Ndungane: Episcopal Church is committed to reconciliation

The Archbishop of the Province of South Africa has released a statement in response the release of the Joint Standing Committee’s report on the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Archbishop Ndungane says that the report shows that the Episcopal Church is committed to the path of reconciliation and has taken sufficient steps to begin that process in earnest. The Archbishop in particular commends the Presiding Bishop for her generosity in trying to find a way to respond to the pastoral needs of the disaffected within the Episcopal Church, and calls for the other recommendations of the Windsor report to be honored as well.

(By email)

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane

Statement on The Episcopal Church

15 October 2007

‘Now is the time of God’s favour’ writes St Paul, reminding us that in every present moment we must grasp the opportunities offered by God’s reconciling grace (2 Cor 5:16-6:2).

The Episcopal Church has grasped that opportunity, and committed itself to the path of reconciliation. Now the rest of the Anglican Communion must make sure the moment is not lost.

As the careful and comprehensive report of the Joint Standing Committee makes clear, the House of Bishops have now provided the necessary clarifications and assurances on the responses General Convention had given to issues raised in the Windsor Report. We now have a basis for going forward together, working alongside one another to restore the broken relationships both within the Episcopal Church and within the wider Communion.

The Episcopal Church has borne unprecedented scrutiny into its affairs, often with scant regard either for its legitimate internal polity or for the principle, observed since the ancient councils of the Church, of local jurisdiction and non-interference, and in the face of all this has had the courage to take hard decisions. The Presiding Bishop, in particular, is to be commended for her self-denial in the generosity of the provisions proposed for the ministry of Episcopal Visitors. Others should now respond by also abiding by the recommendations of the Windsor Report, as the Joint Standing Committee Report underlines.

This has not been an easy road to travel. Much remains to be done and we must continue to strive earnestly together to find the path ahead. The experiences of my own Province, both through the terrible divisions of the apartheid years, and in the differences of our earliest history (which contributed to the holding of the first Lambeth Conference), have repeatedly demonstrated that holding fast to one another yields lasting fruit, while separation solves very little. Our God is the God of reconciliation, not of division, and we can take courage that he will continue to guide our way forward. I am sure that as we continue to abide in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, in whom lies the gift of unity, that we will find ourselves, our churches, our world-wide Communion, refined and strengthened, for the life of worship, witness and service to which we are called.

Update: Letter has been made available at ACNS.

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