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Letter outlines Network bishops’ hopes for House of Bishops’ meeting

The letter below, from Bishop John W. Howe, leader of the Anglican Communion Network-affiliated diocese of Central Florida, lays out the House of Bishops’ responsibility to act clearly on the recommendations of the Windsor Report and describes the efforts he and the other bishops will be making at the January 11-13 meeting to make that happen.

January 4, 2005

To the Members of the House of Bishops The Episcopal Church in the United States

From John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we prepare to journey to Salt Lake City for our special meeting of the House of Bishops I am compelled to share with you my concern regarding our ability to make an adequate first response to the Windsor Report. In all honesty, I confess that an unclear or ambiguous response would be a pastoral disaster for me and I believe, for many others in our beloved Church. Even worse would be for us to create the perception that we are dodging the Report altogether or trying to “buy time” by employing delaying tactics. I write in charity to request your support when I rise to ask that the House consider addressing those specific portions of the Report that are directed to us as Bishops of ECUSA. The Windsor Report is lengthy and complex and I realize we cannot address those sections of the Report that require action of the entire Church. I believe we need to focus on, and begin to shape our response to, the recommendations of the Windsor Report that call upon us as Bishops to:

Express our regret (as defined by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Advent Letter to the Primates) for having so damaged the Communion.

Demonstrate our desire to continue to “walk together” with the rest of the Communion. Agree to a moratorium on same sex-blessings and the consecration of non-celibate homosexual persons until or unless a “new consensus” emerges in the Communion that such actions are seen as legitimate in the light of Scripture and Christian tradition. Ask those among us who believe such actions are legitimate to “make their case” to the rest of the Communion. And Ask those of us who participated in the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire to refrain from representing the Anglican Communion in international and ecumenical gatherings following the example of our Primate who resigned from leadership in the ARCIC work. I know not all of us will be in agreement with all of the recommendations in the Report. But I am certain we need to focus on the recommendations themselves rather than debating how well sections C and D flow from sections A and B. Nor will it be of great help to us to hear how the Commission did its work, since we have the Report itself before us. In recent months I have seen members of this House exercise great sacrifice and restraint for the sake of unity and it is same spirit that I call upon now. I have talked with a number of our Bishops about this proposal and I find there is considerable support for it. Finally, I want to ask that we do as much of our work as possible in plenary session. We have but eleven hours available for discussion together and though I know working in a large group can be difficult, I think it right and good that we look one another in the face and hear one another with our hearts as we deal with these difficult matters. I am hopeful for our future. I look forward to being with you in Salt Lake City.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

+John W. Howe

Posted at 12:00 am 1.11.2005 | Permalink