Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Venables to visit Fort Worth

Episcopal Cafe has this item here.

My first reaction is "where the h*** are the people who speaking out definitively against this. What is with the huge silence. And then I realized, it really is too late for anyone to speak out. The time when it would have made a difference has passed.

I'm assuming that the powers that be did not want to offend anyone - did not want anyone walking off in a huff - and so they stood by and did nothing. It is an attitude that I have had to deal with and am still dealing with. I had phoned someone for some advice over a recent event in the life of my parish - an event that can end in very positive life for the congregation ifs it is handled well, but I also need the support of higher up. The person I phoned did not want anyone offended in the decision making process and almost completely tied my hands as far as working toward a positive outcome in fear that someone will be offended. After I hung up the phone I turned to my husband and said, "Well, he/she has already managed to have one person offended."

The point is that you cannot go through life without offending someone. My congregation will not make this decision without ticking someone off regardless of what decision we make. The best we can do is let people know that we understand and accept their feelings and opinions and that we care for them and wish them well for their future. You cannot move forward without leaving some behind, as regrettable as that may be.

I believe that a stand should have been taken a while back. Border crossing is wrong because of the chaos that results - I have no problem with creative chaos but I do have a major problem with destructive chaos. Maybe TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are wrong in their support of full inclusion (although I don't believe they are). Instead of trying to appease each, would it not have been better, when it was realized it wasn't go to happen, to take a stand one way or the other, let the chips fall where they may, and wish those who left well in their future. Maybe it would have left the possiblity of reconciliation in the future more open. It would not have resuled in the chaos that currently exists with lines blurred and everyone offended on one level or another. It would have resulted in all of us getting on with our lives and the mission of the church as we best discern it.

There are times when we need to hold the line and work to keep everyone together. There are times when it is best if we let go. It is now to late to go back to who and what we were. I believe that it is time that we cut our losses. The powers that be need to speak out and let things happen. We can then deal creatively with what is left. If it means that TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada and various other provinces are unable to continue in the present arrangement, then we can creatively come up with a way to support each other and work to fulfill Christ's commission. If it means that those who do not support full inclusion on all levels are unable to continue in the present arrangement, we need to give them our blessing and wish them well in their future.

As my parish visions to move forward, one of our biggest stumbling blocks is letting go of our building. It is not as bad now as it use to be but it is still a concern in our talks with the other two congregations. When it was the major stumbling block, it had become an idol that we were placing before God in total disregard for the commandment that speaks to having no other gods before God. Trying to keep everyone at the table in the Anglican Communion has become like that. There was a time when it was good and right that we try. The time has passed. Unity has become an idol before our commitment to and mission with God. We can see this in the negative results around the life of various provinces and dioceses, let alone on the parish level.

A number of years ago the small village I was in faced the closure of its school. I had two children in the school at the time. As parents and community members we fought that closure but lost again at the next level. We then accepted it and did our best to help our children to adjust to their new school in the next town. Some older members of the community felt we had not fought hard enough. But I realized that although we needed to fight the decision to close the school on a number of levels, not the least being the process and underhandedness of the school board making and implementing the decision, we could only do so to a point where it began adversely affecting our children and making the transition very difficult. We did the best we could within the existing structures but were then able to let go for the good of all concerned.

I look on the current situation in that light. The powers that be have done the best they can but now (and actually much too late) it is time to let go of the past and forge a new future from what is left. I'm ready regardless of whether that leaves the Anglican Church of Canada in or out of the Anglican Communion. I wish those who cannot see their way to full inclusion well either in or out of the communion. May they find the abundant life that is Jesus' promise to us all. I sincerely hope that the rest of us will as well.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Reach Out for Kenya

This came from Amnesty International yesterday.

"Reach Out for KenyaFebruary 27th is International Day of ActionMore than 1,000 people have been killed and over 300,000 displaced from their homes since violence broke out in response to elections in Kenya.

