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Bishop Stacy Sauls’ letter to the Wall Street Journal, and links to more conversations

As a followup to our post on the misleading Wall Street Journal op-ed by Jay Akasie on July 13,  read what Bishop Stacy Sauls wrote to the WSJ. Bishop Sauls’ letter appeared July 20, 2012, on page A10 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Episcopal Church Is Radically Faithful to Its Tradition

Space does not permit a correction of the numerous factual points I could dispute in Jay Akasie’s “What Ails the Episcopalians” (Houses of Worship, July 13). Instead, I offer a spiritual correction.

The church has been captive to the dominant culture, which has rewarded it with power, privilege and prestige for a long, long time. The Episcopal Church is now liberating itself from that, and as the author correctly notes, paying the price. I hardly see paying the price as what ails us. I see it as what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Many years ago when I was a parish priest in Savannah, a local politician and disaffected Episcopalian began a conversation with me. In that case the subject was homosexuality. It could have been any of the things mentioned last week as our ailments. “I just think the church should not be governed by the culture,” he said. I replied that I agreed with him, but that “I just hadn’t noticed that the culture was all that hospitable toward gay people.” He stammered. “Well, maybe not here in Georgia.”

The Episcopal Church is on record as standing by those the culture marginalizes whether that be nonwhite people, female people or gay people. The author calls that political correctness hostile to tradition.

I call it profoundly countercultural but hardly untraditional. In fact, it is deeply true to the tradition of Jesus, Jesus who offended the “traditionalists” of his own day, Jesus who was known to associate with the less than desirable, Jesus who told his followers to seek him among the poor. It is deeply true to the tradition of the Apostle Paul who decried human barriers of race, sex, or status (Galatians 3:28).

What ails the Episcopalians is that this once most-established class of American Christianity is taking the risk to be radically true to its tradition. There is a price to be paid for that. There is also a promise of abundant life in it.

Bishop Stacy F. Sauls
Chief Operating Officer
The Episcopal Church

Many other previous responses to the original WSJ are:

Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona
Scott Gunn, deputy from Rhode Island
George Conger
, senior correspondent at the Church of England newspaper (which not an official publication of the Church of England)
Margaret Waters, rector of St Alban’s Episcopal Church, Austin, TX
Winnie Varghese, Priest, St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, New York City
Diana Butler Bass, Author
Sam Lloyd, bishop and former dean of the National Cathedral
Gay Clark Jennings, the new president of the House of Deputies

Tom Erich, writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest, sums up the attacks of both the New York Times  and Wall Street Journal:

“Neither do Douthat and Murdoch’s mouthpieces understand the present moment. Mainline Protestant church leaders are finally getting ready to do what they should have been doing for 50 years, namely, looking outside their walls at a deeply troubled world, resolving to turn their congregations toward being responsive and effective, and allowing young adults into leadership.”

“Now leaders can look outward and onward. Conservatives will find themselves ignored, not because mainline traditions have lost their way, but because they are determined to find their way, and my-way-or-the-highway conservatives have cried wolf too often.

Their next round of emotional and financial blackmail won’t find much of an audience, except, of course, on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal.”