RECENT COMMENTS

By David Keller on October 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Diocese of Connecticut Resolution #12: To Promote the Use of Gender Neutral Titles for Priests

I agree with Milton—I don’t get it.  I guess TEC is going to become like the SBC and everyone will be call “reverend” (ie not “The Reverend”) or “pastor” or “minister”, the first of which is non-grammatical and all of which are totally non-Anglican.  And what about Mr. and Miss/Mrs./Ms.? All I can say is if you are a woman cleric and you are that insecure, I’d rather you not be my priest.  It is becoming more and more obvious that TEC is the DNC in vestments.  They get paid for dressing up in neat Almy robes and whining.  What a job.



By Milton on October 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Diocese of Connecticut Resolution #12: To Promote the Use of Gender Neutral Titles for Priests

More rearranging, not of the deck chairs, but of the icebergs that sunk the Titanic.

What will they call their clergy?  “Priest”, “Minister”, “Robed One”, “Cousin It”?



By BlueOntario on October 24, 2014 at 11:51 am [comment link]
From the entry: (AP) US officials see signs of new life in Iraqi army

Are they talking about an broad-based Army of Iraq or Shiite volunteers in uniform?



By Terry Tee on October 24, 2014 at 10:18 am [comment link]
From the entry: (The Tablet) R Catholic population stable while Anglican numbers drop

In theory this is encouraging news for UK Catholics, that our membership is holding steady.  And of course I am glad about this.  However, there are some troubling signs.

The sociologist Grace Davie has spoken and written about the pattern of church membership in Britain as now ‘belonging without believing’ ie people want some kind of association with church, but without doctrinal commitment or participation in regular worship.  The parallel in the U.S. would be the trend for religion to be an ethnic marker rather than conscious membership of a faith community.  In England this trend has been marked in the Church of England, where there is a tenuous, but still real, sense of belonging to the national church.  However, logically we know that such a vague sense of belonging will disappear within a generation or two because it will not be transmitted.

I mention all this because there are indications that this ‘belong without believing’ trend spreading to the Catholic Church too.  Consider the following statistics.  They are for England and Wales only and come from the yearly official Catholic Directory.  (For 2014 I have added estimated baptism figures for one diocese, Hexham and Newcastle, which were lacking from the official table.)

1997
Mass attendance 1,135,000
Baptisms 74,800

2005
Mass attendance 958,000
Baptisms 60,000

2008
Mass attendance 927,000
Baptisms 57,000

2014
Mass attendance 844,000
Baptisms 61,319

You can see there is a staggering drop in Mass attendance and baptisms.  Baptisms have begun to creep up again, almost certainly due to Polish immigration.  The drop in church weddings is also very steep.

These figures conceal enormous regional variations.  The North West, especially Liverpool, was until recently a Catholic stronghold, but Mass attendance has plummeted there.  By contrast in London and the South East it has held firm – just as London is a bright spot for the Church of England also.

I apologise for this long post, but I want to provide a qualification to the sense of Catholic identity holding firm. Much as I would like to blow our Roman trumpet, I am afraid that we face very real challenges. Unfortunately the encouraging figures for the Catholic Church in the British Election Survey mentioned in this post are not the full picture.  Moreover, unlike the Church of England, the Catholic Church faces enormous challenges in finding and sustaining vocations to ordained ministry.  There is a growing shortage of priests, which, given our strong sacramental spirituality, is a daunting challenge.



By Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] on October 24, 2014 at 9:41 am [comment link]
From the entry: (FT) EU tells Britain to pay extra €2.1bn because of its relative prosperity

I did wonder if there was some rationale to this based on a treaty obligation rather than the EU just thinking of a number in that peculiar way some continentals have.

The Telegraph thinks that it has to do with counting our financial services area together with some strange imputed accounting for largely illegal areas of the ‘Black Economy’ - apparently booming drugs, prostitution and smuggling!

Time to scrape my eyebrows off the ceiling.



By David Keller on October 24, 2014 at 8:42 am [comment link]
From the entry: (AP) Massive cheating scandal at Univ. of North Carolina involved athletes, lasted nearly 2 decades

Even in the Peoples’ Republic of Chapel Hill, athletics, and the money it brings in, is more important than academic integrity.  To believe none of the coaches or administrators knew of this is complete horse hockey.  If Roy Williams and Dean Smith didn’t know, it was only because they didn’t want to know. And since ALL university presidents now use athletics to fund raise and thus increase their bonuses, there is a huge incentive for everyone involved to look the other way. If the NCAA followed the David Keller Rule none of this would be happening: If you can’t get in as a regular student, you can’t get in.



By Luke on October 24, 2014 at 7:31 am [comment link]
From the entry: (NYT) The Story of Justus Uwayesu--From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard

Wonderful story, fine accomplishments - much like those of our dear and good friend, +Abraham Yel Nhial, Bishop, Aweil Diocese, Anglican Church, South Sudan, former “Lost Boy” of Sudan, an American citizen, now visiting us here.

In our small town, where about 20% are churched, but many in churches who have abandoned Christ’s teachings, we struggle to find new members, with a little success. We’re beginning to understand that our ministries in South Sudan and Tanzania are much more successful.

One prays that Justus Uwayesu will find Christ in the USA, as well as all the other things that intrigue him. If J. I. Packer could find Christ at Oxford 70 years ago (see story below), Justus can find him here, even at Harvard.



By Br. Michael on October 24, 2014 at 6:59 am [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Dio. of Connecticut Sells Avon Property to Farmington Valley American Muslim Center

Katherine, this was to be expected.  Surely you don’t confuse TEC and this Bishop with anything Crhistian do you?  Thay abandoned that a long time ago.  This sale makes perfect sense.



By BlueOntario on October 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (AP) Massive cheating scandal at Univ. of North Carolina involved athletes, lasted nearly 2 decades

It would be nice if their accreditation agency took academics seriously.
From last year.



By Katherine on October 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (AP) Massive cheating scandal at Univ. of North Carolina involved athletes, lasted nearly 2 decades

This is big news here in North Carolina, naturally.  My husband read reports closely.  Apparently Roy Williams, some years ago, noticed that way too many of his players were majoring in African-American Studies and began steering them instead towards classes that might assist them in getting jobs after college. It is hoped the basketball program will not suffer as the football program will, and, it sounds to me, ought to.



By Katherine on October 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Dio. of Connecticut Sells Avon Property to Farmington Valley American Muslim Center

I am fully aware that most Muslims in this country are not violent and do not intend evil to their neighbors.  But I presume Bishop Douglas is not fully aware that Islam is anti-Christian in its foundational texts and traditions.  The call to prayer which will issue from the former Christ Episcopal will say, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his Messenger.” Muhammad, not Jesus.  Perhaps the denial of the essential Christian teaching that Jesus is God incarnate doesn’t mean so much to the Bishop?  Denying Christ does not further “God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation.”



By tjmcmahon on October 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Dio. of Connecticut Sells Avon Property to Farmington Valley American Muslim Center

Has the TEC diocese in Connecticut always called itself “The Episcopal Church in Connecticut”?  After all the fuss they have made in South Carolina about who gets to use the word “diocese” I am rather surprised that Connecticut does not use the word. 

“I thank God that through the stewardship of our property in Avon we have come into relationship with our Muslim neighbors in the Farmington valley. Together we are learning about what it means to be people of faith working together for peace and understanding. It is a blessing to cooperate with the FVAMC in the development of their new home.” (Ian Douglas)
To read the missive from Ian Douglas, one would think there was no higher calling for TEC than to develop property for the use of Islamic worship centers.  Here is your next PB folks.



By David Keller on October 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Dio. of Connecticut Sells Avon Property to Farmington Valley American Muslim Center

Headlines:
  Sun Will Rise in East
  Dog Bites Man
  TEC Sells Church to Muslims



By dwstroudmd+ on October 23, 2014 at 11:39 am [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Unveils A Mission Revolution in the Church

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2014/10/the-church-vanishes-part-deux/



By LfxN on October 23, 2014 at 8:55 am [comment link]
From the entry: [Rev. Stephen Keeble] Fornication in Faith: A New Direction?

Further to this, Bp Baker has just announced that he has received permission from the Bp of London and the ABC to remarry. How can a divorced and remarried Bishop claim to be a defender of traditional catholicism in the CofE? It’s all a bit mad…



By Pb on October 23, 2014 at 8:32 am [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Unveils A Mission Revolution in the Church

Another novel idea from an Episcopal forum.  It would be just like Paul to call this a false gospel.



By MichaelA on October 23, 2014 at 8:29 am [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Unveils A Mission Revolution in the Church

Bishop Sauls speaks.  Does anyone listen?

That’s not a rhetorical jibe. Its just that TEC’s steady decline continues and there is no indicator that +Sauls has the faintest idea how to stop it, nor his incompetent boss, Katie Schori.  In all fairness, her predecessor Frank Griswold was just as inept.



