Anne Hodges-Copple is Bishop Suffragan of The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.
I was baptized, confirmed, and married in my hometown Episcopal church. I joined the junior choir at age eight and the EYC as a teen. It wasn’t until my transient young adult years that I began to appreciate how being an Episcopalian made me part of something bigger: part of the larger household of God connected by the Book of Common Prayer. From Dallas to Durham and Boston to Berkeley, I could also always find a worship home away from home.
Not only did I find liturgical embassies of the Kingdom of Heaven everywhere I moved, but I also discovered a vast expanse of Episcopal community engagement that radically broadened my horizon for seeing the Gospel at work in the world. In 1981, I attended the opening of The Parsonage in the Castro area of San Francisco, an outreach ministry of the Diocese of California to the LGBT community. More recently, I joined a group of Episcopalians and friends as we crossed from Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Mexico to break bread with asylum-seekers camping along the Rio Grande. At times, our bonds of affection feel strained to the point of breaking, yet we continue to find that the Way of Love is stronger than all else.
As a bishop, I have opportunities to travel around our own province of The Episcopal Church and even across the world. More than ever, I have a visceral sense of being the Body of Christ. Some are the hands and some the feet and some are the circulatory system, moving around the Body receiving blessings in one place and taking those same blessings to be multiplied in other places. We are a Church on the move – the Jesus Movement – exchanging ideas, sharing resources, refreshing and being refreshed by the rest of the Body. The Church’s Annual Appeal is one of the ways of getting those resources where they are most needed.
My personal theology of giving pretty simple: Look for ways to give away as much as you can! Giving is investing in the well-being of others. That’s not to say that I’m imprudent and don’t take care of my needs and my family’s. I haven’t taken a vow of poverty, but I believe that you multiply your blessings not by holding on to them, but by sharing them. When I find myself blessed with a gift, the first thing I ask myself is, How can I turn around and share it with someone else? Giving for me is life-giving – it truly gives me life, as I hope my gifts are blessings for the lives of others. After all, anything and everything I have is by the grace of God. That is the first and only gift that really matters.