Thursday, May 29, 2008

All Saints ROCKS!

I could not let my last post sit there without a follow-up on what's happened since. The rhetoric was pretty heated, as you read, but it seems to be going in a direction that makes me happy and reaffirms why I am a member of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. The first thing that happened was my rector, Geoffrey Hoare+, posted his thoughts on Gay Marriage. This seemed to calm a lot of tempers. What I so admired in Geoffrey's post was his naked confession that he didn't understand bisexuality or bisexuals, and certainly did not understand the transgender...but he concluded that he was open to education on the matter.

The 2nd piece was a letter to the GALAS list from Elizabeth+, the priest assigned to our group. Her letter is printed in its entirety below:

Dear beloved GALAS,

I have remained on the sideline during much of this current conversation. I was present at the retreat during the time that the new mission statement was being formulated. People fell on both sides of the fence as to whether or not GLBT should be included in the statement. At the end of our discussion, it seemed that the entire group felt that this was a good statement to guide our work, not necessarily in terms of who we are now, but more in terms of who we are striving to be as a community.

We are taking a risk with this change and offering radical hospitality. We are expressing to the world that God’s love is offered to everyone and that GALAS in our life and ministry together are intentionally offering a welcome to all who desire to come into our community.

We seek to be a visible and welcoming presence of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ for all people especially the GLBT community of All Saints’.

Last week it was reported that the clergy were against the explicit inclusion of bisexual and transgender persons in the mission statement of GALAS. I could not respond at the time because we had not yet had any sort of discussion about this as a group. During our Program Staff meeting on Tuesday we did discuss the new mission statement and the naming of bisexual and transgender persons in that statement. On behalf of the entire clergy staff I would like to say that we are in support of changes that are inclusive, we are in support of naming all four letters G – L – B – T. We support changes that do not exclude people from community.

This discussion has spurred much passion within the group, for which I am elated to see. I don’t believe that the conversation has come to an end. As we continue to discuss our thoughts and feelings on these and other issues I want to remind everyone of a couple of guidelines. 1) Speak only for yourself. (Yes, using “I” statements) Please do not quote others, whether from casual conversations or sidebar e-mails. Allow them the freedom to choose to engage in the conversation when they are ready. 2) Please remember to be respectful of others, especially those whose opinions differ from yours. This is a conversation, a forum for communication and sharing of ideas, not a battlefield.

Finally a suggestion: If you feel strongly that a GALAS meeting should be held to discuss this issue with one another face-to-face, please e-mail your GALAS chairs directly Jamin Harkness and Patty Williams so that they can either add this into the fall meeting schedule or if the discussion can not wait until the fall, then to possibly find a time this summer to gather everyone together.

I offer the following prayer for our continued discussion and discernment:

Most loving God, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



There really is not much more to say. I think that ultimately we will include GLBT in our mission statement, and then get to work on the education piece for ourselves, and the church as a whole.

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