Unless you are living under a rock, you have by now heard about the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury and their condemning of the Episcopal Church a couple of weeks ago. We had three very lively conversations after church a couple of weeks ago which gave many of you a chance to ask questions and get some clarity about what it is and what it means.
The trouble with explaining what this actually is requires a lot of backstory, explanation of multiple players, and multiple variances in institutional structure.
It is like walking into a movie halfway through. Only to discover it is The Empire Strikes Back or The Two Towers. You don’t just have all these characters, situations, and plotlines to describe, you have this whole other movie to explain.
There are some really good resources out there to get a better sense of the big picture and all of the nuance within it. A good wrap-up can be found at the House of Deputies News blog entitled “Primates Meet, Confusion Ensues“
And if you’d like my personal take on the situation, I’ve written several summaries.
- Unchristlike – how retaliation stains the Anglican Communion
- Some Further Thoughts on Politics, Primates, and Problems
- Trying to Explain the Nature of the Anglican Communion to Someone Who Should Know Better
But if you are just hoping to know what this actually means for the church, let me say this to you.
As usual, the Episcopal Church is at the front of an important global conversation about three things:
- How to find unity without uniformity
- How to wrestle with differences authentically and honestly
- How to find hope in a culture of fear
For the Episcopal Church is not alone in its wrestling and trying to face its anxieties with honesty and integrity. We just sometimes feel that way.
I assure you that we are not being kicked out of the church. We aren’t being punished.
We are working with our friends in what will amount to a very long reconciliation process; one that will have many bumps along the way; and something to which the Episcopal Church is greatly committed.
Differences of opinion certainly exist (and will remain) but it is not our difference or similarity that matters half as much as our desire to become faithfully committed to revealing Christ to and within our communities.
For St. Stephen’s, this means that our church’s ongoing battles in the Anglican Communion may be seen as a black eye to many who are eager to criticize our work. It may be confusing to talk to our friends about what is really going on. We might not have the words to explain it.
But for me, I believe this is incentive to work harder to find those words, to better understand what our mission is, and why we believe so strongly that our church doors may swing wide to welcome the stranger, to call out to them within you may find mercy, peace, and hope.
May we show mercy, peace, and hope to all we meet. May St. Stephen’s be home to such grace. And may we build each other up to extend such grace to everyone.
Peace and love to you,