Sign-On Letter to Archbishop Robin Eames;This is important, folks. May 11 is not that far away. Please take a moment now and send off an e-mail.
Editor's Note: The following Open Letter to Archbishop Eames, chair of the international "Lambeth Commission" of the Anglican Communion, is being offered to members of the Episcopal Church by the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton and the Rev. Susan Russell on behalf of a coalition of Episcopalians concerned about the deliberations of this international Anglican body. Among other titles, Kaeton serves as president of the board of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company, and Russell serves as president of Integrity USA and executive director of the Claiming the Blessing collaborative. Information about signing on to the letter is provided at the end of the letter.
The Most Rev. Robin Eames
Primate of All Ireland
Chairman, The Lambeth Commission
Dear Archbishop Eames,
We are men and women, lay and ordained, who are faithful members of The Episcopal Church, USA. Many of us are members of the various independent justice organizations of our church, such as the Episcopal Women's Caucus, the Union of Black Episcopalians, the Episcopal Urban Caucus, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the Episcopal Ecological Network, the Episcopal Society for Ministry in Higher Education, the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, the Episcopal Church Publishing Company ( The Witness ), the Every Voice Network, Integrity, Beyond Inclusion, Claiming the Blessing, and The Oasis, among others.
We are writing in an attempt to balance the letters you may be receiving from clergy who are members of the American Anglican Council because we are concerned that their particular perspective is not one that represents the vast majority of people in The Episcopal Church.
Far from being “torn apart,” or needing your assistance “to establish discipline, order and accountability for the Episcopal Church,” because our actions will “prove fatal to the unity of the church,” (from the AAC Clergy Letter) we find ourselves, overall, in remarkably good shape, given the dire forecasts which were being made in the days immediately following General Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Indeed, in March 2004, Integrity USA conducted an online systematic assessment of the recent actions of various diocesan conventions since August 2003. There were 58 completed surveys. Data was provided on 45 of 112 dioceses. The results are enclosed with this letter and can also be viewed at EveryVoice.net . Among the conclusions of the survey:
Diocesan convention support for affiliating with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes is extremely limited. Diocesan convention support for withholding funds from the national Episcopal Church, USA is also very small. Diocesan convention support for authorizing development of a local policy on the blessing of same-sex relationships is inconclusive. Comments from several respondents indicate that this issue may be considered the domain of the diocesan bishop. The outcome of other resolutions indicates that the majority of diocesan conventions support the actions of General Convention and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) issues. In classical Anglican form, many diocesan conventions affirmed a via media that seeks to maintain unity while recognizing diversity. The overall ratio of positive to negative impacts resulting from diocesan convention resolutions is 2.2 to 1.
This is not to deny that there is tension within the Body of Christ in this particular branch of the church. We believe that these tensions, while painful, are to be expected, given the depth of anger and hostility expressed by some of our more conservative brothers and sisters to these admittedly volatile issues of human sexuality. Moreover, our experience teaches us that justice is never achieved without pain or struggle.
You, particularly, Archbishop Eames, will recall these same emotions and tensions were visible and palpable after the ordination of women. Much of the same language and actions employed then are being heard and seen today. It is important to note that the year 2004 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women in The Episcopal Church and the 10th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women in The Church of England. This also means that both The Episcopal Church and The Church of England are “out of communion” with many of our Anglican brothers and sisters who do not support the ordination of women – a good many of whom are also members of the American Anglican Council. This has been so for more than a generation in the USA and now marks a decade in The Church of England, which, we note, still does not allow for the consecration of a woman as bishop.
We are grateful for the hard work of the ministry of reconciliation which is once again being carried out under your leadership and guidance. We trust that you will affirm and uphold the pastoral and more than adequate plan developed by the Bishops of The Episcopal Church to provide Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. Anything less would be antithetical to the unconditional love of God, a detraction from the Way of Christ, and contrary to Anglican polity and practice.
Yours in the Liberating Spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
To Sign-on to this Open Letter please send an email by May 11, 2004 to email@example.com with the following information:
Email Address (required):
You are invited to print out this petition for use in your congregation or Episcopal community. Please note that signatories must provide a form of contact information (email or phone) so that their names may be verified. For an MS Word version of the text, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The file document will be emailed back to you within 48 hours.