By stjohnsrector on October 23, 2014 at 7:55 am [comment link]
From the entry: TEC Unveils A Mission Revolution in the Church

Really?  I though the fundamental mission of the Church is to glorify God and to work, and spread the Gospel to all nations.  Silly me.



By Adam 12 on October 23, 2014 at 7:55 am [comment link]
From the entry: [Rev. Stephen Keeble] Fornication in Faith: A New Direction?

I fear that even the Catholic church has been sending mixed messages. One advantage the Catholics appear to have is that a minority of just a third at a Synod can apparently veto innovation unless the Pope overrules matters. Making radical changes by simple majority votes has proven to lead to schism in mainline denominations.



By Katherine on October 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (CBC) In Ottawa, 1 gunman dead after soldier shot at National War Memorial, city in lockdown

Now reports are saying that this shooter, like the man who ran down and killed a police officer in Montreal earlier this week, was a recent convert to Islam.



By MichaelA on October 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

“Since ACNA is mostly a U.S. church, their are some complexities with how oversight could be exercised, and how U.S. church officials could visit Cuba.”

Sounds a bit like the issues when Anglicans in the US wanted to stay Anglican after the war of independence… smile



By David Keller on October 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (America) James Martin--Five Things the Synod Just Did

The Holy Spirit seems to act in unusual ways.  The infallibility thing is one of three RC dogmas that kept me from swimming the Tiber after 2006.  I do know that Pope Paul was going to OK artificial birth control as he could personally find no Biblical impediment to it. But the Cardinal in charge of doctrine (he has a mega title that I can’t remember right now) told him some previous Pope had said the opposite. Paul wasn’t teaching ex cathedra and I doubt the Cardinal in question was the embodiment of the HS. My point is if some previous Pope made a bad decision it ought to be fixable.  Actually, it was the Cardinal who didn’t want it changed, so he backed Paul into a corner. By the time the letter was written and disseminated to the inner circle, it was too late to alter it gracefully; which sounds more political than Holy Spirit. But here’s the rub. I believe I didn’t swim the Tiber because the Holy Spirit was keeping God’s time and leading me to the Anglican Church, a church which wasn’t founded in my city until 2011. Funny guy, that Holy Spirit.  Huh?



By David Keller on October 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (CBC) In Ottawa, 1 gunman dead after soldier shot at National War Memorial, city in lockdown

The Sergeant at Arms of the Canadian Parliament, a former RCMP officer, chased down the gunman in the hall way and killed him.



By Katherine on October 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (CBC) In Ottawa, 1 gunman dead after soldier shot at National War Memorial, city in lockdown

The soldier has died, and also the man who shot him.  No identification as yet on the shooter.



By moheb on October 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (Reuters) Pope to visit Turkey as region's Christians flee Islamic State persecution

“[Pope Francis] will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.”
Pray that the division in the Church will be healed and that Jesus’ desire that we may all be one begin to come to reality in this visit.



By the roman on October 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (America) James Martin--Five Things the Synod Just Did

#1..Of course, it is not just the Orthodox who have maintained that position - this is a large part of the reason I left the Church of Rome many, many years ago.  The Pope is not infallible.

It was my understanding the Orthodox already permit divorce and remarriage (something about better to be married than to burn?) So the irony is if the Pope agrees with Orthodox position on divorce and remarriage he automatically adopts the Orthodox position on Papal infallibility? What does that say about the Orthodox?

St. Jimbob is correct and “Catholic writer John Zimrak” shows a misunderstanding of Papal infallibility. The man holding that position is not now nor will ever be impeccable. He can have his own opinions and beliefs. Infallibility refers to the Pope teaching ex cathedra at which time the Holy Spirit protects him from teaching error. Therefore he cannot change Catholic teaching.



By Jeff Walton on October 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

#15 MichaelA: Yes, there are now ACNA congregations in Mexico - most associated with the El Paso, TX-based ACNA Diocese of the Southwest. Some of these are recent transfers from the Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico (mostly in northern Mexico) and a few are plants - I know at least one was previously under Quincy. There is now a significant annual gathering of those conducting Spanish language ministry in ACNA (Caminemos Juntos). As of January, there were 57 Spanish language congregations that had been planted in ACNA.

