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This page last updated 1 July 2004
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. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

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. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 20 to 27 June 2004

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Archbishop Wakahuihui Vercoe of New Zealand

IN YOUR INTERESTING COVER ARTICLE (AO 20 June) you note the vision elected Archbishop Wakahuihui Vercoe of New Zealand has of a world without homosexuality. You rightly express a hope that "the special genius of the Church in New Zealand -- to live amongst difference with grace and goodwill" will continue. Only a month or so ago the General Synod of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia unanimously approved a statement in which it said that it 'acknowledges and honours the contribution that gay and lesbian Anglicans make to the life and ministry of our Church'. For a sane and sensible New Zealand perspective, read an article in the New Zealand Herald of 9 June 04 by Bishop Richard Randerson, Dean of Auckland. Other criticism of Archbishop Vercoe has been less temperate.

Clive Aspin, head of a Maori sexuality research project at Auckland University is reported as saying that Archbishop Vercoe's comments threaten to do long-term and permanent damage to youngsters grappling with sexuality. Researcher Dr Leonie Pihama called the Archbishops's vision of a world without gays 'holocaustic', and Maori author Witi Ihimaera called for Vercoe's resignation. Auckland University theological lecturer and Anglican priest, Philip Culbertson, said the archbishop's comments were a breach of a church prohibition against homophobic statements.

Brian McKinlay
St Philip's, O'Connor
21 June 2004

IT WAS BOUND TO HAPPEN: Anglicans Online catching up with the embarrassment so many Anglicans are feeling in NZ over the public pronouncements of an aging, bigoted old Maori man. Nevermind that the NZ General Synod that elected him (I believe in error -- it was left to the Maori Tikanga to select their man -- rather than an open challenging selection by the whole Synod) had just voted that the contributions and presence of gay and lesbians persons within the church are valued. Please seek and publish the responses of Bishop Richard Randerson, Assistant in Auckland, who has been coping with the aftermath. . .

Gillian Lander
St John the Baptist Anglican, Northcote
22 June 2004

Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand

THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEATURE about the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia and George Augustus Selwyn, our first bishop. Sometimes living in NZ can feel as remote as the moon from the rest of the Anglican world, and it is good to know we are not forgotten!

The Anglican Church in this country has often led the way in race relations, especially when we adopted the "three tikanga" (strands) approach, with Maori, Pakeha (white) and Polynesian dioceses having equal representation in the church. We led the way in liturgical and theological reform when we issued the New Zealand Prayer Book, and consecrated Bishop Penny Jamieson as the first female diocesan bishop. Like you, I hope and pray that we can continue to work and pray for reconciliation in our multicultural society and between different theological traditions.

One of the strengths of the Church here (as I see it) is the way we embrace and celebrate difference -- theological, racial, language, sexual practice etc. I pray that we can continue to find our unity in diversity -- here and in the Communion as a whole.

We continue to pray for Archbishop Whakahuihui Vercoe, that he will represent our church with grace both in New Zealand and on the world stage.

Blessings on your ministry at AO,

Robyn Parkin n/tssf
St James' Lower Hutt
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
25 June 2004

IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND there is an Anglican evangelist called the Reverend Robin Gamble who works hard to bring the Gospel to people in our post-modern culture. In the past he has used both the Simpson family stories and rock music (like that of the pop-group Queen) as opportunities to communicate the Gospel. His present-day suggestions, called START, are being used by forward-looking vicars to reach out to those who are not yet of the Faith. This is a difficult task because popular culture is changing with the speed of light, and harassed vicars are having to widen their role to include that of a diplomatic enabler within the parish.

In another context, although still relevant, it was John Mbiti who said that the Gospel came to each culture as a stranger, a stranger which settles down, although later it may criticise that culture.

Your article on Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, who brought the gospel to the, as then, different culture of New Zealand, is most apt.

Kindest Regards

David Crowther
Clayton, Bradford, UNITED KINGDOM
22 June 2004

Come all ye shepherds

I AM THE WEBMASTER for the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd In Edmonton. I am starting a web page with pictures of other Good Shepherd Anglican churches. I would like to get as many digital pictures of Good Shepherd Anglican churches as I can to post. I will credit the photographer if they want me to. I have only one at this time but would like to get more if possible. The web page address is

Harold Lake
Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd
Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA
22 June 2004

'A scruffy little band of holy barefoot radicals'

I AM AN EPISCOPAL PRIEST IN MONTANA and a vowed solitary. This is the essence of an email I sent Dr. Ephraim Radner in response to his essay, but I decided I would like to share it with the whole.

I appreciate profoundly Dr. Radner's appeal for all to stay within the church. My heart has felt broken and torn open in prayer over divisions. I truly believe division rends asunder the Heart of Christ. The Sacred Heart of Christ image is one of the most profound of images for me in prayer and I pray to enter into that Sacred Heart.

I am convinced that it is only the conservatives that can offer this clarion call for unity, especially the conservative bishops. And alas it seems to me the reasons for threatened division are less than pure and more intertwined with multiple motives than admitted. It seems against the heart of Christ to seek division. I understand those who speak up for the necessity of the division of the reformation but it seems we are far from that historical point. And it seems to me the 'current issue' separates us from the core Bonhoeffer 'costly grace' of the gospel. It is like straining at the gnats. 'Is Christ divided?' Where do the conservative/liberal boundaries fall when one of us saith 'I am of Paul; and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas and I of Christ?' Shame on us all.

It seems to me there is another paradigm. I say this portion writ large, with blood and tears and prayers. It seems to me the very labels of conservative and liberal are not scripturally useful nor spiritually healing. Would the Jerusalem Church be the conservative one, and Paul the liberal? Our history falls along many fault lines.

The concept of a RADICAL church, a mystical church seems truer than the labels of conservative or liberal. Rahner speaks of the church that must become mystical or die. The gospels are the most radically costly of any religion in the world. Every thing is required. Every. Even our righteousness, even our own way. With the gospel in our hands and the Lord in our hearts, there could be no participation in war or materialism. We would be pre-Constantine, pre-power and archy. We would give up power, position, salary and title. When we enter into the Heart of Christ, most of our divisions would be petty compared to the crucified power of love. We would be a scruffy little band of holy barefoot radicals following Christ with all our hearts. We would lay down our lives. This is the inerrant gospel. There are incredible models of saints through history that have followed this model of Christ. This is the model of barefoot in the snow, naked in the night, Paul in prison, Christ crucified upon the cross to lead us to redemption. I beg and pray and beseech for this model.

I have not put this well. It is actually so profound a call that words fail. It is living the Sermon on the Mount. I truly believe that the survival of Christianity beholds us to this intensely radical gospel of Christ. I am not there yet; none of us are; but the taste is on my tongue as I pray for the Church Whole. When Jesus was transfigured, the apostles saw only Jesus. Only Jesus. So must we.

Sister Judith Schenck
Hermitage of the Transfiguration
Kalispell, Montana, USA
22 June 2004

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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