Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bishops

I am happy to belong to an episcopal church but I am also happy that in the Anglican church we do not need to treat our bishops as little gods.

On Tuesday, while walking with the 60+ group I have recently joined, I was telling one lady how, before I moved to Dunedin, the only person I knew was the Vicar of Roslyn but shortly after my arrival he became the Bishop of Dunedin.  She asked me what I now called him with several suggestions (right rev, your worship).  I answered "I call him Kelvin".

I am glad to now live and worship in a diocese where I can respect the bishop and be in agreement with most of what he says.  I probably disagree with him on some matters and, if the opportunity arose and it was important enough, would tell him so.  From what I have seen so far they are more matters of degree rather than substance.  I respect his position as leader of the diocese and, in some mystical fashion, I honour that particular role conferred on him by ordination practised during church services particularly the Eucharist.  He will be returning to the parish of St John's Roslyn in a few weeks time for the Patronal festival and (I think) confirmation.

However in my previous life in the Diocese of Sydney I believed the bishops to be in grievous error.  They are preaching a gospel of hate completely different to what I have been able to discern as the teachings of Christ. Their gospel has no room for people like me who were created gay. Their views of women are not much better. Therefore they had lost all credibility with me and I had no respect for their position. If Archbishop Jensen had arrived at my parish church I would have immediately walked out.  I did attend one confirmation service where  Bishop Forsyth of South Sydney presided.  However it was difficult, his sermon and his actions confirmed my belief in his hypocrisy and I left by a side door. I did not attend the following year.

Sadly my view of the Archbishop of Canterbury is now not much better. He has been a great disappointment and while a learned man is also able to spout arrant nonsense.

I gained a great deal from my time working for the Catholic church but I always balked at the position given to the previous Pope. While he did some excellent things, I also believed him to be in error in many other ways and would never give him any special honour and my views on this matter were one of the reasons I was unable to convert to Roman Catholicism.  I had returned to the Anglican church by the time of the election of the present Pope. I do not have any respect for him at all.

On the other hand, and the reason for this post, I consider the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, to fill the post of bishop in an excellent manner.
Her recent pastoral letter is a great response to that of the Archbishop of Canterbury which I regarded as completely non-Anglican.
His attempt to usurp some central authority and decide who is in and who is out among the Provinces is just plain wrong. That sort of thinking is what I rejected in the Church of Rome.

The Anglican church has bishops, priests and deacons to provide good order and continuity. I do not believe they exist to rule. I accept the right to disagree with them and that any disagreement I might have with them should not give them the right to refuse my attendance at church and especially at the Eucharist. That decision is between me and God.

In the discussions of the recent Synod of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand there was general agreement that the first 3 sections of the proposed covenant presented no problem. However they have deferred any decision to ratify for 2 years because of problems with the 4th punitary section. From my reading I fear they either worry about being ignored as a very small part of the worldwide Anglican communion or consider that the whole issue will go away in the usual Anglican manner of avoiding anything that might be disagreeable. This latter seems to be the view of Bishop Kelvin. 

I worry that he does not fully comprehend the drive and determination of those like Jensen who would happily destroy the Anglican communion if they could gain their own way.
From what I have seen, even the evangelical Anglicans in New Zealand are essentially nice unless they are stirred up by those from across the Tasman.

If this covenant, including section 4, were to be accepted by provinces like New Zealand and as a result TEC and the Province of Canada were to be treated in some way as 2nd class because of their full inclusion of Gay people, I would no longer be able to regard myself as an Anglican.

I do not believe this will happen as I feel I have moved to a Province which is moving, perhaps a bit more tentatively, in the same direction as the Provinces of North America.

4 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Please send copies of this to Rowan and KJS...it hits the nail on the head...no muss no fuss.

Thanks,
Leonardo

motheramelia said...

Nicely explained.

Fr Hugh Jass said...

You are right to disagree with some of the clergy. As a guide, I always listen to the Jensens and Dobby Ould - and then believe the opposite.

Anonymous said...

It's is a great cause for concern that many moderate Anglicans underestimate the divisive power of the Sydney Diocese. This management loves to weild its political power, which is often backed by high profile business and media power brokers. The propaganda and half truths are very scary. Their behaviour over ethics being taught in schools is typical of their manipulative strategies. Of course when all else fails they tantrum! These people are bad news for the city of Sydney, as they consolidate interfaith support for homophobia and sexism, which can only lead to divisiveness and bigotry on the streets of Sydney, as they push their agenda. They care nothing for compassionate Christian ethics. It's about politics on a domestic and global scale. All that will combat this group are the atheists and political parties like The Greens because Sydney Anglicans who do not agree with this leadership have condoned this extremism through silence. Real Anglicans need to take their church back from these extremist evangelicals for the safety of the wider community and the Anglican Church in general. However to do so would take a great deal of courage. Hopefully the secular world will force legislation that deems homophobia and hate crimes illegal. It's a shame that Archbishop Williams condones such a damaging stance within the Anglican Church.