All who live in Bessemer should attend the Bessemer Neighborhood Association meeting tonight at 7:00 at Broken Vessel Church on Dartmouth Avenue. There is great concern about City Council action (or inaction) that may lead to a water rate increase and this issue will be discussed. We need more citizens to become involved and to be outspoken about issues like this if we are going to be successful in making Bessemer a better place to live, so come on out.
Contentious Times in Episcopal Land
The local Episcopalians will soon elect a new suffragan, which is a little like an assistant bishop. The six candidates were all together last week in Birmingham meeting Episcopalians from across the state.
The way the church works this is not a popularity contest, but rather “the focus is discernment of what God is calling the diocese (of Alabama) to do.”
I am thinking that God wants the diocese to elect Rev. Marc Burnette, the rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham to the position. Based primarily on Burnette’s comments from Sunday’s Birmingham News, Burnette seems to realize that God’s “people” includes all people and wants to work toward keeping the church united, but also admits that “if they need to leave, they need to be free to do what they need to do,” referring to the faction threatening to split off over the full inclusion of gays.
It may well be that all 6 of the candidates feel the same way, but Burnette was the most quoted, with comments in 6 paragraphs. All 6 candidates were together, so I am not sure if he might have just been the most outspoken, or why he got so much press, but I am thinking it means he is the leading candidate.
Here’s his long quote. “It’s painful. We are family. We are determined to keep that posture. The desire is not for separation. The U. S. Episcopal Church action is very difficult to understand for some people. There is a sense of carrying out the call to be in fellowship with all God’s people, to genuinely be inclusive. Jesus taught radical inclusivity. The fact is, some people don’t want to stay together. Jesus is about table fellowship. Nobody’s turned away. The church has always been that way. That is church. That’s Jesus in action. If we teach that, then we’re being faithful with Jesus. We hold a space for everyone. If they need to leave, they have to be free to do what they need to do. The Episcopal Church is here for the long haul.”
He also said “My position is I believe in communion. I want the communion to be healthy and whole. I’m for inclusion of all God’s people. Those two are harmonious positions for me.”
The other candidates are Rev. Robert Childers of Grace Episcopal in Anniston, Rev. Alicia Schuster-Weltner, canon for congregational development from the Diocese of Atlanta, Rev. John McKee Sloan of St. Thomas Church in Huntsville, Rev. Pat Wingo of St. Thomas Church in Birmingham, and Rev. William Waldo of Trinity church in Excelsior, Minn.
The Diocese of Alabama will elect its suffragan bishop on September 30. The new official will be consecrated and take office on January 12.