Bishop Franklin becomes first Episcopal bishop to preach at Presbyterian Regional Meeting on Long Island

Bishop Franklin Presbytery Message

This article was also published by Episcopal News Service.

In a pioneering moment for ecumenical relations on Long Island, The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, Assisting Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, became the first bishop to preach at a gathering of The Presbytery of Long Island – the regional body representing local Presbyterian congregations – this past Saturday, June 15, 2024. 

Bishop Franklin’s message comes amid growing momentum in the Episcopalians and Presbyterians in Conversation (EPIC) initiative, which has brought the two denominations together in Long Island to explore opportunities for deeper collaboration and dialogue. 

In his remarks, Bishop Franklin emphasized the ecumenical movement’s goal of unity of all believers in Jesus Christ.

“It is about healing—healing the brokenness of our corporate bodies, recovering the fullness of our faith, so that the whole world might believe, so that the whole creation might be healed and restored.”

Bishop Franklin also acknowledged the “history of disparagement” between the two denominations and highlighted how the church has entered a season of reinvention and redefinition which calls for unity.

Bishop Franklin and Presbyterian Representatives

Bishop R. William Franklin with The Rev. Kate Jones Calone (standing), Executive of the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery of Long Island, pictured with other leaders of the Presbytery.

This development is particularly pertinent ahead of the upcoming national gatherings of the Episcopal Church and the PCUSA, respectively General Convention and General Assembly. General Convention delegates will consider resolution A042, which acknowledges the Episcopal-Presbyterian Agreement on Local Sharing of Ministries, affirms the growing number of local ministries between the denominations, authorizes the continuation of bi-lateral dialogue, and encourages prayerful consideration by all Episcopalians of deepening relations with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 

This proposed resolution builds on the significant milestone of the 2008 agreement between the denominations which acknowledged each other’s churches, ministries, and sacraments as valid and authentic, allowed for Eucharistic hospitality, and encouraged continued dialogue towards full reconciliation and interchangeability of ministers. 

EPIC co-convener and Episcopal priest, the Rev. Matt Tees, has a personal connection to the legislation as a former Presbyterian and grandson of a Presbyterian minister. Fr. Tees says that, right now, the largest challenge EPIC is facing is informational. “All the leaders in our cohort have thus far been enthusiastic, engaging in dialogue with respect and a commitment to understanding each other more fully. There are challenges and concerns around key differences in our denominations, but this resolution simply allows us to continue the dialogue, learn more about the other’s traditions and doctrine, and explore what increased unity and partnership would look like.”