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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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 3 August 2003

[Editor's note: It was a very busy week for letters; we received nearly 100. We print a representative assortment.]

Pray for the Solomon Islands

Dear Editors, Thank you for the news link (18 July) to the news article by Right Reverend Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita (Solomon Islands in the western Pacific). Anglicans would do well to read and rejoice in the ministry, mission, and hope of the church for peace in that desperately poor, yet culturally and spiritually rich country. Your letters, as I would expect, are full of the seriousness of one decision at the Episcopal Convention (and rightly so), but do not forget the poor and pray and work for the exploited in places like the Solomons. Peace to you.

Trevor Sketcher
St James' Gold Coast North Anglican
Southport, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
4 August 2003

Who's who

At the theological college I attended in the late 1970s, a conservative estimate would be that half of those who went on to be ordained as priests were homosexuals. Some of those were married, some of those got married later on. Some didn't. At least one of the staff was of homosexual orientation. We never really spoke about this; to do so would have been to risk not being ordained.

At least now let us recognise that there have always been homosexual priests and that now we are being honest enough to say so.

What do we prefer, the essentially dishonest 'turning the blind eye', or the profoundly challenging 'grappling with reality'?

Stephen Clark
St John's Church, Coromandel Valley. Diocese of Adelaide
Adelaide, South Australia
4 August 2003

One view (but not apparently the view of Canon Robinson's family)

I was raised in the Northeast. A pretty true child of the 1960s. After going through the torture of an unwanted heterosexual divorce, I have first-hand knowledge of the extent of pain and anguish people and families go through as the process of tearing apart takes its course. That my church is holding up and affirming an individual who willed that pain on his own family for the sake of a homosexual relationship is more than my still big '60's heart can accept. I will be saying goodbye, I'm sure to a church I have loved so much—words cannot express—but decisions have implications. In this sad woman's eyes, my reaction has to be according to God's will as much as I can discern after much prayer. it will be a painful tearing apart, but at some point "the rubber has to hit the road" so to speak, and the recent decisions are simply too much to endure or affirm.

Pat Bradley
St Barnabas Episcopal Church
Valdosta, Georgia, USA
4 August 2003

Everything points to the fact that the Robinson's divorce was as civilised as any such action can be. See, inter alia, this story (10 August) in The Times.

Right voting, wrong turning

Devastated. You can not make a wrong become a right by a vote. What will happen, who knows, but I suspect that the Methodist and Catholic Church will gain some members. I can not see many currently normal (straight, not gay) families opting to become Episcopalians after this vote. And to even give credence to and vote on same-sex blessing is another nail in the coffin of the U.S. Episcopal Church. While in my heart I will always be an Anglican, I am embarrassed to be known as an Episcopalian. I agree with others who have stated that their church has been taken over by an apostate group.

Darlow Maxwell
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Albany, Georgia, USA
4 August 2003

'It's just not right'

I started this letter a few minutes ago, and realized after reading it, how angry I sounded. Yes, I am angry, but grateful at the same time. I am angry because I feel my church as forsaken me and all my brothers and sisters who hold on to the traditional teachings and beliefs of our Church. I have valued these traditions all my life, as my ancestors have before me in England and Wales.

I don't feel what has been happening in my church is right. I may never leave my church if they do vote to ordain a homosexual bishop, but I will certainly look twice and listen twice to what is being said from the pulpit. This vote can not possibly be the desires of God. He teaches us to love all mankind. We do. We accept people for their differences, but that doesn't mean their way of life is right. Because man wishes to lie down with man doesn't mean it is right or that it reflects the teachings I have lived with my entire life. It is just not right. It's not biblically right nor is it biologically right.

Priests are to spread the Word of God—Where in the Bible does it say this is His Word? This is Man's word, not God's. I believe this firmly with my whole heart and soul. I am grateful that I have an Anglican connection in your web site that I can voice my thoughts and beliefs. We need more of us to stand up to what is right. The way My Church is headed is simply NOT RIGHT. I no longer refer to myself as an Episcopalian, but rather an Anglican. I pray with my whole heart that this vote does not go through.If it does it will break my heart, for I have lost something so very precious and dear to me.

Tinka Davies
St Michael's Episcopal Church
Holliston, Massachusetts, USA
5 August 2003

Head count at Clarence House

In light of all the publicity spewed forth over the actions of the General Convention and the question of Consent to the Election of Canon Robinson, another rather quiet news article was aired today also.

It seems that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has allowed Prince Charles and his sons to live at Clarence House, the former home of the Queen Mother. It seems that Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles has been given rooms there also. A little over a week ago, Canon Jeffrey John, appointed as a bishop in the Church of England, renounced his appointment because of the furore raised over his sexuality. 'The unity of the Church' was at stake. The Church would 'split' if his consecration took place! It is more than a little confusing for me to understand how the consecration of a devout, honest, man of god would be able to split the Church of England, while the future King and future Head of the Church of England will, quite openly, live with his lover and not cause a ripple!

Can anyone offer me a sane, sensible, and Christian answer as to why an honest gay man cannot serve his God and Church as a bishop and the future King of England and Defender of the Faith can give a public appearance of living in sin with a woman who is not his wife?

Br. Robert James McLaughlin, BSG
Church of the Epiphany
Ventnor City, New Jersey, USA
6 August 2003

'Both Gene Robinson and Peter Akinola belong in our Communion'

Gene Robinson's confirmation is barely hours old as I write, and already some groups are scheduling meetings to plan their course of action. What can I say to my sisters and brothers in Christ who threaten to leave our church?

We follow a man who welcomed the poor, the outcast, the unclean into God's domain; who jettisoned the law and purity codes of his society when they cast down human dignity; who proclaimed God's enduring, transforming love for all people. The church is most truly Christ's when it tries to live by his example. Being a Christian is hard work, especially when we are called to put aside our fears and prejudices and embrace those whom we don't like very much. This part of our faith will always be too big for me, and yet—and yet as I live into God's love for me, I can't help but try to do it. Both Gene Robinson and Peter Akinola belong in our Communion, much as we might want to kick one or the other of them out.

'Sometimes,' Langston Hughes wrote in Theme for English B, 'perhaps you don't want to be a part of me. Nor do I often want to be a part of you. But we are, that's true!'

My brothers and sisters, you are loved, and you are wanted. You are part of us as we are part of you. Please stay.

Gia Hayes
St Ann's Episcopal Church
Nashville, Tennessee
6 August 2003

Go in peace, says a Lutheran

As a human being on this planet for 51 years, I have found in my lifetime that God really doesn't judge us over things like sex, nationality, race, republican or democrat. Rather he loves us unconditionally as we love our own children. He is a parent among parents. He is the one we go to for guidance, compassion, and comfort. He does not judge us on earthly behaviour. If God wants us to learn, then all of the obstacles that we believe that get in our way of a perfect life here are for that, learning. The only thing He asks of us is to love each other, unconditionally, as He loves us. It is extremely simple isn't it?

He isn't judging your bishops, not by sexual preference anyway, and he isn't telling you how to vote either. He is standing back watching as you take your votes and allowing you to learn as he has designed this planet for our growth. Your newly elected Bishop of New Hampshire will do a fine job. He seem honourable and honest. His daughter loves him above his sexual preference, why can't you? If I were a member or resident of the diocese of New Hampshire, I would certainly attend this gentleman's services. I feel his being gay doesn't stand in the way of God's teachings—and therefore should be taken into the church without any ado.

I am not a gay woman, nor have I children that are gay, if I did, I would hope with all my heart that they could be as upstanding as this gentleman. Your church has a fine new bishop, now go in peace and learn from this man and allow him to learn from you.

Nancy Detrick
St Paul's Lutheran Church
Sarasota, Florida, USA
6 August 2003

He'd rather split than fight

I think we should split the church between those who wish to remain true to more traditional beliefs and those who are willing to celebrate the homosexuality of their bishops and priests. As soon as this split occurs, I will join the traditional branch.

If it does not occur, I don't what I will do. My family has been Episcopalian for several generations. I really don't want to switch churches. For me this would be like trying to switch identities.

