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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Pentecost Missions Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
...there is no reason to presume that South Carolina’s declaration of itself as an extra-provincial diocese is more than an ad hoc solution to an immediate crisis. To speculate about the permanence of this situation or about which Anglican entity South Carolina might align itself with is equally a case of playing “Cheat the Prophet.”
The issue that is little addressed in such discussions is the theological nature of episcopacy. What does it mean to be a bishop? Standard Church histories make clear that the office of bishop is about continuity, specifically continuity between the apostolic Church and the catholic Church of the second century. To be a bishop is to recognize and submit oneself to the canonical authority of the Old and New Testaments as the faithful witness of prophets and apostles to the triune God revealed in the history of Israel, the saving work of Jesus Christ, and the Church as summarized in the Rule of Faith.
Whether bishops of the Episcopal Church have acted in continuity with this apostolic Church in proceeding to approve of same-sex unions is precisely the issue that is splitting the Anglican Communion. There are, of course, issues of universality involved as well. A bishop is a bishop not just for a local diocese but for the whole Church. In the long run, an extra-provincial diocese accountable only to itself is problematic. But then again, a national church that refuses to be accountable to an international communion has brought the Anglican Communion to its current crisis, even as a bishop who does not understand his chief role to keep intact the apostolic witness has rather missed the point of being a bishop.
Read it all.
As in Scripture, so also in ecclesiology: the pernicious hermeneutic of self-justification remains a constant temptation. This is regrettable. Ecclesiology is not a minor administrative matter that can be casually tossed aside. It is part of the core good news Christians have to proclaim. In a globalizing world that is dominated by discord and fracture, the Church makes the counter-cultural claim that in baptism we come to belong to the body of Christ. No other entity is shaped by a common willingness to die daily with Christ and be raised with him who is the author of true and abundant life. We believe we belong, and that this is good news. Anglicans work out the implications of this radical claim in the constellation of parishes, dioceses, provinces, networks, and institutions that comprise our global Communion.
The dispute in South Carolina could provide an opportunity — yet unrealized — to think seriously about the ecclesiological and theological convictions underlying Anglican churches. On that note, we might welcome the recent call in these pages for a retreat on the topic, organized by seminary deans. Prayerfully and reverently, one hopes, Anglicans may yet learn together to honor our theological convictions in our ecclesiological structures.
Read it all.
Midway through the second half of a close and pivotal game against Texas Southern during the 1967 football season, Coach Eddie Robinson’s Grambling team mounted a drive. It ended abruptly when Grambling’s center threw a forearm at the nose tackle who had been dominating him. A referee penalized Grambling and ejected the center from the game.Read it all.
When the center, Thomas Ross, reached the sideline, Robinson was waiting. Yet he did not strike Ross. He did not curse him. He did not even shout at him. Instead, in controlled, staccato bursts, he delivered a lesson about character and teamwork.
“You have satisfied yourself,” Robinson said. “You got him back. But we told you about stability and self-control. Now you think about us. We don’t have a center, and we got to play the rest of the game.” Robinson motioned to the other players, standing on the sideline or sitting on the bench. “Look at what you did. Look at the people you let down.”
In the Gospel we heard a passage from the farewell discourses of Jesus, as related by the evangelist John in the context of the Last Supper. Jesus entrusts his last thoughts, as a spiritual testament, to the apostles before he leaves them. Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is completely centred on the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
A worldly Church is a weak Church. The only way to stop this from happening is to entrust the Church to the Lord through constant prayer. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass Tuesday morning, celebrated with staff from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, also known as APSA. Emer McCarthy reports:
"We can safeguard the Church, we can cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does : He is the only One who can look into the face of evil and overcome it. The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world. Here the question arises: do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord's Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church ... It' s yours. Your Church is [made up of ] our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart".
Then, Pope Francis remarked that "it is easy to pray for the grace of the Lord", "to thank Him" or when "we need something." But it is fundamental that we also pray to the Lord for all, for those who have "received the same Baptism," saying "they are Yours, they are ours, watch over them".
Read it all.
In 2003, after the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop within the Anglican Communion, the Province of the Southern Cone severed its relationship with the Episcopal Church. It also broke communion with the Anglican Church of Canada after one of its dioceses in 2002 authorized a rite for blessing same-sex unions. Are you still in broken communion with these two provinces?
Yes. In 2010 when an earthquake struck in Chile, I received many, many phone calls from [the Episcopal Church Center in] New York offering us money. But I said no; not out of arrogance but because we had broken communion with TEC and it would not be right to accept their money.
Did you ask permission of the local Anglican Church of Canada bishop to visit here?
No, because I am coming to another, different Anglican church.
n 2003, the Province of the Southern Cone offered Episcopal oversight to conservative Anglicans who had left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada but who wanted to realign with another province. Does this make you a primate of the Anglican Church in North America along with its elected primate, Bob Duncan?
No. That is over. We provided temporary supervision. When ACNA was founded in Texas in 2008 the very next day I had breakfast with Bishop John Guernsey and said, “My churches in the States will now be under your supervision. Let me know what I should do to pass them to you.” Others like [Bishops] Frank Lyons of Bolivia and Greg Venables may have taken a bit more time but the Southern Cone decided to pass the [North American] churches to the new ACNA primate.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON 2008 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * International News & Commentary South America Chile * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The reform of the Church already evident in the words and witness of Pope Francis may be starting, but it won’t be stopping at the revamping of the Vatican Curia and the renewal of the clergy.
It also will involve a thorough reform of the laity, since some of the cancers the cardinals elected him to confront in Rome have metastasized throughout Christ’s mystical body.
In his conclave-changing address to the cardinals four days before his election, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio identified what he believes is the Church’s fundamental illness: “ecclesiastical narcissism.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ecclesiology
An official with the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina said Monday he believes the dispute over who has the right to claim the centuries-old diocese name and properties in the Lowcountry should be decided in state court, not federal.
“We believe the issues belong in state court,” the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, said. “We certainly have plenty of state precedent in our favor....”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
The possibility of dividing the United Methodist Church as a way out of persistent conflicts over homosexuality has been raised enough times in recent years to warrant serious reflection on what it would entail. The fact that Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans have all seen either formal divisions or significant withdrawals of congregations from their denominations over these issues does not bode well for the UMC.
But as tempting as the idea might be as a way out of our conflicts, we would have to think about realities like the following....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Holy Week * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
The future of Anglican-Roman Catholic relations is, in part, down to who will succeed Pope Benedict, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See.
Responding to today’s surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Very Revd David Richardson said the implications for Anglican-Roman Catholic relations in the long term “will depend on who is elected to succeed him.”
However, Dean Richardson, who is also Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said that other relationships continue despite the change in leadership.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
“The World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly will be an opportunity for praying, listening and sharing together. The event will provide participants a chance to listen for the voice of God, leading them to justice and peace in the world.”
These were the words of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary, who spoke with the press in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 29 January.
Along with Prof. Dr Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee and moderator of the assembly planning committee, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, and WCC staff members, Tveit is in Seoul finalizing plans for the WCC assembly.
Read it all.
Our bible reading in Church today is a letter from St Paul’s to the church in Corinth, in which he is trying to encourage church-members to work together for the glory of God. Everyone has different gifts and talents, Paul tells them. Each one of you is a body-part of the whole. Don’t all think you have to be the one who leads the prayers, or the one who preaches, the one who does the flowers, or the one who plays the music. He reminds them that our bodies are a marvellous piece of collaborative and co-ordinated working. We may think our eyes are our best feature. But if we decided we just wanted to be all eye, we wouldn’t be able to hear or speak. Similarly, though our football teams need to score goals to win games, if all our players were strikers, where would the defence be!
At the end of this week of prayer for Christian Unity, we need to remember that God has given us all wonderful gifts, but he’s given them to us not just for our own pleasure, and certainly not for our personal pride, but so that we can work together to do more wonderful things than we can do alone. Saint Teresa of Avila’s poem describes the miracle of how the world is changed by each one of us using our gifts and bringing them together to serve others.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
The Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary of the independent Diocese of South Carolina, attended the convention as an observer and reiterated the need to keep identities distinct.
“Today’s special convention was clearly a source of great joy for those attending, and understandably so,” Lewis said in a statement to The Post and Courier. “As we have often said, The Episcopal Church is more than free to establish a new diocese in South Carolina. What the court ruling this week says, though, is that they can’t do that and claim to be us.”
At a news conference Saturday, Jefferts Schori would not speak about current litigation or future court battles over property that are almost certain to ensue.
“The challenge is always to recognize that our work is God’s work,” she said. “The work of the courts is to help resolve differences when faithful people haven’t done that themselves.” Church property, she said, “is a legacy, it’s a trust” that transcends generations and particular conflicts.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Ecclesiology
Successful churches are not those that put church growth first; they are those whose priority is preaching the good news of Jesus. Surely ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:33) applies to denominations as well as people.--J. John in a piece in the January 20, 2013 Church of England Newspaper (CEN), p.11
With years of angst and controversy now done, the split of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina from the national church has brought clarity and allows the faithful to look to the future, Bishop Mark Lawrence said.
"We as a diocese can begin to dream," he said recently in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. "We can dream of how God would have us fulfill our vision. We can dream of planting new churches and strengthening existing churches and working with Anglicans around the world."
The diocese in eastern and lower South Carolina, one of the oldest Episcopal dioceses in the nation, left the more liberal national church after years of disagreements over doctrine including the ordination of [non-celibate] gays.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
More bishops, fewer dioceses and the future of women clergy were amongst the main topics of debate at the Anglican Church of North America’s College of Bishops meeting this week in Orlando.
Bishops from the conservative province in waiting in North America in the Anglican Communion approved the election of two additional bishops for the PEAR-USA Network. The Rev. Quigg Lawrence will lead the Atlantic Regional Network and the Rev. Ken Ross the Western Regional Network, while the Very Rev. Clark Lowenfield was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast – a diocese in formation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Women * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
When Father Scott Hurd, vicar general of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — a home in the Catholic Church for former Episcopalians and Anglicans — reflects back on 2012, he points to a period of rapid and exciting growth marking its first year of existence.
On New Year’s Day 2012, Pope Benedict XVI erected the ordinariate, which allows former Anglicans to retain certain treasured traditions within the Catholic Church. It was created in accord with Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Pope’s apostolic constitution permitting former Anglicans to come into the Church corporately instead of as individuals.
On the same day, the Holy Father named Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, a married Catholic priest and the former Episcopal bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, as the first ordinary.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
It is very discouraging to hear that the Church of England, which once brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Uganda, has taken such a significant step away from that very gospel that brought life, light, and hope to us.
The recent decision of the House of Bishops to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops. This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion.
When the American Church made this decision in 2003 it tore the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. This decision only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church.
We stand with those in the Church of England who continue to stand for the Biblical and historic faith and practice of the Church.
Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words.
(The Most Rev.) Stanley Ntagali is Archbishop, Church of Uganda
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Uganda * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Is the primary problem TEC faces today a “structural problem?” While we clearly have structural issues, I do not think we have yet come up with the right diagnosis. I would point to two issues that are symptomatic of our situation.
First, we have been involved in serious conflict for the past decade that has held the attention of our leadership, led to an acceleration of our decline and costs us millions of dollars in litigation. Like it or not, this conflict is related directly to our theological and missional identity, namely who are we and what we are called to do. I would caution that just because one side in the conflict seems to have won, this does not mean that we have determined an identity and way forward, especially a way that is significant to our wider cultural context. If the Episcopal Church is to have a future other than shrinking numbers, budgets, and congregations, we must be able to reach people in our society and draw them into this part of the body of Christ.
Second, there continues to be a major disconnect between our corporate structures and the local congregation. We continue to hear from denominational leaders that recent decisions have made us more viable to new generations and new ethnic groups which is making us a more inclusive and multi-cultural church. However, the numbers of declining congregations and the reality in the field is that local congregations are not, nor are most becoming, the kind of church that General Convention and the Executive Council say we are. Of course, we have some congregations that reflect this, but they are far from the norm of our local congregational life. I have spent much time over the last ten years visiting Episcopal Churches and making presentations on congregational development. I observe that many of our congregations are struggling with basic survival issues.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Data TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
There was a time, early in my episcopate, when it looked like the choice was either inclusion or communion. It looked binary, with no gradations between these two poles, and it looked as if it might be that way for a long time. The season after General Convention in 2003 was fractious, to say the least. Now, however, it looks like both inclusion and communion are available to us, at least provisionally. There are still issues of maintaining unity, both in our common life in this Diocese and in the lives of many of our congregations. I know this. And we must keep an eye on the horizon of the Anglican Communion.
But things are also changing, and changing much more quickly than I could have imagined. In the eighteen months following General Convention in 2003, for example, issues of human sexuality took over my life. Letters, phone calls, meetings, and email. Oh my the email. After Mary Glasspool’s election and consent to become bishop suffragan in Los Angeles in 2010, only seven years later, I got exactly one email. One. No one even took the trouble to ask me if I gave consent, or not. Something had shifted.
Read it all if you did not last time.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
Following the announcement that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church plans a trip to Charleston for a January 25-26 convention of those wishing to re-associate with the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina released the following statements:
“They are certainly free to gather and meet, but they are not free to assume our identity. The Diocese of South Carolina has disassociated from the Episcopal Church, we’ve not ceased to exist. We continue to be the Diocese of South Carolina – also known, legally as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which I remain the Bishop. We are eager to get on with the ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world! I suggest that the Steering Committee of this new group will want to do the same. A good first step for them would be to select a new name or choose another Diocese with which to associate.”
The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
XIV Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina
“I would like to make a point of clarification for those who think we became a new entity upon our disassociation. A brief history lesson seems in order. We were founded in 1785 (prior to the founding of the Episcopal Church). We were incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. We did not become a new entity upon our disassociation. A new entity will need to be created by those who choose to leave the Diocese and re-associate with the Episcopal Church.”
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina
“They insist on what others must do yet there is no written standard to support them, and at the same time they run roughshod over their own constitution and canons. They have created a tails we win, heads you lose world where the rules are adjusted according to their desired outcomes--no wonder we dissociated from a community like that.”
The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon
Canon Theologian, Diocese of South Carolina
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Read it all and there is more here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
[Rowan] Williams spent most of his decade as Anglican spiritual leader struggling to keep bitter disputes between liberals in western countries and traditionalists, mostly from African and other developing countries, from tearing the Communion apart.
Faced with strong traditionalist opposition to gay clergy, women priests and liberal interpretations of the Bible, he tried to balance both sides and to strengthen central authority in Anglicanism so member churches did not diverge too much.
But his Anglican Covenant project failed when even his Church of England rejected the idea of a stronger center. Unlike the powerful Roman Catholic pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury is only the spiritual leader of Anglicans and has no direct authority over the Communion's member churches.
Read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded defeat in the battle over the Anglican Covenant. In a 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the primates, Dr. Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion had become “corrupted” and could no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities.”
Dr. Williams’ somber appreciation of the state of the communion today, contrasts with his past letters to the leaders of the Communions 38 provinces. Nothing now bound the church together apart from good will....
Read it all.
Though the Church of England is now the only church within these islands and within the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion which is still by law established, and though this has often been questioned as an archaic privilege in an increasingly plural age, there has hitherto been little political enthusiasm to pursue disestablishment. Once the dust has settled on the Church’s embarrassment at being temporarily thwarted by a hard-line minority over women bishops, it remains to be seen whether anything different will happen this time.
The Church itself has remained fiercely protective of what it sees as its solidifying, pastoral role in society. It argues that it can act as a reminder that there is a higher authority than politicking to which public life needs to be held to account, that an Established church can usefully reflect the concerns of religion and morality more widely in a mixed-belief society, and that its significant voluntary contribution to civic society and an expanding role in education under governments of all stripes merit continuing recognition within the country’s unwritten constitutional settlement. This remains the case, establishment's supporters argue, in spite of the falling numbers and financial challenges that have afflicted the Church in recent years, which means that around a million people (out of a population of 50 million) consistently attend its weekly services.
Scepticism is growing, however, and has reached a new peak this past week.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the fallout [over the recent vote on Women Bishops], the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, in an interview with this newspaper, urged Justin Welby, the incoming archbishop, to push through reform regardless, and there were mutterings in the Shadow Cabinet of changing the law so the Church would no longer be immune to charges of sexual discrimination. Hitchiner, though, “shocked” and “sad” as she was, and critical as she is of the overrepresentation in General Synod of people “on the more conservative end of the spectrum”, and the disproportionate amount of airtime they were given “to go back to discussions that were being held 20 years ago about why they felt uncomfortable with the idea of women priests”, says that she is wary of tampering with the system: “I think we stuck to the system and nothing went wrong. That’s the most frustrating thing. I would be happier in the long run without changing the system, without making special arrangements.”
The appointment of women bishops is, she thinks, an “unstoppable train. It is bound to happen.” She feels torn, she says. “As a feminist I believe that women shouldn’t be held back from anything. Women have worked very hard, whether they’re religious or not, to make sure that is the case. But having said that, I also think that if the Church is dictated to by society or the State it ceases to be a church.”
Read it all(requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Women * Theology Ecclesiology
The former rector of the nation's largest Episcopal church has become a Roman Catholic.
The Rev. Larry Gipson was dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham from 1982-94. Gipson retired in 2008 from the 8,000-member St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where his parishioners included former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.
Last month, Gipson was accepted as a Catholic into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to accept former Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
In a previous...[written piece] I sketched the ancient Catholic roots of Anglicanism, and its 16th and 17th century development under the influence of the Reformation, such that the 17th century opposition of Presbyterian and Episcopalian reflected differences not so much about Faith as Polity (form of church government), Order, and Liturgy. The 17th century division points in two ways. On the one hand, Anglicans may and do hold reformed or evangelical convictions substantially the same as those found in Protestant churches. On the other, Anglicans of all stripes accept as parameters certain distinctives of Liturgy and Order - including ordination of presbyters (priests) by a bishop in historic succession. Thus alongside (and sometimes, as in the case of John Wesley, mingled with) the reformed or evangelical legacy Anglicanism is shaped by “high” churchmanship as well – “high” in its regard for the church, its
worship, and ministry.
There were impeccable precedents among the 16th century reformers for the high churchmanship of the 17thcentury. Cranmer’s reformed theological views were grounded in a extensive and careful study of the ancient Catholic Fathers; Calvin’s influential teaching promoted a high view of the Sacraments and the Church (on which he took the same view as the St. Cyprian, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, “outside the church is no salvation”); Archbishops of “Calvinist” views like John Whitgift (d. 1604) vigorously defended episcopacy against presbyterian criticisms; and the Prayer Book and the Cathedrals maintained the Catholic liturgical tradition in its essentials. To these the high churchmen of the 17th
century added a concern for the outward beauty of the liturgy, as well as reverence for catholic antiquity.
In the 19thcentury Anglo-Catholic revival, such “high church” views were sharpened further. Against secularizing, utilitarian views, it affirmed the divine institution of the Church, its ministry and sacraments. Its faith, worship, and ministry are not something to be reinvented according to human agendas or utility. There followed a revival of medieval ceremonial (to a greater or lesser extent) as a means to express the sacred nature of the priesthood and sacraments, and also a sympathetic engagement with medieval doctrine and devotion.
These were developments of permanent value to Anglicanism. Unfortunately Anglo-Catholics became embroiled in a narrow and often unhistorical and untheological polemic against the Reformation, with the result that Evangelicals (and indeed High Churchmen of the old school) came to regard it as a betrayal to popery. The hostility and suspicion that warfare engendered has lived on long since.
My own theological mentors were Anglo-Catholics and Anglican Evangelicals who had not abandoned their core convictions, but were determined to look beyond party warfare, and discerned a shared heritage of ancient catholic faith,
as articulated in the western church chiefly by Saint Augustine, but enriched by countless others, including the great theological tradition of the Eastern church. Within that common heritage, western Catholics and Evangelicals have
much to share and to learn from one another.
Outside Anglicanism, the same acknowledgement of common ground in doctrine and mission has animated the religious conservatives in the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” movement. The Roman church, long a bastion of embattled polemic against other churches, has engaged sympathyetically with Christians outside its jurisdiction, including (explicitly) the churches that emerged from the Reformation, in which it acknowledges the presence of “elements of sanctification and truth”. In documents like the Papal Encyclical of John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, the Roman Church, without giving up its historic claims, has committed itself to work for ecumenical reconciliation both theologically and
I do not take the Roman view of these matters as definitive: but they are suggestive. If we are secure in our identity as Anglicans, including our commitment to the legacy of Catholic Faith and Order as set forth in the 16th century Prayer Book and Articles of Religion, we can afford a generosity of spirit that looks beyond denominational or party lines.
I think this generosity of spirit is necessary to Christians both catholic and reformed. We do not commend one side by the disparagement of the other. Nor can we speak as if there are first- and second-class Christians. God bestows
the gifts of his grace in ways that confound our the boundaries of denomination, taste, and custom: it is surely a hint that we are meant to seek a deeper unity in the truth, both theologically and practically. God must give that unity, in and when he wills: it is not something we can fabricate or negotiate, nor do we have the right to surrender the distinctive of our patrimony - but it does mean that we are to acknowledge the unity that already exists, by learning from and
working with Christians who stand within the common inheritance we have received from our fathers in the faith.
---The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John's, Savannah, Georgia
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Theology: Scripture
Almost a year after being appointed to shepherd Anglican communities seeking to join the Catholic Church, Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson says the past months have been showered with blessings.
“I think the real joys have been to see communities that have struggled with the decision of discerning whether to become Catholic and have made that choice, and they have come in,” he told CNA in a November interview.
He described “the joy on their faces” as they enter the Catholic Church and said, “That’s the thing that sticks in my mind the most.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This is a painful letter. It is painful because it concerns un-canonical (and perhaps even unlawful) actions on the part of our Presiding Bishop and her associates. These actions, detailed in the attached appendix and summarized in the bullet points below, have already undermined the good order and spiritual health of our church. We write to you our Bishops because of your responsibility for that good order. We write as Presbyters who have in one way or another faithfully served our church for over half a century. We pray that, despite the painful nature of the story we place before you, you will listen to what we have to say with a clear and open mind.
We urge you, therefore, to take careful note of the following points that are more fully spelled out in our appendix. We urge you further to take the necessary steps to restore the good order of our church.
- Three years ago, the Presiding Bishop began an extraordinary and unconstitutional intervention in the internal affairs of the Diocese of South Carolina....
Read it all and be sure to read the timeline attached. There is a printable pdf here
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has told the nation's only blended Catholic and Episcopal parish it must change its worship services so Catholics and non-Catholics meet in separate rooms for Holy Communion.
The parish, Church of the Holy Apostles, is led by Catholic and Episcopal co-pastors and has worshipped together for more than 30 years.
It's an arrangement, parishioners say, that over the years has allowed families in mixed marriages to worship side by side and has helped build bonds that transcend denominational boundaries.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
First, one major complexity is that the Communion has no clear definition of itself. The oldest and probably still most widely accepted understanding of the Communion is that offered by the 1930 Lambeth Conference and subsequently quoted in the preamble to TEC’s constitution. It defined the Communion as a “fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury,” which have in common “the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”; that “they are particular [dioceses] or national Churches”; and that “they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.”
As we have noted before, this definition reflects the essence of catholic ecclesiology: the people of God are united in one local church by their communion with their recognized bishop, and through the communion of all the bishops in a college of bishops the people of God around the world are joined in one communion.
It is sometimes suggested that a better definition is the membership schedule attached to the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council. But this definition is clearly inadequate and is not in fact accepted by any of the Instruments as defining the Communion as a whole for all purposes. Indeed, while it purports to be only a definition of ACC membership, the ACC itself does not accept the schedule as performing even that limited role.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Central New York TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
Bishop [Christopher] Hill said that “on Saturday, a Special Diocesan Convention endorsed the South Carolina withdrawal from the Episcopal Church. The Bishop has stated that their position would be to remain within the Anglican Communion as an extra-provincial Diocese. The Episcopal Church on the other hand maintains that General Convention consent is necessary for any withdrawal. So the legal and indeed theological and ecclesiological position is extremely complicated. And it is absolutely not certain.”
The bishop concluded “it has therefore not been possible to consider the consequences for our relationships at this immediate stage. And, in my view, any statement just at this point would be premature.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
"I think the Episcopal Church has really shot itself in the foot by doing this," the IRD spokesman comments. "They're losing one of their larger, more vibrant dioceses. Indeed this diocese is one of the few that's posted growth in recent years, and there is just nothing that the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church is really gaining by effectively forcing this diocese out the door."
Walton does not believe the national office wants to tolerate the type of public dissent displayed by South Carolina.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
An unhappy convergence of theology, morality and church policy has led to a collision with the leadership of the Episcopal Church, [Mark Lawrence]...said.
“We move on. Those who are not with us, you may go in peace, your properties intact. Those who have yet to decide, we give you what time you need. Persuasion is almost always the preferable policy, not coercion.”
Delegates at the convention voted overwhelmingly to pass three resolutions, the first affirming that ties with the Episcopal Church are severed, the second and third amending the constitution and canons to reflect local autonomy.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
The Rev. David Thurlow of St. Matthias Church in Summerton said Friday he supports and endorses Lawrence's pastoral letter to the Diocese of South Carolina....
He said the main and underlying issue in the whole matter stems from decisions made by majority of the dioceses in the country choosing to reject the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ. Thurlow added despite the changing circumstances nothing has changed with regards to the diocese's identity.
"We are, always have been and shall remain the Diocese of South Carolina," Thurlow said. "We existed and operated as the Diocese of the South Carolina prior to existence of the national church, which we together with a handful of other dioceses established. Whereas a majority of Episcopalians in this country are choosing to vote for these innovations, the Diocese of South Carolina together with the overwhelming majority of the rest of our denomination throughout the world cannot embrace. They not only represent a marked departure from the faith of the Christ, but chiefly because they stand in direct conflict with scriptures and biblical witness we are called to follow and obey."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
Lowcountry citizens of all spiritual stripes have been observing the drama related to the conflict between The Episcopal Church (TEC) and Bishop Mark Lawrence. To set the stage, we have seen TEC behaving in ways unimaginable to the faithful a decade ago and earlier. The way they have treated the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina the last several years parallels the worst of power politics in the U.S. Congress. As all know TEC is using lawsuits around the country to grab the church properties of dioceses, even individual parishes.
The Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina has tried to negotiate a compromise by which the diocese can remain within TEC and yet continue its received communion with the gospel of Jesus Christ as the foundation. TEC not only opposes such a resolution, but it also undermined the most recent attempt at compromise by concluding against such a compromise weeks before the final discussion took place, as written evidence shows. The result is that the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated with TEC and it continues to operate as it has since its founding and does so as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
What will be the role of the United States on the global stage in 2062?
India and China will be thriving super nations and leading the world in arts and sciences. People in the United States are already being operated on by Chinese and Indian surgeons. Another nation that is emerging as a surprising international power is Canada. That nation is now exploring its vast natural resources in the north and is in the midst of a renaissance. Some of the best novelists, musicians, poets, artists, now live in Canada. It already has been awarded “best cheese in the world” (“Cinderella cheese”) and the number one place to do business. The role and place of the United States is uncertain. Our future in 2062 may be similar to the position of France and England in 2012 if we continue on the present trajectory.....
Daniel Pink has observed that the well curve has replaced the bell curve....The middle class is declining and the United Methodist Church is a church of the middle. All middles are in trouble. The challenge for the church is to tribalize (particularize) in order to globalize (universalize). We need to “make my parish my world” before we can follow John Wesley in saying, “The world is my parish.” We need churches to love their zip codes and their heritage—I don’t mean love their bishop and polity. I mean churches must know and love people in their community and their “campfire” heritage.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Anthropology Apologetics Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
A young boy was chosen, brought forward to the alter, then blindfolded. He then picked one of three pieces of paper from a jar. The paper was shown to the congregation. On it was the name of Bishop Tawadros, who will be the new Coptic pope. The congregation broke into spontaneous applause.
It might seem a strange way to choose a new leader for Egypt's eight to ten million Coptic Christians - and many more worldwide.
Yet Copts believe this is the way the hand of God was revealed. That is the view of Youssef Sidhom, editor of the Coptic Watani newspaper:
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Children Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Middle East Egypt * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Coptic Church * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Bishop Sally Dyck, recently installed as head of the church's Northern Illinois Conference, met face to face with [Michael] Overman regarding his decision to leave. She insisted that the church does not take a "don't ask, don't tell" approach.
"We are saddened to lose a gifted person going toward ministry," she said. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is not the approach taken when referring to the church law, which bars the ordination or appointment of 'self-avowed practicing homosexuals.' The district committee appreciated and respected Michael's honesty about his personal relationship and in turn had to be honest with Michael about the reality that the Board of Ordained Ministry is bound by the current laws in the Book of Discipline.
"This is the tension our denomination continues to struggle with and discerns as the United Methodist Church also acknowledges in the Book of Discipline that all persons are of sacred worth," she added.
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Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
[Bishop Matthews]...stressed that it was not the work of IASCUFO to promote the Covenant, but rather to monitor its reception.
“As we have sought to do that,” she told delegates in Auckland, “I have often thought that the document people discuss and the actual Anglican Covenant are two different documents.
"One is the document that people have in their mind and the other is the Anglican Communion Covenant on paper...."
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The Eucharist is central to the identity, doctrines, and practices of the Catholic Church. As canon 897 of the Code of Canon Law puts it, “The most august sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice . . . is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ.”
Canon 898 adds: “The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration....”
Participation in Holy Communion is achieved by two related but distinct acts: the action of a member of the faithful in seeking Communion (reception) and the action of the minister in giving Communion (administration). These two actions are not only performed by different persons, they are governed by different canon laws. Virtually all confusion over Communion can be traced to the failure to keep these two actions distinct.
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At 4.06pm, less than 30 minutes before Synod rose for the year, the first count of this year’s meeting was held on a proposed amendment during a debate on church planting (the establishment of new congregations across Melbourne and Geelong). This time, the amendment was carried.
Synod called on the Diocesan Council to review how the living requirements of clergy in the Melbourne Diocese were met, including the setting of stipends, recompense for travel costs, housing, superannuation, benefits, stipend continuance insurance and retrenchment.
A senior clergyman, the Revd Dr David Powys of St John's Cranbourne, said in his mover's speech that the fundamental way in which clergy remuneration and provisions were conceived had not changed very much in 30 years but "very many other things" about ordained ministry had changed very substantially. These included the dwindling proportion of clergy who were vicars, a reduction in ministry households where the stipend was the main source of income, the decline in clergy living in vicarages and church-owned accommodation, the increasing number of clergy in part-time appointments and the fact that women now made up a significant proportion of clergy ranks.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
This last point brings us to the crux of our disagreement with Bishop Whalon: does TEC’s Constitution create a “metropolitical authority” superior to the diocesan bishop? Bishop Whalon thinks it does. Without citing or alluding to a single provision of the Constitution, he merely asserts: “the metropolitical authority… resides in the General Convention….The General Convention is at the top of our hierarchy.” We disagree. And it is important to emphasize that our disagreement with this conclusion is based fundamentally on an undeniable legal fact: nowhere does TEC’s Constitution state what Bishop Whalon asserts.
“Metropolitical authority” is a very precise and technical ecclesiological term. “Top of the hierarchy” is a very colloquial allusion to a legal concept that is widely used and readily identified in constitutions and legal documents. The legal term most often used to express this concept is “supremacy,” as in the English Act of Supremacy by which the Church of England separated from Rome and the oath of supremacy that all Church of England bishops continue to swear to this day. There are also other terms that are recognized legally as expressing this concept, but none of them is used in TEC’s Constitution. If there were any constitutional article stating that the General Convention is the supreme or highest or metropolitical authority in the church, we can be quite confident that Bishop Whalon would have quoted it rather than relying on mere colloquial assertion.
Again it is important to stress the context of this debate: a legal brief to a civil court. Given the constraints of the First Amendment, secular courts of law can draw conclusions about church polity only when those conclusions are stated plainly in recognizable legal language in the church’s governing instruments—in other words “on the face of it.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012 * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology
The first constitution of the church, ratified in 1789, reflects these foundational principles. Parishes were led jointly by rectors and vestries: clergy overseeing worship and education, and elected laypeople managing finances and property, as well as calling new rectors. The tradition of colonial conventions led to state conventions, which were what we now call dioceses, presided by the bishop but that have power to determine the life of the diocese. The annual diocesan convention oversees finances, elects a bishop when necessary and a standing committee and other governing bodies (depending on the dioceses) to exercise jurisdiction.
So far these were not very different than the features of English church life. It was the creation of a “general convention” endued with specific powers that marked the American Episcopal revolution. In short, while the Church of England and most of the churches that came from it have an archbishop who serves as the metropolitical authority, that authority resides in the General Convention.
Thus on the face of it, the seven bishops [signed an amicus curiæ brief submitted to the Texas Supreme Court] are right. In The Episcopal Church, the classic church hierarchy of deacon — priest — diocesan — archbishop ends at the diocesan level. But this is to misunderstand what a hierarchy is.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012 * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology
“This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”--J.F. Powers’ Wheat that Springeth Green (New York: New York Review Books Classics edition of the 1988 original, 2000), p. 170
Today...the church may look healthy on the outside, but it has swallowed the fatal pills. The evidence is stacking up: the church is dying and, for the most part, we are refusing the diagnosis.
What evidence? Take a gander at these two shocking items:
1. 20-30 year olds attend church at 1/2 the rate of their parents and ¼ the rate of their grandparents. Think about the implication for those of us in youth ministry: Thousands of us have invested our lives in reproducing faith in the next generation and the group we were tasked with reaching left the church when they left us.
2. 61% of churched high school students graduate and never go back! (Time Magazine, 2009) Even worse: 78% to 88% of those in youth programs today will leave church, most to never return. (Lifeway, 2010) Please read those last two statistics again. Ask yourself why attending a church with nothing seems to be more effective at retaining youth than our youth programs.
We look at our youth group now and we feel good. But the youth group of today is the church of tomorrow, and study after study after study suggests that what we are building for the future is…
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
The Review of the See of Canterbury chaired by Lord Hurd concluded that ‘We believe that leadership of the Anglican Communion will remain one of the principal modern roles of the Archbishop of Canterbury’.
Brogan, former Chief Political Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, is an experienced journalist and a practising Catholic. It is thought unlikely that he would have misrepresented the Archbishop’s words in the way suggested by Canon Kearon and it is more likely that the Archbishop was indulging in speculation and ‘blue sky thinking’ without measuring the impact his words would make.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
A new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) shows widespread confusion and ignorance regarding official membership in churches and other local places of worship.
The research was conducted among 441 American adults who attend a local church or place of worship once a month or more. The study asked people whether their place of worship offers “any kind of official membership in the organization, or not.” Among all worship-goers, 48% say such official membership is offered, 33% believe it is not, and 19% are not sure.
While some denominations and individual congregations have no official form of membership, most of the largest religious bodies do. All of the ten largest denominations in the U.S. (as measured by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies) measure some form of official membership: Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Episcopal Church, and National Baptist Convention USA.
Even so, among people who attend one of these top ten denominations, just 44% say their church offers official membership, while 39% believe it does not, and 17% are unsure.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
Watch it all (about 39 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In an order published...[yesterday], the Supreme Court of Texas has, following its announcements of decisions in a number of pending cases, granted Bishop Iker's request for expedited oral argument and set the case for hearing on the same day as the San Angelo case (the appeal by Church of the Good Shepherd from the decision in favor of the Diocese of Northwest Texas) -- October 16, 2012, at 9 a.m.
Each side will have twenty minutes for oral argument.
Read it all and follow the many links.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
As I sat looking at my computer screen at the title I’d written for this article, I was somewhat bemused by the fact that a defense of conversion and revival was even necessary. But so it is. There are quarters of the church now questioning whether or not conversion, the new birth, giving oneself to Christ, etc., are topics that should even be raised. Conversion, and its corporate expression, revival, are thought to be manifestations of Western individualistic thinking. Better simply to call people to join the life of the Body of Christ by inviting them to be baptized and share in the community of believers.
While certainly acknowledging the taint of individualism which has infected the modern church, it seems to me undeniable that the scriptures have always used the language of “both…and” rather than “either...or” as regards individual conversion, revival and community life.
Just as a reminder to myself, I went through some key passages regarding this topic. I want to share them with you as a “pastoral preventative,” lest anyone lead you astray on this subject. Good writers and preachers, who I respect when they speak on other subjects such as the resurrection, have, I believe, taken a wrong turning in pitting corporate Body Life against revival and conversion.
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A Marine is a best-practice warrior who models the highest levels of what military training can accomplish.
The Marines are by no means the only people who take such transformative experiences seriously. Colleges and seminaries talk a lot about this process, each claiming that it turns out world class leaders. There are businesses (Starbucks comes to mind) that believe that their profitability depends on turning employees into best-practice sales representatives.
How about churches and their goal of making of devoted followers of Jesus? What does the difference look like there?
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The head of the U.S. branch of the Anglican Ordinariate, Msg. Jeffrey Steenson, has denied accusations it has given preference to former Episcopal clergy in its ordination process. However, among its first class of priests, 16 of 19 are former Episcopal clergy, with only 3 receiving their formation and orders from the continuing church.
Questions and concerns about the implementation and interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus have met the Vatican’s initiative to create a liturgical home for Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview with PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary criticized the pastoral provision for Anglicans for sheep stealing.
“There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical,” he said, adding “It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.”
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In the past few months I have read several agonized reports on the supposed death throes of the Episcopal Church. I have not studied the statistics or interviewed masses of people. However, I have traveled in the opposite direction from those who have left the Episcopal church, and am glad that I have.
I've been an Episcopalian for a little over a year. I found a church home with strong preaching, a loving community, and attention to scripture, reason and tradition. The liturgy moves me, the clergy challenges me, and I am both inspired and heard. After 10 years as a Baptist, it has been a welcoming new home.
Yes, I do understand that membership numbers are down. Much of that, of course, is because a number of congregations and many individuals left the Episcopal Church when it accepted gay and lesbian clergy several years ago. Being among the first major denominations to resolve this issue, though, is both a blessing and a curse -- yes, some people left in anger, but I also know where the church will stand from this point forward, and I agree with that position. The wrenching dislocation of that question is resolved. There is a blessed settledness to that.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA)’s Society for Mission and Apostolic Works has lost one of its two ecclesial sponsors. In a 22 August 2012 statement given to Anglican Ink, the Church of Uganda said the canonical cover offered by one of its bishops to clergy who wish to affiliate with the society under the leadership of Bishop Chuck Murphy had been withdrawn.
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After spending the past nine months debating questions of affiliation, members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a congregation in the northern suburbs of Colorado Springs, affirmed the recommendations of its pastor and leadership team, voting 82-6 to end their affiliation with the Anglican Mission in the Americas and to become part of PEAR USA (the North American Missionary District of Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda).
The July 22 vote followed a lively, hour-long discussion involving dozens of parishioners. The discussion reflected the parishioners’ backgrounds in the Episcopal Church (about half), evangelical, and Protestant churches. One member supported his arguments with references to apostolic succession and the restoration of Charles I to the English throne, while another plainly said, “I didn’t grow up Episcopalian, or Anglican, so I don’t have a background in church hierarchy.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Colorado * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
The first reading comes from the Book of Kings, with an angel nudging an exhausted and distraught Elijah, telling him to get up and leave.
The Rev. Tom Sanford and his congregation have done just that.
Sanford left the Catholic priesthood more than a quarter century ago. But now he's back behind the altar. He's pastor of a new spiritual community, born out of his frustration with what he believes is the philosophical backsliding of the Catholic Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology
We often feel slighted or ignored if the senior pastor isn't right there when we call him. We wonder if he truly cares about us, question whether he's a people person, and whine about feeling unheard. Note the irony: We bypass the God of all creation on our quest to meet with someone higher up the church org chart.
