Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book .  Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:

Do justice

A series of essays towards General Convention in 2003


Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams


by The Rev. Frank Doe doefam@telusplanet.net


To:  The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams
 
First of all let me say that I am sending this email to this address as I cannot find an address for Archbishop Williams.  This seems to be the same approach taken by his predecessor.  Some of us either do not have access to fax machines or cannot afford trans-Atlantic faxes and so email is the only quick and efficient way many such as myself have for letting our thoughts and opinions be known to the Archbishop.  I would urge you to establish and publish such an address.
 
This week I read with dismay about a letter written by Dr. Jeffrey John withdrawing his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Reading.  According to the TimesOnLine, this letter came after a 6 hour meeting at Lambeth Palace and after threats from wealthy evangelical parishes to divert and/or withhold funds.
 
The Times article went on to say that you called for 'a pause for thought after the open and painful confrontation that had severely strained the bonds of mutual trust'.  Continuing the article also quoted you as saying: "We need now to give ourselves opportunities honestly to think through what has happened and to find what God has been teaching us in these difficult days."
 
Based upon Dr. Jeffrey's withdrawal and the Time's article I have several questions which I would appreciate your personal response to.  If you are the 'leader' of the worldwide Anglican Communion I am interested in your response and not that of someone else drafting a response for you.  I know that our Primate has spoken highly of you many times before you were chosen as Archbishop and I value Bishop Michael's opinion.
 
First:  Did you encourage Dr. Jeffrey to withdraw, either by direct suggestion or by providing him only with a list of threats made as to what would happen if he did not.  Further, did you help him to understand the points as to why he should have stayed and that you would stand by him as you both struggled with these difficult issues?
 
Secondly; Do you really believe that 'unity'  is more important than 'justice' and the 'Gospel'?  In Canada I believe the House of Bishop's call it 'collegiality rather than unity.  To me and to many others the forced resignation of Dr. Jeffrey comes as a denial of not just our ordination vows but also of our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being.  How can you respect the dignity of every human being and yet be a part of an institution which denies gays and lesbians the full rights granted by their baptism?  How can you assure them that they are created in the image of a loving God when you (we) deny them so much, especially the blessing of their unions.  As Anglicans do we not believe that where love is present God is also present?  Many of the samesex couples I know have not had their relationships blessed by the church but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they have been blessed by God.  Is it Christian and can the Anglican Church minister to all with any integrity when it seems to bow to the wishes of those who make threats of schism or withdrawal of financial support?

Thirdly:  Dialogue seems to be the solution suggested by most of the leadership within the Anglican Church.  A man I respect greatly, Bishop Michael Ingham and the people of his diocese tried that in a very well thought out process but some would not participate and others refused to listen.  I believe that at the last Lambeth Conference gay men and women were invited to speak to the bishops about their experiences of being gay and yet the majority refused to hear their stories and in doing so refused them basic 'hospitality' so central to our faith.  If we were able to turn back the clock would we propose 'dialogue' as a means to dissuade Hitler from executing and experimenting of gay's in his prison camps.  When Robert Mugabe calls gay people 'less than dogs'  do Anglicans especially in that country speak out to protect their dignity and worth?  In Uganda, if we are in dialogue, where is the good faith when Bishops and Priests are barred from exercising their ministries because they are gay or gay supportive.  In other parts of the world why are some branches of the church 'refusing' communion to gay Christians?  In his speeches after the last Lambeth conference the former Archbishop of Canterbury seemed to emphasize the need for dialogue.  However, as far as I am aware, other than one well publicized meeting with leaders of the gay Christian community how much time did he invest doing just that?  Is one meeting dialogue?  Did he 'walk the talk'?  I don't think he did.  Don't you think that dialogue is just a delaying tactic used when we lack the courage to do what we know to be right?  I know that there are many sincere Christians who believe that homosexuality is wrong.  That's what the church in its ignorance has taught them.  But isn't it possible to be sincere and dead wrong?  Can you not be sincere and cause irreparable damage to other Christians?  Who bears the cost of continued dialogue if it is not the gay Christian as they wait in hope for justice too long denied?
 
Fourth:  I believe you were nominated and chosen as the Archbishop of Canterbury because of the body of your life's work and teaching including that teaching on 'homosexuality'.  You nomination gave new hope to many who had lost that hope under your predecessor.  To distance yourself now by making a distinction between your teaching on homosexuality and the rest of the body of your life's work may seem to many a betrayal and an artificial separation from the rest of why you were selected as Archbishop of Canterbury.  What other areas of your life's work might you be tempted to separate yourself from?
 
Finally, will you please give consideration to the following points and let me know of your response:
 
a)  will establish through email or some other means a way that all Anglicans can let you know their opinions in a timely manner;
 
b)  if dialogue is pursued, will you also appoint an advocate/chaplain for gay Anglicans who has the power to publicly speak out and address instances where gay Anglicans are being refused communion and others are being persecuted by being denied their rights to function as priests because they are gay or because they are advocates for gay and lesbians within the church?
 
c)  will you yourself speak out and condemn in the strongest possible terms countries and regimes that persecute gays (Egypt, Zimbabwe, etc.)
 
d)  will you level the playing field and support the local option for all diocese which prayerfully decided that God has called them to ordain and  bless samesex relationships?
 
e)  in those places where laws permit the marriage of samesex couples, will you give your assurance that you will defend the right of any clergy who feels as a matter of conscience that they are called to perform such a sacramental rite that you will defend them from being persecuted and disciplined?
 
If you wish more dialogue then I call upon you to lift some of the burden too long carried by gay Christians.  If you wish more dialogue, they I urge you to use the voice and influence of your office anywhere around the world where the Anglican church is persecuting gay Christians and their supporters.
 
I respectfully await your answers and look forward to our continuing dialogue.
 
 
The Rev. Frank Doe
Canmore, Alberta
Canada
 
"What does the Lord require,
but to do justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God."
 
                 Micah 6:8



You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this series. Send them to lcrew@newark.rutgers.edu Identify yourself by name, snail address, parish, and other connections to the Episcopal Church. Please encourage others to do the same.

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