Monday, January 15, 2007

Because It Is Right (Woodrum)

by the Reverend Paul Woodrum

The Rev. Paul Woodrum is a retired priest, most recently at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr in St. Albans, New York, and canonically resident in the Diocese of Newark. He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and General Theological Seminary. He is now in the business of designing and fabricating contemporary vestments with his partner Victor Challenor at Challwood Studio. Those worn by Presiding Bishop Katharine at her investiture were their creation, as were those of Barbara Harris and Gene Robinson at their consecrations. Some of their vestments and other liturgical creations are on display at the Episcopal Church and Visual Arts pages.

He posted this reflection yesterday to the Integrity listserv, and it is reprinted here (in lightly edited form) with his permission.

Yesterday we had the order for the Burial of the Dead, Mass of the Resurrection, and shelved Victor's mother, Gwen, in the columbarium in St. Ansgar's chapel at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. For those interested, I followed Ron Miller's suggestion and used the "Into your hands..." from the Commendation in place of the Lord's Prayer after the Committal. Beautiful!

Being at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, two thirds of which was built under Bishop Manning's leadership during the Great Depression, providing hundreds of jobs as well as erecting a great edifice, I once again told the story of how Gwen's mother took the family to All Souls, Manhattan, and how the ensuing flood of West Indian Anglicans to the neighborhood and parish so frightened the then all white, male vestry, they declared a moratorium on any more people of color joining the parish.

Bishop Manning called the New York press to meet him at All Souls where, in his episcopal regalia, after knocking with his crosier, he took an ax brought by his chaplain and broke the locks on the front gates, flung them open and dramatically declared that no Episcopal Church in his jurisdiction was free to practice discrimination or segregation, both still de facto in the north and de jure in the south in the '30s, and that all Episcopal churches were open to all regardless of race.

Manning did this without consulting any diocesan convention, General Convention, special commission, the Mayor of New York City or the Archbishop of Canterbury. He did it because it was right, long before it was the accepted much less popular thing, and he challenged the church to live into what he had done.

This is what I long for in our present leadership when it comes to discrimination against women and LGBT people: for the Presiding Bishop and other bishops to say simply that we will not tolerate any more discrimination and bigotry and challenge the church to live into this, not because it is politic or impolitic, acceptable to some but not to others, but because it is right. No more of this namby pamby hiding behind commissions, committees, conventions and policy directives. No more tolerating seasons, years, decades or centuries of waiting for justice.

Heaven knows Bishops Akinola and Iker and Duncan and their ilk are not shy about making pronouncements that are wrong, immoral, and unjust. Presiding Bishop Browning called for no more outcasts but took six of his nine years to begin to live into that himself where gay people were concerned. Presiding Bishop Griswold was genetically too nuanced to make a direct statement. It's a new day. I hope we will hear loud and clear the old prophetic call for justice to run down like rivers and integrity like an everlasting stream. Shalom. Shalom.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if they make 'em like this anymore.

1/15/2007 11:23 AM  
Anonymous dennis said...

If they did still make them like this then we'd be called upon to apologize to the rest of the Anglican Communion if we elected them as a bishop.

1/15/2007 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Woodrum,
Please refer me to one thing that +Duncan has said that is “wrong, immoral, and unjust.” I have followed the man, and the controversy, fairly closely. And have never heard him say, or heard of him saying, anything close to this. Yes, he disagrees with your position and policy on sexual activity, but I have never seen him speak with anger, without great compassion, or in a way that is demeaning to others. Ever. Maybe I missed something, some address, some writing, or some encounter that you know about that I don’t. Of course, if everyone who disagrees with your policy and what it means for the church is worthy of excoriation, well . . .

Again, to what statement(s) do you refer?

1/19/2007 2:29 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

Dear anonymous -

Have you heard about the video that the ACN put out last year? The one that calls us pagans and heretics and apostates? Last I heard was that Bob Duncan is the moderator of the ACN. If that's the case, I might assume that he approved the release of this video. I would certainly call those words demeaning, even if he managed to approve this video with great compassion. I would also call the video unjust and wrong. Maybe not immoral but certainly not at all Christian.

We can all waste a lot of time digging through Mr. Duncan's sermons and statements and come up with the evidence you're asking for. But this is just so obvious that it doesn't make sense to waste anyone's time. We all have work to do in the vineyards that is much more important than rooting out someone's nasty and judgemental language...