Sometimes it's best to carry our personal needs directly to God. But when you feel the need to call your pastor, when he asks, "What can I do for you?" say that you want to spend a few minutes praying with him, asking God to do something awesome in your church. He just might faint.
Read it all.
The final choice, of course, rests with the Diocese (speaking through its convention).
And that, it turns out, is a very good place in which to start. Just what is the "Diocese of South Carolina", and what abilities and powers does it have when it speaks through its convention?
Here we must be careful to distinguish the ecclesiastical realities from the legal realities. Dioceses of a Church have dual personalities: they are participants in the Church of which they are a constituent member, and at one and the same time, they are legal entities ("persons") in the eyes of the State(s) in which they exist, and have their boundaries.
The Episcopal Church (USA), as has been discussed many times on this blog, is a rather unique entity in the eyes of the secular law. It formed itself in 1789, as an "unincorporated association." But what do those legal terms actually mean?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
First, the reply [from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops] noted our efforts to defend marriage from attempts to weaken it, especially through last summer’s sadly successful state law which presumed to change the immutable definition of marriage as the lifelong, faithful, lifegiving union of one man and one woman. The Holy See shared our disappointment over the result, but did commend the Catholic community here for vigorously exercising its duty as believers and as loyal citizens in defending marriage.
Secondly, Cardinal Ouellet, on behalf of the Apostolic See, expressed concern about threats to religious freedom in the very country that has been looked to as the guarantor and defender of that first of our liberties given us by God.
Thirdly, and soberly, the letter brought up the continuing painful effects of the sexual abuse crisis, noting how the survivors, their families, the faithful, our priests—the overwhelming majority living virtuously—and the entire Church have suffered...
Read it all.
Filed under: * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Christopher Seton leaves one job on September 2 and starts another six days later. In one sense it is exactly the same job, and in another it is completely different. Father Seton is one of four Anglican priests who will be ordained into the Catholic Church in Melbourne on September 8.
Father Seton holds his last service at All Saints Kooyong on September 2. Then he and - so far as he is aware - his entire congregation will regather a week later at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Caulfield South. There he will minister to the same people (and, doubtless, some new ones), using the same liturgy and singing the same hymns. But now they will be on the opposite side of a once-bitter sectarian divide.
''In a sense, we are just moving office,'' Father Seton said yesterday. But he, along with Fathers James Grant, Ramsay Williams and Neil Fryer, will now be priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, the Catholic Church's new Anglican wing set up by Pope Benedict for those who felt disenfranchised by the ordination of women and other developments in the Anglican Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
You can find the 1998 material there and that from 2008 here.
The influx of foreign-born people into North America gives Southern Baptist churches a unique opportunity to reach the nations, a veteran International Mission Board worker said at the 2012 Send North America Conference.
Most churches, though, are failing to take advantage of the opportunity, he said at the conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board.
"We need to look at some other models and methods when we start churches among people groups," IMB representative Bryan Galloway said during a conference breakout session on "Reaching the Nations in North America." "We're just not doing that."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
[MARK] LEWIS (St. Luke’s Parish): We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church. We came to the point where we realized the theology of the Episcopal Church is what was lacking. The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.
[BOB] FAW: Former Episcopal priest, Father Scott Hurd, married with three children, also found the move to Catholicism seamless. He was ordained into the Catholic Church in 2000 and acted as the chaplain here while Father Lewis waited to be ordained.
FATHER SCOTT HURD (US Ordinariate): There is a real hunger amongst some Episcopalians and Anglicans for authority. It was the question of where can true Christian authority be found that was a key element in this community’s journey.
Read or watch it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology
[It is important that we do some]...thinking about how easy it is for us to differentiate ourselves from other Christian believers, and very subtly to consider our way of being Christian superior to theirs. It’s a sin I’m as guilty of sometimes as it is of those I accuse. But how sad! Part of the brokenness within the worldwide Christian movement is the way groups of believers will build up their own church or denomination by denigrating others. Of course, when there are basic theological differences at stake (as there frequently are), that’s a different thing.
But I recently came across an article by the distinguished rector of another downtown Charleston church in his Church’s magazine. He was arguing that his approach to the Bible was vastly different from others who take it more literally than he, and whom he dubbed “fundamentalists.”
Of course “fundamentalist” is a label that has long been a term of opprobrium. Ever since the Scopes Trial it has been an epithet flung by self-styled liberals at other more conservative believers thought to be naïve, literalistic, uneducated, or simplistic. In recent years, by association with extreme Muslims, the moniker has taken on an especially sinister cast.
Read it all.
.......But there is a more ominous aspect to these resolves. They clearly purport to “authorize” something General Convention has no jurisdiction to authorize, thus usurping the authority of the very bishops they purport to authorize. And they invite (using the permissive “may”) bishops to use or adapt this rite in “civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal.” This calls on bishops to ignore both the rubrics for marriage (including civil marriage) defining it as between a man and a woman and the marriage canon, which as the resolution itself acknowledges “applies by extension.” The House of Bishops was expressly advised that the intention of this resolution was to encourage clergy to perform same sex marriages.
One diocesan bishop has already reversed his position and will now allow clergy to perform same sex marriages, concluding “we are left with a situation in which the mind of this recent Convention appears to be to allow such services. However, The Constitution and The Book of Common Prayer still say something else.” For him “the mind of this General Convention” trumped both of these foundational instruments.
The incoherence of this position is demonstrated by the liturgical materials that were approved, which simultaneously opine that the rite can be used in connection with civil marriages and that “A bishop, priest, or deacon who violates the rubrics or the Canon risks disciplinary action under Title IV.”...
Every bishop, priest and deacon undertakes at ordination “to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.” The recent action by General Convention purporting to authorize bishops to authorize a rite for blessing same sex couples raises in an acute way the question of what exactly is the worship of The Episcopal Church to which all clergy promise to conform. We look carefully at this question below. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows:
• The authority to define the worship of the Church is spelled out with precision in Article X of the Constitution.
• Subject to the exceptions in Article X, the worship of the Church is that found in the Book of Common Prayer, which is to be used “in all the Dioceses.”
• General Convention has authority only to amend the Book of Common Prayer or to propose revisions to the BCP and authorize them “for trial use throughout the Church” “at any time” “as an alternative” to the standard Book of Common Prayer.
• Diocesan bishops, not General Convention, have authority to permit supplemental forms of worship under defined conditions.
• The proposed rite was not conceived as a revision to the Book of Common Prayer and therefore General Convention had no authority to authorize its use by any majority or supermajority vote.
• The action of General Convention was theologically incoherent in that it assumed that God’s blessing can be invoked provisionally and in some dioceses but not others.
• The resolution passed is unconstitutional because it exceeds the authority of General Convention and invites clergy to violate BCP rubrics.
• Bishops cannot constitutionally permit use of this rite in connection with civil marriages.
We conclude: taken as a whole, Resolution A049 is not just a legal nullity and theologically incoherent, although it is that. It is also profoundly unconstitutional in that it purports to do something General Convention is not authorized to do and encourages clergy to violate the canons, the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and their vow to conform to the worship of the Church.
But this is only one instance of the proliferation of unconstitutionally authorized liturgical materials for a church in liturgical, theological and canonical chaos. General Convention itself has called attention to this problem and concluded “it is time…to honor the spirit of the prayer book rubrics.” We agree.
Read it all.
In fact, in a few short years, the legal and political order simply reinvented itself, like a genie, flew out and left the self-styled prophets tongue-tied. Now we see that the church was but a dog following behind its master, behind a culture washing through the institution and dissolving its commitments in every corner of its corridors. To be sure, we have long been subject to the harangues of those warning against a “church that bows to culture” and does not transform it. But the extent of its subservience in this case still astonishes.
And the extent is itself a theological challenge, as well as opportunity. The church has been swallowed up. The challenge, furthermore, is not The Episcopal Church’s alone. It represents a kind of march of moral hollowing and distraction that has lulled the whole world (or at least its formal leaders). We should make no mistake about this: every church, and along with them our families and our friends, are being carried along. That is the message of the churches’ own secondary and even tertiary role in this movement, for it is the rush of the civil current that has first inundated the space of all our lives.
So what does this amount to? Our refusal to see the Church as Israel is what has robbed us of the tools to see the meaning of this clearly. Christian ecclesiology is a study of Israel first, given in the only Scriptures the first Church read. Ecclesiology cannot be something founded on the bits and pieces of New Testament practical advice that have so often stunted our ecclesial categories. And the point is this: Israel falls completely.
Read it all.
You can find it over here. The segment begins about 1 minute and 45 seconds in and lasts around six minutes.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
7th Sunday After Pentecost
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some of you have actively followed the decisions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Others have been blissfully unaware that our denomination even had a General Convention. We have. And the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.
In conversations with clergy, and from the emails I have received, I know there is much uneasiness about the future....
Some of us are experiencing the well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And, of course, I must acknowledge there are those for whom the recent decisions are a cause for celebration. For me there are certainly things about which I was thankful at the convention in Indianapolis. I might even have taken encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty. Unfortunately, these strike me now as akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire. Why do I say this?
There are four resolutions which were adopted that bring distressing changes to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church that every ordained person in this church has vowed “to engage to conform,” and which stand in direct conflict with the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.
First, let me mention resolution C029. While this was amended during the debates in a more temperate direction, it still moves the Church further down the road toward encouraging the communion of the unbaptized which departs from two thousand years of Christian practice. It also puts the undiscerning person in spiritual jeopardy. (I Corinthians 11:27--32)
Plainly, the resolution that has received the most publicity is A049 which authorizes rites for Same-Sex Blessings. This resolution goes into effect in Advent 2012, but only upon the authority of the bishop of each diocese. It hardly needs to be said, but for the record let me say clearly, I will not authorize the use of such rites in the Diocese of South Carolina. Such rites are not only contrary to the canons of this diocese and to the judgment of your bishop, but more importantly I believe they are contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture; to two thousand years of Christian practice; as well as to our created nature. Many theologians down through the centuries speak of what we are as human beings by Creation; what we are by the Fall; what we are through Redemption (that is in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ); and what we shall be in our Glorification. Our marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer is rooted in this understanding. Because of this, it is biblical, it is Christian, and it is Anglican. I would also add, it is beautiful and it is true. Therefore the Episcopal Church has no authority to put asunder this sacramental understanding of marriage as established by God in creation and blessed through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. It has no authority to do this either by revising the marriage rite to include same sex partners or by devising some parallel quasi-marital sacramental service. I remind you of the elegant words of our Prayer Book which echo the teaching of our Scriptures:
“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.”This speaks of a “given-ness” in this age that is good, and is emblematic of our Christian Hope. It prepares us for the age to come; when God the Father summons his Church to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
There is however an even more incoherent departure from the teaching of Holy Scripture and from our Episcopalian and Anglican Heritage to be found in the General Convention’s passage of resolutions D002 and D019. These changes to our Church’s canons mark an even further step into incoherency. They open the door to innumerable self-understandings of gender identity and gender expression within the Church; normalizing “transgender,” “bi-sexual,” “questioning,” and still yet to be named – self-understandings of individualized eros. I fail to see how a rector or parish leader who embraces such a canonical change has any authority to discipline a youth minister, Sunday school teacher, or chalice bearer who chooses to dress as a man one Sunday and as a woman another. And this is but one among many possibilities. Let me state my concern clearly. To embrace an understanding of our human condition in which gender may be entirely self-defined, self-chosen is to abandon all such norms, condemning ourselves, our children and grandchildren, as well as future generations to sheer sexual anarchy. So long as I am bishop of this diocese I will not abandon its people to such darkness.
Some have said to me, “But bishop the culture is accepting this. To continue to resist these innovations is to put ourselves on the wrong side of history.” I say to such thinking, you cannot be on the wrong side of History if you are on the right side of Reality. Archbishop William Temple was correct when he wrote over 70 years ago: the Church needs to be very clear in its public teaching so it can be very pastoral in its application.
This Monday afternoon I will be meeting with my Council of Advice. On Tuesday I will be meeting with our Diocesan Standing Committee. Then during the remainder of July I will be meeting with the deans and with clergy in various deaneries. Given these changes in the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church the question that is before us is: “What does being faithful to Jesus Christ look like for this diocese at this time? How are we called to live and be and act? In this present context, how do we make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age?”
On the penultimate day of General Convention, in a Private Session in the House of Bishops, I asked for a point of personal privilege and expressed my heartfelt concerns about these changes. I listened to the words of others and then departed with prayer and charity. I left at that time because at least for me to pretend that nothing had changed was no longer an option. Now that I have returned to South Carolina it is still not an option. I ask that you keep me and the councils of our diocese in your prayers as you shall be in mine. We have many God-size challenges and, I trust, many God-given opportunities ahead.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
--(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina
(Please note that if you wish to see a signed copy of this letter, you may find it there)--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Diocese of Central Florida is committed to making disciples of all nations and loving one another as Christ loves us.
The Deputation from the Diocese of Central Florida has an extraordinary sense of sadness and disappointment that the Episcopal Church has chosen to adopt a provisional rite for same-sex blessings.
We recognize that to the vast majority of those members participating in the councils of General Convention, this represents progress. To us, it represents a step back from the clear teachings of Holy Scripture and a disregard for the unity and teaching of the Church.
Our Lord Jesus Christ emphasized marriage between a man and a woman as a divine ordinance for the ordering human relationships. For that reason, he sternly warned against human interference with marriages. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
The 77th General Convention’s decision represents denominationalism. In matters of ethics and morals, we have shown blatant disregard for the unity of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, we in the Diocese of Central Florida stand in solidarity with our communion partners within the Episcopal Church and within the Worldwide Anglican Communion who “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) . We deeply lament the costly repercussions that these decisions will have within the Episcopal Church and for Anglican Christians around the world especially those under anti-Christian totalitarian regimes.
The actions of General Convention also represent a departure from the rubrics and worship of the Book of Common Prayer and the stated Canons of the Episcopal Church. These liturgies are not recognized in the Diocese of Central Florida as being consistent with either the laws of the State or the canons of this Church on Marriage. The Book of Common Prayer says, “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that … the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of this Church.” (p. 422)
While we are greatly saddened by the General Convention’s action, we are not discouraged. We know that we are called by God to “stand firm”. If any are discouraged, let us bear one another’s burdens and cast our cares on the Lord in prayer for one another. Our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord gives the strength and hope needed to serve without compromise within the Episcopal Church and the world, “for our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh”. (Ephesians 6:12) Our faith is not in the human institutions of the Church, but in the unwavering faithfulness of Jesus Christ our Lord—his grace is sufficient.
We stand behind our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Gregory Orrin Brewer, in his endorsement of the minority report known as the Indianapolis Statement.
The Rev. Charles Holt, Chair
The Rev. Phylis Bartle
The Rev. Danielle Morris
The Rev. James Sorvillo
The Rev. Eric Turner
Mr. Charles Armstrong
Mrs. Anneke Bertsch
Mr. Sid Glynn
Mr. William Grimm, esq.
Mrs. Sonya Shannon
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Parishes TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
“For the church to say, ‘This is an active part of our life in ministry, and we support this,’ is an extraordinarily important step,” said the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. “It shows that when this church says it welcomes all people, it means it....”
“It means the Episcopal Church is now separating itself that much more from the Anglican Communion,” says Hood College historian David Hein, co-author of “The Episcopalians,” a standard history of the church. “The American Episcopal Church is trying to set itself up as a separate denomination, although they would claim that they’re not.”
Read it all.
This General Convention action is unbiblical, unchristian, unanglican and unseemly. It will further wreak havoc among Anglicans, and indeed Christians, in North America and around the world.--The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog (and he makes this statement for himself)
By making this decision, The Episcopal Church moves further away from Jesus Christ and his teaching. It thereby makes it necessary for the diocese of South Carolina to take further decisive and dramatic action to distance itself from this false step.
We in South Carolina must differentiate to stay loyal to Christ, but also to keep our own parish members and not hinder the mission of Jesus Christ who loves all and transforms all by the power of the Holy Spirit to holiness of life, a holiness which has a clear shape agreed by Christians East and West throughout 20 centuries.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * By Kendall * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
S.C. Deputation Statement
July 10, 2012
It is with heavy hearts that Bishop Mark Lawrence and the South Carolina deputation to General Convention must report the final passage and adoption of Resolution A049, the Resolution to Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships. The Bishop and our deputation, in both speaking and voting against its passage, remains united and unanimous in our support of the historic understanding of “the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” In the debate prior to the vote being taken, we spoke in favor of the minority report authored and presented by the Very Rev. David Thurlow. The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, in its statement of June 15 has articulated the clear position of our diocese on marriage. The South Carolina deputation wholeheartedly endorses that position. We grieve that General Convention has further departed from these values and adopted a resolution to permit pastoral license to violate the existing canons on marriage. We believe this decision will seriously wound the Church and ask to you join is in prayers for God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
The Very Rev. John Burwell
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
The Very Rev. David Thurlow
Elizabeth (Boo) Pennewill
You may find it also on the diocese website there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The subject of confirmation stirred passionate testimony July 5 before General Convention’s Education Committee. Clergy and laypeople addressed the committee on Resolutions A041, A042, A043 and A044, all of which address the nature of confirmation as a necessary step in becoming Episcopalian.
The Rev. Canon Robert Brooks, vice president of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, said the canons conflict with the Book of Common Prayer (1979), which describes Holy Baptism as full initiation into the Church. The resolutions seek to resolve that conflict, he said.
The Rev. Danielle Morris of the Diocese of Central Florida opposed the resolutions, saying confirmation helps create loyal members of the Church through education. She cited an example of a woman in her parish who wanted to serve on the vestry but had not been confirmed. “She said, ‘I’ll go through the classes,’” Morris said. “By the time she ended those classes, she said, ‘I had no idea. I’m an Episcopalian because I am now a part of all of that inheritance.’ She will be an Episcopalian for life.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology
The Episcopal Church is struggling to redefine its order and mission in the face of rapidly declining membership amid a radically changing civil society. The role of bishops has always been central to our church — hence our church’s name — but this role is now itself a part of the struggle for the Episcopal Church’s faithful mission. What are bishops for? To what are they accountable? How should they engage in the oversight (episcope) of the Church and what role should they have in her councils and decision-making? General Convention is only one place, if a key one, where these questions arise. Without addressing particular issues before Convention that involve our bishops — their constitutional responsibilities, doctrinal authority, discipline, and role in the Communion — let me suggest, in the form of several theses, some foundational elements that ought to inform our church’s understanding of her bishops.
1. The full description of the episcopal office is given in the Holy Scriptures’ description of Jesus Christ. This is because this full description of Jesus Christ is the figure that the episcopal office represents (1 Pet. 2:25).
2. The office of the bishop is properly understood only within the contours of the whole Scriptures, for it is all the Scriptures that coherently describe Christ Jesus....
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It is important to stress here that the ecclesiology of communion promoted by the Council takes its inspiration from the Eucharistic ecclesiology of the Orthodox, especially Afanassief, who is cited in the texts. The Council’s ecclesiology is thus of great ecumenical import. The intervention of John Zizioulas, the Metropolitan of Pergamon, at the 2005 Roman Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, testifies to this: “The ecclesiology of communion promoted by Vatican II and deepened further by eminent Roman Catholic theologians can make sense only if it derives from the eucharistic life of the Church. The Eucharist belongs not simply to the beneesse but to theesseof the Church. The whole life, word and structure of the Church iseucharistic in its very essence.” Walter Kasper agrees wholeheartedly and holds that “eucharistic ecclesiology has become one of the most important foundations of the ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
Bookmark it and then follow the links and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Sacramental Theology Eucharist Soteriology
We believe the past General Convention structure has slavishly copied in ecclesial ink the politics and legislative processes of American culture. Episcopalians are fond of saying that the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution also created the church’s Constitution and Canons. It is an exaggeration but a telling one: General Convention looks and acts too much like Congress and not enough like a council of the Church.
Joseph D. Small, longtime director of theology, worship and education ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote in the March issue of First Things about what he called his church’s “democratic captivity” — its reliance on secular democratic procedure rather than proper theological discernment to order its common life. This, he argues, has been a key factor in aggravating his church’s divisions. To such observations, we can only concur.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Ecclesiology
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General Conference in Tampa made history as the most expensive ($1,500 per minute!), least productive, most fatuous assemblage in the history of Methodism. Sunday evening’s “A Celebration of Ministry” fiasco was a metaphor for our nearly two weeks at church expense: four hours of belabored supplication by the General Commission on Status and Role of Women, five Ethnic National Plans, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, United Methodist Men, Girl Scouts, Africa University and a number of other agencies I can’t remember. A subtheme of that long night: even though we can’t cite specific fruit, please don’t force us to change or to expend less on ourselves.
Even after suffering this abuse, General Conference succumbed to the agencies’ pleadings. In a post-GC blog, Mike Slaughter (who with Adam Hamilton eloquently—and futilely—warned GC that we must change or face certain death) told the truth: “Our denominational systems continue to resist change by protecting archaic structures. From our seminaries to boards and agencies, institutional preservation was a strong resistant influence throughout GC. Entrenched organizational bureaucracies resist accountability …”
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While appealing to some, this “compromise” is ultimately unhelpful. When a matter is pragmatic and little more, compromise can be the right option to take. Part of growing up is realizing that you can’t and don’t need to get your way all the time.
But when the issue is one of principle and when it involves the clear teaching of Scripture, we cannot take the easy way out and claim that we do not know what we believe without injuring our personal integrity and our corporate witness. And to be honest, everyone knows that removing the clear statement we currently have in the Discipline would not resolve the issue. It is only a first step by those whose ultimate intention is to change the church’s position. And that’s hardly a true compromise.
When the “agree-to-disagree compromise” was defeated in Fort Worth and the historic position of the church was reaffirmed, the charge against those who supported the church’s stance was, “You’re dishonest. We are of divided mind. Why won’t you even allow us to state that we differ?”
It’s a good question. And there’s a very good answer. We United Methodists are divided on practically every issue. But in none of our other statements on matters theological, moral, or cultural do we state that we have agreed to disagree.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
"There's lots of work for all of us,"... [Martyn Minns] said. "This is not just one province sticking its nose in. It's the Global South collectively saying 'We've got to do something' because of the crisis in the U.S. church."
But a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, James Naughton, said the proliferation of "offshore" churches "makes it clear how difficult it is going to be for the conservatives to unite, because each of these primates wants a piece of the action, and none is willing to subjugate himself to another."
Rwanda's Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and the archbishop of Southeast Asia, Moses Tay, were the first to establish a missionary branch in the United States. In 2000, they jointly consecrated two former Episcopal priests as bishops and formed the Anglican Mission in the Americas, or AMIA. It has grown at the rate of one church every three weeks and now numbers about 120 congregations, with five bishops.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes Global South Churches & Primates * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Anglican Continuum * Theology Ecclesiology
On 4 May 2012 the California-based bishop held a conference call with Archbishop Duncan, Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA, and Bishop Terrell Glenn of PEAR-USA/ACNA to discuss his future plans.
Bishop Hunter stated that he had a “warm and collegial conversations” with the three bishops and “articulated for each of them my vision of C4SO becoming a servant to all the various Anglican entities within North America. C4SO will happily plant churches in partnership with PEARUSA, TheAm and the ACNA.”
Read it all.
And, if you’re following what’s happening, what you’re seeing is the conservatives who have left, now that they’re out, and their identity was defined in part by what they were against as well as the Gospel they were for, trying to figure out how to live together, and how they should live, has actually been harder than they thought, and they’ve actually started to divide among themselves. And so, one of the current tragedies is the group that has left looks very American and very Protestant and very chaotic. And that just has to owned on the front end. I wish it were different, but they are having a hard time cohering and working together. And that is a problem not simply for them, but also for the other conservatives in the Episcopal Church, because they have said, essentially, “this is the faithful way to do this and you need to come join us.” And I just need to tell you that, in all sorts of ways, and I say this with a very sad heart, it’s not attractive. They’re really struggling. So that’s one side.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
I am extremely thankful to Archbishop Isingoma for offering ongoing canonical residence to our bishops and clergy, and I look forward with anticipation to a long-term relationship with him, a desire he expressed in London as well. In the near future, I expect other jurisdictions will also invite clergy to be canonically resident in their provinces, mirroring the Anglican Mission's original model of oversight and connection to the Global South through the provinces of South East Asia and Rwanda. In addition, I am pleased that an agreement has been reached allowing Bishop TJ Johnston and Bishop John Miller to be received temporarily into the Anglican Church of North America and to serve as assisting bishops within two dioceses. These bishops will continue to oversee Anglican Mission congregations with written permission from their bishops, Neil Lebhar and Foley Beach. This decision demonstrates our commitment to being a multi-jurisdictional entity. Bishops Johnston and Miller will also continue their conversations with Bishops Riches and Masters regarding a future connection with the Anglican Church in North America. There is no need for parishes to make any choice about jurisdictional relationships. Congregations will, of course, remain in the Anglican Mission unless they choose to disaffiliate and join with some other group or entity.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo Church of Rwanda The Anglican Church in South East Asia * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) has received two bishops from the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) as honorary temporary assistant bishops.
The Rt. Rev. T.J. Johnston will serve as an assistant bishop to the Rt. Rev. Foley Beach of the Anglican Diocese of the South and the Rt. Rev. John Miller will serve as an assistant bishop to the Rt. Rev. Neil Lebahr of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, Anglican Ink has learned.
Read it all.
If you believe, as most Americans do, that the upper reaches of the church don’t have much to do with the ground floor, the next Archbishop of Canterbury will have mostly trivial interest to you. Perhaps it will be John Sentamu, and the ECUSA is in for the deep-freeze. Perhaps it will be a conciliator or a caretaker. Perhaps it will be someone with an even more lush and vigorous patch of Muppet fur insulating his brows from the slings and arrows of church leadership. Who’s to say? But Easter will come, just as it did this year. There will be babies to baptize, teens to confirm, crappy church coffee to be drunk (maybe good sherry if you’re in the right congregation), and ministry to be done, regardless of who fills Williams’ seat.
But if you believe, as many Americans do, that it is of the utmost importance to speak with one voice on women in ministry, or the place of gays and lesbians in the church—if you believe that without a common creed and ethics and way of reading scripture, there’s no point in calling it a “church”—well then, you’re in for a very interesting six months or so. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a champion of orthodoxy like Benedict, and probably not such a fierce champion of unity-at-all-costs as Williams. You may have to face the same uncomfortable ideas that the rest of us are confronted with: that there is no single voice for Christianity, that Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one” is and always has been a fond wish and ardent desire but never a fact on the ground, that Christianity as a world movement has not produced a standard culture but has shaped and been shaped by many different cultures in many different ways, to the detriment of its coherence. But at this point, who the hell knows? You may find somebody who can bring it all back together, or (more likely), you may find another weak leader committed to togetherness in principle but unable to do much about it in practice. Either way, good luck, and definitely let us know if you find somebody with bigger eyebrows than Rowan Williams. We’ll want to be warned about that right away.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches United Church of Christ * Theology Ecclesiology
Please note this older article predates the news about the Congo and AMIA which broke late this week; it nevertheless has important details not found elsewhere--KSH.
The split has fractured the AMiA’s 150 congregations. While no numbers have been released by the AMiA, a majority of its congregations appear to have left Bishop Murphy’s oversight—including Bishop Murphy’s former parish and the AMiA’s headquarters, All Saints Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
One faction appears set to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a second group has pledged its loyalty to the Church of Rwanda but will seek to operate under the oversight of the ACNA, while a third remains with Bishop Murphy and his bishops. Negotiations to find an accommodation are currently underway between the Murphy faction and the ACNA, however the terms publicly set by Archbishop Duncan include reconciliation between Rwanda and the [Chuck] Murphy group.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ecclesiology
In 2004 a man serving on our vestry decided to leave his wife after only two years of marriage. There was no adultery, no abandonment, nothing. He’d just grown tired of her and wanted to find someone new. He and I were close. I trusted him. He’d been instrumental in saving my job. When liberal members of Good Shepherd, upset over the stance I had taken with regard to Gene Robinson, called a parish meeting at another local Episcopal Church trying to gather support to have me ousted, this man rallied my supporters and showed up at the meeting with the majority of the congregation behind him.
So when he came seeking my blessing for his divorce he may have expected me, for the sake of our friendship and his past loyalty, to give it. Instead I told him that he needed to step off of the vestry. I told him that in order to remain a member in good standing he’d need to halt his divorce proceedings, go to a Christian marriage counselor, and commit to reconciliation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo Church of Rwanda * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Anglican Continuum * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
A Special Message from the Chairman, Chuck Murphy:
At the close of this year's Winter Conference, we issued a Communiqué expressing the mind of the gathering. One of the key components and goals of that Communiqué, as well as subsequent communications from our Council of Bishops, was to "diligently seek appropriate jurisdictional connections" with an authentic and orthodox Anglican Communion province. As we continue to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection during this Easter season, it is a particular joy to report the good news that our goal has now been realized. This week, I received an official letter from Archbishop Henri Isingoma of the Anglican Church of the Congo, receiving me as a Bishop of the House of Bishops in his Province and offering us a new canonical residence. In response to a recent letter from Archbishop Rwaje asking our bishops to translate to another Anglican jurisdiction by the end of this month, I had earlier requested that he send my letters dimissory to the Province of the Congo.
This transfer follows a process of relational reconciliation with Rwanda facilitated by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. These conversations culminated in our meeting in Johannesburg and the Communiqué in which Archbishop Rwaje agreed to release theAM to develop other jurisdictional relationships. Under our accord with the Province of the Congo, we are now secure and validly attached to the global Anglican Communion. Rooted in the East African Revival, the Province of the Congo [formerly Zaire] was originally joined together as one larger province, which also included Rwanda and Burundi. In 1992, all three were subsequently established as separate provinces. The Anglican Mission's connection with the Congo began at Winter Conference 2012 when Bishop William Bahemuka Mugenyi generously made provision for scheduled ordinations to go forward.
We are very grateful to Archbishop Henri for his warm welcome to the Province. As we continue to transition toward a Mission Society with oversight provided by a College of Consultors, we remain committed to the multi-jurisdictional model that launched the Anglican Mission in Singapore (the Provinces of Southeast Asia and Rwanda). Toward that end, conversations with other jurisdictions including the Anglican Church in North America will continue.
Now that a new canonical residence provides for our bishops and clergy to transfer from Rwanda to the Congo, I have been asked to facilitate the transition and therefore, requests for transfers should be sent to the Mission Center.
We look forward with great anticipation to the multi-layered process of developing a Mission Society designed to encase our values and facilitate our desire to be a mission, nothing more and nothing less. While we continue our consistent focus on planting churches in North America, our process will include careful consideration of our present structures including the roles of bishops, the Mission Center and its staff, and our Networks as we prepare to develop the constitution and statutes that will ultimately order our common life. We are scheduling several meetings in which we will discuss and seek input from clergy and leaders throughout the Mission to assist us in designing and vetting the shape and specific details of our proposed Mission Society. We expect to complete these conversations by mid-October.
The Council of Bishops and our leadership team are united in a vision to further develop and carry forth an Apostolic/missionary (sodality) call to reach those outside the faith in effective, creative and entrepreneurial ways. This journey is well underway, and we invite and encourage you to celebrate and press on with us.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Charles Murphy is Chairman, AMIA
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo Church of Rwanda The Anglican Church in South East Asia Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Anglican Continuum * Theology Ecclesiology
Our deliberations confirmed the relevance of our mission, yielded possible solutions and strategies to be further explored and also revealed some urgent needs which must be addressed, in order to properly execute The church’s Mission. Three major objectives were identified that need to be immediately pursued:-
1. Greater interaction of the church with the immediate and wider communities, leading to an expansion of the membership of the congregation.
2. Attracting more youth and young adults into the membership of the church and reversing the tendency of our young adults leaving Ascension for membership in other churches.
3. Expansion & enhancement of the physical facilities of the church to adequately meet the needs of the present and future congregation.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
(I am taking the liberty of putting this on in full text since this is soon to be lost to posterity, I am sorry to say. Please remember that I intensely dislike the terminology of "open" baptism [or ""open" communion] because it confuses the practice being advocated by some in TEC with something altogether different; this is why I plead for what some TEC reappraisers advocate to be described as "communion of the unbaptized" --KSH).
Seminary ruined my ministry. By this I do not mean what we tired old priests often mean by this statement. I am referring here very specifically to the understanding of Holy Baptism that was beat into my head. Actually, it wasn’t beat into my head at all. I drank it in and embraced it in the heart. I was taught and have ever since believed that Baptism is the foundational sacrament of the Church and therefore must be attended to by as much prayer and catechetical preparation as is possible. The key influences here were my liturgics professor, Fr Louis Weil; the Lutheran theologian, Robert W. Jenson; but most especially the writings of the Catholic liturgist, Fr Aidan Kavanagh. Later on William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas would come along to reinforce what I had already learned, that we no longer live in a Christian culture and therefore can no longer rely on the culture to transmit to our children the beliefs, values, and practices of Christian faith. The Church must become what it once was–a disciplined community.
Ecclesial discipline begins with the sacrament of Holy Baptism, the gateway into the community of faith. If we do not practice discipline at this point, we cannot effectively foster discipline later down the road. Baptism is not a right. It is a privilege and gift that the Church is authorized to administer under very specific conditions.
I remember years ago hearing an apocryphal story of Catholic missionaries to Indonesia who would beat drums and make a lot of noise in a village, so that its inhabitants would come out of their huts to see what was going on–at which point they would be met by the missionaries, water buckets in hand: “Ego te baptizo …”
When may the Church baptize? The Scriptures are clear. The Church may baptize an individual when that individual has responded to the gospel in faith and repentance. The Church does not baptize everyone indiscriminately. Faith and conversion are necessary conditions. In the second and third centuries, we see the Church developing a catechumenal process to prepare adult converts for baptism. This process would often last one to three years, concluding with examination by the bishop and sacramental initiation at the Great Vigil of Easter. Kavanagh describes this catechumenal process not so much as intellectual instruction but as “conversion therapy.” He notes that the early Church was not interested in indiscriminately baptizing the multitudes. It wanted to make Christians.
Tertullian had already observed that Christians are not born but made. Augustine and his colleagues over a century later would have agreed, perhaps extending the epigram to say that they do not just wander in off the streets either. They are honed down by the teaching and discipline of the catechumenate until their metal is tough, resilient, sharp, and glowing. The “enlightenment” of baptism was not a flickering flame but a burst of God’s glory in those whose capacities to receive it had been expanded to their utmost. And although things were different since the pagan Celsus had written archly in 168 that “if all men wanted to be Christian, the Christians would no longer want them,” being prepared in the fifth century to absorb a whole society did not mean that the churches would do so indiscriminately. The fathers’ catechetical homilies suggest that they still needed more Christians less than they needed better ones, even as they wished and worked for the conversion of all.What about the baptism of children? They are the exception, not the norm. We risk the baptism of children only because their parents are practicing Christians and have demonstrated that they will raise their children within the household of faith, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If their parents are not practicing Christians, then the Church has no authority whatsoever to baptize their children, no matter what the grandparents want!
And so this young priest took this understanding of Baptism and catechumenate out into the world. No other issue has caused me more trouble than this in my ministry of twenty-four years! Indeed, it is probably safe to say that it destroyed my ministry in one parish and has caused me nothing but grief in my present parish. How I wish I could in good conscience offer “open baptism.” Disciplined baptismal policy always offends, no matter how gently and graciously it is articulated. No one wants to hear that there are conditions and requirements that must be fulfilled if baptism is to be administered with sacramental and spiritual integrity. No one wants to hear that the faith and commitment of the parents necessarily and rightly affects the Church’s decision to baptize a baby. No one wants to hear the word no.
So when I read about “open baptism” I am filled with both envy and anger. I am envious, because these priests are able to avoid all of the grief and problems of trying to communicate to nonbelieving parents they must begin to take their baptismal vows seriously if they wish their children to be baptized into the Church. The open baptism policy makes everything so easy. There are no conditions to be imposed. No requirements are insisted upon. Difficult conversations are avoided. We just toss the water and say the magic words and everyone is happy. Oh if only I could in conscience offer open baptism. How nice it would be for me and everyone else if I could just adopt a no-conflict, no-grief, no-aggravation policy like St Bart’s in Poway, California:
We are an open and affirming church. No classes are required and no judgments are passed at St. Bartholomew’s. If you wish to be baptized and become Jesus Christ’s own forever, just ask and you can be.But as I said, I was ruined in seminary. When I read a baptismal policy like the above, I become angry. These open baptism priests are prostituting the gospel. Baptism is not a spiritual tonic that we dispense to everyone who asks for it. Baptism is conversion, the renunciation of evil, and the embrace of love, self-denial, and the way of the cross. It’s all so cozy for these open baptism pastors and their congregations. No judgments are made. No discipline is imposed. No one has to say “no.” Baptism becomes a nice little ceremony of cultural affirmation. Everyone is blessed. Everyone feels good. But the identity and mission of the Church is sold out for a bowl of pottage.
(Please note that for now you can find the original post there. You may be interested to read the comments--KSH)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology Baptism
(In case some readers are not aware, A.K.M. Adam [AKMA] is currently serving as a Lecturer in New Testament at the University of Glasgow--KSH.)
Obviously Rwandan canons don’t affect the canon law or interpretation of the US Episcopal Church — but this interpretation of ‘orders’ and ‘transferring’ appears to make more sense. The bishops in question must (on this interpretation — I’m not arguing anything about their side of the disagreement) have a canonical relationship with one or another Anglican province, but that’s a separate question from whether their orders as bishops are valid. If on the other hand they have no relationship to another recognised Anglican body, the status of their request to withdraw from the Rwandan Church is canonically intelligible only as a request to be removed from the roll of actual bishops. If my situation were interpreted on this basis, we would say that I wish to move (‘transfer’) my vows of obedience and allegiance to the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway and the Scottish Episcopal Church — not to renounce my orders altogether.
If I understand the interpretation of canon law from the US Episcopal hierarchy, my priesthood is not in question — they’re interpreting my ‘orders’ as sort of ‘the ordered relationship that binds me to my bishop and the doctrine, disciple, and whatever of this [US Episcopal] Church’. On their account, then, it would be possible for me to maintain my ordained status without having a canonical relationship with a particular Church (and, by extension, so would the US-Rwandan bishops, if in fact the US Episcopal Church recognised their episcopal orders in the first place) — though I would not be authorised by any Church to exercise that priesthood. The Rwandan interpretation (again, if I understand it correctly) is that apart from a relationship with a particular Church, the idea of ‘orders’ is incoherent; the validity of orders depends on a living relationship of authority and accountability with a Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology
But perhaps even more urgent for the Church in England than addressing this issue is the need to amend the growing incompetence and theological incoherence on the ground. There are three crucial elements that stand out:
--Almost ubiquitous liturgical chaos, where many evangelicals and liberals alike have little sense of what worship is for.Read it all.
--The increasing failure of many priests to perform their true priestly roles of pastoral care and mission outreach, in a predominantly "liberal" and managerialist ecclesial culture that encourages bureaucratisation and over-specialisation. This has often led to a staggering failure even to try to do the most obvious things - like publicising in the community an Easter egg hunt for children in the bishop's palace grounds! To an unrecognised degree this kind of lapse explains why fewer and fewer people bother with church - though the underlying failure "even to try" has more to do with a post 1960s ethos that assumes decline and regards secularisation as basically a good thing, or even as providentially ordained since religion is supposedly a "private" and merely "personal" affair after all.
--Perhaps most decisive is the collapse of theological literacy among the clergy - again, this is partly a legacy of the 1960s and 70s (made all the worst by the illusion that this was a time of enlightening by sophisticated German Protestant influence), but it has now been compounded by the ever-easier admission of people to the priesthood with but minimal theological education, and often one in which doctrine is regarded almost as an optional extra.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
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