Bishop of West Tennessee responds to the Canterbury primates communique

Today we may be in the majority.  Tomorrow, the minority.  Either way, we cannot manage or vote our way into faithful witness.  

With many of you, I have been following with interest the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion that has taken place over the past week in London.  There are a number of observations about the actions taken by the Primates and their implications for The Episcopal Church.  One article I found particularly nuanced was from The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington.  (Click here to read Bp. Budde’s entire letter)

Having used Bishop Budde’s observations to provide a solid overview of the unfolding significance of the Primates and their most recent time of consultation, I would direct your attention to the words of our Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry, who told the Primates at Canterbury in their meeting in London with the Archbishop of Canterbury over the course of the last week, “Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.”

Mindful of the Presiding Bishop’s comments following the vote taken by the Primates last week, (Click here for Presiding Bishop Curry’s comments) I recall an observation of Joan Chittister, well-known Benedictine nun, author and retreat director, on the matter of leadership.  She speaks to this out of her forty plus years of experience in monastic life (of which twelve were spent as a prioress of a Benedictine monastery.)  For me, she captures something of the essence of what our Presiding Bishop challenges us to be about in “our vocation” as Episcopal Christians in these particular times.  Chittister notes “Benedictine spirituality tells us to choose for ideals at every turn, even at those times when management seems more important than vision.”

Ideals drive us forward.  Management, while important for order, often keeps us tied to a past that is no longer what is needed for the times in which we now live.  To “choose for ideals at every turn” reminds me that I am to be driven by that which is “good news for all people.”  OK.  I admit it.  What does it mean to be good news for all … ALL… people?   

We may not always agree on how we go about choosing and living out these ideals, but it is the goal of the good people of God to try and do it in thought, word and deed.  So as we live into the still unfolding implications of the actions taken at the recent Primate’s meeting, I challenge us to continue to pray for each other in order to accomplish the work God has given all to do as followers of Jesus.  Today we may be in the majority.  Tomorrow, the minority.  Either way, we cannot manage or vote our way into faithful witness.  That comes about only as we “choose the ideals at every turn.”  In the end, that is where I believe God is calling us to cast our vote.   

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