Working with what we don't know about Sudan

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 The archbishop of Sudan has accordingly withdrawn his invitation to our Presiding Bishop to visit Sudan.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.


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

Bakery Conversation on Passion for the Gospel and Hands-on Ministry

The primary interactive list of the Diocese of Bethlehem is called "Bakery." If you participate, you may be addressed as a "crouton." After all, Bethlehem means "House of Bread." To join, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box on the right hand side of the Diobeth website. On Bakery, you will find conversations such as the one below that was initiated by Epiphany Clarks Summit rector Craig Sweeney. Once joined, you may read, initiate or comment on conversations.

[Updated March 25]

[From Craig Sweeney, rector, Epiphany Clarks Summit]
Referencing this article from Alban Institute

I suspect many of you have seen this. It is long on description and short on prescription. But the author sure summarizes how I feel!  It is good to know I'm not alone.

My overriding sense of how to bring folks into the church always brings me back to one word  - passion.  If we aren't passionate about our faith and parish, why would anyone want to join?  It was passion for God and what God has done in Jesus that finally moved me out of my complacency and into seminary. That passion fades yearly as I deal with an intense yearning among my people for the past or at least the status quo, and very little desire to be the Body of Christ. And my folks are wonderful, talented people. But they are busy, busy people.  How can we inspire in them passion for the Gospel? They are well off, healthy and consumed with family life and children's sports. I preach and talk about 'hands on ministry' in our community and get only blank faces. To me it is hands on ministry that builds passion, not meetings and potlucks. And the truth is that there is not much need here in the Abingtons.... 

If you have time, the comment thread for this article is also interesting. Pardon my rant...

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