14 May 2007

Report: ECUSA will be invited to Lambeth

This is squarely in the rumor/speculation department, but I was intrigued by this report, which I read on Stand Firm.
In an address to a small group of people at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi on the morning of May 13th, Bishop Duncan Gray stated that he had it "on solid authority" that the Episcopal Church would be invited to Lambeth 2008.

In other remarks, he said that "schism is far more dangerous than heresy," because history teaches us that schism is permanent. He also said that "heresy is like a grain of sand in the oyster - it produces a pearl, like the Nicene Creed." He said that "we incorporate and respond to heresy better than we do to schism."
I have heard similar things about ECUSA and Lambeth, but it's all rumor at this point. Frankly, it's hard for me to see any advantage in shunning ECUSA. What is the harm, I wonder, in conversation among those who disagree on something important? Isn't it better to listen and to hope for conversion, than to shun and to hope for exclusion?

I'm also intrigued by +Duncan Gray's assertion about schism and heresy. It's an interesting point, and one that I think bears more elaboration. This squares with a conversation I had with a local man while I was in Dar es Salaam. You can read the full report, but this is the relevant quote:
We don't share the same view of human sexuality; he said he basically agrees with Peter Akinola about the place of gays in the church. However, we kept talking. I asked him about people who come to church, and what they want in all this. He opined that most Tanzanians come to church to praise God, to hear God, and to grow in their faith. They are worried about their souls and salvation more than anything else, he said. I asked if it would be a problem if the US stayed in Communion -- if this particular society could tolerate being part of a global Communion where there is a more liberal presence.

This man said that he thinks church unity is more important. If the church fractures, then we lose credibility with Muslims. How can we say we are united in Christ if we cannot be united? This was fascinating to me, because the spin machine in the US tells us that any "taint" of homosexuality is a problem in this cultural context. And yet, that is not what I heard from at least this man. For him, the threat of schism is worse than Western liberalism.
As I keep saying, it is not our place to limit God's boundless love. Let us hope for a breadth of voices at Lambeth, and let us pray for a church in which all are welcome.

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