Sunday, November 2, 2008


On the eve of one of the most important elections held in the State of California ever the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin made a statement to the rest of the church.  That statement is that this church will no longer be the refuge of the "few privileged".  That the Episcopal Church in San Joaquin has for too long marginalized every class of people they do not understand and do not like and the time is now to begin to unravel that intricate and insidious process we have used to exclude people. The continuing diocese of San Joaquin, in convention, approved the creation of an Equity Commission.   Here is what the Episcopal Life On-line wrote last week:

The commission is to include at least nine lay and (nine)(added for clarity) clergy members to support, engage and affirm marginalized communities within the diocese. Echoing the baptismal promise to "respect the dignity of every human being" the resolution identified the marginalized as "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons; women; various ethnic communities; the disabled and those adversely affected by socioeconomic circumstance in the life and worship of the Church, as the Diocese works toward justice, reconciliation and peace."
Commission members would also partner with congregations and other dioceses, provinces and organizations, identify resources and meet the pastoral needs of the marginalized, according to Cindy Smith, president of the diocesan standing committee.
"We look at it as creating a structure that encourages the gathering of information, dialogue and gives a means for making recommendations for us to move forward," said Smith, a parishioner at Grace Church, Bakersfield

Here is the link for the entire article:

What does that mean?  Well ,we could surely focus on the issue about to be decided in California on Proposition 8.  An entire class of people has been pushed into a closet and left there to die of suffocation.  This resolution means that the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin will explore those ways in which the church has had a hand in this despicable process and remove the impediments to full inclusivity in our church.  But the resolution does way more than that! First it deals with the issue of marginalized women. Here is a quote directly from Mr. Schofield, "Even women have a place in the Episcopal church." But apparently not in any capacity that could be seen and valued. It deals with those ethnic minority groups that have been locked out of our churches and it deals with the disabled and the poor.  No longer can we simply send a buck to ERD and believe we have "done our fair share to help the poor and homeless."  Think back to when you went to Church today -- was your building completely handicap accessible?  Many, many are not.  And I don't mean did you all throw up a ramp to appease your discomfort with those in wheel chairs and scooters. Your altar rails and your aisles and your restrooms and the ability for the hearing impaired to hear the word of God and the blind to see the word of God. Time to really create handicap accessibility.  
There is a Church in Southern California, Messiah of Santa Ana and the rector is Fr. Brad Karileus.  This parish is in the heart of the city with the most Spanish speaking individuals outside of the Mexico City in the world.  This parish has held up as part of their mission the full inclusion of everyone including Spanish speakers.  It should be a beacon to the rest of us to get our act together.  We need to reach out to everyone -- to make our house of worship friendly for everyone.

Now, the soap box is done but for one more issue.  This commission is charged with ONLY conducting a survey to explore the reasons for marginalization and create recommendations on how to correct these past sins.  It does not put into action anything!  It will bring back to the next convention the commission recommendations for the entire assembly to review and perhaps act upon. 

While I applaud the movement forward we need to keep in mind that these classes of people continue to suffer from second class citizenship. With voting around the corner, how would you like it if when you went to vote the precinct officer said, "Sorry, you cannot vote.  We are studying the problem and may act on it in the future but right now, sorry!"    

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