Bishop Michael Curry elected Presiding Bishop

This is wonderful news indeed.

I had the great joy to hear Bishop Curry preach several years ago. He is a spell-binding preacher who communicates with joy and passion his love of Jesus Christ. That he is African-American, elected this week, is spine-tingling and significant. He has the gifts to help us share the Good News of Jesus Christ in our world and to help us confront racism and inequality in our church as well as our society

The full article from Episcopal News Service is here.

Update on the “criminalization of homelessness”

The stories  about Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC to which I linked have generated a lot of press and interest across the country. Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece, which was written The Guardian, has received less attention.

It’s easy for us to criticize those benighted folks in the South for their attitudes toward the homeless. Ehrenreich points out that this movement is national, not regional. Even the mayor of a progressive city like Madison seems to share the opinion that bleeding-heart do-gooders are partly responsible for the presence of homeless people in downtowns.

Some additional material on both stories:

The group that was prohibited from serving breakfast to the homeless in Raleigh, NC is Love Wins Ministries. They provide additional background to the incident and their decision not to be arrested here.

Kudos to Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina, who has this to say about the situation:

… the Mayor announced that no one would be arrested for feeding the homeless in Moore Square and that the city would work with those doing so. Further she said that neither she nor the City Council were aware of this until yesterday. As a side note many of our clergy and congregations are supporters of Love Wins Ministries and we were making phone calls yesterday about this. Additionally, we were working to make our Diocesan House parking lot available for this minustry, which is also downtown, near Moore Square, if that proved necessary or desirable. It appears that for the moment the matter has been resolved and the city is working with the ministry. (Quoted on Episcopal Cafe)

Bishop Curry’s letter to the Mayor and City Council of Raleigh is now available here.

From my source on the ground (or close to the ground), some additional info on Columbia, SC. The Columbia City Council has mastered the craft of Orwellian doublespeak. Their program to restrict homeless people to a remote shelter is known as “Columbia Cares.”

I’ve heard nothing from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina nor from Trinity Cathedral, both of which are located smack dab in downtown Columbia.

Bishops inspiring

By one of those remarkable coincidences I came across the addresses (or reports) of three bishops to their dioceses. They are very different in content, context, and tone, but each in its way, is inspiring, offering hope for the future, and reflective of an Episcopal Church that is mission-focused and forward looking.

From Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia, the remarkable story of his developing relationship with the Rector of Truro Parish, one of the congregations that left the Diocese of Virginia.

From the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Curry’s convention sermon. If you think Episcopalians can’t preach inspiring sermons, have a listen. I heard him preach a powerful sermon at a conference a year ago. If you ever get a chance to hear him in person, jump.

And from Bishop Andy Doyle of the Diocese of Texas, a report on the innovative ministries and mission that are occurring their under his guidance: council13-bishops-report. I’ve blogged about Bishop Doyle before and I commend his book, Unabashedly Episcopalian.

One of the things Bishop Doyle mentions very late in that report is his effort to recast the role of the Bishop: as preacher, teacher, communicator. Looking at the episcopacy from below, it seems to me that for the Episcopal Church to thrive in the present moment, such re-visioning of the bishop’s office is crucial. (Recasting the role of rector is equally crucial, especially when the tendency is to focus on the administrative tasks at hand (I say this after a day spent in a two-hour executive committee meeting, followed by a couple of hours dealing with issues that grew out of that meeting as well as the ordinary tasks that cross my desk and my email inbox each day). Still, Bishop Doyle is right on. I don’t know if he’s aware that in articulating those areas of teaching, preaching, and communicating, he is returning to the Early Church’s notion of the bishop’s office, as well as the importance of those particular roles in later reform efforts. Such refocusing is needed today, and the three bishops I direct your attention to are doing that to great effect.

The Best of today from General Convention

a few of the things I read that are worth passing along:

The Rev. Chuck Treadwell (deputy, Diocese of Texas) on the relationship between pastoral theology and doctrine when thinking about something like “communion without baptism:”

Any priest who has been a priest for very long knows, however, that pastoral theology often falls outside normative teaching and practice. Therefore, we occasionally respond pastorally in ways that bend the norms.
I am reminded of what I was taught by the Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett: “never break a rubric unintentionally”. I think most priest have given communion to an unbaptized person. Hospitality and compassion may require it. But the doctrine of Baptism remains.

There’s a proposal to sell the Episcopal Church’s property at 815 Second Ave in NY. It’s expensive, underutilized, and a relic of a former age. Crusty Old Dean weighs in:

We can’t stop at selling 815 and think we have slain Constantine.  COD is enthusiastically supportive of this resolution (I thought we should move most everything to the ELCA building in Chicago) with two caveats.

1)  We will need to be OK with the transition needed.  Staff, including support staff as well as program staff, will be needed to be treated fairly.

2)  We must also think broader and more holistically, and not rush to details and obsess over things like where the new denominational building might be.  We must also have conversations about what function our staff should have and how they will connect to all levels of the church.

If we don’t begin to think in this way, it won’t matter where the denomination gets its mail.


The proposed C001 resolution on restructuring (Thanks to David Sibley)

And finally, and most importantly, Bishop Curry’s sermon from this morning’s Eucharist–check it out, he can preach!