Skip to comments.Winner Take Nothing [Address to Diocese of Los Angeles Convention]
Posted on 12/04/2006 4:49:39 PM PST by sionnsar
The following is an address to the Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles that met in Riverside, California December 1-2, 2006.
There were well over a thousand delegates and visitors present. On the first afternoon, by a large majority the Convention passed a resolution distancing itself from even the bland statement of General Convention on the Windsor Report known as B033.
After the vote was taken, Baumann asked Bishop Bruno if he could address the Convention as a point of privilege. He said that he had not spoken in the Convention for more than ten years, but now the time had come when he felt compelled to speak. He read from a prepared statement so that there would be no doubt about what he said.
On the advice of his parliamentarian, the Bishop informed him that he would have no longer to speak than those who had done so during the debate on the resolution. This surprised him since he was not speaking on the resolution.
Here is what he said:
"I hold traditional views on most of the controversial matters before the Church. It has been more than thirty years since significant changes began in the Episcopal Church. Those responsible for them have claimed to be exercising a prophetic ministry. Perhaps once in a while those who are "prophetic" need to be prophesied to. I address all who are here, but mostly I speak to those who voted in favor of the last resolution.
Within the household of God from the days of the Old Testament, there has been a venerable liberal tradition of compassion and justice, essential for the well-being of the people of God. Liberals challenge the family of God to keep them from becoming complacent and hard-hearted.
The conservative tradition is also venerable and vital for the well-being of the people of God. Conservatives challenge the family of God to keep them from departing from what is essential. Both traditions need one another and are indispensable for the fullness of our Faith.
Even if everything that you believe and practice is totally right-which I doubt-how you have gone about making it so in our Church is wrong. For years, many in our progressive ranks have claimed that they are guided by the Holy Spirit and that anyone who disagrees with them does not have the Holy Spirit. I have heard this stated more than once by clergy in this diocese, and across the nation I have seen it written many times. This "winner take all" philosophy has resulted in increasing polarization within the ranks of the household of God to the point that now the entire Anglican Communion is in crisis. This cannot be evidence of the work of the Spirit.
The liberal positions have much to commend them. Though I disagree with the conclusions of many of them, there is much truth in what you hold dear. Look at the many worthwhile programs and ministries celebrated at this Convention and throughout our diocese. Over the years I have learned and I have become more compassionate, and participated in a number of ministries I probably otherwise would not even have thought of.
I have a strong and healthy parish, but we need the witness of those dedicated to peace and justice, for it is in this area that we are weakest. I am thankful for those ministries, and we at Blessed Sacrament need them if we are to be more faithful to Jesus than we otherwise would be.
Likewise, liberals cannot be completely faithful without the influence of conservatism, or you will be like a ship with a full sail but no rudder.
It is possible truly to be comprehensive. I believe that we at Blessed Sacrament have done it. We encourage people of differing convictions to join and participate in leadership. All are recognized as full members in Christ; no one is rejected or considered second class. We have uneasy moments sometimes, but we have no "winner take all" philosophy. At one time, we had both the national leader of the Episcopal Synod of America (now Forward in Faith) and the head of Integrity/Southland in our parish. They didn't agree on much, but they learned to value one another and the contribution each made to the welfare of the parish. They both knew that they loved Jesus. Neither wanted the other to leave nor felt that their own departure was necessary. For both, Blessed Sacrament was their home.
When the Anglican Communion has been put at risk, when tens of thousands of individuals have left the Episcopal Church, when congregations now numbering in the hundreds have left, and when entire dioceses are on the verge of leaving, and when several provinces in the Anglican Communion are willing to receive and minister to all of these-is it not obvious that something has gone dreadfully wrong? Blithely going forward with "business as usual" is hardly prophetic. It is not even wise.
The real problem is not that people have differing convictions on the issues. That has always been so, and many times it has been healthy and worked for the good of the Church. The real problem is that you continue to take actions and make statements like this resolution that further the alienation and drive the wedge deeper. This is not liberalism; this is arrogance.
Over the past thirty years, traditionalist priests in this diocese have taken early retirement, moved, elected not to speak (as I did), and stopped attending conferences and conventions. Some priests, and eight congregations, even made the radical choice to secede. All of this happened because they felt neither listened to nor cared about. If you value inclusivity and comprehension but continually fail to listen to the voices you need to hear, those voices will gradually cease. In this diocese they are now almost completely silent, as this lopsided vote indicates.
I cannot go further without commending Bishop Bruno, for he understands what I have described, and I believe he is as grieved as I. He exemplifies comprehension in his words, deeds, stated convictions, and where he puts money. When my Vestry and I met with him last summer and I shared with him much of what I am saying now, he responded, "At last-someone who knows my experience."
You have much to say and to contribute to the welfare of the Church if we are to be faithful to the Gospel together. You have a message the rest of us need to hear, and only you can say it. But you cannot be faithful to Jesus alone. By neglecting the witness of conservatives you have led us, as a world family, into disaster. Though you have a message to give, you must also receive. Do you really think that the moderate and traditional voices have nothing to teach you? Do you really think that the rest of the Anglican Communion has nothing of value to say to you?
My voice is now a whisper in this diocese, but the few voices like mine that are left are not the minority. My voice is still the voice of the overwhelming majority of Anglicanism. If you continue on the path you have chosen, there will come a time when the voice of moderation will speak here for the last time. I suspect we are not far from that time now. When the voices such as my own have finally disappeared, do not think that you have finally won. You will, in fact, have suffered immeasurable loss. You will have ignored all appeals and put yourselves apart from Anglicanism.
When my voice, and those few remaining who could speak as I speak, have gone, the only voice left to speak for moderation and true comprehension will be one of your own, who will first have to be enlightened. When those who are left all agree with one another and you look around and see that there is no one who thinks differently, I hope someone will say, "My God-what have we done?"
Maybe then you will finally begin really to listen to your brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion. And only when that happens will they begin really to listen to you-and all will benefit. But so far you have been deaf, and so as of now, all suffer. I fear that only a few in this room understand that yet. If my words are prophetic, a time will come when everyone here will realize that all are suffering. On that day, then maybe the Church will indeed be changed instead of broken."
---The Rev. David Baumann is rector of Blessed Sacrament Church in Placentia, California.
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