received during the week of 3 August 2003
It was a very busy week for letters; we received nearly 100.
We print a representative assortment.]
for the Solomon Islands
Editors, Thank you for the news link (18 July) to the news article
by Right Reverend Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita (Solomon Islands
western Pacific). Anglicans would do well to read and
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.
St James' Gold Coast North Anglican
Southport, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
4 August 2003
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.
least now let us recognise that there have always been homosexual
priests and that now we are being
honest enough to say so.
do we prefer, the essentially dishonest 'turning
the blind eye', or the profoundly challenging 'grappling
St John's Church, Coromandel Valley. Diocese of Adelaide
Adelaide, South Australia
4 August 2003
view (but not apparently the view of Canon Robinson's family)
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
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.
St Barnabas Episcopal Church
Valdosta, Georgia, USA
4 August 2003
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.
voting, wrong turning
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
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Albany, Georgia, USA
4 August 2003
just not right'
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.
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
the desires of God. He teaches us to love all mankind. We
do. We accept people for their differences, but that doesn't
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.
are to spread the Word of God—Where in the Bible does it say
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
thoughts and beliefs. We need more of us to stand up to what
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.
St Michael's Episcopal Church
Holliston, Massachusetts, USA
5 August 2003
count at Clarence House
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.
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
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
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
not cause a ripple!
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
of the Faith can give a public appearance of living in sin
with a woman who is not his wife?
Robert James McLaughlin, BSG
Church of the Epiphany
Ventnor City, New Jersey, USA
6 August 2003
Gene Robinson and Peter Akinola belong in our Communion'
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?
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.
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
But we are, that's true!'
brothers and sisters, you are loved, and you are wanted. You
are part of us as we are part of you. Please stay.
St Ann's Episcopal Church
6 August 2003
in peace, says a Lutheran
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?
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
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
taken into the church without any ado.
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
from this man and allow him to learn from you.
St Paul's Lutheran Church
Sarasota, Florida, USA
6 August 2003
rather split than fight
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.
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.
Episcopal Church in the USA
American living in Austria
6 August 2003
my children to grow up in a church that accepts humans and treats
them with equality'
their acts ye shall know them'
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
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
couples. I didnít see a reason to deny anyone the right to be
a priest because of their sexual orientation.
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,
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.
why I am becoming an Episcopalian, a church that ordains women
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.
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
6 August 2003
view from the Roman Church
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.
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.
Shohola, Pennsylvania. USA
6 August 2003
fads, scripture, and the Constitution
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.
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.
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?
St Jude's Episcopal Church
Marietta, Georgia, USA
6 August 2003
organisations, Congress—and states of grace
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.
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?
St Clare's Episcopal Church
Blairsville, Georgia, USA
10 August 2003
does a moderately conservative Episcopalian go now?'
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
Book flows better.
think that Canon Robinson should have been defrocked when he
admitted to being an active homosexual.
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
sexual conduct, which just compounds the problems I have with
Canon (Bishop-Elect) Robinson.
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.
bishop-elect in whose ordination he participates may not be in
ordained to to that office. The problems created by the ECUSA
could become exponential.
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?
Richard Holt, Jr.
St Andrew's in the Valley, Barboursville
Huntington, West Virginia, USA
6 August 2003
proud to be an Anglican'
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.
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.
St Paul's Episcopal Church, Marinette, Wisconsin (Diocese of Fond
Menominee, Michigan, USA
6 August 2003
a former Episcopalian who is now a Roman Catholic, but who hopes
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
it to be destroyed by the selfish desires of practicing homosexuals.
The bible clearly states that this is an abomination to God.
way I attended Sewanee in undergraduate school... This letter
may do no good, but I will keep all Episcopalians in my prayers.
Hansell Hunt III M.D.
St Mary's Roman Catholic Church
Longview, Texas, USA
7 August 2003
view from Korea
is spirit and those who worship him worship in spirit and truth' John 4:24
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
Havilah D J Iapalucci
Episcopalian in the USA—Anglican here in Korea
9 August 2003
exclusion—and finding the words
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
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
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.
Genesee, Idaho, USA
9 August 2003
been an Episcopalian all my life, I am not really shocked at the
performance of the bishops'
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
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.
St Martin's Episcopal Church
Hudson, Florida, USA
8 August 2003
feeding the media hype'
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Episcopal in whatever city I'm traveling in at the time
Gardner, Maine, USA
8 August 2003
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.
St Martin in the Fields
Columbia, South Carolina, USA
10 August 2003
We launched our 'Letters
to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our