As for Cuba, that is a more complex story. The Reformed Episcopal Church has had a relationship with Reformed Episcopal congregations in Cuba for some time now. As you know, the RE is a founding jurisdiction of ACNA, and all U.S. and Canadian RE congregations are, by extension, ACNA congregations. This past Spring the Cuban congregations expressed their interest in also being part of ACNA. Since ACNA is mostly a U.S. church, their are some complexities with how oversight could be exercised, and how U.S. church officials could visit Cuba. This is being actively explored, but one initial idea is that the Anglican Network in Canada could effectively offer oversight to Cuban churches, as there is no travel restriction for Canadian citizens.



By Neal in Dallas on October 22, 2014 at 9:49 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

Sarah, no qualms with your quibble. I can’t tell you how many parishioners would move away and not be able to find a faithful Episcopal church that was compatible with their theological values, so they were lost to the Episcopal Church but certainly not lost to the Church.
In our diocese we are seeing an increasing number of young evangelicals who are, in their words, “reading their way into our church.” They have encountered Anglicanism in their readings—usually C.S. Lewis or N.T. Wright and then decide to check out the local Anglican franchise. Some find a home in ACNA, others in a TEC church, but again, here in Dallas they can find an Episcopal Church that does not cross its fingers or have to use footnotes when the people say the Creed.



By Sarah on October 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

Just a clarification of this last: “evangelistic zeal [as regards invitation into TEC parishes] really isn’t an option other than for those within the 8-10 dioceses led by Gospel-promoting bishops.”

My evangelistic zeal in general is thriving and full of opportunity—I simply engage the lost and the seeking outside of TEC entirely.



By Sarah on October 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

Very interesting comment, Neal.

One perhaps small quibble [since I agree with so much] . . .

In one sense I agree with this point in its entirety:

Episcopalians, as a whole, don’t do evangelism. We are generally content to attend church—some more faithfully than others—and do nothing to engage their friends and family with any sort of intentional proclamation of the Gospel in word and deed. We don’t even do much of “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ” with an intention to draw them into a relationship with Christ through our church. (Two notes: First, there is warrant for recognizing that evangelism takes place best within the context of the worshiping community, but that is another long post. Second, let me hasten to add that I led two workshops among “the remnants” of people who were considering starting new churches as they saw their own churches being unfaithful doctrinally, and the vast majority of those people only wanted an orthodox chapel of ease that was more doctrinally pure than the church they were leaving. This lack of evangelical zeal is not limited to people remaining in TEC.)

But . . . I think what’s *really* plummeted what little evangelism that existed in my diocese, for instance [and in many others where I chat about things with fellow Episcopalians] . . . is that as TJ above points out . . . traditional/conservative Episcopalians now no longer invite their pagan friends to church.

Fifteen years ago, for instance, as I discerned that a pagan friend might appreciate what sacramental liturgy might offer, I invited.  No more, of course, now—I don’t think it’s right to introduce vulnerable seekers and pagans into the toxic stew of corrupt godless heresy that they *will* encounter within TEC, even if they manage to “make it” to a traditional parish.

Of course, that doesn’t stop conservatives.  I simply point those who are interested to other options entirely—the EPC, the PCA, contemporary worship, etc, etc. 

The only folks I invite into TEC are strong, informed Christians—and let’s face it, many many strong informed Christians want no part of TEC.

So . . . in my diocese, for instance, you have a fatal combination.  One of the biggest “pots” of prospective growth for any church is new people moving into the area.  But among informed strong Christians—most of them have understandably x-ed out any thought of engagement with the Episcopal Church.  So the brand itself drives people away such that it’s not a “purchasing option” for a huge huge percentage of people moving into the area.  And even amongst those who are willing to engage, they then discover what Bishop Waldo has decided in the diocese regarding same sex blessings—and that of course also deletes *a particular diocese* from their options, even if they’re willing to engage in an orthodox diocese in TEC.

It’s a devastating [and entirely predictable] combo . . .

So to simply quote TJ’s apt observation above:

Those of us who were actively engaged in trying to restore a semblance of orthodoxy had a hard time with it on the grounds that we would be exposing our innocent friends to open heresy (imagine taking a young family with a couple of kids into a TEC Church). Essentially, we would be taking the unchurched or young Christians in formation, and bringing them in so TEC could mold them into revisionist pewsitters. Fine if we could slip in a half dozen staunch Anglo Catholics or Evangelicals- but the former in that area were now Roman Catholic, and the latter had their own churches and were not up for taking on a fight for a church they saw as heretical.

None of my comment above is a complaint, nor is my observation at all surprising—it’s all entirely predictable and understandable—the natural consequences of actions.  I’m a happy—and growing—member of TEC and of a TEC parish and am pleased that God has me here, though I recognize anything can change in my calling and discernment.

