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This page last updated 15 July 2003
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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. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

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.

Like to write a letter of your own to us? Click here. It is our policy not to publish letters responding to other letters.


Letters received during the week of 6 July

Keep breathing, keep trusting, keep listening

THANK YOU FOR YOUR MINISTRY of reflection and communication. This is certainly not an easy time in the Communion, particularly here in the US with General Convention starting at the end of this month. Even though I am in agreement (basically) with the blessing of same-sex unions and hve benefitted greatly from the friendship and ministry of my gay and lesbian clergy collegues I wish, in some sense, that the whole discussion would just go away. It does matter to me whether or not the ECUSA is in communion with Nigeria or any of the other provinces that have claimed and declared a breach of communion with New Westminster and New Hampshire. And yet the pastoral and justice issues surrounding sexuality are so real... All we can do is keep breathing, keep trusting the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and keep listening with hearts of love. Thank you for your efforts to do this and to encourage others to be faithful in the same way.

Blessings,

Victoria Geer McGrath+
All Saints', Millington
Millington, New Jersey, USA
allstsmill@hotmail.com
7 July 2003

The problem with change

THE FUROR OVER GAY 'RIGHTS' in the church, both for members and celebrants, perhaps ignores the fact that many members don't believe that the position of the church should be changed. Not out of hate for gay persons, but because they (or we, I hesitate to speak for everyone), believe it's wrong. Our priest spoke of a new movement in the US church to change the liturgy and the prayer book—again. I'm still not used to the new one. Change for the sake of change is not only bad, it's wrong. If the Anglican/Episcopalian church has stood for this many years, I think it will stand for more. We must show those we wish to join us that we have something to offer them. Changing to make us more 'attactive' will diminish our faith, and make us perhaps more 'unattractive' to those whom we are now.

Eric Freischlag
St John's Episcopal Church
Wilson, New York USA
ericpaul@juno.com
7 July 2003

We're waiting for that Pyrrhic haze

WHEN I FIRST HEARD THAT Canon John had removed himself from consideration as suffragan bishop following extreme pressure from a variety of sources, I was at first disheartened. But, a moment later, I saw that there is also some cause for hope that true and lasting good may come from the seeming defeat of love, tolerance and mutual compassion.

I considered two thoughts. The first is that Canon John did not fight or call names or threaten or fly into a petulant rage screaming 'I want what I want, and if I don't get it I'm going to take my Bible and go home!' It appears, on the contrary, that his actions were founded at least in substantive part on what he perceived as the feelings of those who had 'despitefully used' him. The other thought was directed toward those who used every device possible — short of assassination threats, it would seem — to ensure that Canon John was not accepted as a bishop. Certain parties threatened to remove entire provinces from affiliation with the worldwide Communion if his appointment was finalised. More recently, I read that an unmarried priest — not specifically 'gay' mind you, but simply "unmarried" — received a package containing excrement together with a note explaining (in effect) that 'This is what we think of people who support Canon John'.

Christians (and others) who have been neutral and/or confused in this and related matters will, I think, pause to consider these two very different reactions. They may ask themselves which of the parties seems to be more an example of a Christian spirit of conciliation and concern? And which party seems to be secure in its own righteousness within 'the Law' while Christ remains outside its door patiently knocking to be allowed to join those inside who so proudly call themselves by His name? Which lives more according to the Law of Love taught by our Saviour? And which lives defiantly according the 'The Law' so dear to those who are sure that God's Word is graven on paper but far less pleased with the less comfortable reality that God's Word became Flesh and has graven Itself on the human heart as well?

When everyday Christians consider and answer for themselves these questions and others like them, I believe that the 'victory' of would-be secessionists, threat-mongers, excrement-peddlars and their ilk will vanish in a Pyrrhic haze. It will not be the first time that hate has worked unwittingly and against its own will to achieve the ends decreed by Love. The Gospel was not given by Christ in vain, whether in the days of the Scribes and Pharisees, or today when some modern men, cut from a similar cloth, still seek to restrain and codify the boundless Love of Him Who sustains and enlivens the universe. That Gospel lives now as vibrantly as it did then; and, in the end, it will never fail and it will never be restrained.

Jérôme
Considering the Anglican/Episcopal Communion
San Francisco, California, USA
acadienerrant@mindspring.com
11 July 2003

When sadness turns to prayer

I WRITE THIS LETTER AFTER HAVING finished two rounds of correspondence with my rector, who serves as a delegate to the General Convention of the ECUSA, over the issues of Gene Robinson's consecration and the blessing of same sex unions. I am fascinated at how these two issues have become intertwined with one another, and how the failure of the tradition and canons of the Church to develop a rite have made it difficult for even some reasonable clergy to accept the election of an openly gay bishop in such a committed relationship.

