Church has great opportunity
George Werner's concluding remarks
by James Thrall

August 8 [ENS] In his closing remarks to the House of Deputies, President George
Werner Friday urged clergy and congregations to make the most of the
evangelistic potential of the first Sunday after General Convention

"Looking at the vast collection of coverage this church has been
getting," he said. "This Sunday may be one of the greatest if not the
best missionary Sundays in the history of the church."
Given the extensive news reporting on the sexuality issues addressed at
convention, he indicated, parishes may experience an influx of newcomers
curious about the Episcopal Church.

While Werner said he realized that parish priests will feel a pull "to
get up and make our comments on the news from convention," he stressed
that "this Sunday is a Sunday to be Philip opening the scriptures. This
is a Sunday when people can meet Jesus Christ. This is a Sunday where
people can find out why the power of Christ is something that can feed a
hungry world."

Offering an example of what he called the "remarkable" treatment of the
church in the press, Werner quoted an editorial by the Dallas Morning

"Still we have been struck by the calm and deliberative process the
Episcopalians followed in reaching their conclusion," he read. "The
discussions among the clergy and laity were marked not by cheap
name-calling but by honest soul-searching. And yes, there is division.
But the common bond of faith took precedence."

The editorial concludes: "Perhaps their thoughtfulness and mutual
respect for one another on this issue will have a positive impact on how
all of us Americans carry on our larger societal debate. At least we
hope so."

Such sentiments, Werner said, have been "echoed not just in the United
States but across the world." In approaching convention, "we hoped that
we could break open this church and become the church that God wanted us
to be," he said. "This is the greatest potential Sunday for evangelism.
And I hope we don't miss that opportunity."


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5/7/04 -j