On Sept. 11, 2001, Bishop Frank Griswold realized anew the power of religion to heal.
“I realized that the little arms of the cross could embrace the rage that happened just a block away,” he said.
Griswold, the 25th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, visited the Christ Church Episcopal this weekend for its 150th Anniversary. Griswold presided over the Easter celebrations for the entire weekend, starting with a mid-day Good Friday service.
The power of Jesus’ sacrifice to help heal wounded relationships formed the core of Griswold’s sermon Friday. Griswold said he recognized the possibility of reconciliation when he was in New York City at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. He said he realized it was in his power as a bishop to help heal the suffering and anger manifest in the act.
“What is our relationship with the cross other than as the grateful recipients of its reconciliatory power?” he said.
Only through this “profound sense of loss,” he said, could man reconcile his differences and truly turn to God.
“In Christ, the distorted pattern of relationships — are reordered towards God,” Griswold said.
The crucifixion of Jesus was simultaneously an end and a beginning, Griswold said.
“There’s a sense that God’s work is finished, but it remains to be lived out,” he said.
Griswold is known for his November appointment of the Reverend V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, making Robinson the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. Griswold was criticized for the appointment by many branches of the Anglican church worldwide.
Christ Church, which is famous among Yale students for its popular Compline service, is known as a notably accepting Episcopal community. Reverend David C. Cobb, the Christ Church rector, said the church and Griswold had a good relationship in the past, due largely to the community’s openness.
“Given our progressiveness and emphasis on spirituality and the liturgy, I think it’s a pretty good fit,” Cobb said.
T. Wiley Carr, a vestry member at the Christ Church, said he appreciates the open nature of the congregation. An art teacher at Southern Connecticut State University, Carr was originally attracted to the church for its music. Now, he said, he makes the trip every week.
Carr has come to know many of the congregation members, he said, even with the high number of visitors that come to the church each week.
“When someone asks me what the people are like, I say, ‘Which one?’” Carr said.
Jason Petsch ’05 said he attends Christ Church in part for its liberal nature, even though he grew up in a more conservative Episcopalian tradition. His family thought Robinson’s appointment was a “tragedy,” he said, although he has no opinion of his own. He speculated that Griswold’s academic background influenced his decision to appoint Robinson.
“On a personal level, without having formed an opinion on the whole, I don’t even know how to begin to second guess the bishop,” he said.
Before becoming the Presiding Bishop in 1997, Griswold was the Bishop of Chicago. Griswold holds an honorary degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.