The last couple of weeks, indeed the last few months, have been tough for the Diocese of Albany. The last year has been extraordinarily hard for the entire world.
On Tuesday, we were saddened by the news that both of our retired bishops have indicated their decision to leave The Episcopal Church. While the timing of the announcements during Holy Week is difficult, we wish to thank Bishop Dan Herzog and Bishop Bill Love for their ministry to the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. Combined, they represented 24 years of episcopal ministry and almost 80 years of ordained ministry. No matter where we worship our Lord Jesus Christ, or where we minister, we continue our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ engaged in the ministry of the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
A natural reaction to the recent decisions of our retired bishops and a few clergy and laity to leave The Episcopal Church, is to become discouraged. As followers of Jesus, we are not people of despair but ambassadors of hope! As we continue our journey of Holy Week, we would do well to remember how discouraged and grieved Jesus’s mother, disciples, and followers – indeed all of creation – must have felt during those days that Jesus lay in the tomb after giving his life as a ransom for all. For three days the world was without hope and wondered if God had abandoned his creation. Hope emerged, however, when Christ rose from the dead, trampling down death by death. As the firstborn of the new creation, Jesus’s resurrection not only assures us of our future with him but calls us to live now in his victory and hope.
In the book of the prophet Jeremiah, God proclaims to the exiles: “I know the plans I have for you … plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (29:11). Many Christians have found this verse to be a source of great comfort and courage – and rightfully so. God indeed does have a plan for our future. He has not, and will not, abandon us. He assured the exiles then, and assures us now, that when “you … call upon me and come and pray to me … I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord …” (Jer. 29:12-14a).
We are called, perhaps now more than ever, to reach out to God, to be faithful to his call to ministry, and to depend on his provision and guidance. We believe and trust that God truly does continue to have a glorious future in store for the Diocese of Albany. As the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Albany, we strongly believe that, despite any differences that may exist, there is a way forward for the diocese united in the mission that Jesus gave us. We are committed to finding that way forward for the continued propagation of the gospel in northeastern New York.
In this time of transition, may we continue to proclaim the truth of the gospel. May we remind the world of the grace offered by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. May we share the hope of the resurrection. May we continue to do the work of the church.
We hold fast to the hope that is in Jesus alone. We invite you to do so as well. “May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). It may only be Wednesday in Holy Week, but we look ahead to the hope of Easter: Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
In the peace and hope of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany