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CALIFORNIA: Bishop calls diocese into dance of wisdom

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of California, meeting in its 157th annual convention October 21 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, asked its bishop and Standing Committee "to refuse to discriminate unjustly against bishops-elect for any reason."

The request came in a resolution the convention passed objecting to General Convention Resolution B033 as inconsistent with both Title III, Canon 1, Sec. 2 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church and "our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being."

The California resolution also "repents of the continuing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people that B033 represents" and "strongly urges" the Standing Committee and California Bishop "to refuse to discriminate unjustly against bishops-elect for any reason."

During the convention, delegates heard their new bishop, Marc Andrus, call them to dance their faith.

"We, the Christian community known as the Episcopal Diocese of California, are called to live not the fragmented lives of the post-modern world, but the intimate dancing life of the Trinity, the dance of joyful possession and dispossession," he said. "By 'possession and dispossession' I mean first a recognition, a self-awareness of one's own inner state, and then an opening of that honest realization to others."

Such a dance has concrete, missional aspects, Andrus said.

"It is my belief that the Diocese of California lives a Christian life of great beauty, and that if we open this path to others it will provide a good spiritual home to many who are seeking such. Our challenge is to both live this life more fully, and to communicate it better to others," he said.
"Especially we will live this life of dancing with God more fully if we work for a genuinely inclusive community, and, you may conceive this as part of being fully inclusive, a community that has a vital life for our children, youth and young adults," he said. "In the year ahead, a primary emphasis of the Diocese will be the concentration of energies and resources to better support parochial youth programs, faith formation for children in parishes, college ministry and young adult ministry."

He also proposed that the diocese explore companion diocese relationships with one in the Spanish or Portuguese dioceses of the Global South, and one in Asia, saying such relationships would help California "take its place in the global dance of wisdom."

"That is, we would not operate so much as a dispenser of charity, but rather as Christian partners in mutual ministry, believing that our diocesan partners in Latin America and Asia have wisdom to give us, as we to them," he said.

The full text of Andrus' address is available here.

In addition to the resolution on B033, delegates also passed all of meeting's other proposed resolutions, including ones to:

  • establish a Slavery and Racial Reconciliation Task Force to operate during the next triennium in accordance with General Convention Resolution A123;
  • direct its board of directors to divest diocesan funds from companies doing business in any part of the world where genocide is occurring and ask that the Standing Committee receive a report from the directors on "any investments in businesses that are involved in and making a profit in any region of the world where genocide is occurring and to divest from those businesses immediately";
  • commit the diocese to listen to the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in a formal way in 2007, request a report to the next convention with recommendations to address heterosexism in the diocesan culture and to assist congregations to "embrace fully the ministries of LGBT people," create a recorded history of LGBT ministries in the diocese, hold a "truth and reconciliation" liturgy at Grace Cathedral "to repent of the sin of heterosexism," and offered the process model and report to the appropriate Episcopal Church Center staff and the Anglican Communion Office Secretariat as a contribution to the Communion-wide listening process; and
  • support Andrus' charge to the Standing Committee to review and recommend improvements to diocesan governance.

The Diocese of California comprises about 36,000 Episcopalians worshipping in 80 congregations in the San Francisco Bay area of the State of California.