Bishop Paul wrote the following to the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem on Bakery, the list-serve of the Diocese of Bethlehem.
Some of you have noticed reports about the archbishop of the Sudanese church recognizing the Anglican Church in North America as the true Anglican presence in North America, and pledging his church to work only with "orthodox" dioceses within The Episcopal Church. The archbishop of Sudan has accordingly withdrawn his invitation to our Presiding Bishop to visit Sudan. The issue is the status of gay and lesbian people in our church.
It is my hope that Bishop Anthony of Kajo-Keji and I can have personal communication before there is any public analysis from either of us on the substance of this matter, or of the theological and ecclesial dimensions of an individual national church taking decisions about how the Anglican Communion is present in another place, and I wrote to him on Saturday and have forwarded other correspondence to him, including this. It is my hope to get some sense of why the letter was written, why it was written now, and what nuances may be lost on westerners (and vice versa--I couldn't begin to compose a theological statement in a second living language). Until I hear from Bishop Anthony about any _actual_ change in the nature of our relationship, including our perceived status as orthodox (or orthodox enough), I am simply pausing, on both the personal and administrative levels, and have communicated that sense of pause to the New Hope administrators as well as to Bishop Anthony. To me, this is one of those times when it is necessary to do nothing.
Ideally, Bishop Anthony and I will write to you together, as we have done in the past when there was tension. In any event, I will share what I learn from him.
WHILE WE WAIT
1) Here is what I am remembering as I wait for more information: every day up to 1600 Sudanese children go to school because you and I have cared about them. That concrete fact will anchor us as we try to understand a particular moment in the always-changing contours of any living relationship.
2) Those of us who have a passion about sisters and brothers in Africa will need to continue believing that love always finds a way. The question of the giving and receiving love between those who may not understand or approve of each other is absolutely essential to the gospel of reconciliation, and this issue always comes before fine points biblical interpretation or ecclesiastical politics. Politics can be about love, however, in the long run.
3) Advent is about waiting, as Canon Anne Kitch has reminded us so movingly over the last four weeks in her daily columns. But to those who have grown weary through millenia of waiting for dignity--or physical security--because of who they are sexually, and who may be beyond-tired of being an issue for other people to debate yet again, I express my profound and lasting regret, a regret really too deep for mere words, along with my admiration for their bothering to be Christian at all and my belief that there will be another set of circumstances if we really choose that as God's people.
posted by Andrew Gerns