The Houston Chronicle does a Q and A with the Presiding Bishop

Q: You’re here, in part, to bless a home in Galveston that the church helped to repair after Hurricane Ike. What role does social outreach and activism play in the Episcopal Church?
A: We understand caring for our neighbor to be fundamentally who we are as Christians. Loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. Taking care of people in distress is a significant part of that.

Q: You were an oceanographer before becoming an Episcopal priest. Does your background as a scientist influence how you approach your role as bishop?
A: I think I’m trained and formed in such a way that I look at the world carefully. I come with a hypothesis, but I’m certainly willing to change it. I just came back from visiting the church in Mexico. I go to something like that ready to learn, to see what they’re doing, what the challenges are, and then to ask, where’s the intersection with our context, not just in the United States, but in the 15 countries we are in? How does this connect with the experience of Latino Christians here in the United States, which is a growing part of our context.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

5 comments on “The Houston Chronicle does a Q and A with the Presiding Bishop

  1. Old Guy says:

    Breathtaking. On the heels of a hardball win over the orthodox minority in court over property, coming to try to calm the waters in Texas with those that remain. Everything about faith is only a hypothesis, with the voice of the Church (she?) the final voice, at any one particular time. However, if the “context” (i.e. social acceptance) changes, the Church can change. You can even leave, provided you leave all property, pensions, etc behind. Expanding into Latin America, hence the claim that the TEC is an international communion, not just a US church. Presumably, if the ABC ever held TEC accountable, TEC could break off and become a liberal and global “Anglican” alternate Communion. The similarity of liturgy to Catholic liturgy (and traditional look) is a valuable tool to expansion because Latinos are “use” to it, especially when you can believe whatever you wish and your answer is as good as anybody else’s. Polygamy is fair game, given the social context. Don’t have to deal with it here because it is so small, but the answer “in Africa” is “no.” But even if the church bans it, there will still be accommodation so you can still be a (paying and counted) member. This looks more and more like a classic pyramid scheme, for power and money. Amazing that these views are so publicly stated. Breathtaking what the Episcopalians and their PB apparently believe. I can’t help but believe that our children or grandchildren will be stunned by this era, when they read about it.

  2. pastorchuckie says:

    +KJS: “I think I’m trained and formed in such a way that I look at the world carefully. I come with a hypothesis, but I’m certainly willing to change it.”

    Translation: “I have a degree in science. Therefore everything I say, even about faith and morals, no matter how dogmatic, has the authority of empirical ‘science’ behind it.”

    +KJS: “In Africa, the church doesn’t officially recognize polygamy. They certainly have polygamous members of their churches. In some places, they say the man can’t take additional wives once he becomes a Christian, but he isn’t forced to divorce the wives he already has. The children generally are recognized as full members if they want to be baptized.”

    And your point is…? I think she’s trying implying that the African churches are getting a break that ECUSA is not getting. In the African provinces she refers to, the polygamous convert to Christianity is a “member” but will never be a bishop, priest, or deacon (1 Tim 3:2, 12). A divorced priest will not continue serving as a priest. Not to idealize our African brothers and sisters, but they are trying to let scripture govern their pastoral care of converts and their criteria for ordained leadership.

    Pax Christi!

    Chuck Bradshaw
    Hulls Cove, Maine

  3. driver8 says:

    1. The ABC was requested to recommend the aceptance of polygamy as early as 1863 by Bishop Colenso.

    2. The Lambeth Conference of 1888 (i.e .the, then, colonial bishops waited more than 20 years for a response from the wider church) recommended:

    [blockquote][b]Resolution 5[/b]

    1. That it is the opinion of this Conference that persons living in polygamy be not admitted to baptism, but that they be accepted as candidates and kept under Christian instruction until such time as they shall be in a position to accept the law of Christ.
    Voting: For 83; Against 21.

    2. That the wives of polygamists may, in the opinion of this Conference, be admitted in some cases to baptism, but that it must be left to the local authorities of the Church to decide under what circumstances they may be baptized.
    Voting: For 54; Against 34.[/blockquote]

    3. The issue remained an extremely pressing one during the twentieth century for Anglicans in Africa. In 1988 the Lambeth Conference revisited the matter, reaffirming the traditional teaching, but specifying more clearly the fitting pastoral response. One might note that for Anglican Africans an entire century passed before the wider Communion was able respond with greater specificity to their context:

    [blockquote][b]Resolution 26[/b]

    Church and Polygamy

    This Conference upholds monogamy as God’s plan, and as the ideal relationship of love between husband and wife; nevertheless recommends that a polygamist who responds to the Gospel and wishes to join the Anglican Church may be baptized and confirmed with his believing wives and children on the following conditions:

    (1) that the polygamist shall promise not to marry again as long as any of his wives at the time of his conversion are alive;

    (2) that the receiving of such a polygamist has the consent of the local Anglican community;

    (3) that such a polygamist shall not be compelled to put away any of his wives, on account of the social deprivation they would suffer;

    (4) and recommends that provinces where the Churches face problems of polygamy are encouraged to share information of their pastoral approach to Christians who become polygamists so that the most appropriate way of disciplining and pastoring them can be found, and that the ACC be requested to facilitate the sharing of that information.[/blockquote]

  4. Old Guy says:

    I need to stop reading blogs for a while.
    It is not polygamy, polygamy in Africa or the U.S. or the historical details of the church’s struggle with a particular sin. All the details of the interview are depressing. I left the church almost 30 years ago. But still it is the church of my youth, of my parents, of my grandparents, of my great-grandparents. I am horrified that it could sink so low, horrified that it has sunk so low.
    I think Jesus would tell me to look to my own sins and not worry about those of others.

  5. Jon says:

    A deeply honest comment (#4) by Old Guy. Sometimes age brings with it a wisdom about the danger of pride and the ubiquity of sin. Thanks.

    Just want to take a moment to reassert the common message in the posts so far. The issue is not whether Christians in every land, culture, and time do not have besetting sins, to which their will remains tragically bound, due to circumstance, ignorance, and the inherited condition of brokenness. St Paul in Romans 7 is extremely clear about that and refers to himself often as the chief of sinners. This common situation of Christian life was reasserted in our own tradition in the 39 Articles. And today, we see it reasserted in the compassionate treatment of homosexuality by seminaries like Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, which makes very clear that the orthodox faith does not preclude sexually active gay people from being saved by Christ’s blood.

    The issue for many years, and which was brought into exceptionally sharp focus by GC 2003, is whether the Church can alter its TEACHING concerning the content of the Law. (Robinson, Integrity, and all their straight allies have argued that SSUs and gay ordinations are right because homosexuality is not sin.)

    Our African brethren, by way of contrast, have the correct pastoral response to THEIR besetting problem, which is to hold fast and never deny that the Gospel is given precisely to sinners — and therefore to baptize sinners and give the sacrament to sinners even as they remain in sin — but to hold equally fast to the fact that polygamy is in fact sin, and therefore there are consequences in terms of positions of church leadership and church rites (e.g. the blessing of polygamous unions).