Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quick Thoughts on 170th Diocesan Convention

So it is unfortunate (but not terribly surprising, since most of the time I've had personal experience on some topic that has made it into the mainstream press, they get it wrong) that the headline summing up the two days of the 170th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago was "No Lesbian Bishop for Chicago Diocese." The AP news stories on the topic cast the election of the Rev. Jeff Lee as a vote for "the moderate."

But having been at the convention, I don't buy either of these. Moderation maybe, but the tone of the election (and the convention) didn't seem overtly political to me. True, the broader concerns of the Anglican Communion were in the background, bubbling under the surface but the results did not send a strong message (nor should they, in my opinion, either way --) on the ongoing strains over human sexuality and the consecration of openly gay/lesbian bishops.

Although she was an impressive candidate (and she was in my "top 3"), the Very Rev. Tracy Lind just did not make the cut. And this not only means the complex mix organizational/leadership skills, spirituality, the right personality, training and experience -- but the political savvy necessary to build alliances and campaign. I really doubt the final result would have been different if she had not been a lesbian, although it might have taken more ballots and we wouldn't have been through by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.

This is not only based on the convention but from attending the "walkabout" in Lake Forest last month, where the 8 candidates for the 12th Bishop of Chicago gave short keynotes then entertained questions from members of the diocese in small breakout sessions. In the words of Petero Sabune (who I shifted my vote to in the 2nd ballot, after voting for Lee in the initial ballot) gays and lesbians are "already on the bus." The decision has been made. Some Episcopalians might be uncomfortable with it, but in the parish's I've attended, it is a done deal, they are in. Views on human sexuality was simple not a differentiating issue (at least based on their statements and the way they answered questions) of any of the 6/8 candidates I heard speak.

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