The rector and vestry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Albany, N.Y. formally request from the Bishop of Albany, the Right Reverend William Love, his permission to receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight for our parish, in accordance with the terms contained in the document Caring for All the Churches
, issued by the House of Bishops in March, 2004. We earnestly concur with the sentiment expressed in that document, “While our unity may be strained, we continue to strive for godly union and concord. Our task requires humility, charity, mutual respect and a willingness to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We acknowledge that the different points of view between our parish and the Diocese of Albany concerning issues of human sexuality have strained the bonds of unity between us. With God's help, we will strive to face the challenges of our disagreement with love, understanding, and sensitivity, and in the hope of reconciliation to one another.
We recognize the pastoral care of the Bishop of Albany and are eager to continue our shared ministries with the Diocese of Albany and to strengthen the bonds of unity between our parish and the Diocese of Albany. While we disagree with the Diocese of Albany on some issues, such as the blessing of homosexual unions, we understand that the Bishop of Albany continues to be our adjudicatory bishop and that we will continue to be bound to obey our diocesan canons.
We hope that an agreement for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight will lessen the strain in our union, to the relief of both the rector of our parish and the Bishop of Albany. We believe that this amelioration of our strained union may be a first step toward the reconciliation we must all seek.
We pledge to continue to support the ministry of the Diocese of Albany through prayer and action, participation in diocesan convention, and by the full payment of our annual assessment. We hope that by faithfully fulfilling our obligations to the diocese we will enjoy full participation in the diocese and have the support of the diocese for our ministries and for our mission statement: St. Andrew's Episcopal Church is an inclusive community… Affirming God's Grace, open and growing in heart, mind and spirit, called to love and serve all in Jesus' name.
We understand that an agreement for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight requires that our parish and the diocese work toward reconciliation with one another. As a starting point for the process of reconciliation, we prayerfully submit, with respect and humility through God's grace, the following concerns, which we hope will be considered as we work toward reconciliation:
- Deficiency in diocesan support for our ministry. Specifically, we have not been assigned a deacon in ten years though we have requested one annually.
- Deficiencies in communication between the parish, the diocese, Province II, and the national church. Specifically, letters from the Presiding Bishop are not being forwarded to the parish through diocesan channels, and the parish is not informed of Province II offerings.
- Obstacles to the ordination process in the diocese for anyone whose theological understanding differs from that of the diocese.
- Absence of diversity in theological viewpoint presented at the diocesan convention and in the quarterly diocesan magazine. Theological viewpoints common in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with which the diocese is at variance are not represented.
As our own mission statement reads: We are called by Christ to be in unity with God and one another.
In this spirit, we conclude this request with the following statement from Caring for All the Churches, with which we are in accord: “We have committed ourselves to living through this time of disagreement in love and charity and with sensitivity to the pastoral needs of all members of our church.”