Sunday, March 11, 2007

Anglican Journal on Shawn

Here is what the Anglican Journal has written.

As well, for those of you who attended seminary with Shawn and me, here's what an old friend and colleague has to say.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Wolf You Feed

I found this at Susan Russell's site, An Inch at a Time.

An old story, as retold by Jim Gustafson: One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Living God's Blessing

Hi all,

In the package Integrity put together for Diocesan Council was a copy of a letter going around for general synod. I had posted it once before but I want to refresh people's memories. Please, if you haven't signed already, consider doing do.

Living God's Blessing

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

On the lighter side

Because I have been posting on serious matters lately, here is something to lighten things up a bit. Thanks go to Toujoursdan for the link. Bible quiz.

I took the quiz in trepidation wondering how I would feel if I got a low score - me being a priest and all that who should know her Bible. I am quite happy to announce that I got 100%. Although, I have to admit that there might have been one or two that were answered by process of elimination rather than "knowing" the right answer.

Have fun.

Rainbows on Easter Sunday

This suggestion has been made by Rainbow Presence. Wear a Rainbow.
This is the response from a few of our more orthodox brothers and sisters. There is always a danger of tarring similar people with the same brush so please note that I said "a few" not all.

I am not even going to comment. The response leaves me quite speechless.

More on Shawn

Hi Firends,

I have finally found a decent news link about Shawn. Priest Loses License.

Shawn has also given me permission to post a letter he sent around as an update.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to thank you all for the tremendous support you have given me and my family over the past few months. Ever since I went public about no longer discriminating against LGBTT folks, and being willing to bless same-sex marriages and covenants, it has been a very uncertain and stressful time. Your emails, phone calls, prayers, and good energy has helped me remember that this struggle is indeed worth it.

In January, my bishop cancelled my license to minister, and replaced it with a temporary license which expires at the end of March. It was his way of giving me time to reconsider my decision. After meeting with him again earlier this week, it became clear that I will not be recanting and he will not be renewing my license. So this means that I will no longer be able to preach or celebrate the sacraments, and that I will lose my job at Native Ministry.

I knew when I made my decision that this would be the likely outcome, but it is still a bit of a shock now that I know for sure. But it’s good that Janice and I had several months to really get used to the idea, and make some plans for what we will do come the end of March. By the way, I want to let you all know that, logistically, we are fine: Janice is working for CHEP, and though things will be a bit tight, we’re certainly not going to starve! For my part, it will be a journey into the reality of being a priest in exile...

One of the things about an act of civil disobedience is that a person usually gets their “day in court”, in which to talk about what led them to their decision, and take advantage of a public forum for the issue at hand. Because of the idiosyncrasies of the Anglican Church (eg. its odd combination of democracy and feudalism), it is highly unlikely that I will get that type of day in court.

Someone recently asked me if I had a good “communications strategy” and I almost choked on my soup. Basically, I am just not cut out to be my own publicity manager! On the other hand, I am very willing to talk about this issue in whatever context comes up, with whomever is willing to listen. Some of you have asked me about whether or not you could contact the media about this …as far as I’m concerned, my open letter and my story is public domain. It is silence which kills, not the telling of our stories.

Throughout it all, I have come to a deeper understanding of the level of hostility still directed toward the gay community. I have also come to a deeper understanding of the solidarity and goodwill among people of various social, theological, and political stripes. My hope is that this action will have some positive impact, in the church and in the wider society, toward transforming the “domination system” into a true community of rainbow people.

Again, thank you all so much for the support you have given. Prayers and good vibes are still greatly appreciated!

Yours in the deep peace of the Creator,

Shawn +

Friday, March 09, 2007

Shawn's Open Letter

Hello friends,

Some of you may have heard by now that by the end of the month Shawn will no longer be a priest in the Diocese of Saskatoon. The bishop revoked his previous license in January and issue a temporary one that is in effect until the end of March. The bishop will not be renewing that license. Shawn has kindly given me permission to post his open letter on this site so that we may all understand why he has made the decision that led to the loss of his license. Please friends, don't let Shawn's action be silenced.


Conversion of St. Paul, 2007

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As you are no doubt aware, our church finds itself in a turbulent, confusing, and painful time. Many issues are involved in our current struggles: authority, hermeneutics, ethical and theological visions and convictions, and the complex relationships of gender, power, and patriarchy. Though the “presenting issue” is the place of LGBTT folk in the Body of Christ, the roots of our conflict go much deeper.

As a priest in the midst of this struggle, it has become clear to me after much prayer and soul-searching, that my spiritual conscience can no longer abide by the laws which I am required to uphold in regard to the blessing of same-sex unions and marriages. It is my conviction that our current ban on such practices is theologically problematic and fundamentally unjust. Upholding such a position (even unwillingly) forces me to bend severely (if not break) my priestly vows, my baptismal covenant, and the Word of God inscribed within my heart. I therefore publicly declare that I will, when requested, officiate at same-sex marriages and offer blessing upon committed same sex unions. I will no longer discriminate against homosexual people when it comes to the exercise of my priestly duties.

I am aware, of course, that the stance I am taking will likely lead to serious consequences, and I am prepared to face these consequences openly and publicly. It may be helpful to consider my action a form of ecclesiastical civil disobedience. With conflict and rhetoric rising in the worldwide communion, too many queer brothers and sisters are being further marginalized and excluded. In some parts of the world, this takes the form of outright violence: as I write, the coordinator of Changing Attitude (a sister organization of Integrity) in Nigeria is living under a death threat from his “fellow Christians”. Here at home, it is often a more subtle form of oppression: exclusion rendered invisible. As a priest and leader in the church, my complicity in upholding our current law makes me at least partially responsible for the ongoing suffering of LGBTT Christians, and I can no longer take part in that. If my current action helps render visible that which has been made invisible, then I will be happy to bear the consequences. I too will stand “outside the gate”, where so many other queer Christians have been sent.

To be clear, there are three main reasons for my choice of taking this stance. On one level, this is a clear issue of justice, solidarity, and human rights. On another level, this is an issue of evangelism: our church’s continuing discrimination against LGBTT people is a scandal which keeps many of my peers from being able to hear the good news of Jesus. And finally, this is an issue of personal integrity: I can no longer, in good conscience, uphold a law which I consider unjust, as well as theologically deficient.

Some might say that my actions sidestep the legitimate process of discernment underway in the church. I understand that concern, and I have wrestled long and hard over what to do, working within our established canons and structures to the best of my ability. However, I also see my current course of action as being part of the wider church’s discernment. We have heard many arguments about the cost of blessing same-sex marriages and ordaining unclosetted queer folk; we also need to recognize that there is a cost as well to not moving in this direction. The cost is a huge amount of suffering for LGBTT Christians who are pressured to remain silent. The cost is that some of us, straight and gay, will no longer be able to abide the status quo, and we will simply cease to obey an unjust law. The cost is that others will quietly leave. That reality needs to be part of our church’s discernment. In this, I am not leaving the church, nor relinquishing my orders. Instead, I offer my current action, with all its consequences, for the ongoing discernment of the Body.

Yours in the unquiet peace of Christ,

The Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Good News

About a year and a half ago our diocese put out a study guide on same sex relationships. At the time I was a member of Diocesan Council and received a copy of said guide. At first glance I could not read it through. I persevered and was able to read from beginning to end. I won't go into details as I realize that those who put it together did a lot of hard work and did so believing that what they did was what was right. However, there was really only one side presented (negative to the Anglican Church of Canada's resolution to affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same sex relationships). The process itself was flawed as it did not include any homosexuals on the committee that prepared the document nor, to my knowledge, were any GLBT listened to when the guide was prepared.

Eventually Integrity got hold of the document. When I observed the pain in our membership I nearly cried. We met to discuss what to do. We finally decided to approach Diocesan Council and ask that the guide be rescinded basing our request on the process. The request went to Diocesan Council, a motion made and the vote was split. (A positive sign for a conservative diocese). The bishop tabled the motion and requested that Integrity prepare a response to the guide.

This past Saturday, Integrity made their response. There was a cover letter written by one of our members and edited, with permission, by another. There was a copy of the Living God's Blessing letter circulating for General Synod in June. There was a paper on Marriage, Sexuality, and Blessing (my contribution) citing Canadian Anglican sources, a wonderful paper on scripture, with some theology and social sciences thrown in and a letter from a priest in the diocese explaining why he cannot and will no longer refuse to perform same sex blessings. Each of us spoke to our part in the anthology. There was also testimony from another of our members about what a difference Integrity makes in his spiritual life and a voice of support (as well as supportive presence) from a couple that supports Integrity.

We were heard with respect and thanked for our work. The questions and comments were in the main quite supportive. A three point motion was put forward, once again requesting to have the original document rescinded. We had to leave before the discussion on the motion but we left knowing that we had been heard and we left the rest in God's hands. On the whole, we were quite positive.

Today I received an e-mail which informed us that the motion to rescind had been passed with a strong majority. I give thanks and praise to God for this marvelous outcome. I do want to say that I recognize the hard work and the honest intent of those who put the original document together and I regret any pain they may feel in its rejection. But, in all conscience, I could not just stand by and let that document stand. I give thanks for and to the many members that supported our request and praise God that we will once again have a chance have a chance to dialogue and listen.