The man who still loves empty fame or is attached to some material thing is the one who is offended at men for the sake of temporal goods, who bears them grudges or hate, who is a slave of shameful thoughts; to the God-loving soul all these things are foreign. --- St. Maximus the Confessor, (c. 580-662)
An inherent authority. It is a basic tenet of the Christian religion that we believe what we believe not because human beings have invented it but because God has revealed it. In consequence, there is an authority inherent in Christianity which can never be destroyed --From I Believe in Preaching, Between Two Worlds. --- John R.W. Stott
The Divine Self-Disclosure. Worship, faith and obedience. In the Bible God gives us revelations of himself which lead us to worship, promises of salvation which stimulate our faith, and commandments expressing his will which demand our obedience. This is the meaning of Christian discipleship. Its three essential ingredients are worship, faith and obedience. And all three are called forth by the Word of God. --- From The Bible: Book for Today, John R.W. Stott
Dear Brothers and Sisters
October 1, 2010
The Archbishop of Canterbury once again tried to straddle the homosexual fence this past week declaring that he has "no problem" with gay bishops. However, the ABC also said he was not "positive" about them having relationships. While recognizing that he was simplifying the Church's position, Dr Williams commented in an interview: "There's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe."
Asked what was wrong with a homosexual bishop having a partner, he said: "I think because the scriptural and traditional approach to this doesn't give much ground for being positive about it."
He said the issue remains a particularly divisive one: "The Church at the moment doesn't quite know what to make of it."
He also stressed his role for religious unity, saying: "We actually need each other, however much we dislike each other."
Once again, his comments pleased no one including the LGBTQ community who blasted Dr. Williams for not being declarative enough and causing more "pain" and "homophobia" in the church by not fully embracing them. Orthodox Anglicans were also not pleased by his stand.
Anglican Mainstream took the ABC to task saying that with respect to sexual behavior, that means honoring marriage between a man and a woman as the only acceptable context for sexual relations. Whilst presbyters, priests and bishops need to be above reproach, this teaching applies to all Christians. If we consider a parallel situation to that of a homosexual priest and a partner, namely that of a male priest setting up home with his woman partner, that household would not honor marriage, even if the relationship were celibate.
"That makes clear that in addition to the expectation that its ordained ministers will faithfully teach the faith revealed in Holy Scripture and set forth in the Catholic Creeds, the Church stresses the importance of the personal life and the order of the household of those called to ordained leadership."
Anglican fudge is a characteristic of the archbishop's thinking. It cannot continue indefinitely.
Charles Ravens, a UK vicar, has written a book titled "Shadow Gospel: Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis" http://www.latimertrust.org/sg.htm in which he rips Rowan Williams for trying to square the circle. He writes that Dr. Williams' leadership is a tragedy in which "the weight of an historic institution and the resourcefulness of a deeply learned mind are brought to bear in an attempt to sustain the unsustainable.
"There is still much confusion about what Dr Williams believes and stands for, as this latest press coverage makes clear. My negative conclusion - that Dr Williams offers us a shadow gospel, a theology which has the form of orthodox faith, but not its real substance - points to a positive alternative, that the Anglican Communion can recover its identity and coherence by gathering around the apostolic gospel as affirmed by the leaders of the spiritually dynamic Global South and so clearly articulated in the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration."
Here is an extract from the preface in which he sets out the essential argument of the book:
"Although signs of hope are undoubtedly emerging, a secure future for the Anglican Communion rests on an accurate diagnosis of its present ills. In this account of Rowan Williams' leadership as Archbishop of Canterbury a kind of tragedy unfolds, in which the weight of an historic institution and the resourcefulness of a deeply learned mind are brought to bear in an attempt to sustain the unsustainable - an illusory middle ground between two fundamentally opposed visions of Anglican identity.
"The one is confessional and is being articulated with increasing confidence by the leadership of the Global South; the other represents the seduction of the Church by the spirit of the age, as seen in its most developed form in the increasingly apostate behaviour of The Episcopal Church in the United States. This analysis demonstrates that Dr Williams' theology is not only alien to the former, but also powerless to resist the latter and, in practice, the result is a doctrinally incoherent Communion barely held together by a mixture of sentiment and improvisation.
"The understanding offered here is that at the heart of these difficulties is a shadow gospel; a theological project which can speak the language of orthodox faith, yet subverts the supremacy of Scripture and the essential nature of Christian truth itself."
VOL urges its readers to buy the book. I will review it in some depth at a later time.
