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This page last updated 17 June 2003
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE publish a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking. Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online.

Please note that we edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

Ready to write a letter of your own to us? Click here.

Letters received during the week of 8 June

The Holy Spirit's to-do list

STORM CLOUDS ARE AGAIN GATHERING over the Church of England's choice of a suffragan bishop for Reading. Jeffrey John has been described as living, at one time, in a committed relationship with another man. He has announced himself as celibate and (officially) in agreement with the bishops' statement on homosexual relations amongst clergy.

These disclaimers have not dissuaded the more extreme evangelicals from again threatening schism and attacking the C. of E. leadership. AO should keep an eye on this as also on the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire which confronts the American church with a partly similar issue. Lots of work for the Holy Spirit to do nowadays!

Jay Wilson

The Reverend Harold J. Wilson
Member of St Mary Magdalene, Oxford
9 June 2003

The power of tolerance and love

FOR OVER 30 YEARS I HAVE SHIED NERVOUSLY AWAY from Christianity. This was primarily because I am and have always been a gay man. And because I have never felt at home in any Christian church, including not least the Roman Catholic Church in which I was raised.

Recently, however, I have been watching with interest the situations in British Columbia and in New Hampshire. Despite the ire and 'righteous indignation' which have been inspired by certain events in these two regions, I have been far more impressed by the amazing tolerance and love which has also been forthcoming from so many individuals within the Anglican / Episcopal Communion. This manifestation of tolerance and love has made me reconsider my long-standing fear of Christianity and my reluctance to get within a stone's throw of any of its alleged practitioners (literally and figuratively).

Although I have no doubt that many will condemn and scoff at one of my motives (a hope to be accepted for who I am as a gay man), I am seriously considering the possibility of seeking reception into the Anglican Communion. But a desire for 'acceptance' is far from my only reason for considering such a change of heart. The understanding shown by Bishop Ingham in BC and the election of Reverend Mr Robinson in New Hampshire have also caused me to investigate the Anglican / Episcopal Communion at the deeper levels of its teachings and practices. I am discovering that the sort of Christianity I had once searched for and then abandoned in frustration apparently really may exist after all. This serendipitous discovery is the more amazing in light of my decades-long suspicion that such a loving philosophy was really a romantic myth intended to disguise a deceitful and hateful reality.

Whatever the final outcome, the recent manifestation of tolerance and acceptance which I have seen in two regions of the Anglican Communion has brought me to reconsider a long-standing abjuration of Christ and His Church. If acceptance of gay men and women drives some away, then it apparently also has the capacity to draw some near. I cannot weigh the loss to the first against the benefits to the second. But I am nonetheless grateful for the feeling that at last I think I may be hearing a faint voice that seems to be calling me home.

Jérôme Y. Hébert
Still on the Quest
San Francisco, CA
10 June 2003

Bishop-elect Robinson: Two views from New Hampshire

• TO RESPOND BRIEFLY TO YOUR COVERAGE of the election of Gene Robinson as New Hampshire's next bishop, as a member of this diocese, I have been following the process of the election very closely, both though my own parish's delegates to the voting convention, and through the local and national press.

I have met Gene several times over the past few years, and feel very strongly that he is a man of powerful faith and conviction, and that he will be an excellent bishop for our diocese. From what I was told by our delegates and other members of the parish that attended the election, the presence of the Holy Spirit was truly felt by those in attendance.

I am positive that our convention elected Gene because he was the best choice for our next bishop, not because he is gay. I feel sure that he will be confirmed at General Convention this summer (I plan to be in attendance to see that happen), and I know that he will continue the work of the Church in New Hampshire and around the world.

This is a historic moment, and as what would be termed a 'young person' by many in our church (I am twenty-three), I have hope that we will not dwell on the things which are irrelevant to our future, but continue to move forward with the real issues at stake in twenty-first century Christianity. These are things such as the absolute grinding poverty of billions of people all over the earth, the AIDS epidemic, and the violence and war threatening to overshadow our world. It is by tackling these issues that we in the church can have hope for the future because that process will bring us together as a global community, and that is the only way towards the Kingdom of God.

Jamie McMahon
St Thomas Episcopal Church
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
9 June 2003

• CAN GENE ROBINSON, recently elected Bishop of New Hampshire, honestly declare that he will conform to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Episcopal Church? Episcopal Doctrine holds homosexual behavior to be immoral. The Discipline requirement suggests an obligation to refrain from behavior that exposes his office and the Church to conflict and division.

