The Covenant retreat has recently ended at the Canterbury House outside of Orlando, where we spent several days with each other and with clergy of the Diocese of Central Florida. We discussed “Faithful Flourishing in the Episcopal Church” at a clergy day this past Tuesday, and then spent several days discussing Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, all in the context of prayer and fellowship.
At the moment many of us are returning home, and we have been horrified to learn of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando. The Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church in which most of us minister have long decried violence, especially on the basis of sexual orientation. We wish to remind all of what our primates said in their January 2016 meeting:
The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. …
The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression. (“Walking Together in the Service of God in the World,” Primates’ Meeting 2016, emphasis added)
We especially want to affirm our commitment to such active love of our brethren at a time when many of our churches are wrestling faithfully with questions around same-sex marriage, and as we have been hosting a discussion on the report about changing the marriage canon in the Anglican Church of Canada.
As details continue to come out regarding the act of terror in Orlando, we offer prayers for all those affected, and reaffirm our commitment to walking together and loving every member of Christ’s body. Brethren, let us “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2).
The featured image is “Prayer” by Essam Saad.