Thursday, April 24, 2008

To the People of the Church of the Good Shepherd, 2006

Interesting start to what will be an on-going series on Stand Firm. From Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm in comment 5:

. . . This is the first installment of what will be a weekly parish-eye re-telling of the events leading up to a lawsuit. The story will be largely told through primary documents and letters to give readers a sense of just how things unfolded and began to unravel. We are doing this in hopes of letting people see what it is like on the ground, not just at Good Shepherd, but at parishes throughout North America in revisionst dioceses. This story will be about a particular parish, but it will also, hopefully, serve as somewhat representative of the experience of the many other parishes that have also had to face litigation and possible property loss.

And the first posting is Matt's letter to his congregation from 2006 [boldface mine]:
To the People of the Church of the Good Shepherd, May 2006

May 18th, 2006

Dear Good Shepherd,

Good Morning...As many of you know, the vestry met with Bishop Adams yesterday. We had a very productive discussion about a number of issues. Our differences are real. They petain to primary or "essential" matters of faith. In this case, as has been said many times before, the essential matter is the authority of the Word of God. Fidelity and compromise simply cannot coexist when it comes to essential matters. To compromise an essential principle of faith is to compromise Christian integrity.

The good news is that both your leaders on vestry and bishop Adams understand and respect this. Good Shepherd cannot compromise the clear teaching of the scriptures or participate in a body that we believe is leading people caught up in sexual sin further into the darkness and away from Christ and bishop Adams a feels just as firmly determined that monogamous homosexual behavior should be blessed by the church.

We both recognized yesterday that maintaining our Christian integrity, sadly, may very well mean that we walk apart from each other after General Convention.

In all likelihood, to be as realistic with you as possible, it is looking that way. That came through fairly clearly yesterday.

But one of the very productive and beneficial aspects of the meeting was that no matter what takes place, there is a strong mutual commitment to seek an amicable, peaceful, and loving resolution. If we walk apart, there is a commitment on our part and on the part of bishop Adams to do so in Christian love and respect.

This is a wonderful blessing enjoyed by very few churches and dioceses in our position. It speaks well of the bishop and of your vestry.

You should be very proud of your vestry by the way. They handled themselves with great respect and love toward the bishop and yet they did so with a calm and firm commitment to remain faithful to the gospel. It was a truly moving thing to watch these Christian men and women firmly bear witness to their faith with gentle humility.

Nobody knows what will happen in June. But I do know that God is most definitely guiding our steps and that so long as we remain faithful what lies before us is far greater and far better than what lies behind. . .

Read it all. Can't wait to see the trajectory of events that led from this letter to the current lawsuit by the diocese.

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