2009 diocesan figures for four Episcopal dioceses Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Quincy and North Texas are in and they are all in free fall with lost ASA as well as plate and pledge. You can read the full report in today's digest.
Two Anglo-Catholic parishes, one in Nebraska and the other in Maryland, have left the Episcopal Church hoping to join up with the Roman Catholic Church through the proposed Ordinariate offered by the Pope. St. Barnabas in Omaha is in litigation with the Diocese of Nebraska for its property. The vestry of Mount Calvary Church (Episcopal), a small but historic Anglo-Catholic parish in Baltimore, voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions: first, to leave the Episcopal Church and second, to become an Anglican Use parish in the Holy Catholic Church under terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Apparently, TEC bishop The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton is letting them leave with their property, according to the church's rector.
In the Diocese of Georgia things are not quite so cozy. Christ Church, the Mother Church of Georgia, announced the filing of two separate Amicus Curiae Briefs (friend of the court briefs) in support of its appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. This appeal seeks to overturn lower court rulings and protect local church property from being seized by the national Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Georgia, which do not hold title to the historic church property. You can read more about this in today's digest.
A Draft Profile of the Diocese of Washington prepared by the Search & Nominating Committee for the Ninth Bishop of Washington brought out the wrath and ire of attorney layman Rufus W. Peckham, Jr. a communicant member of Christ Church, Georgetown. Here is his scathing critique of the Draft Profile of the diocese.
My dear Committee Members:
I have carefully studied your Draft Profile of the Diocese of Washington and although I fully appreciate the tireless and devoted efforts that have gone into its' composition I am afraid it completely glosses over some very unpleasant facts with which our new bishop will have to deal. The Draft virtually ignores the very cold, hard facts now bedeviling this diocese (indeed the whole of TEC, for that matter) e.g. the serious financial situation necessitating the dismissal of a substantial number of Cathedral employees, the closing of numerous churches (save for an obscure statistical reference), the alarming decrease in communicant membership, the near-schismatic doctrinal differences among both clergy and laity within this diocese over issues of human sexuality to say nothing of a whole host of lesser problems.
In short, it is my considered opinion that the Draft as currently written portrays the EDoW as having merely a few trivial problems but is basically a Garden of Eden awaiting only a compassionate, caring bishop to restore it to full bloom. In my view the Draft presents a totally naive, unrealistic picture of this diocese and blithely ignores and/or white-washes the very serious problems our new bishop is going to have to face. The candidates for the Ninth Bishop of Washington are not being done any favors by presenting them with what I can only regard as a skewed picture of the true status of this diocese.
In the Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison, unchastened by the HOB letter asking him to resign, has promised, in staying, that he would return humbly to listen to his Standing Committee before taking up the reins of power and making more rash decisions. NOT A CHANCE. Bennison has swept back into power trying to revive Camp Wapiti, making rash decisions and implementing ideas long considered dead. He has done so much damage in six weeks that the Standing Committee wrote a letter to the whole diocese cataloging his latest sins.
It is quite unbelievable that a man who has been asked by everybody to resign is not only hanging on to power but has gone back to his old ways without a hint of guilt or shame about his past actions. There was a time when, if this happened, a van would turn up at your front door and four men in white coats would appear, and said person would disappear never more to return. Bennison is giving the play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a run for its money. You can read the letter in today's digest.
In other news, the diocese has filed a summary judgment to recover the parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, in order to oust TAC Bishop David Moyer. To date, the Dennis Canon has pretty much been sustained by the courts - that all properties are held in trust for the diocese and national church. Moyer is seeking to take his parish into the Roman Catholic Church through a Personal Ordinariate offered by Pope Benedict. His congregation is not united in this effort. A parishioner told VOL that about 30% of the congregation would go with him.
A sign that all is not well over the Pope's offer to Anglicans wishing to leave The Episcopal Church or any of the continuing Anglican churches is evidenced this week by three US bishops of the Anglican Church of America (ACA) who are refusing the pope's offer. TAC Primate John Hepworth wrote a letter putting pressure on the three ACA Bishops who, he says, have effectively renounced their oaths to uphold the teaching of the TAC and are presently engaged in an intercommunion/merger with the Anglican Province of America (APA) a "Continuing Anglican" body.
This week, the American bishops are meeting at The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. It is expected that the three dissenters will push for their own APA merger agenda. You can read more about this in today's digest.
The former Anglican bishop of the Murray (Australia) was found guilty of disgraceful conduct by a church tribunal in Adelaide this week. The body rebuked him and recommended that he be prohibited from acting as a bishop.
