From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Presiding bishop finds strength amid difficult decisions

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Fri, 8 Aug 2003 17:34:44 -0400

August 8, 2003

Presiding bishop finds strength amid difficult decisions

by David Skidmore
[ENS] In the 10 days of intense dialogue and debate Presiding Bishop
Frank Griswold is encouraged by the "incredible energy" generated by the
"multiple realities" of the Episcopal Church meeting as a General

At the daily Eucharists he has been struck by the variety of experiences
and expressions gathered around the tables, a sight that has given him
"an incredible strength and joy despite the difficulties of some of the
decisions we have had to make and the painfulness some of these
decisions have caused within the community."

Those decisions - the consent to the election of the church's first
openly gay diocesan bishop and greater allowance for dioceses to
"explore and experience" liturgies for same-sex unions - have sparked
concern and anxiety not only in the Episcopal Church but among the
primates of the Anglican Communion.

Griswold, who was joined at the closing news conference by House of
Deputies President the Very Rev. George Werner, said he had responded to
these concerns by notifying Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that
he was willing to discuss the convention's actions with the primates,
either individually in their home provinces or as a joint meeting. Since
talking with the archbishop earlier in the week, as the bishops prepared
to consent to the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson's election, Griswold said
Williams has sent an invitation to the primates to meet in London Oct.

In his letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the meeting would be
"to discuss recent developments in ECUSA," and he hoped the primates
would use the time leading up to the meeting to "reflect carefully on
our life together as a Communion" and to consider how they might bring
their "faith, experience and wisdom to bear constructively on these

Griswold told reporters that in his view the meeting would encompass
more than just the convention's recent actions, but also the issue of
Anglican primates and bishops coming into Episcopal dioceses to carry
out unauthorized episcopal ministry.

"We have dealt with primates of other provinces of the Anglican
Communion coming into this province and in effect creating schism by
ordaining bishops outside all norms and regulations that exist within
the Episcopal Church," said Griswold. "And that to me is equally
distressing and something I am sure we will also discuss."

A call by representatives of the American Anglican Council for a second
Anglican province in the United States is nothing new, he said, and
though part of an apparent strategy by the AAC, it would be difficult
for the Communion to approve "two parallel realities within one
geographic area."

In their annual meetings, the primates have grown increasingly aware
that the provinces "live in very different contexts," said Griswold.
They have come to understand that "what may be right and appropriate in
one culture may be singularly difficult and inappropriate elsewhere."
When he traveled to Nigeria last year, he was asked by one bishop if he
had come to tell the Nigerian bishops to ordain women, and when assured
he was not, there was relief. 

Such encounters, he said, "have given us a capacity to trust one another
and make room for divergences."

Looking ahead to the coming Sunday, when clergy may find a host of
people coming to their churches as a result of the convention's media
exposure, Werner said he was worried that priests would choose to use
their sermon time "to pontificate about the politics of the Episcopal
Church when they have the best opportunity in the history of the church
to open the scripture, to open the life of Jesus to the people who need
to hear it."

Rather than delve into the issues of convention, which Werner said
should be aired in adult forums, clergy should focus their time in
worship "to feed the hungry who will be coming through the door. That is
really what we have to do in all this."

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