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Bishop Lipscomb Clarifies Position on new NACDP Network


From the Office of the Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida
January 21, 2004

Dear Friends in Christ, Unfortunately, there is confusion regarding the reported involvement of the Bishop and the Diocese of Southwest Florida in the establishment of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. It is my conviction that these are extraordinary times demanding clarity from all those engaged in the leadership of the Church. Due to recent comments by members of the American Anglican Council, it is unclear to me as to the long-term intentions in forming another network within the Episcopal Church. Because of this lack of clarity, the Diocese of Southwest Florida is not currently a member of the network.

I have been clear that I do not intend to leave the Episcopal Church. I cannot condone any congregation of this diocese acting to leave the Episcopal Church even though I know that individuals who are deeply troubled by the actions of our Church may find it necessary to join other ecclesial communities.

I think that it is also important to clarify why I believe that this confusion has occurred. In order to support conversations between conservative leaders in our Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury, I joined 12 other bishops in signing a Memorandum of Agreement in late November 2003. The Memorandum grew out of a deep concern for those who are unable to accept the implications of the consecration of Gene Robinson. My decision is a reflection of my own convictions regarding justice within the faith community and my pastoral concern for those who find themselves in a minority in our Church. It did not bind the diocesan community to any particular course of action.

In early December, I chaired a meeting of Canadian and American bishops, as well as theologians from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Our task was to prepare a theological statement for a confessing movement within the Episcopal Church. This was in response to a suggestion made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in an earlier meeting with conservative leaders of our Church. Our hope was that this document would provide a common statement for those who dissent from the actions of the General Convention in relationship to the Diocese of New Hampshire. The document is a call for the reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church from within. It is also a call for the whole church to confess the sins that threaten the unity of the Episcopal Church. I believe that this Theological Confession is an accurate statement of the foundational faith and witness of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. I believe that it provides a vehicle for our continued engagement with one another. I urge its study by our congregations.

I have great respect and a strong theological kinship with those bishops who have acted on their conscience and convictions regarding this network. If the intention of this network is to support the reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church and to work for reconciliation within the Episcopal Church, I pray that God will grant a successful resolution to these efforts.

May God grant each of us a spirit of charity and forbearance as we seek to live faithfully our proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In Christ,

+John Lipscomb
Southwest Florida IV

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