Thursday 20 May 2010

Communion Get-Together

From Bishop Mary Hell Unreal (the original version)

Dear Friends,

Johnny asked me to write you all a lovely letter sharing my perspective on Bishop Ivor Perovem's comments regarding Mary Glasspool's ordination to the episcopate.

You know that Ivor Perovem, Gerry Mpanflush and I from our dioceses have been having something of an Anglican threesome, by which we have been exploring our huge differences on human sexuality, being two men and one woman, in a situation where women cannot be on top in Glossover or indeed England and women don't take part at all except in a lay capacity in their location of their sex ACT, the Anglican Church of Tanganyika.

Now I know people say that we Anglicans are obsessed with sex, and we really ought to move on, but we feel we have to get this right, to move to a more pleasurable situation than the one we are presently within, and for this reason we formed this wholesome threesome where we can ask one another what we really want in our Anglican relationship. It is very important that people in such a togetherness listen to one another and act carefully, getting the vibrations right, first with small moves and then only later thrusting towards hard policy that the whole Communion can accept, if possible, and as a means to prevent divorce.

Gerry Mpanflush has told the two of us vividly about the strains involved in the every day life in Africa for Anglicans and we need to bring relief to this situation. In contrast, I represent the liberal end of what we do, and Ivor is devoted to coming in between us and holding us all together, and it is at this time that I can then tick the boxes about what we have done. And Ivor is one of those who does want women on top, not everywhere, not always - none of us are saying that - but it should be possible including in England where they are always under an imposed ceiling.

Here in El Cominnow, the partnership we have has really helped and there should be a birth, bringing out a new life in a diocese long described as failed, shagged and worn out. We have had to get the moves right: it is one thing to talk about it; it is another to do it! The therapy has been well worth it since 2007.

I notice that Ivor has been very careful in how he has said what he said, and that is just how I know him - for his gentle approaches. We build trust in our relationship. We have tried much that is new, meeting in different places, and we have a broad table that can accommodate so many people.

Of course the experience of GBLT folks is different, and Ivor and Gerry have entered into this matter intensely. But look, it happens everywhere: that before we know it, our appropriation, that unlimited commodity, starts fissuring with all sorts of boundaries and limits as to who is in and who is out. Then we are not stuck and can keep talking about it afterwards as well as before and during. This is what we have achieved when we do this, in El Cominnow.

A man emerged out of the saddle recently and said, "When it comes from all like this, it requires something out of you." It does. The effort may require different things of different people.

Isn't it wonderful what happened over the diocesan border? It was just like at a Christmas party! I knew and know, though, that many did not share in that joy, and that included people in our threesome and in my diocese.

But we can still come to the large table. The three of us have and it is possible. So I consented to Bishop Mary, and she consented to me, and there was Diane too. It is truly fantastic, because there we have another threesome, although we are already quite compatible in a way that we don't have to work at it quite like Gerry, Ivor and me.

People have blogged. Emails have been sent and forwarded. There is a huge Internet traffic on this. Gerry Mpanflush told me that he has gone on the blog himself. There are many counterblogs going about too, and some of them are about Ivor and what caused my decision to stay away, depriving Mary from receiving my hands on her head at this most precious moment in her life. Look, she knows me and there were plenty of hands giving her the attention that the consecration needed.

It was not Ivor - the engine of my decision was me. I did not turn it on, I did not start my motor to go the consecration, I stayed where I was. It was my decision of restraint. I have discussed restraint before with these men, and we agree that it is good from time to time to restrain ourselves for the good of the Communion. Please do not accuse or blame Ivor, or indeed Gerry, as neither of them forced me to do anything, for all I do with them it is always my decision. And in any case, I love Mary and Diane to bits. I have met Mary a number of times - what a beautiful human being she is - and Diane is my sister. We would consecrate each other, again and again, if that is how we could do it. We look forward to years of serving one another together - at least occasionally for lunch!

And do not impose on Ivor what happened and my reasons. I do not impose on him, and neither should anyone else. He has stepped out noticeably, given his situation at home. I don't actually understand the way he has done it, or the way they do things there, but I am sure it is something else we can discover when we are next all together. As one who believes in all orders of things, regardless of gender or orientation, I encourage and support his moves - in that context.

I do hope that our partnership provides an excellent model for the development of relationships across the Anglican Communion. We really have to be less obsessed with sex. Perhaps through this threesome, we are getting there.

Bishop Mary Hell Unreal
El Cominnow


susan s. said...

At it again, I see!

June Butler said...


Priscilla said...

Brilliant! Adrian, you a such a treasure! After reading your translation it all became clear to me (as it usually does): justice, love, peace, and Christian charity are very different in California, England, and Africa. They don’t mean the same thing at all, do they?

But the scriptures (therefore Anglican relationships), I guess, don’t need translation; they are exactly the same everywhere and mean the same thing always. And humans (especially GLBT ones) just muck it all up by wanting to be central to all this religion business. Am I close?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I don't have that view of the Christian scriptures, as if they are the same everywhere. But, simpler, this Anglican bureaucracy obsession is also a sex obsession and that makes the bureaucratic drive all the more overbearing.