Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Letter from the Brimingham Convention Center, cont.

I was out running this morning, trying to clear my head and enjoying the thick Alabama humidity when I heard church bells ringing. They were playing Ode to Joy. I looked around to see where they were coming from. It was an Episcopal church.
Our Anglican sisters and brothers are in the midst of their own divisions right now over the selection of a woman as presiding bishop, yet their bells ring out joyfully. Perhaps it's because they are experiencing a new way of being together as church, a new day in the life of the communion.
I did take a moment's unholy pride in being a Presbyterian as we celebrate the anniversaries of women's ordinations at this assembly: 100 years of ordaining women as deacons; about 75 years of ordaining women as elders; about 50 years of ordaining women as ministers of word and sacrament. We selected a woman as moderator of this 217th General Assembly without a ripple.
Of course, a moderator is not a presiding bishop, for which I am also glad, for today the church gathered in Assembly charted a new direction for our denomination by passing virtually unamended the final report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church.
The report has been before the church for almost a year now, and there remains much doubt about how its passage will change us. I am hopeful that it will be a creative third way the moves us beyond the debate mode of the past 30 years of dispute about ordination and sexuality.
It does not answer the root questions, but it may provide space for being together as church and moving closer to that day when we are celebrating the anniveraries of the ordinations of queer folk -- so let a few church bells ring today.

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