Reaching Across the Divide

The Lead

The article talks about Bishop Persell’s commitment to trying to find a middle ground that will [enable? help?]the Church to comprehend different understandings of how to be Christian in the world


I missed this article from June; I just noticed it because I was checking background on a more timely news story detailed below. +William Persell is my bishop and I know how hard he’s worked to try to keep lines of communication open. I’ll do my best to remember it in the coming weeks, as clearly he would wish us all to do. The article mentions Fr. Martin Johnson, who now leads an Anglican Mission in America congregation in Wheaton, one of 5 that will gather to hear Bishop Peter Akinola speak in a few weeks. In the meantime, Fr. Martin’s group has been asked to rescind an invitation to speak they had made to Paul Rusesabagina, of Hotel Rwanda fame. Fr. Martin’s Rwandan bishop, Emmanuel Kolini, ordered that this event be cancelled:

Rusesabagina has been at odds with the president of Rwanda. The archbishop feared that the event could create a strain in the relationship between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the government.

[A]fter President Kagame found out Rusesabagina was supposed to speak to speak at a church overseen by archbishop of Rwanda, he contacted Kolini, who then told the church to cancel the event, Johnson said.

“The bigger reality for us is having to accept the whole concept of obedience, and that is a harder cultural pill to swallow than I realized,” he said. “I’m forced to encounter my own resistance and bias.”

Johnson, who was previously a priest in the Episcopal Church, has been under the Rwandan authority since 2004.

What a desperately sad position to be in. If Fr. Martin hadn’t come to the parting of the ways over homosexuality in the church, he’d still be under the authority of his friend, Bishop Persell, who would enthusiastically support the speaking event with Paul Rusesabagina. But now he may be facing his old friend, literally or figuratively from across a divide, when +Akinola comes to preach in Wheaton. A protest group will attend Mass downtown at the cathedral, and then head out to Wheaton to walk a picket line that day. I don’t know if Bishop Persell will be part of it – probably not, given his schedule and health issues.

Note: I took the photo of Bishop William Persell on the occasion of his visit to Holy Innocents in Hoffman Estates, a year or so before the building was closed. I was struck by the way his episcopal ring glowed as he gestured (gently, so as not to slop coffee everywhere).

[tags]Episcopal, Anglican, schism, liberal, conservative, gay clergy, Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina[/tags]

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