Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dialogue in the Anglican Communion: Our role at St. Paul's

Bishop Peter Lee has invited St. Paul's to participate in pilot project that could be crucially important in pointing the way forward for the Anglican Communion (emblem to the right) in the wake of our divisions over sexuality and other issues. Twelve congregations, out of the 184 in the diocese, have been asked to form six small dialogue groups to meet once a week until Easter. We are among the handful invited to participate. 

We have been paired with St. John the Baptist Church in Ivy. I have been asked by Bishop Lee to appoint four people from our parish to meet with four people from St. John the Baptist. The four I have appointed are Margaret Mohrmann, Mildred Robinson, Simeon Fitch and Peter Dennison. Margaret will be the convener for our group. My deepest thanks go to the four who have agreed to take part in this process. Please keep in  your prayers our representatives and the representatives of St. John the Baptist, and all of those involved in this project.

Here is how Bishop Lee describes their task: "Each group discussion will be conducted by a trained facilitator I will provide. While confidentiality is an essential part of the process it is expected that the groups would report back to their respective congregations and provide a written report to a body appointed by the bishop. The report would include reflection on how the group experienced the process, any insights that were gained, especially in the realm of mutual understanding."

Let me offer an observation: The Diocese of Virginia has a far ranging impact throughout the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion from its size, its history and location and because this diocese reflects the divisions elsewhere. How we proceed as a diocese will be watched by many all over the world. It is a testament to the strength and vitality of St. Paul's that we have been asked to participate in this project.

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