Immediately, Amnesty International sent a mission to investigate the human rights situation and help mobilize international action to protect civilian lives.
Although the violence has abated, there is an uneasy calm as the mediation talks take place, led by Kofi Annan.

Amnesty International urges Kenya's leaders to ensure the human rights of Kenyan people are protected.

An international day of public and online action this month will demonstrate solidarity with the people of Kenya and call on the Kenyan government to protect people from politically-motivated and ethnic violence.

On 27 February, people can show their outrage at the continuing human rights abuses in Kenya in a series of events organised by Amnesty International; including an online Facebook action and a series of street demonstrations.

The disputed election of 27 December 2007 sparked an outbreak of fighting and a series of grave human rights violations. At least 1,000 people have been killed so far, while more than 300,000 have been displaced.

Amnesty International's recent visit to Kenya found evidence of unlawful killings, the ethnically targeted forced relocation and burning of homes by armed militias, excessive use of force by security officials, sexual violence against women and girls, and violations of freedom of expression and assembly. Amnesty International has also documented death threats against human rights defenders and activists.

The death toll includes hundreds shot dead by police, who were deployed to quell the post-election violence and break up mass protests against the election called by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) opposition party.

Subsequent violence has seen increasingly organised attacks by ethnic militia and youth gangs against people of Kikuyu ethnicity, which has led to retaliatory attacks by Kikuyu militias and youth gangs.

There is particular concern at the ethnic dimension to the political violence and its possible long-term implications for Kenyan society.

Amnesty International calls on the Kenyan government to protect the people of Kenya, many of whom have endured unrelenting suffering in the last two months. Kenyan leaders must end the cycle of impunity that perpetuates the politically motivated violence in Kenya."

Inegrity Workshop

A few years ago, partly as a result of a decision that was a public relations disaster, the bishop gave permission to form a chapter of Integrity Canada in our diocese. Shawn Sanford Beck was named chaplain and did a fantastic job of drawing people together. When Shawn's license was not renewed, I was named chaplain. There was controversy over the appointment as no one had thought to discuss it with Integrity. When I realized this, I tried to do something about it but made little headway. I discussed it with Integrity members and at first we decided to treat my chaplaincy as an interim one until the group could meet with the bishop. By the time we met with the bishop the group was more at peace with accepting me and I remained chaplain.

Interestingly enough, part of the reason I was chosen chaplain, was that Shawn had been very open and outspoken about his decision to say yes the next time he was asked to do a blessing of same-sex relationship. The powers that be thought that I might temper the group so that they wouldn't become outspoken. My understanding of chaplaincy is to facilitate the growth of the group and ensure that sacramental ministry is provided. It has been wonderful to see this group come into their own. In January they passed their own constitution. They have taken up a request of the bishop to help bring about dialogue in the diocese. There is life and purpose in the group and although our membership numbers have not grown, the commitment of the people has. We are also looking outward at other groups to see if we can help or partner in any way. My role has become smaller and smaller as members of the group start utilizing their gifts in leadership. It is absolutely fantastic to see this group come into their own.

Below is a info-letter that has gone out to the priests of the diocese to promote the workshop the committee has developed with input from interested persons around the diocese.

A Workshop by Integrity/Saskatoon

An Invitation to a GLBTT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Two-Spirited) Workshop

The full and equal inclusion of gay, lesbian, and other sexual-minority Anglicans in our Church raises issues that probe our deepest understanding of the Christian faith. Silence has proved ineffective for resolving these divisive issues and the continuation and growth of the resultant discord has reached the point where it threatens the very structure of the Church. Resolution of these issues will allow us to begin to heal and to get on with our witness to the Gospel of Christ however; this resolution will require the development of an informed opinion and a mutually respectful dialogue in the presence of the Holy Spirit. At present no structure or process exists within our Diocese to initiate this resolution and begin the necessary dialogue and healing.

