Bishop John T. Walker has pledged to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Washington in an attack on a wide range of social problems when he becomes its head later this year.
The church "must stand firmly at that point where the church and the world meet and it must address the issues of the day, not as having solutions, but as a body of concerned people who together with other citizens seek solutions to the large problems of our time," he told the annual diocesan convention, meeting at St. Alban's school here last weekend.
While some yearn for the church to take the turmoil of the past decades, Bishop Walker said, he stressed that this is not the mission of the followers of Jesus.
"If the Messiah confronts the political and soical institutions, if He speaks good news to the poor, if He delivers those in prison, or if He opens the eyes of the broken victims then He necessarily disturbs the peace," he said.
Bishop Walker cited a range of problems he felt the church should address: divorce and family break-up; racism, urban crime and the fear it inspires, demands of the gay community and public and private education.
He called on the church community to "join with all the concerned peoples of the world" to seek solutions to these problems.
"Christians cannot afford the luxury of exclusivism," he said. "If we are to be taken seriously . . . then we must support the search, and if it moves us into controversial waters, we must walk with our brothers and sisters so long as the means employed are consonant with our faith."
A series of resolutions adopted by the convention dealt with both social and ecclesiastical issues.
A resolution designed to delay adoption of the church's revised prayer book, a controversial issue in the church, was overwhelmingly defeated.
A resolution on abortion expressed "unequivocal opposition" to any legislation "which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decision" on terminating pregnancies.
Other resolutions opposed capital punishment; called for an end to the B-1 bomber program; and committed the diocese to pursue, with other organizations, the development of a residential hospice for the dying.