I greet you on behalf of The Episcopal Church in 17 nations, where we overlap with this Moravian province and others in the Unitas Fratrum. Like you, we are part of a global fellowship of provinces, the Anglican Communion. Episcopalians and Moravians are still only beginning to explore what it means to be in full communion with one another. We celebrate the fact that there is now one partnership in North Carolina, and one beginning in central Pennsylvania, in the Northern Province. I hope and pray that these will continue to grow and expand.
Who are we as a Church? We’re a product of the English Reformation, with significant influence by the Continental reformers and your own forebears. Anglicanism grew out of the early Christian witness in Britain, probably present as early as the 2nd century, having come with Roman soldiers. It took root and indigenized, and when Augustine of Canterbury was sent by Gregory the Great, he was reminded to bless the good he found there and work with the rest.
That’s probably a helpful frame for a gift I believe Anglicans and Moravians share – a comfort with diversity and a willingness to look for the presence of God at work in a wide range of theological positions, liturgical practices, and contexts. We claim catholic, reformed, and liberal strands within Anglicanism, and at our best believe that each has important gifts to offer the larger tradition. We prize unity over uniformity, even though working that out is frequently messy. Your own willingness to affirm the confessional documents of a range of Christian bodies, finding truth in each, is a constructive parallel.
We take worship and the practice of holiness with deep seriousness as well as an eagerness to find beauty and truth in all we do. We are increasingly remembering that our part in God’s mission requires us to turn outward into God’s larger creation, human and otherwise, to seek and produce beauty and truth in incarnate social form – as justice and peace.
We also govern ourselves synodically, with lay persons, priests and deacons, and bishops helping to discern the movement of the Spirit as we make decisions on behalf of the whole Church.
As we seek to grow into the one body of Christ, we are discovering new gifts and possibilities for God’s mission in our full communion partners – the Moravian Church (Southern and Northern Provinces), the ELCA, the IFI, Mar Thoma, and the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht.
We give thanks for your partnership and your willingness to teach us about the truth you know, and we promise you the same. I ask your prayers for us.
May God continue to richly bless the Moravian Church, your ministry, and the world and work we share.