Friday, June 29, 2007

Moving Forward

A few of us met today to discuss how we move forward after General Synod. We represented a variety of views on full inclusion of same sex couples and believed that there were no winners from what occurred in Winnipeg. What we also agreed on was that we need to move forward, together, with our diversity.

Let's face it. This particular diocese has had a bad rep for a number of years regarding collegiality and some of us are tired of that. We need to learn to work together as God has called us. The atmosphere of General Synod inspired a sense of what was possible here in spite of our differences. It won't be easy but we aren't starting from scratch. We're not sure where to begin but we are sure that we want to begin.

Today we met to see if each of us thought it was possible to move forward. Each of us believe it is. We do so tentatively, feeling our way. We have the summer to pray and think about possibilities. Through it all is the awareness that there are those whose lives and faith are majorally impacted by what has happened or not happened. As a group, we want those people to know that they are in our prayers. Each member of our gathering spoke about acknowledging and respecting where people are and what pain they may be experiencing as our church struggles to find its way.

On a personal level I gain hope that this is something that will be looked at with caution - proactive not reactive, but not rushing ahead without consideration. Our goal is not to change each other's minds but to find a common language with which we can learn and work together. It is our hope that if we can do this as a group, we can reach out with hope and experience to others.

Why am I part of this group? I was asked partly because of my connection with Integrity with hopes that we can build some bridges and maybe even establish some grounds for trust. I think that it helps that I have had close working relationships with another two of the members who met today. I was able to speak on behalf of Integrity over their concerns about recent events involving them and I hope that we will find a way to meet the needs of Integrity as well as respecting the concerns of others.

Do I have concerns about how this will play out? Of course I do. As do the other members. But we are taking it slow - one step at a time - trying to build our own relationships. We accept that we have much to do and it won't be accomplished overnight. We accept that we are only beginning and trust must be established first. We accept that we must start out small, working through trial and error what might be ways forward. At the moment, we are not getting into things at a deep level - we can't until trust is established. We use laughter and off topic tangents to keep it from getting to intense. We share what we are able to share, leaving many things for future meetings.

I ask your prayers for us in the coming months.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie +

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm back

Okay, I'm back now. It was a wonderful holiday. I think the best part was spending a fair amount of time with my sister (our lives have been hectic lately and we haven't even talked much on the phone) and getting to know one of my favourite cousins again.

Sunday was an emotional time. We attended St. Thomas the Apostle in Sherwood Park. My Dad's older brother and sister attend there on a regular basis. It was pointed out how special it was to have three siblings in their 80's in attendance. It hit my sister, my cousin, and me that this might be the last time or close to the last time. My Dad's sister, who is 89, is moving out to the coast in the fall. My sister and I have determined that we will work hard to ensure that Mom and Dad can go out to the coast for her 90th but that is a year away and who knows what will happen.

It was so relaxing sitting alongside the lake at my cousin's in Vernon. Of course, the first day I got a sunburn and I had to be careful after that. And my face reacted to the sun and broke out in hives of some sort - although these are not too noticable. We accidently wandered into a wonderful little book store and I had an encounter with a psychic that was quite interesting. I found the background for my "business" cards (not in the book store but else where). My cousin in very much into Reiki and I learned a fair amount about that - at least enough to make me curious. Actually it was so wonderful seeing her looking so good and so full of energy as ten years ago (the last time I saw her) she was struggling health-wise.

And so I come home to catch up on e-mails and the news of synod. Good thing I read up on it last night as just about the first question/comment I got when I went to coffee row here was on what had happened.

So my impressions. I am pleased that Fred Hiltz is our new primate. I was in the Diocese of Edmonton Sunday and there are mixed feelings there. It was difficult for them to see +Victoria not become our next primate but there was also relief that they would not have to replace her.

The passing of the one resolution and the defeat of the other brought mixed reactions. I am pleased that those who wish me to be classified as a heretic and cast out of the church because of my support of same-sex relationships no longer have grounds for that. I am dissapointed that local option did not pass. I met +James Cowan when he was bishop in residence at Emmanuel my second year there. I quite liked him. I can respect where he is at in voting for the one resolution and against the other. When our church passes a resolution stating we can bless same-sex relationships/marriages I would really like it to be solid theological grounds clearly stated so that there is no ambiguity. (I would still have voted for the passing of both resolutions as I have no doubt as to the theological grounds for blessings as pointed out in my paper, which was presented to diocesan council). We do need to have those grounds stated clearly and consisely to lessen confusion for some of our people. Right now, I can tell my people the reasons I believe that there are no barriers to blessings and, indeed, there are solid grounds, but it would certainly help to also have a clear and concise statement from the larger church as to why it believes this to be the case, which I do not have right now. I also think the theological grounds should not be stated in defense of our position as opposed to those who do not support same-sex blessings but as a solid support of what we firmly believe God is calling us to do. We do not need to counter point for point as that does not fully encompass the grounds for blessings.

On the other hand, I think of the couples I am getting to know through Integrity and it breaks my heart to think that I cannot in good conscience (because of my vow of obedience to my bishop) bless their relationship/marriage should that be what they wish. I see such good and strength in each relationship - often way more so than in some opposite-sex relationships I know. Coming from a family with half of its members having struggled in at least one of their relationships/marriage, I am keenly aware of when God truly blesses a relationship.

I think that we have made "marriage" our idol rather than the health of the relationship in marriage. As a priest, I am mostly concerned with the health of any relationship and how it affects each partner - more than whether it is a marriage - blessed by the church or not. It is the fruits not the official status that is most telling. I am pleased with the change in the order of the purposes of marriage in the BAS as well as the direction the interpretation and understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 is taking.

