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Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold begins 'new season' of public ministry

By Bob Williams

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold  

[Episcopal News Service]  A "new season" of public ministry given to teaching, writing, and convening interfaith and international dialogue begins All Saints' Day, November 1, for Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, 69. Griswold's nine-year term in office as the Episcopal Church's Primate and 25th Presiding Bishop concludes October 31.

Griswold's successor, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will be invested as 26th Presiding Bishop on November 4 noted on the day of her election that she hopes he will have a continuing public ministry on behalf of the Episcopal Church. "He has very much more to offer us all," she said. "We will continue to give thanks for the gifts he has given us in ways that we may not yet recognize." Jefferts Schori has asked Griswold to lead the Episcopal Church's deputation to the "Toward Effective Anglican Mission (TEAM)" meeting in Boksburg, South Africa in March 2007.

As part of his new work, Griswold has accepted the invitation of New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to be the Cathedral's Canon for International and Interfaith Ministry, Dean James Kowalski has announced.

"This ministry is about building upon relationships, and especially upon the work that Bishop Griswold has been doing for some years to bring people of all faiths together for reconciliation and justice without participating in divisiveness," Kowalski said. The dean underscored the strategic location of the New York cathedral in "arguably the most international city in the world" and in proximity to the headquarters of the United Nations.

Griswold noted that "As Presiding Bishop I have been privileged to travel extensively in other parts of the world and to experience the complex realities with which our brother and sister Anglicans live day by day. This has given me an enlarged sense of what it means to be an Anglican in a global context."

Griswold has also accepted invitations to lecture and teach in seminaries, both in the United States and other Anglican provinces, and to conduct retreats and conferences. Among the first of these are an Advent retreat for clergy and laity December 3-6 at the Cathedral College in Washington, and February 24-27 Lenten presentations at Trinity Church in Santa Barbara, California.

He also has plans for writing books, including one which will focus on the connections between ministry and spiritual life and another "guide for seekers."
Griswold's wife, Phoebe, plans to continue her work with international Anglican Women's Empowerment, an organization of which she is a founding member, that widens women's leadership in addressing global concerns at all levels of church life.

The Griswolds plan to reside in Philadelphia, where both were born and raised, and in New Hampshire, where they have had a house for many years.

"Each season of ministry that I have known over the last 40 years has been an invitation to enlarge my own consciousness," Griswold said in a late-October interview.

"Being rector of two quite different congregations drew out of me dimensions of ministry that had been previously unknown to me," he said. "This was a matter of mutual discovery and growth."

He said the same of his ministry in Chicago, "in that active and diverse diocese" where he was elected bishop coadjutor in 1985 and served through 1997, the year he was elected 25th Presiding Bishop.

"Now, relieved of the relentless pace of the Presiding Bishop's daily calendar, I can pursue things in greater depth," he said. "I look forward to sustaining relationships and to building on the experiences of the last nine years without the demands of the present schedule."

Griswold said he is "encouraged by the vitality of the Episcopal Church," and by the positive ways in which Anglicans around the world are responding to relieve "circumstances of incredible poverty, disease, conflict and great danger."

The church's response to these "matters of life and death" should not be deterred by infighting over theological issues, he said.

Without diminishing the importance of church efforts to deepen understanding of human sexuality, Griswold said "one of my frustrations is that so much energy has been placed on one concern at the expense of a wide range of issues."

Of local congregations and the wider Anglican Communion alike, Griswold said, "I hope we can become a genuine manifestation of God's own communitarian life."

He said visiting congregations Sunday by Sunday - both in the United States and abroad - has been a particular point of personal encouragement.

"To be with people of God, living in faithfulness and community no matter what issues are, is a gift," he said. "This experience grounds me week by week, and prevents the duties of the office from being burdensome."

Griswold said his visits to congregations confirm for him that "the Episcopal Church is amazingly healthy."

He praised the willingness of local faith communities to grapple with complex matters: "It takes tremendous courage not to shy away from the issues, but to live them."

Griswold says he leaves his office with a sense of gratitude for what has been and hope for the future of the Episcopal Church. "I will confidently entrust the primatial staff to Bishop Jefferts Schori knowing that the church will be ably led and further strengthened by the gifts of mind and spirit so evident in her."

More about the ministry of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is found in the following resources: