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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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The time ahead
All this points to a time ahead of stress and uncertainty for Anglicanism in the United States. ACI believes that the following elements, however, must be recognized and acted upon if this time ahead is to prove fruitful rather than simply destructive.
First, we must acknowledge that TEC as a national body is no longer recognizably “Anglican” in an Anglican-Communion sense. A broad range of commonly defining features of Anglican Communion churches – e.g. the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which makes Scripture the “rule and ultimate standard of faith”; the definition of Anglicanism specified in TEC’s own constitution and in 1930 Lambeth Conference Resolution 49 (i.e., “upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”); other Lambeth resolutions including 1998 I.10; the Windsor Report and its moratoria that were subsequently adopted by all the Instruments of Communion; the framework of an Anglican Communion “Common Law” (as N. Doe and others have identified it), etc. — no longer exists in TEC.
Second, dioceses, bishops, priests, and laity who are currently members of TEC, but who do continue to hold their identity within the common Anglican elements noted above, need to set about, corporately and in a coordinated way, to work with the larger Anglican Communion for a way forward. That kind of work has, in the past, been subverted by a range of local and larger factors, including personal ones. Something different has to happen at this point, and both the American and Communion leadership concerned with this must work with a new consultative forthrightness and clarity.
Third, we believe that American Communion-minded Anglicans must formally call on Canterbury, and the Primates to respond to the need expressed above expeditiously and constructively. Past reticence, foot-dragging, deference to local politics, and simple failures to follow through are no longer viable ways forward.
Fourth, we urge friends and ecumenical partners to play a consultative, constructive and creative role in this process.
Insofar as TEC has claimed it has a life in the Anglican Communion it cares about, just to that degree it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to clarify what that might be, in the light of General Convention actions and the new self-understanding in NEC. General Convention has acted and declared its mind. What will the response of the Anglican Communion be?
Read it all, carefully
Today’s judgment brings to a close a process started on Aug. 30, 2013, when the Supreme Court of Texas ordered that the case, initially decided using a “deference” approach, return to the trial court and that the court reconsider the parties' claims, applying the Neutral Principles approach instead.
The trial court’s ruling now becomes appealable, and the TEC-affiliated plaintiffs have indicated their intention to ask the Second Court of Appeals for a review. In early August the court is expected to issue an order stating terms that will allow the TEC-affiliated congregation of All Saints’, Fort Worth, to remain in the property it now occupies during the duration of the appeal.
We give thanks for our many blessings, for God’s work among us, and for the Hope of Salvation that is within us. We are thankful, too, for the patient endurance of all those who have prayed and labored for this day, especially our legal team, their associates, and their families.
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Judge Chupp has entered a final judgment against TEC, its rump diocese of Fort Worth and its parishes, thereby ending the lawsuit in which they sought to claim the corporation, property and bank accounts owned and controlled by Bishop Jack L. Iker and his co-trustees. Judge Chupp ordered that the plaintiffs “take nothing” from their complaint. This leaves all real property, corporate control and diocesan bank accounts exactly as they were after Bishop Iker and his Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave TEC in November 2008.
The TEC parties have said they plan to appeal the final judgment to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. However, any such appeal will be guided by the “neutral principles of law” announced by the Texas Supreme Court when it reversed Judge Chupp’s original judgment in their favor, based upon his belief that he was required by Texas law to defer to the “hierarchical” Episcopal Church. Under neutral principles, the Texas courts look solely to the documents establishing a party’s title: whose name is on the deeds, what trusts have been recorded, and what (if anything) the Church’s governing documents say about a diocese’s ability to amend its own constitution so as to remove its affiliation with the Episcopal Church.
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Bishop William White of Pennsylvania, who first expressed the idea of a national association of state churches that later became TEC, outlined a plan "for organizing these Church of England congregations." White was "very sympathetic to the notion that the individual state organizations and dioceses should have the full and open control of their own property and of their own government" (p.27)
Take the time to read through it all (74 page pdf).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Rev. J. Russell Kendrick strides through the construction area at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mobile, where only a few months ago, clergy and laity delegates from across the Central Gulf Coast elected him bishop. An architect before he answered God's call, Kendrick is dressed in a black clergy shirt, a priest's collar -- and blue jeans.
"I'll be the first homegrown bishop," says the Fort Walton Beach native who will be ordained and consecrated Saturday, July 25. "I think that's significant."
Kendrick, 54, has his own term for the solemn ceremony in which other bishops lay hands on him and current Bishop Philip Duncan gives him the crozier, a staff that signals the transition of office. "I'm ... saying I'm going to be 'bishopized,'" Kendrick says.
Years ago, Kendrick was working as an architect in the family business and volunteering with youth at his hometown parish, Saint Simons By-The-Sea, when he answered God's call to become a priest. Having earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in business from Auburn University, he added a Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1996. He has served as rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Cahaba Heights in Birmingham since 2007.
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When Frances “Rita” Eby died in January 2014 at age 96, her daughter knew where she would inter her mother’s cremated remains – she would bury them in the rose garden at St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach.
“Her church was so close to her heart,” said Eby’s daughter, Trish Norman.
Eby, Norman and St. James had a history. Eby was a congregant and volunteer at the church for 60 years. And Norman, 75, was confirmed at the church and attended Sunday school there.
So last month, when the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles shuttered the church on Via Lido as part of a plan to sell the property, Norman was concerned about what would become of the remains of her mother and 11 others buried in the rose garden.
Norman was further disturbed when she heard that the land could be sold to a developer to build luxury townhouses, a sale that might raise $15 million for the diocese.
“Who does that? You wouldn’t go into Pacific View and build townhomes there,” she said, referring to a local cemetery.
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Polygamy may well make for a coalition of strange bedfellows drawn from across the religious and non-religious spectrum in the United States. If the so-called “mainline” churches repeat their same-sex marriage trajectory, they could well provide polygamy some hefty cultural and political ballast (though the impact of that support may not be quite as big as it was for same-sex marriage in light of the continued demographic decline of these denominations).
These Christians would, of course, also need to square their religious heritage around polygamy with the kinds of feminist critiques that informed the overhaul of monogamy during the past 50 or so years. The Reformation proponents of polygamy, after all, only had polygyny in mind, and a very male-dominated version at that. Protestants today would almost certainly need to consider polyandry and, to use a clunky term, polygynandry.
I agree with Douthat and Silk that Americans are going to need to think seriously about polygamy. Douthat is probably right in arguing that many of the arguments liberals put forth on behalf of same-sex marriage will be deployed on behalf of polygamy, but Silk is probably also correct that religious freedom claims will play a role as well. In any case, rather than let fear guide the conversation, perhaps we should embrace an honest, thorough, and thoughtful debate that will likely generate a new set of pro- and con- alliances from a diverse range of people and groups in the United States. It wouldn’t be a reformation of marriage without one.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Philosophy Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian United Church of Christ
I say the distinctions are questionable: The New Testament makes no such distinction between false teaching and heresy. When the Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy and the various churches to which he wrote not to tolerate false teachers, he did not make a distinction as to whether their false teaching concerned a matter that would someday be included in the Nicene Creed. In fact, the admonition was often to separate from false teachers who promoted immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:3). The same is true for other apostles (2 Peter 2:1-10, Jude 3-7).
Heresy has also been defined as any departure from the faith of the Catholic Church, which Vincent of Lerins identified as that which has been believed by the whole church throughout the world, from the beginning, and by all (universality, antiquity, and the consensus of the faithful). Who can disagree that the Episcopal Church has seriously departed from the received faith of the universal and ancient church--and on a matter of ultimate importance: God's stated will for humankind in the matter of sexual relations and God's ordained sacrament of Holy Matrimony?
And as to remaining in communion, the New Testament makes no such stipulation. The Apostle Paul does not say, if the body with which you are associated continues in false teaching for a generation, then you (or, more likely, your children) are obliged to separate from it. No, the admonition is that those who are serious about following the way of Christ are either to expel or to separate from false teachers immediately.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Episcopal Church earlier this month took a leap forward in its evolving approach to gay rights, voting to allow priests to marry same-sex couples. But that won’t mean a rush to the altar at Louisiana churches.
No churches in the state have permission to marry gay couples until Nov. 29, the first Sunday of the Advent season. That’s when two new marriage rites using gender-neutral language become available for church services.
Meanwhile, priests who are opposed to same-sex marriage can, as a matter of conscience, refuse to officiate at such ceremonies. In Louisiana, that’s the norm.
Only a handful of the 97 Episcopal churches in the state have indicated they are planning to start holding same-sex weddings when the new rites take effect. These also are the only Louisiana churches that have presided over same-sex unions through a special “blessing” the Episcopal Church approved in 2012.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, said that other than “the ick factor,” there was nothing to prevent Episcopalians from participating in the Urban Death Project. Given the importance of environmentalism to his congregation, he wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain traction.
“This is much better stewardship of the Earth and human resources and land than putting up a cement crypt and a coffin that obligates people to care for it,” he said. “We’re not a doctrinal church. It’s not like a church body would say yes or no, it’s more like Episcopalians do it and so it becomes church practice.”
Muslims wanting to participate in the Urban Death Project may hit some theological obstacles. In Islam, while burial in a shroud and natural decomposition are consistent with the Urban Death Project’s model, its compost harvesting might be seen as disinterment, considered a forbidden mutilation of the body. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that scholars may be able to argue around the issue.
Read it all from Slate.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology
I write to you here on a subject that elicits strong emotions. None should be particularly surprised by what I say. Many–most, perhaps–will be relieved and grateful. Some will be grieved and angry. It is my place to absorb both the gratitude and the grief with steadfastness of conviction and an abundance of charity. I invite each of you to read with care, patience, and precision–and then to also absorb that which pleases you and that which disturbs you with the confidence of your convictions and a measure of charity beyond that which you think yourself capable of. Let grace abound.
The recent 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church promulgated under the “trial use” canon liturgical rites that purport to solemnize marriage between persons of the same sex, effective this coming Advent. This was a profound and tragic mistake. Marriage has certainly evolved considerably over the millennia of human existence. Different cultures and different eras have adapted it in a variety of ways. But there has always been one constant, something so self-evidently obvious that it has scarcely merited mention, and that is the element of sexual complementarity–a marriage requires the presence of both sexes.
Marriage is not merely a human social construct, an institution that we created and are therefore at liberty to recreate and redefine as seems right and expedient
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At its recent General Convention, The Episcopal Church (USA) redefined marriage in its canons and also authorised trial rites for same-sex marriage. Along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Fulcrum believes this is a cause for “deep concern”.
SUPPORTING: Fulcrum welcomes the Salt Lake City Statement by the Communion Partners and supports all within TEC who continue to combine “a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters” with a determination to honour “the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion”. The Communion Partners are, along with ACNA bishops, graciously but firmly resisting what GAFCON identified as “the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture” as are many of those in the Global South whose response to these developments includes the welcome affirmation that they “are against any criminalization of homosexuals”.
QUESTIONING: Fulcrum questions the Convention’s actions on various grounds:
- Have these major decisions been taken with enough theological debate and scrutiny either in TEC or across the Anglican Communion?
- Do these developments not disregard principles of mutual accountability and interdependence and the Principles of Canon Law Common To the Churches of the Anglican Communion (2008)?
- Has TEC not now made another canonical, liturgical and doctrinal departure from the Communion, beyond it previous action of blessing same-sex unions?
- Does redefining marriage in this way not go against the teaching of Scripture (including Jesus in Mt 19 and Mark 10), tradition and reason?
PARTICIPATING: Fulcrum encourages full participation in the Shared Conversations here in the Church of England but shares concerns about the process recently raised by the Church of England Evangelical Council’s Petertide Call to Prayer.
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One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.
Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.
Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.
Read it all.
O Lord, who in a time of turmoil and confusion didst raise up thy servant William White, and didst endow him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead thy Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, we beseech thee, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry thy people may be blessed and thy will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
[Bishop Ed] Konieczky said he voted against a related measure that calls for a change in the the denomination’s canonical definition of marriage as a “union of a man and a woman.”
He said the resolution, which was eventually approved, calls for altering the current canon language to “gender-neutral language,” replacing “a man and a woman” with “both parties.”
In his letter to the Oklahoma diocese on the Sunday after the denomination’s vote on gay marriage, Konieczky said he voted against this language alteration because it places the denomination’s canon in conflict with language used in their Book of Common Prayer and the denomination’s constitution....
Konieczky said he did not think the denomination had done the necessary theological work to make the switch to gender-neutral language.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Episcopalians formerly associated with a Newport Beach church have filed a formal complaint against a bishop whose actions have paved the way for the church's waterfront property to potentially become luxury condos.
The complaint, known as a presentment, filed with the national Episcopal church in New York City alleges that Bishop J. Jon Bruno violated church doctrine in May after he put the St. James the Great Episcopal Church's Lido Village property and two nearby parking lots up for sale to a developer, Legacy Partners Residential, which plans to construct 22 homes there.
Among the 147 canon violations levied in the presentment, dated July 6, are "instances of reckless or intentional misrepresentation, conduct unbecoming a bishop of the church, possible failure to get required diocesan approval for the sale and creating or promoting conflict," according to a news release from St. James issued Wednesday.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
The new charges will add to his recent woes. After the news came out that Bishop Bruno purportedly had arranged a "sweetheart" private deal with a developer -- no bids or listing of the property, but just terms worked out with a single buyer who wants to erect a suite of expensive townhomes on the property -- he received a letter from the original developer of Lido Isle (the area of Newport Beach where St. James is located), the Griffith Corporation. That letter informed him something he ought to have known already: that the property on which the church stands was gifted to the Diocese for use only for church purposes. Griffith stated that if he went through with the proposed sale, the property would automatically revert back to it.
The letter caused Bishop Bruno to instruct his attorneys immediately to sue the Griffith Corporation for "slander of title" -- a rather heavy-handed response to the donor of one's most valuable property. You can read the complaint and see the original deed of gift at this link -- the deed restriction is for real, and the courts enforce them as written.
It will be interesting to watch this scenario play out -- whether the Bishop can remain on top of the situation will require that he first rein in his attack dogs, and begin treating donors and parishioners for the valued assets they are. Meanwhile, some useful information is emerging. According to this letter to the Diocesan Standing Committee, Bishop Bruno told the parish that he was trying to recoup the Diocese's litigation expenses (incurred in suing four former parishes, including the previous congregation of St. James) of Nine Million Dollars. That is five million dollars greater than I had estimated in tallying up all the costs of Church litigation, as reported in this post.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes TEC Parishes TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
On the basis of the well-known fact that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, we should ask first what has been going on in the English church in the last half century which has – shall we say – coincided with its collapse. Let me mention a few of what seem to me to be the most significant features.
The last fifty years have seen the rise of theological reductionism. Bluntly, this means that ancient doctrines, always previously proclaimed as true and the foundational beliefs of the church have been, in the jargon, demythologised. So Jesus was not born of a virgin and he didn’t rise from the dead. His miracles were really “acted parables” – that is more jargon for the claim that they didn’t actually happen.
Concurrent with theological reductionism has run a fifty years programme of liturgical “reform” which has seen the discarding of The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This means that there is no longer observance of the rule that all the realm shall have one use. In fact, these changes mean that you have no idea what you’re going to find in a church service until the service begins. It’s a sort of churchy babel in which no two churches do the same thing and many priests and ministers seem to do as they like.
In addition to these changes, the bishops, the clergy and the synod have endorsed the secular mores of the age.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology
The Bishop of Los Angeles urged members of St James the Great Episcopal Church to trust him, because he was their bishop and his word was his bond. However, members of the Newport Beach, Cal., parish have now filed a complaint under the Episcopal Church’s disciplinary canons against the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno alleging fraud, lying, abuse of authority, corruption and conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.
On 6 July 2015 members of the Orange County congregation, who have been locked out of their church since the beginning of July on the orders of the bishop, filed a complaint under Title IV alleging “140 canon violations” by their bishop.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When Bishop William White of Philadelphia became a bishop in 1787, he was No. 2 in the Episcopal Church's chain of apostolic succession.
When Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 -- the first openly gay, noncelibate Episcopal bishop -- he was No. 993. This fact was more than a trivia-game answer during a recent sermon that represented a triumphant moment both for Robinson and his church's liberal establishment.
Standing on White's grave before the altar of historic Christ Church, the former New Hampshire bishop quipped that he did "feel a little rumble" when he referenced the recent Episcopal votes to approve same-sex marriage rites. But Robinson was convinced White was not rolling over in his grave.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
I received news last night that Bishop Terry (Terence) Kelshaw met His Savior face-to-face in the early dawn of yesterday after being diagnosed with wide-spread cancer. For those who knew him, you will appreciate God’s kindness in letting his earthly life end on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day as the birds sang at sunrise in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For Bishop Terry, this was the perfect day to die. Above all that he was in this life, he was a Sunday kind of man.
Bishop Terry loved the Church. He loved her when she was dressed up and beautiful. When she was big and accomplished. When she sang loudly and when she wept silently. When she was wounded and suffering. When she was sorrowful and ragtag. When she was many, when she was few and when she was just one. Bishop Terry loved the Church.
No one knew this lavish love more than the people of St. James Anglican Church who Bishop Terry came to lead in a critical time in our history. Our rector had just left following a fall from leadership which devastated our formerly successful congregation.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Pastoral Theology
The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America to change the definition of marriage is grievous. There is a saying, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” As a religious leader in Uganda, I want to assure all Ugandans that we will do everything we can to promote the good moral health of our people and resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people.
Likewise, the most recent decision of the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) to change the definition of marriage is even more grievous. At best, it sprang from a desire to extend pastoral care to members of its church who experience same-sex attraction. Pastoral care, however, that is contrary to the Bible’s message is, ultimately, cruel and misleading.
The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) in 2003 when they unilaterally changed the received Biblical and moral teaching of the Anglican Communion on ordination. The Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously agreed – including the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church – that, should TEC proceed with the consecration as Bishop of a divorced father of two living in a same-sex relationship, it would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, which is exactly what has happened over the past twelve years.
In spite of TEC’s 2006 resolution that expressed their “regret” at “straining” the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion, they have, nonetheless, continued their march toward dismantling the Christian faith and morals, culminating in their recent decision to change the definition of marriage – something that was “given by God in creation.”
The definition and meaning of marriage is not something that can be defined by voting. It is something that is given by God in general revelation and in special revelation, and it is for us as human beings and, especially, the Church, to simply receive and follow. The fact that 2+2 equals 4 cannot be changed by a vote or decree. Neither can the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman be changed by a vote.
What St. Paul wrote to Timothy is as relevant today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)
The Church of Uganda was blessed to play a small role in the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative and biblically faithful Anglican Church in North America. Through our GAFCON fellowship, a number of Archbishops from Global South Provinces recognized the validity of the Anglican Church in North America, and we support them in their resolution to promote healthy and spiritually strong families and marriages between one man and one woman.
Sadly, the so-called “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion have not been able to restore godly order to the Communion, nor do they seem to have the will to do so. While we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion, we do not lose hope. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” (2 Corinthians 4.5)
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda.
7th July 2015
Now available on the Church of Uganda website
...In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)
Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.
We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).
Read it all
A “church” that preaches and blesses blasphemy cannot be a church. Nor can any Christian be a member of it.
