Bishop candidates meet with Episcopalians in New Britain

(From left to right) Rev. Mark Delcuze, Right Rev. Jim Curry, Rev. Beth Fain and Rev. Dr. Mark Delcuze sing a hymn at a recent town meeting/Tracy Simmons NEW BRITAIN – The15th bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut supports gay marriage, thinks the differences The Episcopal Church has with the Anglican Communion can bring Christians closer together and wants to be more involved with Hispanic Episcopalians across the state.

At a town hall-style meeting Friday night, about 200 people gathered at Central Connecticut State University to hear the four nominees answer eight questions about how they would lead the diocese. The candidates will continue to answer questions about themselves and their perspectives on Saturday at other Connecticut locations.

From watching Friday’s forum, you’d never know the word “schism” has swirled around the denomination for the past couple of years. The candidates all agreed on the issues posed, but approached each query in their own way.

The Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, Angus Dun professor of Mission and World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School and associate priest at St. James’s Church in Cambridge, Mass., said it’s crucial for Christians to overcome their differences, because “we are one with God and one with Christ.”

Douglas, who was wistful in his answers, told the crowd that his experience working as a missionary in Haiti will help him embrace Connecticut’s Latin American population and said it’s important for people of all cultures to be accepted in the church as they are.

He said his joyful spirit is what makes him unique and said he hopes that attitude would carry over into his position as bishop, if elected.

“I look for joy in the people I meet, the places I go and the conversations I have,” he said.

The Rev. Beth Fain, rector, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Cypress, Texas and dean of the San Jacinto Convocation, also the candidate who traveled the farthest to attend the meetings, said one of the things that attracted her to Connecticut was the state’s law on gay marriage.

“The definition of God, is God is love,” she said. “Good for you Connecticut.”

The other nominees agreed and concurred that the commitment between two people, whether gay or straight, is reason to celebrate.

The Rev. Mark Delcuze, of rector St. Stephen’s Church in Ridgefield, who described himself as quirky, said the church has to learn to meet people where they are, adding that it’s important for a diocese to listen to all sides of an issue.

“My white, male, heterosexual approach to the world will only go so far….we need balance,” he said. “All our voices together will discern God’s voice.”

When asked how to attract 20-somethings to the church, Jim Curry, bishop suffragan of Connecticut, the gentle giant of the group, said the key is to get out of the church and meet Connecticut’s young adults “in the streets.” He added that the church needs to listen to the younger crowd.

“We have an awful lot to learn (from them), and we have an awful lot to give,” he said.

 The candidates will meet more Episcopalians Saturday as they travel to attend another forum and a walkabout. On Saturday at 9:30 a.m. they will gather at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook for another town-hall style meeting. Then, at 2 p.m., they will go to Trinity Church in Southport, for a walk-about where they will meet with attendees.

Video interviews of the candidates can be viewed on the Diocese election site. Elections will take place on Oct. 24 at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford.

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