New Hampshire bishop’s statement on the Primates Meeting

[Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire] In the wake of actions taken by the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting together in Canterbury, England, I invite the Church of New Hampshire to view or read the powerful and inspired words of our Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry. I give God thanks and praise for his wisdom and for his leadership of The Episcopal Church and for his forging of new relationships among new colleagues in this strenuous time.

The decisions of the majority of the Primates do sting. Their chastening hurts because in the bonds of the body of Christ we cherish the relationships they represent throughout the world, and we deeply desire to be partners with them in God’s mission of reconciliation and healing. While there is some question as to the authority of the Primates to levy any kind of sanction on The Episcopal Church—a matter of deep concern to my colleagues who have devoted so much of their lives to our relationships within the Communion—the gravity of their statements cannot be dismissed.

We are called to be faithful to a God who was willing to suffer shame, and even death, to be in solidarity with humanity, and that means all humanity, including our brothers and sisters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.  As disciples of Jesus, we should not be surprised that we will suffer rebuke for pursuing what we have faithfully and assiduously discerned in the Holy Spirit to be right in the extension of welcome to all people.  We experience reproach when we express love for our Muslim neighbors, when we denounce the idolatry of guns, when we bear witness to the end of the death penalty, when we share our church spaces with the homeless. It is fitting that we contemplate the costliness of bearing witness this weekend when we remember the witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his tireless work for racial reconciliation, an end to war, and economic justice.

Though the news from Canterbury exposes wounds within the Body of Christ, the Church is alive and we are very much a part of it. We can draw courage and increased boldness in our witness from two things:  First, from the unanimous sentiment expressed by the Primates to stay in relationship with The Episcopal Church and the choice of those who disagree with our actions at our General Convention this past summer to uphold fully the dignity of our LBGT sisters and brothers to remain around the Altar of Communion.  Second, and more importantly, we can take strength from the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount who urges us to rejoice and be glad, for we share in the blessing of those who have thirsted for justice and righteousness in the generations before us, even when they suffered rebuke.

May we continue to be bold for the Gospel of Jesus in a world so in need to know God’s grace. May we continue to risk all for the healing of the world that God entered in the flesh so that all may come to share the divine life that Jesus Christ promises us.

Yours Gratefully in the Risen Christ,

+Rob

Comments

  1. Ronald Monterosso says:

    The Bishops of the Episcopal Church must reassess –rather than reaffirm– their positions on Resolutions A036 and A054 from the last General Convention in order to seek compromise for the good of the Church. The statements of a number of Episcopal Bishops such as this one regarding the censure communiqué issued by the Anglican Primates understandably reflect deep frustration and resentment at having a higher authority attempt to force contrary views upon them as regards the issue of same-sex marriage. Ironically, however, these statements reflect the same pain and frustration as those issued by the 20 dissenting Bishops at the Convention and statements issued subsequently by Bishops who hold the contrary view with just as much passion and certainty.

    Perhaps now that both sides have experienced firsthand the pain and frustration of being commanded by an unsympathetic majority to go against their deeply held beliefs; the two groups can use this shared suffering to find common ground before this emotional division spirals out of control and destroys the Episcopal Church. This Church does not belong to the Bishops—it belongs to Christ. The Church is not yours to destroy or preserve as you see fit for causes you decide are “worthy” of creating rancor and separation. The duty of our Bishops is to preserve His Church at all costs –including through compromise if necessary.

    No Bishop, and indeed no person of this earth, can say with total certainty that their opinion on this matter is precisely the same as the Word of God. The intensity of your convictions does nothing to change this undeniable fact. If Christ had thought that the rite contemplated by these Resolutions were absolutely necessary to the religious life of His followers, He could have made that clear in His teachings. The plain fact is that he did not do so in any clearly discernible manner. Hence the temporary suspension of these Resolutions while discussions proceed is not, by definition, fatal to the spiritual salvation of any Christian person.

    Upon reflection, it is possible that our Bishops may realize that here is no compelling reason to equate the acceptance of LBGTQ persons into the life of the Church with the content of Resolutions A036 and A054. Any individual (including an LBGTQ individual) who seeks to join any church does so after considering the benefits and shortcomings of that institution as it has stood for 2000 years in light of his or her life. No church is likely to reflect all of the views or to meet all of the needs of any individual—LBGTQ or otherwise. It is not necessarily true that the Church as it has stood for 2000 years must tear itself asunder to accommodate the needs of any person or group. The temporary or even permanent absence of this rite is an important concern, but in the final analysis it is an earthly concern, and not one which our Lord enumerated as critical to the achieving the Kingdom. Hence it is not an issue that is worthy of the destruction or even the permanent division of this Church.

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