16 August 2008

News from Pittsburgh

I stumbled upon a blog called Three Rivers Episcopal Thoughts and postings from an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh who's committed to orthodoxy and staying in the Episcopal Church.

It is owned by The Rev'd. Jim Simons a priest who wishes to remain in TEC when Duncan's March happens. He has a very good explanation about recent events and I urge you to go read his thoughts.

Why The Episcopal Church should stay in the Anglican Communion

This post was prompted by a comment from Bonnie who expressed her opinion that The Episcopal Church should leave the Anglican Communion, now.

Many Episcopalians believe the time has come to leave the Anglican Communion. This is in response to the recently completed Lambeth Conference at the close of which the Archbishop of Canterbury called for the continuation of Windsor Report as a rule rather than a report. In addition, there is his apparent inability to understand, or disregard, that The Episcopal Church has maintained the two moratoria asked of us. This opinion is because the Global South Primates sees both the American and Canadian churches as recalcitrant schoolboys in need of severe discipline.

Many feel that we should at least stop contributing money to the AC. Their reasoning is that if we are to be seen as recalcitrant children neither respected nor equal in standing with the other children, why foot the major part of the family budget.

Here is my opinion.

The American and Canadian churches have a unique place in the life of the Anglican Communion. We are much as the United States was during the Cold War Years. For the Communion, we are the champion of those who long for freedom and justice throughout the communion.

Our two churches are beacons on the hill for other parts of the Anglican Communion. They struggle for justice but are not large enough (in many respects) to make their voice heard. As long as we “have a dog in this fight”, they have hope. As long as we are at the table, we can speak on their behalf. If we leave the Communion voluntarily, they will be without a voice at that table.

We, who are in the Anglican form of Christian experience, must remember is that we are not A Church. We are a group of autonomous churches sharing common liturgy and tradition. Regardless of what the near future holds for all of us, I believe that we have an obligation to our sister churches who are in at risk from the fundamentalist take over.

Should the North American churches be forced out of the Communion by the fundamentalist minority, it would be a different situation. In that instance, many of the provinces (some say as many as twenty provinces) will cast their lot with the American churches.

Also, keep in mind that the Global South primates speak for the elite – the prince bishops of their respective provinces. They do not necessarily speak for the majority of their lay or clergy members. We are told the Global South is of one opinion on this subject, but they are not. We also have a responsibility to those disenfranchised Anglicans, too.

What say all of you?

15 August 2008

Mary, Mother of Our Lord - Theotokos

The fifteenth day of August is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the day tradition says she fell asleep in the Lord -- her Dormition. For Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics, this is the Feast of the Assumption. The belief of the Roman, Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholic Christians, The Blessed Virgin Mary was taken into heaven bodily. The Icon shows Jesus holding Mary's soul. It is my favourite representation of the death of Mary.

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, ma

y share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and

for ever. Amen.

The Icon on the right is from an Egyptian manuscript (Coptic Church). It shows the Virgin Mary being taken into heaven as the apostles gather around her tomb. Tradition says that Thomas was late getting back to Jerusalem and missed being present when Mary died. He would not believe that she was dead, so the Apostles took him to the tomb. When it was opened, her body was not there.

Bonnie's comment reminds me of the great hymns of the Orthodox church for the Dormition. I was a musician for a Greek Orthodox mission for a number of years and although I love the Greeks and their hymnody, I prefer the wonderful harmony of the Slavic tradition. Please take a few minuets to join in this wonderful hymn. and, as a musician, I must point out the wonderful use of "pedal bass." That's the "drone" bass you hear throughout most of the hymn. Here is the link. I tried to embed the video, but I'm that bear of very little brain and it didn't work.


In giving birth, you preserved your virginity!
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos!
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death!


Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos,
who is constant in prayer, and our firm hope in her intercessions
For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life
by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb!

At the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, the church decided that Mary, as mother of Jesus who was truly God and truly human, was, therefore, the Mother of God – Theotokos means God bearer.

OT - But on topic, we have received an update from Fran regarding Tim's condition. The update is here.

14 August 2008

Blessed Jonathan Daniels - a TEC Martyr of our age

My thanks to Wayward for reminding me, and us, that today is the feast day of Blessed Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal Church martyr from the Civil Rights era. Please go read about Blessed Jonathan at Wayward's blog. Also Padre Mickey has a moving tribute to Blessed Jonathan and also St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In brief, he was a seminarian who went to Alabama to help with Civil Rights. While there, he shielded a young woman from a shotgun blast.

In the photo on the right, you'll notice a little black vertical stripe on his collar. In the old days, seminarians used to wear clericals but had the stripe to show they were not ordained.

When I was a child, my friends older brother was a friend of Jonathan. It is comforting to know that I have someone I know personally who is a true Saint with a capital "S".

Blessed Jonathan, pray for the church, because bigotry has not been eradicated.

Faith once delivered -- the fundamentalist's best friend

Today there was an article in the London Times about the fourteen fundamentalist bishops who plan to leave the Church of England and take 1,400 clergy with them. They are disgruntled that their “traditionalist” views were “trampled on” in the General Synod vote to allow women to be consecrated bishops.

Signed by three senior bishops - the Rt. Rev’d. John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev’d. Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn and the Rt. Rev’d. Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop in Europe, the letter is to remind Rowan Williams that there is a battle looming in the Church of England.

The Anglo-Catholic bishops have vowed to support clergy who feel unable to remain in the Church, but have pledged to fight for a better deal for traditionalists who do not believe women should be consecrated.

Fundamentalists cannot deal with women, so how can they deal with GLB people whom they barely understand, or transgender people whom they really don't understand. [Edited by site owner to remove an unintentionally offensive phrase. Thank you JCF.]

There is one bit of the letter that made gobsmacked me. Here it is:

[The] current plans would lead to the inevitable exclusion of substantial numbers of faithful Anglicans from the Church of England. [Emphasis added.]

Excuse me, but, what do these bishops think their fundamentalist views on women and GLBT folk are doing, now?

The letter just proves the point that all that matters is “me, me, me.” To acknowledge that third leg, reason, on “our side” there is a certain amount of “me, me, me” too. The difference, as I see it, is that it is not really “me” but “we.” The progressives in the Anglican Communion are “pushing” for the inclusion of all who wish to follow Jesus. The Fundamentalists are pushing for the exclusion of all who do not agree with their fundamentalist views.

Different decisions should be respected and supported, including that of those who have come to believe that fidelity to the faith we have received means that they can no longer remain within the communion of the Church of England. [Emphasis added.]

There is a major difference between fidelity to the faith and what the fundamentalists practice. When they use such phrases, what they really mean is, “I am not open to the voice of the Holy Spirit about the issue.”

Fidelity to what was once believed is not a Christian virtue. It replaces God with men’s traditions. Yes, I mean “men” because when this “faith once delivered” that fundamentalists love was formed, women were excluded from the decision-making.

There is also a difference between tradition and traditionalism. Traditionalism is the faith of a dead church.

The New Testament speaks several times about that “faith once delivered” changing. These two should be enough for us:

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7.6

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17

I wonder what the Jews thought about Paul not sticking to that “faith once delivered.” Like the Pharisees, the modern fundamentalists just want law – law they can use to bash other people.

Bishop Robinson vs. Bishop Jensen

The Rt. Rev’d. V Gene Robinson, Ordinary of the Diocese of New Hampshire has finally commented on the actions of the Rt. Rev’d. Peter Jensen, Ordinary of the Diocese of Sydney.

The article (which credits no author) appears in the 13 August issue of SX News, a gay Sydney news agency, is titled Eye of the Storm, begins

By his very existence, the Reverend Gene Robinson – the openly gay Anglican bishop of New Hampshire – is an agent for change in his church, and society at large.

He is friendly, mild-mannered and avuncular. He doesn’t seem like someone who’d tear an entire church apart. Yet Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the history of the Anglican Church, has been accused of doing just that.

The article exposes the absurdity of the fundamentalist bishops who did not attend because of the “Robinson problem.” The writer states that they stayed away, even though Robinson was not invited to the conference, because even being in proximity to those who supported Robinsons consecration would contaminate the fundamentalist bishops.

But the world’s first openly gay Anglican bishop (indeed, the first in all of mainstream Christendom) won’t let recalcitrant reverends curb his life’s work.

