Episcopalian, fresh from last week's visit by...


September 18, 1992

A MARYLAND Episcopalian, fresh from last week's visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury, reports:

"Considering how big 1692, 1792 and 1892 were in the life of the diocese, we wondered if 1992 could keep up the pace. O we of little faith.

"The House of Bishops, for the first time in 100 years assembling in Baltimore, numbered 175; that includes a woman bishop and a woman bishop-elect. An onlooker asked, 'Why do they sit around in an expensive hotel and read the Bible? Bishops are supposed to know the Bible.' At their tables of 10, the bishops were overcoming a bad public series of slug-it-out differences. What they were reading, partly, was the mind of one another. And it worked.

"The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. George Leonard Carey, making Baltimore his first stop on his first official U.S. visit, was no novice; he had been sent many pages of briefing by Garner Ranney, our archivist. (Some Baltimoreans, meanwhile, supposed that the primate of world-wide Anglicanism would be living and working in a big old country cathedral. But his home and office address is Lambeth Palace, London. He's 57, not Oxbridge, looks rather like Alastair Sim of the movies and is the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury so far. To some, he's the ABC; to others, his Grace -- low and lazy; high and crazy.)

"On arrival, the bishops went to old St. Paul's and listened to Michael Curry of St. James (Lafayette Square), one powerful preacher.

" 'The really big event', as Maryland Church News (the diocesan paper) put it, was Saturday's finale, at the Church of the Redeemer: two hours plus of service for any and all. Two choirs, brass quintet, handbells, organ, soprano, oboist -- sublime music. A processional cross, brought along by the archbishop. Nine intercessors, reading texts by William Rich of Goucher. And, sermon by the archbishop: 'the Episcopal Church can be proud of its social involvement in the affairs of this nation'; all must be 'reconcilers of division' and evangelism should shun 'pure emotion, or false promises' and instead 'stretch minds.'

"Then, alongside the PB (the U.S. presiding bishop, Edmond L. Browning) and others, Carey unpretentiously helped distribute wafers to communicants.

"While in Baltimore, he got off several good lines. But the moment I treasure was when Janice Gordon of Holy Comforter (Lutherville) started speaking. His ear caught a British accent; more, she was an ordained woman. His face really lit up.

In advance, Bill Stump who edits Maryland Church News went so far as to print a page 1 bannerline ending in an exclamation point. By the end of all that glory, laud and honor, I was saying '!!'

"Nothing is ever perfect. At Friday's Cathedral buffet, with Canterbury on national TV link and our own bishop, Ted Eastman, speaking, the food ran out.

"But what a time. The year 2092 will have to go some, to match it."

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