To
Reconcile
Seal of the Diocese of Southern Ohio To
Liberate
  August 2, 2004
  

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

To
Heal
To
Serve
The Office of the Bishop
The Diocese of Southern Ohio
412 Sycamore Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
513-421-0311

I have received The Rev. Richard Terry's letter of resignation as Rector of St. Paul's, Chillicothe. I regret both his resignation, the manner in which it was tendered and the course that Mr. Terry has charted for the days ahead, notably the proposed establishing of an "Anglican" congregation in Chillicothe. This action amounts to a gross exploitation of Mr. Terry's relationship with St. Paul's Church and the congregation with which I entrusted him when I instituted him as Rector in March of 1993.

I am at pains to understand Mr. Terry's problem with the Diocese of Southern Ohio and with me as Bishop. It cannot be the issue of human sexuality. As Bishop for 16 years I have made it clear in the Diocese and the National Church, that I will not bless or countenance the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese, nor ordain any person living in a sexual relationship with another person. I believe and have taught that, for those who have sworn allegiance to Christ, sexual relations are to take place only in the context of Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman.

I taught and teach the same in the Diocese and beyond. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference in England on the human sexuality resolutions I voted with 570 Bishops from around the world against changing the Church's teaching on this matter. Last year at the General Convention in Minneapolis on the matter of confirming the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, I voted "no."

However, from the day of my ordination, I have never wavered from my defense of and work for the Unity of the Church or my affirmation of God's love for all of His people.

I am convinced Mr. Terry needs to examine his conscience and recall his own ordination vows. For it is clear to me that his actions have nothing to do with human sexuality, nor me. Rather they spring from Mr. Terry's tragic misunderstanding of Anglican Christianity and polity.

In my pastoral directive, I stated that I believe the Anglican Communion Network to be a threat to the unity of the Church. The directive clearly stated that while individual members, lay or ordained might affiliate with the Network, congregations under my jurisdiction could not.

Subsequent to my letter to Mr. Terry, Bishop Duncan, Convener of the Anglican Communion Network, called and then wrote to me to say that in response to my position and that of other Bishops of the Episcopal Church he would not accept the congregational affiliation of St. Paul's. I expressed my gratitude for it meant that there was no action for Mr. Terry to take regarding the directive.

I do not presume to know Mr. Terry's motives, only God knows and I am content to leave the judging to God. I do know that his actions have precipitated turmoil and tragedy.

In his letter to you and to the Chillicothe Gazette, Mr. Terry says, "I have decided to leave quietly." How quiet is it to publish to the entire town of Chillicothe a matter that properly belongs between a priest and his Bishop? In so doing Mr. Terry has not only abandoned the trust of the people of St. Paul's, but the Communion which ordained him and instituted him as Rector in that place. He has also abandoned the trust of the people who chose him as pastor, priest and teacher.

On the night before he died, Our Lord Jesus did not pray that his disciples would be right, good or even holy. He prayed that they would be one as He and the Father were one, that the world might believe that He was sent by the Father.

It was out of that clear understanding that I as Bishop issued my pstoral directive to Mr. Terry and now write to call you to work for the unity of the Church and resist Mr. Terry, or anyone else's attempts to divide the body, for such division would grieve Our Lord and distract us from the sacred mission for which the Church exists, to preach the Gospel to all nations and to witness to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

That task calls us to a future. I have asked Archdeacon Hanisian to be with you on Sunday August 8, 2004, to answer any questions you may have and to begin the work which will ultimately end in the calling of a new Rector for St. Paul's. Throughout this period my staff, Bishop Price and I will be working with you committed Episcopal Christians to strengthen the witness of this congregation in Chillicothe.


Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Southern Ohio

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