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Episcopal Bishops Decry Legislative Initiatives and Governmental Actions Targeting Trans Children --


VickySGV

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What an affirming statement. Good for them!!

 

My wife and I are both Catholics. Our parish priest, a PhD in Psychology, has always been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community - knowingly offering Communion and Blessings to people he knows to be gay and trans. My wife went to him for counseling - having asked me if I was OK with it - when I first came out to her so he knows my situation and was very instrumental in our finding our way through the first weeks. Last weekend his homily focused on Christ's interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well and he used it to highlight the need to be more welcoming and accepting. He talked about how we need to go beyond Christian and Jews, to welcome Muslims and other faiths, Transgender people and immigrants. I swear he was looking at me when he said it. Later, he talked about leaving problems of the past behind and focus ahead in a positive way. As he has told us many times, God doesn't make mistakes. There is hope for the Catholic Church.

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@April Marie, all I can say is that within the Roman Catholic denomination priest have considerable discretion in how they conduct themselves within the parish. As a Presbyterian pastor (retired), I can only say that my view is a bit different theologically. Here are three examples of what I meant discretion; all of which I've experienced:

 

First example: About 30 years ago I was best man at a good friend's wedding. He is Catholic and I was the only protestant in the wedding party. The priest gave communion to all members of the wedding party except me. I was supposed to kneel at the rail and pray for the reunification of the church under the papacy. This was before my ordination.

 

Second example: My battalion had a Catholic priest for a chaplain. While he conducted ecumenical services for protestants as well as mass, his conscience wouldn't allow him to provide the eucharist for protestant soldiers, nor would he baptize them unless they converted to Catholicism. I thought this odd, as military chaplains are supposed to minister to all faiths.

 

Third example: When I moved to AZ in late 2006, I was asked by another friend to be a groomsman. When I was introduced to the priest and he learned I was ordained, he asked me to co-officiate in the wedding. Point being that a lot of what happens in the parish has a lot of variation regardless of denomination. From what you said, it sounds as if your priest has a very open outlook, and he's right. God, by His very nature, doesn't make mistakes. It also sounds like he is a proponent of what is termed the "Church Inclusive."

 

Which brings me to, Thanks for the article @VickySGV. I'm in the process of writing my doctoral dissertation on the Church Inclusive and I'm going to add the article into my research and references.

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Thank you Vicky. You just gave me another reference! I really appreciate it. I'm actually pretty familiar with the Episcopal church. When I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground I attended, and eventually became the junior warden, of St. George's Old Spesutia Episcopal church. Which I believe is the oldest Episcopal congregation on the North American continent.  The sanctuary dates to the early 1700s if I remember correctly.

 

For the record, the Episcopal Church has been a pioneer in church exclusivity in the USA. This is important both theologically and in terms of social justice/interaction with the secular community.

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It is good to see the Episcopal Church and even the Catholic Church being accepting.  
 

in far too many cases the major denominations have struggled with this subject and many have turned their back on LGBTQ+. Or the have splintered. The Presbyterian Church went through this pretty early with both combinations and splits. The Anglicans split off from the Espicopalians.  Their headquarters is just down the road.  The Methodist Church is struggling with the question and voted to deny LGBTQ+.  They now are dealing with the backlash and individual churches that don’t agree.

 

My point is a good many Christian Churches are still struggling with old out of date interpretations verses Gods Grace to all who believe in Him.

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@Willow, your point is valid and frankly, goes back to the theological question of salvation by faith. As a protestant, and a Calvinist, I am firmly in the "Grace by faith alone" camp, although I understand and respect the contention of salvation through Grace and works. One of the slogans of the reformed church (especially the Presbyterians) is "reformed and always reforming." When we stop to think about it, and keep in mind that as our understanding of Scripture grows, this is an apt slogan as well as a sound theological principle. That said, as a Christian pastor, there are certain Truths that are not negotiable; specifically Grace by faith, the resurrection, the efficacy of prayer, and the truth of Scripture to name several.

