October 18, 2004
At our September 2004 meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States, we approved a statement which affirmed that our House of Bishops is prepared to receive the report of the Lambeth Commission "in a spirit of humility and a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion." I believe it will help us all to keep these words in mind as we receive and digest the lengthy Report of the Lambeth Commission on the Anglican Communion. This Commission, broadly representative of the many and divergent voices within our world-wide Communion regarding current controversies, was charged to make recommendations, not regulations, about how we might live together in the face of division about present controversies.
The great gift of our Maine cultural tradition is the reminder that we need to "soak the beans" before we serve up any final determinations, and, as we all know, there are can be no short-cuts when it comes to soaking beans. Hasty conclusions are not helpful in giving this Report the time and prayer which it deserves. We may be called to live without an immediate resolution to the questions that prompted the preparation of this Report. It is never easy to live in the "not yet" times, but that is where we are called to live right now, and God’s promised grace is more than sufficient for all the uncertainties we face.
The call of the present moment is clearly for us all to reflect prayerfully on our unity in mission. Let us be about that mission which is entrusted to us by the Lord Christ. As Archbishop Eames, the Chairman of the Commission and the Primate of Ireland, has said: "When disagreements arise, when problems face the Church, is it not all too easy to lose sight of the real mission of the Christian Church?"
As the next chapters in our life together unfold, let us be united in mission. A hungry and broken and hurting world awaits our attention and care in Christ’s name. I pray that we will join together in that mission to which Christ has called us, with heartfelt surrender, as we consider this report.
The Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen
Bishop of Maine