For this month's Readers' Review: "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. The 2014 novel weaves together the stories of a blind French girl and a German orphan during World War II.
A decade of schism in the American Episcopal Church has taken a toll. New polls show the number of Episcopalians in the U.S. has dipped below two million for the first time in modern history. The church is losing conservatives who say it is too secular and accepting of gays and lesbians. Liberals are leaving to find spirituality not based on a centuries-old theology. The first female bishop of the Washington D.C. diocese — one of the nation’s largest and home to the National Cathedral — has a plan. She’s looking for ways to grow the church and bring people together. Diane talks with the Right Reverend Mariann Budde about saving the Episcopal Church.
- Mariann Edgar Budde Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C.
The Right Reverend Mariann Budde was consecrated as Bishop of the Washington, D.C. Diocese last month in the National Cathedral which is marred by cracks resulting from an earthquake. She sees a metaphor in those cracks within the Cathedral, cracks in the faith whose foundations are crumbling. But she remains resolute in her hope that that can change.
A Significant Nationwide Decline In The Church
Although the Washington Diocese is healthy and large, according to Budde, the Episcopal Church has been experiencing a significant decline nationwide. Budde believes that a lack of investment, as well as a lack of understanding about what people are looking for today in spiritual communities, are just two of many factors contributing to the Church’s erosion. “I think we have failed in addressing those core concerns in a systemic and strategic way – that we have become an institution focused on our own survival,” Budde said.
The Role Of Women In The Church
When Budde was a child, women weren’t allowed to serve in any of the Church’s leadership bodies, and girls weren’t allowed to be altar servers. But slowly, through democratic processes, Church leadership was convinced that there was no scriptural, theological or other reasons that women shouldn’t be allowed into Church councils or other positions of leadership. The Church’s views on divorce also changed; when Budde was a child, her own parents divorced, and at the time the Church’s views on divorce were as strict as those of the Catholic Church’s. “It wasn’t just the role of women, but social changes in general that the Episcopal Church, through our democratic policies and processes, began to change,” Budde said.
Diversity and Notions of Acceptance
Some congregation members are not entirely comfortable with the changes those democratic policies brought in. A listener wrote that she felt the Episcopalian Church she was born and raised in had turned its back on traditional values because the rector of her church is a lesbian and the American and Episcopal Church flags outside her church have been replaced by a rainbow banner. Budde said the tension between preserving the past and moving forward is never easy, but that the Church has a new understanding of what it means to welcome gay and lesbian members into the congregation. Budde feels that these members should be welcomed in to the Church and know that they have a place in it if they choose.
Traveling The Country
Budde plans to travel around the Diocese “speaking the word” every Sunday to a new congregation around the counties she serves, trying to help strengthen the community. “I miss the peacefulness of an earlier time,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to go back there. I think we’re going to go through this very painful period to another place. And part of that newness will be letting people who want to leave, leave,” Budde said.
You can read the full transcript here.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The Right Reverend Mariann Budde was consecrated as Bishop of the Washington, D.C. Diocese last month in the National Cathedral which is marred by cracks resulting from an earthquake. She became, of course, Washington's first female Bishop. She sees a metaphor in those cracks within the Cathedral, cracks in the faith whose foundations are crumbling.
MS. DIANE REHMBut she remains resolute in her hope that that can change. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde joins me in the studio to talk about her new post and her plans to revive the Episcopal Church. I do invite you to join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Feel free to join us on Facebook or on Twitter. Bishop Budde, it's so good to see you this morning.
BISHOP MARIANN EDGAR BUDDEThank you, it's wonderful to be here.
REHMI have had the pleasure of meeting Mariann Budde previously and I am delighted to first congratulate you and welcome you to Washington.
REHMYou have been in Minneapolis at St. Paul -- at St. Johns for a...
REHM...number of years prior to coming to Washington.
BUDDEThat's right, for 18 years.
REHMLeaving Minneapolis, great city.
BUDDEYes, it is, very good city.
REHMMust have been a difficult choice for you.
