Letter to the Parish on the Primates’ Statement 2016
Ahead of the conclusion of the primates gathering in Canterbury, England, a statement was released. This statement lays out a path forward for reconciliation between the Episcopal Church, USA, and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church will be on a sort of probation for three years. Our branch of the Communion, during this time, will no longer be eligible to “represent [the Communion] on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and… while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, [the Episcopal Church] will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity” (paragraph seven).
The reason behind a three-year period is that it gives our General Convention a chance to respond to the offer of reconciliation. The next General Convention will meet in the summer of 2018. I pray that General Convention might receive this olive branch with a humble and contrite heart.
If our recent history is to tell us anything, this overture for communion will be rejected. In truth, communion was broken in 2003 with the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire (Bishop Robinson was the first openly practicing homosexual to be made a bishop in the Communion). In 2003, the Episcopal Church made the decision to walk apart and has reinforced that decision when given the opportunity.
Our bishop, Kee Sloan, has released a statement in response to the primates’ press release (see below). His statement does not represent my position. It must be said that the primates have not placed the Episcopal Church in this position; we have placed ourselves there. We are the cause of disunity, not the rest of the Communion.
I do agree with our bishop that this has very serious implications for our diocese, and thereby the Advent’s place in the life of the Anglican Communion.
I have written our bishop stating clearly our position at the Advent and our need to differentiate ourselves from the decisions and actions of the Episcopal Church. I have called on Bishop Sloan to take a position of leadership in this process. I pray that he leads us in acts of repentance for following unbiblical teaching and causing deep disunity in the Body of Christ. This is what is required for reconciliation to occur in the Anglican Communion.
Please join me in praying for the unity of our Communion, the Episcopal Church, and the Diocese of Alabama. Above all, pray that God’s will be done.
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A Statement from Bishop Sloan on the Primates’ Meeting
To the Clergy of the Diocese of Alabama
January 14, 2016
Dear Friends in Christ,
I’m writing to you about the gathering of Anglican Primates in Canterbury, discussing concerns about the unity of the Anglican Communion in response to the decisions in The Episcopal Church and elsewhere on issues of marriage and sexuality, and the ordination of women to the episcopacy. They have issued a statement, which I am attaching here; I hope you’ll take a minute to read it. I also encourage you to look at the Episcopal News Service coverage of the Primates meeting (found here), which includes several quotes from our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.
I am encouraged that the Primates recognize the differences and divisions in the Anglican Communion and have decided to walk together anyway. The Primates know and feel the frictions and tensions in the Communion as well as or better than anyone else and have declared today that they value the unity of this part of God’s Church.
At the same time, it is discouraging that the Primates have decided that they need to essentially put The Episcopal Church on a sort of probation for three years, as described in the next to last paragraph.
My brothers and sisters, I’m not sure where this is leading. I don’t know how The Episcopal Church will react to the Primates’ statement, or what this will eventually mean for our ongoing participation in the Anglican Communion. I do know that this is potentially very serious for us. I do know that I am grateful to be part of this Diocese, and for the unity that we continue to treasure, even as we continue to hold diverse opinions on controversial matters. And I do know that the Spirit of God continues to be at work in The Episcopal Church and in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, and that our highest calling continues to be to offer ourselves to the love and service of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Click here to read Primates’ Statement
Click here to read Episcopal News Service coverage
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Click here for the statement by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
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Click here for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) response.