The Light Shines in the Darkness

Our Diocesan Feast of Lights was Sunday evening.  If you are not familiar with the Feast of Lights, it is a service that tells of the coming of the Light of Christ into the world and the spread of that light from Mary and Joseph through the apostles and evangelists and then to all the world.

The service is traditionally led by acolytes and consists of a combination of readings from Scripture, the lighting of candles and the singing of hymns.

This year 28 acolytes from 9 congregations and the Cathedral boys and girls choir led the service.  My favorite part of the afternoon is that, between the rehearsal and the service itself, I get to give the acolytes a tour of the Cathedral.  Standing behind the altar and in the pulpit and in the organ loft at the Cathedral and sharing that view with the children and young adults of the Diocese is a wonderful thing.  We looked at the things that connect our faith to generations of people who have believed what we believe and worshiped where we worship, that is very special.

For the whole service the lights in the Cathedral are dimmed and at the end of the service, I stood in the back of the church and looked at the lights of over 100 candles, and was surrounded by the light of the candles held by the acolytes and all I could think was how blessed I am to be allowed to share the light of Christ with a new generation of Christians and how awesome is the responsibility to share that light with the world.

Posted in Diocesan Vision, Hope for Future, Web of Grace | Leave a comment

Making Connections

I don’t remember how Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and I first met.  It may have been at some public event, it may have been when he, a dog lover, was walking his dog past my house.  It may have been in one of the local coffee shops, since our homes are only three blocks apart.  We met at some point shortly after his arrival in Buffalo a few years ago and we have become friends.

As our relationship grew it became clear to both of us that while there were issue of theology and polity on which we held different views, that there were issues of theology and of the role of the Church in the world and of the needs of the City of Buffalo and the Western New York region where we held the same views.

We began to talk about the revitalization of Buffalo and how we could make a difference to make sure that the benefits of the growing prosperity were shared by everyone.  That led to our first, historic, joint pastoral letter to both of our Dioceses.  The response to that letter was overwhelming and led to us issuing a second joint pastoral letter.

This past week we took another historic step in bringing the two Dioceses together.  We invited all of the clergy from both of our Dioceses who serve congregations in the City of Buffalo to come together and join us in conversation about issues facing the city and what we could do together to bring hope to our city.

We opened with Episcopal noonday prayer and then moved into Bible study.  It happened to be the feast day of Saints Timothy and Titus for both churches, so we talked about who brought us to faith and who mentored us in ministry and how we are bringing the presence of Christ to the places we serve.

We then talked about issues of racism and segregation, poverty and income inequality, education and opportunity and how the Church could bring the witness of Jesus to these issues.  More details of the specific ideas will be coming soon.

What struck me was how quickly the conversations started and how much laughter and friendly banter there was considering many of the people in the room had never met before.  By the time we closed with Roman Catholic vespers in the beautiful Blessed Trinity Church, it felt to me as if we had formed the beginnings of a community.  We have started to expand the friendship from the two bishops to the clergy of the City of Buffalo.

Bishop Malone and I will be talking about our friendship and our hope for the City of Buffalo and how our Dioceses might work more closely together at the next Discover Sundays event.  That is Sunday February 21 at 2 pm at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.  After the program we will walk to St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for refreshments.

Posted in Christian Humanism, Ecumenism, Hope for Future, Leadership | Leave a comment

In Response to the Primates Meeting

I have read with sadness the report from the gathering of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.  I had hoped that the gathering would move away from legalism and lines in the sand towards relationship and mutual respect. That does not seem to be the case.

As all of you in the Diocese of Western New York know, I am an admirer of Bishop Charles Henry Brent and I am proud to be his successor.  You have all heard me speak of the value that Bishop Brent placed and that I continue to place on ecumenism and cooperation between and among Christians.  It is the history of the Diocese of Western New York to be a strong supporter of Christians seeking to work together and to build stronger relationships one with another and I am proud to stand in the line of Bishops who have worked for that goal.

However, Bishop Brent, and I, and that line of bishops would say that the purpose of Christians seeking to work together and build stronger relationships is so that we can have a stronger voice to take a stand for human rights and to work for justice.  The goal of any Christian Communion, including the Anglican Communion, must be to strive for justice and peace among all people.  In the absence of that work, our talk about relationship and communion is a clanging cymbal.  The statement from the Primates meeting singularly fails to address the issues of human rights and justice.

I am proud that the Diocese of Western New York was one of the first Dioceses in the Episcopal Church to recognize the equality of all marriages. I believe that this moves our church closer to the kingdom of God.  I believe that the action of the Episcopal Church to recognize marriage equality is another step in that direction.  I believe that in taking these steps we follow the path laid out for us by Bishop Brent and others who came together for the purpose of working for justice and human dignity.

I will never stop praying for the strengthening of the Anglican Communion.  I will never stop working and praying for the building up of ties between Episcopalians and Christians of other denominations.  But unity and communion cannot be purchased at the expense of the human rights and dignity of other people.  To do so is to betray Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I ask the people of Western New York to join me in praying for our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as he continues to engage with the other Primates of the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal Digital Network Coverage with comments from Presiding Bishop Curry can be found here:

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/01/14/majority-of-primates-call-for-temporary-episcopal-church-sanctions/

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