Speaking of his appearing “on the fringe” at Lambeth, +Robinson said

I took a vow, as did all bishops, to participate in the councils of my church to the best of my abilities, and that’s what I [went to Lambeth] to do.

I shifted my focus from being a part of the conference to other work, around LGBT issues instead. And I’m not happy about that. I mean, I’m not unhappy working around those issues, but I don’t like being cast into the role of a single issue person.”

All humans are much more than a simple sexual identity and there is so much more to Bishop Robinson.

His recent book, In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Centre by God, is the work of a man concerned with social justice generally. His ministry seems especially concerned with those traditionally on the margins of his church: women, young people, prisoners, and yes – gay and lesbian people too. Yet the world at large has reduced his life to the glib tag of “the gay bishop.”

But Robinson has come to an understanding:

I’ve made peace with the fact that this just happens to be an accident of history. In earlier times, an openly gay man could not have been a bishop. In the future, I believe, there will be many openly gay bishops. So rather than bemoaning my lot, I just want to be a good steward of this opportunity, at this juncture in history.”

First and foremost, that stewardship involves reaching out to gay and lesbian people who have been “damaged” by the church, and inviting them back into the fold.

Gay people have been abused, really, by the church, and just mindlessly suggesting that they go back is like telling an abused spouse to go back to her husband. But what I say is that God and the church aren’t the same thing. The church has gotten this and many other things wrong. God hasn’t gotten it wrong.

Moreover, the church that you left may not be the church that’s there now. There has been a lot of change. It doesn’t mean that every church is safe, but there are enough safe places that gay and lesbian people can find a place that will really welcome them.

The journalist then tells the Bishop Robinson’s story including his work n the Diocese of New Hampshire. He includes a great quote

The one place where I am not ‘the gay bishop’ is in my own diocese. I tell people that if you want to see what the church is going to be like when we finish obsessing about sex, come to New Hampshire. There I’m just the bishop. I spend ninety per cent of my time in the diocese doing the things that a bishop does, and my sexuality is rarely mentioned. [It’s only] when I leave the diocese that I become this other thing.

That is the truth. But he is the “gay bishop” only to those who do not know the him, mostly. A few people who know him personally still see him as the epitome of what ails the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, was one of the bishops who refused to attend Lambeth this year. Instead, Jensen attended an alternative event in Jerusalem called the Global Anglican Future Conference.

SX was unable to arrange an audience with Jensen; however, his senior media advisor, Russell Powell, agreed to relay several questions to the archbishop, which were answered by email.

Asked why he did not attend Lambeth this year, Jensen replied:

The reasons for not attending Lambeth involved matters of conscience and pastoral concern, matters which the Archbishop of Canterbury said he fully understood and appreciated. In a sense, the attendance or non-attendance of Gene Robinson was beside the point. The problem was the attendance of those who had consecrated him.

The consecration of an actively homosexual bishop was a presenting issue, but the reasons for the current crisis go much deeper … The fabric of the communion has been torn by the actions of the North American church.

When asked the direct question: ‘Do you believe that gay and lesbian people have any place in the Anglican Church – and if so, can you describe what that place might be?’ Jensen did not respond.

For his part, Robinson says:

It is ironic that the Sydney Diocese, taking in one of the great gay cities of the world, is also among the most bigoted.

While the Diocese of Sydney is not atypical, it would be a mistake to see Robinson as a pigeon among the cats – to invert a cliché – whenever he steps outside his New Hampshire ‘safety zone’.

Influential figures within the church, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, strongly support Robinson. Tutu even penned the foreword in Robinson’s book.

Apartheid, crassly racist, sought to penalise people for something about which they could do nothing. I could not stand by while people were being penalised again for something about which they could do nothing – their sexual orientation … Gene Robinson is a wonderful person and I am proud to belong to the same church as he.

Robinson also enjoys powerful support in the wider community. Although the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, only had one meeting with Bishop Robinson – and then under such secrecy that he was told the venue at the last possible moment – Robinson has already had three one-on-one meetings with US presidential candidate Barack Obama, the man many believe will be the next President of the United States.

