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Statement to the Church

- The Rt. Rev.Duncan M. Gray III D.D.

      Bishop of Mississippi

 

Statement to the Church From The Rt. Rev.Duncan M. Gray III D.D.

Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi


August 6, 2003

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church yesterday consented to the election of the Reverend Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

 

The Convention's approval of Canon Robinson's election is greeted with much joy by many within the Episcopal Church because to them it represents the full inclusion and acceptance of all faithful people - regardless of sexual orientation - into the life of the Church.

 

At the same time, there are many who view this election and consent with feelings of grief and betrayal. They believe that something very sacred about our teaching has been discarded.

 

I understand these thoughts and feelings being experienced by those on each side. My task - and our common task as Episcopalians - is to continue to be the Church together and to continue our faithful witness and ministry in the name of Jesus
Christ.

 

My vote in the House of Bishops was to not consent to Canon Robinson's election. I deeply respect the gifts and work of Canon Robinson. I believe the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire were affirming, by the election, their trust in his leadership. None the less, I felt called after much prayer to vote in the negative. I do not believe the Church has reached consensus on the complex issues of human sexuality and I believe much more discussion is needed before the Church moves forward in these areas.


However, our Church has spoken. Before the vote, Canon Robinson had said he would recognize a negative vote as the will of General Convention and the mind of the Church, so now I accept this decision as being the mind of the Church at this moment in faith history. We will be gathering together in each Mississippi convocation over the next few weeks to listen to each other and ask prayerfully what God is saying to us at this time.


As Christians, we are an Easter people - a people of hope. The experience of the empty tomb testifies to God's ability to move through any human action to transform lives with his most gracious love. I believe that God can and will take what is offered and work through our struggles and confusion to accomplish his purposes. It is with that profound hope that I offer the decisions of my life and the decisions of General Convention to the purposes of Almighty God.


Perhaps in the divine mystery that is our common faith journey, we will be able to share the Good News of God in Christ in ways we had not previously envisioned. In the meantime, I will be dedicating my time and energies to being pastor to the people of the Diocese of Mississippi - those who celebrate and those who grieve.


It is my hope that all of us can rededicate ourselves to the ancient and sacred mission of telling the story of Jesus, and how he can touch and transform lives and communities today.
 

The Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III
Ninth Bishop of Mississippi


 

On the Floor of the House of Bishops
Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Minneapolis, Minnesota


"Some of us bear a peculiar burden as we have wrestled with the
emotionally charged issues of this convention. We live in a part of
the country where there have been times when we have been absolutely
certain about particular social, moral, or cultural issues, and
history has proven that we were terribly wrong. It is that burden of
our history that, for many of us, makes this discernment particularly
difficult.
 

"It is important for you to know that over the last few days, much of
the church in my part of the world has been broken. I pray God that,
in the eucharistic imagery, we have been broken so that we can more
fully be shared with the world. But, please know, many of us have
been broken.

"It is my deepest prayer that we have been broken for God's purposes -
purposes that are as yet unclear to us. It is my deepest prayer that
the death we experience will allow us to be born anew.

"But, please know, that we must live into that death for a time. The
three days in the tomb are terribly important for us to know what
future God is leading us into. Please give dignity to our grief.
Please do not ridicule or make light of our sorrow.

"Before this convention I spoke to many congregations about what may
be happening here. At every occasion I said that if the church had
been solely dependent on the correctness of all its decisions, it never would
have made it out of the first century. Rather, the church has always
been dependent, not on the faithfulness of its people, but on the
redemptive power of God to take what is offered and use it for God's
purposes.

"My sisters and brothers, my commitment to you is to take all that we
have done here and offer it at God's altar to be used for God's
redemptive mission in this world.

"I so appreciate your gentle kindnesses. Keep us in your prayers."

 

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