Incarnating Our Shared Identity
Beloved in Christ,
This summer is a busy one for the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. General Convention, the highest governing authority in the church, which meets every three years, will meet July 7-12 in Baltimore. After having been delayed a year, the size and scope of this General Convention has been greatly reduced because of the pandemic, but we will still very much be about discerning the Spirit and tending to the business of the church together. (Get to know members of ECMN's deputation to General Convention below!) And later in July, all the bishops from around the Anglican Communion will gather in England for two weeks of fellowship, prayer, discernment, and learning at the Lambeth Conference.
I will confess to some low-grade irritation that these obligations will take me away from Minnesota for a good part of the summer. My work and my heart are here among all of you. At the same time, it matters that we are part of a global community of people committed to following Jesus together in the Anglican tradition, and just as we must regularly incarnate our shared identity as Minnesota Episcopalians, it’s important that we do so in these wider networks as well. We often imagine ourselves as being predominantly white, and declining in numbers. But when we set ourselves in the context of the wider Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, we find that we are staggering in our diversity of race, economic class, and language. The Episcopal Church alone includes dioceses in twenty-one different countries, and the wider communion is thirty-eight provinces distributed in every corner of the world, making us the third-largest Christian body on the planet. Far from the stereotypes we often imagine, the most common Anglican is an African woman.
Like any family, of course, our relationships are not always easy. When General Convention gathers, there will be strident disagreements and passionate debates about all kinds of things related to our shared life, and the fault lines that run through the wider Anglican Communion are well known.
But our unity is always found not in our ability to agree, but in the identity we share in Jesus through Baptism. Encountering the beautiful diversity of our communion can be hard and painful, but diversity is always a gift, and even when there is no resolution, simply connecting across all our difference brings us closer to God.
I will miss you in the time I’m away, but it’s an immense privilege to carry the stories of the deep and profound faithfulness and resilience of our diocese. I find that every time I travel around our church, my gratitude to be planted in this place, with all of you, grows deeper and deeper.
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota