A Response to the Bishop of Exeter
by the Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Rector, the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene, Rochester NY
Past President, Integrity
The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, was a guest at the most recent meeting of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops. His remarks to the bishops at the close of the conference have received wide circulation and, anecdotally, appear to have had considerable impact on many bishops-particularly because many perceived them as having been offered on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It would be unfortunate if his comments did not receive careful consideration and critical scrutiny. I offer the following to that end.
The quote that titles this essay comes from the second page of Bishop Langrish's comments and, it seems to me, is at the heart of the wrestling with his thinking that must be done. The paragraph from which the quote comes is as follows.
With such seriousness and such prayer, your process must command respect and a belief that your intention and desire to do not just what is expedient, but what is right. I believe that we all want that. Mere expediency will serve no one well-neither the church here or further abroad. Yet, when you do come to a decision about what is right, that decision (whatever it is) will have consequences and almost certainly profound ones. And trying to read and understand what those consequences might be, will presumably be part of the decision making too. Discerning the Body, and discerning the time, all seem to me to be part of discerning the right, the divine word for now.
I suspect that all sides of the issues before the Communion can read this paragraph with approval. It is an apt description of what is before us. Of course, the crisis exists here as well, in that a measure of discernment has already occurred, again on all sides, and a "divine word for now" reached that seems profoundly contradictory.
So what is expedient and what is right in this moment? It very much depends, of course, upon the context from which one is speaking. And perhaps the real question before the Communion, and before the General Convention, is, "Can we bear one another's contexts?"
Read it all here