According to Bishop Robinsons:

What people like Obama and Tutu realise is that far from being dependent on texts from thousands of years ago for God’s word, the human relationship with God is a living, breathing, ever-evolving one.

The beauty of Anglicanism is that we are not a church that believes God stopped revealing himself at the end of the first century, when the canon of scripture was closed.

God did not reveal everything about himself with the end of the life of Jesus, but promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us all into the truth.

I believe that’s what happened with slavery, and the church’s treatment of people of colour, and it’s happening with the treatment of women, and now it’s happening again with sexual minorities.

For a long time, we’ve had a church that’s believed you can’t put ‘gay’ and ‘Christian’ in the same sentence. I believe those days are coming to an end.

I've said it before, but I’ll say it again: If I ever meet Bishop Robinson, the first thing I will do is take off my shoes. (Exodus 3.5)

OT - Remember to keep Tim and Fran in your prayers.

UPDATE: I have a Google alert set for Archbishop Jensen. About two minutes ago the alert came though and when I clickd the link, it took me to The Three Legged Stool. Now, how about THAT?

13 August 2008

The bible, PBS and fundamentalism

On 18 November, PBS will air a documentary entitled The Bible’s Buried Secrets as part of the Nova series. The documentary will deal with the TANACK, the Hebrew version of the bible. Three months before it is to air, it has already angered the fundamentalists. Why, you ask? It seems that this documentary challenges many cherished concepts about the bible.

According to archaeologist William Dever, whose specialty is Israel’s history,

It challenges the bible’s stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people.

But it explains now and why these stories came to be told in the first place, and how and why they were written down, and why they continue to resonate with us. So it’s a very controversial film.

Nova producer, Paula Apsell, believes that the biblical literalists and revisionists both will probably hate the film.

When I set out to do this, I very explicitly did not want to make a program that was proving or disproving that things happened in the bible.

According to the documentary, the bible was written in the sixth century BCE. “At least the first five books of the bible came together during the Babylonian exile,” said programme director Gary Glassman. Carol Meyers, a religion professor at Duke University said

The number of authors ranges from the hundreds to the thousands. There are bits and pieces of stories here and there that, over centuries and centuries – like tributaries to a river, tiny little streams upstream, and then they came together and became a couple [of] larger streams, and then you’ve got the mighty Mississippi, which is the Bible.

The visual image of that is incredible! If the hypothesis is correct, I think it makes the bible even more remarkable.

The program claims to converge science and history “to create an extraordinary new story of an ancient people – a new story of the Bible.”

According to the trailer now available on YouTube,

An archaeological detective story pieces together clues that paint an extraordinary picture of who wrote the Bible, when, and why.

The trailer begins:

In 1896, near the banks of the Nile in southern Egypt, one of the most important discoveries in biblical archaeology is unearthed.

Even the Los Angeles Times has weighed in on the documentary. William S. Dever, who specialized on the history of Israel, wrote that the documentary is ‘a shocking film in many ways, but it is truth, revolutionary, and it’s as fresh as yesterday.’"

The two-hour PBS special attempts to delve into the origins of the Israelites to explore their gradual transformation into a monotheistic people. It attempts to uncover who wrote the Hebrew Bible and whether it is history or parable. Producers of PBS's science series Nova say the film has “new discoveries that shake the foundation of biblical archaeology.”

Included in these “new discoveries” is the fact that that many Israelites believed that God had a wife – and disputes literal readings of the text.

Meyers adds

These stories are unlikely to represent real historical events, but rather there's some kernel of ancient experience in there which has survived and which helps give identity to the people at the time the Bible finally took shape centuries and centuries later.

There's no archaeological evidence of the Exodus, either, Meyers said. "It doesn't mean that there's no kernel of truth to it.

Apsell said she found it "extremely shocking" to learn that monotheism was a process that took hundreds of years.

I was always brought up to believe that the minute Abraham and the patriarchs came on the scene, the Israelites accepted one God and there was just always one God and that was it. I think people are going to really be stunned by that.

Apsell said the film has been six years in the making and that it was a science film. The important issue for her: What are the writers trying to tell us about their beliefs?