At a meeting of Integrity/Saskatoon in September 2007, the Right Reverend Rodney Andrews, Bishop of Saskatoon discussed the various issues and needs in regards to meeting this impasse with the membership of Integrity. Bishop Rodney made several suggestions on processes that Integrity could follow to address those concerns; Integrity responded to the Bishop’s suggestions by developing a one-day workshop entitled “Together in Faith: One in Christ” designed to give participants the facts and interpersonal skills needed to reach a level of understanding and spiritual growth which, it is hoped, will permit us to go forward together in faith as a people who are one in Christ.

This workshop has been prepared by the Integrity Education Committee with professional assistance from Integrity/Canada, Affirm United, and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Canada and also incorporates the findings from two, pre-workshop, brainstorming sessions held last autumn with participants from the parishes of Saskatoon. Following this workshop Integrity/Saskatoon will set up a series of smaller workshops to be held in parishes outside of Saskatoon. This current workshop is scheduled as an all-day event for Saturday, April 12th at Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre, in comfortable surroundings with wheelchair accessibility and ample parking.

DATE, TIME Saturday, April 12th, 2008; 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

PLACE Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre, Saskatoon

FEE $25.00 per person (Integrity/Saskatoon will provide subsidies where needed); includes lunch and coffee breaks. Please make cheques payable to Integrity/Saskatoon.

CONTACT Tom and Rose Rogers, 1534 McKercher Drive, Saskatoon S7H 5E1; Phone: (306)373-5165; E-Mail: .

DEADLINE March 31, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008



If anyone is reading this please send prayers up for our cat, Leo. He belongs to our two children still at home. It has been and down and up day. We took him into the emergency clinic in the city yesterday. He was in pretty tough shape - kidney failure. He was fairly dehydrated. They kept him in over night and gave him fluids. He did start eating as well, which he hasn't really done for a few weeks. They told us this morning that he was doing better but then phoned and told us he desparately needed a transfusion. We rushed in after the service and the news was not good. We decided to bring him home for one last night and take him to our own vet tomorrow to have him euthanized. It was a tough decision.

The vet went to get things set up for us to take Leo home. She and her assistant came back and told us that when they got to him, he looked better so they took another blood sample. His red count was up a fair bit - still a concern but not dangerously low as it had been in the morning. We decided to bring Leo home for the night and take him to a vet friend of our son's in the morning. Please pray that things improve. Leo is only 4 years old - pretty young to have kidney failure and we have been trying to figure out what he may have accidently eaten or drank to bring this on.

He's an amazing cat - can't decide if he's cat, dog, or human and shows traits of all three. He loves old boots. He's got personnality plus and has given us many laughs with his antics. My own cat, Max, is lost without him as he has never known a time separate from him. When I brought Max home as a kitten, Leo mothered him, which was good because Max's mom had basically rejected him.

Updated: Monday afternoon.

By 9:00 last night we figured that Leo would not make it til morning. He surprised us and did so. He was more energetic and drinking water. He ate a breakfast of ground buffalo - his favourite. We went into the vet with our hopes up, knowing that this vet did not like euthanizing animals. Unfortunately, the news was not good. Leo's condition had probably been there from his birth. As the vet talked we could see signs that he had been going downhill for a while now. Any measures we could take were for comfort only. We made the tough decision to have Leo euthanized. It's been hard to come home without him and still see traces of him all over the house. My youngest is taking this hard but believes we made the right decision (he had a voice in that decision as well - he didn't want to see Leo suffer anymore).

We give thanks for Leo's presence in our lives these last 4 years. He brought us a lot of joy and laughter. We give thanks to God that we did have that last night with him, to say good-bye and let go.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been very aware that I have not blogged for over a month. I can't believe how busy my life has been and it doesn't improve any in the next two months. I will seriously have to look at learning a little two letter word. I've had one day off so far this month (and that was to go grad dress shopping with my daughter) and they're few and far between till the end of April. Hopefully, I can schedule a week of holidays for a personal retreat in May.

