Bishop Lipscomb's Letter to Jane Dixon

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 2 00:20:49 EDT 2001

"Put Mission ahead of Controversy in the Church"

April 26, 2001

The Right Reverend Jane H. Dixon,
Bishop Suffragan
Diocese of Washington Mt. St. Alban
Washington, D.C. 20016-5094

Dear Bishop Dixon,

I have been reticent to write to you in regard to the controversy
surrounding Christ Church, Accokeek, in hope that a pastoral rather
than judicial solution would be found to the impasse reached in the
call of The Reverend Samuel L. Edwards to serve as their next rector. I
am aware that as bishops we often make decisions based on knowledge
that is not available to others and that should not be made public.

However, Fr. Edward's current bishop has stated that he is a priest in
good standing of the Episcopal Church. Others who know him indicate
that there are no moral or ethical reasons to inhibit his ministry as a
priest. It appears that the sole block to his call to Accokeek is his
opposition to the ordination of women.

If this call is blocked on the basis of profound disagreement regarding
theological positions that remain normative within much of our
Communion, but contrary to those held by the leadership of the Diocese
of Washington, justice and compassion are not being served. If there
are no public or private impediments to his call, then an unnecessary
confrontation is being created at a time when our Presiding Bishop
seeks understanding, healing and unity within our Church and Communion.

The Pastoral Letter issued at the recent meeting of our House of
Bishops acknowledges our responsibility as bishops to care for all in
our church. This includes those who still struggle over issues that for
many of us are already settled. We stated that, "our unity does not
mean that we are in agreement about all of the difficult and complex
questions before us. It means that we have claimed our oneness in
Christ." We said to the whole church that, "As your servants we are
determined to put our common call to serve the mission of Christ above
all else." I appeal to you to put the mission of the whole Church and
the care of those who are a minority within your diocese above this
current controversy.

Presiding Bishop Griswold often quotes Helder Camara, "The bishop
belongs to all ... My door, my heart must be open to everyone,
absolutely everyone." I urge you to open your heart and the Diocese of
Washington to Fr. Edwards and allow him to serve the people of Christ
Church. I offer my services to you and to the people of Christ Church
in mediation if it would provide a way forward.

Yours in Christ,

+John B. Lipscomb Fourth Bishop of Southwest Florida

cc: The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold III
The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon.George L. Carey

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