Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Statement From the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

A Statement From the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:17 pm

The Spring Meeting of the House of Bishops has been filled with a readiness, an eagerness, to further the mission which God has entrusted to us, to proclaim the gospel in our life and our witness. As we have prayed and met, we have been aware of our relationships within the Anglican Communion and we have debated especially the implications of the communiqué which the primates of the provinces of the Communion released from their February meeting in Dar es Salaam.

On March 20 in our Business Meeting, the bishops of The Episcopal Church passed three resolutions which address the relationship of this Church with the Anglican Communion. We your bishops participated in the preparation of the first and third resolutions listed below, and we both voted to approve all three.

The foundation for all three resolutions is the clear and deep desire of the bishops as chief pastors of the Church to conserve the nature and spirit of the Anglican Communion, and to ensure the integrity of this Church.
The February 2007 Communiqué from the meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Dar es Salaam prescribes a method for international intervention to settle differences within The Episcopal Church. We your bishops in Connecticut believe their scheme would fundamentally change our historic Anglican fellowship. Their prescription for the Communion, and especially what they set forth for The Episcopal Church, would override our Constitutional responsibility for our life and governance. And it would change the Communion into an international church with a supreme council of archbishops who could intervene in and regulate the internal life of individual geographical provinces.

The first resolution of the House asks the Executive Council of our Church to join us in declining to accept the imposition of a “Pastoral Council” comprised mostly of persons outside the Episcopal Church who would oversee an appointed “primatial vicar” who in consultation with our Presiding Bishop would care for dissident dioceses and congregations.

A second resolution asks the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Standing Committee of the Council of Primates to meet with the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church as soon as possible. This resolution was passed unanimously by the bishops.

The third resolution, more lengthy than the other two, is addressed to the members of The Episcopal Church. It describes the situation before us and the theological and ecclesial reasons for our decisions.

A fourth statement, a much fuller report of the meeting, including the many other concerns which we engaged, was adopted in our last session and will be circulated to the Church. We commend this report to every one of our members.

The meeting of the House has been marked by widespread shared concern on all sides for the innovations from the primates. We spent a day listening to and questioning our Church’s two representatives to the international Anglican Covenant Design Committee, and we were newly enlightened by their very different perspectives. Our debate has been thoughtful, measured, respectful.

The attempts of the council of primates to intervene in the struggles and life of The Episcopal Church by demanding either that we agree to repudiate the presence and ministry of gay and lesbian persons in this Church, or, in the alternative by imposing an alternative authority and so settle our conflict essentially by dividing us, has an all too familiar ring for us in Connecticut.

We your bishops believe the time had come for us to stand as Episcopalians, Anglicans, people of Jesus Christ, and to draw a line. To accept the terms set down by the primates would compromise for all time the nature of the Anglican Communion by setting us on a slippery slope, granting permission for others to shape and govern this Church and other provinces as well. Episcopalians embrace a polity which is built on the participation of all the baptized, and we your bishops will resist every attempt to allow authority to be placed in the hands of foreign primates, many of whom have not been chosen by the people they govern.

We want Connecticut to continue and grow as a diocese that respects and welcomes all persons seeking Jesus, with no distinction, as Saint Paul wrote, based on heritage, race, or sex. Nor do we seek to discriminate theologically; we seek to honor and embrace the wide spectrum of Christian belief which exists among us. Further, we know that our ties with Anglicans throughout the world are a sign of Christ’s supremacy over us, and are indispensable for our common mission and spiritual health. Both of us rejoice in our diocesan and parish fellowship and mission work with Anglican partners in Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. We remind the diocese that we have committed ourselves to others in mutual support for mission, and to help fulfill the Millennium Development Goals.

What we see at stake is our Anglican heritage as brothers and sisters in Christ, and our particular mission and ministry which we discern through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Our prayer is that our Anglican Communion will continue to bring Christ to all persons, in all places. Please do pray for Christ’s Church Universal, the Anglican Communion, for The Episcopal Church, and our diocese, that in our day, as in every age, we may seek to be an effective witness of Christ’s love and invitation into new life for the whole world.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry
From the House of Bishops, Camp Allen, Texas


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