Monday, June 21, 2010

But the levee was dry....

Just a passing observation on news reported at Wounded Bird about the hospitality offered by Lambeth Palace to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church:
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori carrys her mitre as she processes in Southwark Cathedral

From Episcopal Life:

She did so in order to comply with a "statement" from Lambeth Palace, the London home of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, that said "that I was not to wear a mitre at Southwark Cathedral," Jefferts Schori told the Executive Council June 16 on the first day of its three-day meeting here.

In the week before her visit, the presiding bishop said, Lambeth pressured her office to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry.

"This is apparently a requirement of one of their canons about the ministry of clergy from overseas," she said.

The presiding bishop said both the ordination and mitre issues put the Very Rev. Colin Slee, Southwark's dean, "in a very awkward position."

She called the requirements "nonsense" and said, "It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre."
As Mimi says about the issue in comments:

I've also said that the kerfluffle is not about a hat. It's the lack of hospitality demonstrated by Lambeth Palace.

After all, what do silk vestments and mitres have to do with the Gospel?

Much of the disappointment on this side of the pond has to do with the fact that at least some of us want to think well of ++Rowan. We want to think of him as somewhat of a pastor to all of us in the Communion, but he continues to show his disdain for the Episcopal Church.
The question of hospitality rears its head here, and that's an interesting point. When I brought up my theories at a local church, one of the greeters there, a man who had been welcoming people to "his church" for decades, told me he now recognized it was not "his church" at all. Perhaps Archbishop Williams needs to learn that lesson; or at least consider the complexities of the issue. At the very least.

Funny how it's the issue of hospitality that drives people away from church; more so, I think, than any other single issue. Undoubtedly this action is "based" on some doctrinal issue or another, some matter of canon law or other very important foundation. But all it does is end up undercutting the hospitality the Church is always supposed to offer. And hospitality that is not welcoming to anyone and everyone, is not hospitality at all. And hospitality is the very heart of the Gospel. As Mimi asks:

After all, what do silk vestments and mitres have to do with the Gospel?
It is a very stinging question, once you stop applying it to any umbrage one might have on Jefferts Schori's part, and ask it of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I don't want to go so far as to say: "This is why people leave church, or never attend in the first place." Still, I'm hard pressed to think of a church or a congregation that doesn't ultimately founder, if it does, on the question of who is welcome, and who is not. And the people who would want to be part of an organization that treats its clergy like this*, is not an organization I would rush to be a member of.

Or, as I said on another occasion:

Ideas don't matter. Things don't matter. People matter.

Except when they don't, and only ideas and things do. Or, as they tried to teach me in seminary: "They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." And that knowledge comes only from actions, not from words. Actions speak louder; as anyone can tell you.

But, as Mimi notes, this situation is being investigated by Lambeth Palace (from whence the directive to PB Jefferts Schori issued), so I'm sure the responsible party will be publicly admonished soon. Probably by the responsible party.

Meanwhile, the three men I admire most just caught the last train for the coast...

*Yes, and the way the Anglican Communion wants to treat homosexuals and women, but this is so emblematic of disdain for others. It's seldom one sees it so bluntly displayed. Usually it is papered over with words and actions that can't be so easily photographed. And if it is photographed, no one wants to see it. Like the "Ejector" ad, above, that ABC wouldn't run. (Why yes, I am rudely tooting my own church's horn. Why do you ask?

1 comment:

  1. Funny how it's the issue of hospitality that drives people away from church; more so, I think, than any other single issue.

    Robert, I agree.

    And why not toot your own church's horn? The UCC lead the pack in its policies of inclusion and equality.

    Thanks for the link.