A word to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops

September 28, 2004

We the bishops of the Episcopal Church, gathered in Spokane for our regular fall meeting, greet you in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our time together has reminded us of the words spoken at our ordination that our "heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope," and our "joy is to follow him who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

We are deeply grieved by the on-going violence and division in the Middle East, continuing war in Iraq, the Sudan and other troubled places, and we are mindful of the devastating effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters. As well, we are sharply aware of tensions and pain in our church and in the Anglican Communion. During these days we have explored more fully our continuing call as your chief pastors to be ministers of reconciliation, even as we seek and discover reconciliation within ourselves, within our church and across the Communion.

We rejoice in the depth of our conversations and, in spite of the differences among us, we discovered that although we are not of one mind in all things we are profoundly of one heart in our commitment to proclaim Christ's reconciling love to this broken world. We are confident that our household of faith is large enough to embrace us all.

We have been encouraged by stories of health, vitality and strength within the Episcopal Church. We have also heard stories of anger, anguish and division within this church. All are responses of faithful people.

Our perspectives have been enlarged by the presence and witness of bishops from other provinces of the Anglican Communion. These bishops have described some difficult consequences felt in their provinces as a result of our decisions. We are deeply saddened by the pain we have heard so movingly described.

The report of the Lambeth Commission will be released in mid-October. We are committed to a gracious reception of the report in a spirit of humility and to a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion. It is our intention to gather as provincial Houses of Bishops during the autumn and then to meet as a House of Bishops early in the new year to study and appropriate the work of the Commission.

We believe our relationships with others make real and apparent God's reconciling love for all of creation. Our mutual responsibility, interdependence and communion are gifts from God. Therefore, we deeply value and are much enriched by our membership in the Anglican Communion. We also value Anglican comprehensiveness and its capacity to make room for difference.

As the future unfolds differences will continue to challenge us. We believe that the gift of difference is the gift of Christ among us. In wrestling with difference we discover a blessing as Jacob discovered a blessing when he wrestled with God.

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.