From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[ENS] Werner Church has great opportunity
"Mika Larson" <email@example.com>
Fri, 8 Aug 2003 17:01:39 -0400
August 8, 2003
Werner: Church has great opportunity
by James Thrall
[ENS] In his closing remarks to the House of Deputies, President George
Werner Friday urged clergy and congregations to make the most of the
evangelistic potential of the first Sunday after General Convention
"Looking at the vast collection of coverage this church has been
getting," he said. "This Sunday may be one of the greatest if not the
best missionary Sundays in the history of the church."
Given the extensive news reporting on the sexuality issues addressed at
convention, he indicated, parishes may experience an influx of newcomers
curious about the Episcopal Church.
While Werner said he realized that parish priests will feel a pull "to
get up and make our comments on the news from convention," he stressed
that "this Sunday is a Sunday to be Philip opening the scriptures. This
is a Sunday when people can meet Jesus Christ. This is a Sunday where
people can find out why the power of Christ is something that can feed a
Offering an example of what he called the "remarkable" treatment of the
church in the press, Werner quoted an editorial by the Dallas Morning
"Still we have been struck by the calm and deliberative process the
Episcopalians followed in reaching their conclusion," he read. "The
discussions among the clergy and laity were marked not by cheap
name-calling but by honest soul-searching. And yes, there is division.
But the common bond of faith took precedence."
The editorial concludes: "Perhaps their thoughtfulness and mutual
respect for one another on this issue will have a positive impact on how
all of us Americans carry on our larger societal debate. At least we
Such sentiments, Werner said, have been "echoed not just in the United
States but across the world." In approaching convention, "we hoped that
we could break open this church and become the church that God wanted us
to be," he said. "This is the greatest potential Sunday for evangelism.
And I hope we don't miss that opportunity."
In his remarks, Werner emphasized his commitment to the Episcopal Church
as it continues to evolve. The church has changed over the 41 years
since his graduation from seminary, he noted. It is "not better, not
worse, simply different."
Such development should be expected, he said. "With God, there is always
more. With Scripture, there is always more. That's why we need each
other so much."
Werner shared that before the 1976 vote on ordination for women, he
prayed, "Lord, I think I am doing your will, but if I am not, please
forgive me." Last Sunday, when the House of Deputies voted to confirm
the election of the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor-elect
of New Hampshire, Werner said, "I offered the same prayer."
The bishop of Southern Ohio once referred to the "different ships in the
fleet of Christ," Werner said. "I signed on to ours, vowing to uphold
the doctrine, discipline and worship of this one. Forty-one years ago, I
knew that I was a sinner who needed to be saved by grace and that the
rest of the crew was the same."
He concluded, "I am remaining on this vessel in the fleet of Christ
where the sinners who need to be saved by grace are ones I know and have
come to love. I am praying that we can steer this vessel even further on
the way to doing God's mission together. . And I will continue to pray
for other sisters and brothers, on other vessels in God's fleet, because
together we may all become greater than the sum of our parts."
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