Archive for April, 2009

Ecumenical and Interfaith Initiatives

April 23, 2009

At the just-completed meeting of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, I was able to present to the National Concerns Committe and through them to the Council three major ecumenical and interfaith initiatives we will be bringing to General Convention.

The first is a full communion relationship with the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. Similar to the agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, this will allow for more common mission between our churches, exchange of clergy, etc. As always in these matters, we will each receive gifts from the other and take one  more step toward the full visible unity of the Christian Church.

The second initiative is the presentation of a theological statement on interreligious relations. While it may seem obvious that The Episcopal Church should be involved in such discussions, we have never really stated a thoughtful, theological rationale for doing so. The Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations has produced such a document and we hope it will be accepted by Convention.

Finally, there is a modest proposal for joint mission and ministry with the Presbyterian Church in the USA. While our deeply-held convictions about the ordained ministry (and particularly the excercise of “episcope,” the ministry of oversight) are so different that we are not able to find a way forward into full communion at this time, there is yet much we can do together. This proposal seeks to identify what we do have in common and suggest some ways forward in joint mission.    

Hopefully these initiatives will not get lost in the other myriad resolutions and actions which will come before both Houses at Convention. They are the fruit of patient, ongoing work toward the kind of unity for which Christ prayed and new ways to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The Three Days

April 10, 2009

The Passover meal awkward and tense somehow. They didn’t know exactly what was going to happen next and, when they did, didn’t know exactly what to say.  He broke the loaf. “My body.” He poured the wine. “My blood.”

They finished and went out into the night. He tried to pray. They tried to stay awake. And then it all began to happen. Angry voices. Fighting. Arrested. For what?

The hurried “trial.” Mock justice for the poor. They could expect nothing more. Torture. The lash. The “crown.” Blood everywhere. The long, encumbered walk. Through the city. Up the hill.

Hammer. Nails. The scream. Deed done.

And now the hours of waiting. Struggling to breathe. Inching his way up the cross to catch a breath. Pain forcing him down again. Muffled conversations.  Consciousness fading. Darkness.  Death.

Empty silent Sabbath. Confusion. Grief. Despair.

But the next morning. The women came at sunrise. Fearful. But the stone was gone.

So was the body.

He’s been raised…he’s not here!

We have to tell Peter…and the others!

He’s been raised!    

He is alive!

The “Real” Anglican Communion

April 7, 2009

A delightful, if whirlwind, visit to the UK to participate in the consecration of Canon Gregory Cameron as the new Bishop of the Diocese of St. Asaph in the Church of Wales.  I got to know Gregory well over the last decade in meetings of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations which he ably served as Secretary.

Flew into London and was welcomed at St. Andrew’s House, the “new” home of the Anglican Communion offices. Stayed overnight there and joined Bishop John Patteson (President of the Anglican Consultative Council) and Canon Kenneth Kearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion) on a train ride to Cardiff in Wales.

Lunch with Bishop  Christopher Hill,  Bishop of Guildford, involved some great conversations about ecumenical relations in the Church of England. After that we joined some 30 other bishops from around the Communion in laying hands on Gregory after a fine sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury who, of course, is devoted to Gregory.

There were bishops from England, Africa, Scotland, Ireland, three of us from the US, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, representatives from the World Council of Churches, and a packed little cathederal, St. Llandaff’s, full of the faithful. 

Stayed with Norman and Heather Doe Saturday evening. Norman is the canon lawyer who has been instrumental in the Covenant process as well as finding so much commonality between canons in the various Provinces of the Communion. I was welcomed at Palm Sunday services in their parish where Norman plays the organ and Heather (a pediatrician) sings beautifully in the small choir.

We processed around the small park outside the church singing (not boldly but ever so faithfully) “All Glory, Laud and Honor” just as in Anglican churches around the world!  Sunday lunch at the Does’ was a typically British affair with parents, in-laws, and children — there were eleven of us in all!

A mad dash to the train station got be back to London, and Monday morning’s flight back to Chicago.

Just another example of how the “real” Anglican Communion functions…and always will.

That We All May Be One!