BUDDEYes, it was. And it was the easiest choice in the world, to feel the call and to receive the enthusiastic response to ideas of ministry that I've been cultivating and practicing on a congregational level, to have them received and so warmly embraced by a Diocese as strong and diverse as the Diocese of Washington was.
REHM...the choice made to select a Bishop, here in Washington?
BUDDEIt's the same across the church. People of the Diocese, once a Bishop announces his or her resignation, a committee is formed to draft a profile of the Diocese and the key attributes that the Diocese believes the church needs at this time. And that committee is charged with receiving candidates names and producing a slate of five -- up to five or six finalists which are then brought to an electing convention with clergy and lay representatives from all the congregations of the Diocese. And a Bishop must receive 50 percent of both the clergy voting separately and the lay leaders voting separately to have an election.
REHMTell us about the Washington, D.C. Diocese.
BUDDEWell, it's Washington, D.C. plus four counties in Maryland, Montgomery, Prince Georges and then St. Mary's and Charles to the South. So quite diverse both geographically and in terms of the communities in encompasses, diverse rationally, diverse socioeconomically and theologically so a fascinating combination of 88 congregations and then, of course, the National Cathedral.
REHMAnd how would you say that the Washington Diocese is fairing?
BUDDEIf you look at the Washington Diocese from comparing it with its peers across the state of the Episcopal Church, it's one of the healthiest and the largest Diocese in the country. That said, right now as you know, the Episcopal Church has been experiencing, nationwide, a significant decline. And while there are many congregations that are strong and vital in the Washington Diocese, those trends of decline have affected us as well. And so when the profile was presented to me as a candidate, it said quite honestly, that 50 percent of the congregations are in decline. And for a church with a message as vital and as important as ours, that's not acceptable.
BUDDEWhy do you see that decline happening?
BUDDEFor as many reasons as you could point to for systemic decline in any institution. There's never one reason. But I would say, broadly speaking, the combination of the trends that are effecting all religions in the country plus a lack of investment and understanding of what people are looking for in spiritual communities today.
REHMWhat do you think they're looking for?
BUDDEThink they're looking for, first and foremost -- and this is based on my experience as a parish priest by the way, people are looking, first and foremost, for some kind of spiritual grounding and meaning with which they can live their lives, from which they can find solace and strength and a sense of connection to God.
BUDDEThey're looking for a place to bring their deepest concerns. They're looking for places to live out their highest aspirations. They'd like a safe place to raise their children. They're looking for community. And they're looking for, perhaps most elusively of all, a sense of connection to that great mystery that we call God and that Christians believe is made known to us in the presence of Christ.
REHMSo in that search, why do you believe they are falling away from the Episcopal Church?
BUDDEWell, I think we have failed in addressing those core concerns in a systemic and strategic way. That we have become an institution focused on our own survival. And when an institution or faith community focuses on survival, it loses its creativity, it loses its ability to risk, it tends to hunker down and focus on the things that are most important to the people who are still in the institution itself rather than the kind of expansiveness and openness to newness that institutions need to grow and to thrive.
BUDDEThe thing -- the society has been changing so quickly around religious communities and the pace of change has been so fast that it's been really difficult for institutions like religious organizations to keep up and to understand what, of our past, is absolutely essential and precious and must be maintained. And what we can let go of and what we can allow in that will allow communities of faith to be reborn in the neighborhoods and communities and cultures that they find themselves in.
REHMCan you be specific? What is it that the Episcopal Church has to let go of? What is it that it must welcome in?
BUDDEMost of our congregations were built or established at a time when people came to church for a particular spiritual experience that was grounded in a very formal and beautiful worship experience, classical music, lovely liturgies and assumptions about church that basically said, if you come to us and be like us, we will welcome you into our community. Now, we don’t really think that's what we're doing, but I would argue that we have settled on becoming a kind of niche church for a very small section or very small slice of the American population.
BUDDEAnd we've lost touch with the wider society. I would also say that we have atrophied in our basic disciplines of faith. And so even people in the pews have a very -- and generally speaking, have a fairly superficial idea of what it means to be a Christian. And so we have a lot of deepening that needs to happen within our communities itself and creating opportunities for people to come in to learn about the core practices of faith without necessarily having to support everything that our churches need to survive.