 

Within my denomination, PCUSA, there has been a lot of turmoil over the past 30 years or so surrounding not only LGBTQ+ issues, but authority of Scripture, ordination of women, and what constitutes marriage to name three. And, yes these issues have caused the denomination to split into several factions. Sadly, this is happening throughout Christendom. (For clarity I'm using the term Christendom to denote all branches of the faith and nothing more.)

 

That said, the Episcopal bishops' action is, IMHO, a step in the right direction and emulates Christ's own actions while on this earth as He was always sitting with the oppressed and marginalized of the time. Scripture states that Christ was always among the poor, the lepers, prostitute and tax collectors of his time; the truly marginalized of His day while shunning the powerful the rich and the clergy (Pharisees and Saducees). Now, that mantle of marginalized people falls among the LGBTQ+ community among others. Which demands an answer to the question if Jesus were physically among us today, where would he be? 

 

Apologies. I didn't mean to get preachy; its an occupational hazard. My point being that it looks like the Episcopal bishops have got things right on this issue. And, Willow, you summed it up beautifully.

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I was only able to explore my own gender issues once I left "the church".  Perhaps things would have been different if it had been more accepting.  But things are what they are.

No offense intended to any of y'all.

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Just now, Ivy said:

I was only able to explore my own gender issues once I left "the church".

I get that. My first years in the Episcopal Church were horrendous. I'm back as of a couple years ago, and it's much better now. Still not perfect, but there is a lot more leadership and membership support. Now in sermons they talk specifically about trans rights in my local church. But church is not the right choice for everyone and I have to add that I had a lot of PTSD to deal with when I came back.

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3 hours ago, Dillon said:

I get that. My first years in the Episcopal Church were horrendous. I'm back as of a couple years ago, and it's much better now.

 

Your part of the country there had some terribly backward Bishops in charge things until only a couple of years ago.  One of them was forced out of his position by an ecclesiastical trial, and the other two were simply old age casualties.  The current level of acceptance was the work of many LGBTQ people in the Episcopal church -- I contributed a few bucks too -- which resulted in General Convention action to change The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal church to included LGB at first and Trans most recently (2015).  Quite a history of change, that did result in some parishes leaving and joining less tolerant groups, but things are cleaning up.

Edited by VickySGV
added denomination to modify CHURCH.
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Just a couple of quick points, and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has posted here. Your insights and experiences have helped me greatly in my dissertation research, and I promise not to use anyone's name and to keep the actual content in the abstract.

 

First point: I'm always amazed at what people mean when they say "the church," and I admit this was how I felt for decades.  Typically, the term is used in conjunction with a particular congregation or denomination. And, "the church" is all too often confined to that time period between breakfast and football on Sunday or relegated to Christmas Eve or Easter services. This seems to be in contradiction to what Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 which promises that where two or three gather in His name, Christ is with them, and where Christ is, three is the church. It isn't limited by geography, denomination or anything else. To me, that's pretty heartening.

 

A]Second point: There HAS been a lot of turmoil and change within the various denominations through the past several decades. That's one reason why the church inclusive is so important and why the actions of the Episcopal bishops in this instance should carry so much weight within the Christian community.

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1 hour ago, Marcie Jensen said:

I'm always amazed at what people mean when they say "the church," and I admit this was how I felt for decades. 

Yeah.  I did use this term, and it is admittedly vague.  I just didn't think this was the place to go into my long and complicated relationship with "christianity."   It doesn't just involve gender issues.  

 

There is tremendous variation within "the church"-- from the Metropolitan Church to rightwing militias.  And although it probably sounds like a cliché, I do know lots of good church folks -- even have some praying for me! 

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51 minutes ago, Ivy said:

Yeah.  I did use this term, and it is admittedly vague.  I just didn't think this was the place to go into my long and complicated relationship with "christianity."   It doesn't just involve gender issues.  

