Bishop Wayne Smith reponds to news of temporary sanctions against The Episcopal Church

January 14, 2016
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As reported by Episcopal News Service at today's meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion a majority of primates voted for temporary sanctions against The Episcopal Church. 

Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanctions would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.

“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.

“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.

Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.

“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family.”

Today's statement regarding the sanctions is online at the Primates Meeting website.
"The sanctions that the Anglican Primates set against the Episcopal Church this week will bring pain to many of us, as our Presiding Bishop has noted," said the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. "The most important sentence in the Primates' communique, however, comes in the seventh paragraph: 'It is our unanimous desire to walk together.' I cannot recall any previous unanimity among the Primates around issues of human sexuality. And if sanctions help provide a space through which our Communion and its leaders can seek reconciliation, then so be it. Even so, the Episcopal Church has acted in good faith and pastoral generosity for brothers and sisters whom we cherish. I stand by our decision."
A Communique from the Primates will be released and press conference held tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 15 at 3:00 PM in Canterbury, England (9:00 AM Central Time).

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