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The Bishop's Letter: 'It Is Time To Face Reality'
The Jamestown Cross [Diocese of Southern VA] ^ | 5/2005 | Bishop David C. Bane, Jr.

Posted on 06/02/2005 12:31:36 PM PDT by sionnsar

Dear Friends in Christ,

One of the dangers of becoming overly focused on our own problems is that we can lose sight of the bigger picture. It is true in our individual lives and it is true in the Church. There is a tendency for us to sit back and watch and wonder and worry without ever becoming personally involved. Whether we like it or not, the Episcopal Church is facing a crisis. It is real and it is serious. We all are aware of the potential for division and splintering that lies before us. We read all kinds of reports in various media about what might happen and who might take action and where we might end up as a Church and as a Communion in the months and years ahead. Too often we slip into the "Ain't it awful" mode while doing nothing ourselves. As is always the case, in the midst of crisis there is opportunity, but only if many more of us are willing to become involved in the hard work of facing the reality of our situation and working toward some kind of healthy resolution. This challenge is not going to go away and it is not going to "fix" itself. If we choose to stand by as observers we can be sure that there are those who will step into the void and take the lead. What is to prevent us in this diocese from becoming such leaders in the Episcopal Church? It is our individual choice whether or not we accept the role Christ has given every one of us to be reconcilers in his name. We simply cannot persist in ignoring this sacred charge without acknowledging that the mission of the Church will continue to suffer greatly. This is not about agreement. It is about finding a way to move the Church back to a focus on mission and ministry outside ourselves. It is not about agreement, but about reconciliation. And it is not about reconciliation because that just "feels good," but because it will enable us to behave as the Body of Christ with all the parts working together to serve God.

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (2 Cor. 5:12-19)

There has been considerable reaction, both positive and negative, to my adding my signature to recent letters to the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury from twenty-one bishops (you can read them on the Episcopal church web pages). It is clear that many of these people have not yet read the letters. While it is impossible in a group letter to agree with every word, I signed because I am convinced that more of us must step up and become involved if we are to insure the future of our beloved Episcopal Church. I did not wait to see who else would sign the letter as that was not determinative for me. I have been absolutely clear that I am not an AAC bishop and have no intention of becoming one. I am not in the "Network" and have no intention of joining. It is simply that I am personally concerned about the future of our Church. These were private and confidential communications and the signatories agreed not to release the letters in public in any way and none of them has commented on the letters before someone released them to the public. They were sent, not "circulated." The letters expressed a desire to work in a straightforward and truthful way toward "the welfare of all members of the Episcopal Church" and to "walk together" with each other and those in the larger Communion. The most important paragraph to me is, "This letter is our request for an immediate and compassionate conversation to provide for the welfare of all members of the Episcopal Church. We ask you to establish a commission comprised of those among us who dissent from and those who support the request of the Windsor Report and the Primates' Communiqué. It is our earnest hope this will enable our Church to make a positive witness to the Gospel by intentionally addressing the question of our ability to walk together with one another and in the wider Communion. Such a Commission would be in the spirit of our Camp Allen Covenant and its commitment to prayerful conversation."

While the signatories certainly have quite different views on our current situation, the primary concern of each one is that "God grant to this Church the wisdom and humility to sustain the mission and ministry we share." The letters clearly praised the Camp Allen experience, as did the Presiding Bishop, as "a generous and gracious attempt to seek common ground." But, it was only one small step.

There has been considerable dialogue about whether or not we face "irreconcilable differences" in our Church and we need to answer that question. If this is, in fact, the case, than we must be about the process of planning our divorce. If this is not the case, and I believe the Cross is powerful enough to reconcile any human differences, then we had better begin doing something to build a new future together. Standing by and watching, or simply criticizing what others do and say, or waiting to see what General Convention 2006 does, is not sufficient to my way of thinking. I was born and raised in the Episcopal Church and I love it, warts and all. I still believe that Christ can lead us to a reconciled place that we cannot now envision, but is it up to us, all of us, to do that hard work. What would it take for more us to stop focusing on what others are doing or not doing and becoming a part of the solution ourselves?

All of this leads me to another concern I have about our faith community. Are we becoming a Church whose members are afraid to speak up out of fear of the reactions of others? I keep hearing people say such things as "let's not let the anxiety get going again," or, "let's make sure that things don't get messy or too volatile." My friends, that is a large part of our problem and we simply must face it. If we continue to avoid the challenges involved in honest and direct communication among ourselves we cannot find reconciliation. The current fascination with email is killing us and once again provides the means to remain one step back from authentic relationships. There is no excuse we Christians can use to justify our refusal to enter into sacrificial and loving relationships with each other. None. Conflict is not bad if we take it on as Christians and use it as the way to build stronger and deeper bonds among us. Again, the purpose is not just to feel good, but to enable us to be the Church. Avoiding this hard work out of fear or discomfort only drives the lack of health down out of sight where it can do even more damage. Do we love Jesus Christ? Do we love one another in his name? We have said "yes" in our baptismal covenant, so what prevents us from living it?

What is it in our lives that we will stand up for as individuals and be willing to take the heat that comes with being different or challenging the status quo? What is there in our lives that is important enough to cause us to speak up clearly and with the love we are called to show one another? Is there any such thing for us? Do we only know how to yell or get angry at those who are different? What will motivate more of us to repent of our habits of talking about each other and begin talking with each other? What will enable us to initiate conversations with those who are "different" to see if Christ can show us how to serve him together in the midst of those differences? Is there anything that will move us from focusing on the sins and shortcomings of others and consider, instead, how we fail our Lord every day? I suggest to you that when we move to such a place we will find ourselves, with God's help, becoming the true Body of Christ. We no longer have the luxury of pretending that all is well or holding onto the hope that someone else will save the day. It is up to every single one of us, and the motivating factor will be the love of God for each of us and our love of God and one another. But maybe this is just too hard for us.

Your brother in Christ,
David C. Bane, Jr.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: aac; ecusa; virginia

1 posted on 06/02/2005 12:31:36 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; Hermann the Cherusker; wagglebee; St. Johann Tetzel; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-7 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 06/02/2005 12:32:03 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Fraud in WA: More votes than voters!)
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To: sionnsar

I of course don't know this man at all, but I do feel badly for him. The bottom line, however, is something which I doubt he and his like will ever understand, their protestations to being a part of The Church to the contrary notwithstanding, and that is this:

"Chrysostomos loudly declares not only heretics, but also those who have communion with them, to be enemies of God." St. Theodore the Studite, Epistle of Abbot Theophilus

3 posted on 06/02/2005 1:04:57 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

Perhaps they have not heard this, as a first step to understanding.

4 posted on 06/02/2005 2:05:41 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Fraud in WA: More votes than voters!)
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To: sionnsar

"Perhaps they have not heard this, as a first step to understanding."

Yes, perhaps. I hear that the "primitive" African hierarchs are far better educated theologically than most of those who have risen to the purple in ECUSA.

5 posted on 06/02/2005 2:26:08 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
It was some thirty years ago that I remember my father remarking that there were only two good (Episcopal) seminaries left in the United States.
6 posted on 06/02/2005 3:14:47 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Fraud in WA: More votes than voters!)
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