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Hawaii Episcopalians seek to clarify
Ready's resolution reflects his view: "Whereas the confirmation (of a gay bishop) is not pono (righteous) considering our long-held tradition that either marriage, or chastity, and no other, is the moral state of our natural physical desires for union with another human being, and that bishops are to be exemplary in this regard." He called for a task force, with membership balanced between differing points of view, to study the theology, scripture and writings of scholars and bring back a recommendation.
"I'm saying it's a church, not a social club," said Richard Dole, a delegate from Calvary Episcopal Church in Kaneohe, author of another resolution. "You would think, as part of the universal church, we would line up with Scripture. It's a very fundamental thing."
Dole's resolution calls for all resolutions and decisions made by the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii to "be consistent with Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer."
He wrote in his proposal: "The first goal of the proposed five-year plan is to 'convert our hearts to accept Jesus' Gospel message and to live in a deep relationship with God.' If we love God, we need to follow Jesus and his teachings. In other words, in order to create unity in the Church, we need to encourage conversion and transformation, based on Scripture."
Dole said he believes Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew are a definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
When the argument over "what is Scripturally correct" is engaged, another view is that the gospels' broader themes of love, forgiveness and reconciliation override a few selected Bible passages.
The inclusive and conciliatory view was evident in Chang's address last night at St. Andrew's Cathedral, when he called for "transparency, open communication and respect of the other."
It was the theme in a letter last week from the Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of Episcopal Church USA:
"It is important to note here that in the Episcopal Church we are seeking to live the gospel in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged in all areas of our public life.
"There are those among us who perceive the fruit of the Spirit deeply present in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, both within the church and in their relationships. However, other equally faithful persons among us regard same-gender relationships as contrary to Scripture.
"The report calls our Communion to reconciliation, which does not mean reduction of differences to a single point of view," Griswold told American Episcopalians.
The talk that goes on this weekend among 300 delegates at the island conference representing 6,000 Episcopalians will be echoed for a long time to come throughout the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.
Two measures about sexuality and Scriptures were among 20 resolutions on the agenda for action by the 300 delegates to the Hawaii Episcopal Convention.
A main topic was expected to be a five-year strategic plan for the diocese that tries to redirect resources and energy of the very structured church. Stimulating the interest and participation of youths is a key focus. Investing in the recruitment and education of clergy was another.
"There are a lot of groups that evolved over the years. ... It makes for a cumbersome structure," said the Rev. Elizabeth Zivanov, whose resolution called for changes that "streamline structure and enhance accountability."
"The current form of church organization is static ... (and) fails to consider 21st century issues of congregation development. This resolution is a nudge; it calls for using resources more wisely," said Zivanov, pastor of St. Clement's Episcopal Church.
Hawaii Episcopal Bishop Richard Chang told the convention, "We have been so busy making sure that we have enough for maintenance that we have been blind to the pains of our neighbors."
"A theology of scarcity has us believing that we don't have the resources necessary for doing the mission," Chang said in an opening address last night at St. Andrew's Cathedral.
Chang challenged delegates to make major changes, not just in restructuring the organization, but in personal spiritual development.
A resolution called for dedication to "holy habits" such as regular attendance at worship services and development of a disciplined spiritual life through private prayer and Bible study.
The church has considered itself "in transition" since 1969, when it went from mission territory with outside support to a domestic diocese, Chang said. "Thirty years of transition is long enough. It is time for accountability and responsibility.
"This is the year to raise the roof and blow down the walls so that a new diocese of Hawaii can be built."
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