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January 20, 2019: Canvass Reflections Part 3, Politics and Justice

by Father Jadon


Last week I shared with you a range of opinions collected from the parish canvass about sermons and preaching.  One cluster of comments had to do with a desire by some here for more attention to current events and social justice. On the other hand, some here want our sermons, prayers, etc. to “rise above” current issues so as to avoid any possible political overtone and continue a long-standing tradition of All Souls being a “haven from political nastiness.”

But this issue is confined neither to the matter of preaching and prayers nor to the political fray in which some at All Souls work directly and many others are involved, connected, or passionate.  Several comments from the canvass lamented a perceived “disturbing unwillingness to address injustice,”that is “at odds with both our current presiding bishop and diocesan bishop” who are encouraging the church to engage the issues of the day, as Jesus did. Others wondered why our parish seems so disinterested, as a whole, in serving the needs and injustices of the world, feeling that our increased efforts to do so in the last few years have still been undersubscribed and/or paltry. One of you wondered how All Souls came to embrace Anglo-catholic liturgical practices without the active concern for the poor and needy at the heart of the historic Anglo-catholic movement, and others wanted to know where the phrase “Traditional Worship, Progressive Thinking” came from and whether it was descriptive, aspirational, or neither.

Several decades ago All Souls was on the verge of closing. As the city and neighborhood changed, the faithful remnant here essentially pulled up the drawbridge and hunkered down. All Souls came back to life during the tenure of its 6th rector, John David Van Dooren, who, as the first openly gay and partnered priest in this diocese and region, made All Souls a place of overt welcome to the gay community long before that was the norm in any church community. As I have tried to understand how a church that took such a bold step out front several decades ago could be of such different opinion about justice issues today, I’ve come to realize that that defining welcome of the gay community meant (and still means) different things to different people.  I think for some it was and is (or should be) a “progressive” marker more broadly while, for others, it was/is discreet and specific.

Yet again, the canvass revealed a diversity of opinion among us that has the potential to divide us if we respect it too much or too little.

Last Published: January 18, 2019 8:40 AM
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