To the Bishops of The Episcopal Church
My dear sisters and brothers,
Forgive me writing a general letter. I assure you of my prayers for God’s rich blessing on your meeting with Archbishop Rowan at the end of this month. I had thought about writing for some time, but dismissed the idea. What could a bishop the other side of the world say that would be helpful? When one of my clergy came to me distressed about the state of the Communion, I decided to write.
I write as one who loves the Anglican Communion and who was deeply impressed by the vitality and life of The Episcopal Church when I spent two weeks in the USA after the last Lambeth Conference. I have also had the joy of getting to know a number of you through the last two Lambeth Conferences. The breadth of learning, the beauty of worship, the social outreach programs and your generosity are all marks of a Church which gives a great deal to the Communion.
The events of recent years, which have led to tensions and division (including the establishment of rival jurisdictions supported by some bishops in other parts of the Communion) have filled many of us with deep distress and anguish.
I know that these things have caused much pain in The Episcopal Church and that you must be dismayed at the possibility of any further fracture of our Communion. It seems no matter what you decide as bishops, there will be pain and grief in your Church and in the wider Communion.
Whether there is anything that can help mend the net I do not know, yet I pray from the depth of my anguish that you will be able to take steps, painful as they may be, which will go some way towards ameliorating the situation we are now in.
At a personal level I am committed to the process of listening to those who have different perspectives about human sexuality. The last Lambeth calls us all to this commitment. People of homosexual orientation make an enormous contribution to the Church. We are bound to find a place for them and to thank God for them. It grieves me that we cannot listen to one another and respect our different interpretations of the sacred Scriptures.
It is also true that the Lambeth Conference and the Communion generally take a conservative view on the matter of human sexuality. My prayer and my appeal to you, my sisters and brothers, is that you will reconsider your decision earlier this year not to accept the recommendation of the Primates about making provision for those Episcopalians who currently feel alienated, and about consecrations in the future. It seems to me we are bound to do all in our power to assist those who are alienated, even if some of their actions have made charity very difficult.
If the recommendation of the Primates is implemented, there can be no place for the kind of action that we have seen recently with the consecration of bishops for the USA by bishops of other provinces. It grieves me and astounds me that such action was taken before the visit of Archbishop Rowan and without regard for any possible decision you might make.
Were you to accept the recommendation of the Primates, there would be no justification for setting up or continuing rival jurisdictions. It would also remove the grounds for any suggestion that The Episcopal Church should not be included fully in our Communion. We need you, just as we need the other member Churches. To see the Communion break apart would be to demonstrate that Anglicanism is not able to offer a broken and divided humanity the kind of unity and charity our world needs more than anything else.
It is my intention to send this letter to a number of other bishops in the Communion. Love and unity is a two-way matter. If The Episcopal Church takes such a step, then the whole Communion is called to respond appropriately.
Be assured of my love for you and my continuing prayers,
Your brother in Christ,
(The Rt. Rev.) David McCall, Bishop of Bunbury, Australia