[ACNS source: Trinity Church Wall Street] The head of the grants program of Trinity Church Wall Street has told partner churches in Africa that they will not be penalized for expressing views opposed to the policies of the Episcopal Church on the issue of human sexuality.
"You don't have to agree with us to be eligible for a Trinity grant," said the Revd James G. Callaway, Jr, deputy for Grants and Outreach. "This has been our policy in the past, it is our policy now, and it will remain our policy."
Father Callaway was speaking at the recent meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, of the ninth session of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa. CAPA is a continental body that brings together all 12 of Africa's Anglican churches, as well as the Diocese of Egypt.
Bringing greetings to the meeting, Father Callaway referred to "a few instances" in which there had been accusations from within the Episcopal Church that Trinity was making grants conditional upon agreement with ECUSA theology.
"In fact, in these cases, the issue has not been whether or not there is agreement on theology; but rather on how we relate to one another in Communion," he said.
He said Trinity believed partners should feel free to express views as strongly as they wished, within the bounds of Christian charity, "but that we [partners] should do so within a framework of respect for one another's autonomy as Provinces."
He added that Trinity avoided giving grants to parishes or individuals in other provinces of the Communion who set themselves against official structures of those provinces, because it did not want to promote divisions within other provinces.
"On a wider level, we feel that unless the Communion decides on another way of operating, it would be inappropriate for us in the United States to take your dissenting parishes and dioceses within our jurisdiction, or to be consecrating bishops in your provinces who wish to set themselves up in opposition to you."
The full text of Father Callaway's greeting follows:
"In the current climate of contention over the debate on human sexuality, it may be helpful to you if I reiterate our policy at Trinity when it comes to making grants to partners with whom we do not have full agreement on theological issues.
"Our policy is this: We make grants to you, our partners, regardless of whether we are in agreement with you on points of theology. We do not believe we have to see eye to eye with you on every issue to work with you around common mission concerns. This means that you should not fear that your province or diocese will be penalized in our partnership for your views on the current sexuality debate. More concisely stated: You don't have to agree with us to be eligible for a Trinity grant. This has been our policy in the past, it is our policy now, and it will remain our policy.
"There have been a few instances in the last two years in which Trinity has been accused from within ECUSA of making our grants conditional upon agreement with our theology. In fact, in these cases, the issue has not been whether or not there is agreement on theology; but rather on how we relate to one another in Communion.
"Within Trinity Parish, among both the members of the congregation and the clergy, there are differing views on the sexuality debate. Some support the General Convention's decision, some are strongly against, and I may say that parishioners in that group have not hesitated to voice their dissent. This disagreement extends through our diocese and the whole Episcopal Church as well.
"I suspect that you too have your disagreements, over other issues, in your parishes, your dioceses and your provinces. You may have parishes which dissent in some ways from their bishops. You may even have bishops or dioceses who disagree with their archbishops on some issues.
"How should all of us, as partners from different provinces, respond to the internal differences within one another's dioceses and provinces? Our view at Trinity is that in a healthy partnership, we should feel free to debate the issues between ourselves, to express our views as strongly as we wish within the bounds of Christian charity, but that we should do so within a framework of respect for one another's autonomy as Provinces.
"At Trinity, we don't give grants to dissenting parishes or individuals in other Provinces because we do not feel it is appropriate for us to be promoting division in those Provinces. On the contrary, our policy is to form partnerships with you, the official leaders of your dioceses and provinces. On a wider level, we feel that unless the Communion decides on another way of operating, it would be inappropriate for us in the United States to take your dissenting parishes and dioceses within our jurisdiction, or to be consecrating bishops in your provinces who wish to set themselves up in opposition to you.
"Fortunately, if we review the overall picture of our partnerships, we're talking about an issue which has barely appeared on the radar screen. We declined one grant two years ago on the basis that we felt our autonomy as a province had not been respected. In contrast, in the last five years we have given 84 grants throughout Africa, in every province.
"Since the last CAPA council meeting the Trinity Grants Program has marked its thirtieth anniversary. We are proud that the founding vision of our global work came from the late Bishop Stephen Fielding Bayne, who was Associate Rector at the time. Bishop Bayne was truly a son of Trinity: his father was a Church Warden; he was baptized at our Chapel of the Intercession; Trinity sponsored him for ordination; he not only served on the staff as I have indicated, but was buried from Trinity and rests in the Trinity Church Cemetery in New York.
"When he went to establish the Office of the Executive of the Anglican Communion, the Vestry supported his work by providing the furnishings for his London office. As Anglicans I believe we are indebted to his vision of 'Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence' which has set a very solid foundation for our life together. I want to quote Bishop Bayne briefly to keep our work together in perspective. He wrote, 'The point is that the church is the one body in the world that is bigger than human differences; the point is that we have a duty to placard before the world the reconciliation God has worked in us through Jesus Christ.'"