I write to you today with an initial reflection in response to the release of the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. I also have included the response made by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold earlier this morning. With the publication of the Windsor Report we are reminded that this is an Episcopal Church in communion with Anglicans around the world. The House of Bishops will meet in January to reflect on the report and to work proactively to see how we all remain a part of the Anglican Communion. The primary work of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops is reconciliation and honoring different theologies as we walk with Christ. As both Presiding Bishop Griswold and Bishop Eames, chair of the commission, have said, the Windsor Report can point us toward reconciliation and away from punishment and division.
The fact that the whole commission spoke with one voice in unanimously adopting its findings shows unity in diversity is possible. Our next step is to study and have conversations in all orders about the report and its recommendations so that we can respond from the unique experience of the Church in western Washington to its contents. Our long record of dialogue about this issue can and will serve as an example to the rest of the church.
There is no doubt in my mind that the responses will be mixed and many. Critical, thoughtful study will, I trust, open up the possibility for those on any side of these issues to stay in communion with one anther as the primates of the Anglican Communion have asked. It is naive to believe that we will come to one mind, but it is not naive to believe that in Christ we can find union. Unity does not mean uniformity and reconciliation does not mean coming to one mind. The report does call us to accountability because it is grounded in reconciliation leading to conversion and communion leading to wholeness of community.
In the end, there are parts of the report that will test each of us, but let us not forget that it is not our church but God’s. And in God’s church, there are no outsiders. I concur with our presiding bishop that we have an obligation to affirm the presence and positive contribution of gay and lesbian persons in every aspect of the life of our church and in all orders of ministry. At the same time I know our actions of fully including gays and lesbians has upset other parts of the Anglican Communion and people in our own church in western Washington.
In the days to come I will be in conversation with you about how we as clergy can lead and teach with a spirit of reconciliation and not division. All of us, no matter our point of view, need the opportunity to express ourselves. I am intent on being inclusive of all points of view. The future has yet to be revealed. This is the beginning of the conversation and not the end.
The Rt. Rev. Vincent W. Warner,
Bishop of Olympia