Tony Ford
Episcopal Church in the USA
American living in Austria
6 August 2003

'I want my children to grow up in a church that accepts humans and treats them with equality'

'By their acts ye shall know them'

I was born a Roman Catholic. I studied with Jesuits all my life, first in high school and later in college and law school. I donít consider myself a practicing Catholic, though. I had no desire to be confirmed until I had to, in order to be married by the church, which I did three years ago. Like two-thirds of RCís I donít go regularly to church on Sundays. I believe in God and I believe in the teachings of Jesus, but I have a hard time with dogma. I always had. I didnít agree with many things, mainly the Roman Catholic traditional insistence in inequality. I didnít see the logic behind the prohibition to ordain women, especially in times of crisis in male vocations. It was not logical to deny male priest their right to marry and then ask them to act as guides of married couples. I didnít see a reason to deny anyone the right to be a priest because of their sexual orientation.

To me, being a good person and a good Christian is many things that are not related at all to your gender, marital status, or sexual preference. Being considerate, respectful, responsible, helping others. Loving others, and living a life that respects them. Thatís the message I get when I read the teachings of Jesus. I donít see how his teachings can be twisted into practices that discriminate, exclude, judge, and promote hatred. I also think it is hypocritical to say one thing and do another. Catholics donít ďacceptĒ divorce. But yet they do divorce as much as anyone. So they have to ďadaptĒ in hypocritical ways to such reality. I donít like divorce more than anyone, especially if there are children involved. I am a child of divorced parents. I know the suffering that divorce produces. But I donít like to force people to live a lie or to ďwork around the systemĒ of their church.

That's why I am becoming an Episcopalian, a church that ordains women and gays. One that accepts and includes, not judges and excludes. I want my children to grow up in a church that accepts humans and treats them with equality.

Camilo Azcarate
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
6 August 2003

A view from the Roman Church

I was a Roman Catholic priest and pastor for ten years. Twenty-six years ago, I left to marry a fomer nun, and we have three daughters. I have been working to change the laws of the Roman Catholic Church regarding women's ordination and married clergy in the Roman Church. I still work with small faith communities doing liturgy and weddings.

I have always admired the Anglican Communion for not being afraid to handle the big issues confronting our churches today. Your web site is great. God bless you all.

Ralph L. Pinto
Roman Catholic
Shohola, Pennsylvania. USA
6 August 2003

Beliefs, fads, scripture, and the Constitution

I am deeply grieved by the decision at the General Convention to confirm Gene Robinson. First and foremost the foundation of the church must be set in scripture like the foundation of the United States is the Constitution. Our belief system cannot be subject to whatever fad is popular at the time.

No-one is advocating the exclusion of homosexuals from the church. They are sinners like the rest of us needing God's care, love and forgiveness. However, a line needs to be drawn where issues of leadership and steering the church are concerned. Homosexuality is a behaviour specifically forbidden in scripture as is adultery, drunkenness, etc. Any of these issues should exclude someone from church leadership.

Additionally, Canon Robinson's continual remarks referring to "my church" are the epitome of his selfishness and deeply offensive to me. Whose church is it, Gene Robinson's or Jesus Christ's?

Andrew Creed
St Jude's Episcopal Church
Marietta, Georgia, USA
6 August 2003

Beliefs, organisations, Congress—and states of grace

The Episcopal Church is our spiritual home. It is also, however, a human organization. In that it is very like the United States. We have agreed to be ruled by a General Convention as by Congress. Not many of us feel the need to leave the country when a law is passed of which we cannot approve and nearly none of us in Georgia would leave the country because the Government of New Hampshire passed a law of which we could not approve. The Episcopal Church lost believers when the prayer book was changed, and we probably gained some. We lost believers when women were ordained and no doubt gained some. Now we are about to lose believers because of a question about the state of grace of Bishop Robinson.

The Catholic Church has been absolutely clear for centuries. The state of grace of any ordained priest has NO effect on his ability to administer the sacraments efficaciously. The question arises then, 'In what do we believe?' Words in a book? The sex of our priests? The state of grace of our priests? We stand each Sunday and clearly state aloud that in which we believe. In no case are any of these issues involved in the Creeds, the statements of our beliefs. Issues in a human organization can be resolved by good faith discussion and reasoning together. If, instead, an Episcopalian leaves the church, will there be a perfect organization to go to?

JC Eriksen
St Clare's Episcopal Church
Blairsville, Georgia, USA
10 August 2003

'Where does a moderately conservative Episcopalian go now?'

