12th August 2003
Dear friends in Christ;
I write you in the aftermath of the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. As most of you are aware, one decision of the Minneapolis General Convention has received media attention around the world. The Rev'd Canon Gene Robinson received enough consents from the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to be consecrated as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Bishop-elect Robinson is an openly gay man who has been living in a same-sex committed relationship for the past thirteen years.
I know only too well the pain and disappointment this action has caused any number of faithful Episcopalians. I am also aware that there are faithful Episcopalians who are supportive of this action. For my own part, I feel compelled to let you know my personal thoughts about what has happened.
In the 24th August 2003 issue of "The Living Church" the following words appeared in an editorial entitled "Church in Further Turmoil:"
"Canon Robinson has shown himself to be a fine priest and administrator who will probably be a good bishop. Unfortunately, the disarray caused by his election - impaired communion with some members of the Anglican Communion, loss of some church members, risking the state of ecumenical relationships, and changing the teaching of the church - is too large a price to pay. It is an action to regret."
Well said, indeed. It is an action to regret. But why? Consenting to the election of Canon Robinson, a man engaged in sexual activity outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony, directly contradicts Holy Scripture (Romans 1:26-32, Genesis 2:15-24) and the traditions of the Church. It imperils our relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion. In so doing, the General Convention has rejected the declaration of the bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference that Biblical marriage is between a man and a woman (Resolution I.10), the counsel of Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the appeal of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
So what happens next? The Archbishop of Canterbury has called an emergency meeting of the Primates for 15th - 16th October 2003, the first such meeting in the history of the Anglican Communion. The purpose of this extraordinary meeting is to deal specifically with the international ramifications of the action of the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
In terms of our common life at Ascension and Holy Trinity, I would ask that you plan on being present on Sunday, 14th September at 9:00 a.m. for a special "Adult Forum" in which we will hear first-hand from Jon Boss, who served as a delegate to the 74th General Convention. Also, I would encourage you to talk with me about your concerns.
Beyond that, I would encourage you to remember that this is Christ's Church, bought with his own blood, and that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. No one said that being a Christian was easy. We must learn to live with one another and to love one another as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.
I would also ask you to rejoice, for in ALL circumstances God reigns. Repent for our participation in our Church's sins. Continue in the spirit of repentance, not arrogance. Forgive, as we have been forgiven. Pray for God's grace to guide and sustain us.
I know that some of you may feel tempted to leave The Episcopal Church because of the action of the 74th General Convention. I would ask that you pray long and hard before doing so. You are needed in this branch of Christ's Church.
It has been said that when we choose wisely, God reigns. When we choose foolishly, God still reigns. So it is. Let us remain steadfast in our faith in the One who raises us all to eternal life, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(The Rev'd) Robert L. Rademaker
Enclosures: The Archbishop of Canterbury's statement, Anglican Primate's Pastoral Letter, Roman's 1:26-32, Genesis 2:15-24, Article XX of the Articles of Religion.
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