Thursday, December 18, 2014

comment on TREC

Brief comment on recently released TREC Report (Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church):
Deeply grateful to all who worked so hard on this monumental charge. And I have absolutely every intention of caring about this very, very soon -- and am dutifully bookmarking smart things good people are saying about this important work -- but right now am in parish-priest-scrambling-to-get-it-all-done-before-Baby Jesus-hits-the-manger mode.

The good news from my corner of the kingdom is that the church is alive and well -- and so working to reimagine it to make it better is a good thing; fretting about the need to resuscitate it is an unnecessary thing.
Here endeth the brief comment on the recently released TREC Report. We now return to our regularly scheduled Advent program in progress.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bits and Pieces ...

It's been an unusually busy Advent so far ... including the privilege of being part of the #BlackLivesMatter March here in Pasadena on 12/14 -- AKA "National Black Solidarity Sunday." [photos here]

I did mange to write a short piece for the Huffington Post -- "Malala's Magnificat" -- which turned out to be the beginnings of my Christmas Eve sermon.

We've also launched a Advent Calendar of daily meditations from All Saints Church ... commend them to you here.

AND ... on a personal note ... my son graduated from college on Saturday with his B.A. Here's the note I posted on FB:

Just have to take a minute to send a shout to my brilliant, kind, amusing, creative and occasionally sardonic son Jim Russell (AKA Jamie to his mom) who is tomorrow -- December 13, 2014 -- graduating from WKU (AKA Western Kentucky University) with his B.A. in Social Studies and a teaching credential -- having completed the final semester of his undergraduate career with straight A's.

I know. Seriously. Am I a proud mom or what?

We're not going to dwell on the fact he only told us he was graduating two weeks ago -- leaving no time for us to reorganize heaven and earth to get there to watch him walk tomorrow. But he's promised [a] lots of pictures and [b] more warning when he finishes his Masters ... which he'll start on in January.

Some of you "knew him when" back in Ventura and Cucamonga days ... some of you helped us pray him through his active duty in the Army ... some of you just know him from pictures I post on FB. But however you know him, share our pride today as we celebrate this great big fat accomplishment.

GREAT job, sweetie. We are SOOOO proud of you!
And ... here are the pics he sent:

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thus Spake the Diocese of Los Angeles on Marriage Equality

This is what it looked like when the question had been called and the main motion -- the "Resolution Regarding Marriage Equality" -- was voted on today at the 119th Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The language of the resolution was simple:
Resolved, that the One Hundred Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles direct that the following resolution be filed with the Secretary of the General Convention for consideration by the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:
Resolved, the Diocese of Los Angeles urges the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church to take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately.
Jim White -- the chair of our diocesan deputation to General Convention -- introduced the resolution with these words:
Right Reverend, Sir, on behalf of the entire Deputation to General Convention, I present this Resolution on Marriage Equality. As delegates will see, we have written it as simply as possible, requesting that General Convention “take any and all steps necessary to make the rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout the Episcopal Church immediately.”

If I may give a brief overview of the sausage factory that is the General Convention legislative process, the bulk of the work is done in General Convention’s legislative committees. Resolutions dealing with the same topic are sent to a single legislative committee to be perfected into a single resolution that eventually makes it to the floor of the Houses. There will be many resolutions on the topic of Marriage Equality at this upcoming Convention, and in fact, the Presiding Officers (the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies) have already announced that there will be a special legislative committee dealing just with the topic of Marriage. That committee will have members who are much better versed in the Canons and Constitution, as well as the rubrics of the Prayer Book, than are most of us are we. For that reason, we have not attempted to tell them how to go about making the necessary changes, rather just expressing our desire that they make them. We’ll leave the nuts and bolts up to them. It is our sincere hope that this Convention does not attempt to amend this resolution with those types of details as we believe that will just muddy the waters.

