Friday, September 21, 2007

MInd Of The House

The Diocese of Alabama
The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Bishop


To the Primates of the Anglican Communion:

We the bishops of the Episcopal Church meeting in New Orleans greet you in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ and in the fellowship of the churches of the Anglican Communion. We have listened prayerfully to your communiqué from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in February 2007 and offer our response.

We recognize that in the polity of the Episcopal Church we as the House of Bishops acting alone cannot legislate for this church or alter resolutions of the General Convention. In our role as chief pastors of the Episcopal Church we believe that, consistent with the report presented to you by the Communion Sub-Group of the Anglican Communion Joint Standing Committee, our General Convention Resolution B-033 (On the Election of Bishops) is in accord with the requests of the Windsor Report and meets your concerns. The Sub-Group found that this resolution “complies with the force of the Windsor Report” and that by adopting it “the majority of the bishops have committed themselves to the recommendations of the Windsor Report.” We agree.

Secondly, we remind you that our General Convention did not in 2006, nor has before, adopted resolutions authorizing the development of the public rites for the blessing of same sex unions. The Covenant Statement adopted by our House of Bishops in 2005 states that “we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006”. The General Convention of 2006 took no action on this matter and the Covenant Statement continues to have moral force among us as bishops. We continue as well to heed the word of the Primates’ Meeting communiqué from Dromantine assuring “homosexual persons that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.” We recognize that in our diocese there will be differing pastoral responses to this affirmation.

Thirdly, we affirm once again our unequivocal commitment and care for all the dioceses, parishes, and members of the Episcopal Church, as evidenced in our Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight plan. We believe that “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of us all” and we desire for this church to be safe and welcoming for those with different viewpoints. We remain committed to seek as necessary additional pastoral responses other than the pastoral scheme presented in your communiqué, which has been found to be incompatible with the Constitution and Canons of our church. We believe that the concept of Primatial Vicar continues to have merit. It is our conviction that continuing interventions in the ministry of the Episcopal Church by other Anglican bishops and dioceses are damaging to our godly fellowship in the Anglican Communion and we ask that they cease.

Furthermore, it is our belief that the churches of the Communion should fully utilize the Anglican Consultative Council in addressing important issues that come before us. The Council was authorized unanimously by all the provinces of the Anglican Communion for this purpose. It is our one constitutional body and representative of both the ordained ministry and the laity of our constituent member churches. As the listening process takes place among us, the Anglican Consultative Council needs to play a central role in our deliberations.

Finally, we take heart and commend all our churches St. Paul counsel to the church at Ephesus that we live together “with all humility and patience, bearing with one another in love.” Bearing with one another does not require agreement. It requires mutual respect and tolerance as we seek to work through differences with humility and patience. This is the Anglican way. We believe that such mutual forbearance in love is the way forward as we seek to discern the mind of Christ in the matters before the church.

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