Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the risen Christ. In a time with many other preoccupations and stressors around us and within us, the past few weeks saw the departure of Bishop Bill Love, retired of Albany, to the ACNA. This was a sad event, not least because he is a person of faith and a personal friend. I am not sure that a canonical post-mortem serves much purpose. But I do believe that now is a fitting moment to articulate anew the particular vision which animates those of us who are members of the Communion Partners, the fellowship of bishops and clergy within the Episcopal Church who hold a more traditional view of Christian marriage. As I offer this concise summary, I hope that you will hold together the different elements, for only then does the vision come into focus.
First of all, we believe that we have a vocation, a calling, within the Episcopal Church, though we are a minority therein. We are full and loyal members of our Church. We have a more traditional reading of Scripture on the nature of marriage, as we seek to maintain friendship with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ. We appreciate our Presiding Bishop’s call for a ‘big tent’ Church within which we find a place. More generally, part of our calling is to support the renewal of theology in our Church, to recall and articulate anew the creedal foundations of our faith, the incarnation, atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus, as they are conveyed to us by the Word of God. We aim to be active in the proclamation of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Across entrenched political animosities, we seek to live out Matthew 25, especially as we have suffered together in this time of pandemic. We want to be deliberate in our witness to the oneness of His Church across all lines of race, class, or background. In both evangelism and social witness we have something to offer to and share with our own denomination, of which these have been the two main emphases.
We all find ourselves in a culture more and more distant from things religious, and thus we come to rediscover the uniqueness, and the ecumenical unity, of our shared life in Christ. We cleave all the more to the worldwide nature of our own Communion, and realize that we must be global Anglicans together, in ‘mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ’ (as the great call to all Anglicans went out a half century ago). We are not alone in this desire, but have long-standing connections which can be of value. Indeed, this global nature of Anglicanism may be found right here within our Diocese, where Sunday by Sunday we also pray in Spanish, Igbo, Dinka, Urdu, Farsi, and other languages as well.
We have all been shaken, and seen our plans go awry, in this hard season. But in this coming time of re-opening we seek a re-opening to what the Holy Spirit in calling us to together. While most of such work goes on in congregations, the raising up, by the grace of God, of young ordinands who are grounded theologically and evangelistically, and the encouraging of global and ecumenical connections are ministries that the Diocese should pursue on behalf of all. Amidst trauma, there will be in this moment an hunger for the Gospel, and offering the bread come down from heaven must, throughout everything, be our main concern.