To One of the Primates
Who Wouldn’t Receive Holy Communion
With the Presiding Bishop.
The Most Reverend Justice O. Akrofi
Archbishop of West Africa and Bishop of Accra
Bishopscourt, P.O. Box GP 8
February 17, 2007
It is with sadness that I need to rescind my invitation to you to be with us in late March into early April, 2007. Yesterday I learned you were one of seven primates who have boycotted the Eucharist at the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, and +Peter Akinola’s statement on behalf of the seven of you is in all the newspapers. I have received a number of emails from clergy in this Diocese expressing their disapproval of your action.
The Diocesan Council met today and agrees that you cannot be welcomed in Maryland under the circumstances. For my own part, I am disappointed you would use the Holy Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood as a political tool; I had assumed your sacramental theology was more thoroughly Anglican. Mostly I am sorry after so many years to end our personal relationship on this note.
It is obvious to everyone here that it would now be completely inappropriate for you to celebrate the Eucharist at our Cathedral on Palm Sunday. Surely, many parishioners would protest your visit by not receiving Communion from you. Since I do not allow such behavior in this Diocese, I cannot encourage it by your presence. Clearly it would be inappropriate for you to preach Tuesday in Holy Week to a combined group of Lutheran and Episcopal clergy, since you do not even share Communion with other Anglicans. Finally, it is sadly clear to Nancy and me that your presence at my retirement celebration is out of order as well. I give thanks for the eight years we have been in relationship; we have many friends in Accra and in Ghana, and I am aware that there are a number of them who will be shocked and grieved by your behavior. I have always shared honestly with you (even though I have not felt in the past two years you have been so honest in your sharing) and want to say we have great affection for the +Justice we knew in those earlier years. Since becoming Archbishop, you have changed and I do not feel I know you anymore.
I am not at this time calling for an end of the Companion Diocese relationship, although this development puts that relationship at risk. I am content to let the Holy Spirit guide our Dioceses into appropriate discernment (a discernment which will take place after my retirement and without my input). As a Diocese, Maryland is committed, as am I, to the continuation of projects already begun in Accra and relationships in Accra which I and many others here cherish. Our special Lenten offerings will go to assist children in your Diocese, I continue to be very supportive of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope spearheaded by Debbi Frock, and we celebrate our ongoing Cursillo commitments. Let me assure you I am not angry as I write this but deeply disappointed. The Diocese of Accra and its parishes remain on our Diocesan Prayer list from week-to-week, and you will remain in my prayers and those of our Diocesan family. Please continue to pray for us. There was much I had hoped to show you and tell you in your uupcoming visit, much we had hoped to plan together, especially as it relates to youth ministry, a high priority for both of our Dioceses. Perhaps some of that can continue in some different form; personally, I am sad that I will not be a part of it.
Your faithful brother in Christ,
The Right Reverend Robert W. Ihloff
Bishop of Maryland
Letter from Norman Espinoza
Dearest “amigo y hermano” Jorge:
This message was a correct response in light of the “misrepresentation” of these so-called “pastors”of the Church. Nevertheless it saddens me as this will only serve to create a greater rift amongst us as Episcopalians. I support this letter by the Bishop of Maryland (…coming from one[me] who stood up and turned my back on Bishop Spong…) as it was needed in light of their actions. Perhaps we can urge us all as Episcopalians(…and Christians) to turn the tables around and have us be the invited to these many parishes in Africa that will not get the beautiful message of God’s inclusivity? I certainly place myself as the first volunteer in this “army” for God. We can do it in the form of song or speakers or even to place leaflets in people’s home spreading the Word of God. Thanks be to God !!
Praise be to God- Norman