The special tribunal found Ross Davies had failed to deal appropriately with sexual misconduct allegations against an archdeacon, displayed a lack of commitment to the Anglican Church and had used threatening and aggressive language towards parishioners.
Bishop Davies, who quit his position last week and received a $150,000 payment from the church, was not at the tribunal when it delivered its findings after a two-day hearing.
The bishop faced nine internal charges brought by Adelaide Archbishop Jeffrey Driver and Bishop of Willochra Garry Weatherill relating to behavior dating back to 2003.
Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy criticized the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) for once again asking members of the clergy to violate the Constitution and IRS regulations by endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. In response, Interfaith Alliance is asking clergy to pledge not to make such endorsements from the pulpit or on behalf of their house of worship and to join the more than 200 faith leaders who made that same commitment during the 2008 election cycle. Interfaith Alliance is asking clergy across the country to sign a six point pledge to uphold certain standards during the election. This effort stands in stark contrast to the ADF's plans to have clergy around the country violate federal law by making endorsements from the pulpit on September 26. A copy of the pledge along with a selection of signers can be found at http://www.interfaithalliance.org/clergypledge.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana, said, "It is odd that the Alliance Defense Fund calls this 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' because participating clergy clearly don't respect their congregants enough to let them make their own choices. They are using the authority of their office - a religious office - to make a political endorsement. I cannot stress strongly enough my objections to turning houses of worship into pseudo-precinct nominating conventions. I am as concerned about what such a practice in houses of worship would do to the integrity and credibility of religion, as about what it would do to weaken the Constitution."
The Interfaith Alliance's clergy pledge began during the 2008 campaign cycle when it was signed by more than 200 members of the clergy including 25 major religious leaders spanning both the religious and ideological spectrum. Among the first signers of the pledge was the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland Church and a leader in the evangelical movement. Other signers include the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York.
Interfaith Alliance is calling on its members across the country to make the pledge not to endorse from the pulpit (if they are clergy). If they are not clergy, Interfaith Alliance is asking that they obtain a signature from their religious leader. Does anyone smell something rotten here? Our liberal leaders are the new thought police. We shall tell you what to think. Really.
A total of about 800 clergy attended the two Sacred Synods (one in each Province) of the Church of England this past week. Although the Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough are insisting that there will be an Ordinariate in the New Year, no formal announcement was made, and no resignations were announced.
Reading between the lines of their comments it seems that very tiny numbers of clergy will be joining. The layman who spoke yesterday suggested that the Ordinariate would be of interest to very few laity indeed, who value their Anglican heritage. Anglo-Catholics look to the FiF Assembly in London next month, for announcements of Ordinariate/resignations of Flying Bishops.
A new Society of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda is being set up for the vast majority of Anglo-Catholics who intend to continue to fight for the future of the Church of England. It has a web page at http://www.sswsh.com/ and is supported by a number of serving bishops in the Church of England.
The Society's postal address is the same as FiF, from which one might draw conclusions. Bishops, clergy and laity worldwide are invited to join. The main focus of traditional Anglicans here for the present will be on defeating the women bishops measure at its final approval stage in 2012 or 2013. It requires a 2/3 majority in each house of the General Synod, and it is thought unlikely to obtain that kind of majority in the House of Laity, unless the measure is amended to make proper provision for traditional Anglicans. Apparently the formation of SSWSH pleases Dr. Rowan Williams as it buys him some more time.
Continuing their defiance of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion's stand on appropriate sexual standards for clergy, Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in the Diocese of California has installed Jane Alison Shaw as the eighth dean of the cathedral. She will be the first woman to lead the cathedral, which was founded during the Gold Rush in 1849. Dr. Shaw, the cathedral's first openly lesbian dean, hails from the United Kingdom. Of course, there are other openly homosexual and lesbian cathedral deans already serving in Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle and Des Moines, among other locations. Perhaps a better question would be why it took San Francisco so long to join these other cities in having an openly homosexual dean. Tracey Lind, the first openly lesbian dean to serve an Episcopal cathedral, has been written about in the pages of The New York Times since 1997, at least.
