I had an opportunity to attend last month a conference put on by the Center for Progressive Christianity. There were a lot of memorable events which took place there, but there is one which sticks in my head. We had a chance to be led in worship by a Buddhist/Christian minister from the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. The service and the music was haunting. That evening, the minister offered to take several us to downtown San Francisco, since many of us including myself had never been to that city. We all voted for the Castro District. So this minister, who was all decked out in robes and prayer beads gave us a tour of the Castro, the gay district of the city and we ended up at Harvey's restaraunt for some good food and conversation. The whole atmosphere of the conference and the city was very liberating.
Anyways, flying back to southern Illinois where I call home, I find in the paper that a gay candidate had been selected to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church and there was quite an uproar. I'm not sure if I have this chronology down, but it all seemed rather quick like because soon there was a gay candidate also in the UK and also a decision by a diocese in British Columbia to allow for same sex unions. While it was heartening to see this movement, the fierce opposition in a sense was a bit startling. A bit of a shock, after being in a context where being gay and being a part of the religious life was so readily accepted.
But then one comes across some more alarming news. The gay candidate in the UK, Dr. Jeffery John who recently resigned from his appointment as the Bishop of Reading, was apparently forced out. Here was a man who was in a 27 year committed relationship. Who was celibate for over a decade! Who was loved and who received a lot of support from the friends and parishoners who knew him best. Now the church will loose his talents because of the campaign against him by the evangelical right. I've included a couple of linked articles on this whole sad affair.