Archive for May, 2012

That’s New York

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Today, after the 12:15 weekday service, I introduced three of the attendees to each other. One is the Junior Warden on our Vestry. Another has been a lay reader at the weekday services since the early 1990’s. The third has provided music for our Sunday evening services for seven years.

So here we had three people who had contributed a great deal to the life of Incarnation and who continue to serve faithfully, week in and week out–and yet had never met! As the Junior Warden observed, “That’s New York.” —J. Douglas Ousley

Esprit de corps

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Just back from the UK, I was impressed by the health of the Church of England in the two areas I visited. In London churches, attendance has apparently been going up for the past ten years. Cambridge chapels and churches are full in term-time; the church I attended on Sunday morning was packed.

A highlight of my trip was a dinner attended by a large group of London clergy. A witty speech by the Bishop of London contributed to the general good feeling. Many of us were moved by the Bishop’s tribute to the resigned Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whom many feel was a sacrificial lamb offered to the Occupy London movement. (The Dean was sitting across from me and was obviously moved by the waves of applause.)

Finally, I must admit personally to much pleasure in being seated at the head table and recognized by two speakers as one of the new leaders of the New York-London diocesan link program. Some ties in the Anglican Communion remain strong. —J. Douglas Ousley

In Favor

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Both bishops of New York have quickly endorsed President Obama’s support for gay marriage.

While this statement is hardly a surprise and will likely not change anyone’s mind, it is one more step toward making gay and lesbian rights the social default position.

In that case, however, does this summer’s General Convention really need to spend vast amounts of time discussing the issue? In particular, do we really need special liturgies for same-sex unions when we have already have a perfectly good marriage liturgy? If gay marriage is marriage of the same import as straight marriage, the sacramental blessing should be identical. —J. Douglas Ousley


Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

From the Episcopal News Service:

“House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has invited young adults to dream about church.”

No comment. —J. Douglas Ousley

Smaller Convention for a Smaller Church?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which meets this summer and every three years is well-known to be one of the largest legislative bodies in the world. With 4 clergy delegates and 4 alternate delegates from each diocese and the same number of laity making up the House of Deputies, and hundreds of bishops in the House of Bishops, including any retired bishop that cares to pay his or her own way, the Convention is inevitably run by the few delegates who have managed to be elected again and again and who work their way up the committee food-chain. The bewildered crowds often vote at great speed for all manner of resolutions addressing concerns sacred and secular.

Most conventions in the past decades have at the same time rejected resolutions that would have reduced the number of delegates. Our Assistant Minister just pointed out to me that the Bishop of Long Island recently signalled his intention to introduce such a resolution this summer. He would reduce the clergy and lay delegations by half and permit only active bishops and suffragans to attend the House of Bishops.

The standard objection is that fewer delegates would mean fewer minority representatives. (I don’t think anyone would now worry about fewer women, since the two Convention figureheads and the majority of many delegations are already female.) And many voting will realize that a smaller convention will deprive them of their chance to attend in the future.

Still, Bishop Provenzano’s case is cogently argued and hard to refute. The fact that he is on the extreme liberal wing of the church may also help his plea for radical–yet reasonable–change. —J. Douglas Ousley