I adore the Episcopal Church and the communion it enjoys with Anglicans worldwide, and am saddened by the jeopardy in which that unity has been placed by these issues. But I am convinced that the Church in most places is not losing members because it is insufficiently fundamentalist or conservative. On the contrary! It is the stubborn clinging to outmoded doctrine at the expense of caring for God's people — all of them — that is the sin of the Church now. Therefore I wrote a prayer (a first for me) that I hope provides some with a source of strength through the coming struggles:

Merciful God, Mother and Father of all, you are the source of all that is, and nothing that is exists without you. Open the hearts of your servants, especially ________, ________, and all who humbly seek your will in doing justice to your gay and lesbian children. Call those of us who are your gay and lesbian children to communion with your people the Church, and where the doors to that Church are shut, open them wide to receive us. Ignite within all of us the fire of your Holy Spirit, to teach us to love and respect one another even amid our differences, to heal our wounds, and to remind us always of the example of forgiveness, acceptance and lovingkindness made flesh in the person of Jesus. Amen.

Terry Milner
Church of the Holy Family and the Orange County Mission
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
terrym@mindspring.com
8 July 2003

Whose morality is being gored?

I AM GLAD TO SEE THE ISSUE OF EPISCOPAL MORALITY is being taken seriously, and look forward to the reaction should future candidates turn out to be gossips, over-indulgent in food or drink, or not to have clothed the naked and fed the hungry.

Robert Greaves
All Saints Anglican Church
Jakarta, INDONESIA
robertg@rad.net.id
8 July 2003

You're very welcome

I APPRECIATE YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF MY LETTER (see Letters of 29 June) regarding V. Gene Robinson becoming a bishop. You were understanding enough to print it in among your other letters. Even though I am not an Anglican, what you are allowing does affect all major denominations and therefore it is right to consider a strong declining voice. My own denomination is struggling with this question and we are watching what other groups are doing.

Sincerely,
Dick Barker

Richard Barker
Other than an Anglican
Wilmore, Kentucky, USA
10 July 2003

Failure of love is the worst thing

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW LETTERS FORUM. I am impressed by the thoughtful nature of the letters you have printed.

Like others, I am very unhappy about the current row (there seems to be no milder word that would be adequate) about homosexuality, both in the USA, the UK and in Australia. It hurts such a lot of people and I can't see that it benefits anyone. I don't think God needs us to protect him from gays.

I suppose I must have led a sheltered life in some respects, as I am always staggered by the number of Christians who seem convinced that what people do in their bedrooms is a really important issue, and who also see it as part of a Christian's work, to tell other people what they must do to get God's approval. The whole issue seems to me irrelevant to the world's real problems (war, poverty etc) and irrelevant to the Church's real mission of spreading the good news about Christ.

The position that some adhere to, that homosexual practices must be abandoned by those who want to be right with God, strikes me as very problematic. It seems a lot like a theology of faith through works, and also seems to suggest that we can '"save' ourselves by living a good life. It also ignores the fact that we are all sinners, every one, and in need of Christ — so why pick on one category?

The worst thing is that it is such a failure of love, which is the greatest commandment.

Caroline Miley
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
c.miley@vca.unimelb.edu.au
9 July 2003

About longevity and Anglican firsts

I REMEMBER READING AN ARTICLE in the Orange County (California) Register a few years ago about a 26-year old Roman Catholic woman being the youngest woman to take final vows as a nun. Why that makes front-page news in California has become more apparent as time goes by. It is something women of my generation (the 20-30s age group) and even more especially non-white women, are not supposed to want to do with our lives, especially when you're Anglican and not Roman Catholic.

The worldwide Anglican Communion had a woman who took her final vows at the age of 25: Sister Barbara of the Order of the Holy Paraclete. She died at age 82 and was professed for 57 years. If we have to be at odds with the Roman Catholics, I would have to say that we have them beat. We're number 1 for having the youngest nun — if that indeed were a competition!

Pamela Kennedy
Trinity Church
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
12 July 2003

Thank you!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND TEMPERATE OFFERING of information on news in the Anglican Communion. Thank you for your thought-provoking questions and continual focus on Christ rather than conflict. And thank you most of all for embodying the (I like to think, anyway) Anglican tradition of balance among scripture, reason and tradition. It has seemed to me these last several years that our Communion is battered by folks who take up either scripture or tradition (their interpretation of same) and use them as weapons, meanwhile heaving reason completely out the window. Alas. God bless your work.

The Reverend Peggy Blanchard
Diocese of East Tennessee
Kingston, Tennessee, USA
11 July 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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