But reality is that even with happy members of TEC—among those who believe the Gospel—evangelistic zeal really isn’t an option other than for those within the 8-10 dioceses led by Gospel-promoting bishops.



By David Keller on October 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

#14, I can guarantee it happened—I was on the Standing Commission and I was there when it happened.



By MichaelA on October 21, 2014 at 6:26 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

Thank you Fr Handy and tjmcmahon for that information.

I haven’t found a specific reference on the web, but I note that Fr Handy’s friend William Beasley is head of the Greenhouse organisation, and it has been active in the Chicago area.

Also, an interesting blog entry in September 2013 said that ACNA had “over 60” Hispanic congregations, and that 18 of these were in Cuba!  There were also indications that some of the ACNA Hispanic congregations are in Mexico.  (I had no idea there were any ACNA congregations in Cuba or Mexico).



By MichaelA on October 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Church must change or 'wither away' warns Bishop Julian Henderson of Blackburn

“The Church’s most recent national attendance figures show around 800,000 people go to church each Sunday, down from twice that in the late 1960s.”

That’s pretty low when one diocese in Australia can manage 60,000 in church on a Sunday.  But the more important issue is the 50% decline over 50 years.

“Lord Carey said clergy were gripped by a “feeling of defeat”, congregations are worn down by “heaviness” while the public simply greets both with “rolled eyes and a yawn of boredom”, he said.”

Of course they are - that is the wages of the Church of England’s toleration and encouragement of liberalism.  There are congregations within CofE that are not like this, and they include the very ones that the hierarchy are trying to marginalise and drive out, by forcing them to accept women bishops and clergy.



By MichaelA on October 21, 2014 at 6:07 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Ebola In Church: The Reverend's Quarantine Spreads The Word

Wow, this is confronting stuff.  This is a very courageous couple, he and his wife keeping their heads in face of great danger, and putting their ministry to others ahead of their own needs:

“But the Brownes went public.

“I left work immediately, wrapped up everything, called the treasurer, the bishop, my colleagues,” Herman said. Then Trokon and Herman quarantined themselves for 21 days.

Even their children were not allowed to come upstairs until the couple knew they did not have Ebola.”

Also interesting that the Church can have greater credibility than the government:

“That’s a message Liberians have heard constantly from the government. But many people in Monrovia say they don’t trust the government. They consider it corrupt. So the messages can have more of an impact when they come from a spiritual leader”



By MichaelA on October 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm [comment link]
From the entry: [Fr Dale Matson] Thank You ++Justin Welby

Thanks Fr Dale. 

I note there is an excellent comment by Pageantmaster on your blog.



By CBH on October 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Christopher Howse--Why is the Catholic Church cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer?

Well, I find this all very puzzling (tongue in cheek). I find it rather difficult when visiting other Episcopal or Anglican Churches to be offered the opportunity to pray the prayer of Humble Access as well as other exquisitely beautiful prayers.  We seem to have tossed so much of our language and traditions out of the window, I am thankful no matter where those words might be appropriated!



By MichaelA on October 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (Liv. Church) Grantchester and Archbishop Runcie

Interesting, but contains virtually nothing about Christian faith. 

Which is not surprising - Robert Runcie was a great administrator and a genuine war hero.  But he was a very poor pastor to his flock.  As a priest he superintended the emasculation of the anglo-catholic Cuddesden College to outright liberalism, and as an archbishop he dragged the Church of England further along the road to becoming the anaemic, terminal institution it is today.



By Neal in Dallas on October 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

I posted this once, but it took so long I think my session timed out.
A couple of comments (WARNING: this is rather long):

1. (Re Terry #2) Philip Jenkins understands trajectories quite well. He is arguing a “what-if” scenario. Of course the decline won’t be consistent. On the other hand, decline in both ASA and membership has been fairly consistent over the past five years, so he’s arguing that the near-future news is likely not very encouraging. See here for the statistics for the past five years. The ASA in 2011 increased 55 for the year because that year had 53 Sundays, one of which was Christmas Eve. The reconfigured numbers for 2011 indicate decline consistent with surrounding years.
The reasons for the decline are a combination of (1) systemically spiritual values, (2) strategic decisions at the diocesan level,  (3) “national” leadership unwise strategic decisions, and, (4) yes, demographics.