REHMWhat about the social aspect of church going, which an awful lot of people go to church for?
BUDDEYou mean the social community aspect?
BUDDEOh, absolutely. And that's absolutely critical. Absolutely critical. What happens in a smaller community, however, and most of congregations remember now are very, very small. The average attendance in an Episcopal congregation is somewhere between 50 and 80 people. And when you have communities that small, they begin to function more like extended families then they do communities of faith.
BUDDEAnd if you've ever tried to break into somebody else's extended family, you realize how hard that is, you don't even realize the signals that you're sending out that say, we're insiders and you're an outsider. And so one of the things we have to learn is how to be a public church again, not simply a community of cohesive people coming together for their community experience but a place where all can be welcomed, all can receive the benefits of Christ presence at our table and in our communal life.
REHMThe Right Reverend Dr. Mariann Budde. She's the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, certainly one of the largest in the nation. She's the first woman installed as Washington's top Bishop. She holds a lifetime appointment. I really did not know that last portion.
BUDDEIsn't that something?
REHMAnd the reason I'm a little confused by it is that I thought there was, in fact, a strict retirement age.
BUDDEThere is. There is actually -- there's a mandatory retirement age at 72. And so when we talk about lifetime appointments, it means that once a Bishop, you are a Bishop forever according to the ordinations of the church. However, in terms of overseeing a Diocese, one must retire at the age of 72.
REHMAs did your predecessor, Bishop Chane.
BUDDEYes, so actually he retired much earlier. He's not -- he choose to retire at an earlier age. Bishops can retire sooner than that if they choose. And there are Diocese that have asked their Bishops to retire sooner if the connection isn't working. But there's a distinction in our church. We're very similar to the Roman Catholic Church in this way, our sacramental understanding of ordination. And that it doesn't -- it stays with you.
REHMMariann Budde, she is the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. We're going to take a short break here and then your calls, questions. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. The Right Reverend Mariann Budde is with me. She is the recently consecrated Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. She's the first woman installed as Washington's top Bishop. Here's an email for you, Bishop Budde, from Jonathan who says, "What are the basic differences between the Episcopal Church and other faiths?"
BUDDEThe Episcopal Church is an outpost or an out -- an extension of the Church of England. And the Church of England broke off from the Catholic Church, as did many churches during the Protestant Reformation. And Anglicans settled in this country as did many other settlers during the colonial era. The Episcopal Church broke away from the Church of England during the American Revolution. So that's sort of our connection there. But we are most similar to Catholics in terms of our understanding of God, our understanding of how we worship and our sense of sacramental life.
REHM...and the Trinity.
BUDDE...and the Trinity. Our theological understandings are -- when we broke from Rome we didn't break from their understanding of God as expressed in the Trinity and who Jesus is. What -- the break was predominantly political and that the authority of the church was taken from Rome, first placed in the Church of England under the thrown of the king.
BUDDEAnd in the United States under -- in a more democrat -- we reflect the democratic principles of our own government. In fact, the first Episcopalians were the founders of our nation. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were all Episcopalians and so they formed our government very much like the U.S. government so a democratic church with all the theological and symbolic expressions of worship that you find in the Catholic Church.
REHMAnd what about the Methodists, the Lutherans?
BUDDERight. We have most in common in terms of our understanding of theology on the Protestant spectrum with Lutherans. Lutherans were very similar in their understanding of what they were breaking from Rome and what they were keeping from the Catholic traditions. All the other Protestant traditions are really break offs from other churches. And so the Methodists are our closest kin who left the Episcopal Church because we weren't moving quickly enough to -- sadly speaking to work with the poor and to study the Bible in a way that the Wesley Brothers felt was appropriate for their time.
BUDDEI consider the loss of the Methodists one of our greatest -- saddest chapters in the Episcopal Church. The Protestant perspective is -- we hand on to -- or we consider ourselves the church of the middle way. We share a lot of tendencies towards Biblical studies and democratic understandings of faith and personal experience that you would find in any Protestant Church. And yet we maintain the sacramental sense of mystery and power and formality of worship that you would experience in a Catholic Church. So we're kind of right in the middle of those two.