Where does a moderately conservative Episcopalian go now? I do not and can not support the elevation of an openly gay priest to the level of bishop. My reaction to most issues in life is to be conservative; however, on reflection, my position on the ordination of women is to support it. Another issue: I like the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. I joined the church in 1971 when I was a freshman in college, I have really been more exposed to the 1979 Prayer Book than I was to the 1928 Prayer Book. To my ear the 1979 Prayer Book flows better.

I think that Canon Robinson should have been defrocked when he admitted to being an active homosexual. 'Active homosexual' mean that he engages in sexual activities. That is, in my mind, sexual misconduct, and disqualifies him for ordination and for continuing to serve in an ordained office. To make matters worse, he is in a 'committed' homosexual relationship without benefit of the sacrament of matrimony; again, that is sexual misconduct, even if the church doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. To live as a married person without being married is the same as premarital sexual conduct, which just compounds the problems I have with Canon (Bishop-Elect) Robinson.

In his capacity as a priest I am not certain anyone married by him is in fact married. In his future capacity as a bishop, those whom he confirms may not be in reality confirmed and those priests he participates in the ordination of may not be in fact ordained. Likewise, any bishop-elect in whose ordination he participates may not be in fact ordained to to that office. The problems created by the ECUSA could become exponential.

So back to my original question. As a conservative who supports the ordination of women and who likes the 1979 Book of Common Prayer where do I go? Where do people like me go?

James Richard Holt, Jr.
St Andrew's in the Valley, Barboursville
Huntington, West Virginia, USA
6 August 2003

'I'm proud to be an Anglican'

I was raised a Roman Catholic and what attracted me to the Episcopal church (aside from the music and the 'smells and bells') was the fact that they welcomed all people to join them at the communion table. Unlike the Catholics—who no longer welcome ME at their table—we were accepting of all people, regardless of faith, race, or sexual preference.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding the church in the way It wants us to go and I bow to that wisdom. As to those threatening to leave the church as a result of the recent vote, I would only ask them to remember these words: "Whoever you are, wherever you are in your journey of faith—you are welcome!' I'm proud to be an Anglican.

Mary Nemetz
St Paul's Episcopal Church, Marinette, Wisconsin (Diocese of Fond du Lac)
Menominee, Michigan, USA
6 August 2003

From a former Episcopalian who is now a Roman Catholic, but who hopes

No doubt it is unusual for you to hear from a former Episcopalian who is now Roman Catholic, but here goes. I agree with Mr Bright of Dallas, Texas [Letters, week of 27 July]: the Episcopal Church of the United States is too beautiful a church with too much tradition to allow it to be destroyed by the selfish desires of practicing homosexuals. The bible clearly states that this is an abomination to God. By the way I attended Sewanee in undergraduate school... This letter may do no good, but I will keep all Episcopalians in my prayers.


Warren Hansell Hunt III M.D.
St Mary's Roman Catholic Church
Longview, Texas, USA
7 August 2003

A view from Korea

'God is spirit and those who worship him worship in spirit and truth' John 4:24

There are those who are calling for a split in the Anglican Communion worldwide. An official split would mean that, among other things, we no longer want to worship together. For me, after five years of worshipping here in Korea, it means our worshipping relationship would end and I would not be welcome here. It is a truth: our bond would be broken.

The quote above from John 4:24 I have prayed all week of General Convention. Prior to this week, I indeed wrestled with the issue of sexuality, ordination, and consecration. Coming into the Episcopal fold from the Roman Catholic Church in Washington D.C. at St. Alban's Church was an event of my life. And I lived and worshipped for three years at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and had to seriously wrestle with them. It was a jolt to learn that this church God had chosen for me openly dealt with sexuality as boldly as did Grace Cathedral. The Reverend Alan Jones's commitment that Grace be a 'House of Prayer for All People' is genuine. Despite my prejudices against men and women living out their lives in committed relationships to each other, I still am glad to say that, first, I am a member of a church that speaks openly of what others hide and will not deal with in a loving way. Secondly, we all worshipped together on Sundays. Thirdly, we all worked for Christ together in various ministries at Grace. Fourthly, we gave final rites to those denied in their own churches, due to their sexuality or AIDs or both.

