Monday, July 13, 2009

What Matters to Episcopalians

Yesterday was a big day at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Anaheim. The chatter in the blogosphere is all about the House of Deputies action passing a resolution that both affirms the valued ministries of gay and lesbian people in the church and recognizes that we don't all agree on these issues. Dave Walker writes a good summary of the impact of this vote. We have to wait and see what the House of Bishops does to know if the resolution will have any standing in the church.

At today's morning press conference, David Virtue, a notorious attack journalist who often seems to create headlines out of thin air, asked the panel a question about the vote, saying most Anglicans oppose homosexuality. Bishop Stacy Sauls offered a brilliant reply. He was calm and polite, and very clear. He said that he doesn't believe we know what most Anglicans believe because there hasn't been a poll done of most Anglicans. He believes that most Anglicans don't know anything about this vote because they have concerns in their lives that more important. He highlighted the General Convention theme of the day, which is domestic poverty, and talked about the poverty in his diocese in Eastern Kentucky (Diocese of Lexington.) Yea Bishop Sauls!!

I think our debate about human sexuality is important, and I think moving toward greater equality for all people is important. It is not the only important concern facing the Episcopal Church, however, and for many people who struggle every day just to feed and shelter themselves and their families, our debate about sexuality couldn't be less important.

The other really big thing that happened yesterday is that the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on making the Millennium Development Goals a priority in the mission efforts of the Episcopal Church, and approved a 1% contribution to the MDG's. 1% is more than the original resolution called for and it meets the ONE Campaign's suggested contribution.

One of the things that I find most exciting about the Episcopal Church's participation in the MDGs and the ONE Campaign is the fact that these are programs outside of the Church. They are aimed are building an international, broad based coalition to end extreme poverty in the world. These efforts are based on partnership and mutuality. It is a move away from a single body deciding what's best for a group of people over there somewhere, and then responding without any connection to others who might already be doing work, who might understand the problems better, or who might have resources that could be helpful to others. The MDGs and the ONE Campaign are about all of us working together. I'm proud that my church is a part of the coalition!

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