1/19/2007 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We all have work to do in the vineyards that is much more important than rooting out someone's nasty and judgemental language... "

Uh, but you were the one who criticized him on the basis of some pronouncements, right? You were the one who took the time off from the vineyard to slander him? One would have thought that something specific led you to say what you said. Trust me, I know the man. It just isn't there.

So I will repeat the charge I made, which is that you have no basis to say about him what you said (and in the ACN video, BTW, +Duncan did not call anyone a pagan.)

1/19/2007 8:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"Anonymous," I invite all our readers to take a PeptoBismol and then watch the "Choose This Day" video posted at, which Bishop Duncan's organization has sponsored and mails to parishes that don't even ask for it. The lies, half-truths, and hate-mongering are there for all to see. If you don't see it, then perhaps you should ask someone to make a poultice of mud and spit and apply it to your eyes. As our Lord did in his day.

1/19/2007 8:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"Anonymous," please look back at the Rev. Woodrum's essay. He did not simply single-out your beloved Bishop Duncan. He said, "Heaven knows Bishops Akinola and Iker and Duncan and their ilk are not shy about making pronouncements that are wrong, immoral, and unjust."

Let us now talk about Akinola. Everyone from the liberal Human Rights Watch to the neo-conservative Bush Regime has denounced Akinola's lobbying as a violation of fundamental human rights. From left, right, and center, they have all labelled his actions as immoral, unjust, wrong, and a fundamental violation of human rights.

If you want to align yourself with such people, you're certainly free to do so. I'm proud to be an Episcopalian, in a church that is standing against such hate.

You, too, can "choose this day" which of these you will serve.

1/19/2007 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa and Woodrum

Woodrum did say those things about +Duncan . . .and others,too. Yes, I am sticking up for +Duncan because they are not, in any way, true charges. Period. And, I still haven't seen one single sentence in support of the claim. Second-hand I have heard things, if true, from Akinola that are not kind. But Duncan? Show me the proof. It just isn't there.

And I am not doing this to be polemical, combative, or to 'align myself' with +Duncan. I just think he has expressed himself kindly, even gently, all the time. If you believe in truth, you should be willing to justify your claims with a quote, at the very least. If you think it is fine to let slander stand, unsupported, well . . . what can one say to that.

1/19/2007 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS And now, Lisa, is throwing about the word hate . . .
whew . . .
amazing . . .
but spiritually kind of dangerous . . .

1/19/2007 9:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'll say it again, "Anonymous." [And by now I'm wondering if you're really Bishop Duncan, afraid to reveal your name or profile]: Go look at the "Choose This Day" video. Then try to tell me he is not saying -- and is not supporting -- those who speak words that are "wrong, immoral, and unjust."

Now, "Anonymous," this is getting us nowhere. Unless you have something new to say, I will be deleting any other comments you want to leave here. You are not advancing the argument. Nor do you engage those of us who have tried to engage you.

1/19/2007 9:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Anonymous said: PS And now, Lisa, is throwing about the word hate . . .
whew . . .
amazing . . .
but spiritually kind of dangerous . . .

That wasn't my word, "Anonymous." That was the word of the Bush administration, the Human Rights Campaign, and every civilized group that has looked at the legislation that your friend Akinola is lobbying for.

But I have grown weary of your anonymous comments, Anonymous.

You fail to advance your cause. I think you need to go home and suckle up to your friends at "Virtue."

This is a troll-free blog.

1/19/2007 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous - if you are still reading - Bp Duncan may not have made those hate-fllled statements in the video but the fact is that he approved showing it and sharing it. You allow him to smile above the fray but he is knee (or higher) deep in the muck.
How about sign your name when you post to blogs?

1/20/2007 12:10 PM  
Blogger tarvid said...

We have let the issue become a matter of particulars - Orthodoxy, authority, personality, interpretation, property, language and logic.

We know this is a matter of the heart and winning hearts is far more difficult than winning arguments.

James Russell Lowell has been charged with heresy for proclaiming "Time makes ancient Truths uncouth". The wisdom of Paul is lost in the ashes, " I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

Only through Universal Love (which many know as Jesus) will we approach the Peace of God.

God be with us all, each and every one.

2/04/2007 8:07 AM  

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