 

There is tremendous variation within "the church"-- from the Metropolitan Church to rightwing militias.  And although it probably sounds like a cliché, I do know lots of good church folks -- even have some praying for me! 

I get it, Ivy. On a number of levels. And, yes, the variations/denominations/sects--however one wants to phrase it--are huge in both numbers and in theological interpretations. In both Matthew and Luke Jesus states categorically, "many will call me Lord, Lord and I will know them not;" He also alludes to false teachings and false prophets especially in the end times. I'm not going to get into eschatology because it's not my area of expertise, but I will say, in support of your point, there sure are a whole bunch of new sects and odd theological positions popping up. No offense to anyone...

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On 3/15/2023 at 11:22 AM, Marcie Jensen said:

@April Marie, all I can say is that within the Roman Catholic denomination priest have considerable discretion in how they conduct themselves within the parish. As a Presbyterian pastor (retired), I can only say that my view is a bit different theologically. Here are three examples of what I meant discretion; all of which I've experienced:

 

First example: About 30 years ago I was best man at a good friend's wedding. He is Catholic and I was the only protestant in the wedding party. The priest gave communion to all members of the wedding party except me. I was supposed to kneel at the rail and pray for the reunification of the church under the papacy. This was before my ordination.

 

Second example: My battalion had a Catholic priest for a chaplain. While he conducted ecumenical services for protestants as well as mass, his conscience wouldn't allow him to provide the eucharist for protestant soldiers, nor would he baptize them unless they converted to Catholicism. I thought this odd, as military chaplains are supposed to minister to all faiths.

 

Third example: When I moved to AZ in late 2006, I was asked by another friend to be a groomsman. When I was introduced to the priest and he learned I was ordained, he asked me to co-officiate in the wedding. Point being that a lot of what happens in the parish has a lot of variation regardless of denomination. From what you said, it sounds as if your priest has a very open outlook, and he's right. God, by His very nature, doesn't make mistakes. It also sounds like he is a proponent of what is termed the "Church Inclusive."

 

Which brings me to, Thanks for the article @VickySGV. I'm in the process of writing my doctoral dissertation on the Church Inclusive and I'm going to add the article into my research and references.

 

Interesting examples.  There is indeed a wide range of experiences.  Not to get off into the weeds, but my husband was a Chaplain Assistant during his time in the service.  I believe now they call that MOS "Religious Affairs Specialist / NCO."  There's a real gray area around what chaplains can say and do, and what they can't.  My understanding is that there are denomination-specific things such as restrictions on communion and baptism that are permitted.  A lot also depends on the unit and the CO.  I'm always curious to know more, but my husband doesn't talk about it much  (well, more like never.)

 

It seems that LGBTQ+ issues are bringing out the polarization in religious bodies.  There's splits going on with the Church of England, Methodists, and a couple of flavors of Lutherans.  And I've never quite understood the different varieties of Baptists.  Some groups are coming out openly in support of LGBTQ+ folks, and some very much against.  Both of which seem kind of strange to me, as each side is getting their stuff from the same Bible. 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

Both of which seem kind of strange to me, as each side is getting their stuff from the same Bible. 

Yeah.  That's kinda a thing.

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10 hours ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

It seems that LGBTQ+ issues are bringing out the polarization in religious bodies.  There's splits going on with the Church of England, Methodists, and a couple of flavors of Lutherans.  And I've never quite understood the different varieties of Baptists.  Some groups are coming out openly in support of LGBTQ+ folks, and some very much against.  Both of which seem kind of strange to me, as each side is getting their stuff from the same Bible. 

It's not just LGBTQ+ issues. There are many others including such things as the authority of Scripture; Biblical inerrancy and infallibility (those are two separate things); ordination of women, gays and trans-folk, church governance, and many others.

