Christ-like virtue of grace needed in debates

Published January 1, 2004

Dear editor,

For over 20 years that I was a minister in the United Church of Canada I was very involved in the courts of the church and was a commissioner to the infamous General Council of 1988 in Victoria. For some time now I have been attending an Anglican church and have followed with interest the letters and articles in the Journal and the controversy now under way.

I know from experience that there are no easy answers. In the United church during the ordination of self-declared homosexuals debate, there were harsh words, some downright malicious, that were exchanged between angry people, hurt people and confused people. But in the middle of all that, some of us learned something. We learned about grace.

People on all sides and no side of the issue who opened our ears and our hearts to listen learned much about the Christ-like virtue of grace. We learned about living together in Christ while holding different views. We learned to look at each other not as adversaries but as beloved children of God who all love and seek to serve God. It was not an easy process; it was extremely painful at times, but even during the meeting of General Council I witnessed amazing transformations of angry, fearful people into caring, listening folk. After all, everyone involved were committed church people, followers of Christ, whether straight or gay.

There are no simple answers. But as I watch this unfold, I pray that all of us might step back and think again about the grace, compassion and love Christ showed to all and remember that only God is the judge of our hearts.

Judi Brown

Simcoe, Ont.

Forgotten calling

Dear editor,

Re: Sexuality row hits home for St. John’s priest (November).

Am I missing something? Why is it now okay for a male leader of the church (as in the case of Bishop Gene Robinson of the diocese of New Hampshire ) to leave his wife and later live with a homosexual lover? If I leave my husband, and later start living a lesbian lifestyle can I become a bishop too? Even though Rev. Robin Barrett of St. John’s intends to live a celibate lifestyle, what kind of message does this send to the world?

To the average person it would seem that the world has gone mad. To the average person it would seem that the Anglican church is desperate to follow in this madness.

No wonder the traditional church is non-relevant in our post-modern culture. The leaders are so caught up in scandal and pleasing themselves with trying to be a part of this culture that they have forgotten their calling.

There is a world of hurting people out there ? people hurt by divorce or parents leaving to pursue their sexual preferences. The church is called to be an answer, not to be part of the problem.

Joy Cafazzo

Sarnia, Ont.

Don’t exclude again

Dear editor,

I’m a baptized Anglican, one of the many mixed-race members of your church. I’m part Canadian aboriginal and part Brit, and (finally) proud of being both.

I’ve lived well over half my life, nearly 25 years, in a shadow of self-doubt because I am not fully white. The members of the church I attended as a child often told me I was doubly damned, first for being born, and second for being half-native. I was also told that my mother was a whore and therefore, I was thrice damned. Who was I to question the so-respectable adults I respected most?

But that’s not why I am writing today. I’m writing to express my distress at the outcry against gays and ordination of gay people by members of the Anglican church. You see, I know all too well what it feels like to be shunned. For the record, I’m happily heterosexual.

Haven’t we learned? Haven’t we learned that to exclude, to draw lines is to condemn ourselves to becoming an ever-shrinking irrelevancy? I left the church for the simple reason that I knew, beyond the shadow of doubt, that I wasn’t welcome.

But I’ve started to make my way back. Now, however, I’m not sure it’s a good idea. This ultra-right, conservative, self-righteous reaction against gay people does little more than convince me that the Anglican church is a thing of the past.

Russell Collier

Smithers, B.C.

TV generation

Dear editor,

The message is: The church hierarchy will get rid of you should you stand up against the homosexual agenda.

Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster seems in no danger of losing his job.

I recall him saying, in a radio interview, that city people would accept his decision but rural people wouldn’t. Ah, yes. We narrow-minded bucolic folk on the farm, a little hard to brainwash are we?

North Americans are products of television. Bit by bit we have been taught by television to accept foul language, violence, constant confrontation, and disrespect. We have been taught how to accept the unacceptable.

Christine Pike

Waseca, Sask.

Uphold ‘spirit of the law’

Dear editor,

I agree wholeheartedly with the open letter written by Bishop Donald Harvey (“Senior bishops warn off those ‘dividing’ church,” November), in that the metropolitans of the Canadian church were willing to censure Bishop Terry Buckle, and possibly allow the disciplining of the dissident clergy in the New Westminster diocese, but have not said anything about Bishop Michael Ingham’s failure to uphold the collegiality of the house of bishops in repeated statements over the years. It seems to me that Bishop Ingham and Archbishop David Crawley are obeying “the letter of the law” of the canons, rather than “the spirit of the law,” which is exactly what our Lord Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees.

