Ordinations in Singapore

January 30, 2000

For all bishops of the Episcopal Church

Dear brothers and sisters:

I have just learned this morning, as perhaps you have as well, that on Saturday in Singapore two primates of the Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of the Province of Rwanda, and the Most Rev. Moses Tay, Archbishop of the Province of South East Asia, along with Bishop Ruchyahana also of Rwanda, and two retired bishops of our Province, Alex Dickson and Fitzsimmons Allison, have ordained two priests of our church, John H. Rodgers and Charles H. Murphy, as bishops. Their press release says that they have "agreed to step forward at this moment of crisis, in an initiative aimed at reversing a 30-year decline of 30 percent in the membership of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A."

I am appalled by this irregular action and even more so by the purported "crisis" that has been largely fomented by them and others, and which bears very little resemblance to the church we actually know, which is alive and well and faithful, as the Zacchaeus report so clearly indicates. A deepening of discipleship among Episcopalians is shown by increased attendance at worship and in stewardship. In actual fact, the report also indicates that it is actions such as the one just taken that confuse and alienate the faithful in the pew, who see structures beyond the congregation as conflictual and focused on concerns unrelated to mission.

It is ironic that this action occurs at a time in which we as a community of bishops have come to a deepened awareness of our unity and of the need to work together for the upbuilding of the church we serve in Christ's name. We are not helped by voices of panic and catastrophic projection, which seek to undermine the careful and patient way we have sought to proceed together in discerning the motions of the Spirit.

To be sure, there are significant disagreements among us regarding human sexuality. We have been seeking to deal with those different points of view in a gracious and respectful way with a view to deepening the unity we share, and honoring the fact that scripture is read and interpreted from different perspectives - all seeking to be faithful to the mind of Christ.

I have every confidence that the action taken in Singapore, as unsettling as it may be, provides an opportunity for us as bishops to take ever more seriously the bond we share as overseers of the household of faith and limbs and members of Christ's Body who - because of our baptism - are never allowed to say I have no need of you.

Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA