A Word to the Church

October 17, 2003

I have just returned several hours ago from the meeting of the Primates in London. It was a difficult but very truthful meeting in which our understanding of one another¹s contexts and the burdens each one of us must bear were made abundantly clear. I have ever greater respect and affection for these brothers of mine and for the ministry they carry out, often in the most difficult and seemingly hopeless circumstances.

 

The effects for our Anglican brothers and sisters of our action taken at General Convention giving consent to the ordination and consecration of the bishop coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire were described in very stark terms. Many spoke about ridicule they had received within their provinces and the threat to their ability to proclaim the gospel, particularly in places where other religions are dominant.

 

The statement issuing from our meeting reflects hours of intense conversation and confrontation, always in the spirit of mutual respect. It is too soon to draw out all the implications contained in the statement or to see exactly how its provisions might best be articulated. I will have more to say at a later time.

 

One paragraph of the statement reads as follows: Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.² On this coming Monday I will be meeting with the Pastoral Development Committee of the House of Bishops to begin to consider how best we can honor this concern, building on the already expressed willingness of our bishops to make provision for extended episcopal ministry in particular circumstances.

 

I returned home with a sense of gratitude for all of the members of our church, regardless of our various points of view. I am grateful even for our struggles in which we so openly and honestly engage. I pray they may be a gift. I believe that what has occurred in the Episcopal Church is the work of the Spirit. As difficult as this moment may be, if this is, in fact, a work of the Spirit it will contain some yet to be revealed way in which communion in that same Spirit is made stronger and deeper. This is my hope and my prayer.

 

This brief word to the church comes with my love and my blessings.

 

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

Presiding Bishop and Primate

Tagged in: Primates' Meeting