Saturday, May 31, 2008

Los Angeles: Placentia Anglo-Catholic priest and vestry weigh options

Posted on VirtueOnline, a statement from the Rev. David Baumann of Blessed Sacrament in Placentia (Diocese of Los Angeles) [boldface mine]:

In January 2007 I called for the formation of a Discernment Committee at Blessed Sacrament parish to consider our place in the Episcopal Church during this time of the Anglican crisis and realignment. After sixteen months, that Committee made a preliminary recommendation to the Vestry.

As I am sure most of you know, the Episcopal Church has been in crisis for three or four decades, and the intensity of the crisis has been rapidly escalating over the past few years and now affects the entire worldwide Anglican Communion. As former Senior Warden Robert Bell said over a year ago at the Annual Meeting, "There is a storm coming, and we cannot ignore it." At that time I called for the formation of a Discernment Committee to help us see what the best course for our parish might be in this time of the Anglican crisis.

WHAT THE REPORT SAYS

The Discernment Committee has been working for a year and four months, doing very careful and considered work in an extremely complex situation in order to make a recommendation to the Vestry. The Vestry has now received two documents: my personal report on the background of the current situation after more than 35 years of contending for the Faith, and the Discernment Committee's Preliminary Report and Recommendation. Together these two documents comprise twenty-nine pages. The two documents provide observations on our current crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion and how that crisis affects us.

Here is the recommendation. The report and recommendation were accepted last Sunday by consensus but are now under prayerful consideration before anticipated final acceptance in June. Yet the Vestry is of one mind sufficiently now to begin to act on the recommendation.

The recommendation has four points: The first point asks the Vestry to recommit the parish to Catholicity, Education, and Prayer-to make an unqualified and strong public commitment to the Catholic Faith, as received by and practiced within Anglicanism and consistent with the faith and practice of the undivided Church, without compromise of revealed truth or dilution of godly charity regardless of any pressure to conform to the precepts of the Episcopal Church wherever the Church violates that faith.

The Committee further asks the Vestry, on behalf of the people of the parish, publicly and emphatically to disavow the stances and practices the Episcopal Church has taken that violate Anglican consensus and orthodox Christianity, and affirm our commitment to the Anglican way and membership in the Anglican Communion wherever it is faithful to Scriptural and creedal Christianity.

The second point asks the Vestry to request Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO)-that is, a relationship with another bishop whose convictions we recognize as in line with creedal Christian belief and worldwide Anglicanism. We would call upon this bishop in times when we have candidates for confirmation and ordination, for the purpose of conducting teaching missions, and when the time comes that we need to select a new rector. Having a DEPO bishop would strengthen our effort to evangelize to Christ in the Anglican tradition and would help to overcome the reluctance of many parishioners and potential members to be identified with the Episcopal Church.

The third point recommends full support for our vocationers to ordination.

It has become clear that it is very difficult for our vocationers to get through the ordination process in the Diocese of Los Angeles for reasons that do not satisfy me or the Discernment Committee. There are other options, however, such as going through a DEPO bishop. The Committee therefore recommends that the Vestry support each vocationer regardless of whichever path that vocationer may choose-that is, if we are convinced that an individual has a call to ordination, the Vestry will do everything it can to ensure that the vocationer will be ordained.

The fourth point calls for restricting or redirecting our Mission Share Fund.

The Discernment Committee recommends that the Vestry redirect the bulk of our Mission Share Fund, the money we give to the diocese, toward missionary and outreach programs that can be gladly supported by all of our membership. Recognizing that the diocese does provide us with many benefits, blessings, and support, the Vestry will give a percentage or a fixed amount of our Mission Share Fund to the Diocese.

Please be aware that the recommendations for DEPO and the redirection of our Mission Share Fund are options that Bishop Bruno has already offered to us at a meeting the Vestry had with him in August 2006; he took the initiative in these matters.

Finally, this is a preliminary report because the Discernment Committee will remain in place to monitor emerging developments within the Anglican Communion and keep the Vestry informed.

WHAT THE RECOMMENDATION MEANS

Who are we? That is, what is this parish? What do we stand for? To what are we committed? Our Statement of Vision says that we were founded as an Anglo-Catholic parish and that we intend to stay that way.

The Anglican Communion is our home-to be defended, protected, and preserved. The very term "God wins" that I have used many times over the years implies that we are engaged in a battle. More than that, we are engaged in a battle that has already been won. . .

Read it all, and check out Fr. Baumann's blog, John One Five. Fr. Baumann also graciously let me take some of Bishop Keith Ackerman's time when he was visiting Blessed Sacrament last year to interview him for AnglicanTV.

Rowan Williams and "the distinctive charism of bishops"

From the Daily Episcopalian at the Episcopal Cafe [boldface mine]:

A statement by Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church at Preparing for Lambeth: A Conference for Religion Writers held at Virginia Theological Seminary on May 30, 2008.

There are two dynamics that will significantly affect our bishops at the Lambeth Conference. One is the exploration of the role of bishops and the other is the discussion of the proposed covenant.

Examination of the role of bishops:

At the opening of the Lambeth Conference in a traditional “retreat” style of brief theological reflection by the Archbishop, silence and mediation by the participants, then reflection, our bishops and all invited bishops, will reflect upon the archbishop’s words about “the bishop as a disciple of and leader in God’s mission”.

This event is a conference for bishops and it seems completely right for this topic to kick off this historic event. But I think that this topic also speaks to the Archbishop’s hope to confront what he has identified as a “major ecclesiological issue”. I think that the Archbishop has given up trying to get our bishops to take an independent stand on the future of the moratorium of same sex blessings for instance, and is now moving to “plan B” and turning his attention to encouraging our bishops to understand their “distinctive charism” as bishops, perhaps in a new way. I envision Archbishop Rowan pondering in, to use his word, “puzzlement” why these bishops of the Episcopal church don’t just stand up and exercise their authority as bishops like most of the rest of the bishops in the Communion do. Why would our bishops “bind themselves to future direction for the Convention?” Some of us in TEC in the past have thought that perhaps the Archbishop and others in the Anglican Communion do not understand the baptismal covenant that we hold foundational. Perhaps they just don’t “get” the way we choose to govern ourselves; the ministers of the church as the laity, clergy and the bishops, and that at the very core of our beliefs we believe in the God- given gifts of all God’s people, none more important than the other, just gifts differing. We believe that God speaks uniquely through laity, bishops, priests and deacons. This participatory structure in our church allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment. But I think our governance is clearly understood. I just don’t think the Archbishop has much use for it. . .

At the Lambeth Conference, I believe that the voice of the conformed bishop will be easily heard and affirmed. The prophetic voice will not be easily heard.

Our bishops will experience a dynamic that will encourage them to guard the unity and to hold the communion together, perhaps even through the vehicle of a covenant. . .

The input of the clergy and laity of the Episcopal Church is especially important as the Anglican Communion considers the development of a covenant. The joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of our belief that God speaks uniquely through laity, priests and deacons and bishops. It is thus crucially important that our bishops go to Lambeth knowing what we think about the current state of the proposed Anglican covenant.

Read it all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Why I left ECUSA, Part 2: A crack appears

The second in a series outlining why my family and I believe it is time for us to leave the Episcopal Church (read Why I left ECUSA, Part 1: A brief history here)

Part 2: A crack appears

I had been to Bible studies at church, usually moms’ groups where we would go through a booklet on “Women in the Bible” or something that related the Bible to our everyday lives. These are great studies to get to know other women and become more familiar with God’s Word, but at some point, I realized that I wasn’t really doing Bible study - I was doing Bible dabbling.

Often, we would deviate from the Bible to talk about our current situations with children, husbands, work, etc. I knew I needed something more rigorous and structured, since I am not one to be disciplined enough to do that on my own. My husband had been going to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), a non-denominational Bible study that combines lectures with small groups, for several years. I had seen his commitment and relationship with God grow and I wanted something similar. A friend introduced me to Community Bible Study (CBS), which is very like BSF. To keep up with the CBS study, you really do need to do some Bible study every day. The small groups allow more in-depth discussion of the study, and the lectures and notes give context and help relate that particular study to the Bible overall.

Usually, we would do an Old Testament book one year and then the next a New Testament book. I had never done something as in-depth and as broad. For the first time I was able to understand the true connection between the Old and New Testaments. The continuity of God’s work in the world and the steadfastness of His character and His love for us became real to me through studying His inspired Word.

CBS and BSF both stress taking what you’ve learned through your study and applying it to your life and the world around you through whichever church you attend. Because of this connection, I became more interested in what my church was doing, not only locally but nationally. Part of the attraction of the Episcopal Church for me was its tradition and its global Communion. While I had never considered it much, the fact that I was part of a tradition that stretched back hundreds of years was important (remember that pride thing!). It meant, I thought, that the church was not as susceptible to a particular personality or specific cultural shift – any changes would have to stand the test of time.

Then 2003 happened. It was not the consecration of +Gene Robinson per se that distressed me. One particular act, however ill conceived or even wrong, does not a church make.

No, it was Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold agreeing with the other Primates at the emergency meeting called by the Archbishop of Canterbury in October of 2003 that +Robinson’s consecration would “tear the fabric of the Communion” and then two weeks later, presiding at the consecration.

The unanimous consensus of the emergency meeting communiqué was that ECUSA should not proceed with the consecration and +Frank Griswold was one of the ones covered under “unanimous.” Was he lying to the other Primates when he agreed? I don’t know, and frankly, don’t care. All I know was that when I heard that had happened, I was shocked, absolutely floored. If he had told the Primates he couldn’t agree with them or that he supported +Robinson’s consecration, I would have thought he was nuts but would have figured it’s just another day in the Episcopal Church and it will blow over.

But he lied. And he was the presiding bishop of my church.

Then, the next big thing happened. I went online to see if I could find any info on why this had happened, and somehow, I don’t remember exactly how, I discovered Christopher Johnson and the Midwest Conservative Journal. I prefer to think of it as a “God thing,” but others may disagree. All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone (and I wasn't crazy to be so upset). There were others out there trying to make sense of what was going on, too.

All the while, I was still involved at my own church. People were talking about what had happened but not much that I heard. Most seemed to think it would all pass over, or that it was happening far away, or that the local parish was the most important thing so it wasn’t worth worrying about.

But I could not get out of my mind that the presiding bishop of my church, a man who had sworn to uphold God’s Word and the faith received, a man in apostolic succession to Peter and James and John, had blatantly, publicly, openly lied on a matter of grave importance and trust.

Coming: Part 3: The deluge

Tanzania: Valentino L. Mokiwa enthroned as primate

From EpiscopalLife Online:

The Most Rev. Valentino L. Mokiwa was enthroned May 25 as primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania during a five-hour ceremony in Holy Spirit Cathedral in Dodoma, Tanzania.

The entire service, including the sermon delivered by Mokiwa himself, was conducted in Swahili.

Mokiwa, 43, has served as bishop of the Diocese of Dar es Salaam since April 2002.

Mokiwa's homily centered on Paul's letter to the Philippians and he appealed to all Christians in the province, partners and well wishers to work together to support the church and build the body of Christ, said the Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda, the Episcopal Church's program officer for Africa, who attended the service. "The new archbishop promised to reach out to all people, especially the marginalized."

Tanzania's vice president, Ali Mohamad Shenyi, spoke for an hour and pledged for the government to work together with the church in improving people's lives.

Archbishops Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda and Justice Akrofi of West Africa attended the ceremony, while the primates of Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda were represented by bishops from their respective provinces. . .

Check out this posting from January of this year, when then-Bishop Valentino visited San Diego and spoke at our local AAC meeting. From Holy Trinity Ocean Beach, we have this message:
Fr. Bausch is away from May 19th until June 3rd in order to attend the installation of our companion bishop as Primate of Tanzania. John and Lenora Witt will also be attending.
Please pray for their safe travel and for the LORD to continue leading Bp Valentino.

So the Province of the Southern Cone by way of San Diego is being well represented in Tanzania!

American Anglican Council weekly update

Via email, a message from AAC president, Bishop David Anderson [boldface mine]:

Beloved in Christ,

Although the besetting sins of the American Episcopal Church have been teaching paths to God other than through Jesus Christ and playing down the authority of Holy Scripture, the aspect that most people see is the relentless pushing of the homosexual agenda. We read in the Los Angeles Diocese's "Episcopal News" Update from May 25, 2008, that Episcopalians are encouraged to join in the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade on June 8. We quote: "The Bishop's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry invites the diocesan community to join them and Bishop J. Jon Bruno to march and pray in this year's Los Angeles LGBT Pride parade on Sunday, June 8." It goes on to say that "Episcopalians will gather for a celebration of the Eucharist at 9 am in the Bank of America parking lot at the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Crescent Heights in West Hollywood before moving elsewhere to line up for the parade."

Doesn't that just warm your heart, knowing that not only are misguided clergy and laity supporting Gay Pride, but Episcopal/Anglican bishops are, too - even riding on a float. This is not a new occurrence in the LA Diocese, because each year the bishops take turns participating. The real question is, "When will Katharine Jefferts Schori be photographed riding on a float for Gay Pride?" And it isn't just in Los Angeles; the Episcopal Church bishops and priests are often represented in Gay Pride parades around the country.

It appears, if an article by Hilary White for LifeSite News is true, that now the British Government will officially, though covertly, push the homosexual agenda using all of their embassies and chancery offices around the world, even if that subverts the law of the nation they are in. This is truly breathtaking news, and raises a profound question if true: is there in fact an organized international effort to corrupt the moral climate of the entire world? If the story is true, this public exposure of the British diplomatic agenda will have far-reaching consequences. Within England, the governments' pro-homosexual legislation has caused the Roman Catholic Church to begin pulling out of the adoption ministry, because all agencies will have to handle adoptions for homosexual couples as well as for married heterosexual ones. Lost will be a vital ministry which helps both small children and couples desiring a child, along with the millions of pounds sterling poured into these agencies by Roman Catholics for buildings and services.

Word has reached us of Islamic attacks in northern Nigeria, and churches being burned. Apparently the Islamic tactic of kidnapping young girls, forcing them to convert to Islam, and then marrying them off to Muslim men, has finally resulted in police action. Although the girls in this case were rescued by the police and taken out of the area for safety, this is something that many in our Christian Anglican family have to deal with when they are a minority in Islamic Sharia Law areas. Is England ready for this? The Archbishop of Canterbury has already said that Sharia Law is "probably inevitable" in England. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has a better idea - why not introduce Muslims to the real Christian faith and give them the opportunity to be freed from misunderstandings and become an inheritor of eternal life through Jesus Christ? In the meanwhile, let us pray for those Christians in northern Nigeria whose lives and property are today at risk.