REHMLet me ask you about the position and acceptance of the role of women in that whole spectrum.
BUDDESure. Well, that's -- it's a perfect, I think, case study for it. When I was a child, women my mother's age would not have been allowed to serve in any of the leadership bodies of the Church and girls could not serve on the altar, so very consistent with the culture and other religious groups of that time.
BUDDEAnd then slowly through democratic processes those decisions were changed. And so it was on the level of conventions and councils that through good lobbying and efforts and a little bit of civil disobedience, women and their male counterparts who decided that there was absolutely no scriptural, theological or any other reason that women shouldn't be allowed into the councils of the Church were gradually over time allowed to do so.
REHMAnd that certainly separated the Episcopal Church even further from the Roman Catholic.
BUDDE...from the Roman Catholic Church. And that's where our political decision making became most starkly apparent. Now, at the same time I need to say, we changed our views on divorce. Our views on divorce used to be as strict as that of the Catholic Church when my parents divorced when I was a child. And now we are much more liberal in our understanding of divorce. And so it wasn't just the role of women, but social changes in general that the Episcopal Church through our democratic policies and processes began to change.
REHMI see an email from Kevin asks me to tell listeners where I worship. And (unintelligible) ...
REHM...within the Episcopal Church and most recently at the wonderful Washington National Cathedral. Tell us about the state of the Cathedral.
BUDDEI love the Cathedral. I love its mission and its vision that was clarified most succinctly and dramatically in a strategic vision that the Cathedral set forth, not in response to this most current crisis, but the one that preceded it which was the tremendous economic downturn of the years 2007, '08 and '09 which required a tremendous amount of soul searching on the part of the Cathedral and its core mission and purpose.
BUDDEIt's called to be a spiritual home for the nation. It's called to be a place of inspiration and gathering. It's called to be a center of religious exploration and interfaith dialogue. It's called to be a site of pilgrimage for people from around the world.
REHMAnd it is suffering.
BUDDEAnd it's suffering from all of the forces that are sweeping across this country and an earthquake that affected it in the summer. Now, there have been other cathedrals affected by earthquakes in our church. The earthquake in Haiti destroyed the cathedral there. There was an earthquake in New Zealand that destroyed a cathedral there. We are very grateful that there was no loss of life when the earthquake struck and that our cathedral is still standing.
BUDDEThere are structural damages that need to be repaired and we have it now completely safe for human entry. And now we're looking at a strategic plan to buttress the Cathedral, but more important position it so that it can fulfill its mission in the Church and the world.
REHMAnd here is another email from Bill who says, "What role do you see for the Washington Cathedral in furthering the ministry of the Diocese? And how do you reconcile the enormous cost of maintaining this magnificent facility when many parishes within your Diocese are struggling to stay alive financially?"
BUDDEIt's a very good question. The Cathedral is the cathedral for the Diocese. It is also the cathedral for the country and for the Protestant Episcopal Church, which both -- which spans both this country and many other countries besides. And so there's a stewardship issue for me that we have been entrusted with this extraordinary gift that has been built over a century's worth of hard effort from around the country.
BUDDEThere wasn't one -- there was no -- the creation of this cathedral is a miracle. And the sustaining of it is the stewardship responsibility of our time. Regarding the renewal of the congregations across the Diocese you have my absolute commitment as Bishop that that is my top priority. The Cathedral has a base of ministry and a scope of ministry that is national in scope. My predominant ministry will be for the renewal and the revitalization of the congregations of this Diocese.
REHMIt's interesting that in the past few years under the leadership of the former Dean Sam Lloyd, the Cathedral created within it a kind of parish within the Cathedral.
REHMDo you intend to continue that or how do you -- if you intend to continue that how does that perhaps work against the strengthening of the other parishes within the Diocese?
BUDDEI don't see that as a contrast in priority or strength. Personally I think that a congregation has always existed at the Cathedral. There have always been people for whom that was their primary place of worship. And what Sam Lloyd did was to acknowledge that fact and to deepen and to allow people to have as their spiritual home this extraordinary holy place.