The religious organization that styles itself “The Episcopal ‘Church’” now preaches and blesses blasphemy against Christ our Savior. Therefore it cannot be a Christian church. And I can no longer — though I grew up in it, and belonged for over sixty-five years — be a member.
The personal tragedy is that the parish church in which I grew up, and which I still attended as an Episcopalian, is as true to the faith once delivered as could be. Its rector and associate rector are both orthodox; one deacon has served for more than forty years. My heart grieves for what they will be going through over the next five years.
Many of the parishioners are close and long-time friends. They are simply unaware of what took place at the General Convention in Salt Lake City, and they will probably never hear of it. They will continue to come, Sunday after Sunday, and worship as they always have. And I may even join them — but now as a visitor.
I not only have to resign my membership; I have to resign my position as parish Chancellor, as well. I cannot remain in the former while the leadership and most of the bishops (including the one who heads my former diocese, as well as the resigned one who used to head it) are endorsing blasphemy. And I cannot remain in the latter position as that same leadership, aided by all those 129 bishops who voted for the Satanic rites, trample the Constitution and Canons and mock the Book of Common Prayer.
My own knowledge of the Constitution and canons, together with my knowledge of what actually happened in Salt Lake City, compels me to these decisions...
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...If marriage has been established by God in creation, as most of the world’s Anglicans believe, then no Church council or civil court can ever redefine marriage. This week’s attempt to do so will cause considerable concern worldwide, acknowledged by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his recent expression of “deep concern” about how the Episcopal Church’s actions will add to the stress and distress throughout the Anglican Communion. Of course, the constitution of the Episcopal Church defines us as “a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.” The Diocese of Dallas desires and intends to live out these words by respecting the Communion’s teaching on marriage and by upholding the Book of Common Prayer and the authority of God’s Word. We are grateful for the General Convention’s appropriate acknowledgement that trial rites will not be used in a diocese without the permission of the Diocesan Bishop.
The Diocese of Dallas has a canon on marriage that reads, in part, that “As used in this Diocese, the terms ‘Holy Matrimony’ and ‘Marriage’ shall refer to the exclusive physical and spiritual union of one man and one woman, by mutual consent of the heart, mind and will, and with the intent that it be lifelong.
The blessing of sexual relationships between persons of the same sex is prohibited in churches, missions and congregations of this Diocese; and clergy persons resident or licensed in this Diocese are prohibited from performing such blessings in any venue.”...
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And now -- enter God's poetic justice. It seems that Bishop Bruno, who is as quick as any Episcopal Church diocesan to recognize a Dennis Canon interest in property when he comes across one, forgot about an earlier reversionary interest in the St. James parish property. It turns out that the original developer of the area, Griffith Company, donated in 1945 the land on which the beautiful St. James building was erected, to the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, upon "the condition, covenant and restriction" that
The property conveyed shall be used for church purposes exclusively and no building other than a church and appurtenances shall be erected, placed or maintained thereon. The foregoing restriction shall be binding upon the [Bishop], his successors and assigns. Upon the breach of the foregoing condition, the title to said property ... shall become at once divested from the [Bishop], his successors and assigns, and shall revert and revest in the grantor [Griffith Company], its successors or assigns.
Thus if Bishop Bruno carries out his plans to sell the property to the current developer, the only thing that developer could do with the property is maintain the existing church building on it (or build a brand-new one). And thus there is no way a developer would pay $15 million for land that is so encumbered.
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...We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.
We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.
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The bishops agreed to allow clergy to begin offering same-sex marriages using the new rites after Nov. 1. However, no clergy could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage, and a bishop had the authority to forbid his clergy from celebrating gay marriages.
The former bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, explained to the bishops in Salt Lake City the accommodation meant that a conservative priest in a liberal diocese would incur no penalty if he refused to perform a same-sex marriage. The priest would, however, have to pass a couple seeking to be married on to another church or priest to perform the ceremony.
Priests in dioceses where the bishop forbid same-sex marriages may not solemnize gay marriages. A priest who did so would be liable for punishment for disobeying the bishop. A diocese that does not perform gay marriages must pass the couple on to another part of the church that permits gay marriage.
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We are deeply grieved again by the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) Resolution to change the definition of marriage in their church canons in their current ongoing General Convention.
By this action, TEC has chosen by its own will and actions in clear knowledge to depart from the Anglican Communion’s standard teaching on human sexuality according to Lambeth Resolution 1:10. This TEC Resolution is another example of such unilateral decisions that are taken without giving the least consideration to the possible consequences on other provinces and the Anglican Communion as a whole, the ecumenical partnerships, the mission of the church worldwide, and the interfaith relations. This Resolution clearly contradicts the Holy Scriptures and God’s plan for creation as He created humankind as man and woman to complement each other physically and emotionally.
in line with God’s design. But sadly, by this action of TEC, the church gives way to the society to alter and shape its values. In other words the church is losing its distinctiveness as salt and light in this world.
“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)
This statement is approved by:
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Archbishop, Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and Chairman of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean and General Secretary of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia and treasurer of the Global South.
The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar.
The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Anglican Church of South America.
The Rt. Rev. John Chew, member of the GS Global South steering committee, former GS chairman.
The Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Primate of Rwanda.
The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi
* The above mentioned GS Primates are the ones who sent their approval and amendments before posting this statement. We will add the names of those who will send their approval after.
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The House of Bishops has rejected the call to revisit the issue of allowing the non-baptized to receive Holy Communion. By a vote of 79 to 77 the bishops rejected Resolution C010 “Invite All to Holy Communion” which called for the creation and funding of a task force to study...[communion of the unbaptized].
During the afternoon session of the 7th legislative day on 30 June 2015 at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City the House of Bishops took up three resolutions submitted for consideration by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music.
Without debate the bishops endorsed Resolution A067 “Revise Book of Common Prayer for Revised Common Lectionary”, which calls for the church to use the lectionary found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and not the Revised Common Lectionary for services during Holy Week.
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One hundred and twenty-nine of the bishops in the Episcopal Church (USA) House of Bishops voted yesterday to embrace blasphemy as a "trial rite" for same-sex marriages in the Church. The blasphemy begins in the rite at the point where the celebrant says to the congregation (see p. 98 of these materials; my bold emphasis added):
Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of N. and N. in Holy Matrimony. The joining of two people in a life of mutual fidelity signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and so it is worthy of being honored among all people.
As I wrote in an earlier post, critiquing the rite when it was first proposed, the bold language evinces a category mistake of the worst sort, by equating the union of two people of the same gender to the holy union between Christ and His Church. (How can they be equated? In the former, which of the two men -- or two women -- signifies Christ, and which the Church?)
The bishops approved three other rites for trial use, as well, but they are just as blasphemous in invoking the blessing of the triune God on the union/marriage of a same-sex pair.
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From a comment on Stand Firm
For the record only (as it won’t actually matter, given the status of C/C).
129 votes is not the number required but well below it, according to the rules for voting a Trial Rite.
One needs a majority of all those entitled to vote — and that means, all retired Bishops, assistant Bishops, etc.
This was also pointed out in 2012. The Trial Rite vote technically could not have been achieved, and so the ‘provisional rite.’
I mention this not because it will have any effect whatsoever. It won’t.
But anyone reading the c/c on the votes required for passing a Trial Rite will immediately see they did not get the necessary votes. Indeed, given the laxity now prevailing, no one even went to any effort to worry about the quorum.
When it is full steam ahead, it is full steam ahead.
Read it all and see also Vote by Roll Resolution A036 - Amend Canon I.18 Marriage
And he said, you know, what the Episcopal Church does - they may not understand this and frankly they may not be able to do anything about it - but when they do stuff like endorse Gay Marriage and all this, it blows back on us in the Middle East. We Episcopalians are no longer seen as 'People of the Book,' meaning Christians who follow the ways of Jesus Christ and whom Mohammed said we should allow them to live - we are becoming in their eyes like the Mormons, a sect, a splinter group not 'of the Book' because we repudiate what they see as being the words of the Bible. And what does that result in? They kill us.
With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV
On 26 June 2015 attorneys for the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno filed suit in an Orange County Court claiming the Griffith Company had slandered the title to the property sold for $15 million dollars to a developer who plans to demolish the church and build condominiums.
The suit states that on 10 June 2015, attorneys for the Griffith Corporation wrote to the bishop stating that when they had conveyed the land to the Episcopal Church in 1945, a restriction had been placed on the deed that required the property to be used solely as a church.
The attorney’s letter (pictured below) stated in 1984 the church contacted the Griffith seeking a release from the deed restriction to allow three lots adjacent to the church to be used as a parking lot. The Griffith Corporation agreed to removing the restriction on the three lots, but its attorney stated his client: “never released, nor intended to release the covenant, condition, restriction for “church purposes exclusively’.”
If the property were no longer used as a church, the land would revert under the terms of the deed to the Griffith Corporation, not to the bishop to sell.
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Resolution A036 is another matter. It alters the canon governing marriage to make the language gender-neutral. My handful of allies and I felt this is where we needed to make our stand. We immediately moved a minority report that emerged from the Special Committee on Marriage as a substitute for the resolution. This report was simply a document affirming the traditional understanding of marriage, and was not an alternate canonical change. We had cleared it in advance with the parliamentarian, who deemed it in order. But one of the bishops fairly quickly challenged the Presiding Bishop's ruling that the substitute was in order, and called for a vote on the matter, which is allowed in Roberts Rules. A majority of the bishops voted to overturn the Presiding Bishop's ruling, so our substitute was taken out of play. The parliamentarian was, of course, correct, so this was simply the names exercise of raw power. The mood of this convention is "spike the ball."
