Saturday, April 05, 2008

San Diego: Church leader battles division

You know, I thought about going to the open meeting this afternoon to hear what +KJS might say, but then I really didn't want to give up a Saturday afternoon with my family only to "listen" to whatever might be said. I'm sure I'll get a report later, and that's fine with me.

Sandi Dolbee, who has written about ECUSA/Anglican Communion issues before, seems here to primarily attribute the split to the sexuality issue, and not the underlying issue of scriptural authority - I am disappointed in that because I think she knows better. From the San Diego Union-Tribune [boldface mine]:

From the time Anglican pilgrims arrived in Jamestown, it's as if America and the Episcopal Church have been soul mates – for better or for worse. Now come the country's culture wars over sexuality, conservative versus liberal, change versus tradition. And the 2.4-million-member denomination that has given us more U.S. presidents than any other, along with its first-ever woman leader, is not being spared.

Nearly five years after a gay priest was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the fallout continues. One diocese has seceded from the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Dozens of congregations, including nine of the 50 churches in the San Diego diocese, also have broken apart.

“I think we live in an increasingly polarized society and these particular actions in the church echo that,” said Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who in 2006 was elected the presiding bishop – chief spiritual leader – of the U.S. church.

Jefferts Schori argues the number of congregations leaving the church is not large – roughly 1 percent of the 7,600 congregations, by her count. “It gets a lot of press and a lot of play, but it's a relatively small portion of the church,” said Jefferts Schori, who is in San Diego this weekend for a pair of public talks. . .

“Voting to leave is the denial of the ability to live in tension with people who don't agree with you about everything,” she said.

“You don't all have to profess exactly the same understandings of the central tenets of the faith,” she added. “What's important is to worship together.” . . .

Jefferts Schori is not a biblical literalist. Take the six-day story of Creation in Genesis, for example. “It's too good a story to believe it literally,” she said. “It's got too much meaning to be boxed up in that small of an understanding.”

Seeing Jesus as the only way to redemption also “puts God in a very small box,” she said.

“Most Christians believe that Jesus died for the whole world. If you believe that, then to say that some people are beyond redemption would appear to deny that,” she said.

Either way, she adds, “I think it is up to God, not for us, to judge.”

She advocates for the inclusion of gays and lesbians. “If we were focused on what holy living looks like, generally, without focusing on the gender of the people involved, I think we would be a lot farther down the road,” she said.

And she maintains news outlets are way too focused on the threat of schism. “The media loves conflict,” she said. “Feeding people in a soup kitchen or building a school in Haiti ranks at a lower priority in much of the public interest.”

Still, the attention is not expected to fade soon. . .

The presiding bishop's schedule this weekend:
Today (Saturday): Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will talk about her spiritual journey at 4 p.m., at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, 4321 Eastgate Mall, University City. Information: goodsamchurch.org

Tomorrow (Sunday): Jefferts Schori will preach at the 10 a.m. service at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla. Information: stjamesbythesea.org

Read it all.

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