This morning we heard presentations from the Primates of Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. In Japan, Christians are less than 1% of the population but the Primate believes they can nonetheless be the light of the world. He attributes the smallness of the Church there, in contrast to Korea where 35% of the population is Christian, to the Church’s complicity with the government’s aggressive policies in the 1930s and 40s. The thrust of Anglican mission in Japan is peacemaking, which begins with repentance. I am struck by the courage of the Church in calling on Japan to repent of its violence in history. What if the Church in the United States did that? I don’t know that I could be so bold. I am struck that living on the edge, as the Church does in Japan, makes them daring, not timid.
In Korea, Christianity has more people, but Archbishop Kim believes that interdenominational strife prevents Christians from being the kind of witness that is needed. The Anglican Church of Korea is the principal Christian voice for the poor and marginalized. The political situation is dicey as tensions between North and South implicate American military power, which casts an unhelpful shadow on our Church there, especially when they try to speak for peace and reconciliation.
It was good to see Archbishop Edward Malecdon of the Episcopal Philippine Church. I have met him several times before. He spoke movingly of the EPC’s struggle to become independent of us, and even more movingly of their advocacy for human rights and justice. Some of our bishops there, including Bishop Wannadag of Nevada’s companion diocese of Santiago, have received death threats for their stands against human rights violations. He also spoke of their aggressive work for community and economic development. When I visited Santiago, I saw that half their diocesan staff are community and economic development workers.
I regret that I cannot tell you much about the afternoon because it was a closed session for candid discussion of three matters: the report of the Task Force on Reimagining the Episcopal Church (restructuring), the task force working on theology and liturgy of marriage, and the search committee for the next Presiding Bishop. I can say that table discussion of restructuring taught me a lot about how TEC works so that I better understand where some of the stumbling happens; the discussion of marriage was personal and deeply heart-felt; and the nominating process for the next PB is moving right along.
Thanks to cyber technology and multi-tasking, I got a little Nevada work done on the side. The UNLV Legal Clinic has a client who is a human trafficking victim who just had a botched, disfiguring implant job. They asked me to help find a doctor who would try to repair the damage without compensation because there are no resources. We have a couple of promising leads thanks to good people in our congregations.
After the day’s work was concluded, I bought myself a Chinese Book of Common Prayer to add to my collection, and then had a glass of wine with the Bishop of Montana as we swapped tales and compared notes on our somewhat different, somewhat similar parts of the Wild Wild West.
One more day to go. I confess, that though this has been inspiring, edifying, and informative, I am ready to be home.
I think you have it exactly right. All data systems change can do is create an environment where collaboration is more likely, but it can never take the place of one-on-one relationships. I believe it's how the church is supposed to work: changing one heart at a time until we change the world.
Sorry — " data systems change" should have been "All that a systems change can do…"
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