Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GC Watch - An Episcopal Chaplain in Iraq writes his Bishop

This letter was written by an Episcopal chaplain now serving with our troops in Iraq. He wrote it to his bishop, the Rt. Rev'd James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas.

Dear Bishop Stanton,

I have been able to keep up with the news from Columbus over the past couple of days and I am going through an emotional roller coaster as I read. For those of you who are there that same feeling must be even more intense. As I see it the convention has spoken with great clarity about where we are in relation, not only with the Anglican Communion, but also orthodox Christians throughout the world. The Episcopal Church, of whom I am an ordained priest, has chosen to walk apart. No nuance or deception in the form of resolution will be able to delay or prevent the disintegration of this body. Deep in my heart I am relieved and in some ways glad that we have finally arrived at this place.

As a chaplain I have to deal with Christians from all denominations and, for that matter faith groups. Many are from very traditional evangelical backgrounds and are well versed in Scripture. Even those who are not what you would call “churchmen” understand basic Christian morality. Invariably the question arises as to my denominational affiliation. Eyebrows are raised and the inquisitive “Oh?” follows more often than not. From that point on I spend too much time explaining that I am not “one of those” Episcopalians. I have to justify my validity as a minister of the Gospel before they can trust me as a pastor and chaplain. The time that is wasted, the opportunities missed and the lack of effectiveness in ministry is a bitter judgment about where we are in the eyes of fellow believers. Perhaps now, in the not too distant future, we will no longer have to justify our legitimacy. We can talk all day about remaining focused on the Gospel and indeed do that with every fiber of our being. The problem lies in how that lens is shaped by the institution. No matter how hard we try the end result is always fuzzy. Clarity may now be possible and the cataract that has clouded our sight for so long may soon fall away.

You, our deputation and the Diocese have my prayers as you finish the work of this General Convention. Be strong, bold and confident in Christ, his is the triumph and victory that will come out of these days. With a little luck I will be back in time for our Diocesan Convention in October.

Blessings and Semper Fidelis,

Craig Reed

2 comments:

Alan said...

Thank you Craig Reed for that testimony. 35+ years ago when I was in the Air Force, you could find an Episcopal chaplain at nearly any installation of even moderate size. According to the younger folk in my church who are now serving, they are rather harder to find, and often are in fact from one of the Continuing Churches. In a sense, Bishop Stanton heads a Continuing Dioces, so this is not all that unexpected. My prayers of thanks for your service, and for the safe return of you and those fine people to whom you minister.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a serviceman who's been in the Middle East during conflict and is about to deploy to Iraq; whose soldier has benefitted greatly by the pastoral care of a military Chaplain, I am grateful for the time Chaplain Reed took to express the burden placed on his ministry to those who "risk their lives" to protect those whose lives are all about "their freedoms".

Confidently he looks forward to a fellowship meeting that's "All About God".

May he know that the "silent majority" are praying constantly for him and all those who serve.
FHS