27 July 2008

Love them anyway

Where I pray, in the diocese of Chicago, we have a number of relationships with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The diocese itself has a sister relationship with the diocese of Renk. Our parish has a sister congregation relationship with the parish of St. John in the city of Malut: a number of other parishes have similar relationships.

These 'sister relationships' are more than mere pen pal agreements. We for instance have promised and delivered a stipend for the rector in Malut. We have raised and sent a sizable amount for the building of a health-care clinic there and we are committed to additional funds to equip and staff it.

Through our relationships we have seldom asked the Sudanese about their views on sexuality. When my wife did so at an event attended by then bishop now archbishop Daniel he said, "The answer is don't impose your cultural imperative on me and I wont impose mine on you." From her perspective and a good many congregants I have heard from this week, it appears that the archbishop dose not share the bishop's viewpoint. As my son said, "It is amazing what you have to trade in to become archbishop."

I certainly knew and I think most of us who worked on the fund raising and social projects knew that we probably did not agree. I think we put that down to diversity.

Until this week.

Now, a number of my fellow members see things in a colder light. Now they wonder: were they played as fools?

I think not. I think they acted and I hope they will continue to act as Christians. We are called to comfort the afflicted, seek justice and feed the hungry, not to demand agreement.

So, I may be back in my Don Quixote role. I shall be asking my sisters and brothers to continue to send resources and prayers to the aid of a church which clearly does not like us much. I shall be by experiencing some sense of dual pressures as I remain a lesbian / gay rights activist in my parish. I suppose when Jesus said he wanted us to all be one, he did not mean individually, so torn or not, here we go.

I hope we will raise the funds we have promised for the health-care clinic, every dime. If my current severely stretched finances permit, I shall contribute more. I expect the vestry to fully fund the promised stipend for Malut.

My friend Dr. Crew says, "Joy Anyway." It is a good thought, I offer another as we see the carnage that GafCon and now Sudan have spread across the communion: Love ThemAnyway.
If we do not agree, so be it. We do not have to agree. We have to see the needs of people who have no access to clean water, decent care or social / political freedom. We have to help because they need us -- not because they agree with us.

There is no easy road to freedom, no simple path in life. If he attends (as he has the last several, ) the diocese of Chicago convention, I suspect ABp. Daniel and I wont, as we have, be sharing coffee. I will regret that. Perhaps we can agree to speak our minds agreeably -- I hope so.

But in any event, I shall still want to support TECS in its ministry to its people. That is what Christians do. St. Paul raised funds for the relief of the church in Jerusalem when they were disputing both his apostolic authority and the standing of the people he was begging for help. We can do no less. We cannot say that we want diversity and then not accept it when it bites us.

Love Them Anyway



Anonymous said...

I feel very betrayed by Abp Daniel. When I asked that question of him several years ago, in a room full of people that were offering him money to help his people, I realized that he didn't agree with my views, but he led me to believe that the assistance that his diocese needed was much more important than imposing our differing views on each other. **I believed him!**

I agree that we have to fulfill our commitment and I hope that we are able to do so. He has made that much more difficult than it should be. It is very hard not to feel used.

Sue B.

Anonymous said...

It's very hard to have faith in a relationship, to give time,money, and effort to someone and then have them turn and make such comments about you. And I know that lesbians and gays are persecuted here as well as in Sudan, but a part of me also feels strongly for Sudan's Bishop.

Having lived in developing countries as the "outsider" and having all kinds of things that other Americans said or did thrown in my face as reasons why I should be hated(even becoming "Canadian" a few times to smooth things out), I have no trouble believing that there have been people murdered, women raped, and all kinds of other things done to Sudanese Anglican's because of they are part of "that gay church" or some other moniker. Part of me believes that removing a bishop would be an acceptable price to help stop it, part of me dislikes giving into such ideas. I do not have an answer, but I do believe that we must continue to help the Sudanese church in whatever ways we can.

JimB said...


We agree on the conclusion if not the possibility of giving up the diocese of New Hampshire and its bishop.


It is reasonable to feel betrayed. Imagine Jesus looking from the cross and seeing one disciple where twelve had been. If this is indeed a time for TEC and especially Emmanuel to find a tiny corner of the "crucified place" the PB speaks of, then so be it. Our place there is so privileged all we can do is accept that we feel betrayed, and then refuse to do anything but love them anyway.


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