(1) Systemically spiritual values. Episcopalians, as a whole, don’t do evangelism. We are generally content to attend church—some more faithfully than others—and do nothing to engage their friends and family with any sort of intentional proclamation of the Gospel in word and deed. We don’t even do much of “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ” with an intention to draw them into a relationship with Christ through our church. (Two notes: First, there is warrant for recognizing that evangelism takes place best within the context of the worshiping community, but that is another long post. Second, let me hasten to add that I led two workshops among “the remnants” of people who were considering starting new churches as they saw their own churches being unfaithful doctrinally, and the vast majority of those people only wanted an orthodox chapel of ease that was more doctrinally pure than the church they were leaving. This lack of evangelical zeal is not limited to people remaining in TEC.)

(2) strategic decisions at the diocesan level. Where are the church plants among us? (I’m speaking to my fellow Episcopalians here.) If the diocese is the basic unit of the Church, it is incumbent on the dioceses to lead the way in church planting. ‘Nuff said.

(3) “national” leadership unwise strategic decisions. I could go on and on about this. First, although it is not the role of the denominational structure to oversee the way, it is the role of the denominational structure to cast that vision and fund those priorities. Instead, we have a Presiding Bishop who, when asked about two months ago how many churches have been planted in TEC, she responded that she did not know because she is usually invited to established congregations, not new ones. In a denomination that is in severe decline, one would think that the PB would want to make a priority of new church plants and reversing that numerical decline instead of making a virtue out of the decline. Second, several years ago BS—before the split—a 2020 task force was established that made many good and serious recommendations. The task force was tamed and the recommendations went nowhere because a certain segment of the committee was more concerned with inner-city issues only and the more liberal social agenda than they were the suburban growth and supporting normative congregational development. The work of the committee was completely derailed thanks to a few vocal people on the task force, and the larger leadership did not have a will to overcome these loud voices.

(4) And yes, demographics. It is true that we are dying more rapidly than we are producing biologically. That is not to our credit, rather to our shame.

2. (Re, Sarah #5) Yes, the leadership continues to publish the bad news even though they have no solution. However, at least they are publishing the numbers. I commend Kirk Hadaway for continuing to post these numbers and the leadership for not eliminating that position.

3. (Re David#8) Yes, it is my understanding as well that the scenario you allude to did occur. It was the same group that torpedoed the 2020 Task Force.
Also, the attendance and membership decline under PB John Allen leveled off during the tenure of Ed Browning. I believe it was not so much because of Bishop Browning’s leadership as it was the stability and energy from Bishop Allen’s tenure and Venture in Mission resources made available to the dioceses after the bloodletting under PB Hines. (I realize that will inflame more than one reader, but that is my interpretation of events and personalities.)



By New Reformation Advocate on October 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm [comment link]
From the entry: (Barna) Five Trends Among the Unchurched

Or the Crusades.  Or the Spanish Inquisition.  Or the burning of witches.  Or The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1848) between Catholics and Protestants in Europe, etc.  However, one reason why so few people can actually cite examples is because so many adults, especially in America, are appallingly ignorant of history.  Of any kind.

However, the point is that when people cite a reason for their objections to Christianity, or institutional religion of any sort, that isn’t grounded in evidence (known data), that is a clear sign of prejudice, i.e., a bias that is no less real or significant for not being based on facts.  We really are dealing with a disturbing increase in anti-Christian prejudice in the Global North.

I would be interested in reading this latest Barna megastudy, Churchless.  However, one of my reservations about most of the Barna research that I’ve seen is that it’s presented too simplistically, in a perhaps futile effort to get more people to pay attention.  For example, although this summary notes the striking differences between generations of Americans, with alarming signs that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be secularized and alienated from the Church, there are no indications in this report about regional and ethnic variations in the data.  Those differences are often highly significant.

Bottom line:  We have a HUGE challenge on our hands.  And it’s getting steadily worse, as Western/Global North societies become ever more secularized, pluralistic, postmodern, and cynical.  We need to pay careful attention to research like this that can help us learn how outsiders perceive us and how we might best serve and reach them in Christ’s name.

David Handy+



By Jim the Puritan on October 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

#10 and 11. I asked an older priest about this a number of years ago, when the slide was just beginning.  He said he believed the Episcopal Church and all the mainlines were destroyed by the Vietnam War and young men avoiding the draft.  A well-known exemption was you couldn’t get drafted if you went to seminary.  So the mainline seminaries were flooded with folks who weren’t Christians, were often leftist in orientation, and were looking for a place to hide from the draft.  They were in no way “called” to ministry, which used to be the test and usually required prior vetting and recommendation by the applicant’s church that this person was a suitable candidate for the ministry, had been active in the church and helped serve, etc. 

