The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the
Original Statement of the Bishops of ECS
In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.
We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.
We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the
The unity of the Anglican Communion is of profound significance to us as an expression of our unity within the Body of Christ. It is not something we can treat lightly or allow to be fractured easily. Our unity expresses the essential truth of the Gospel that in Christ we are united across different tribes, cultures and nationalities. We have come to attend the Lambeth Conference, despite the decision of others to stay away, to appeal to the whole Anglican Communion to uphold our unity and to take the necessary steps to safeguard the precious unity of the Church.
Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we appeal to the Anglican Church in the
- To refrain from ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops or priests
- To refrain from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships
- To cease court actions with immediate effect;
- To comply with Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
- To respect the authority of the Bible
We believe that such steps are essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion.
We affirm our commitment to uphold the four instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council; and call upon all Provinces of the Communion to respect these for the sake of the unity and well-being of the Church.
We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided. We pray that God will heal us from the spirit of division. We pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that we might be built up in unity as the Body of Christ.
The Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul
Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the
Those of you who follow this blog will recall the entry of April 20, 2008 and the unfortunate exchange of letters with a Sudanese bishop-elect for a new diocese. One of the things to bear in mind with statements such as that letter and now this pronouncement from the Sudanese House of Bishops is that the intended and real audience is not always the most obvious recipient of the statement. I wonder what transpired that led Archbishop Deng Bul to make such a statement only two days into a conference that is designed to be based on ‘listening’.
I have not been in close touch with Daniel in recent years. He visited All Saints’ in about 2000 and visited the Sudanese community in
I am surprised by the Sudanese statement in light of the fact that the Archbishop has managed to avoid being drawn into conflict about homosexuality ever since I have known him, always preferring to talk of more important things to him such as the war that ravaged the South for so many years. (We could hear the gunfire about 50 kilometers south of where we were in Renk.) Now he likes to talk about
I have never had a question in my mind that he neither understands nor approves of homosexuality. I have no trouble believing that he approves the content (if not the fact) of the statement of his House of Bishops. When he makes statements that sound as though he is denying that there are homosexual people in the
Listening is a two way street. The reality of being Christian under a government that is aggressive in its imposition of sharia on all its citizens and then selective in its interpretation such that they allow or encourage certain kinds of persecution, requires a kind of faith that we do not often see in a place where we are free to worship without fear that our schools will be knocked down the next day. Some Christians have a tendency to want to respond to this kind of Islam on its own terms becoming more ‘moral’, more legalistic and more ‘firm’ than any Muslim group. I would prefer that they go a different direction and proclaim a gospel of grace, not needing to defend their American and Canadian brothers and sisters, but not needing to condemn us either. There are many African Christians who believe that their witness is made more difficult by American and Canadian actions in the same way that I think our witness is undermined by the proclamation of a conservative theology in blogland that bears no relation to the life and teaching of Jesus that I have been able to discern as yet.
Our global missions committee has only just been informed of the Archbishop’s invitation to us and it is my hope that we will want to find ways to accept it as I think we have much to learn from each other. I think (and pray that I am correct) that we would be in relationship with a bishop and a church who up to now have shown no sign of needing to play the politics of current Anglican disagreements at the expense of relationship. I see the Archbishop’s invitation to us as a real and tangible sign that while doctrine is important, relationship is more important in the end and we can accept that wheat and tares are growing together even if we all think our beliefs and commitments are the wheat.