Church unity, Moravians celebrated at General Convention eucharist

July 9, 2009

Unity is not about buying the world a Coke and teaching it to sing, said House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson in her July 10 sermon during a General Convention eucharist that celebrated the Episcopal Church's ecumenical relations.

"To me, unity is about the experience of being transformed in community," said Anderson. "Unity is not about getting along, though that would be nice from time to time. It is not about the absence of conflict or the unattainable expectation that we can all believe exactly the same thing, except, of course, in our beloved Jesus Christ."

Anderson chose unity to illustrate the day's eucharistic theme: "Ubuntu: Belonging to Each Other." Ubuntu, the overall theme of the Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention, is a Zulu word that expresses sharing, caring and humanity's harmony with all creation.

In the spirit of unity, Anderson welcomed Bishop Hopeton Clennon, chaplain of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary, who co-presided with Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller.

A resolution to establish full communion with the Northern and Southern Provincial Synods of the Moravian Church in America is under consideration by General Convention, and the Moravian Church was included in the Prayers of the People. Full communion between the Episcopal and Moravian churches is more than a decade in the making.

Clennon is one of several ecumenical and interfaith guests who are invited to attend General Convention to participate, observe and learn about the Episcopal Church and its governance.

By referencing the Gospel lesson (Luke 10:25-28) Anderson reminded those present that by welcoming people from outside the Episcopal community, the community itself gains new perspective.

"Today we celebrate our communion with the Moravian Church and in welcoming them into our midst I wonder if we might practice true Christian unity by ourselves -- how might they change us?" said Anderson. "Will we learn from them their art of communicating their theology through beautiful music and song? Will we learn from them that everything is sacred, that nothing is secular as everything is of God? Maybe one thing they have to teach us is how to sing our lives."

Unity is an active and intentional practice, and practiced over time, has the potential to change and transform individuals and communities, enlarge perspectives and experiences and lead us into closer relationship with God, she said.

Anderson ended her sermon with a quote from Mother Teresa: "If we have not peace that is because we have forgotten that we belong together."