the Church’s burden

A friend of mine just emailed me about the following debacle. Here’s the unfolding story:

A Grand Forks priest went public this Holy Week with her request to the Episcopal bishop of North Dakota for a license to minister here.An associate professor of religion at UND, the Rev. Gayle Baldwin, 62, was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1980 in North Carolina. Before coming to UND in 2000, she served in several parishes, last in the Wyoming diocese, where she has a license to preach and administer the sacraments. That’s where she was when she came out as a lesbian a decade ago.

read the rest of this story here…

Here’s where the trouble began. This is the beginning of the letter Baldwin wrote to the PB as well as Bishop Michael Smith (ND), Bp. Bruce Caldwell (Wyoming), and Gene Robinson (!!!)

I am writing all of you as a response to the recent refusal of Bp. Michael Smith to grant me a license to fulfill my ordination vows in the state of North Dakota. The reason he has refused me has nothing to do with my character, nor my skills and gifts of ministry. His reason is that my life partner, whom God has given me to love and cherish is a woman and not a man. He has stated that he will only grant a license to a priest who is celibate or married. Since we cannot be formally married, our family is not considered legitimate by the church. In refusing to acknowledge my family and my ordination, Bishop Michael is also refusing to acknowledge my baptism, for in my baptism, I am “Christ’s own forever,” and the gifts of the Spirit given from that moment on, are, as I understood it, to be honored and blessed. As a baptized member of the Body, I am to be cared for, nourished and the gifts given are to be nurtured by the Body.

There are so many errors of logic as well as theological heresies contained within this letter; but it spells out the silliness and the air of entitlement that most who espouse this lifestyle base their arguments on. The rest may be found here.

And here is the reprint of the Faithful Bishop’s loving response.

Statement of Bishop Michael Smith, dated March 19, regarding the Rev. Gayle Baldwin’s letter to Smith, several other bishops, including the national presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church:

In the past few days quesiton (sic) have bee raised about plolicies (sic) and procedures for licensing a priest to officiate in the Episcopal Church. These polices are governed by the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church which state clearly that priests must be licensed to officiate by the bishop if they have not been ordained in the diocese where they are currently residing.

It is inappropriate to speak publicly about specific personnel matters.

However, during these contentious times over the issue of sexual morality in the life of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, I have chosen to follow the recommendations of the bipartisan, international “Windsor Report.”

Therefore, I will not ordain or license any clergy member who is unable to promise faithfulness in marriage or to abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage.

While Episcopalians in North Dakota are not of one mind on these matters, at our annual convention in 2005 a resolution was overwhelmingly passed which “commended the Windsor Report as a way forward together in spite of the differences which threaten to divide us,” and expressed our desire for the Diocese of North Dakota “to remain both a member of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

The GrandForks article contains the misspellings and omits Bishop Michael’s conclusion which I add here:

“Please join me on this Good Friday in praying for the Church.

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



Bishop Michael, know that you’re in my prayers!!!


4 Responses to “the Church’s burden”

  1. LP Says:

    TO: Dr. K. J. Schori, Gene Robinson, Bonnie Anderson, a religiously-clueless but knee-jerked-ly anti-establishment anti-Church anti-Christian press who will therefore publish this letter, and anyone else who likes to listen to this sort of inane narcicistic prattle.
    FROM: Emma Whiner, youth member, parish of St. Ipsos.

    Dear brothers and sisters,

    I am writing all of you as a response to my parents’ recent refusal to let me have icecream.

    The reason they have refused me dessert has nothing to do with my character, nor my skills and gifts of digestion. Their so-called reason was that I failed to clean up my room as I had earlier agreed and I did not eat any of my dinner.

    In refusing to let me have ice-cream, my parents are REFUSING TO RECOGNIZE MY BAPTISM, because we are all supposed to be equally children of God and are marked as “Christ’s own forever”… and so therefor they obviously have no right to keep me from getting my icecream which is promised to me in that baptism and in Scripture.