I am sure Rev. Robinson is an exceptional person in many respects. However, a shepherd intent on dividing the flock, is a poor choice for Bishop. As Episcopalians, are we prepared to destroy our church in order to make a symbolic statement in support of gay rights?

A summary of TITLE III, CANON 22: Of the Election and Ordination of Bishops

Constitution, Article VIII Declaration:

No person shall be ordained and consecrated Bishop, or ordered Priest or Deacon to minister in this Church, unless at the time, in the presence of the ordaining Bishop or Bishops, the person shall subscribe and make the following declaration:

I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church.

John Norton
St David's Episcopal Church
Salem, New Hampshire, USA
11 June 2003

A view from Palm Springs, California

WITH ALL THE HUMBUG AND CONTROVERSY surrounding homosexuality, I must write to briefly share my illuminating experiences. I belong to an Episcopal parish in Palm Springs, California, which has at least 50 or 60 percent gay men, excellent members. I am straight and most of us who are straight get along fine with those who are gay. None of us have ever been propositioned or hassled in any way. People go to each other's houses, attend church functions, and otherwise socialize without any difficulties. All members are fully accepted, regardless of orientation. Our parish, the Church of St Paul in the Desert, should be a model for many parishes worldwide. We demonstrate the power and relevance of God's unconditional love for all creatures.

Yours in Christ,

Dr John Nicholas Granet
Palm Springs, California, USA

Just what Sunday is that?

• THE FOLLOWING IS IN RESPONSE to the "Letter to AO" from Pentecost Sunday by Heather Mina of Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, in which she wrote: 'You refer to Sunday being "The Sunday after Ascension" rather than "Trinity Sunday." However, my BCP lists Trinity Sunday as being the first Sunday after Pentecost, since between Ascension Day and Pentecost, we have not yet received the Holy Spirit. I am curious now, though, whether this "in between" Sunday did formerly have a name of its own'.

I think there was a bit of confusion here, so let me start by sorting it out. Sunday, June 1st (the date of the original article) was the Sunday after the Ascension. Sunday, June 8th was the Sunday of Pentecost (BTW, Happy 454th Birthday to the beloved BCP!). Sunday, June 15th will be The First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday.

As for the question of the proper name of the Sunday after Ascension... In many places, especially in Roman Catholic circles, the Feast of the Ascension (which fell this year on Thursday, May 29th) is transferred to the following Sunday. Thus, in many places, the Sunday after the Ascension is actually the Feast of the Ascension.

In many places, the Sunday after the Ascension also bears the name of the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Feast of the Ascension, like other major Feasts, has historically been observed with an eight-day solemnity called an octave, where the theme and preface and collect of the day from Ascension are carried over. As a result, the Sunday after Ascension may rightly be referred to as "The Sunday of Ascensiontide" or "Sunday in the Ascension Octave".

Father Robert Lyons
Saint Alban's Primitive Catholic Community (Anglican Rite)
Anderson / Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
9 June 2003

IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION about the Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost: Kilvert's Diary, the journal of the Reverend Francis Kilvert in which he records his day-to-day experiences in his rural Welsh parish in the middle years of the nineteenth century, generally refers to the Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost as 'Expectation Sunday'. This was the only place where I have come across the term but the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says that it is an old name for the day.

Incidentally, if you don't know Francis Kilvert and his diary you are missing out on a beautiful piece of Anglican clerical literature. When taking an ordination retreat a few years ago I read excerpts from it aloud to the retreatants during their meals and they couldn't get enough—of the book I mean.

Jim Brady
St Paul's Cathedral
Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
13 June 2003

Avoiding invective

I STARTED WRITING YOU LONG BEFORE your 'letters to the editor' column began. Not often, mind you. But once in awhile. Today I had to write and simply say this week's lead editorial was outstanding. Thank you. I am appalled by the invective I see in 'letters to the editor' columns around and about. It seems to me that such invective is a violation of the Gospel. Again, thank you.

Allan Parker
Trinity Parish Church
Seattle, Washington, USA (until June 30)
9 June 2003

Sex in the Aussie Bible

RE: SEX IN THE NEW AUSSIE BIBLE. This is the best I could find for you, I'm afraid.