BUDDEThe other thing that he did was to create at the center of the Cathedral this vital Christian community and to give them a ministry of hospitality and community at the heart of that core. My sense is that -- I'm a believer that when you strengthen -- that you strengthen -- what's the -- you strengthen the Cathedral it can support other congregations.
BUDDEFor example, when young people are drawn to a place like the Cathedral for worship and they find that all that they're looking for in a community of young people gathered at the Cathedral, chances are when those young people marry and settle and want a family they're going to look for a congregation that can provide them ministries that are broader and more parish-based.
BUDDEAnd so the actual opposite is true that the stronger the Cathedral is the more likely it is that the congregations will benefit.
REHMAnd here's another issue raised by a listener who says, "I was born and bred as Episcopalian, but the church I loved has turned its back on my traditional values."
REHM"The rector of my church in Grand Rapids, Mich. who performed my daughter's marriage is a lesbian. Gone from the front of my church is the American and Episcopal Church flags replaced by a rainbow banner. My church has abandoned me and values I learned growing up. That is certainly one of the true fishers within the Episcopal Church that perhaps is represented by those cracks we've seen at the Cathedral."
BUDDEAbsolutely. First of all, I feel the deep anguish expressed in that email there and I send my heartfelt prayers to the woman who wrote. The tension between preserving the past and moving forward is never an easy one for Christians of any time and place. And it is true that the Episcopal Church has discerned over the past 40 years a new understanding of what it means to be a gay and lesbian person and what God would have us do in regards to welcoming those. Not from another place, Diane, but those from our own communities who have acknowledged their sexual orientation and are asking us as communities of faith if they have a place in our Church.
BUDDEAs someone said to me once, we -- if we're not going to welcome gays and lesbians, we have to stop baptizing them. And that's what -- I mean, it's that key -- I mean, children who are born and raised in our Church who discern their sexual orientation as gay or lesbian want to know if the Church is for them.
BUDDENow regarding the traditional -- the letting go of things like flags and of ancient practices, I'm kind of a middle-of-the-road person there. I'm hoping we can preserve the best of our past as we embrace the future and that we can have communities of various theological and liturgical priorities or preferences coexist alongside each other. We're big enough that we can do more.
REHMThe Right Reverend Mariann Budde and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." As you mentioned early on, the Episcopal Church certainly have at its founding here in this country George Washington, Thomas Jefferson. As I look around the Cathedral I see few minorities.
REHMI see few Latinos. And I know you, who speak Spanish...
REHM...are reaching out.
BUDDEYes. And the Diocese of Washington is reaching out. We have an extraordinary growth of Spanish-speaking congregations in the Diocese that recently established in the last 20 years from -- and from representation all across the Spanish-speaking world in those congregations. We also have congregations that are historically African American and also now increasingly filled with people coming from African and Caribbean countries. So that diversity is there.
BUDDEIt is not reflected in the life of the National Cathedral. And that is something that I would like to explore with the leaders of the Cathedral most -- maybe using the lens of the city. How much of -- how engaged are we as the Cathedral in the life of Washington D.C.? And perhaps that can be a way for us to build bridges and to increase our commitment and visibility and sense of welcome to various races and peoples of the District.
REHMAnd do you feel you have begun to work in that area?
BUDDEI'm doing my very best. It's -- what I'm doing now is building relationships with the people that are my core constituencies, which are the congregations and the leaders of the Episcopal Church. And discerning with them where God is calling us to serve. And so that's my first big -- I would say my first six months to a year is just building relationships and clarifying my priorities, speaking to the concerns that people have and then looking around for the key places where God is calling all of us. Not just me as Bishop but all of us as Episcopalians to be present, to be public, to be working for the gospel-based values that Jesus put before us.
REHMHow early in your life did you feel that calling?
BUDDEI was in my late teens and early 20's when I sensed, first of all, a deep love of God and an urgency -- and God's love for me, which perhaps was the more revelatory experience. And a deep sense of urgency to want to do something with my life that would make a difference somehow. And then thrashing around a bit trying to discern where that would be at a time when the Episcopal Church wasn't wildly enthusiastic, not only about women but of young people. And so it took a bit of courage for me to knock on that door.
