On Jan. 6, I was privileged to represent my Episcopal Diocese at the splendid closing liturgy celebrating the 125th anniversary of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville. Fourteen separate denominations were also represented.
I was deeply impressed by the ceremony presided over by Bishop Edward Braxton. Later, I gathered up the courage to meet him. I found myself greatly enjoying the conversation with this charming, thoughtful and gracious man who even had a droll sense of humor. The liturgy and the sermon by a National Council of Churches leader had been filled with our savior's will for his followers to become one, and Bishop Braxton stated his desire to get to know Episcopalians. So I invited him to meet with Bishop Daniel Martins and my colleagues at a pre-Lenten retreat at Kings House Center, surely familiar ground for a Catholic.
The bishop came and met with 25 or so Episcopal priests and deacons on Feb. 6 for an entirely open and unscripted dialogue lasting nearly an hour and a half. We were impressed by his handling a number of subjects concerning being faithful Christians in this increasingly secular world, and his candor about his being called to oversee a diocese in which a number of churches need to be closed, something we certainly know about as Episcopalians.
I am honored to have become a friend of the bishop, and I look forward to more opportunities for dialogue and prayer with Catholic clergy and laity, knowing how fine a spiritual witness the bishop is to the Christian faith.
The Rev. Canon Dale Coleman
Rector, St. George's Episcopal Church