So yes, the ultimate outcome of GS is ambiguous but there is a great deal of hope for the future.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pride Parade

We had a good day today. Integrity walked with St. James in the parade. It was noticed by someone who has been to a number of Pride parades that there was a good representation of Christian groups. We walked in front of the group from the United Church (AFFIRM).

A number of people walking had to make choices as to which group they would walk with as they belonged to more than one represented at the parade. I had an interesting conversation with a total stranger. She certainly affirmed my ministry and gave me hope for the future. I hope that I was able to give something positive to her as well.

This was Saskatoon's 15th parade. Prince Albert had its first last weekend. All was relatively quiet. We received a few yells and honks of support as we marched. I didn't hear anything negative as we marched.

There were a number of local politicians in attendance at the end but I don't know if they marched. I really haven't much to say on it - other than a common bond of support seemed to break down lines and barriers to talking to strangers. At one point it was difficult to tell where the group of Anglicans ended and the group from the United Church started as our boundaries became blurred. I found that a very postiive experience.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, June 15, 2007

Reflections before holidays

Edited on June 29, 2007

I am preparing to leave on a holiday with my older sister and my parents. The family has decided that Mom and Dad should not be driving long distances by themselves (something that Mom and Dad themselves have concerns over). I booked a week off way back in February and told them I would take them wherever they want to go. We’re heading out to Vernon where we have friends and relatives.

When I booked my holidays, I had forgotten about General Synod being that very week. Even when I realized that I would be away, I wasn’t too concerned. I figured it would probably be good for me not to be in close contact with my computer – easier on the blood pressure. Since then things have occurred which make me think that if I could I would reset the date.

I have spoken to our community to reassure them that whatever happens, the world is not going to end. Whatever GS decides or whatever is going on the WWAC, we will continue to meet for worship, to proclaim the gospel, and continue in God’s service in our wider community. If anything major develops while I am gone, they are to contact the wardens who have the phone number of a person who will help explain what is going on.

Pride Parade is on Saturday. This will be my first. Usually it means an extra trip to the city and I get enough of those. However, being chaplain (of sorts) to Integrity, I have decided I really need to be a presence. I will even wear my clericals – something I avoid like the plague except for worship etc.

There are a couple of interesting things that I have found in the last couple of days. The first is from CultureChoc – Thank you Dan.

Homosexuality and the Church

The second is from a link at Thinking Anglicans.

Canadian Archbishops

I am totally in agreement with their statment but especially in agreemet with this.

“We are deeply concerned that ongoing study … will only continue to draw us away from issues which are gradually destroying God's creation – child poverty, racism, global warming, economic injustice, concern for our aboriginal brothers and sisters, and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.”

However, on a personal note to that - I hope that if the resolutions are passed it is made clear that there is a strong theological and scriptural base for this. I also don't think that it should be expressed defensively, in reaction to what is placed in opposition. I liked this article. I can't remember whose blog I found the link on - but whoever's I did - thank you.

For freedom Christ has set you free - Holly Lyman Antolini

This article is linked from the Anglican Pages of Louie Crew. This is a good site for articles etc.

I guess that is all for now. I may blog during my holidays depending on internet access and what is going on. We'll see.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hunger Awareness Day

Tomorrow, June 5, is Hunger Awareness Day. I will spend the majority of my morning at the New Horizons helping host a coffee house. A fair amount of my last week was spent gathering information to make an information display about hunger in Canada.

Canadian Association of Food Banks

HungerCount 2006


These were my main sources of information. The last is an interesting project that meets more than one need. I also made up a quiz that will hopefully get people to pay a little more attention to the information.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

My Rant for the month (at least I hope this is it for the month)

I am removing this post. After the meeting I had today with some of my colleagues, I believe that this is the wise thing to do. We need to move forward. I am much more hopeful now than I was when this post was made.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Genesis 2

Today we were suppose to have our outdoor service and church picnic. The weather person was forcasting good weather. Even though it is Trinity Sunday, I planned the service around a celebration of creation. Instead of a sermon I had planned a children's talk and activity.

I woke up shortly after 6am and the weather was gorgeous. By the time 8:00 rolled around I knew we were in trouble. Sure enough, it poured rain. This placed us in the church and left me minus a sermon. Fortunately I had just read a paper by Dr. Walter Deller. (This is a copy of the whole Lenten series. Walter's paper is on page 54 - or actual page 65 according to the page numbers of the complete file.) Rather than change the service at the last minute to celebrate the Trinity (although I reread Dorothy Sayers' "The Mind of the Maker" this morning just to refresh my memory), I kept the service originally planned, used part of the children's talk and expanded it using Walter's paper as the base.

Although, today, I focused on God's creation and our responsibility as part of that creation, I enjoy and value the paper as a whole because it reflects some feminist studies I have been reading lately as well as solving some issues for me. Walter is also offering a course - "Genesis: Exploring the Foundations Again" - at Christ Church in Calgary this August. I am trying to work it into my summer schedule.

For those of you who may not know - Walter is the principal of The College of Emmanuel and St. Chad (my alma mater) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Emmanuel is the offical theological college for the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupertsland of the Anglican Church of Canada. Walter is also the Professor of Old Testament and Congregational Life. I was only able to fit one of his classes (PE 356) into my schedule when I attended Emmanuel but I thoroughly enjoyed it and Walter's teaching. I'm hoping I can work his course in this summer or that he will expand it to a full 3 credit course at the college for which I can drive in.