The seminaries were only all too happy to take these folks, because they paid the bills and kept the classes filled.  And a lot of them were only Christianity Lite at that point anyway.  And once these folks got into the ministry track, they realized how churches could be platforms for “social change” (and an easy way to make a living, with a captive audience and podium for your social and political views, and at that point, pretty much an assured lifetime employment).  So within a few years, the mainline seminaries and churches began to fundamentally change.

Certainly that was the case in my parish.  When I was a kid and went, it was a solidly conservative Anglo-Catholic parish.  We were taught our catechism, the Creeds, and that the 39 Articles of Religion were binding on all Anglican churches.  We even had real Sisters teaching Sunday School (there was an Episcopal girls’ school next door also run by the Sisters).  Men wore suits, women wore hats.  Today, that church is a shattered shell of its former self.  The last service I went to, which was advertised as a service of Christmas Lessons and Carols, turned out to be a service for the Winter solstice, almost totally lacking in Christianity.



By Pb on October 21, 2014 at 9:56 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

I concur.  Last Sunday I attended a TEC service. The lay reader concluded the reading with “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the People of God.” And we responded “Thanks be to God.” We could have a whole thread on the implications of this change.



By St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse on October 21, 2014 at 9:27 am [comment link]
From the entry: (America) James Martin--Five Things the Synod Just Did

The Petrine office IS infallible, regardless of the fallible soul that inhabits it. And infallibility only when teaching in concert with established doctrine. The pope does not have the power to nullify Catholic teaching, regardless of how liberals may hope he might.



By tjmcmahon on October 21, 2014 at 8:31 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

At a macro level, as Pb suggests, it started academically.  But at this point in time, Episcopalianism has become a religion unto itself.  The leadership, at this point down to the deanery level, if not lower, everywhere but a very few dioceses, have rejected certain books of the Bible, and have, in fact, functionally created a new one- the Book of Spirit!!! (no longer Holy, no definite article, always at least 3 !s), which is the accumulation of all the new things that their god has done in the past 50 years, which leads them in “prophetic witness.”  I am sure that someday soon, someone will post the Book of Spirit!!! on the TEC website, but until then, it will be presented to congregations around the country through sermons, GC resolutions, and actions of the HoB.
The Book of Spirit!!! has also caught on with much of the rest of Western Anglicanism, as we see with the recent quotations from it by the bishops of the CoE.



By Pb on October 21, 2014 at 8:20 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

I believe this started in the seminaries when non-believers were hired to teach. The curriculum may have remained orthodox but what was actually communicated was not.



By tjmcmahon on October 21, 2014 at 8:09 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

#7 and 8, You are both more learned than I, and undoubtedly correct.  But I think the TEC problem goes much farther than that, down to the parish level.  I participated in a parish meeting, perhaps 8 years ago, when the priest in charge suggested to the dwindling congregation (down to an ASA in the low 30s, and a supposed membership of 75) that if each of us brought in one friend or family member, some might well stay.  We should institute a visitor Sunday once a year, and everyone ask their outside friends- churched, unchurched, whatever- to come.
The responses came in 2 varieties.  Those of us who were actively engaged in trying to restore a semblance of orthodoxy had a hard time with it on the grounds that we would be exposing our innocent friends to open heresy (imagine taking a young family with a couple of kids into a TEC Church). Essentially, we would be taking the unchurched or young Christians in formation, and bringing them in so TEC could mold them into revisionist pewsitters. Fine if we could slip in a half dozen staunch Anglo Catholics or Evangelicals- but the former in that area were now Roman Catholic, and the latter had their own churches and were not up for taking on a fight for a church they saw as heretical. 
  The rest of the parish was just embarrassed.  They knew that if they even suggested to a friend that they come, the response was going to be- (if they followed religious news) “oh, you mean that church with the gay bishops” or (if they just paid attention to local conversation about churches) “weren’t you complaining last week about the meaningless sermon….”
  That parish is now, for all intents and purposes, ELCA with an occasional out of the book Rite II service (shared ministry with the local ELCA congregation).  “Evangelizes” young liberals from the local college, and desperately looks about town for the few openly gay couples, hoping they will come so it will appear “inclusive” when the bishop visits.



