Q.What advice do you
have to give the new presiding bishop?
Listen to voices unlike your
By George McGonigle
I will not presume to advise the
presiding bishop unless asked.
I have assisted in that office and am painfully aware of the amount
of unsolicited advice the P.B. gets every day. What follows are
views and hopes, not advice.
The Episcopal Church is in a
different place than it was 12 years
ago, when we elected the 24th presiding bishop. The host culture
is even more secularized. Respect for institutional life has waned
even further. Fragmentation of our Lord's Body, driven by a seemingly
excessive fixation upon social, political and economic issues,
continues lessening the church's spiritual energy for its mission
So it seems to me, the new P.B. has
a very different set of leadership
tasks than his recent predecessors. Today it will not serve the
church well for its bishops to take non-negotiable stands, however
prophetic and courageous, on issues about which the church is
substantially divided. If the P.B. is to lead the whole church
in all its diversity, he will want to avoid contributing to division.
Instead, the new P.B.-elect (and I
believe he may already be heading
this way) will want to be a servant leader. He can begin by listening
to a broad cross-section -- not just to those closest to him.
He can pro-actively seek out those of differing viewpoints to
inform his own ministry. He can help us all to see differing views
as honorable expressions of people of good will. He will want
to find ways toward commonality upon which the reconciling mission
of God's church can stand united, letting points of difference
remain but not letting them become immobilizing.
Another aspect of the P.B.'s
ministry I hope for is building partnerships
between those with missionary vision and those who have the resources
to make vision reality. The P.B., Executive Council and the staff
supporting them have been challenged to "reinvent" their
within the realities of local (i.e., diocesan and congregational)
initiative. Dioceses and congregations believe they are the front-line
missionaries and expect those who may have a broader vision and
challenge to come to them and serve with them, not just send them
The time for assigning blame is
over because those with resources
believe themselves guiltless in deciding they know how to be good
stewards of the assets under their care. So building accountability
into all missionary partnerships is vital. Well intended but vague
reporting to General Convention will not do. Local partners expect
an arrangement where each cares for all and all care for each.
In other words, the watchword is mutuality -- not judgment. |
George McGonigle of Austin, Texas, served as
president of the
House of Deputies' president's Council of Advice.
Speak out, support the least of
By Nell Gibson
When Bishop Frank Griswold is
installed as the 25th presiding
bishop, all Episcopalians under his jurisdiction will expect him
to speak out on every issue imaginable. We will expect it in great
part because we long for a voice of reason and hope in these troubled
times. We desperately seek a voice which will add a counterpoint
to the voices of hate and indifference rising up from the secular
and religious worlds, a voice willing to confront those who would
turn back the hands of time and erase recent gains made through
affirmative action and equal opportunity.
The new presiding bishop will stand
in one of the most visable
bully pulpits in the nation. For many, whether he chooses to address
the burning issues of the day will be as important as which issues
he chooses to address. Should he choose to keep silent on such
issues, his silence could be used as fuel for much of the growing
distrust of the institutional church.
Among African-Americans, such
distrust is born out of a sense
of powerlessness to effect sustained and meaningful change. This
sense of powerlessness has been illustrated most recently in the
passage of California's Proposition 209 and of a group of New
York City police officers' brutalization of Haitian immigrant
Abner Louima. At these times we look to the church for a clear
prophetic voice. For healing and wholeness within the church,
it is vitally important for the presiding bishop to communicate
support and respect for all its members.
During the last triennium the
Episcopal Church committed itself
to combating racism and began its work with the publication of
"A National Dialogue on Anti-Racism." While such a dialogue is
a beginning, any serious commitment to combat racism must move
beyond dialogue and toward action. People in positions of leadership
like the presiding bishop must be willing to stand with and speak
on behalf of the brutalized and marginalized members of the church
In recent times the Episcopal
Church has had little if any overt
hostility toward women, people of color, gays or lesbians. In
fact, the last administration sought to be a church in which there
were no outcasts. But even in the best of times it is important
for the top decision-maker to consider the opinions of traditionally
disenfranchised people who serve at the highest levels of the
church. Such consideration often works to eliminate feelings of
alienation, which, if left unchecked, can reduce the effectiveness
of healthy relations between the races and produce a net result
of distrust within the institution.