Retreat in January was mandatory. I hate silence. I can be silent but to sit through a meal with friends I haven't seen in a year and not talk is just not right. And in the evening, after our last meditation and compline, it would be wonderful to sit around that old field stone fireplace and share ideas. It bothered me even more when I went through that particular room at 10:00 one night and not a soul was there - yet in a small room, tucked away in a corner were a crowd of talkers. I understand the value of silence and I have no problem with it except at meals and in the evening. I wrote a page long comment on the evaluation but I doubt that it will get anywhere.

Synod is coming up. I ended up as chair of Nominations and Elections. Guess who has never even been on that committee before. It wouldn't be bad if our Canons were not out of date with the reality in the diocese. Oh and the timing of our next synod in relation to the timing of the next General Synod isn't the greatest either. I'm having nightmares over this.

There are a few tasks that I really enjoy and that feed me rather than drain me. I continue to be chaplain to Integrity. The growth in this group is absolutely wonderful. Although we have grown numerically, that is not the growth I am talking about. It is the growth of the individuals for which I am thankful.

I have also been asked to be on a panel at a Breaking the Silence conference to speak about spirituality and how I handle things related to human sexuality in my parish and community.

I get to also lead a workshop on prayer for the local parish nursing program. I love doing that.

And the fourth thing that will feed my soul is a conference in the mountains. The main speaker is Diana Butler Bass. It comes at a super busy time - the weekend between Easter and our Synod - but I know I will find a source of energy there to carry me through.

But in the midst of these things that give me peace are other responsibilities. I am on the the visioning committee. I believe that we have come up with a good plan to move this diocese forward. I can only pray that the earthly power that be backs us to the hilt. One of the things that came through so loudly and clearly during our consultations with the people of the diocese is the fear that this plan will come to naught. I would hate to see them let down.

And then there is the compensation committee. That takes a fair amount of meeting time. I wish I could give more effort to it but I just don't have the time available - at least not until after synod.

Of course, I didn't think I was busy enough, so I took on emergency pastoral care for a three point parish 1 1/2 hours away and in a different diocese. I really need to give my head a shake but I know these people are going through a rough time. How could I refuse.

But the dear Lord decided that life still isn't full enough for me. My parents phoned me last week to let me know that they were moving from their two bedroom house to a one bedroom seniors apartment within a month - the apartment is available on Palm/Passion Sunday. So now I have to find time to help them organize and pack. I am in charge of the china, books, and spare bedroom.

And then, a joyous event that makes my life even more hectic but for which I am deeply thankful. We are in the midst of a four month visioning process. We meet once a month with two other congregations - Lutheran and Presbyterian - and then once a month with just our own congregation. We are trying to determine if there is a future for these three congregations in closer relationship. At the last meeting of the three congregations a motion was put forward that we , for a trial period, worship together all the time instead of just once a month. It was passed by the people there. Now I need to take it to a congregational vote. The other two congregations do not have to do such as thing as their polity does not insist on it. The nightmare here is determining who is qualified to vote. I won't go into the three days of hashing it out between my mentor, my archdeacon, and my bishop. I was away in Alberta with a prior commitment to my daughter for those three days so it was an interesting time with a phone permanently attached to my ear at times. It wasn't until Thursday, after driving into the city for a meeting, that I all of a sudden realized that I hadn't even given thought to this Sunday's service. Friday was spent putting the notice of the parish meeting out, meeting with representatives from the other two congregations and mine to work out some details on the original proposal - clarifying things for the parish meeting and trying to research for Sunday's service.

Please pray for my congregation and its meeting on March 9. Those who are the solid attenders and supporters are enthused about this proposal but there are others who haven't participated enough to realize what a blessing our joint worship is. This congregation split on a somewhat similar vote about 5 years ago.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll make it through. But on the other hand, I know that when I have, it will not have been on my strength alone. Being busy actually reminds me to rely on God all the more and I become so conscious of the Creator's presence in my life on many levels.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie