Dear Parish Family,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In these extraordinary days in the life of the Church, I continue to bid you to avail yourselves of helpful information from reliable sources. In today’s Post and Courier there is a Pastoral Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Lawrence. Recognizing that all of our diocesan households do not read the paper, the Bishop has asked that each congregation forward this Letter to our electronic mailing list. I am glad to do so.
Rectors of the Diocese were invited to add their names to the letter if they chose, and many did. Some could not be reached in time for publication, others declined. I was one who declined, and I want you to know why.
I have tried to make at least two things clear here at Christ Church.
First and foremost, my own deep convictions on a broad range of issues that I believe concern the very nature of God, Jesus Christ, humanity, and the Sacraments and theology and life of the Church. In short, I believe the Gospel as we have received it is at stake in all of these matters. For this, I am willing to stand, come what may. I believe that places me clearly and unequivocally with Bishop Lawrence, other diocesan leadership, and the majority of the diocese and of this parish church.
Second, my own heart’s ‘strange peace,’ as it were: I find in myself no desire to fight anyone, and so have worked hard to practice and encourage within the parish as non-partisan a tone as possible.
And so, my friends, we’re doing this – the Resolution of the Rector and Vestry presented at last Sunday’s parish meeting makes that clear; and here’s how we’re doing this – everyone go stand where they believe they are called, and there seek and serve Christ. In that, there is no call for fighting.
The Bishop, whom I love and pray for regularly, by virtue of his office, bears the brunt of others’ actions in a way that the rest of us do not. And so the burden uniquely falls to him to decide what corporate, public stands – and in what forums and in what words – the Diocese must take. It is his determination that others’ actions required a public answer by way of a letter in the newspaper. He is probably right in that choice! But it was just enough different from what I would have done, that just this once, on just this one matter of strategy, I declined to add my name. That’s all – no more, no less.
At this Saturday’s Special Diocesan Convention, my name will be on a Resolution that, in a fashion similar to our Vestry’s Resolution, makes clear the reality of our disaffiliation from TEC, and my continuing support of the Bishop, the Diocese of SC, and our call to follow the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as we have received them, and to share that with others.
I am always available to you for discussion and prayer, no matter where you are in your journey. May God bless you.
(The Rev.) Ted Duvall is rector, Christ Church, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina