Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno came to Minneapolis looking beyond General Convention to the reconciliation that will need to follow any vote on same-gender blessings and consent to an openly gay bishop.
It’s reconciliation in the same spirit that Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and South African Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane will affirm in tonight’s all-Convention forum set for 7-9 p.m. at St. Mark’s Cathedral with a view to bridging chasms of socioeconomic and spiritual differences.
And Bruno is thinking beyond Southern California. After two years of development, the Reconciliation Initiative that he and a core group of clergy and lay leaders forged among conservatives, progressives and moderates is ready to go on the road.
“We have 150 people trained, and we’re willing to send them to any diocese to help us get past the point of anger and frustration to dealing with one another in openness and love,” Bruno told The Daily.
“Much like the brilliant work the Presiding Bishop did with the New Commandment Task Force, the Reconciliation Initiative brings people together to place of understanding and talking,” Bruno said of the L.A. project. “We end up not living in our fear but moving into the grace of God.
“If we live in our fear we’re destructive to one another and we are protecting our personal positions rather than looking to the nature of the gospels of Christ Jesus,” Bruno said.
The L.A. process emphasizes eight key points: pluralism; inclusion; peacemaking; justice; forgiveness; healing deep wounds; God’s sovereignty; and atonement. Work should take place at the diocesan level, Bruno adds. “The diocese is the primary organization of the church.” Problems at even one parish will affect the entire diocese, he notes.
Reconciliation is a tough undertaking, says Executive Council member Louie Crew, from the Newark diocese, who worked on Griswold’s New Commandment Task Force.
“I learned I had no right to expect others to change unless I was willing to change myself,” Crew said. “The real test of reconciliation is can you safely and honestly say the Lord’s Prayer?”
Crew said that while the Newark diocese lacks a centralized project like that in Southern California, he and other colleagues are constantly engaged in reconciliation through activities and behavior. “While we need national structures to promote it, it still happens one heart at a time.”
Bruno joins those who are praying for a unity that can embody differing opinions. Interlocking the fingers of both his big hands like someone playing “Here’s the Church,” Bruno demonstrates the power of his Reconciliation Initiative: “When people twine their lives with people they don’t agree with like this, there’s strength there…and in that creative tension of community, we cannot be rent asunder.”