Episcopal bishop’s message was of love

February 14, 2013 

Re Feb. 1 letter from Peter T. Mitchell: “Bishop’s sermon shows her spirit”

As one who was seated just several pews back from the pulpit where the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church delivered that sermon I would agree. However, my understanding and analysis of her comments are very different than those given by the author of that letter. She did show her spirit and her skill and love as the shepherd of her flock.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the congregation that “we all have a responsibility to be shepherds, to help others find their way through the gate of abundant life.” She also said “the question is less about who’s right or wrong in the midst of the current controversies. It’s more about how we deal with those who disagree – the other sheep in the flock and the variety of shepherds around us.”

She noted that “God’s feast doesn’t need “keep out” signs. The banquet table is spread with abundance for all, even though it’s hard to join the feast if you’re busy controlling the gate.” She concluded her sermon by saying that Jesus was already in charge of the gate, “and the word is out: Y’all come! Come to the feast!” She received a prolonged standing ovation.

Her message that all are welcome is much different than the former bishop of the diocese who accuses the Episcopal Church of “spreading a false gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity.” My understanding is that including and encouraging all to experience God’s love is what we, as Christians, are called to do. Indeed, the gate is open.

During the meeting the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg was elected as the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In his acceptance remarks he said “as followers of Jesus Christ we need to recognize that other sincere Christians – former Episcopalians – have chosen a path different from ours. Theirs is a path committed to Jesus as they understand that faith.” He urged “humility and love” toward all as the rebuilding of the diocese moves forward.

The mission statement of my home parish says that we are “inspired by our heritage and blessed by our diversity, and are committed to sharing God’s love unconditionally with all.” I know that the presiding bishop and Bishop von Rosenberg also believe this and I am thankful that they do.

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

The author is president of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a group that promotes unity within and support for the national Episcopal Church.

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