Episcopalians in America worship inclusively, not excluding those seeking contact with God in Christ in community. How many gays and lesbians do you know? When was the last time you worshipped with them? When was the last time you ministered to them? Don't they to need ministers who are sensitive to their identify as some of them see it? Don't we all?

Gays and lesbians are baptized and entitled to the sacraments, be it a blessing on a relationship, ordination, or consecration. Let God in Christ Jesus do the judgement and let us work together to do what we can to help a needy world, be it in Uganda, Korea, or America. Let us come out of ourselves and our persuasions enough to allow all those excluded into God's Kingdom on earth—or perhaps some day we too will be excluded when what we need is acceptance.

A friend at Grace Cathedral taught me, we are all accepted by God in Christ Jesus as we are. In community we perhaps will change and grow more into the likeness of Christ. Scripture and the parables guide us. We struggle together in our humanity.

Ms Havilah D J Iapalucci
Episcopalian in the USA—Anglican here in Korea
Daegu, Korea
9 August 2003

Inclusion, exclusion—and finding the words

I have been following the drama of electing the first openly gay bishop to the church with interest—and support his election. My concern lies with those who so angrily oppose this action and speak of schism. Their words speak more of hate than of love, of exclusion of others more than inclusion of all, and this disturbs me greatly. Perhaps they should read the Bible more closely and look for those words of inclusion, rather than the hate-filled language they have been using lately. Perhaps if they should they fail to follow the true teachings of Christ, then they are the ones who should be excluded from the Church, not the gay minister who works for inclusion.

Steven Watson
Genesee, Idaho, USA
9 August 2003

'Having been an Episcopalian all my life, I am not really shocked at the performance of the bishops'

Having been an Episcopalian all my life, I am not really shocked at the performance of the bishops at the convention. It seems that they have voted to elect to the bishopric a person that, despite his vows to duly execute the office to which he is called, flaunts his homosexuality. The bishops have succumbed to the secular and politically-correct view of the situation, instead of the Biblical and Prayer book and the Episcopal Church requirements for a bishop. The Church doesn't have to be politically correct, it has to be steadfast in its core beliefs. Perhaps the House of Bishops were afraid they might be sued for discrimination? I for one will not be dismayed by the conventions antics, we as a church has survived despite the mistakes that have been voted by other conventions and will survive this aberration. By God's grace we are saved.

Lydia Woodcheke
St Martin's Episcopal Church
Hudson, Florida, USA
8 August 2003

'Stop feeding the media hype'

'I am clear that the anxieties caused by recent developments have reached the point where we will need to sit down and discuss their consequences,' the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his statement.

How sad that the church hierarchy cannot put the election of one new bishop in perspective. I've been a member of the Episcopal church for 50+ years and was never prouder than when General Convention voted to accept Canon Robinson as a bishop. That action confirmed to me that the Episcopal Church is willing to take a difficult and lonely step forward by acknowledging that group of God's children who are traditionally cast out or down. And who among us is so much better a person that we have the right to keep them from sitting in the pew next to us, to paraphrase a Biblical quote... Change is never easy and, obviously, neither is tolerance.

Those of us in heterosexual relationships who have friends and family who are in gay relationships know that one's sexual persuasion is only a small facet of what makes you a good (or not) human being. Kudos to the Episcopal Church for having the courage to recognize that as well. And shame on church leaders who are more focused on 'consequences' than on celebrating the expansion of the ecumenical community.

Today's news is an item in tomorrow's deleted folder. Church leaders need to stop feeding the media hype and instead encourage patience and tolerance. They need to give this time to settle, which it will when some other 'crisis' takes over the headlines. They might then just discover that, when all is said and done, there will not be that many negative changes in the day-to-day life of any given parish.

Linda Moore
Episcopal in whatever city I'm traveling in at the time
Gardner, Maine, USA
8 August 2003

Well, thank you!

Thanks for a wonderful site. Ya'll have definitely enriched my understanding and participation in the church. The treatment of the General Convention is nothing if not appropriate. You save us from the media's rush to judgement—or at least trying to get us to judge others. Again thank you, I will continue to be a frequent visitor.

Freddy Vang

Alfred Vang
St Martin in the Fields
Columbia, South Carolina, USA
10 August 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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