Debate proceeded, and there were a couple of amendments and amendments to amendments moved, but none carried. My allies and I did successfully request a roll-call vote, however, which tends to annoy people. Nonetheless, we felt it important for us to be on the record for the benefit of worldwide consumption, particularly among our Global South friends, who are always under pressure to cast us aside in favor of an exclusive relationship with the ACNA. There was some 150 or so bishops still around (down quite a bit from Saturday's PB election). There were 26 No votes and five abstentions. We got our heads handed to us.
One could argue that there are some details still in play before it's possible to conclusively say, "Done deal." And the House of Deputies still has to act, though the conclusion there is more foregone than with the Bishops. Nonetheless, the Episcopal Church has, today, effectively redefined marriage--a universal and timeless human social institution that Christians have believed is, in fact, not merely a human social institution, but a gift from God that is literally prehistoric, participating in the order of creation. We have done so, moreover, without even a pretense of consultation with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion, to say nothing of the rest of the Christian world. It is an act of breathtaking hubris, an abuse of common sense truly worthy of the descriptor Orwellian.
Is it heresy?
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The Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely, Bishop of Vermont, reported the work of the special legislative committee on marriage. Five of the bishops on the committee recommended that a liturgy for blessing covenant relationships and “three liturgies of marriage be authorized for trial use in accordance with Article X.” The designation of the liturgies as being for “trial use” sets into motion the process of amending the Book of Common Prayer. Bishop Ely described this move as “the approach most faithful to our polity.”
He then described A054 as “a more practical ordering of Canon 18.” He noted, however, that the resolution had been amended in committee to include “a more robust declaration of intent” in line with the prayer book. He stated his belief that the proposed canon in A054 does not conflict with the prayer book, thus avoiding “a constitutional crisis.”
Read it all and there is more there.
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Read it all from Anglican Ink.
Read it all.
Episcopalians are continuing calls for unity with other Christian churches despite actions that have had the effect of increasing divisions between Episcopalians, Global South Anglicans and other branches of historic Christianity.
A number of international bishops from smaller Anglican provinces are in attendance at the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a handful of ecumenical guests from other churches. None of the Anglican Communion’s larger provinces are represented, and there is no bishop representing the Church of England in an official capacity at General Convention this year. There are no bishops from the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. The headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is one block from the convention center, but there is no delegation or representative from the Mormon faith at General Convention.
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Not unworthy of record among these devoted servants of Christ is the name of the Rev. Cornelius Hill. He was the oldest and last of the Oneida Chiefs and from an early age had taken his seat in the Indian Councils. He bore the name of Chief Onon-Gwat-Ga, or Great Medicine, and was one of the most influential in the tribe. He became converted to Christianity, studied at one time at Nashotah, was the interpreter in the Church for many years until the day of his death; was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by myself; at one time was sent to the General Convention from this Diocese and was ever a most earnest and devoted and faithful Christian and Churchman.
It is owing, in no small measure, to his example and teaching that the tribe has so progressed in temporal civilization and in its spiritual life. There is, as it is well known, no remaining party of heathen on the reservation. The Indians are for the most part loyal and devoted children of the Church.
By their zeal and devotion they are, in many ways, an example to us white Americans. I cannot speak of Father Hill's loving loyalty to myself without much feeling. His name will ever be cherished amongst his people and held in high regard in our Diocese.
Everliving Lord of the universe, our loving God, who raised up thy priest Cornelius Hill, last hereditary chief of the Oneida nation, to shepherd and defend his people against attempts to scatter them in the wilderness: Help us, like him, to be dedicated to truth and honor, that we may come to that blessed state thou hast prepared for us; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory
The following are questions we would want to see posed to and answered by the current candidates for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. We hope that our bishops will make sure that these, or questions like them, are put forward and engaged publicly by the candidates themselves.
In general, the Presiding Bishop is defined as the “chief pastor”, “primate”, “leader”, and “spokesperson” for the national church as it is ordered by General Convention. The Constitution gives the Presiding Bishop no “metropolitical” authority, in that the office has no jurisdiction over other bishops, and the General Convention has explicitly rejected the notion that the Presiding Bishop is an “archbishop”, even in name only. Hence, qualities and commitments that engage pastoral and representative duties should be foremost in assessing candidates, ones that embody the teachings and spirit of Jesus Christ. The questions below relate to such qualities as we understand them in the context of our present times.
Questions to which a “yes” answer should raise serious questions about the candidate’s fitness for the role of Presiding Bishop:....
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There is a lot of misinformation being published by the Los Angeles diocesan leadership about the status of St. James the Great as recent[ly] as this past week....
On May 17th, Bishop Bruno without warning or discussion told the parish he sold the building. Not only had he sold it, but there was no plan as to where anyone should go or do. The parish was devastated. To some this was the second time they had lost their building; to most, who were just starting to come back to church or who are unchurched, could not understand how one man could unilaterally make this decision, especially on a church with a 70-year legacy and *the* last church near Lido Isle.
The pastoral care I have had to administer as a result of this decision has been exhausting. I have had parishioners fall into my arms with tears of disbelief. One couple told me they waited 53 years to find a church they could both agree on and finally found it at St. James the Great.
When I asked what was to become of the 150 families Bishop Bruno said they could go to other churches in the area. This, after spending 18 months of their time, talent and treasure to rebuild a viable, *growing *church.
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Update: Lawsuit filed to block the sale of St James Newport Beach
A California court has been asked to block the sale of St James Newport Beach by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to real estate developers.
On 22 June 2015 a coalition of parishioners called the Save the St James the Great coalition filed suit in the Orange County Superior Court against the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles and real estate developers Legacy Partners Residential. A hearing has been scheduled before the Hon. David McEachen for 9:00 am on 24 June 2015 in the matter: 30-2015-00794789-CU-OR-CJ
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On the eve of a General Convention that will consider several important proposals to change the definition of marriage in the Church’s doctrine, discipline and worship, much attention is directed, perhaps belatedly, to the question of good order. Several bishops generally sympathetic to the idea of same sex marriage have expressed concerns that the way in which that innovation is now being proposed violates “good order.” Rejecting this charge, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, also sympathetic to same sex marriage, has offered an amendment to the marriage canon that it claims will promote rather than undermine “good order.”
- Second, the Catechism (BCP, p. 861) provides that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.” The Catechism also defines (BCP, p. 860) “sacramental rites” of the Church to include Holy Matrimony. Both the Catechism and the sacramental rite of marriage are thus part of the “doctrine” of the Church as defined in Canon IV.2, conformity to which is canonically required.
- Third, the marriage canon (I.1.18) requires clergy to conform to “the laws of this Church governing the solemnization of Holy Matrimony” and provides that “Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.”
- Fourth, Art. X of the Constitution specifies the procedures by which the BCP, containing the sacramental rites and rubrics for Holy Matrimony and the Catechism, can be amended: affirmative votes at two successive General Conventions, the second by a majority of all bishops entitled to vote and a majority in a vote by orders of all dioceses entitled to representation.
None of this is obscure; to the contrary, it is obvious. Yet the most remarkable thing about the many resolutions offered on marriage (ten so far) is that not a single one even proposes the obvious first step required of good order: amending or revising the BCP.
To be sure there are four resolutions (C017, C022, C026 and D026) that reference the BCP, but none of them attempts to comply with the constitutional requirements for amending it. Instead, they flagrantly attempt to circumvent the Constitution by re-interpreting the language of the BCP:
the language “man and woman” and “husband and wife” therein shall be equally applicable to two people of the same gender, and all gender-specific language shall be interpreted to be gender-neutral, and may thus be modified as necessary for the purposes of the said Canon, and of the said rites. (C017.)
The Constitution is explicit on changing the BCP: “no alteration” of the BCP is permitted except in accordance with the specified procedures. By their own terms, these “interpretation” resolutions purport to “modify” the BCP rites. Passage of any one of these resolutions would thus reflect the Church expressing its collective contempt for its own Constitution.
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If this is where we are then we have come to a sorry state indeed. The constitutional good order of what we do at General Convention must be understood as a considered task to accomplish rather than a presumption to take for granted. We cannot imagine most Episcopalians actually believe that whatever General Convention happens to do is by definition constitutional merely because General Convention has done it.
We do well to consider carefully the constitutional authority of our proposed actions this summer, particularly the chaos that would ensue by pitting the canons against the prayer book (as in A036), by putting bishops in conflict with liturgies over which they are the intended chief officer (as in A054), and by accepting without challenge the conclusion of the Commission on Constitution and Canons that what General Convention approves, reason must obey. Should the 78th General Convention produce a lasting witness to our faith and order, it will be by fulfilling our charge to take orderly counsel with all due care. In 2012, through the approval of provisional rites, we created an open space that has proven enormously helpful in allowing freedom and protecting conscience. Can we build on this now, in a way that embraces all our sisters and brothers? In this more excellent way, we model for one another our Lord’s love for us, and become ambassadors of reconciliation — in our church, in the Anglican Communion, and in the wider body of Christ.
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TEC’s essential legal arguments can be distilled down to one proposition: TEC claims to be a "hierarchical" church, with complete, top-down control of the entire organization.
“There are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case as detailed in this brief,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “First, TEC's organizational structure is irrelevant to this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters of this sort courts not only can, but should decide them based upon 'neutral principles of law' if that can resolve all the issues. That means questions of ownership can be settled on the same basis as in any secular case.”
An example of this point is the 2009 decision of the All Saints case by the South Carolina Supreme Court. As in any litigation involving churches, doctrinal issues are often involved. However, if the court can decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership, it may do so. That occurred in All Saints.
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and see also Diocese of South Carolina’s PR on TEC’s ‘Spurious’ Offer to Settle
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
The offer was made by a local attorney who represents the 20 percent of members who remained with TEC when most of the Diocese disaffiliated in 2012. It promised that TEC would end its multimillion dollar legal campaign to seize local church properties if the parishes agree to hand over the Diocese’s identity, its other assets including the Diocese’s offices on Coming Street in Charleston and the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, which is prime real estate that could be sold off by the cash-strapped denomination.
“This is not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Assistant to Bishop Mark Lawrence. “It was a spurious offer chiefly made to disrupt submission of our brief and make them look good in the press.” Lewis said. “As a matter of fact, the Presiding Bishop's chancellor is on record as saying they would never settle. In that, they have been utterly consistent up until now.”
“Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that TEC has ‘no legal, equitable or beneficial interest’ in these properties. TEC appealed the matter and a hearing is scheduled before the South Carolina Supreme Court in September. If TEC were confident of its case, they would be eager for justice to be served and would not attempt to derail the next step in the legal process . Their so-called proposal has been unanimously rejected by all parties.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Within five years of ...[Bishop Daneil Tuttle's] arrival, the Episcopal Church started the first non-Mormon school in Utah, commenced construction of the Cathedral Church of St. Mark and launched St. Mark's Hospital.
Throughout his years as bishop, The Right Rev. Tuttle was on the road, traveling by horse and buggy to the far reaches of Montana and Idaho to minister to the needs of Episcopalians there, each baptism, wedding and funeral carefully logged in his meticulously neat handwritten journal.
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The Church of the Intercession is a beautiful stone building constructed in 1915, with vaulted ceilings, large stained glass windows, and a nave that could seat several hundred. It now needs $1 million in repairs, and its members face difficult choices.
Outside this Episcopal church in Harlem is its sweeping cemetery that includes the grave of naturalist John Audubon. Inside on a Sunday only 42 worshippers, including the choir, were present. Almost everyone was elderly. There were three canes, one walker, and one child.
Those 42 seemed a megachurch in comparison with the congregation across the street in North Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). In its historic stone building Pastor Carmen Mason-Browne preached to an audience of six women in a room with space for several hundred. The women weren’t even sitting together, but spaced like strangers on an empty train.
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A judge has ruled that a diocese in Texas which broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences is the rightful owner of its church property.
Judge John Chupp of Tarrant County ruled Wednesday that All Saints Episcopal Church belongs to the...Diocese of Fort Worth rather than the national denomination.
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Episcopal Church expansion in the region occurred in three phases—in the nineteenth century, in the 1950s, and in 1980. No new Episcopal churches have been planted in the region since 1980. One of the churches, which was planted in the 1950s, closed in 2005. There is only one self-supporting parish in the Jackson Purchase; the other churches are subsidized missions, except for the oldest Episcopal church in the region. It is a preaching station.
The last Episcopal church planted in the Jackson Purchase, the one planted in 1980, experienced a church split following the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire. The group of conservative Episcopalians that broke away from the congregation affiliated with one of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. This group has experienced a number of splits of its own since that time and has been affiliated with three different Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. The Jackson Purchase’s two Continuing Anglican churches trace their origins to this group.
If any conclusion can be drawn from the experience of these two Continuing Anglican churches, it is that traditionalist High Church Anglo-Catholic congregations do not fare well in the region. Among the factors that may have contributed to their negligible growth is that the communities in which they are located are not diverse enough for them to find a niche for themselves in their respective communities. The two churches also have no connection with the communities in which they are located. While the Episcopal churches in the region are not exactly flourishing, they are, with the exception of the preaching station, doing better than the two Continuing Anglican churches.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology Ecclesiology
There are other elements to the spirit of the ages, not just disobedience. The spirit of the ages is not spiritual but materialistic. That is why Nicodemus was confused when Jesus said that he must be born again. Nicodemus stated, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” No Nicodemus, being born again is a spiritual birth not a physical birth. People confuse the kingdom of this world for the Kingdom of God. There is a bumper sticker that reminds me of this. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Really, I believe that he who dies with the most toys is the biggest loser. He is the one who can’t pass through the eye of a needle.
Another element in the spirit of the ages is individualism. There are positive aspects to individualism like someone who does not conform to the pressures of society like Rosa Parks. She refused to go to the back of the bus just because she was black. Individualism in its worst form however is narcissism. Narcissists are people that believe the rest of the world is there to make them happy and to adore them. I think we have helped this along with the self-esteem school program called “I am special”. As Christians we are individuals but members of the body of Christ, the church. We all have spiritual gifts unique to each of us intended for service to other members of the body. Individualism may be one of the most dangerous elements in the spirit of the ages because folks believe that being an individual means they have a right to do whatever they please. Once again, the church is pointed at as discriminating and bigoted because we don't condone behaviors legally engaged in by consenting adults. For example, just because Marijuana is legal does not mean that it is not harmful. As the electronic highway signs state, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”
Another element in the spirit of the ages is the loss of Truth....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Judge John Chupp of the Tarrant County District Court had severed off the All Saints case, because its facts were more dependent on documents and circumstances that were not shared with all the other parishes in dispute...
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The fundamental problem of adapting traditional Christian marriage ("Holy Matrimony") to same-sex unions is that the theology of the former turns into blasphemy when the rite is carried over, holus-bolus, to the latter. Begin with St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: [ ]
By undermining the orthodoxy of traditional marriage, by emphasizing the ability of couples to make cafeteria choices of how the Church (and, presumably, God) will bless and solemnize their relationships, the Church will knock out the very props that hold up the traditional family, by treating them as no more important than any other commitment that can be imagined between two people.
And in undermining the family, the Church will complete its own undermining, because it is the family that enables the very existence and support of the Church itself. As the percentage of families in a congregation drops, so does its ability to provide continuity from one generation to the next. And once it loses the ties that bind it to previous generations, the Church itself will no longer have reason to exist. (Remember that religio, the source for our "religion," means "I bind again.")
Thus the Episcopal Church 2015 is at a watershed, and the way it handles marriage will define its own future. It cannot remain true to St. Paul's mystery of the marriage covenant while riding the bandwagon for same-sex blessings and marriages: the two are fundamentally and unalterably incompatible
Read it all and also Part I and Part II
in the build-up to the General Convention this July, other matters provide a new basis for the dynamics of vituperative exclusion. Calls are being made, for instance, that newly elected bishops actually be asked “are you or have you ever been associated with the ACI?”; a positive response being seen as grounds for refusal of consent. More intricately, formal proposals are being pressed at the upcoming General Convention to change TEC’s canons so that same-gender marriage and not just blessings are permitted. Should these efforts succeed, the General Convention by simple say-so will have rendered the stated doctrine of marriage in the Book of Common Prayer without binding authority. Anticipating this outcome many claim that Bishops will have to permit same gender blessings and marriages in their diocese or face discipline, just as did those who suggested that TEC’s Constitution be read in a way contrary to the current Presiding Bishop’s. There is good reason to believe that this change in doctrine and practice will become mandatory in all dioceses. Indeed, as we write, the blogs are filled with invective and statements to the effect that “It’s time for those who disagree to leave.”
Invective aside, we do not believe that TEC’s constitution, in respect to doctrine and worship, permits making obligatory for a Diocesan Bishop anything other than the Book of Common Prayer. Obviously, this is an arguable position, but the argument in support is powerful. It is based on a careful reading of TEC’s constitution. Any contrary opinion must be based on the same sort of close reading if it is to claim a serious right to be heard. This dispute touches the ecclesial fate of all, and it deserves better than name-calling and threats of discipline and deposition for those who disagree. Sadly, patience for careful reading and discussion has evaporated. Threats of discipline and legal action against questioners, no matter the care and rigor of their questioning, are now mounting in frequency and these threats have behind them a history of being carried out.
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See also for background:
Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of [New] Liturgical Material (Apr 21, 2015)
The Episcopal Church and the New Episcopal Church (Apr 20, 2015)
What Then Shall We Do? A Note on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church (April 30, 2015)
As one can see, Resolution 2015-A054 offers up a veritable smorgasbord of marriage services for all and sundry. If you are an atheist, the Episcopal Church (USA) is ready to meet you and marry you with its "Civil Marriage Rite"; if it is illegal to marry in your State, the Episcopal Church (USA) will still meet you and bless your union with its "Marriage-Lite Rite"; and if you want the full trappings for your same-sex ceremony, well, ECUSA offers it in modern ("Wedding Rite") and traditional ("Mystical Union") versions, according to your taste.
But the consequence is necessarily the dilution of Christian marriage into a virtually meaningless smear. The message that ECUSA is conveying with its cafeteria-style offerings is that it does not really stand behind any one of them; they all must be equally valid, liturgically speaking, and so "you pays yer money and you takes yer choice." Whether you are really married is between God and you; it is not for the Church to say.
Resolutions A036 and A054, as noted, work in tandem to accomplish this goal. The one would be meaningless without the other -- indeed, until A054 goes into formal effect and its marriage rites are authorized by diocesan bishops in their respective jurisdictions, the canonical violations described in the first Part of this post will continue unabated and unpunished.
In the next Part of this post, we will take a longer view of the Church's abandonment of traditional marriage, and the consequences of that abandonment for two Western institutions of paramount importance: the family, and the "one, true, catholic and apostolic church" itself.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships
With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and Allan Haley at Anglican TV
Now you should see the dilemma in which the revisionist clergy find themselves. In jumping the gun in 2012 to rush into church-sanctioned same-sex marriages (as a matter of "generous pastoral response" to a tiny minority of parishioners), they did not have the patience first to change either the Canons or the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. (The latter would have required action by two successive General Conventions, or a minimum of four years.)
As a consequence, every single bishop and every single priest in ECUSA who has presided over the solemnization of a same-sex marriage up to now -- whether using a rite "authorized by the diocesan" or not -- is liable to discipline under Title IV of the Church Canons. Need I bother declaring the odds of such proceedings ever taking place? No matter -- the Canons have still been, and still are, knowingly violated and so, disrespected -- by the very persons charged with conforming to them.
And now comes the Task Force with its "proposal" to amend Canon I.18, as embodied in proposed Resolution 2015-A036. In my next post, I will show how their proposal continues to make a mockery of the Canons and of the Book of Common Prayer. In the process, it manages to create a thorough mishmash of "Christian marriage" in the Episcopal Church (USA). All in all, that is quite a feat!
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In a series of public correspondence, two professors at Episcopal seminaries discuss what they see as problems with the approach taken by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage in evaluating what the Bible has to say about marriage and sexuality. Dr. Wesley Hill is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry and Dr. Garwood P. Anderson is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
Read it all by following the links provided. Also this morning there is now this.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
It’s with these memories in mind that I was saddened when I heard what The Episcopal Church was planning on doing with St. James. Like hundreds of other parishes, St. James voted to leave The Episcopal Church in the early 2000’s and was subsequently mired in a protracted lawsuit with The Diocese of Los Angeles. After years of fighting in court, the Diocese won the property. At the time, Bishop Jon Bruno said St. James was for those faithful Episcopalians in the Newport Beach area. So it was surprising when I read this Monday that Bishop Bruno and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles had agreed to sell St. James to a real estate developer. It will be bulldozed to the ground to make room for retail boutiques and condominiums, in keeping with the redevelopment of downtown Newport Beach. No provisions have been made for any sacred space for people of faith to replace this sacred space in the heart of the city.
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[WARNING: the following post may be dangerous to one's mental health. The panoply of unbelievably large figures in it may also cause one's eyes to glaze over. For those who cannot wade through it all, here is the bottom line:
The Episcopal Church (USA) has spent, and further committed (in its adopted budgets) to spend, a total of $42,675,466 on suing fellow Christians in the civil and ecclesiastical courts over the first eighteen years of this century. When one adds in the estimated additional amounts spent by individual dioceses on such litigation, the total amount exceeds Sixty Million Dollars.
Can't believe it? Well, then, read on -- you have been warned.]
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A leading witch and herbalist shared a Church of England platform last night with other women religious leaders including the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church and Gogglebox tv vicar Rev Kate Bottley.
Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation, challenged stereotypes of women at the event, the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's liberal flagship church, St James's Piccadilly.
The Pagan Federation and the Druid Network have recently become fully-fledged members of Britain's religious establishment, having been voted into the Inter Faith Network UK as a body representative of its community.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Wicca / paganism
After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.
MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.
CHILTON KNUDSEN: Renee, I'm confident that the Diocese of Maryland came looking for me because they know I'm a publicly acknowledged person in recovery. And so as an ordained person and a recovering person, I have a little palette of skills that I think are uniquely helpful in a situation like the diocese of Maryland has now.
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What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.
One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian
To this author, to “go all the way” means to swim upstream against societal currents and to cleave to a life of prayer and Bible study. Evangelical Christians, she writes, are paying the greatest cost–giving themselves over completely to Christianity and paying a personal price.
The implication is that progressive Christian churches are practicing Christianity Lite, a version that demands little of us spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. It’s ironic that, on the one hand, the author points out how the Episcopal Church and other progressive churches are declining in number, and on the other, that we have not paid a price for our Christian commitments.
I have never found Christianity more demanding of me than in the Episcopal Church. And it’s precisely because the Episcopal Church does not embrace many absolutist statements, but rather requires me and other followers of Jesus to pray, worship, study, and serve to figure out what the heck God requires of us in a given moment.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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Among my own denomination, the Episcopal Church’s fall is hardly a secret, as Episcopalians everywhere have seen their church decline since 1970s.
There are many reasons cited for the collapse of what was once the closest thing to a state-established church in America.
There’s no doubt that deep theological shifts — in particular left-of-center politics moving the national church beyond orthodox theology and churchmanship — are at least partly to blame. Then there is the whole gay issue, which has divided Anglicans domestically and resulted in major schisms and multi-million dollar lawsuits over church assets and buildings.
Case in point: When was the last time you actually read something positive about Episcopalians? Seriously. Pretty much every major news item these days is a report over a lawsuit, schism or controversial theological change.
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The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is nearing the end of negotiations to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach to real estate developers.
Bishop J. Jon Bruno announced the sale to congregants Sunday, Diocese spokesman Robert Williams said. The sale of the church could bring in roughly $15 million -- twice the appraised value of the site, Williams said.
Services at the church will likely continue into the fall, Williams said. No information on where congregants will be moved or whether the congregation may reopen at a different site was available on Monday, he said.
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Most of the Founding Fathers of the United States – not to mention a majority of U.S. presidents – were members of Christian denominations that fall into the mainline Protestant tradition. But in recent years, the share of Americans who identify with mainline Protestantism has been shrinking significantly, a trend driven partly by generational change.
Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that 14.7% of U.S. adults are affiliated with the mainline Protestant tradition – a sharp decline from 18.1% when our last Religious Landscape Study was conducted in 2007. Mainline Protestants have declined at a faster rate than any other major Christian group, including Catholics and evangelical Protestants, and as a result also are shrinking as a share of all Protestants and Christians.
Indeed, despite overall U.S. population growth between 2007 and 2014, the total number of mainline Protestant adults has decreased by roughly 5 million during that time (from about 41 million in 2007 to 36 million in 2014).
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[...She asks] “Where and how do I want my establishment to inject itself into secular controversies?”
The essay is well worth reading in full, in part because it shows how L’Engle embodied a deeply articulate and vigorous faith, one that was characterized by liberality and generosity in the best senses. “It is impossible to listen to the Gospel week after week and turn my back on the social issues confronting me today,” she writes. “But what I hope for is guidance, not legislation.”
She goes on to discuss a host of difficult issues, including abortion, divorce, euthanasia, genetic manipulation, and slavery, and her conclusions about the official church’s role are not in every case ones that I agree with myself. She tends to have a more mystical view of how the “Gospel” will necessarily inform the individual believer’s conscience than do I. If she is a conservative, then she is certainly at least what might be called a “liberal conservative” in Peter Lawler’s parlance.
But she certainly is right to point to the necessary task of each individual believer to work for the good within their own spheres of influence regardless of whether the church holds an “official position” on any particular issue.
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On those who say religion is unnecessary, given humanity's growing scientific knowledge.
I think science and religion are at some point both about big questions of origin and wonder. And I think, for me, I've always felt that it's important for religious people to have the same kind of philosophical stance they use in their religious life as they do in the rest of their life. And a lot of times I think religion — religions — ask people to sort of turn off the scientific part of their lives and just go and kind of think about God kind of pre-scientifically.
I don't think we can do that. We've got to have a faith that is, in some sense, consonant with the way we think about the world scientifically. And again, I think one of the things the Pew study suggests to us is that if the church can get over its anxiety about talking about God in a grown-up way, we would actually reach out to and speak to more people than we do right now.
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The Rev. Canon George Sumner was chosen bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas after 77 votes from clergy and 107 votes from laity on the fourth ballot during a Special Convention on May 16, 2015 held at the Episcopal School of Dallas.
Sumner, age 60, is currently the Principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada, and was one of four nominees on the ballot for the diocese’ 7th bishop.
"I am humbled and grateful to God for my election," Sumner said. "It will be a great privilege to share in the ministry Christ has given us all together in the Diocese of Dallas. I would like to express my appreciation for my fellow candidates and the remarkable transition team. I ask for your prayers and help in the days to come."
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Let’s be honest, most sermons today are terrible. They are boring. They ramble. They sound like bad imitations of high school book reports. Listening to a sermon today is often like listening to the teacher from the old Charlie Brown cartoons. And I believe the reason why preaching has gotten so bad, particularly in liturgical churches, is rather obvious. We do not have good preachers because we do not understand what preaching is for.
Like being a great cello player or a great center fielder, a great preacher is born with a certain degree of raw talent that then must be honed and trained in order for the preacher to reach his or her full potential. But in liturgical churches in the contemporary West, we see preaching as less important than other aspects of ministry. We assume that anyone can be a great preacher and that the honing of preaching skills ought to be relatively low on the clergy’s priority list, something to tend to once all the other fires are put out. We reap what we sow. We treat preaching like it is nothing, and thus it becomes nothing.
What I offer here are a few maxims on what makes great preaching. They are culled from my own experience both as a preacher and as someone who listens to sermons. I am no expert, and this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but it is a start. I hope that others will build on this. “Faith comes through hearing,” Paul says (Romans 10:17). It is no secret that the Church in the West is in decline, and I see no scenario for its revival that does not include a renewal of great preaching.
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In my previous post, I detailed the sordid story by which the Episcopal Church (USA) has gotten into the debt collection business. Refugees designated to migrate to the United States are advanced travel money by an arm of the U.S. State Department. They land here, and are placed in the hands of (among other agencies) Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), which helps them relocate into specific communities, find jobs, and settle in. Then EMM sees that they repay their travel advances to the Government, and pockets one-quarter of its debt collection proceeds for its trouble.
It's a nifty racket, and ensures that annually over $300,000 comes into the Episcopal Church's coffers, to help with its bottom line. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government reimburses EMM for all of its other refugee relocation expenses, to the tune of some $14 million annually.
Now thanks to our good friend and frequent commenter El Gringo Viejo, your Curmudgeon has been pointed to this illuminating video message, which tells "the rest of the story," so to speak. It turns out that a good portion of the refugees EMM is assisting are not just any refugees, but are Muslims from some of the countries to which America has sent troops, bombs or both: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and (soon) Syria. Listen to Ann Corcoran as she explains what she discovered...
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As a new and renewing church, The Episcopal Church celebrates the joys and challenges of a global community called to mission and filled with hope. Amid growing concern about the state of the Church in turbulent times, there are signs of
growing mission, transformation, resiliency, and the presence of the ever-creative and renewing work of the Spirit. Our Church is changing as we shift our gaze from an inward view on conflict resolution to an outward focus on mission. Hope, collaboration, and joy are the images that will describe the State of the Church as we move into a new triennium.
Over the past three years, a group from across the Church has been listening to stories, analyzing data, and developing a snapshot of our collective health and vitality. This information has been compiled into a State of the Church (SOTC) report,
which will be presented to the 2015 General Convention. This report not only provides a glimpse of the Church in action, as it is now, captured into freeze-frame stillness, but it also will be an important artifact, serving as a point on a historical timeline--something to observe and say wisely with the clarity of hindsight, yes, this is when THIS all began, or ended, or shifted.
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I know that for some, saying yes to this baptism feels like nothing more than pastoral logic, particularly when one starts with the spiritual needs of the child, regardless of the child’s family situation, and especially if the church is willing to take up her responsibility for spiritual formation. For others it feels like a betrayal of the Gospel and a capitulation on my part in my opposition to gay marriage in the church. Please know, for those on both sides of the gay marriage issue, that I have not changed- at all- my opposition to the church’s recognition of gay marriage as Holy Matrimony. I still believe, strongly, that civil gay unions do not conform to the Biblical definition of Holy Matrimony nor do they conform to the definition of Holy Matrimony found in our Book of Common Prayer.
Given our own brokenness as a people, it seems to me that none of us has the right to cast the first stone...
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[Update: The Rev Gary L'Hommedieu's sermon on point 'Love One Another As I Have Loved You' [1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17] may be listened to here - from Sunday, May 10th]
Received via email from the Diocese of Central Florida
Please find attached statements from Bishop Brewer, the McCaffrey family and The Cathedral of St. Luke regarding the recent controversy surrounding the delayed baptism of Jackson McCaffrey, the infant adopted son of Rich and Eric McCaffrey.
There has been a lot of misinformation and speculation since this issue became public last Sunday. We hope these statements will largely put that to rest while healing and reconciliation move forward.
This is, at heart, a matter for the McCaffrey family, Dean Tony Clark and Bishop Brewer to resolve and reconcile. They are well along the way to doing just that.
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CATHEDRAL
In recent days, the Cathedral Church of St. Luke has become embroiled in a media controversy regarding the baptism of a child of a gay couple.
The conjecture and speculation being circulated has contained inaccurate and false information regarding the series of events and interaction with the family.
It is with great care and concern that the Cathedral and the Diocese of Central Florida mutually address this situation with all dignity and respect for the family, the child and the congregation.
Baptism is a rite of new birth and new life in Christ. Parents, godparents and sponsors promise the child will be “brought up in the Christian faith and life” - taught the Gospel - so that the grace of baptism may be nurtured and strengthened by the faith of the family and by proper Christian instruction provided by the Church and at home.
It is important to note that the Dean and Cathedral have always intended to baptize this child. No one, including the Bishop, “denied” this baptism. We regret the delay, apologize for it and are working with his family on a revised date that will accommodate their schedule and respect the sacrament of Holy Baptism of their child. The family and the Dean are committed to restoring their pastoral relationship and their welcome into the life of the Cathedral with support from the Bishop. We ask that you respect the dignity of this process and refrain from destructive and inflammatory commentary.
In the meantime, the Cathedral is open and welcoming to all with the ultimate mission of leading people to Christ and transforming lives. We will continue to provide timeless truths to a changing world through the teachings and interpretation of the Gospel as Jesus instructed in the Great Commission. As a congregation we will support this family in their desire to raise their child in the Christian faith.
We ask for your prayers for the family, the child, the Cathedral and the congregation as we navigate through this process.
In Christ we stand united,
The Cathedral Church of St. Luke
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
BISHOP BREWER'S STATEMENT ON HIS MEETING WITH THE McCAFFREYS
On the evening of May 7th, I met with Rich and Eric McCaffrey in my office. Our purpose was to get to know each other and talk through the events that occurred surrounding Dean Tony Clark’s decision to postpone the baptism of their son, Jack.
This was the first time the three of us had met. The conversation was open, warm, and frank. I prayed with and for the McCaffreys at the conclusion of our time together.
The McCaffreys indicated that they wanted to move forward with the baptism and for that baptism to take place at the Cathedral. They said they wanted to set a date for the baptism later in the summer “after the dust settles” so that the focus would be on the baptism and nothing else.
As I had just left a meeting of the leadership of the Cathedral, I brought to them the Cathedral’s desire for the McCaffreys to continue worshipping at the Cathedral and for the baptism to proceed there.
We talked about my being a part of the baptism and I told them I would be happy to do so. We look forward to celebrating Jack’s baptism at the Cathedral in the near future.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer
Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida
A STATEMENT FROM RICH AND ERIC McCAFFREY
Less than a week ago I shared a very personal story about our son Jack’s baptism. Since then we have received an overwhelming response. Many have expressed disappointment, anger, and a lack of understanding about the situation that unfolded. However, the common thread is one of support from the community, including members of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke. Know that the support has been reaffirming and sustaining for both Eric and me as we contemplated how we want to proceed with the central issue, baptizing Jack.
Bishop Brewer extended an invitation to meet with us and we had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday evening. We spoke frankly and openly about the chain of events. The Bishop acknowledged he learned the Cathedral set a firm date of April 19 for the baptism, but did not support postponing the baptism. He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it.
We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer. At the same time we know on many fronts there is healing to be done which will take time. Some may question why we are choosing to return to the Cathedral. We are returning because we still have faith in the goodness of people, and we trust people have good intent and ultimately will do the right thing. This is not to say faith or trust should be given blindly, but there are moments when you must choose to rise above the fray and acknowledge you are part of something bigger.
I close with one more lesson for Jack – Aspire to live your life with grace and forgiveness. You will be better for it.
Change is seldom easy. I thank each of you for listening to us, supporting us, and engaging in the conversation.
One derived an impression of his strength of nature from a certain reticence regarding his deepest feelings and experiences. That which he thought and felt was kept under the lock and key of a masterful will, repressing any full expression of much that was characteristic within. In intercourse with him one felt the quiet power of self-control. A man of rare personal dignity, he manifested the gravity of a noble seriousness in tone of conversation and in outward bearing. It was evident that his mind was resolutely set to meditate upon great and worthy things.
Dr. Harwood was a typical scholar. Graduated from the University with high honors, he gave his best energies in loyal devotion to the Queen of Sciences, Theology. He had read widely, studied diligently, and thought profoundly. Especially was he a student of sacred Scripture. From 1854 to 1859 he was Professor of the Literature and Interpretation of the Scriptures in the Berkeley Divinity School. Thence he brought to this parish the treasures of his scholarship. I well remember, as a boy, sitting in this Church, being impressed by his reading of the Scriptures. That office he performed with a reverence and dignity and an accurate touch of emphasis which brought out the meaning of every word of that Holy Writ he knew so thoroughly.
He was a man of vast reading in theology. That which especially characterized him as a theologian, I should say, was, first, his love of truth, and, secondly, his courageous faith in truth. Devotion to truth was with him a passion. His reverence for the authority of truth made him fearless, that is to say, he was not afraid of the truth and he was not afraid for the truth. Nor did he ever fear to speak out what he believed to be the truth. In theological controversy he was truly "a man of war," a foeman of undaunted prowess. As an example of his virile doggedness and fearlessness, let me quote these characteristic words from a pamphlet of his regarding a controversial topic: "We have heard lately that this is a closed topic! Pray, will any one I tell me what is closed? How was it closed? When was it closed? Who closed it? It is not a closed, but a very open I topic." The words sound like him, one who has drunk delight of battle with his peers, "a mighty valiant man."
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
"The Diocese of South Carolina has been in the process for some time of discerning what its permanent affiliation should be among the Provinces of the Anglican Communion," the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary and an attendee of the meeting, told The Christian Post.
"We have reached a place where it seemed the next and most appropriate step was to meet with leaders of the ACNA to share our common interests and questions as this diocese continues the work of discernment."
Lewis also told CP that while no date has been set for a convention vote on affiliation, the diocese stands on good terms with ACNA and other conservative Anglican groups.
"Our mutual respect and appreciation for each other is considerable, with many in the room having relationships that go back for years," said Lewis.
"Our conversations were wide ranging and provided much needed clarity for all of us. Those are conversations that will certainly continue in the future."
Read it all
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced the acceptance of the resignation of Heather E. Cook as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. This means that Cook is no longer employed by the diocese. The acceptance of Cook’s resignation is independent of any Title IV disciplinary action taken by the Episcopal Church.
Read it all and there is more there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Alcohol/Drinking Alcoholism Law & Legal Issues Travel * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The nominees are:
■The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, 64, Diocese of Southern Ohio
■The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, 62, Diocese of North Carolina
■The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, 56, Diocese of Connecticut
■The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, 61, Diocese of Southwest Florida
Read it all and there is more here.
In his play, A Man for all Seasons, Robert Bolt presents a scene between Thomas More and his son-in-law, William Roper. Roper says to More that he would cut through all the law of England to get to the Devil. More responds, “and after you have cut through all the laws and the Devil turns around and there is nothing between you and him, what then son Roper, what then?” Bolt’s point is germane. After we have cut through the restraints of the Constitution to gain an end, what then? Where is our protection from grotesque abuses of power and all their bitter fruits?