We should also say that it would have been possible for any three of us to have collaborated and written a Deputy’s resolution, or for 3 of you Bishops to have gotten together and written a Bishop’s resolution. But we felt that this issue was important enough that it should carry the weight of the whole Diocese submitting it. We hope this convention agrees with us that the Diocese of Los Angeles wants to stand on the right side of history and call the Episcopal Church to end marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.
Following that introduction, there was discussion from the floor. About a  half-dozen folks spoke. One senior priest saying how much he hoped we could move this forward and give him what he needed to respond to all couples equally in his parish. One "usual suspect" (every convention has one!) wanted to move an amendment to change "immediately" to "as soon as possible" (seriously!) ... and then muddied the waters a little by conflating the issues of civil marriage and holy matrimony.

As I went to Microphone 2 to clarify that issue, another delegate at Microphone 3 spoke to God having created Adam and Eve for a reason and something about the gay men he knew not being "wired" for marriage.

Jesus gave me the wisdom to stick to what I'd gotten up to say and I so stuck to my clarifying comments. on the work of the Marriage Task Force and the purpose of this resolution -- to add the voice of the Diocese of Los Angeles to those urging the Episcopal Church to move forward on marriage equality at General Convention in Salt Lake City.

We then heard from one delegate to told us if we moved forward on equal marriage for same-sex couples missionaries would be dismembered in Syria. And then, finally, a delegate rose to share that when he and his partner of 35 years were married last year, it would have "meant a lot to them" to have been able to have their church offer them the same rite of Holy Matrimony straight couples received ... and he urged passage of this resolution. And there was much applause. And the question was called. And the resolution was adopted. And we moved on to the next item on the agenda.

And I'll admit to getting a little teary. When Nat, our transitional deacon hugged me and said, "congratulations" I thought about all the water under all the bridges during all those conventions and all the talking-across-the-divides and all the contentious floor fights and reconciliation task forces and compromise resolutions and everything else that got us to this point.

And I had to just pause for a moment and be amazed. And grateful. Tomorrow I'll be back to work on on making today's resolution a reality. But for the moment, I'm grateful just to sit in the gratitude that this is what it looked like when the question had been called and main motion -- the "Resolution Regarding Marriage Equality" -- was voted on today at the 119th Convention of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Resolution regarding Marriage Equality

The following resolution will be considered by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles at its upcoming Diocesan Convention -- to be held December 5th/6th in Ontario. If you are a delegate to that convention I urge your support. Thank you!

Resolution regarding Marriage Equality 

Resolved, that the One Hundred Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles direct that the following resolution be filed with the Secretary of the General Convention for consideration by the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

Resolved, the Diocese of Los Angeles urges the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church to take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately.


At General Convention 2012 the resolution authorizing Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships (A049) included authorization for bishops to exercise “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church” and the “adaptation of these materials to meet the needs of members of this Church.”

In the years since 2012, the cultural landscape has shifted so dramatically that civil marriage equality has become a reality for a majority of Episcopalians in the United States  In some dioceses clergy are blessing civil marriages between same-sex couples and in others the A049 resources have been adapted for clergy to bless them on behalf of The Episcopal Church and to solemnize them as agents of their state.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said during the March 2013 oral arguments on DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) “There are two kinds of marriages; full marriage and the skim milk marriage.” In June 2013 the Supreme Court ruled against those skim milk marriages in United States vs. Windsor – opening the way for equal federal protections for same-sex marriages.

Our Bishops, along with bishops from all six dioceses in the State of California, joined other faith leaders in amicus curiae briefs supporting the overturn of Proposition 8 and the repeal of DOMA. And the 77th General Convention overwhelming adopted Resolution D018 urging Congress to end discrimination against same-sex marriage and to repeal DOMA.

It is time to act consistently with our words and witness to marriage equality. As we continue to call the state to equally protect all marriages in our culture at large, it is time to make Holy Matrimony a sacrament for all who seek it appropriately in the Church.

The time has come for The Episcopal Church to move beyond the skim milk of generous pastoral response and adapted materials for same-sex marriages and to acknowledge the equal sanctity of all marriages by making the Rite of Holy Matrimony equally available to same and opposite sex couples.

