Warmest congratulations to 30Days’ favourite Religion Correspondent, Ruth Gledhill of The Times, who plighted her troth on April 1st. 30Days readers will all want to wish her third time lucky!
There was momentary consternation for our good friend Bishop Noel Jones, formerly of Sodor and Man, when his son, Ben, announced that he was to go through a ‘gay marriage’ ceremony. But the panic soon passed, for it was Ben’s alter ego Dr Greg Robinson in the afternoon soap Doctors, who was tying the knot.
News from down under
The ordination of Australia’s first Anglican women bishops is ‘likely to be less than two years away.’ It is ‘only a matter of time until gay marriages gained wider acceptance by the Anglican Church’. While the Church of England may not ordain women bishops until 2012, this time frame is ‘far too long.’ ‘There’s a question of balance, a question of justice, and the basic reality that the theological objections that have been raised against having women bishops don’t amount to much.’
‘There’s always a risk that people get so browned off that they will want to go their own way. You can’t please everyone all of the time, but you have to be able to take the majority with you. I think our communion can tolerate a fair bit of difference. We just have to agree to differ on some issues.’
How it must have warmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s heart, when he opened his 4 March issue of theWest Australian newspaper, and read the innermost thoughts of former Archbishop of Perth Peter Carnley, who chairs the Archbishop’s Panel of Reference, which was of course set up by Dr Williams to ‘to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities.’
No doubt the Archbishop reflected what a jolly good thing it was that he had laid down that the members of the Panel were to be ‘qualified by professional and pastoral skills and experience’ – just imagine what a chairman not so qualified might have said to the press!
Many thanks to a reader in Queensland for drawing our attention to the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco, and its website <www.herchurch.org> which, as the URL suggests, is just full of the sort of cutting-edge stuff guaranteed to warm the heart: ‘We are a diverse community, standing firmly within the Christian tradition in order to re-image the divine by claiming her feminine persona in thealogy (sic), liturgy, church structure, art, language, practices, leadership, and acts of justice.
‘Challenging the church’s restricted language of the past, we pay special attention to images and metaphors that attempt to embrace divine fullness and that offer a witness of holy nurture and inclusive justice, both to the church and to the world.’ Quite how firmly it stands within the Christian tradition is amply demonstrated by its take on the Rosary:Hail Goddess full of grace. Blessed are you and blessed are all the fruits of your womb. For you are the MOTHER of us all.
And there is more: ‘Our Christian/Lutheran feminist prayers and liturgy reach back into the storehouse of tradition to bring forth names as Mother, Shaddai, Sophia, Womb, Midwife, Shekinah, She Who Is. They do so out of renewed insights into the nature of the Gospel! Let your relationship with the Divine be opened and expanded:Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and for ever.’
Take your partners…
Talking of balls, 30Days was much struck by the liturgical goings-on at St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois. A video clip at <www.churchbuilding.com/interactive/swf/html/sn_procession.html> shows just what can happen when the liturgically illiterate are let loose in church. Readers without access to the internet will have to remain in the dark, though, as what the celebrant does with the Book of the Gospels (to say nothing of what one of the acolytes does with his torch) is really not suitable for the written word in a family publication like New Directions.
On the ball
The Sunday Times headlines must have caused anxious moments recently for some of our bishops: ‘floundering Fulham’, ‘stuttering Sheffield’, ‘clinical Blackburn’, ‘ailing Newcastle’, ‘ruthless Bolton’, ‘ropey Leeds’. But not to worry, gentlemen - they were describing football teams not episcopal performances.
Only a matter of time
Dr Peter Carnley, Chairman of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference, will be observing the election of the next Bishop of California most carefully. And what a fabulous list of nominees there is!
Mark Andrus, Suffragan Bishop of Alabama, practises yoga ‘for fun’ and has a degree in plant and soil science (which should be useful when it comes to knowing where the bodies are buried); Michael Barlowe has had a ‘life partner’ for nearly twenty-four years who is the rector of a parish in the diocese; Jane Gould likes ‘drinking tea with friends;’ Bonnie Perry has a partner of eighteen years, Susan, a United Church of Christ Minister, and is a ‘passionate sea kayaker,’ a certified American Canoe Association Open Water Instructor and a British Canoe Union Level 3 Sea Coach (all of which should be useful if she finds herself up that creek); Donald Schell is Rector of St Gregory of Nyssa Church, San Francisco (see 30Days passim) where the liturgy makes that of St Nicholas, Evanston look old-hat; Eugene Sutton believes that his ‘entire life has prepared (him) to assume this formidable responsibility’; and Robert Taylor fails to reveal how long he and Jerry Smith have been an item. It’s ‘only a matter of time,’ Dr Carnley!
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