BUDDEI spent some time first working with the Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz. and spending a lot of time with radical Catholics who are my greatest inspiration, the Catholic Worker Movement and missionaries in Central America. And yet all through it all this love for my own church and a sense of call to it brought me to the ordination process when I was 24.
REHMI think people have a hard time with that notion of a calling to the priesthood or a calling to -- from God.
BUDDEDo you? I would hope that all of us would feel some sense of call to the core values -- or the core purposes of our life. I think that's a God-given gift to all of us, a sense that we're here not by accident, "that we're not accidents among other accidents," to quote a favorite poet of mine, but that we're here for a reason, every one of us. And that we all have good to do in our life and ways of not only making the world a better place but for living with deep joy and a sense of purpose and resilience in times of trial and struggle. And that God calls us to that and that we can all rise to it.
REHMAnd I think we should point out that in addition to her work as the Bishop at the Washington Diocese, the Right Reverent Mariann Budde is also a married woman with two grown children. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, we'll open the phones. I look forward to hearing from you.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones to hear your comments, your questions for the Right Reverend Mariann Budde. She is the brand-new Bishop of the Washington Episcopal Diocese and the first woman elected to that position. Let's go to Flora in Cleveland, Ohio. Good morning to you.
FLORAGood morning. I'm a Cradle Episcopalian and the schism in the church has torn my spiritual life asunder. In my small neighborhood, the local church was taken over by the dissenting group and it finally became a court case, a very unhappy court case. I attended some of their meetings just really to learn what they were all about. And I asked -- when they had taken the sign down and it said Episcopal Church and put up Anglican, I particularly wanted to know do they consider themselves Anglicans. And the answer was yes. And from what I know, the Anglican Church in England, in British places is the equivalent of the Episcopal Church.
FLORAAnd from the questions and answers within the group, I found that this group more closely resembles a fundamentalist group. So -- and I do also want to add I miss and long for the church that I grew up with, the dignity of that church. And, anyway, I'd like to address the questions about Anglicanism to Reverend Budde.
BUDDEThank you for your call. And first let me say that our church is not immune nor is any church to the culture wars that our country has experienced in the last couple of decades. And the rise of religious fundamentalism, that is not something that is restricted to one branch of religion or of Christianity. And so all of the tensions that you see and the cultures that you see in the world are reflected in our congregations, and sadly sometimes of the same means of coming at each other with spiritual weapons and polarities that would just break your heart.
BUDDEThe question about Anglicanism is a fascinating one. We are, in fact, the Anglican branch of the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion which is this worldwide communion of churches that had their origin in the Church of England. And you're absolutely right that that makes us the Anglican -- the expression of Anglicanism in this part of the world.
BUDDEBut there has been a lot of globalization of the tensions of our church because many branches of the Anglican Communion would share a very literalist interpretation of scripture and a deep understanding of -- or deep isn't the right word, the strict view of authority, rested in the authorities of the bishop of the church. And those forces, those influences have affected and impacted the discussions and the way things have gone in our denomination here.
BUDDEI miss too the peacefulness of an earlier time. I don't think we're gonna go back there. I think we're gonna go through this very painful period to another place. And part of that newness will be letting people who want to leave, leave. But not letting as they leave, letting them take with them the things that are the fruits of the Episcopal Church as its been lived and faithfully served throughout the generations. And that's where it starts to get kinda sticky when we're actually fighting over things that have to do with legacy and heritage and the ability to be our church in the way that we believe is true to our heritage.
REHMAnd indeed arguments about property.
BUDDEIt's a big deal. It's a big deal.
REHMBig deal. And here in the Washington Diocese -- well, not I guess in the Washington Diocese is the Truro Episcopal Church.
BUDDEYeah, that's the Diocese of Virginia.
REHMThat's what I thought, of Fairfax, Va. Talk about what's happened there.
BUDDEWell, I'm not exactly sure what's happened there, but my guess is that they've left the -- my understanding is that they've left the Diocese of Virginia and have assumed -- have put themselves unto the authority of a different branch of the Anglican Communion, which is typical of many of the breakaway churches. Apart from that I'm not sure what else I would say, except that as a result because they were such a large and influential church, they had a -- they're leaving had a tremendous impact and the Diocese was insistent on claiming their rights to maintain the Episcopal identity as it was lived in their property.
