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ACNS3534 Unity and purity at the heart of our community; Crowds
"Anglican Communion News Service" <email@example.com>
Sun, 3 Aug 2003 19:38:43 +0100
ACNS 3534 | USA | 3 AUGUST 2003
Unity and purity at the heart of our community; Crowds attend General
by Matthew Davies
Several thousand people gathered together for the Sunday Eucharist at
the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA), on the
day that media attention is focussing on the vote in the House of
Deputies concerning the election of Canon Gene Robinson as
Bishop-coadjutor of the diocese of New Hampshire. The liturgy was marked
by a massed choir, orchestra, bell ringers and the gathering of the
United Thank Offering from throughout the many dioceses.
Preaching at the Eucharist, the Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon,
Archbishop of Kaduna diocese in Nigeria , brought greetings from the
Anglican Church of Nigeria and thanked ECUSA Primate, Presiding Bishop
Frank T. Griswold, for the invitation to speak at this gathering for
"your beautiful church". Having served on the post-Lambeth consultation
on human sexuality, the Archbishop also thanked Bishop Griswold for
helping him to understand American culture. "When America sneezes the
rest of the world catches a cold," he said. "Our family takes the
Episcopal Church very seriously but we ask that you don't sneeze too
much because when you do, we all catch a very bad cold."
Using St Paul's letter to the Ephesians as a basis for his sermon,
Archbishop Josiah said that Paul subscribes to the new life that God
gives us. "These are what I call 'the new standards' of what God expects
from us," he said. "We are the people of God, we are the new people."
Talking of unity and purity as being the two fundamental features of
what is worthy of our community, Archbishop Josiah said that a community
belonging to God must manifest that purity. He said that Ephesians gives
a summary of Paul's message, "You must no longer walk as the gentiles
walk." (Eph 4:17) "Your new status as people of God involves standards,"
the Archbishop said. "He [God] lays down the practical outworking of how
we must be different."
The Archbishop explained how he comes from a part of the world where
darkness is so clear and how Paul said, "You did not come to know Christ
that way. You should put off the old man and put on the new man." (Eph
"They were being taught to be renewed in the spirit of their mind and
the new humanity that God had created in the birth," the Archbishop
said. "It is God who creates the new humanity and gives us new life.
This is the doctrinal reason why our community must be different."
Archbishop Josiah talked about the practical working, which he calls
"dressing as a Christian" and how Paul tells us to put on the new
garments. "It is not inward and spiritual but outward and behavioural,"
he said. "Only God can change the heart."
His final testimony to the congregation was one of reconciliation: "We
need to build bridges and reconcile men and women in the body of
One of the musical highlights came during the Communion as the
congregation sang the hymn "I am the Bread of Life". The final hymn
"Guide me O thou Great Jehovah" seemed an appropriate transition as the
General Convention re-convenes.
Hundreds of visitors from the host diocese made their way to the
exhibition hall to visit the more than 200 displays.
Among the exhibitors is the Affirming Catholicism which has been given a
generous gift to honour the ministry of Canon Jeffrey John with
Affirming Catholicism UK. Many groups including the American Anglican
Council, Religious Communities, and a dozen or more vestment makers,
have information booths and exhibitions promoting their work for
Anglicans and Episcopalians.
[A photo of the crowds gathering outside the Eucharist can be found at:
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