'A Message for Mary (Luke 1:26-38)

When Libby was six months gone, God sent the same angel-this Gabriel bloke-to a backblocks town called Nazareth, in the Galilee shire, to a nice young girl who was engaged to the local carpenter, Joe Davidson. Her name was Mary.

The angel said to her, "G'day Mary. You are a pretty special sheila. God has his eye on you."

Mary went weak at the knees, and wondered what was going on.

But the angel said to her, "Don't panic, don't chuck a wobbly. God thinks you're okay. You're about to become pregnant, and you'll have a son, and you're to call him Jesus. He will be a very big wheel, and will be called the Son of God Most High. God will give him the throne of his father-your ancestor-King David, and he will be in charge of the whole show forever."

"But how?" said Mary. "Joe and I have done the right thing, we've never... well, you know. I mean to say, I'm still a virgin."

The angel answered, "Leave the mechanics up to God. This is heavenly stuff. God's Spirit will come upon you, and the Big Brain behind the Big Bang will manipulate the necessary molecules to make it happen. So this little kid of yours will be as special as it's possible to be, and he'll be called God's own Son. Look, even Libby, your old cousin, is preggers-at her age! God can do these things. In fact, Libby is in her sixth month because nothing is impossible with God."

"God's in charge," Mary answered. "If that's what God wants, then it's what I want too."

Then the angel nicked off and left her alone'.

scamKelly Burke
The Sydney Morning Herald
10 June 2003

We're honoured that you thought of us

The Director/CEO

My Dear Sir,

I DO FORESEE THE SURPRISE this letter will bring to You as it come from a stranger. But rest assured as It comes with best of intentions. However, your Address was courtesy of a business journal at the World trade Center in Cotonou. But after due Consideration from your profile, I became aware and Assured of your credibility of handling this trust and My future. Thus, after my humble decision to solicit Your understanding and co-operation in this Transaction, as it will be beneficial to all of us involved. My name is Mr. paul akah (Jnr.) from Tanzania.I am the son of the late President of Tanzania christoper akah, who died about two years ago? My father used His position then to make for himself and us some Fortune. My father died after a protracted illness.

[You know the rest!]

12 June 2003

Face time

YOUR PENTECOST EDITORIAL CONTRASTED THE EASE of quickly written and public yet ineffective and impersonal blasting e-mails ('letters') back and forth, and the apparent ease of Pentecostal disciples to bring a powerful and life-changing message to the world using only face-to-face 'messaging' (my word). As suggested in the title of a recent small book, 'First We Have Coffee.... then we Talk'. I, too, believe this is the necessary direction of strategizing evangelism and restoration through the Episcopal Church - and, really, any Church. And on the content of the email barrage, as has been said, too, it is easier to catch flies with honey....

To make your point, however, I think you exaggerated or went too far on a couple of points; I want to bring them to your attention for your consideration.

1.) Re: 'nor restricted themselves to writing it on scrolls', I remind you of the story of Philip, one of the seven, who evangelized the eunuch by referring to the very scroll from which the eunuch was reading. This illustrates that the early disciples were not devoid of the written word. In fact, they didn't have to wait for anybody to write anything more. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were simply real-life confirmation of the prophetic word found in the written-down Law and the Prophets. Know what I mean?

2.) Re: 'Just imagine meeting An Original Disciple and ... thinking "I wish I were more like this person!"' Alas, we can't imagine reading a statement forwarded from an irate bishop and thinking 'I wish I were more like that person.' Sure, irate bishops sending emails is not the best way to make their 'better side' known. I do sense your use of the words 'irate bishop' as a pejorative comparison with those Original 'Apostles'. First, (now it's my turn to be facetious) there are lots of people who thank God and the bishop (usually by email!) that a bishop woke up long enough to be passionate about something; and Second, Peter's confrontation with Simon Magus, Paul's confrontation with Peter in Antioch, and the occasion of the deaths of Ananias and Saphira illustrate the ability of those original Apostles to be irate, if not justifiably and righteously. Perhaps those serve to prove your point—they were powerfully face-to-face. But being irate was not the point. Know what I mean?

Thank you for being willing to stick your necks out every week with thought-provoking editorials. May the Power of Pentecost be yours in word and deed.

The Reverend Robert Eaton
St John's Episcopal Church
Tulare, California, USA
13 June 2003

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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