Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A meeting with African bishops

This letter from Bishop Kirk Smith of the Diocese of Arizona came to me across the listserv. It's an inspiration we all need right now.

Thank you, Bishop Smith.

July 27 E-Pistle

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For the past week I have been in Spain for an informal meeting between American and African bishops. Unlike most conferences, there was no communique or statement issued at the end of this gathering. That is because we did not come together to solve the problems of the Anglican Communion, but simply to get to know one another better. The "consultation" was sponsored by Trinity Church , Wall Street, and invitations were sent to every American parish which had a Companionship relationship with an African Diocese as well as any others who wished to attend. About 120 did so.

I believe that we all left our retreat center at El Escorial outside of Madrid with renewed hope for the future of our communion. It seemed clear to me that what unites us is far greater than any divisions we might have. I came away with the strong feeling that we are family and we are not going to allow anyone or anything to break that bond.

The other positive outcome was the strengthening of our common commitment to mission. Many of us were able to spend significant time together and learn about what is happening in our respective dioceses. Many new and deep friendships were made as we worshipped and did Bible study together. I got to know many new African bishops, and to bring greetings back from several Sudanese bishops to our own St Paul 's mission.

One thing became especially clear to me. Our African brothers and sisters want us to come and see them! When I suggested in one meeting that the money spent on plane tickets might be better spent on funding various projects, I was quickly reminded that "God created people before God created money!" Another way of saying that relationships are far more important than bank accounts. Our time together gave me some good ideas for ways we might do this which I will share with you at our upcoming convention.

One speaker summed up our time together well: "Jesus did not say, 'Be right as I am right'. He said, Love one another". I felt that love this past week. It is not limited by borders, cultures, or theology. It is what makes us Christ's family.


Ann said...

Thanks for posting this -

Grandmère Mimi said...

"Jesus did not say, 'Be right as I am right'. He said, Love one another".

Pat, thanks for posting this letter. Whatever African bishop said the words above was a wise servant of the Lord.

Saint Pat said...

It's a point of view we desperately need. And it's a great reminder, not *all* African bishops are cut from the Akinolan mold.