At last weekend’s vestry retreat, we found ourselves discussing the statement endorsed by a majority of Anglican primates, criticizing The Episcopal Church’s actions to offer the sacrament of marriage to couples regardless of gender. Your vestry wanted to emphasize that we as a parish continue to be an open and welcoming place for all persons.They wanted to make sure we offer our support to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered persons who heard this news as another insult to their personhood. So let me reiterate what I said in the statement I sent last weekend on our blog: St. George’s remains an open and welcoming parish. Now is a time to stay in dialogue and to be gentle with each other, no matter what our views are about marriage. A statement by Anglican global leaders does not change our local hospitality to all persons “regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation or tradition.”
The vestry and clergy also watched the TED talk by Natalie Finstad, who will be with us in a couple of weeks to talk about becoming a Compassionate Community. In that talk, Natalie asks the listeners to do three things: examine the identities we assign to people, seek out relationships that have the capacity to change us, and stop trying to fix people. Those three things require some unpacking, and I hope many of us will come to be with Natalie in person as we do just that. What the vestry discovered in our conversation was that in order to be a community that is open and welcoming to all, it takes more than simply saying “all are welcome.” We need to be willing to have a deeper conversation, willing to be “transformed in the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:1-8…our guiding scripture for the retreat).
This week, the nation celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He would have encouraged us, I think, as we seek to become an even more compassionate community where we integrate the gifts of all God’s children. I am so thankful to work with such a thoughtful and engaged vestry. I am thankful that they passed a budget this week to fund the mission and ministry of this place in the coming year and for your support of that budget. Let us all be thankful that the Holy Spirit is moving here at St. George’s, in The Episcopal Church, in the Anglican Communion, to bring us together even when it’s hard. We are still One Body.
P.S. I hear it’s going to snow! Be gentle and safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks to get to church. Pray at home if you can’t get out. Let the snow flakes drifting down remind us of the abundant covering of God’s grace.
Your brother in Christ,