Nell Braxton Gibson serves as associate general
inclusiveness and justice with the National Council of Churches
To the church: Express your
By Patti Browning
When I was asked what advice I
would give to the new presiding
bishop, at first I thought I would have lots of advice. Surely
the experience of these years would make me a font of information.
However, I found I really couldn't warm to that topic.
After these 12 years, I have
learned there is no simple word one
can offer, no standard formula and little conventional wisdom.
Every day is different, every person is unique and no two challenges
are the same. The best I might come up with for the next presiding
bishop and his spouse would be to say: trust and be faithful.
But from knowing and loving Frank and Phoebe, I am aware that
they are truly grounded in the Lord, and to trust and be faithful
is already natural to their way of being.
Instead, the question got me
thinking about what kind of advice
I might give to the members of the church. Being the presiding
bishop is not about one person. It is about a community of faithful
people who are working together to carry out the gospel imperatives.
It is about a community of faithful people who love one another,
as Christ loved us. Our church has many leaders and each must
work to be faithful: to God and to one another.
Together, the community of the
baptized are the leaders of the
church. We receive our direction from the baptismal covenant.
When you read the baptismal service, you see that it all rests
on love. Love is that habit of the heart, without which, as Paul
says, all the rest comes to nothing.
My advice then, is to love one
another. Only a community filled
with love can carry out the imperatives of the gospel in this
broken and pain-filled world. Only a community filled with love
can banish the hate that afflicts nations, communities, families,
even churches. Love one another, and most especially love Frank
and Phoebe Griswold so they may carry out in joy the ministry
to which the church has called them.
This ministry is not without its
very difficult hours, as Ed and
I know well. However, the love of people around the church has
made it not only possible for us; it has made it a great joy.
My own heart is full of love and thanksgiving for all of you. |
Patti Browning, wife of Presiding Bishop Edmond
practiced a ministry of caring over the past 12 years in some
of the most troubled places on Earth.
Be God's leader grounded in
By John Lane
You are becoming the leader of a
wonderful church. God's people
are excited about the possibilities for mission. They like the
liturgies in which they participate. The sermons I hear today
are, on average, much better than they were a generation ago.
Parish communities and individual parishioners are involved in
enough different and effective social ministries to provide Episcopal
Life with a new feature story every month for the next hundred
years. Smaller churches are finding wonderful and creative ways
to engage in ministry, no longer feeling like second-class citizens.
I hope that as presiding bishop you
will provide leadership to
the church, pushing and pulling us to do the things that Christians
are called to do by the gospel of Jesus Christ. You would be wise
to concentrate your attention on the Gospels according to Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John. I propose that we all spend some time treating
the other books of the Bible as commentaries on the four Gospels,
and pay more attention to what Jesus said and did.
Jesus said little about sex and
nothing about homosexuality. He
talked instead about the kingdom of God, love, forgiving one another,
courage in the face of adversity, humility, service to the needy,
compassion, the guidance of the Spirit, prayer, community, the
dangers of self-righteousness and the like. We would do well to
follow his example. If we did, we might discover that we agree
about more things than we thought.
Recently, the archbishop of
Canterbury said, "The church is not
in the business of keeping a church organization going, but in
bearing witness to Jesus Christ." I wouldn't spend an undue amount
of time worrying about the future of the church, its financial
ups-and-downs or whether God is strong enough to survive -- even
in the midst of our greatest silliness or sinfulness.
To quote the Jewish council member
Gamaliel on the ministry and
preaching of the apostles, "If this plan or this undertaking is
of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able
to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" (Acts
5:38-39). Whatever you do as presiding bishop, God will find a
way to prevail. Say your prayers, listen to God, and follow your
best instincts. And remember, every one of your congregations
will be praying for you by name. |
The Rev. John D. Lane of the Diocese of
serves on Executive Council.
The Episcopal Church, in the
creeds, professes to be a catholic
church. The definition is a church universal. Everybody abides
by the rules made in convention, all bishops, clergy and lay people.
Those who do not should be reprimanded. If they do not come into
line they should be excommunicated by you.
