If both women are approved by a majority of bishops their elections will signal that the U.S. arm of the Episcopal Church is aggressively moving forward on both gender and gay justice.Ouch. Even given that Monroe is a comabative columnist, we have to admit these are hard questions. And of course, I respond to these from the perspective of a liberal white American, with a European background and a place of privilege in the professional class. I can't change that, though as a woman and a lesbian at that, I do have some experience with marginalization.
But for many Episcopalians of color the issue of racial and diversity justice still hangs in the balance as many of their urban ethnic churches struggle to survive. With nearly one-half of L.A.'s population Latino concerns arose with the election of two white women over Latino candidates.....
The election for bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles was a fiercely close race between Glasspool and the Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez of St. George's in Hawthorne, CA....
The issue of diversity in the governance and election of bishops in the Episcopal Church is of great concern to congregants of color in light of shifting racial and ethnic demographics in big urban cities like L.A.
And with the shifting demographics from white to ethnic groups of color the Episcopal Church, perhaps unintentionally, has chosen to build up one ethnic or minority church over another. And, too often, it feels to many ethnic churches of color that they are always pitted not only among themselves, but also against white queers.
For example, the unresponsiveness to dying black urban churches is emblematic of the Episcopal Church's ineptitude to grapple with the ways that racism and classism choke not only the spiritual life out of a church but its monetary life as well. With the Episcopal Church's urban landscape changing, the denomination has opted to pour its support, money, and energy not into these historic black churches but instead into developing urban Latino churches. The gentrification of the urban church by replacing one minority group with another sets up a paradigm of "divide and conquer" that makes neither group feel welcomed, but both expendable.....
I have my own queries for the Episcopal Church, dubbed by many as the "ruling class at prayer," with respect to its urban churches, including:
- Will the Episcopal Church move as aggressively on race issues as it has on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) issues?
- Can Episcopalians only talk about the welcoming inclusion of its church in the context of women and LGBTQ issues in white face, but can't when the issue is race?
- Does the Episcopal Church's catholicity fall short with people of color because its hegemonic model of being Christian is not only racially white, but it is also theologically and liturgically Anglican?
And the Episcopal Church can't disclaim its background and heritage as an Anglican church with deep roots in England. That's not going to change either. How does the church reach out to other groups? In some places it is having enough trouble with its traditional core group. (There is a tendency in the media, also seen here, to cast the Episcopal Church as representing the wealthy and the powerful; though I think that's largely been usurped by conservative Catholics and C-Street now.) And when language is a barrier, I don't see any way to avoid some inevitable separation. For example our Cathedral has a separate Spanish Eucharist every week. Why is that a bad thing?
At least Monroe acknowledges,
Glasspool is fluent in Spanish, has served in urban cities across the country and is not a single-issue cleric. She told a reporter at the annual convention that the church is ready to go beyond " "superficial characteristics and boxes in which we put people, to really look at individual people and assess the needs of the diocese and pair them with the gifts and skills that Diane and I each bring. In that sense, in all ways, we are moving to a point where we can look beneath the skin color and any single characteristic and really rejoice in the wholeness of every individual person."That's the goal. We would all like to get to the point where the labels are irrelevant and we can be sensitive to, and celebrate the variations of experience we bring to a common community.
So how do we get there?
(Update) BTW, I also think someone should point out to Monroe that the previous suffragen Bishop of LA, Chester Talton, is African American, and the previous Bishop Assistant, Sergio Carranza, is a Latino. So why exactly is it a problem that the women and the GLBT are also represented?