Two senior executives who accompanied Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold on his visit to Asian nations said the occasion was historically significant for the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries, and Margaret Larom, director of Anglican and Global Mission, said Anglicans in Asia treasure the historic connections with the U.S. Episcopal Church.
“The expedition was in response to invitations extended to the presiding bishop, but quite soon I realized that these invitations were in no sense pro forma,” said Larom. “Rather, they sprang from a deep and sincere desire to know us and work with us on the issues of our time and the eternal mission of Christ in the world. “I was deeply touched to learn how Anglicans treasure the historic connections between our churches – in some cases dating back a century or more,” she said.
Griswold’s visit to Hiroshima was deeply emotional for everyone and served as an historic milestone in the long process of reconciliation between the Japanese and Episcopal churches following World War II, Grieves said. “The Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan) has been a courageous leader in this process,” Grieves said. “Sixty years later we are finding how important it is to remember and to keep reaching out to each other.”
Griswold’s visit to the Demilitarized Zone in Korea and his meeting with the president of South Korea gave visible evidence of support for the Anglican Church in Korea’s efforts to seek reunification of the Korean peninsula. “I think the visit will give a long term boost to our ongoing advocacy in northeast Asia,” Grieves said. “We spend so much of our time focused on Africa and the Middle East. It was good to lift up concerns among some of our Asian partners.”
Visit brought a challenge
The warmth and vitality of the welcome the delegation received – from the provinces of Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, from the Episcopal Church’s own Diocese of Taiwan and from ecumenical partners in China – showed her “that there is more that unites us than divides us,” Larom said.
“The brief but momentous visits in each place were a gift, but also a challenge – to honor our historic ties and build on new friendships in order to do our part in God’s healing work of reconciliation.” Conversations are underway about specific projects, continued and mutual visiting, further advocacy and strengthened relationships, she said. “We may have been separated by time and space and circumstances, but we have no excuse for isolation now.”