REHMAnd, again, the property.
REHMWhat about within the Washington Diocese, are there similar breakaway parishes?
BUDDEOh, you're catching me at my newness, Diane. I'm not 100 percent sure if there were any that broke away. Right as I was coming, there was a church that went over to the Roman Catholic Church. You may have heard about that, but a small church in Bladensburg. But it was a very peaceful and cordial negotiation. It's actually what I loved most about it between Bishop John Chane and Cardinal Wuerl to make it possible for a church that really felt a call to another place to go to another denomination.
BUDDESimilarly John Chane has worked very hard to maintain relationship and open communication with congregations that may well would have left if they didn't believe that there wasn't a place for them in the Episcopal Church as theological and biblical -- more on the conservative end of that spectrum. And so we have churches that are still within our Diocese and who are glad to meet with me, but who nonetheless maintain a very different view of scripture and authority that -- or the place of gays and lesbian, for example, than I would.
REHMTo San Antonio, Texas. Good morning, Clifton.
REHMHi, go right ahead.
CLIFTONThank you. I just wanted to say that with the amount of fundamentalism that we have in all the churches and I know that the spiritual connection to God is so important to so many people and we need a place so we can take our children, my son, that is going to give them that connection without also the anti-homosexual messages and the -- we need women's equality messages given to them as well. And, you know, other people may be leaving the church over it and I think it's very important that the church is evolving in this way and it needs to continue to do so.
BUDDEThank you. And I would say we need to go deeper with it. There is a tremendous richness in our scriptural tradition that I would be so bold to say that Liberal Episcopalians don't know very much about, and that we could really become more confident and more grounded in our spiritual understandings of what God -- how God speaks through us through scripture, and how we can understand and draw inspiration from ancient texts written at a time and a place so different from our own, and yet have that amazing power to give us a connection to God.
BUDDEAnd so I came to my expansive understanding of where -- of inclusion through scripture, not over against scripture, and I think that's really important for us to reclaim on our side of the spiritual dialogue.
REHMAnd here's an email from Hunter, who says, "What is the Episcopal Church's stance on the authority of scripture? And how do you apply First Timothy verses 2 to 212?"
BUDDEFirst Timothy 2 through 212. Does anybody have a bible? I suspect that has to do with the authority of women or women speaking in church, but maybe someone can look that up for us. But let me tell you first about the authority of scripture in the Episcopal Church. We see the Episcopal Church's authority -- we review the bible's authority in light of reason, tradition and scripture. We see God speaking to us through three different means of discernment, if you will.
BUDDEWe take the scriptures and we read them and interpret them through what the tradition has taught us and what our own experiences and understanding us. And so we use our brains and we use our hearts when we interpret scripture. And we also -- and this is perhaps most important. We interpret scripture in community and we understand that interpretations change over time as we change.
REHMAnd here is First Timothy, "I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly." I wonder why he's listening to this program.
BUDDEI wonder why -- well, and I wonder why I blocked that passage out. But the -- obviously I don't take one line of scripture as my authority on anything. I take the whole of scripture. And so if I thought that that was God speaking to me, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. But obviously I don't.
REHMAnd that was by the way from the "New Living Translation 2007." To Burlington, N.C. Good morning, Francois.
FRANCOISGood morning, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
REHMYou're most welcome.
FRANCOIS(unintelligible) I just wanted to speak to what the bishop said about the reasons that churches or denominations, in fact, they are losing their followers. And I don't know. Maybe I missed this. She mentioned wonderful point to (unintelligible) being deepest concern people have looking for a safe place to raise their children and so forth. I want to add one more thing, that the church is not providing the moral ground in many regard. This may not concern the Episcopal Church, but when you see how the Catholic Church, for instance, had kept the secret all the children that had been abused, the issue whether it here in the U.S. or overseas.
