ECUSA reassures mission recipients

By on December 1, 2003

New York
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) and the director of the grants program at New York’s Trinity Church Wall Street have reassured Anglican church leaders in Africa that there are no strings attached to support for their mission. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, in a letter to the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) at its recent meeting in Nairobi , addressed rumors that ECUSA “has threatened African primates with withholding our support. The Episcopal church has no ideological litmus test for overseas partners and has ‘punished’ no one for holding different opinions of church order.” He said that the church ?has for years shared generously of its financial and human resources with churches around the world, including with churches that refuse to ordain women, to give just one example of divergent practices.? “CAPA needs to be commended for its work – from the training of new bishops in Africa to your commitment to HIV/AIDS education, prevention and pastoral care,” wrote Bishop Griswold. Trinity Church Wall Street, which is more than 300 years old and funds projects from the Bronx to South Africa , is one of New York ‘s most philanthropic organizations. The church’s income is derived from its vast commercial real estate holdings in the city – encompassing 27 buildings and totaling 6 million square feet of office, retail and manufacturing space. “We do not believe we have to see eye to eye with you on every issue to work with you around common mission concerns,” said Rev. James Callaway of Trinity in an address to the council. He said that Trinity’s ministry would continue to partner with provinces and dioceses regardless of their views in the on-going sexuality debate within the Anglican Communion. Mr. Callaway said that Trinity is convinced that “in a healthy partnership we should feel free to debate the issues between ourselves, to express our views as strongly as we wish within the bounds of Christian charity, but that we should do so within a framework of respect for one another’s autonomy as provinces.” At a meeting prior to the CAPA meeting, the synod of bishops in the Province of Southern Africa said that it was “not of one mind” on sexuality issues but added, “We are of one mind in our desire to dialogue and to facilitate such dialogue and listening among all our members” and that everyone is included in that dialogue. Archbishop Winston Ndun-gane, primate of Southern Africa, has criticized his fellow African bishops for what he called an “ostrich mentality” on the issue of homosexuality. “It is no secret that there are gay clergy and there are gay bishops, and the institutional church seems to be turning a blind eye when we should be encouraging honesty,” he said in a recent interview. “If Gene Robinson had kept quiet there would have been no issue,” he said. He described as “arrogant” the claim that the diocese of New Hampshire didn’t know that it was doing when it elected him. “We have got to respect their decision,” said Archbishop Ndungane, who did not attend the CAPA meeting.

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