Dear Diocesan Family,
As the Lambeth Conference kicks off this week, many of you by now may have seen the Bishop of Los Angeles’s Facebook post, followed by the blog of the Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, as well as other statements from the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, North Carolina, Newark
, and the Anglican Diocese of York/Scarborough
(Toronto). You may have also seen the story about Tom and me that the Press Herald wrote last week.
What is being discussed in these posts makes me think back to 1993.
In April of 1993 at the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, I met Fr. Barry Stopfel. Barry’s ordination to the priesthood in 1990 (in the Diocese of Newark) made the news within and beyond the Episcopal Church. Though I had been out for five years, I continued to struggle to integrate my sexual orientation, my faith in Jesus Christ, and my call to ordination. I was eager to meet Barry, this pioneer! After a few minutes of getting acquainted, Barry said to me, “Thomas, never compromise your integrity for the sake of the institution.” The psalmist says something similar, “No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity” (Psalm 84:11).
Integrity is at stake at the upcoming Lambeth Conference.
This gathering of bishops from around the world, long-described as a time for building relationships and addressing climate justice, suddenly expects bishops to “vote” on a two-decades-old resolution belittling LGBTQIA+ people by limiting or denying access to marriage and ordination.
Whatever prior ambivalence I had about attending the Lambeth Conference has given way to a galvanized commitment to three things:
- To hold you, the people of God called to be the Diocese of Maine, with my whole heart. My fierce love for you, and for the ways we engage God’s mission will be a constant focus.
- To uphold the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; we will not go back.
- To walk with integrity looking only unto Jesus who said, “knock, and the door shall be opened.”
Your prayers buoy and sustain. May God who has given us will, also give us grace.
Faithfully in Christ,