FRANCOISI will add also the fact that the church leaders sometimes side with the powerful and the rich and neglect exactly the poor, those who are oppressed. They don't even fight for their welfare. I'm thinking, for instance, of (unintelligible) right now that have taken place and the church kept quiet, even though they have sent exactly their own observers who have seen exactly the real result, but they kept secret those result, didn't come forward to speak up. But the truth is what exactly in my opinion made people lose faith in a church.
BUDDEThank you for your observations. And I can only agree with you that when as leaders of religious institutions we fail to be people of courage and strong moral grounding, when we fail to put ourselves and the resources and the strength of our institutions on the side of justice, when we won't work with people who are suffering, the rest of the world rightfully looks at us and says that there is nothing of God in that place. And so I could not agree with you more. I stand personally convicted by those words as I think all of us do when we try to discern where God would have us be and where God would have us serve and how do we live as people of faith in such a broken, struggling world.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Bishop Budde, many of our past cathedral deans and bishops have played a political role in this city. How do you see that for yourself?
BUDDEI think that the Episcopal Church is political and prophetic and public voice is critical in our time. And I will do everything I can to support it. My strategy will be a bit different, however, in that I have come to realize that unless our congregations and our church can turn around and actually grow in numbers an strength, that the effectiveness of our voice in the public arena will continue to diminish, that we have -- I'm more of a community organizer in my understanding of how you affect political change than I am get an -- I don't think we lack for eloquent spokespeople. What we lack for real systemic change. And so my goal is to build up our congregations so that the public life and voice of this community collectively will be stronger.
REHMAnd I think it's important for listeners to know how you will spend most of your Sundays in the coming year.
BUDDEI'll be in a different congregation virtually every Sunday. And so I'll be traveling around the Diocese in all the counties and in every place where the Episcopal Church has a community speaking the word, building up the leaders, doing what I can to help those communities grow stronger.
REHMAnd who will be at the Cathedral in the pulpit?
BUDDEWell, you know, the bishop has never been the primary preacher in the pulpit of the Cathedral, that I'm privileged to be able to preach there on Christmas and Easter and other high occasions, but that belongs to the dean and to the clergy of the Cathedral and guest preachers.
REHMAnd currently there is no dean.
BUDDECurrently there is no dean, but we are very close to calling first an interim dean for the period of a search. We are about to name a search committee and begin a nationwide search for the new dean, God willing, culminating by the summer.
REHMHow are you going to manage home and family and church?
BUDDEYes. Well, my husband and I were just talking about that this morning. First of all, I have an extraordinarily supportive husband and two marvelous grown sons who are cheering me on every step of the way and providing me tremendous consolation and love and laughter. And so I have a great wind at my back. And then I also have an extraordinary staff of people working alongside me at the Diocese and throughout the congregations. People are praying for me every Sunday. And a day doesn't go by when I don't receive the strength and good wishes of the people that I serve.
BUDDEAnd so, Diane, if I thought I was doing this alone, I wouldn't be able to do it. But given that people know that I'm human and that I need to take care of my life as a human being and that I want them to take care of their lives and that God is calling us to a great task, but we're not supposed to kill ourselves in the process.
REHMHow much of your evenings will be taken up?
BUDDEOh, a lot. I would guess if I -- I'll probably be out three or four times a week plus on the weekends, so it's a big commitment of time.
REHMIt's a big commitment of time and a huge commitment of strength and faith...
BUDDEYes, it is.
REHM...on your part...
REHM...that that kind of support will be there for you. You're bound to encounter all kinds of difficulties, but there are people there who so want you and the Washington National Cathedral to be there and to succeed.
REHMI congratulate you once again.
BUDDEThank you, Diane. And thank you to all who have called in.
REHMAnd thank you for being here. The Right Reverend Doctor Mariann Budde, she is the ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C. Thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
Most Recent Shows
Nearly 10,000 U.S. military personnel remain in Afghanistan after combat forces withdrew last year. We explore a meeting between U.S. and Afghan officials this week, prospects for Congressional approval of additional troops and the future of security in the region.
Abraham Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated. As the 150th anniversary of his death approaches, a historian explores how ordinary Americans mourned the loss of the 16th president.
The Supreme Court hears a case about a Texas group's request to use Confederate flag license plates. We look at legal arguments in the free speech challenge and implications for other states.