“SEE HOW THEY LOVE EACH OTHER !”
Today we convene a Special General Meeting to decide if we will appeal for a unique provision of the House of Bishops called Shared Episcopal Ministry. If we agree, and our appeal is granted, this would mean that we would receive the ministry of a bishop in favour of same-sex blessings who would provide guidance and oversight for this one specific ministry.
But what we decide today is perhaps less important than the spirit in which we decide it. Facing the brutality of his own crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that they ought to love one another, because in this way people would know they were his disciples. And in the early church this is how people saw Christians: third century Church Father Tertullian reported that people said, “See how they love each other.”
What Jesus had in mind was not likely that Christians ought to love one another exclusively, and nobody else; rather, that loving one another is the way we learn how to love everybody else! So how we manage conflict within the church becomes crucially important.
Some members of St. Stephen’s have been concerned that this proposed action may lead us into an undignified battle with our archbishop. They are right to be concerned. So it is important that our disagreement about same-sex blessings not become a personal battle between him and ourselves. We seek justice, but we do so with Christian love and respect. May it be said of us, “See how they love each other!”