass resolutions that speak to the world at large with the voice of Christian justice and concern. To ponder liturgy, polity, politics.

The Episcopal Church was born in the period after the American Revolutionary War. Anglicans in America had to figure out how to be a new kind of Church of England, when the nation was no longer a British colony. The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America was born in 1789 in the city of Philadelphia. You may recall that our US Constitution was written in 1789 in Philadelphia. There are strong similarities between US governmental structures and our own church structure.

General Convention is a bicameral body. The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (made up of clergy and lay deputies elected from dioceses) work much like our Senate and Congress, developing legislation, reconciling differences in legislation passed by both houses, and articulating the voice and direction of our denomination. The House of Deputies is presided over by Bonnie Anderson from our own Diocese of Michigan. The House of Bishops is presided over by the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of our church. The Presiding Bishop is also the chief executive officer of the Episcopal Church, and is in charge of the administration of the denomination in the three-year intervals between General Conventions.

But General Convention itself sets the guidelines, the rules, and the direction of the Episcopal Church. And so, if you are curious about where we are headed as a denomination, and what is going ON out there in Anaheim, here are some preliminary notes, and also sources where you can keep updated:

1) The first two days of convention have been occupied with the beginning of legislation, the presence of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and the beginning of a process called "public narrative" that may help us each tell our own stories and hear others' (rather than talking past one another, which we too often do).

2) Major issues of concern are first ...a shrinking denominational budget (like everywhere else, money is tight) and whether we can keep our commitment as a denomination to give 0.7 percent of our budget to work toward the UN Millennium Development Goals. And second ... the ongoing discussion of inclusion for LGBT people. For example, in states where same-sex marriage is legal, should churches and dioceses be able to bless and celebrate those marriages? And what about the resolution passed in the waning hours of the last General Convention, resolution B033, that encourages dioceses to refrain from electing bishops whose "manner of life" poses difficulty to the wider Anglican Communion?

3) There is a barrage of information coming out of General Convention. And if you like that sort of thing, you can follow blogs, get Twitter "tweets", watch videos, debate on bulletin boards, until you have no time left to eat or to think. If you don't have that much time or interest, but want to follow the activity at General Convention, here are the three best resources I have found:

-- Episcopal Cafe. Edited by journalist Jim Naughton, this blog is following items of significance and general interest.

-- Convention Daily. This is a daily newsletter that everyone on site at GC2009 receives. It is updated daily, and covers the events of major significance in a traditional newspaper-type format.

-- The GC Media Hub. I find the Media Hub totally overwhelming and confusing. HOWEVER, Heidi Shott, of the Diocese of Maine, does a video segment called "The Daily Wrap" at the end of each day. The Daily Wrap does a TV-style report on the events of the day, which is short, comprehensive, and entertaining. You can find The Daily Wrap by rolling over the tiny, square icons to the right of the page, until you see Daily Wrap.

And finally, one of the most encouraging side activities at GC2009 is the construction of a house for Habitat for Humanity. The house is being built in sections INSIDE the convention center. Affordable housing in the LA area is hard to come by. This home will make a difference in one family's life in the LA area.

+ Kit