Clergy and parishioners throughout the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina are having their say about the Anglican Communion and asking questions about issues surrounding the Primates' Dar es Salaam communiqué.
Bishop Michael Curry and assistant bishops William Gregg and Chip Marble mediated three regional congregational meetings, the first of which was held in Greensboro on September 10 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Greensboro. About 150 members from parishes throughout the Greensboro-Winston Salem region attended the session at All Saints'.
"We're involved in a process to help the Communion move forward," Curry told the group. "We [the bishops] will take the information you've given us in these meetings and use it to help determine how we as a communion can live together with profound differences and search for some creative solutions when we convene at the House of Bishops later this month."
That meeting begins September 20 in New Orleans.
Prior to the congregational meetings, the bishops met with clergy in a similar meeting on September 8.
During the "conversations" sessions, parishioners were asked to express their desires for outcomes of the House of Bishops meeting, and they were asked to discuss their personal and collective visions for the Episcopal Church, particularly as it reviews policies and practices such as those regarding same-gender unions and the election and consecration of bishops in such partnerships.
"I would like to see reconciliation and unity amongst the bishops of the … Episcopal Church," said attendee Tonda Osteen of Church of the Holy Spirit, Greensboro.
Susan Thompson of Saint Francis, Greensboro said: "Let's look more at what we have in common [with the Anglican Communion] as opposed to what divides us. Even though there are basic differences of opinions, we can respect each other's views and how they play out in our lives together."
Those who attended also encouraged the North Carolina bishops to stand scripturally by their convictions when they represent the diocese at the House of Bishops and work to maintain unity and growth within the church and the Anglican Communion.
"This has been wonderful," said Eunice Jones-Obeng, a member of the Church of the Redeemer in Greensboro. "These conversations give the people an opportunity to express their personal opinions. It is therapeutic and gives us a forum to vent our feelings without being intimidated."
Meetings were also being held in Charlotte on September 11 at Trinity School and in Raleigh on September 18 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.