Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reality Check

Giles Goddard and Philip Chester, two members of Inclusive Church's Executive Committee, have offered their thoughts regarding their recent visit to the United States. Susan Russell brings us the complete text of their message. Here's part of it:

...We've explained that we came to the USA mainly to listen to the experience of the Episcopal Church and to develop an understanding of its situation, and to help develop communication between it and the Church of England...

...Contrary to popular perception the Episcopal Church is in good heart, and maintaining a significant position in the USA as a church which is both broad and welcoming; which covers a wide churchmanship with big differences of opinion and yet is determined to stay together. Given the sort of coverage the secessionist dioceses and parishes get in the UK, it's a remarkable thing to learn that out of around 7,200 congregations across the country less than 100 have sought to leave. And out of around 110 domestic Dioceses, only 2 are likely to seek to secede. We're talking very small numbers, less than 2%. Many of the other parishes which might previously have wanted to leave are now recognising that to be part of a greater whole is valid and important, and real efforts are being made to develop understanding between those of different positions...

...It's true to say however that there is widespread anger because of the way that the Episcopal Church has been perceived to be treated by the Primates and by senior members of the hierarchy in the UK and around the world. The position of welcoming lesbian and gay people is not some arbitrary piece of rights-based legalism; rather, it's worked out from the profound desire that "the Episcopal Church welcomes you" and is rooted in an understanding of the Gospel and Baptism which seeks to turn no one away.

In that context, the way in which more conservative and often rejectionist clergy and bishops are perceived to have been given the lion's share of attention and support is seen as both unjustified and unfair. Particularly in the light of the fact that there are many services of affirmation of same-sex relationships happening in the Dioceses of London and Southwark yet no one says a word about that...
I think it's a good idea for us to be reminded once in awhile how small the schism really is within TEC. Now if we can just figure out how to get that point across to the press.


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