Deputy Lisa Fox of the Diocese of Missouri reflects on the relationship between the Diocese of Lui in Sudan and her diocese:
My Diocese of Missouri is in a companion relationship with the Diocese of Lui (Episcopal Church of Sudan). Before the governing bodies of Missouri and Lui adopted the covenant between our dioceses, it is my understanding that the bishops had frank conversations.
There are many differences in our dioceses.
The Diocese of Lui uses a Moru translation of the 1662 CoE prayer book, and their translation is a very Protestant one in which the Eucharist is merely a "memorial" of the Lord's Supper.
The Diocese of Missouri celebrates the Eucharist as a sacrament, informed by the liturgical renewal of the past century.
The people of Lui tend to read the Scriptures more literally than do we in Missouri. LGBT persons are ordained in Missouri, while that isn't on the radar in the Diocese of Lui or anywhere in Sudan.
We have very different ways of counting our "members."
However, we have a healthy relationship, between our bishops, congregations, and individuals. There is deep sharing between us as dioceses and individuals. We recognize and accept the differences, but we are brought together by our respect for each other and by our respect for one another's churches.
The current structure of the Anglican Communion allows us to do that. We can differ, but still love and support one another. We can and do respect the different contexts of how we minister in Missouri and Lui.
I believe it has been a blessing to our Diocese of Missouri to understand and walk with the people in the Diocese of Lui. I hope the reverse has also been true.
The proposed Anglican Covenant would, I fear, bring an end to this "diversity within unity." That Covenant would give each province a right of "veto" over any other province's movement. Many other people have written more articulately than I can about the loss of unity in the enforcement of uniformity.
This much I know: I have learned a great deal about Christian faith from my brothers and sisters in Lui, when I was there in 2006 and in our communications since then. We would disagree about some philosophical/theological/theoretical matters. But we are bound together in love, fellowship, and mission.
For the life of me, I do not understand those who support a Covenant that would reduce our respectful and diverse fellowship to a curia demanding "uniformity of belief."
I've been a kibitzer on the Bishops and Deputies listserve (HOBD) since 2003, and hope to contribute to our dialogue now that I've been elected a deputy.
L4, Diocese of Missouri
Personal blog: My Manner of Life
The Episcopal Majority