The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is, by God’s grace, a part of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. We are growing in numbers, in joy, and in our sense of mission. One of our deep desires is that we might be a visible manifestation of reconciliation in Christ. To do that, we are seeking all people of goodwill to join us in conversation about how we might live into what God accomplished for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is in the spirit of God’s love as shown forth in Christ that we seek to be in conversation with one another, for it is “in him that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:9). We are the common inheritors of that Gospel. Our witness is strengthened if we are a people united in service of God’s mission given to the Church, “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” (Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer, page 855).
The break in fellowship within The Episcopal Church that occurred in 2012 must certainly grieve the heart of God. Ever since the break, reconciliation has been our constant prayer. We of The Episcopal Church want to be able to explore every possibility for making reconciliation a reality.
We have no desire for any member of a congregation to leave his or her church building. Our aim is restoration and unity. We want to work together in mutual respect for the benefit of all, so that we can continue to be about the Good News of Jesus.
To help begin that work, TECSC is holding three Open Conversations: July 16 in Conway, July 17 in Charleston, and July 18 in Bluffton. Each begins at 6 p.m. and is open to everyone. Details can be found at www.episcopalchurchsc.org.
I have had the blessing of listening to many folks who are affected by the court ruling and wish to be a part of The Episcopal Church. Their stories are holy, and it is my hope that these Open Conversations will offer me the privilege of hearing from even more who wish for a respectful setting and the opportunity to ask questions about our reconciliation efforts.
When the Church was threatened by disagreements in the first century, St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “Love never ends.” Like them, we in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina have also been given the gifts of faith, hope, and love: Faith in the living Christ; hope rooted in Jesus’ prayer that we be one as he and the Father are one; and love, as shown forth in Jesus’ self-offering on the Cross. As St. Paul went on to remind us, “the greatest of these is love.”
In the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, I call upon all of us to become who Jesus says we are — the reconciled people of God. We can do this by facing each other, looking for and recognizing Christ in one another, and respecting the God-given dignity of all of us as we are made in God’s image.
Pray for unity in Christ, not uniformity. Stay in relationship with us. “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul. ... With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:32-33). May it be so in our diocese. We want you, we need you, in order to be whole.
Skip Adams is bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.