October 1, 2003
The Most Rev. and Right Honorable Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace, London, UK SE17JU
Dear Archbishop Williams,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I well remember our brief time together in the "missions" section at Lambeth in 1998. I write to assure you of the prayers of the Diocese of Florida as you convene the Primates of the Anglican Communion later this month and to provide you with a summary of the communication I have received concerning the controversial decisions of the Episcopal Church General Convention. On September 27, 2003, I called the clergy, elected lay leaders and interested members of the Diocese of Florida together for a "Day of Conversation" to discuss our thoughts, feelings and reactions to the actions of the General Convention. This day of conversation, along with over six hundred messages, enables me sufficient insight to relay to you the deep concerns of the people of this Diocese.
The concern over the possible - even probable - loss of unity in the Church seems to be the most commonly expressed theme, but the underlying perception of "unity" is what I note as significant. There are many whose primary concern is the preservation of the unity of the Episcopal Church in the USA with little recognition of the seriousness of the actions taken in Minneapolis. Others express dismay over the possible fracturing of the Anglican Communion. Still others are concerned that the actions of the General Convention have broken our very unity with the Body of Christ. As one speaker noted at our meeting: "Unity for what purpose? Unity at what price?"
Most individuals seem to understand the confirmation of a non-celibate, divorced, homosexual man as bishop of New Hampshire and the approval and recognition of "local options" for the blessing of same sex unions is a radical departure from the historic Christian faith and order of ECUSA and the Anglican Communion. Some individuals believe this controversy will fade in time, saying our unity as an independent denomination is more important than any issue which may challenge it. However, the majority of people from whom I have heard are profoundly concerned that the spiritual, ecumenical, evangelical and financial price we are paying, and will continue to pay, is too high indeed. The departure from biblical and historic faith and order from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is significant enough to warrant cries for intervention and discipline from outside ECUSA. Unity for what purpose? Unity at what price?
Archbishop, we are certain that the "Solomonic" decisions before you and the assembled Primates are as great as any in the history of our Communion. The Anglican Communion has weathered many storms, but this storm cuts to the very core of our common faith and life. One of the hallmarks of Anglicanism is the ability to hold in tension divergent expressions of the historic faith we proclaim, but this ability has never included a departure from the core belief of Scripture: "our rule and ultimate standard of faith" (Lambeth, 1888, Resolution 11), and the Creeds. This departure is something we in ECUSA initiated. The ultimate issue is not unity, rather it is the scriptural foundation of the historic Christian faith Anglicanism has proclaimed and by which our common life is ordered. If we cease to be Christian in the core of our faith and order, then unity is no longer possible. History is clear. Those who have willingly departed from the core of the faith are those who are held to be schismatic, not those working to preserve it. We ask you to intervene and discipline those whose teachings and actions have brought the Anglican Communion to the edge of schism. We repent of those things we have done and left undone, and by which we have contributed to this crisis.
It is my hope that this summary will be helpful to you and the other Primates as you gather to respond to the crisis the Episcopal Church has caused in the Anglican Communion. We keep you daily in our prayers, but particularly at this moment. We appeal to you to uphold the historic Christian faith and order of the Church. This is the only means to preserve unity.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen H. Jecko, D.Min., D.D.
Bishop of Florida
(Thanks to The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon for making this available)
Return to the home page