25 July 2007

How inclusive is ECUSA?

The Anglican Centrist has some good fodder for pondering, I think. Here's a sample:
One of the things 'centrists' stand for is not necessarily a specific doctrinal stance on all issues -- but a clear desire to be in a 'big tent' communion/church/diocese/parish. As much as I want to be in a church with progressives, I want to be in a church with conservatives. Moreover, I want to be in a church that is truly inclusive -- including all who profess Christ, died, risen and coming again. It really seems quite often in the Episcopal Church that the deck is stacked against anybody who is not dead center or to the left. And, well, that's just not particularly open or inclusive - or honest. Indeed, and I'm skeptical the institutional powers will ever do it -- there really needs to be some humble soul searching in places like 815, some seminaries, diocesan structures, important standing bodies of General Convention -- 'How inclusive are we really?' 'Are we really liberal (i.e. open)?' 'Are we really tolerant?' 'What barriers are there to our truly including everybody, or is there some self-perpetuating bias going on?' There's been a lot of lip service paid to these kinds of questions -- but it's hard to recall the last time 'conservative' Episcopalians or even 'conservative-ish moderates' really defined our leadership at any level -- other than in parishes and some dioceses.

The great strength of Anglicanism and this Episcopal Church for a long time was that we had lots of different groups who didn't all agree on everything but who recognized each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and at worship and mission together.
Those of us on the progressive side of things spend lots of energy-- of real neccessity, I hasten to add--defending the place of GLBT people, women, and others at the margins. Should we also be working to ensure that theologically more conservative people are welcome? I think so. After all, "inclusive" means just that. What do you think?

1 comment:

Deacon Tim said...

Scott thanks for this post. I suppose that I am one of the "progressives" though I would eschew that label. I prefer to think of myself as simply a Christian, struggling to be faithful to Jesus within my calling to ministry in the Episcopal Church. I believe that many conservatives are serving in key ECUSA roles (such as my own dear Bishop Dorsey Henderson or Central Florida's John Howe). The idea that conservatives have somehow been "shut out" of debate is due more to the fact that they have lost key votes on "their" issues. ("If we lost, we must be disenfranchised, because we know that nearly everyone agrees with us.")

Still your point is well taken, and progressives need to stop using the missteps of conservatives as a weapon against them, and start developing a coherent Anglican theology that would win them over.