From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Griswold bonds with Gen-Xers at Indianapolis conference
Fri, 28 Jun 2002 12:52:30 -0400
June 28, 2002
Episcopalians: Griswold bonds with Gen-Xers at Indianapolis
by Jan Nunley
(ENS) Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is not a member of
Generation X--in fact, he's officially a card-carrying member of
the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942). But his emphasis on
prayer, his familiarity with Christian mysticism and the
contemplative tradition, and his openness to new points of view
clearly resonate with the generation born 1961-1981.
"Our presiding bishop is soooo cool! Now I know why he's the
presiding bishop," remarked Lori Johnson of San Diego to
"someone who asked me at work" about the GTNG gathering in
Indianapolis June 20-22. "He was great, I was impressed,
pleasantly surprised, and overwhelmed by his comments.
The group's core values are "my passions," said Griswold, who
recalled the group's initial 1998 meeting as one from which he
came away "increased in terms of my understanding of the mystery
of the church."
"My sense was that you have your own passionately held points
of view but in order to hold them you don't want to
disenfranchise someone else," Griswold said. "You are able to
deal with what I call 'multiple realities' in a way that people
of my generation were not shaped."
In an hour-long session restricted to clergy, he fielded
questions on college chaplaincy (he saw "a reawakening" of its
importance), the possibility of "alternative episcopal
oversight" (real, but "not a large issue" across the whole
church), and a shift in sacramental emphasis from baptism to
eucharistic community. Then Griswold, his wife Phoebe, and
communications aide Barbara Braver attended break-out sessions
for more detailed discussions.
The next day, addressing both clergy and laity, Griswold
joked about his own early days in ministry, when he saw himself
as a liturgical "revolutionary, a rebel" looking at the church's
hierarchy from its edges. He warned of "a kind of institutional
idolatry--and it could be an idolatry not only of the past but
of some exciting future."
"All of us have our fundamentalisms, and you don't know it
until finally your fundamentalism has been pushed too far and
you say 'wait a minute--I can put up with this, this, and this,
but this is just too far!' " he said, to knowing laughter.
He also lamented the "cynicism and despair" Gen-X clergy had
reported to him among older clergy to whom they looked for
mentors. "How often clergy proffer the Eucharist to others and
never receive it themselves in any sort of deliberate way,"
Griswold noted. That stemmed from having "no deep place" in
Christ. He urged Gen-Xers to stay "rooted and grounded" in
prayer--not "anxious, desperate pleas to God, but prayer as a
way of finding an interior freedom and a kind of perspective
that allows you to appreciate but also to sit loose to some of
the realities of the institution."
"You pray. You pray deeply," he observed. "The capacity to
make room for difference and otherness has to do with your own
groundedness. You don't depend on the institution as the source
of all meaning; you know there's a larger frame of reference we
call 'life in Christ.'"
Calling the next generation "an incredible gift," Griswold
urged them to guide their elders in the practice of a "graced
pluralism." Some of the culture wars that are going on in the
church "are not life-producing," he said. "Some of the clashes
of absolutes, and the incapacity to see that there might be
virtue and value and authenticity in someone who disagrees with
you is not a difficulty you haveand so you could help us to
engage in that enlargement of consciousness that I deeply
believe is of the Spirit."
--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News
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