With all the troubles besetting the Episcopal church these days, it is good to reflect on more tranquil times. In the early 1980's, Bishop McDonald of Little Rock, and Bishop Herbert Donovan of the (Episcopal) diocese of Arkansas, met and approved a covenant between our two dioceses. This covenant, suitably engrossed, framed, and hung on a wall in one of the chancery buildings, has pretty much become a dead letter.
Its provisions generally meant that the Catholic and Episcopal churches in any town were to work together as much as possible in ecumenical, social-justice, and fellowship concerns, and to pray for each other in the liturgy (Bring back the dyptics, boys!)
Since the first time I was pastor at Holy Redeemer, Fr. Bob Allen of St. Mary's Episcopal and I have tried to fulfill this covenant. We are probably the only two churches in either diocese who do. There should be more. And we should be doing more. However, while the pastors are concerned, that same level of concern for ecumenism doesn't filter down into the pews as much as we'd like.
What we do now, together, is primarily our annual Lenten "Quiet Day." Each year one parish hosts a day of recollection on a Saturday of Lent. The other parish provides the speaker. In the past, some of the speakers that we've provided are Fr. David McKillin, OSB, of Subiaco; Fr. Christopher Shappard, OSB, (deceased) of St. Meinrad Archabbey, and Bishop J. Peter Sartain of our diocese among others. These Lenten Quiet Days have re-introduced both our congregations to the spirtualities of the Church Catholic in a pleasant day of prayer and fellowship.
We also join for Vespers on the Feast of Christ the King (Holy Redeemer's patronal feast). This vesper service has the combined choirs of both parishes. The ministers of the downtown churches are invited to take part in this, along with Fr. Allen.
At least we are doing some of the covenant. Would that it be revitalized when both our dioceses receive their new bishops.