October 18, 2004
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
As many of you know, Archbishop Eames and his commission released the Windsor Report this morning. The report is nearly 100 pages, and I’m sure it will be widely discussed in the coming days. I invite each of you to read the report in its entirety, to receive it graciously and prayerfully consider it.
As Archbishop Eames says in the report, “This report is not a judgement. It is part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation.” The report is a recommendation to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He has referred the report to the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative body from across the Anglican Communion to provide consultation and guidance on policy issues. The ACC will meet in February to review the report, and the Primates will receive it next spring.
The report criticizes both the Episcopal Church for the election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, as well as those primates and bishops from outside the United States who have chosen to interfere with the affairs of the Episcopal Church. The report calls for a three-fold moratorium: (1) on the election and consent to the episcopate any clergy living in a same-sex union; (2) on the public blessing of same-sex unions; (3) and on the intervention of bishops into provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own. It also calls upon the Episcopal Church to “express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire.”
Above all, the Windsor Report calls us to unity and to a focus on the mission of the church. Our Presiding Bishop wrote in his letter to the church, “A life of communion is not for the benefit of the church but for the sake of the world … the fundamental reality of the Episcopal Church is the diverse center, in which a common commitment to Jesus Christ and a sense of mission in his name to a broken and hurting world override varying opinion on any number of issues, including homosexuality.”
We are blessed in our diocese to have remained focused on the ministry and mission of the church. I am proud of you, and I am honored to be your bishop. We will continue to move forward together in a spirit of unity. There will be several opportunities for us to discuss the Windsor Report as well as the ongoing dialogue around the Anglican Communion. The first will be a workshop at Diocesan Convention in November. This matter also will be on the agenda for the Bishops, Vestry and Mission Council meeting Feb. 19 at Procter Camp & Conference Center and the Presbyters and Deacons meeting in April.
There have always been disagreements among faithful people, but we must transcend these differences and be a witness to the world of the church moving forward in unity for the sake of God’s kingdom. As the Windsor Report concludes, “The real challenge of the gospel is whether we live deeply enough in the love of Christ, and care sufficiently for our joint work to bring that love to the world, that we will ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph. 4.3).”
It is appropriate that I am writing to you on the feast day of St. Luke, the patron saint of healers and an early missionary in the spread of Christianity.
The collect for today is: “Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, the the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Herbert Thompson, Jr. D.D
Bishop, Southern Ohio