    Refusal to recognize baptism is a serious matter. This is why I am writing this open letter, so that we might begin a dialogical conversation over this matter… in the hopes that my incessent whining will create such unpleasantness and fuss over this bogus silliness that my parents give up in irritated disgust, or at least so that I can keep eating my icecream while everyone is distracted by it.

    I had been warned by some of my classmates that certain parents can be very oppressive over matters of nutrition and diet. By not letting me eat my icecream, my parents have refused to recognize my individual personhood, my human dignity, my full autonomy, and my civil rights. As Martin Luther King would have said, my parents have, by refusing to let me eat my icecream, cast me into an “I-It” relationship with them rather than an “I-Thou” relationship… and they have definitely refused my right to have the proper “ME ME ME ME ME ME!!!!” relationship that Gene Robinson has shown us all in the Episcopal church is what God really wants for us to have.

    Inspired by these lessons we learned in Episcopal Sunday School, several of us formed the “Pottinghead” group, an “youth underground”, freedom-fighting child-liberating movement where we have been able to partake of icecream, drugs, alcohol, indiscriminate sex, and all the other behaviors our parents — who are thereby REFUSING TO RECOGNIZE OUR BAPTISM!!! — have denied us.

    But I have grown more and more uncomfortable with the fact that I have to sneak out of the house to go to these meetings, rather then being allowed to indulge them in the middle of the livingroom in front of dinner guests or out on the playground in public parks.

    “Obedience”, as I was taught to understand it in the context of authority in the Episcopal Church, means “obedience” to whatever I decide is my “true, inner self,” as expressed by my moment-to-moment urges — it has nothing to do with accountability objective truth, historical or scientific fact, common sense, good nutrition, or Christian teaching. Only in such sanctified self-indulgence can we find the true “ME ME ME ME ME ME ME” relationships which the Episcopal Church has taught us to prize above all things.

    Only such self-love is true love… and without such love, our relationship with God is turned into “Master/Slave” or “King/Subject” or “Parent/Child” — or even (incredible, almost incompehensible, as it might seem) — “Creator/Creature” relationships. And this rejects the Gospel and DENIES MY BAPTISM!!!

    I have now discerned that this true “love” and “obedience” to this love — as well as my responsibility to minister to and celebrate the similar gastrinomic urges of my peers — requires me to obey my desires for icecream as a holy, God-given right, regardless of what my parents, Scripture, or anyone else says. So I wish to announce that, tomorrow night, I will be leading an icecream and dessert party with the Pottinghead Underground.

    In order to respect my parents — despite the fact that they are EVIL MEANIES who have DENIED MY BAPTISM!!! by refusing to give me icecream — I will be taking the following actions so that I will not be functioning as their child in any official capacity:
    * I will leave any i.d. with my name on it out in the car, and people will not use my last name.
    * The party will not be held on my parents’ property.
    * The icecream will be bought and brought by other youth from the parish, and so it will be “youth” icecream and not “adult” icecream, and so won’t count as dessert.
    * The icecream will be served on plates rather than in bowls, and so it won’t really be icecream.
    * We will be holding hands with each other while eating the icecream, so it won’t really be _me_ eating the icecream anyway.

    May the peace of the Lord (and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Almond Nougat) be always with you.

    Hugs and kissies (at least for those of you who aren’t evil meanies like my parents and thus DENYING MY BAPTISM!!!),
    Emma Whiner

  2. dpc+ Says:

    Dear Lawrence: priceless. Thanks.

  3. Robert Easter Says:

    Any Archbishop or, in this case, Peeb, worthy of the office would surely take the grade of theology reflected in this letter as cause to send the writer back to remedial catechism before beginning a long discernment process toward eventual re-confirmation. Ambitions of priesthood (deadly oxymoron!) would be best played out through Lego people. Considering the claim to a feckless character while living openly in an illicit sexual liaison with one of the same gender, she has not only denied her understanding of the basic catechism, but her baptism vows. How can she presume to teach the Faith which she neither understands, nor owns? If she expects to be taken seriously in this she is as mad as a hatter (presuming, that is, on the first line)!

  4. dpc+ Says:

    Or… she could be elected bishop in some of our dioceses! Tragic, yet true.

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