Moving from the global back to the local, the number of dioceses that are protesting the form and manner of the depositions of Bishops Cox and Schofield, done at the last House of Bishops' meeting, continues to grow. South Carolina and Central Florida have been joined by Springfield, Northern Indiana, Western Louisiana, and more may follow.

Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

AnglicanTV: Extreme makeover: Church edition

Take a look at the (fictional) Rev. Percy Veering on AnglicanTV:

Sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Episcopal Diocese of San Diego: Task force to study holiness in relationships

Okay, here's a little stone bridge in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego that is almost gone, but worth defending if anyone is interested in submitting their name for this task force (this resolution was passed at the most recent diocesan convention in February of this year):

Task Force to Study Holiness in Relationships

If you are interested, you may submit your name to be considered for the Bishop's task force to study holiness in relationships. Please email Bobbi Hoff, Executive Assistant to the Bishop: bobbi303@edsd.org.

RESOLUTION 08-09
Title: A Resolution Urging the Bishop to Form a Task Force to Study Holiness in Relationships and Blessings in Churches of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Be It Resolved that the Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego is urged to appoint a theologically diverse Task Force of clergy and lay people reflective of the Diocese, to study Holiness in Relationships and Blessings in Churches of this Diocese from the perspectives of holy scripture, church history and tradition; practical, pastoral and sacramental theology; and the movement of the Holy Spirit; and then prepare an academic paper on the subject to be presented to the 2009 Convention of the Diocese of San Diego, with additional recommendations as that Task Force might deem appropriate.
Be it Further Resolved, in advance of the presentation at convention, workshops be promoted throughout the diocese to engage congregations in this work and mission.

EXPLANATION OF RESOLUTION:
Whereas much of the conflict in the Episcopal Church concerns the issue of holiness in relationships, and
Whereas the Order for Marriage found in the Book of Common Prayer states that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, and
Whereas, there are persons in the Episcopal Church (gay and lesbian, seniors and others constrained by financial concerns) who are in committed, monogamous relationships who wish to have their relationships blessed in the church by a clergy person, and
Whereas there are persons in the church, who because of their understanding of scripture and what constitutes a faithful life are opposed to such blessings occurring in the church, and
Whereas liturgical practices surrounding the blessing of unions are not consistent throughout the greater church, and
Whereas the House of Bishops in their September 25, 2007 response to “questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners,” noted that the 1998 Lambeth Conference called on provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring all Anglicans fully into the Church’s conversation about human sexuality and holy relationships, and
Whereas engaging in such a listening process is a fundamental step before engaging in any action on the matter.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Five dioceses publicly oppose depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox

Here are the five dioceses (so far) that have publicly opposed the actions of the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church house of bishops:


H/t to VirtueOnline.

C. S. Lewis and the Crisis

From Captain Yips Secret Journal:

. . . Killing the monster in one of its human forms was not murder; and breaking fellowship with those who use Christian forms but have completely different goals is not schism. It’s no more than a self-protective immune response (to mix my metaphors up completely). The process of separation is going to be risky, chaotic, and unpleasant. The notion that a safe place for Anglican conservatives can be carved out of this decaying body is naive. The monster’s goal is to absorb. The only protection is a firewall so complete as to be the same thing as separation.

But what opportunities exist! I have long wondered if one of the reasons that C. S. Lewis has been so powerful a Christian advocate is that his own journey meant that he had to reconstruct the entire edifice of Christian thought from the basement to the spire. He had the mind and the learning to do that, and to become a beacon in the darkness for many. The survival of North American Anglican Christianity will require a degree of rediscovery of what “Anglican” means. In my reading and study over the last several years I’ve found a far more vigorous, even formidable, form of Christianity than the feeble thing the EO has become. . .

Read it all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why I left ECUSA, Part 1: A brief history

The first in a series outlining why my family and I believe it is time for us to leave the Episcopal Church

Part 1: My background in the Episcopal Church: A Hebrew of Hebrews (with all of the pride that St. Paul infers going along with that)

The information quoted below is from The Huguenot Church, organized as the French Protestant Church, Charleston, South Carolina, in their service bulletin for the Commemoration of the Three-hundredth Anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, April 21, 1985 (Huguenot Society President in 1985: Theodore Guérard, my father):

The H.M.S. Richmond

In 1679 René Petit, King’s Agent in Rouen and Jacob Guérard, a gentleman of Normandy, petitioned the Privy Council of England to transport foreign Protestant families to one of the English plantations, preferably Carolina, to establish there the manufacture of silk, oil, and wine.

This petition was referred to as the Carolina Proprietors and with their approval went next to the Lords of Trade, where, finally, probably due to Ashley Cooper’s membership on the Board, it was accepted by the King in council. The venture, therefore, received the personal approval of Charles II.

Accordingly, H.M.S. Richmond sailed from England December 19, 1679, bringing to Carolina the first contingent of the Petit-Guérard Colony and landing them at Oyster Point, Charles Town, in April of 1680.

Early records show that the following individuals and families were among the passengers on the H.M.S. Richmond.

Number of Famillies
. . . . . .
P. Guérard of Normandy with his Famillie

The French Huguenots, of course, soon became Anglicans.

I was
  • Born into the Mother Church, St. Philip’s Charleston

  • Received the sacrament of Holy Baptism “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

  • Confirmed by Bishop Gray Temple

  • Went on youth retreats at Camp St. Christopher

  • Had weekly EYC combined with St. Michael’s (where my mother’s family attends, and where my sister now goes, having married into a St. Michael’s family – ah, the rivalry!)

  • Had pre-marital counseling at The Falls Church (the only church in the D.C. area that the rector at St. Philip’s would accept as providing proper counseling – at the time I had no idea why he was so adamant about this)

  • Married (by the 1928 Prayer Book, of course) at St. Philip's (and finally lost the "Guérard" which no one outside of Charleston could ever pronounce or spell)
Father, uncle, cousins were senior wardens, vestry members, etc., etc.

Remember vaguely hearing discussions among the “grown-ups” about women’s ordination, but everyone seemed to agree that it was nothing to worry too much about in Charleston

Attended church intermittently in the D.C. area (yes, basically a C&E Christian, although I had discovered C.S. Lewis in 8th grade, so hope remained)

Moved to southern California, opened the phone book to find out where the Episcopal Church was in Carlsbad (because I figured that would be a good place to meet people), saw Holy Cross “a mission church” (what’s a mission church? I had no idea), saw St. Michael’s By-the-Sea (founded 1894) and thought, well, that sounds like the closest thing I’ll ever get to a Mother Church here.

We went to St. Michael's our first Sunday in California and continued for 14 years. God led us there, I am sure. And God softened my heart there as well to His Word.

It was my first Anglo-Catholic church, but still familiar since there was the Book of Common Prayer - even if we did have Communion every week and say the Nicene Creed (all 1979 prayer book innovations, in my opinion) and use incense, unlike growing up with Communion once a month and the Apostle’s Creed in the weekly Morning Prayer service (and no incense, please). Fr. Neal Moquin, the rector, is a graduate of Nashotah House and a Forward in Faith priest and the curate, Fr. Doran Stambaugh, also a Nashotah House graduate, was ordained by Bishop Keith Ackerman (Quincy).

My husband was received into the Episcopal Church by Bishop Gethin Hughes (now retired, San Diego) and our son was baptized at St. Michael’s. I have served on the Altar Guild and the Vestry, gone to the Mom's Group, the Women's Book Group, the Lenten series, been a delegate at two diocesan conventions, etc.

And I have felt the Holy Spirit there truly, in the people, in the place, and in my heart.

So, why leave and why now? Ah, that's Part 2.

Greg Griffith: Crystal Balls, July 2005

Perpetua, in the comments here, brought up Greg Griffith's July 2005 post, Crystal Balls. I thought it very worth posting here [boldface mine]:

I have found myself over the past year or so in the unfamiliar position of being asked by grownups (those with children and grandchildren, hugely successful careers, and true wisdom, all gained only after the kinds of struggles that lie in my future) how I think it is we got ourselves into this situation with the Episcopal Church, and where I think it's headed.

To be sure, more than one person I've met in the course of this debate has told me I have more opinions than sense. They may well be right, but in this case I have an explanation that has resonated with almost everyone to whom I've given it. The rough outline is buried somewhere deep in the archives of Stand Firm, so a few people reading this may vaguely recognize it. It has been the touchstone for many hours-long conversations.

Think of the whole of the Episcopal Church as a pew full of people (yes, Episcopalians, it is possible for a pew to be filled with people... work with me here). The people are arranged, from left to right, in roughly the order of where they fall on the theological spectrum.

Twenty five years ago, someone on the far right of the pew happened to be in possession of a crystal ball. In the swirl of events surrounding women's ordination and a revised Book of Common Prayer, he looked into the crystal ball and saw the future of the Episcopal Church: Five, perhaps ten years down the road. Perhaps he saw the influx of radical feminists using ordination as just another hill to be taken in their secular war on the church. Perhaps it was a BCP that watered down the confession of sin - indeed, made it optional. Perhaps it was a vision of the proliferation of Spongs and Pikes and Borgs, men who not only deny the basic tenets of the Christian faith, but who have risen to its highest offices and levels of celebrity because of their (un)beliefs.

He voiced his objections to what he saw happening to his church, and some in the pew turned and scowled at him. They couldn't help but notice one thing - that of all the people in the pew, he was the farthest to the right. For more than a few, this became the only thing they noticed about him. For those who didn't know his name, and even for a few who did, he was labeled "the fundamentalist," or "the troublemaker."

Whatever he saw - in the crystal ball, down the pew - it was enough to make him want to get up and leave. The decision was difficult. His family had been Episcopalian for five generations, his great-grandparents had been charter members of the grand old church where he grew up, where both of his children were married. He became Presbyterian, or Methodist, or perhaps Roman Catholic, or joined a fledgling Anglical splinter church. He may have stopped going to church altogether. But before he left, he handed the crystal ball to the lady on his immediate left.

She was sad to see him go. She shared many of his misgivings about the direction in which the church was headed, but she preferred sitting tight to rocking the boat. She hoped that the spasms of radicalism in her beloved church were temporary, and would eventually pass like a fad. . .

Read it all.

Moral issues divide Westerners from Muslims in the West: Abortion

From Gallup, a poll on some moral issues. I've highlighted the one on abortion [bolface mine]:

With respect to abortion, the French public (77%) is also far more likely than the Britons (58%), Germans (52%), and Americans (40%) to say that it is morally acceptable. And while Muslim respondents' attitudes on this issue vary across communities, they are less likely than Westerners polled to believe it is morally acceptable: 34% of Berlin Muslims, 24% of Paris Muslims, and 10% of London Muslims believe abortion is morally acceptable. Religious Americans (22%) are also far less likely than the European and the U.S. publics surveyed to believe abortion is morally acceptable.

Next I'm going to read you a list. For each item on the list, please tell me whether you personally believe that it is morally acceptable or morally wrong:
Moral issues divide Westerners from Muslims in the West: Abortion (copyright Gallup, Inc.)

H/t to the Western Standard (Canada).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

*Updated* Greg Griffith predicts what might happen at GC09

Update: For another considered point of view, I've added a comment from young joe at old oc below Greg's predictions.

Original: From the Stand Firm comments, Greg Griffith outlines what he thinks might happen at General Convention 2009 [boldface mine]:

. . . It may not be a foregone conclusion, but it is far likelier than not that at GC09, three major pieces of legislation will be passed:

The first will be a significant expansion of C051. The exact scope of that expansion obviously we won’t know until we get much closer to convention, but rest assured it will fall somewhere between a nationally comprehensive authorization that reflects Susan Russell’s “full inclusion, including holy matrimony” goal at a minimum, and perhaps a proposal for inclusion in a new Book of Common Prayer, whether as a separate rite, or as a modification of the existing Rite of Holy Matrimony and the accompanying rubric; which strikes gender-specific language and adds some predictably stomach-turning treacle.

The second will be some kind of clampdown on dissenting clergy and lay people. I won’t venture a guess as to details, but suffice it to say it will probably make life for outspoken orthodox priests anywhere from much more interesting to crazy interesting, and for loudmouth lay people anywhere from somewhat interesting to much more interesting. I half-expect to be summoned by my bishop or some of the resident Eddie Haskels at Allin House at some point by summer of 2010 at the latest.

The third will be a jaw-dropping clampdown on property issues. Schori and Beers will not leave Anaheim without something that relieves them of the pain being administered to them in Virginia right now.

Then here’s what will happen as news filters out on the blogs and such:

Lay people to the immediate left of us - those “moderate conservatives” who didn’t see any reason to get worked up about what happened in 2003, because it was “way off in New Hampshire” - will be informed that gay marriage is the law of the land in TEC, that it is no longer something that’s confined to a few wacko fringe dioceses like San Francisco and D.C. Think women’s ordination in 1997 - the way it was changed from “local option” in the 70’s, to mandatory in ‘97. I don’t rule out the possibility of goon squads being sent around much like they were in 97, “encouraging” bishops and standing committees to get in line.

Lay people will then realize what the form these rites will take in that of an “amended” and soon-to-be-revised prayer book, and they will stop in their tracks. They will look around for options, and begin planning how they will take their parishes out of the Episcopal Church.

It’s then they’ll be horrified to learn that, according to 815, they don’t actually own the property into which they have poured their time and fortune all these years. There will be outrage, disbelief, and chaos.

Many of them will come here, looking for a detailed plan on how to save their church. Not finding one, some of them will take us to task for being nothing but a bunch of loudmouths who have done nothing to help them, and they can’t believe we’ve let them down this way.

Some will stay and pledge to fight. Others will storm out of the church, and stand on the sidelines berating those who chose to leave.

Then things will get interesting.

So make a copy of this, pull it out next summer, and see if Greg is right!

And an update from young joe in old oc [boldface mine]:
Greg is extremely smart and capable, but I disagree with his approach on this as I do with most of the bloggers and editors on Stand Firm. They don't realize how their attitude has created, to some degree, a profusion of self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are many very traditional/conservative folks who always see us on a slippery slope to death and destruction (I was one of them back in the late '90's as we had just embraced the liturgical/sacramental vision of the Faith and tried to get involved in a handful of different episcopal parishes in the Pasadena area - after that short tour, we ended up rejecting ecusa). Unlike Greg and his staff however, they are not generally fully engaged at parish, diocesan, or church-wide levels, nor do they really know how to be, and that lack of engagement has been the acceptable sub-culture in episcopal parishes, progressive, mainstream or traditionalist, for at least 70 years. However, these average, often very committed lay churchmen and women will take what they read on blogs like Stand Firm as confirmation of the rightness of their perspective, and give up on the possibility of making serious breakthroughs as individuals on any level (We saw this happen at the parish in Glendale). They will take comfort in their para-church groups like Forward in Faith or the AAC (nothing wrong with these groups at all - they just don't know how to break people of their americanized habit patterns), or ecumenical ministries they're involved with, and further separate themselves from the political aspects of parish life, except where the para-church provides the tools to make some specific challenge. As this has occurred all across TEC over the last 25 years, we now see the "prophecies" being fulfilled, and the only place then for many orthodox folks to go is the exits.

I probably have the same turn of the stomach Greg does when I read about the false teaching and apostasy that is becoming the norm in may parts of episcopalianism. But I will not allow myself to become so deeply cynical and always convinced that the end is near. I am sick to death of what the PB and her henchmen at 815 are trying to form in their own image with their ersatz inclusiveness and twisted, secularized (false) gospel. My bags are packed and I am ready to leave ecusa the moment that a consensus forms at the parish about where we should go. And I have been pushing for the parish to begin the process. However, I'm not going to let myself believe that all the orthodox traditionalist folks who remain and don't have the same perspective I do are simply sheep that will go right to the door of the slaughterhouse.

Greg may be right in 80 percent of what he is predicting in this article, but if he is only 80 or 90 percent correct, he does not possess prophetic gifts and so shouldn't be writing as if he is indeed a prophet.

Two approaches to the same issues - some will agree strongly with one, some with other, and many fall somewhere in between, so how do we remain focused on what is best for the church?

Blog readability level

blog readability test

Movie Reviews


Since I don't know what criteria they use, I'm not totally sure what this rating means, but FYI!

Retiring a gadget

I had three little gadgets on the right side of my blog page here:

  • one counting down the days to GAFCON

  • one counting down the days to Lambeth

  • and one that marked the number of days since September 30, 2007, the deadline for a response to the Anglican Primates' Dar-es-Salaam Communiqué
No adequate response by the Episcopal Church, definitively one way or another, was given to the Communiqué, except that no response is a response. (I am, of course, totally ignoring - just like everyone else - the Joint Standing Committee report, which seems to have served its purpose for about 15 minutes, never to be heard from again.)

After interviewing Archbishop Orombi, where he talks about the ramifications of that Sept. 30 deadline, I realize that it is time to retire this particular gadget, so it has now been removed.

It no longer makes sense to mark those days. They are already marked - as lost.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Episcopal Majority closes its blog

Why now, when it was just getting so exciting??? Why close before GAFCON, before Lambeth, before all of the other intriguing possibilities??

Well, according to the Rev. David K. Fly and the Steering Committee of The Episcopal Majority (the Rev. George C. Bedell, Ms. Lisa Fox, the Rev. Mark Harris, Ms. Judy Matthews, and the Rev. Tom Woodward), it's because they've won.

From The Episcopal Majority [boldface mine]:

. . . Much has happened over the past two years – most of which you will find chronicled on this blog. Our Presiding Bishop has shown wisdom and courage as she has decisively moved to defend the Church while offering the opportunity of reconciliation with those who have chosen to leave. The Episcopal News Service and other offices of The Episcopal Church are speaking out clearly on the issues confronting us.

Though there are still a relatively small number of parishes and dioceses who remain committed to schism, it is clear that the good heart of the Church is safe. Though the "strife is not o'er," it is becoming clearer that theirs is a dying cause; there is no groundswell for schism, and their numbers are not growing. We are no longer fearful, and certainly not fearful of a rightwing takeover of our Church.

We believe that the Rev. Lauren R. Stanley has beautifully summed up the condition of our Church in the previous and last posting on The Episcopal Majority blog:
News Flash: The majority of Episcopalians in the United States voted to stay in the Episcopal Church today.

They did so by going to church, by receiving Communion, by participating in God's mission and ministry, by praying, preaching and acting on God's holy word, by working with youth and the elderly, by doing all the myriad things that they have been doing through the history of the church, and by proclaiming, in many and varied ways, the love of God for all of God's beloved children.

With those words in mind, The Episcopal Majority will close its blog as of today. Though we do not intend to continue publishing, we will keep the blog online so that our friends may access the many fine articles to be found here. . .

SanDiegoAnglicans has info on the California Marriage Protection Act

Check out SanDiegoAnglicans.com for links to sites on the California Marriage Protection Act and how to register your opinion on the recent court decision with Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Anglican Communion sits on keg of gun-powder

From Tope Olukole at the Saturday Tribune (Nigeria) [boldface mine]:

ANGLICAN Communion worldwide has been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008.

At a time when the church should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth there is little enthusiasm towards the meeting.

There are continual cries for patience and understanding; and yet the record shows that those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” have shown remarkable forebearance while their pleas have been ignored, leaders have been demonised, and advocates marginalised.

In 1998, the Anglican Communion made a deliberate decision with regard to matters of human sexuality; it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Bishops of the Communion. It reflected traditional teaching interpreted with pastoral sensitivity.

And yet it has been ignored and those who uphold it were derided for their stubbornness. However, the church continued to meet and pray and struggle to find ways to maintain the spirit of unity.

The journey started in February 1997 in Kuala Lumpur. It was there, during the 2nd Encounter of the Global South Anglican Communion, that a statement was issued in which concern was expressed about the apparent setting aside of the Biblical teaching by some Provinces and Dioceses. The statement pleaded for dialogue in a spirit of true unity before any part of the communion embarks on radical changes to church discipline and moral teachings.

Sadly, this plea and several similar warnings have been ignored and ten years later, in February, 2007, the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and experienced an agonising time trying to repair the communion that has been so badly broken. Their earlier prediction at the Primates’ Meeting at Lambeth palace in 2003, that rejection of the faith committed to the church would tear “the fabric of our communion at its deepest level,” has proven to be accurate.

In Dar es Salaam, the Primates proposed, as one last attempt to restore unity, a period of seven months for those who have brought the communion to the brink of destruction to reconsider their actions and put a stop to the harmful actions that have so polarised the church. . .

Read it all.
H/t to Anglicans United.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tactics explained at Fr. Jake's

I always get tactics and strategy confused, so I may be using the wrong term in the headline. But whichever it is, it's happening now!

From the Rev. Susan Russell over at Fr. Jake's on justifying All Saints move to start performing same-sex weddings [boldface mine]:

Although it's certainly debatable, reading Canon 17:5 in conversation with Canon 18:1 we believe that the spirit of those canons transcends the letter of the language describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Canon 18:2b. And we'll be suggesting fixing that in Anaheim.

It's arguable that the 1976 approval of the ordination of women wouldn't have happened without 1974 and Philadelpia pushing the church to amend the canons to reflect the reality there WERE women who were priests. I'll argue it's the same here ... and that the church needs to amend the canons to reflect the reality that there are same-sex couples who are MARRRIED.

But remember, Bishop Bruno knows nothing about any of this! But Susan Russell+ has that covered as well:
+Jon's letter to the clergy said ...

I remind you that pastoral acts are personal decisions between clergy and members of your congregation.

... which is why we don't have to ask for "permission" for blessings -- which have been happening at All Saints Church for over 15 years -- and where we'll stand when we start marrying gay couples on June 16th.

Appreciative Inquiry at Lambeth?

So, is this a move away from the Delphi Method that ECUSA is so well known for? Appreciative Inquiry sounds so much more civilized and sophisticated.

From The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe [boldface mine]:

Andrew Gerns, a member of the news-team here at the Lead, is thinking that he sees evidence that there's a plan unfolding for this summer's Lambeth conference. But he's thinking it's not going to be business as usual, since doing things the "normal" way is what has gotten us to the loggerheads we're at today.
"Since 2003, the Anglican Communion, and all the Instruments of Unity together and separately have shown us that we cannot legislate our way out of this, and that diplomatic solutions are at best provisional. The Windsor Report is a disaster precisely because it attempts to solve a problem structurally that is at heart a theological problem. But it did not spring out of nowhere.

