In every congregation of the Diocese of Georgia, I know people who disagree with each other profoundly on politics (and sports which is even more difficult) who are grateful to worship together and miss one another if someone is not in church. I value this so much. We differ in many ways, but we all know that we need Jesus and we need each other. I have seen this writ large in gathering with more than 650 bishops from 165 countries at the Lambeth Conference.
One reminder that kept popping up throughout the Conference is the Five Marks of Mission, which are a common framework for Anglicans from the Melanesian Islands to Angola to Brazil but virtually never referenced in the Episcopal Church. The content will not surprise you:
The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ
- Tell: To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- Teach: To teach, baptise and nurture new believers.
- Tend: To respond to human need by loving service.
- Transform: To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.
- Treasure: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth .
And this is what binds us when unanimity fails: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are all reformed and catholic, we love the scriptures and the sacraments and at our best we love one another.
When we gathered here, Archbishop Welby said, “You are the shepherds of your flock as I am the shepherd of the flock that I serve. Let us not act in a way that disgraces our witness. Speak frankly, but in love.”
I know we have been candid with one another. I know deep division remains. Yet, we spoke in love and honored our witness to that first proclamation, “Jesus is Lord.” While on retreat in Canterbury Cathedral, I saw graves and monuments all around, the site where an Archbishop of Canterbury was martyred and a king repented. I found myself contemplating the differences that must have existed between all the people those monuments honor. What came to mind was the praise song, “Jesus, Jesus, there is something about that name. Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away, but there is something about that name.”
Last evening, in a bit of serendipity, I came back to the dorm from the Eucharist walking, holding hands, and talking with the Archbishop of South Sudan, on a lovely late evening in Kent with Canterbury Cathedral at our backs and a return home in front of us. Two bishops from very different contexts with different views of a Jesus shaped life, but with the most important thing in common: we are both beloved children of God, united by one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
The Anglican Communion and the Lambeth Conference are contingent, temporary. As is our Diocese of Georgia. The degree to which we keep Jesus at the center determines the eternal significance of what we do. This time away has me longing to be with y’all as we continue following Jesus in this Anglican way that connects us to siblings around the globe.
pax et bonum,