Shannon Johnston and Tory Baucum build a bridge across an Anglican divide

For Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Diocese of Virginia and the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, building a relationship was not easy in the wake of lawsuits over ownership of the Truro parish property. But in the spring of 2011, Johnston and Baucum began a friendship across a deep fracture in Anglicanism:

The friendship, which began tentatively with a shared prayer and an exchange about poetry — Mr. Baucum brought Bishop Johnston a collection by Adam Zagajewski, prompting the bishop to confess a fondness for W.H. Auden — has not been easy. Mr. Baucum has declared publicly that Bishop Johnston needs to repent for his support of gay bishops and same-sex marriage; Bishop Johnston says simply that he thinks Mr. Baucum, who opposes such steps, is on the wrong side of history.

“Peacemaking doesn’t necessarily mean agreement,” Mr. Baucum said. “But what it does mean is that you stop trying to hurt each other, and we were in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, spending millions of dollars on both sides, and we weren’t evangelizing. And I thought, I don’t know that we can fight and evangelize at the same time.”

Bishop Johnston was receptive to the initial overture from Mr. Baucum, even as some of his aides fretted about Mr. Baucum’s intentions.

“The reality in the church seems to reflect the divisiveness in our civil and secular society, so that quite apart from the question of agreeing with a foe of one sort or another, you’re not even allowed to like them or converse with them, and that’s very frustrating,” Bishop Johnston said. “I don’t understand why disagreement means incivility or brokenness.”

For more on Johnston and Baucum, read the full article by Michael Paulson in the New York Times.

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