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Today, April 29, 2015, the Federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond denied our motion for a rehearing of their decision to return to the District court the case of vonRosenberg vs. Lawrence, which asserted that this was a case of Federal trademark violations. The case will now go back to the Charleston court for further action. Several things remain true about this action. While the Fourth Circuit said that Judge Houck used the incorrect procedural standard to grant our Motion for Dismissal, it expressed no opinion on the merits of Bishop vonRosenberg’s claims. It was certainly not a ruling in their favor on the merits. It simply means that the court believes the standard used to make his decision to dismiss was the wrong one and should be reconsidered using the appropriate standard. The question is one of procedure and not the merit of the complaint itself. The judge could in fact reach the same conclusion, using the new standard. To that point, the standard called for by the court, exceptional circumstances, is arguably well met by the facts that we now have both a strong trial court ruling in our favor, as well as a date certain for the case to be heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court. All the issues at stake in the Federal complaint will be essentially resolved by that decision.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Choosing to allow same sex blessings within their diocese is the revisionist activist bishops’ way of pleasing their allies in the clergy, while enacting their own particular custom-little-ideology on the diocese, and at the same time trying to keep conservative parishioners in the pews with their money of course flowing to the diocesan budget by claiming “generosity” and “gracious space.”
There is no outcry for same sex blessings in any of these dioceses. The number of partnered gay persons who desire same sex blessings—even in Episcopal dioceses here in the South—is practically negligible, as our own diocesan survey demonstrated and as all of us, each in our own parishes, recognize.
No, these dioceses merely have bishops and clergy who are revisionist activists in their ideology and their particular custom little-gospel—a little-gospel that is so important to them that they are willing to divide the diocese over it—and who are determined to force their particular faith on their dioceses.
Read it all.
The Episcopal Church (USA) has two primary sources of income: according to its latest audited financial statements for the calendar year 2013, it received a little over $27 million from its member dioceses, and it received half as much again, or $13.8 million, from the federal government. (Its total income for 2013 from invested funds was $8 million.)
The money ECUSA received from the federal government was in connection with the services provided by Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), an office within the Church organization at 815 Second Avenue in New York that assists the State Department in relocating refugees throughout the United States.
As of the end of calendar 2013, ECUSA had undertaken to collect for the U.S. Government a total of $11,339,000 in loans made by the Government to refugees for their expenses in being brought to the United States for relocation.
From the Presiding Bishop's annotated budget proposal for the 2013-2015 triennium, we learn (p. 2, line 13) that the Church earned a total of $2,163,008 from its debt collection efforts during the 2010-2012 triennium, and incurred collection costs for that same period (p. 5, line 87) of just $983,442. As a debt collector from 2010 through 2012, therefore, the Church added a total of $1,179,566 to its bottom line, or approximately $393,189 of pure profit per year.
And from the latest year-end statement of operations for calendar 2014, we learn (line 13, column 4) that in just its most recent year, ECUSA took in a total of $933,218 from the refugees it assisted -- some $223,218 over budget, and attributed in the note at the far right to "Exceptional performance by the Refugee Loan Collections staff." At the same time, its loan collection expenses for 2014 (first page, fourth line from the bottom) were just $548,343, for a net surplus from debt collecting of $384,875 -- so the profitability of refugee loans continues at almost the same pace, thanks to the staff's extraordinary efforts.
Does that claim of a "$2.4 million surplus" in 2014 still look the same to you? Was it achieved, in part, on the backs of the refugees whom the Government paid ECUSA to assist?
What in the world is a church doing in the debt collection business, and pocketing more than twice its actual costs of collection while doing so? Would that not be considered excessive, even for a loan shark?
Read it all.
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a complex and diverse denomination. Only last January I had the pleasure of worshipping at two Episcopal churches in Houston, which was a great experience with some wonderful people. In a broad church like TEC there are people to the theological left and right and everything in between. However, TEC as a whole is typified by a radical liberalism and an authoritative leadership that punishes dissent and persecutes conservative believers (I can provide evidence if you wish!). Bishops in TEC have denied every line in the Apostles’ Creed and there is a flagrant rejoicing in apostasy. I have to tell you that the vast majority of world-wide Anglicans look on TEC with a mixture of confusion and disgust and have broken fellowship with TEC. It is because of TEC that the next Lambeth conference has been indefinitely postponed. The African and Global South Anglican bishops have responded with no shortage of rage and rancor at TEC’s actions and attitudes towards Scripture. Now if the TEC presiding bishop asked you, as something of a celebrity recruit to TEC, to go to Africa and get the African bishops to chillax and to receive TEC back into the Anglican fold, what would you say to them? In other words, should the global south Anglican bishops be in fellowship with TEC?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes TEC Polity & Canons --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012 Global South Churches & Primates * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
The highest-profile seminary in the Episcopal Church is still struggling after turmoil between the dean and faculty members temporarily crippled the school early this academic year.
A letter from 20 students, alumni and former trustees to the Attorney General of New York dated April 20 asks for an investigation of the actions of General Theological Seminary Dean and President Kurt Dunkle and the Board of Trustees. The letter, originally made public on Facebook and reprinted on the blog Episcopal Café, charges that Dunkle and the trustees “may have abandoned their fiduciary responsibilities and taken actions which are likely to result in the closing” of the 198-year-old institution and the sale of its remaining real estate in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The letter restates earlier allegations against Dunkle while noting that fallout from the initial turmoil resulted in several students departing midyear, while the board “provisionally” reinstated the faculty only for the rest of the academic year, while canceling their academic tenure.
“No new hires have been announced and several top librarians have left,” the letter reads, claiming that “only one entering student has paid a deposit for admission next fall” and that the seminary’s accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools is under review.
Read it all and follow all the links therein.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Written by: The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz & Mark McCall, Esq.
Tobias Haller, who served on the Marriage Task Force that has put forward various proposals to the upcoming General Convention, objects to our analysis.
Perhaps Haller’s title was only a rhetorical flourish; and so we should address the substance at issue. His main argument appears to be that if something has been going on for a long time it must be constitutional. For starters, he should take this point up with the SCLM and the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, which jointly have been attempting over the last 25 years to amend Article X of TEC’s Constitution to give General Convention authority to authorize these supplemental materials. If they are constitutional anyway, why the bother? Why try again now?
In any event, Haller’s legal reasoning at this point is naïve, common though it may be. Constitutional questions are not something like adverse possession: as if doing an unconstitutional act openly and notoriously for ten years makes it constitutional. There is often a significant period of time when the unconstitutionality of a legislative act goes unrecognized. Indeed, whenever a court finds such an act unconstitutional it is true by definition that a majority of the legislators themselves had previously thought the act constitutional. And there are well known cases in which the Supreme Court itself had previously upheld the constitutionality of statutes it was later to strike down. As we know, Brown v. Board of Education overruled a similar case...
Finally, we end by noting the first point we made in our essay to which Haller objects. There is a New Episcopal Church, which he seems to be defending. It has cut the constraints tethering it to constitutional governance and Prayer Book worship and is soaring Icarus-like to ever greater heights. What could possibly go wrong?
Without a constitutionally defined episcopal office and a Constitution respected as such, TEC will become a triennial General Convention Church with triennially defined identity.
Read it all and the earlier ACI analysis 'The Episcopal Church and The New Episcopal Church' is here
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the national Presbyterian Lay Committee, said that in the same way the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ became inhospitable environments for evangelicals to serve, the Presbyterian Church is becoming much the same way.
"We are seeing the environment within the PCUSA change following the affirmation of this particular vote," she says. "That environment is changing pretty rapidly. Presbyteries are becoming inhospitable to pastors who hold traditional views not only on this issue but on underlining issues related to the biblical authority of Jesus as the only way to salvation."
While sexuality might be the presenting issue in this case, LaBerge argues that the real division is rooted in a theological cleansing - fueled by a growing intolerance toward traditional, biblical views.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The problem may be seen in its more acute form in the manner in which the Book of Common Prayer, itself a constitutional document which is not to be altered except by affirmative votes by orders of “a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation” at two successive GCs, has now become a vague placeholder of yesterday’s temporary and transitory convictions. Even the Primer stays away from this obvious problem area in the quote above, though we may see a hint of it in the language which concludes the quote, “…of our various liturgies.” What began as an assertion of the unique and catholic status of the Book of Common Prayers (and its Ordinal) which embodies “the essential understanding of Christian faith as prayed by faithful Episcopalians” (lex credendi, lex orandi) appears to slide into a very different context: various liturgies emerging to give expression to what we now believe and hold to be so, apart from subjection to the Constitution and the letter of the Book of Common Prayer. This produces not catholicity but each new generation’s assertion of its freedom to confess and pray and pronounce and hear scripture’s word on its own terms.
In the review to follow, we can see how the alteration of our historical, catholic understanding of the Constitution and Book of Common Prayer has created in its wake two different Episcopal Churches. This has come in the form of supplementation and aggregation of rites to be used alongside the BCP, to the degree that that BCP itself begins to disappear in a rear-view mirror. Minimally, it leads to a view of the BCP as something like a starting point, or ignition switch, on new rites necessary to make sense of what has in consequence become an erstwhile book. No longer necessary is constitutionally ordered Prayer Book revision, because the BCP doesn’t hold any specific claim that would necessitate such revision anyway...
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South Dakota's Episcopalians are working to mend what one priest calls “historical trauma” between the church and Native Americans.
“It can hurt, but it’s very important,” said the Rev. Paul Sneve who facilitates efforts to mend the wounds of the past. “The more we talk about it, that’s how we begin to heal our historical trauma.”
Twice a year, the former rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Rapid City leads a workshop on the history of the Dakota and Lakota people and the impact of assimilation on their culture, traditions and spirituality. Episcopalian clergy, parishioners and others attend the two-day Dakota Experience, which was recently held in Rapid City.
“We discuss the good and the bad in our history,” Sneve said.
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