One of the greatest blessings — and greatest challenges — of the Episcopal Church, and of the Anglican Communion, is our diversity. I have been very fortunate to travel extensively for the Church, and it never ceases to amaze me how different cultures and contexts embrace their Anglican heritage. And the reality is, all the travel you need to do to see that diversity is right here in the great state of Minnesota — or even through a few different neighborhoods in your town. Travel just a few miles, and you will experience a different expression of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
As Episcopalians/Anglicans, at our theological core we embrace a comprehensive nature that is replicated in very few other faith traditions. We have those who express their faith in a more evangelical piety, others in a more catholic piety, and still others who fit in the great broad middle. We have those who consider themselves theologically conservative, and others who see themselves as progressive, and all points in-between. That is our diversity, and that is the wonder of Anglicanism that makes us comprehensive.
Regardless of our piety or theological frame of reference, as Anglicans we come to understand our faith through scripture, tradition, and reason. And for us as Episcopalians, we live out that faith in our Baptismal Covenant.
It is important that we have this foundational understanding of who we are as Episcopalians. It is especially critical in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, with the impending change in the law allowing for same-sex marriage.
When I became Bishop, I inherited a practice with certain significant stipulations that allowed for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This past summer, General Convention passed a resolution providing a liturgical resource for the service of blessings. Soon it will be legal for same-same couples to be married in the state of Minnesota. (HF 1054 and SF 1015.)
For a number of our faith communities, this will now provide them the opportunity to provide to all of their members who desire to make a life-long, covenant relationship and to be legally married in the state of Minnesota to do so. The Church’s expectation for the couple is the same as for opposite-gender couples.
Other of our faith communities may not find this calling among their membership, within their context, or in culture — and will not be providing such services.
This represents the diversity and the comprehensive nature of who we are as Episcopalians and Anglicans.
The faith community in Ephesus had a different context and culture from Corinth. The Episcopal Church in Cuba differs from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. And an Episcopal faith community in one neighborhood is often significantly different from one a mile away. Each have been uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit, each called forth to carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ, each engaging in God’s mission in their context and culture.
Whatever your faith community’s context and culture, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.