Letter from the Bishop of the Nevada
A great and abundant THANK YOU and WELL DONE! to those who hosted the regional confirmation services (All Saints, St. Paul’s, Elko, and St. Patrick’s) and to all who were confirmed, received, and reaffirmed their baptismal vows. The hospitality was gracious and warm, and the participation energetic. I hope you are already planning for next year. The Southern Mission District has been invited to hold their regional confirmation in Grace in the Desert’s new sanctuary next spring (date TBA).
Plans for our Diocesan Convention look quite exciting. As it was so well received last year, we will again spend Friday in a workshop format. C.T. Fitzpatrick will lead us in an exploration of evangelism, including how it has to do with the internet. If you want to check out his work in the meantime, visit www.explorefaith.org
I hope that we will have two visitors from Kenya with us for Diocesan Convention: Bishop Joseph Kanuku of the Diocese of Machakos, which is where the Mua Hills Medical Clinic is located (that International Development Missions and the last two diocesan conventions have helped to make a reality); and Ms. Clarice Omungu, who works with a Sudanese relief agency in Nairobi. She will address the women’s luncheon and be available before or after convention if you would like to learn more about Mothers’ Union and their work in Kenya. We expect that Bp. Kanuku will be at CDSP in Berkeley, CA from January to May of 2004 – if you would like him to visit your congregation, let me know.
On a completely different subject, the larger church seems to be in a time of some anxiety, but then we seem to live in especially anxious times. I spent a day in mid-June with a roomful of bishops who are enormously concerned about the election of Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor in New Hampshire, and about the possibility that General Convention will authorize the preparation of rites for blessing same-sex unions. If we can look at the situation dispassionately (which is far from easy), we soon discover that the same kind of furor accompanied the incorporation of non-white Episcopalians into the full life of this church, the ordination of women, and even the seating of women deputies in General Convention. The Holy Spirit continues to shake us up, whether we are ready or not. When we are confronted with an issue of inclusion, it seems to be an invitation to remember that the Body of Christ does not look just like any one of us, and that this Body is far more complex than we can imagine. We all reflect the image of God, but no one of us alone can reflect the fullness of God’s image.
Jesus spent his time hanging out with the folks on the margin, because too often the rulers/authorities/governing bodies in his society were busy worrying about boundaries – who was “in” and who was “out.” If we’re worried about whom to include, we’ve missed something essential about the gospel: Jesus invited everybody.
When we are faced with what a tough ethical question, how do we respond? As Anglicans, we look to three sources of authority – scripture, tradition, and reason. If we still cannot come to a consensus, then the advice of Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-39) is appropriate – “if this is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” Or as Jesus said so often, “by their fruits you shall know them” and “judge not, lest ye be judged.” Our task is to look for God in our neighbors, whether we agree with them or not.
There is room in this expansive church of ours for all – for those who agree with us and those who disagree, for those who seem to be innovating and those who see themselves as conserving the tradition – because it’s not our church, it’s the Body whom Jesus has called together.
NOTE: The Diocese of Nevada has changed domain names. Although the above letter no longer exists on the Web at its original location, it can be read in the archives section of the new diocesan Web site.