 

Also, Catholics and Protestants don't use the same Bible. The Catholic version has 73 books whereas the Protestant one has 66. The 7 books protestants don't consider canonical are contained in the Apocrypha. All are Old Testament and were written in Greek instead of Hebrew. This difference is one of Luther's reforms. That said, the New Testament is the same for all denominations, although which translation is used varies between congregations and denominations.

 

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1 hour ago, Marcie Jensen said:

the New Testament is the same for all denominations, although which translation is used varies between congregations and denominations.

Yeah, I know some of the "King James Only" folks.

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5 hours ago, Ivy said:

Yeah, I know some of the "King James Only" folks.

Me too. I've actually been told "If King James English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." All you can do at that point is shake your head and say "Bless your heart."

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8 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

Me too. I've actually been told "If King James English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." All you can do at that point is shake your head and say "Bless your heart."

Interesting.... Since we've touched on Bible versions in a couple of different topics lately, I went ahead and made a thread for it 😊

 

On 3/16/2023 at 1:25 PM, Ivy said:

There is tremendous variation within "the church"-- from the Metropolitan Church to rightwing militias.  

Yep.  And there's variations within the denominations of "the" church.  Partly why my community doesn't label itself as a church, either for the building or the assembly.  It is a loaded term these days for some folks.  

 

Back to the Episcopal Church, how much variance is there from one congregation to another?  Do the average members agree with the bishops' position on LGBTQ+ folks?

 

 

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8 minutes ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

Back to the Episcopal Church, how much variance is there from one congregation to another?  Do the average members agree with the bishops' position on LGBTQ+ folks?

The actual "services" are contained in The Book Of Common Prayer https://www.bcponline.org/.  The BCP says which services are to be used and when.  Assigned Scripture readings from the Hebrew Scriptures,  Epistles, and Gospels in lists called Lectionaries are part of every service.  There are also doctrines and historical documents in the BCP that explain the basic beliefs as well.  All of this is followed strictly in the Parishes on the appropriate days. In that sense we are all together on a regular basis. I can go into any Episcopal Church and have the same worship, and same belief in the Communion I receive. 

Where TEC becomes fully human is in how some people hang onto certain ancient Traditions.  My link above is to the 1973 BCP, which replaced the 1928 BCP which replaced on in the 1860's.  In their own Dioceses Bishops are the  authority over how the parishes in their Dioceses and their priests will act in regard to LGBTQ people.  To be sure there is grumbling on some of it, but where the Bishop supports the Community the grumblers are told to stay at home and don't attend Gay weddings if you don't like them, but on Sunday honor and support the Gay Couple, or if you can, ignore them although one of them may be the actual Priest of the parish. This has caused people to leave the parishes and go to one or two break-away denominations that follow the BCP in their services, but they are happy that way.  We do have a few Bishops (Florida is one area, and one or two in other southern States that will not allow same sex weddings, nor will they support LGBT Clergy or Seminarians in their areas, but most of those Bishops are near retirement age (72) so they will be replaced in the not too distant future.  Their control is only about 8% of the national membership, so it is regional.  The Laity had their chances at General Conventions back in the 90's and early 2K's and were outvoted by other Laity to create the current welcoming canon law. Same for Bishops who absolutely tell the Priests how it is done in their parishes.  It is the General Conventions where Canon Law Changes.  There are two houses, one, The House of Deputies is laity and Parish clergy with about 3 to one laity over clergy, and there is the House of Bishops.  Very much like the U.S. Congress for a good reason and law changes require a 2/3 vote of each house to be enacted.  Votes for LGBT acceptance were in the 80% acceptance brackets.

Six of the Bishops who were involved in the document at the beginning of this topic are married gay people.  The problem of women being Clergy was met back in the 1970's and nearly 40 of these Bishops are women, one of whom is one of the married gay ones.  The story of the first gay Bishop who was consecrated in 2003 reads like a war novel, so the acceptance issue was not easy.  Trans people were fully written into canon law in 2015 and In 2019 there was another supplement to the BCP that actually gives a service for renaming  people in the church.

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