Last week during the General Convention of the Episcopal Church a change was made. This change is one that a cynic might regard as an attempt at “spin” by the national Episcopal Church. The only thing Christians love more than the creation of obscure acronym is the exchange of those acronyms for new ones-I think it satisfies the gnostic streak in many of us by helping to separate those “within” from those “without.”
For years the (Protestant) Episcopal Church, USA has been known as (P)ECUSA, with the P for Protestant being optional. No more. Instead, as an attempt to emphasize the Episcopal Church’s status as the “only international Church body in the communion” the decision was made to refer to “TEC” or simply, “The Episcopal Church.” Of course, calling the Episcopal Church the only international Church in the Anglican Communion might be somewhat misleading when one considers those dioceses that are extra-provincial to Canterbury, or the limited amount of influence those dioceses beyond the borders of the US of A have. Be that as it may, the status of ECUSA TEC stems from an earlier, more evangelical period in the Episcopal Church’s history when it was living up–at least in part–to its official name as “The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society,” by sending missionaries to Central and South America and the Caribbean. The changing of the official acronym is not the only, or most important spin from Columbus these days. Yesterday the General Convention voted to elect Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, the next Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.
It is already clear that the foremost issue in the media and among many observers is the fact that Bishop Schori is a woman. Indeed, the cheers of jubilation from her supporters largely center on her sex–of course, one doubts they would be nearly as effusive if a conservative woman were elevated to such a post. Make no mistake, the key issue related to Bishop Schori’s leadership will not be her femaleness, but her liberality. Unfortunately her position will only serve to further unite the issues of human sexual morals with the issue of women’s ordination in the minds of many people, reasserter or reappraiser, liberal or conservative, orthodox or heterodox. That this will be a result of this election is a shame, but it seems an inevitable outcome. And while part of me does not wish to give the liberals enough credit to think that this was orchestrated, I can’t help but think that this election is a huge victory for their cause precisely because of the obfuscation enabled by Bishop Schori’s sex. Now, because of the fact that she is female, any rejection of her oversight for theological reasons can be portrayed and seen as misogyny at work.
Perhaps the most irritating thing about this process is how easily Bishop Schori dismissed her detractors as “Donatists” in her first public statements, all the while touting reconciliation. It will be interesting to see how the request of the Diocese of Fort Worth for “immediate alternative primatial oversight” will be dealt with.
On a somewhat happier note, I want to indicate how thankful I am that our deputation was willing to put forth a resolution to disassociate from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice–Central Florida also submitted such a resolution. i don’t know if they’ve been voted on yet, but while I doubt they will pass, I am grateful to the Bishop and Council for approving and for Fr. Patrick Allen for drafting such a resolution; if I’m troubled at times by my association with the Episcopal Church USA, I can at least take comfort in the fellowship of so many Christ-loving Anglicans close to home in the Diocese of Tennessee and around the world.
The resolution from Ft. Worth is contained below.
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Here’s the resolution in it’s entirety:
The following resolution was adopted by the Standing Committee Sunday evening, June 18. It was read into the record of both Houses at the start of business this morning. Bishop Iker read the resolution in the House of Bishops, and Senior Deputy Judy Mayo read the resolution in the House of Deputies.
At a meeting convened on June 18, 2006, at 8:53 p.m. EDT
The meeting was opened by the Very Rev. Ryan Reed.
Moved by the Very Rev. Ryan Reed,
Seconded by the Very Rev. Christopher Cantrell
The Bishop and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth appeal in good faith to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and Pastoral Care following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
This action is taken as a cooperative member of the Anglican Communion Network in light of the Windsor Report and its recommendations.
Vote: Unanimous in favor
Neither house made any response. In the House of Deputies, Deputy Coyle of the Diocese of Central Florida rose to say that, despite differences of practice, his diocesan deputation wanted to express its support for the Diocese of Fort Worth.
News agencies and bloggers were eager to obtain copies of the resolution, and several blogs were overwhelmed by the traffic on their servers.