Thursday, January 29, 2009

Moving Forward

Last year I was involved in the strategic planning process for our diocese. We went out and spoke to the people from end to end of the diocese in a series of three day long meetings. We also used information gathered at some events before our particular team took on the task. We were given an awesome resource person from the national church. All this resulted in a pretty good plan (with built in flex) that was passed enthusiastically at our diocesan synod last April. And then - not much was heard.

I had backed off due to some concerns in my parish about my time spent out of the parish so I was not really in the information loop anyway. However, things were not coming forward at the council level either. I know some of the reasons for this but, as I had backed off myself, I am certainly not going to point any fingers. Just recently a fire has been lit under our collective bottom ends and National Church has offered us some people resources. We just had a two day meeting in the city and I am pumped. Things are moving.

I'm not sure how much of what happened is for publication yet but suffice it to say that things are going to happen and they are "good". I have volunteered to work on piloting a project. We are looking at inner-diocesan companion parishes on an urban-rural line. Unfortunately, at this time National Church has no resources on this nor does the resource person who is working with us know of any.

If anyone happens to, for some obscure reason, be reading this post and have knowledge of companion parish systems set up within a diocese could you please let me know. I want to have a lot of the preliminary work by the end of February/middle of March.

We are a small rural diocese on the Canadian prairies. Our secular politics are split very strongly along urban-rural lines with the rural areas often feeling isolated and abandoned. This perception has spilled over into our church life. There have been recent moves to counter this by the diocese and these have been received quite well but they usually involve the synod office or committees coming out into the deaneries to meet. There has not much, if any, urban-rural interaction between parishes. We hope that the companion parishes will develop links to build better understandings and relationships.

One of my hopes is that, as my congregation ages even more and some consider moves to the city for health, family, or assisted living issues, the connections with a city parish will help in that person finding a church home. We also hope to be able to share resources - our gifts and passions, as well as giving support through prayer and encouragement.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie +

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Acceptance for all

I just sent an e-mail to a friend. As I was writing it I realized that one of the reasons I haven't posted on my blog recently is that I have been e-mailing this friend with my thoughts once or twice a week. Once those thoughts are written in the e-mail, I don't feel the need to express myself on this blog. However, this time, I will post my thoughts.

Not only was a black president sworn in but the ceremonies included Gene Robinson. Although he did not play a role in the actual inauguration, he was definitely present at the functions.

This also offers some hope. (By the way, I got the link from Mad Priest's blog.)

But as much as things are happening on official levels - in Canada, same-sex marriage is legal - there is still a lot of work at the grass roots level. I've noticed this in regard to the equality of women. Once things become government official there tends to be an attitude of - you've got what you want, what's your problem. And this ignores the fact that what is happening at an official level does not always happen at the more grass roots level. My orders of ordination are not accepted world wide in the Anglican church. Men who are ordained by a woman bishop cannot apply for positions in the Church of England (although I can unless it specifies male priest). There are parts of the communion that will not accept +Rodney because he ordained me (and two other women).

There's still a lot of work and speaking out to be done and in some ways it is harder when things are okay on an official level. Everyone figures that we have nothing for which to work toward because the government has made everything okay.

Don't I wish.

Even if I do have my equality in Canada there are still parishes that can refuse me just because I'm a woman - not that I would want to be their priest anyway. Our rights are there but not the full acceptance. And in my mind it is not enough just to have rights - there needs to be acceptance. Non-acceptance is still brutal. That is as true for equality for women as it is for equality for GLBTs. And people wonder why I speak out for full acceptance. What choice do I have? If I see the difference in regard to woman's issues, how can I not for GLBT issues? We can't just stop at acceptance for one and not work for acceptance for all.

Enough of a rant for today. I have to do research for Bible Study this afternoon.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie