Understanding report will take time
Dear Friends in Christ,
On October 18 the long anticipated report of the Lambeth Commission chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh will be released. Over these past few weeks many people have asked me what will happen. I hope that the following will provide a response to the concerns behind the question.
The question that the Commission was asked to address is how we can achieve the highest degree of communion possible given the great divergence in teaching among our provinces. Comments by Archbishop Eames suggest that there will be both a reflection on the nature of communion and a series of recommendations to enable us to achieve that communion. There will be a tendency to rush to the recommendations. Please read the entire report first. Following the release of the report, we will enter a period of serious communal discernment regarding what we understand the report to mean to us.
On Wednesday, November 3, the clergy of our diocese will meet with the Rt. Rev. Mark Dyer. Bishop Dyer is currently on the faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary. Bishop Dyer was a member of the Commission. He will address the process of the Commission's work and the content of the report. Following his presentation, the clergy will have an opportunity to hold conversation regarding the report and its recommendations.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church will hold a special session in mid January for the purpose of conversation and consultation regarding the report. This meeting will be followed in February by a meeting of the Archbishops of the Anglican Communion.
This coming week is not a time for decisions to be made; rather it is time for the real conversation to begin. The hard work of study and conversation must take place before we will be able with clarity and conviction to talk about the future direction of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, The Episcopal Church, and our place in the Anglican Communion. We must approach our work with an open heart and with a spirit of graciousness towards one another.
Please continue to pray and remain patient as we receive and study the Lambeth Commission Report. The charge to the Commission was to address the issue of communion and fellowship, not sexuality. Those who look to this report for a definitive word to questions of sexual orientation and behavior will be disappointed. The concern of how we will live together as the Anglican Communion crosses all issues and provincial boundaries.
God bless and keep you.
The Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb,
Bishop Southwest Florida