The Rector of Falls Church Episcopal, the Rev. John Ohmer writes on his blog to the Rev. Tory Baucum who recently cut off his friendship with Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia. For background on this story read here. Ohmer writes:
Dear Rev. Baucum,
I’m writing in response to your “Peacemaking for Now” letter of March 14, 2013.
For some time, you’ve been reaching out in personal friendship with the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
In praise and recognition of this good work, you received, and posted on your own blog, many encouraging words from – in your own words – “some of the most orthodox leaders in Anglicanism,” including Nicky Gumbel and now-Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
You said that the reason you started this work of conversation and reconciliation were things you were seeing in your congregation, namely,
“a reluctance to reach out to different groups in our community, and there would be theological rationalizations for some of this,”
You also said, “John tells us that perfect love casts out fear. I think the corollary is also true, perfect fear casts out love.”
But you overcame that fear, and you did, in fact, lead by example.
You inspired, and gave hope to many of us around the world, including even Canon Andrew White in Baghdad, Iraq: now there’s someone who knows conflict, and how to stand up to those who would silence the voice of love.
You were doing good, godly work.
You were running a good race.
But then in your letter of March 14, you said you’re ending this work with Bishop Shannon.
As Paul (Galatians 5:7-8) asked, “Who cut in on you, who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
Wait; we know the answer to that: it was Bishop John Guernsey, that’s who.
Bishop Guernsey, alarmed over the fact that Bishop Johnston welcomed a non-orthodox biblical scholar to speak in the Diocese of Virginia, came to a “determination that this relationship with Bishop Johnston can no longer continue.”
This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
But apparently Bishop Guernsey threatened you with discipline, and you obeyed.
I get that: I am, after all, from a hierarchical church.
I also get why you felt you had to share, in your March 14 letter, your decision to go along with Bishop Guernsey’s advice and counsel.
But there are two things I don’t understand.
Read it all here.