Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trio of Bishops Seek to Strengthen Communion Ties

From The Living Church-

The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.

This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues.

“We want to hold together when the Communion is threatened,” Bishop Perham said.

On Sept. 20, the three bishops came to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, Calif., in El Camino Real for a Sunday Eucharistic worship service that included a gospel reading in Swahili, Sudanese singers, and a sermon by Bishop Mpango. The mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, welcomed the bishops to the city. More than 250 people attended the service and many stayed for lunch and further discussions.

In his sermon, Bishop Mpango said the three dioceses would work to better the lives of children, confront economic inequality and assist refugees. But he said that Jesus Christ must remain at the center of whatever the partnership does.

“A church without Jesus would be in danger of becoming an NGO,” he said, referring to the non-governmental organizations that often provide humanitarian assistance to developing countries.

Bishop Gray-Reeves said she went to Lambeth with the idea of finding a pair of companion dioceses, specifically British and African. After her chance meeting with Bishop Perham, she was moved to suggest the idea to him. He, in turn, suggested Bishop Mpango as the third member of the triad. The two were in Bible study during Lambeth.

More here-

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