By David Keller on October 21, 2014 at 7:37 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

#7, You are correct.  There is also a long history behind this going back to 2002 when the Evangelism Standing Commission told PB Griswold that TEC was in institutional decline which would be irreversible if not stopped immediately. I think Griswold was sympathetic, but the EC, especially Louie Crew, were not only not sympathetic but were openly hostile to the Standing Commission. The Commission was led by John Guernsey at the time, so you can see what was actually going on. EC essentially adopted the head in the sand policy that TEC will push a left wing, political LGBT agenda and we will grow.  We will be the DNC with vestments and it will all work out.  It didn’t.



By William P. Sulik on October 21, 2014 at 6:44 am [comment link]
From the entry: (America) James Martin--Five Things the Synod Just Did

Fr. Martin concludes:

But in the end one person makes the decisions, and in this case it’s the Pope.  At one point during his concluding speech to the bishops he said, playfully, “I am here and I’m the pope!”

Or as we say in the Jesuits, when it comes to the superior it’s: “You discern, we discern, but I decide.” 

On the other hand, consider this dissenting view from conservative Catholic writer John Zmirak:

If the pope permits divorced couples who now live in extramarital relationships to receive Holy Communion without repenting and promising celibacy, he will be sanctioning one of two things: adultery or polygamy. Marriage is, by Christ’s command, indissoluble. That was taught infallibly by the Council of Trent. If the pope denies that doctrine, if he re-shapes one of the seven sacraments so radically, he will be proving something that the Orthodox have been saying since 1870: That he is not infallible on matters of faith and morals. 

Of course, it is not just the Orthodox who have maintained that position - this is a large part of the reason I left the Church of Rome many, many years ago.  The Pope is not infallible.



By Br. Michael on October 21, 2014 at 5:26 am [comment link]
From the entry: (RNS) Musician Jeremy Messersmith wears his atheist heart on his sleeve

Ross, “fundamentalist” (how I hate that world) or Pentecostal?  I would like to think that we are all fundamentalist in that we believe in the fundamentals of the faith.



By Stephen Noll on October 21, 2014 at 5:13 am [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

It seems to me the failure of Episcopal leadership in this matter comes down to a Hobson’s choice. Life and growth in the Christian church require evangelism (see under “Great Commission”). Evangelism requires the conviction that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. That conviction, however, is exclusive, fundamentalist and hateful. Whatever else the Episcopal Church stands for, it is not exclusive, fundamentalist and hateful. Therefore evangelism is repugnant to its DNA, its raison d’etre. Hence the only conscientious option is slow death.

We have seen this choice acted out time and again recently. The denomination forces an evangelical Anglican body out of its building, it cannot fill the facilities, then it gets its thirty pieces silver by renting or selling the building to a non-Anglican evangelical body. “OK, they are evangelicals, but they are not our evangelicals!”



By tjmcmahon on October 20, 2014 at 9:56 pm [comment link]
From the entry: Philip Jenkins on Episcopal Church stats--The Church Vanishes, Part Deux

Michael A- the churches “joining” may be former Episcopal parishes, or Anglo Catholic churches or plants not associated directly with TEC (I will be honest, I do not know for sure).  Like NRA in #4, I would think Quincy a good guess.  I don’t recall the specifics, but Bishop Morales came to Quincy as a priest who had been a bishop of an associated Catholic (but not Roman) Church in Central or South America- so these Hispanic parishes may have the same roots.  NRA notes Fr. Beasley, but the Anglo Catholics have been working in black and Hispanic and even Native American neighborhoods in Chicago for decades.  As has often been the case elsewhere, bishops will send Anglo Catholic clergy to their “low rent” parishes in destitute parts of the city, but some of those are among the most vibrant parishes in the Church.  They often don’t have much money, but they are filled with very faithful people, who often make up for in faith and donated time what they cannot provide in money.
  I don’t know that Chicago was ever an “Anglo Catholic diocese” but certainly 50 years ago, there were many Anglo Catholic parishes.  Last I knew, there were still a couple, sort of flying under the radar.  There are, of course, many that like to dress up in lace and parade about (with the current bishop among them) as though they were, but gave up the faith a long time ago.
  Remember that Anglo Catholics in North America have disparate roots- the first breaks came with TEC over 50 years ago, and the pogrom began in earnest in the mid 70s.  Anglo Catholic dioceses in TEC were reduced from 25 (more or less) to zero in the past 40 years- with a diaspora of sorts.  So there are Anglo Catholic parishes out there that have had no official Anglican Communion attachment for several decades.  Quincy and Fort Worth and the Diocese of All Saints have been beacons for many of these scattered parishes, clergy and laity since they split from TEC 5 years ago.


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