You yourself should live by the
rules whether you agree with them
Anthony G. Woodson
If I were the new presiding
bishop of the Episcopal Church of
America I would pray for strength to keep the devil out of the
You can do better with honey than
vinegar. Speak softly to God
Help us reclaim our sense of
being a missionary church. Forthrightly
and candidly address the way the dioceses of the Episcopal Church
support the budget of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
By not fully supporting the mission
of the Domestic and Foreign
Missionary Society, some dioceses seem to be saying their local
and regional mission is more important than our national and global
Bruce A. Rockwell
As our presiding bishop, please
love us! We are 2.5 million disparate
folk -- sometimes hard to love, but we need it. Especially love
and serve your comrade bishops: be their pastor and friend and
make none feel outcast.
Inspire us with your personal,
private and public devotion. Strive
to include all people, groups, races and persuasions; marginalize
As a father, too, seek to find ways
to bring our church meaningfully
to our children.
Come and visit with us. You will be
busy in New York; but remember
our church spreads nearly round the world!
Willis H.A. Moore
Please remember that the
Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican
Communion, part of a vibrant and exciting member of the Body of
Christ. Set the example for the Episcopal Church and its members
to think globally, to really desire to be in fellowship with our
brothers and sisters in Christ through our common traditions and
Embrace the global church, for
American Christians have much to
learn from what God is doing among other peoples and cultures.
Travel to experience the life of
our Anglican and ecumenical partners
in their cities and villages, and refuse to be put off by intra-Anglican
disagreements. Increase the number of Episcopal missionaries,
both to share the gospel and to expose more U.S. parishes and
dioceses to what God is doing among other peoples. In a suffering
world, expand the church's prophetic commitment to debt cancellation,
environmental renewal and human liberation as Jubilee 2000 approaches.
And may God bless you in it all.
The Rev. Titus Presler
Be more of a spiritual leader
rather than an administrator and
let the administrative staff run the office from day to day.
Commence the healing process by
being visible around the country
and bringing Anglican Episcopalians together.
Concentrate on finding ways and
means of "growing the Anglican
Episcopal Church of America." The church has lost over 1 million
members over the past two decades.
Work ardently to heal the Body of
Christ and to avoid any further
involvement of the church in accommodating the issues such as
same-sex marriages and ordinations of persons who have caused
great schisms among us.
Eric E. Dawson
The root cause of many of the
present-day woes in the Episcopal
Church is traceable to a loss of mutual respect between clergy
and laity -- one of the end results being the increase in clergy-abuse
cases. Study the causes and possible solution to this horror,
along with the church's actions (or lack thereof) when specific
cases are known, and take positive steps to target the problem
with its ensuing emotional, psychological and spiritual fallout.
Relationship problems will never be eradicated as long as human
beings are involved in the church; the true sin is found in not
reassessing the response to them.
Nancy "Red" Guernsey
Set aside the present problems
of today's church and concentrate
on giving the people a new sense of moral behavior which would
be pleasing to God, and also concentrate on explaining the true
meaning of sins against God.
Chief sources of sin: pride,
covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony,
envy and sloth. We need a new crusader to raise the banner high,
a new beginning with the love of God and for God our priority.
Alice M. Hoover
Abandon immediately the project
of chasing after the "cultured
despisers of religion." Focus on a missionary effort to the multitudes
-- the media-saturated lost tribes of North America -- who are
hunger for a direct faith experience with Christ.
Challenge churches to resist
consumerism, which distorts and destroys
Don't sell out to special-interest
groups. Challenge them, rather,
to adopt an apostolic stance to their ministry -- "Bring the good
news of Jesus Christ to the people and stop whining."
The Rev. Philip Lyon Rountree Jr.
Sexuality is an issue, but not
the issue. The issue is the centrality
of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture, the word of God.
We have strayed from our roots, our anchor, and from the church
universal. Bring us back again under the lordship of Jesus.
The Rev. Joseph Keblesh Jr.
Do not be deterred in your
intention to open to all persons in
our church the opportunity for full participation in every rite
and way, by those forces of opposition who would intimidate with
threats to leave.
Stand firm. You've got it right.
Under your leadership our church
will continue to be that culturally and socially transformational
agent that has so defined the Anglican Episcopal tradition.
Do not be afraid of those who seek
to control you. We are with
you. We stand alongside of you.
The Rev. Alan C. Miller
Lake Placid, Fla.
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