A Statement on the 2016 Primates Meeting in Canterbury, England
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. A very helpful analysis of the role of the Primates in the Anglican Communion has been written by the Very Rev. Andrew McGowan, Dean of Berkeley Divinity School and the Editor of the Journal of Anglican Studies.
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. We believe that solidarity includes full participation of our brothers and sisters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in the sacraments of the church. 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 can expect 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 even if they strenuously disagree with the actions at our General Convention this past summer to uphold fully the dignity of our LBGT sisters and brothers. 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,