Progressives have tended to go about solving problems by way of organizing and creating legislative and judicial solutions to theological and moral problems. And, in my view, the reasserters have gone wrong because they have attempted to impose a competing, conciliar (structural and political) solution to solve what they fundamentally see as a theological problem. . .


Andrew suggests that by way of response, the design team has decided to intentionally incoporate the principles of Appreciative Inquiry into the proceedings of the conference. . .

Read it all.
But "What is 'Appreciative Inquiry'?" you ask. Well, according to its write-up in Wikipedia:
Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system's capacity for collaboration and change. Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a 4-stage process focusing on:
  • DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.

  • DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.

  • DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.

  • DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.
The basic idea is to build organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn't. It is the opposite of problem solving. Instead of focusing your energy on fixing the 0.0001% that's wrong, AI focuses on how to create more of what's already working. The approach acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organizational alignment. The method aims to create meaning by drawing from stories of concrete successes and lends itself to cross-industrial social activities. It can be enjoyable and natural to many managers, who are often sociable people.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilized interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr and Griffin, 2003). Both approaches involve bringing very large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.

AI has been used extensively to foster change in businesses (a variety of sectors), health care systems, social profit organizations, educational institutions, communities, local governments, and religious institutions.

I have a very bad feeling about this!

Post-GAFCON meeting in London

Interesting, very interesting.

From the Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream [boldface mine]:

Global Anglicanism & English Orthodoxy?
1st July 2008 10.30am–4.30pm
All Soul’s Church, Langham Place, London

A briefing for Incumbents and local Church Leaders

You are invited to a gathering of incumbents and local church leaders (eg., staff, church wardens, lay readers) to hear first hand from some of those involved and to stand with some of our gospel partners who have struggled to uphold orthodox Anglicanism.

Speakers
  • Henry Orombi (Archbishop of Uganda): Orthodoxy and Effective Mission

  • Greg Venables (Archbishop of the Southern Cone): Orthodoxy and Wider Connections

  • Jim Packer (St John’s Shaughnessy, Canada): Orthodoxy and Personal Experience

  • Peter Jensen (Archbishop of Sydney): Orthodoxy and True Anglicans
Tickets

£10 to include refreshments but please bring your own lunch

For a ticket please send a cheque for £10 payable to “All Souls Church” to Miranda Lewis, All Souls Church Langham Place, 2 All Souls Place, London W1B 3DA together with your name and address, name of church and email address. . .

Check it out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

+KJS: Helping poor trumps "being right"

From an interview with +Katharine Jefferts Schori by Peter Smith, The Courier-Journal (Louisville) - also participating in the interview was Bishop Ted Gulick of the Diocese of Kentucky. [boldface mine]:

. . . Q. You have spoken about the Millennium Development Goals (targeting extreme global poverty) as a point of church unity. Why is it that the bishops from some of the countries that would seem to be the beneficiaries of this point of unity the most -- such as Uganda and Nigeria -- why are they the ones saying that we have to have unity in this other area (of sexual morals) as well. Do you think you're missing something or that they're missing something?

Jefferts Schori: Well, different people prioritize the world in different ways. Some people believe that being right is the most important thing in the world. Others think that feeding people is more important. But if you're hungry, your political party doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

Q. Do you feel that's what's motivating this?

Jefferts Schori: I think it's a piece of it. I think a piece of it also is really wrapped up in colonialism. This communion needs to have that conversation, and we have not done it. We're seeing evidence of continuing colonial attitudes around the communion (which developed alongside the expansion of the British empire). We see reverse colonialism. We see neo-colonialism. And we don't examine it. We're still treating each other as commodities in many, many different ways.

Q. Can you break that down? Who's being colonial?

Jefferts Schori: It goes in many directions. It's multi-layered. There's a colonial aspect to the establishment of congregations of the Church of Bolivia in Kentucky. We are being colonized. There is a reverse colonialism in some of the interactions between people in this church and people in the church in Africa. There is I think a neo-colonial aspect in the way in which some factions in this church are exploiting people in other parts of the communion. Those are challenging things to talk about, but it's a part of discovering our own sinfulness.

Q. I've also heard it said that the Western churches, with a very gay-friendly agenda, are once again importing Western ideas onto countries that don't want these ideas, that that's an aspect of colonialism.

Jefferts Schori: That could be said. I don't think there's a great push to impose, even within this (American) church, the idea that (any particular) congregation must provide blessing for same-sex unions. That's not part of the conversation. It's a matter of making it available.

Gulick: I think Katharine's right on that. In the late 1980s, when I as a straight white male suddenly found in Newport News, Va. (where Gulick was then a pastor), in the early moments of the AIDS crisis, I started having deep conversations with persons who were affected by that illness. I woke up to what I think was my own personal clarity, that certain expressions of same-sex attraction are fundamental to certain people's being. I have never in 30 years wanted to inflict that perspective on an Africa bishop, and I've been in conversation with hundreds of African bishops. It's my own insight. I talk to them about how I came to believe that. I would never presume that my relationship with my companion bishop in Rwanda is dependent on his believing that. It's an absurd thing to say that. ... I don't know any colleague in the House of Bishops that has ever done that or wants to do that.

Jefferts Schori: It's a red herring. Even Gene Robinson is not doing that. He's not going to Africa insisting that they change their way of dealing with people, except to remind people of what Lambeth has said repeatedly, that all persons are deserving of human dignity and civil rights, and pastoral care. (Lambeth, the once-a-decade summit of Anglican bishops, declared in 1998 that homosexuality was "incompatible with Scripture" while calling on "all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation.")

Q. The Episcopal Church, like other mainline denominations is losing members and attendance. What's going wrong, and what can the church do about it?

Jefferts Schori: I'm not sure if it's a matter of things going wrong. It's a re-examination across our culture of the sources of authority. There are people in this culture who cannot live with an understanding that says, "The way I interpret a book that was written nearly 2,000 years ago is the way you must believe. You can't question that. You can't offer another interpretation. You must take it the way I see it." The Reformation was about inviting people into conversation with that text. That produces a variety of interpretations. Anglicanism has always said that variety is important to the health of the body. Re-examination of authority is challenging the church as well.

We're a far less clerical institution than we were 50 years ago. That's a piece of it. We're rediscovering the fact that all baptized persons are called into ministry and not just the people wearing funny clothes, and that daily living is where we need God. That's where Jesus calls us into ministry.

Read it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Compare and contrast: An exercise in futility

Here’s an interesting exercise. In light of the recent California Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, let’s take a look at what God tells us through Holy Scripture about the sacrament of marriage and its purpose in His plan for us.

One Old Testament source from Genesis 2:18,21-22,24:

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.". . . So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. . . For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

And one New Testament source from Matthew 19:4-6:
"Haven't you read," [Jesus] replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Now, let’s do a “Compare & Contrast” between the reaction of Roman Catholic clergy and the reaction of some California bishops of the Episcopal Church (I would have liked to include an Anglican response as well, but so far I have not seen one) [all boldface is mine].

First, we have a Reuters report on Pope Benedict XVI’s restatement of the RC’s understanding of marriage:
Pope Benedict, speaking a day after a California court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, firmly restated on Friday the Roman Catholic Church's position that only unions between a man and a woman are moral. . .

"The union of love, based on matrimony between a man and a woman, which makes up the family, represents a good for all society that can not be substituted by, confused with, or compared to other types of unions," he said.

The pope also spoke of the inalienable rights of the traditional family, "founded on matrimony between a man and a woman, to be the natural cradle of human life".

But I don’t think Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles would agree with him:
Today's Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being" and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been a leader in working for the rights of all people in the State of California, and that work is honored in today's ruling. The canons of our church, under "Rights of the Laity" (Canon 1:17.5), forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age. We affirm equal rights for all.

We will continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will meet in Anaheim in 2009.

I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.

To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Very different understandings in play here.

Let’s move on to another statement, this one by the California Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops:
The California Catholic Conference of Bishops must express its disappointment in the California Supreme Court decision to declare Proposition 22 unconstitutional.

Proposition 22, which states, ‘Only marriage between one man and one woman is valid and recognized in California,’ passed eight years ago by a vote of 61.2 to 38.8 percent. That statute reflected the wisdom of the voters of California in retaining the traditional definition of marriage as a biological reality and a societal good. Unfortunately, today, the Court saw fit to disregard the will of the majority of people of California.

Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children. . .

Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

Of course, Bishop Marc Handley of the Episcopal Diocese of California disagrees:
I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family. All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions. This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country. Jesus tried to free his disciples from a narrow definition of what it means to be his follower. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” God affirms the good in the world outside the boundaries of religious creeds and dogmas. In this spirit, we also affirm and rejoice in this decision by the California Supreme Court precisely because we are Christians. Clearly, this momentous decision will have ecclesial implications for the Episcopal Diocese of California. I intend to be in prayerful consultation with the people of our diocese to see how we can use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and our witness to God’s inclusive love. The Diocese of California will issue an appropriate statement in due course.

But the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco George Niederauer continues to hold to the biblical definition of marriage:
In regard to this decision of the court, the Catholic Bishops of California have said that "Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love-a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children."

This teaching of the Church follows forth from the teaching of Jesus Christ: "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" (Matthew 19: 4-5)

At a moment in our society when we need to reinforce the strength of marriage and family this decision of the Supreme Court takes California in the opposite direction. This action challenges those in society who believe in the importance of the traditional understanding of marriage to deepen their witness to the unique and essential role that marriage between a man and a woman has in the life of society.

Bishop James Mathes of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, now that the secular court has passed judgment, has the confidence to say:
I support the Supreme Court's decision and oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. . . While supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, I am mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the communion. . . Let us be good stewards of these solidarities and teach each other, and the wider community, how to listen and learn from each other as we accept the Court's decision to allow equal access to the institution of marriage.

So, which statements more closely try to reflect how God describes the act and purpose of marriage? Which statements seem to reflect the spirit of the age? Which statements hold up Holy Scripture?

From Bishop Bruno of Los Angeles to the clergy and laity in his diocese

From Susan Russell's blog [boldface mine]:

Dear Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Los Angeles,

I trust by now you have had the opportunity to read my statement in response to the recent California Supreme Court decision.

Some clergy and lay leaders have contacted my office requesting information or clarification of how this decision affects what we can do, or will do, as well as what our policy on this issue will be. As publicized in the press, the State of California expects the decision to become effective 30 days after its issuance. In addition I remain on sabbatical and am scheduled to resume my regular work schedule the week of June 3.

There are canonical, prayer book, and pastoral questions which are raised and must be addressed. I have been in contact with the bishops of the Dioceses of California and San Diego and we will be working together with other bishops of California to meet and discuss how we proceed. I will keep you informed and will act with all possible dispatch while attending to the canonical and pastoral issues the decision affect.

I remind you that pastoral acts are personal decisions between clergy and members of your congregation. In the meantime please remain patient and prayerful. Thank you.

Yours in Christ,
J. Jon Bruno, Bishop
Diocese of Los Angeles

H/t to Stand Firm.

Shoe Thursday: If I only had ankles. . .

I have to admit - I have no ankles and this shoe definitely needs to worn by someone with great ankles, but if I did, this would be such a fun shoe to wear!

Rene Caovilla Crystal Snake Sandals

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayer and Fasting for GAFCON

From the Common Cause Partnership Prayer for Common Cause website [boldface mine]:

The lead bishops of the Common Cause Partnership have called for 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Global Anglican Future Conference to begin on Wednesday, May 21. The effort will run through the end of the Conference, which is taking place in Jerusalem, June 22-29. More than 1,000 Anglican leaders, including 280 bishops, will take part in this historic gathering.

“We are partnering with Jesus the Intercessor, preparing the way for our leaders to enter Jerusalem. Many are physically making the journey/pilgrimage, many, many others will make the journey on their knees, crying out to the Lord for His perfect will to be done in each pilgrim here and there,” said Rose-Marie Edwards, chief intercessor for the Anglican Communion Network.

The bishops have specified that the Daily Office, the Great Litany, and the Psalms of Ascent (120-134) be used during this season. The Psalms of Ascent were chosen because of the impact they had on the Global South meeting in Nairobi out of which GAFCON was birthed. Contributors to the Common Cause Partnership prayer blog will be posting these resources along with reflections, scriptures, collects and other aids to prayer as the 40 days unfold. Participants are invited to report specific needs, praises, and other feedback on the prayer blog. . .

There will be 40 days of prayer, beginning here.

H/t to TitusOneNine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AnglicanTV interview with Archbishop Henry Orombi, Uganda

From AnglicanTV, my interview with Archbishop Henry Orombi:


[Okay, I did a really silly thing which you will hear at the beginning of this interview. I started off by asking Archbishop Orombi about the Buddo Girls School fire that happened in April and the ongoing recovery efforts.

About twenty seconds into his answer, I realized that I had forgotten to turn the camera on, so the interview starts with him somewhat in the middle of his answer. (Mea culpa, but since I am camera crew, interviewer, and producer all in one, there is no one besides myself to fire, and I decided the most appropriate censure for this lapse is a stern warning not to let this happen again – so consider me warned!)]

So, here is my interview with the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda, for AnglicanTV, held Monday, May 19, 2008, at St. James Anglican, Newport Beach, California. It runs about 30 minutes.

Areas covered:
  • An update on the Buddo Girls School fire and recovery

  • Anglican Men's Retreat (an annual event, held this past weekend in southern California)

  • Moses, Joshua, and Caleb

  • Thoughts on Bishop Bob Duncan, Diocese of Pittsburgh

  • The Dar-Es-Salaam Communiqué Sept. 30 deadline

  • Lambeth 2008

  • GAFCON

  • The Anglican Covenant

  • The recent exchange of letters with the Presiding Bishop on his visit to Savannah

  • Rick Warren and his gift of networking

  • Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury

  • A message for the American orthodox

A response to the statement by Bishop James Mathes of San Diego

I've had a few days to consider the statement issued by Bishop James Mathes of San Diego on the recent California Supreme Court decision and I have a few comments. I've pasted the bishop's letter below in italic and all boldfacing is mine.

While visiting the Diocese of El Salvador, I learned of yesterday's ruling by the California Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to receive a California marriage license. With efforts already underway to place a constitutional amendment on November's ballot banning such marriages, it is clear that this issue will continue to permeate our political life.

A statement of the obvious, but note how the issue “will continue to permeate our political life” only – what about our communal, family, religious, and spiritual life?
I support the Supreme Court's decision and oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture.

So by supporting the Supreme Court’s decision and opposing the effort to amend the California state constitution, he is discounting the popular vote of the people. Now, I agree that a popular vote on a particular issue is not the end-all and be-all, but I certainly think as bishop, he should acknowledge that this is part of our political process and not discredit it because he happens to agree with this court decision.

He is also very wrong in his statement that “At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them. . .” As articulated by Ireaneus in the comments at Stand Firm:
“Wrong and wrong.

--- The Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution curtailed the right of an individual to sue a state in federal court---a right the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793).

--- The Fourteenth Amendment precluded certain Confederate traitors from ever holding federal office, notwithstanding President Andrew Johnson’s pardon of them.

--- During the 1970s, as the U.S. Supreme Court curtailed Fourth Amendment (searches and seizures) and Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination) doctrine, the California Supreme Court held that the state constitution provided broader protections. California voters overturned those rulings during the early 1980s.”

And from The_Archer_of_the_Forest at TitusOneNine:
Well, as a political science major and amateur poly-sci scholar and as someone who has spent time in law school, that is a somewhat flawed understanding of constitutional law. Granted that the first ten amendments are the Bill of Rights, I can give the examples of prohibition (though ultimately repealed), most of the amendments stemming from the civil war (which gave freedom to ex-slaves, but took rights away from slave owners), and the amendment to limit the term of office for a president to 2 elected terms or a maximum of 10 years limits power. Not to mention the 16th amendment which established the federal governments right to extend its power over the individual in the form of an income tax.”

One wonders if +Mathes even researched this sentence, is making assumptions, or just repeating what someone else told him. And given that the entire letter rests on this assumption “the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them,” the fact that the assumption is incorrect means that the entire letter is based on nothing, nothing other than +Mathes’s own thoughts and feelings and on nothing else – nothing scriptural, nothing legal, nothing moral, nothing political, nothing constitutional.
While supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, I am mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the communion.

First off, what “rights” has he as a bishop been supporting? If he is referring to treating all, Christian or not, as creatures of God with the love and respect Jesus calls us to, then I would have to say I hope he has supported the rights of all people, not just one particular group. And we have been in “the midst of a challenging but vital conversation” about this for forty years.

To even call these “holy relationships” when that has not been determined by the greater Church is an indication that +Mathes is committed to a particular “rights” agenda. Of course, at this past February’s diocesan convention, San Diego passed this resolution:
Resolution 08-09

Be It Resolved that the Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego is urged to appoint a theologically diverse Task Force of clergy and lay people reflective of the Diocese, to study Holiness in Relationships and Blessings in Churches of this Diocese from the perspectives of holy scripture, church history and tradition; practical, pastoral and sacramental theology; and the movement of the Holy Spirit; and then prepare an academic paper on the subject to be presented to the 2009 Convention of the Diocese of San Diego, with additional recommendations as that Task Force might deem appropriate.

Be it Further Resolved, in advance of the presentation at convention, workshops be promoted throughout the diocese to engage congregations in this work and mission.

EXPLANATION OF RESOLUTION:

Whereas much of the conflict in the Episcopal Church concerns the issue of holiness in relationships, and
Whereas the Order for Marriage found in the Book of Common Prayer states that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, and
Whereas, there are persons in the Episcopal Church (gay and lesbian, seniors and others constrained by financial concerns) who are in committed, monogamous relationships who wish to have their relationships blessed in the church by a clergy person, and
Whereas there are persons in the church, who because of their understanding of scripture and what constitutes a faithful life are opposed to such blessings occurring in the church, and
Whereas liturgical practices surrounding the blessing of unions are not consistent throughout the greater church, and
Whereas the House of Bishops in their September 25, 2007 response to “questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners,” noted that the 1998 Lambeth Conference called on provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring all Anglicans fully into the Church’s conversation about human sexuality and holy relationships, and
Whereas engaging in such a listening process is a fundamental step before engaging in any action on the matter.

At the time, we were told that “there is no hidden agenda here, we want to have an open-ended conversation and see where it takes us.” I agree that the agenda wasn’t hidden at all, it was blatant – just read through the “Whereas’s” in the Explanation.
I ask all people of the diocese to hold the court's decision gently.

I ask, seriously, what does that mean? I’m not trying to be obtuse or sarcastic – I really don’t think anyone knows what that means. Does it mean don’t get too upset if you disagree with the decision? Does it mean acknowledge that this decision might be upsetting to some? Please, tell me, because to me it sounds like psychobabble.
Prayerfully remember that God has placed his children, who share different perspectives on same-sex relationships, next to each other in church every Sunday.

And God has placed us in church so that we can learn from His Word, through the life and resurrection of Jesus and the Holy Scripture. “Different perspectives” mean very little against God’s Eternal Word.
As Archbishop Rowan Williams said, "our baptism puts us in solidarities not of our own choosing." Let us be good stewards of these solidarities and teach each other, and the wider community, how to listen and learn from each other as we accept the Court's decision to allow equal access to the institution of marriage.

Solidarity, singularity, it sounds like a Star Trek script.

+Mathes is telling us here that we are to accept the Court’s decision (because remember, he opposes amending the California constitution) and we are to “listen and learn from each other.” What he’s saying is that the Diocese of San Diego, once the initial reaction from this decision is over, will push hard to allow same-sex blessing and marriage sacraments in the Episcopal Church.

If one believes that the court decision is correct, then what is the point of listening and learning, other than to convince those who disagree with the court decision that we must abide by it. +Mathes accepts and supports the court’s decision, therefore +Mathes accepts and supports same-sex blessings and marriage.

And as we have learned from the Episcopal Church’s shameful affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, that which the courts have deemed legal, the Episcopal Church will soon call not only moral, but mandatory and holy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

AnglicanTV round-up

Be sure and check out all of the video at AnglicanTV. Kevin spent the weekend in the mountains of southern California videotaping the talks at the annual Anglican Men's Retreat.

This is the second year that Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda has been their primary leader. A number of other bishops were there as well, including Bishop John Guernsey and Bishop Terence Kelshaw (I know there were others, but I don't have their names in front of me).

The theme this year was Christian courage and they studied Joshua and the book of Judges. Watch these all - very inspiring.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Sunday, May 18, 2008

San Diego speaks on the California Supreme Court ruling

From Bishop James Mathes, Diocese of San Diego, on the recent California Supreme Court ruling [boldface mine]:

May 17, 2008

While visiting the Diocese of El Salvador, I learned of yesterday's ruling by the California Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to receive a California marriage license. With efforts already underway to place a constitutional amendment on November's ballot banning such marriages, it is clear that this issue will continue to permeate our political life.

I support the Supreme Court's decision and oppose the likely effort to amend the constitution. At a federal level, the constitution has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture.

While supporting the rights of gays and lesbians, I am mindful that our church has not yet made the decision to bless same-sex unions. We are in the midst of a challenging but vital conversation about holy relationships in this diocese and indeed across the communion. I ask all people of the diocese to hold the court's decision gently. Prayerfully remember that God has placed his children, who share different perspectives on same-sex relationships, next to each other in church every Sunday.

As Archbishop Rowan Williams said, "our baptism puts us in solidarities not of our own choosing." Let us be good stewards of these solidarities and teach each other, and the wider community, how to listen and learn from each other as we accept the Court's decision to allow equal access to the institution of marriage.

The Right Reverend James R. Mathes
Bishop of San Diego

I don't feel like taking this apart right now to illustrate the illogic and bending to the culture that this statement displays (although I might do that later), so I have one word, and one word only, to say to the Episcopal Church: Good-bye.

H/t to Walking with Integrity.