A final word on the Diocese of Colorado's lawsuits against Fr. Don Armstrong, rector of St. George's Anglican Church, an orthodox priest who was recently absolved of 20 felony charges. Here is what one observer wrote VOL: "The local newspapers all continue to print the Bishop's (O'Neill) line, but the fact is--and the court transcripts prove this fact out--that the District Attorney explicitly stated that Fr. Armstrong's pleas do not constitute an admission of guilt. The fact is that the Diocese, which was $100,000 in the hole when it launched these charges spent over $6 million from unknown and unaccounted sources pursuing this vendetta. Then, they got the financially strapped Colorado Springs Police Department to allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to harass Fr. Armstrong and to conduct their own investigation. This investigation was driven by the primary relationship between Detective Mike Flynn and Bishop Rob O'Neill, who often sat talking, side-by-side, during the civil trial over the property. Quinn's unconstitutional conclusion to his report stated that while he could not prove that Fr. Armstrong had committed any crime, he could also not prove that he had not. This guilty-until-proven- innocent attitude has typified those who have driven the case against Fr. Armstrong."
It is ironic that O'Neill said in his parting shot that healing could now begin to all those harmed by Armstrong's actions. "It brings closure to a sad chapter in the life of the diocese," he said. That's choice. Armstrong took 700 parishioners from Grace & St Stephens who left voluntarily. They were not hurt. O'Neill hurt himself and his coffers by pursuing this ungodly lawsuit. Another story I wrote demonstrated that his diocese is in freefall with some 36 parishes having fled his revisionist grip. Are they ALL "sad chapters" as well?
The Anglican Diocese of the South (ADOTS ) will consecrate its first bishop, the Rev. Dr. Foley Beach on October 9th at The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fr. Beach is rector of Holy Cross Anglican in Loganville, Georgia. He will lead a diocese of 24 member and partner parishes from around the Southeast. ADOTS is one of the newest dioceses in the growing Anglican Church in North America, a church which itself began in 2009.
Many local and national Anglican leaders will be attending, including Archbishop Robert Duncan, head of the Anglican Church in North America. The Rev. Dr. Marc Robertson of Christ Church Savannah will be delivering the sermon.
The ceremony will be on Saturday, October 9, 2010, at 1:00 PM and is open to the public. The Church of the Apostles is located at 3585 Northside Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30327-2309.
The ADOTS consists of more than 1,500 Anglicans from 24 parishes in five states (AL, GA, NC, SC, TN). 16 of the parishes are full members of the ADOTS while 8 of the parishes are "partners." A partner parish is one that is subject to the constitution and canons of another Anglican jurisdiction other than the ADOTS but participates fully in the ministries of the diocese.
The retiring Bishop of Springfield, Peter Beckwith has been hired by conservative Hillsdale College, to serve as its new chaplain. Former chaplain Duane Beauchamp was pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Parish in Hillsdale, a continuing Anglican congregation attended by many college students and administrators. http://www.hillsdalecollegian.com/news/college-hires-new-chaplain-1.1574762#5
There is every likelihood that she will move against Lawrence, now that the Dennis Canon has been overturned in the State of South Carolina. With new canons in hand, she will stir up disaffected South Carolina Episcopalians thus giving her the excuse she needs to inhibit and depose the bishop on trumped up charges that he failed to come down hard on fleeing parishes. Anticipating this, Bishop Lawrence has answered some of the criticisms already levied against him by the national church. You can read his response in today's digest.
If Jefferts Schori moves against him, the bigger question will be, what will Rowan Williams do and say? This is not the same as when Bishop Bob Duncan left TEC and formed the ACNA. Lawrence has not left TEC and he has not broken any canons. So, will the ABC come to his defense or will he let Lawrence hang? It would be cowardly, but oddly consistent of the ABC to do and say nothing, largely because he wants the loyalty and money of TEC. Stay tuned.
From Fr. Tim Fountain, rector Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Sioux Falls, SD. comes this interesting tidbit on TEC insurance plan for priests:
The Church sees a wife and kids as a pre-existing condition. When The Episcopal Church went to a nationwide clergy health plan, there was considerable hope that a larger pool of payers would reduce premiums. Well, it did for some. The 2011 premium notice has arrived:
Single person: $785 monthly; $9,420 per year. Employee plus spouse: $1,570 monthly; $18,840 per year. Family: $2,355 monthly; $28,260 per year.
As you can imagine, the cost of the family coverage is a budget buster for the average Episcopal congregation. It would cost my parish well more than half-again my combined salary and housing allowance. So I continue part time work at a local hospital to provide family medical at decent premiums.
The Episcopal plan is a good one in terms of the coverage provided. But I leave it to the reader to figure out the demographic for which it was designed. It is a decided disincentive for congregations to call or keep an ordained minister with spouse and child(ren).
The Bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson recently ordained as priest a woman who is married to another female priest in the Diocese of Toronto. Now you should know that Bishop Johnson sits on the International Theological Commission of the Anglican Communion. So the question is: how objective can he be about same sex marriages or openly gay priests?
You can see all this at the website of Holy Trinity Anglican Church - Eaton Centre - Diocese of Toronto for the photos of the event. You can see the priesting of Joyce Barnett here: http://www.holytrinitytoronto.org/wp/ Archdeacon Peter Fenty was also present at the ordination.
Here is a typical line from a typical revisionist bishop like Johnson:
"On the issue of same-sex blessings I will continue to build bridges between people of different points of view and bring them together so they can talk to each other. One of my goals is to keep the widest opportunity available for people to continue to stay in the church and talk with each other. I do not believe that this is an issue which should divide the church and I'm going to work hard to make sure that it doesn't."
I've got bad news for you bishop, that bridge collapsed a long time ago. A new one has been built called the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The old bridge is gone. It won't be rebuilt.
The provincial synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is encouraging the election of women as bishops and urging dioceses that do not yet ordain women as priests to do so.
The triennial synod, meeting Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Benoni, Gauteng, passed a resolution on Sept. 30, saying that although women form the majority of church members, they are under-represented "in theological education, at every level in leadership and in representational roles."
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said during his address to the synod Sept. 29 that one of his dreams during his term of office is to consecrate the Anglican Church of Southern Africa's first woman bishop.
FOOTNOTE: This will only further isolate the rest of the Anglican Church in Africa who do not agree with this bishop's stand.
The Episcopal Church continues on its voyage of divide and conquer among the Global South. Recently the Bishop of Hawaii, the Rt. Rev. Bob Fitzpatrick approached James Wong, the Bishop of Seychelles. Being French speaking, the Province of the Indian Ocean is part of the Francophone Association of Anglican Provinces in the Anglican Communion. TEC is still trying to manipulate and stick their oar in and they are doing it through the Bishop of Episcopal (Anglican) churches in Europe Pierre Whalon, who, according to sources, is very influential in this body. Whalon's boss is Katharine Jefferts Schori. Needless to say, VOL was able to set the record straight in order to assist this godly Indian Ocean province.
In case you had any doubts, the chief cause of AIDS in the U.S. is men having sex with men. The Centers for Disease Control has released tragic new statistics: "Gay and bisexual men ... men who have sex with men [or MSM] of all races continue to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV," the report states. "Additionally, this is the only risk group in the U.S. in which the annual number of new HIV infections is increasing."
The statistics revealed the following:
* MSM account for nearly half of the more than one million people living with HIV in the US (48 percent, or an estimated 532,000 total persons);
* MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year (53 percent, or an estimated 28,700 infections);
* While the CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4 percent of the U.S. male population aged 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the U.S. is more than 44 times that of other men;
* MSM are the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections are increasing. While new infections have declined among both heterosexuals and injection drug users, the annual number of new HIV infections among MSM has been steadily increasing since the early 1990s.
The fact is, men having sex with men is bad for their health. The prevalence of AIDS is just one indicator. You gotta wonder why TEC bishops are blind, deaf and dumb and that the "gospel" of inclusion can be a death sentence for men having sex with men. Same–sex commitment is largely a myth.
Despite the ongoing litigation coming from the Diocese of Virginia, there is some good news to report. The All Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations celebrated with St. Margaret's Anglican Church in Woodbridge, VA, as it officially opened a free clinic to patients in the area. The facility is being operated by the Prince William Area Free Clinic and supported by St. Margaret's Church. It is the third free clinic in the county.
The clinic will be open every Monday from 8 am to 4 pm to meet the needs of qualified low-income and uninsured residents. It is the only free clinic in the county able to accept appointments. The church expects to be able to serve 60 people a day. Everything from exam room furniture to medical supplies has been donated by a broad group of supporters including health care professionals, church members, business leaders, members of the local community and policymakers. In addition, numerous volunteers offered their time and assistance in the construction and set-up of the facility.
"We are thrilled to be able to offer a free clinic to the people of Woodbridge and Prince William County. Our church puts a high priority on serving the community and this clinic is another way that we can do just that while showing Christ's love to those around us. The clinic itself has been a true community effort and we offer our sincere thanks to the numerous volunteers who stepped up to help," said Neal Brown, head pastor at St. Margaret's.
"The free clinic at St. Margaret's is a perfect example of ADV's commitment to serving others. Community outreach will continue to be a major focus for our member churches moving forward," said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes. St. Margaret's Church is located at 13900 Church Hill Drive in Woodbridge, Va.
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