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NEW HAMPSHIRE 2

It was inevitable.  Six years ago a tiny diocese in the North-east elected its favorite son bishop. +Gene Robinson’s position as the Bishop of New Hampshire’s “side-kick” made him well known. People liked him. He’d done a good job, a job often seen as preparation for the episcopate, a job which took him into the parishes frequently and involved cooperation with the diocesan clergy, who, in TEC have to be jollied along, secure as they are with tenure.  Of course the New Hampshire diocesan electorate knew that in choosing a partnered, self-acknowledged actively gay person, they were making history. And yet, pushing that aside, they liked and respected the guy.  To that extent the election was predictable in a diocese which, in our odd identity, had already chosen to be the Liberal Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

In a sense, we should not be amazed that the Diocese of Los Angeles has elected a partnered lesbian priest. After all we are talking about LA.  Few dioceses are so culturally diverse.  There are few “conservative” parishes in the diocese. On a much larger scale, LA is a “Liberal Diocese”.

In electing a candidate from clear across the country, with, as far as I am aware, no close contact with the laity or clergy of the LA church,  that diocese has found itself with a white bishop and now two white bishops-elect.  It may well be that there were no African-American or Hispanic candidates equal to the task of serving as a suffragan bishop. It may also be a factor that the Hispanic Episcopal community’s role in the life of the church there has not managed to command the support of the majority of electors, or commended the sort of urgency-in-mission the gay constituency has engendered.

The days when Episcopalians were energized by the marginalized status of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans is now long in the past. There is nothing very revolutionary, at least now, in opposing racism.  And as evangelism is now defined as permitting people who like our liturgy and programs to take out “membership” in our ecclesiastical club, it really doesn’t matter whether unchurched Latinos or African Americans “go to church” or stay at home.

The Diocese of Los Angeles covers one of the most populated areas in the US.  As bishops are elected for the whole church, as symbols of its unity, as guardians of the faith and as chief missionaries, we shall see whether the elections in LA will further these job descriptions.

And yes, the proposed Ugandan law against gay people is frightful, uncivilized and brutal. It should be condemned by the Commonwealth members, the UN, our own government and yes the leaders of our part of the church. Whether anyone in Uganda will listen to our PB or the Executive Council is another matter. Few of our parishioners lend an ear to statements from on high! One wonders whether our church officials are anymore visible in Uganda than the Diocese of Los Angeles is in its area of California.  Yes the election in LA is one further step in the movement within TEC to be a church of its members, by its members and for its members, a far cry from the Great Commission.

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