Hope from Columbus

Wednesday
June 21, 2006

Saul
clothed David was his armor; and he tried in vain to walk. David said to Saul,
"I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them." So David removed them. (1
Samuel 17.38-39)

By Tom
Ehrich

This is
another story of hope.
 

"Are you
going to comment on the selection of the new presiding bishop?" asked a reader,
referring to the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, to
head the Episcopal Church.
 

I don’t know
Bishop Jefferts Schori, except that she is a longtime reader of "On a Journey"
and therefore, like you, presumably a person of open mind and good
heart.
 

Nor am I
focused on national church politics. I believe that faith, like politics, is
local, as faithful people serve God and love their neighbors in response to
actual needs. That applies to bishops, as well, for they were chosen to be
pastors of persons, not partisans for right-opinion. I am not interested in what
the Anglican Communion thinks about the American Episcopal Church. We serve in
different realities.
 

That said, I
believe that Katharine Jefferts Schori will be a spectacular Presiding
Bishop.
 

I say that,
not because I know of her capabilities, but because I hope for her success and
will do what I can to work for it.
 

It seems to
me that she represents the emerging church.
 

At 52, she
is younger than other candidates and perhaps more attuned to future
constituencies and less attuned to inherited issues that one friend describes as
"old and tired."
 

She isn’t
burdened by long experience in church leadership and, I hope, won’t try to wear
Saul’s armor into battle, the dead-weight of recent disputes and
plots.
 

She comes
from outside the New York-to-Atlanta axis of the Episcopal Church and can help
all of us to see our enterprise with new eyes.
 

Her gender
will disrupt the boys’ club atmosphere of the Anglican Communion’s leadership
and show that good, faithful, Bible-believing, tradition-respecting and
reasonable Christians can do things differently.
 

Will any of
this come to pass? That is where hope enters in. Many partisans will work to
undermine her ministry. That undermining started immediately. My hope is that
the "common-sense middle" will assert itself and not simply wait for partisans
to wear out. The voices of partisans cannot be the only voices being raised.
Fundamentalists’ inadequate and self-serving interpretations of Scripture cannot
be the only Biblical theology being studied. After four decades of controversy
over matters that were of no concern to Jesus, it is time for us to serve as
Jesus served.
 

I am
hopeful, and I urge you to be hopeful. If we dare to speak for a better, more
hopeful, more effective and less argumentative Church, it can
happen.
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