Dear Federal Chaplains,
On February 17, 1977 I was sitting in Christ Chapel at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX, listening to the Rev’d Sam Van Culin, then Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, speak on the ministry of The Episcopal Church to assist and collaborate with the mission of Anglican dioceses in Africa. In a somewhat surprising and unusual action the Dean of the Seminary, the Very Rev. Gordon T. Charlton, interrupted Sam to give him what he told us was an important message. After Sam and the Dean spent several long minutes in a side conversation Sam returned and informed us that he had just been told about the abduction and possible death of his friend Archbishop Janani Luwum of
. Ironically, Sam had just been talking about how the Archbishop had been engaged in courageous and Christ-like ministry to the very people, supporters of Ugandan President-for-Life Idi Amin, who had chosen to do him harm. Uganda
Since that day I have never lost sight of the fact that faithful and sacrificial ministry for the sake of the Gospel of Christ can be costly. Throughout this episcopacy I am reminded on a daily basis of the cost of your ministry. I am continually impressed by just how many of you are willing to forgo your own comfort and ease in order to ensure that the light of Christ shines in the hard and dark places of life. In the field and aboard ship, with prisoners and staff, and in hospital wards with forgotten veterans you are there. Often you pay quite a personal cost so others know that Christ offers them an enduring hope; a hope that will neither fail them nor fade away.
On this February 17, 2011, let us give thanks that we have spiritual ancestors like the late Archbishop Janani Luwum. Give thanks that we are sent forth by a church that supports us in our missional work of being light bearers in some of the most difficult places in the world today!
For my part I am thankful that day after day you are willing to make yourselves available for the incarnation-moment when the life of the other will be radically enriched by the hope of Christ.