The Church of England accommodated the dissenters to the ordination of women with so-called “flying bishops.” Why can’t a similar thing be done here? If the national church can contemplate an itinerant indigenous bishop, as noted in other articles, how is that situation any different?

Patricia Radcliffe

Nanaimo, B.C.

Seek forgiveness

Dear editor,

Archbishop Robin Eames, chair of the commission instructed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a solution to the situation the worldwide Anglican Communion is in, says that he wants to be fully faithful to Christ’s call for the unity of his church.

My question is: When does Christ’s church cease to be his church? Is it a) When the virgin birth is rejected; b) when Christ’s resurrection is denied; c) when the miracles are explained away; or d) when the Bible is relegated to a dusty shelf for out-of-date books?

Somehow it seems to me that for some Anglicans Archbishop Eames will be “shutting the barn door after the horse has left.” By this, I am not referring to those who have left or will leave the Anglican church because of the sexual fiasco going on in the Canadian church, but that the Anglican church really won’t be a part of “the bride of Christ” because it would have strayed too far from Jesus. Have we forgotten that Jesus said He would return? Or is that another of His rejected claims?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to call sin a sin. He saw and challenged the hypocrisy of the leadership of the faith community in His time. In and through Christ, they were and we are called to repentance. So let’s do it! Get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness, personally, individually and collectively. Then we can get on with our task of preaching the gospel and making disciples.

Mary Krucker

Burlington, Ont.

Enough is enough

Dear editor,

As a rule I enjoy receiving my copy of the Journal with the enclosed Montreal Anglican. There was, however, enough in the October issue to make me reconsider my enjoyment of this paper.

I am fed up with the subject of homosexuality in your paper. The articles are equivalent to a daily rag. In my opinion, the October issue was over the top.

Advertisements looked really great after all this pro/anti homosexuality.

I say, “Enough is enough!” Roderick McAvoy said it best his letter “But for Christianity”(October): Let us now think of those who go hungry, those who are cold in winter, those who really require the help of those who are more fortunate.

Valerie Chawla

Stanbridge East, Que.

Record breaker

Dear editor,

When a challenge is issued, it must be met! Your December letters told us of a wonderful record of Frances McCulloch of Acme, Alta., on the organ bench for 72 years.

May I respectfully and proudly raise the record of Florence Johnson, organist at St. Stephen’s church in Culloden, Ont., (near London) who has been “on the bench” since 1930 when she was but 16. She is still going strong after 73 years of musical ministry.

What a wonderful and enviable testimony to her faith. This information comes to you from a person whose own father was a chorister / organist / choirmaster in Grace Church, Montreal, for more than 56 years with a combined family record of nearly 200 years of Anglican music in one parish.

Peter Botting

Tillsonburg, Ont.

Moment of error

Dear editor,

Re: your article “Dean who married same-sex couple prayed he could ‘welcome all people'” (December).

First, to answer the question posed ? whether Dean Peter Wall’s decision to marry two women in Hamilton ‘s Christ’s Church Cathedral last August was “either a moment of grace or a moment of error,”? it was a moment of error.

A trust has been broken because of Dean Wall’s decision to be a maverick and go his own way apart from the Anglican church. If rules need to be bent or broken then it will by the General Synod which will do the bending and breaking. There are no new revelations given by God to individuals; it is the Church (the whole people of God) who decide what is revealed and not. The Holy Spirit speaks and affirms the will of God through His people collectively and not through individuals who pray in their office for guidance ? especially on significant matters that affect the whole church.

One cannot let their emotions run their faith life.

I feel that Dean Wall has jeopardized his ability to fulfill his responsibilities as chair of Liturgy Canada. Someone who obviously has no regard for proper procedure and application of those procedures, someone who willfully and knowingly went against well-established church canon, does not sound like someone in a position of leadership to me. As a postulant for ordination, I look to those in his position for guidance. Instead I find apostasy. I do not trust this man with formulating any liturgical change.

Dean Wall should either step down or be asked to leave the position as Chair of Liturgy Canada.

Eric Melby


Diocese of Ottawa


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