Submitted by:
Canon Jim White
General Convention Deputation; Chair
on behalf of the General Convention Deputation

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Gospel According to Jim Naughton: Pay Attention, Tell the Truth, Say Thank You

It’s the “end of an era” as Jim Naughton steps down after over seven years as editor the Episcopal Café: the go-to place for independent church news for Episcopalians.

Seven years – it has a nice Biblical ring to it. And it seems to me today that like another nice Biblical story – the story of Esther – it was “for just such a time as this” that Jim Naughton stepped up and brought his manifold gifts to work in the digital fields of the Lord.

Just as in the game of baseball (a passion Jim and I share) where a pitcher-who-can-hit is the double threat gift that keeps on giving to a team, Jim has brought to this team – the Episcopal Church team – his gifts of being a theologian-who-can-write. And edit. And investigate. His deep faith and hopefulness about the gospel in general and the Episcopal Church in specific has given him the grace to critique the church when it fell short of being the Body of Christ it’s called to be and to cheerlead the church when it rose to the occasion.

Since it has arguably been a particularly “dense” seven-plus years in church news land, he had plenty of opportunity for both. I remember when he started the “Blog of Daniel” – in response to the short-lived television show that was actually shot at All Saints Church here in Pasadena. As he describes in his farewell post over at Episcopal Café:
The Blog of Daniel was succeeded by Daily Episcopalian, a blog devoted primarily to the struggles over the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. At some point, while keeping that blog, it occurred to me that it was going to be difficult to persuade people that the Episcopal Church was more than an argument over human sexuality if all I covered were arguments over human sexuality. And so, Episcopal Café was born.
And what a gift it has been. Today I’m remembering General Conventions past and surviving Lambeth 2008 together. I’m remembering our Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys moments as we unraveled “The Case of the Errant Email.” Claiming the Blessing and the Chicago Consultation … and a boatload of blog posts along the way. From Plano to Putney, it’s been a journey we’ve shared toward the goal of a church where all the baptized are fully included in all the sacraments – and where “respect the dignity of every human being” doesn’t have a bunch of fine print in the disclaimer after an asterisk.

It is a true thing that our ecclesial GPS is not yet chirping “arriving at destination” – and yet we are many, many miles further down the road than we were when we started … with a big hunk of those miles directly attributable to the work and witness of Jim Naughton. And we are not done yet. There’s still work to do together and I look forward to doing it.

So as we salute Jim for his “just such a time as this” work at Episcopal Café and look forward to that work ahead, I’ll be taking with me all these great memories as motivation to keep moving forward – along with the Gospel Appointed for the Journey … from the Book of Jim, Chapter 7:10 – “Pay attention, tell the truth and say thank you.”

Thank you, Jim. La lucha continua.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

News from All Saints Church, Pasadena

Mixed feelings of sadness at the end of an era and delight for Ed and Hope at the beginning of a new chapter. It will -- to say the least -- be an interesting next 18 months!

A Message from Ed Bacon:

At the November 18th meeting of the vestry, I announced my plan to retire as the rector of All Saints Church in the spring of 2016. This morning I preached about my discernment process leading up to this decision and the discernment processes both All Saints and Hope and I have entered about our futures. All Saints will be discerning the best match for our new rector. Hope and I will be discerning where we are called to live and the particular work we will be entering. [video below]

The vestry has named two extraordinary leaders -- Gloria Pitzer and Bob Long -- to chair the search committee to find and call my successor. I invite you to keep that process in your prayers as it unfolds with the convening of a Search Committee and the creation of a Parish Profile -- and eventually the call to a new rector. We will be using Saints Alive, our website, and social media to inform everyone of the unfolding of the search process. Hope and I also desire your prayers as we seek to know God's call to us in this next chapter.

Meanwhile, during the next eighteen months we will continue to engage in the vibrant and vital mission of All Saints Church as we work together to turn the human race into the human family. I am supremely confident that the DNA of love, justice and compassion that is the essence of All Saints Church will continue to inform and inspire our work in the months ahead as it has through decades and rectors past.