To many people of mainstream religious backgrounds, this will enrich our understanding of what our ancestors went through to give rise to the beliefs that many people hold today. That was their legacy to us: our God, one humanity and a code of ethics that had to accompany those beliefs.

The American Family Association, a fundamentalist organization sees the documentary as blasphemous.

PBS is knowingly choosing to insult and attack Christianity by airing a program that declares the Bible isn't true and a bunch of stories that never happened...

The AFA has a petition and urges signers to “declare to members of Congress.” [Sic]

Dever, who has participated in two dozen films about the Bible, predicted that there would be those who “are not going to like this film.” In an interview in the Orlando Sentinel he said

It’s a waste of time to argue with fundamentalists. And this film doesn’t do it. It’s designed for intelligent people who are willing to change their mind.

You may watch the trailer here

A few months ago, I watched a documentary The Exodus Decoded by The Naked Archaeologist, Simcha Yacobovicki, a two-time Emmy Award winning producer and director. The documentary examined the Exodus story and gave very plausible explanations for each of the plagues. He showed how a volcanic eruption could have caused each of the plagues and each plague contributed to the cause of the next plague.

The Ten Plagues, regarded by many as the miraculous centerpiece of the pre-Exodus narratives, did indeed happen, but that they were the result of a geological event, the Santorini volcanic eruption. The plague of the rivers turning to blood was a natural gas leak causing the water to be red-tinted; the pollution of the water caused all the fish to die and the frogs to hop out to safety, because they were the only ones who could; that led to pestilence, etc.

Yacobovicki also showed that if the date of the Exodus is moved slightly from the accepted date, the right Pharaoh was on the throne to make the story "work." This included the Pharaoh's name which meant "Moses' brother." Changing the accepted date by a few years coincided with that volcanic eruption. I was thunderstruck. Every “explanation” was so logical! Then he moved on to the actual Exodus itself even using the bible to pinpoint the probable location of Mt. Sinai. A seven minute clip of the Exodus documentary is here.

Instead of shattering my faith, the documentary actually made my faith stronger. For me, it is more miraculous that God’s creation “converged” to make the Exodus possible.

I feel sorry for people who cannot have their view of the bible challenged. They miss seeing so many miracles.

What do you think? Would archaeological evidence disproving some biblical event shake your faith?

11 August 2008

God's Grace, history, and my parish

There are many thing I should comment on today, but I'm going to post a personal reflection about my parish -- a parish I've belonged to since I was a boy soprano "in the days."

I have been around our parish longer than just about anyone else has. There are only a handful of real “old-timers” left. Because of my long association with the parish, and because I am an historian (and the person who wrote our parish history) I took note of two very important liturgical/historical events that happened on 1 August 2008.

The first event was a liturgical date that is unique. It comes so infrequently that some parishes/missions go decades without its observance. The church calls it “Curiosity Sunday” – the first Sunday that the new priest is in the parish. Usually people who have not been inside the church in ages will show up to check out the new rector. For better or worse, the whole balance of the priest’s tenure depends upon the outcome of this Sunday.

The other event that happened was historical. It was the inauguration of a new era in our parish history. The new rector is female.

I have to admit that somewhere in the dark recesses of my traditionalist Anglo-catholic 1928 Prayer Book loving soul, I prefer male priests. There is no logic to that at all, and I am embarrassed to admit how I feel. With only one exception, every female presbyter I have ever known as been an exceptional priest (so have the deacons who happen to be female). I know that God’s grace comes to us regardless of the medium of the priest. (That’s what the church decided in the 4th century.) Nevertheless, I want to call the rector “Father.”

When I arrived at for the eight o’clock mass, the new rector was standing outside the church waiting to welcome us. I introduced myself and started to say, “I’m so happy you are our new rector.” I could not get the words out; I was so overcome with emotion that I could hardly speak. The rector gave me a hug and patted my back in a motherly fashion. I told her that it would take some time before I could call her “Mother.” She laughed and said, “Call me father!” Okay, she has a sense of humour.

I went into the church and knelt, as is our Anglican custom. After a prayer of thanksgiving, I thought about our parish and about our past. What else would an historian think about?

In 1892, four women met and decided there would be an Episcopal Church in Paso Robles. They formed "The Guild" then wrote the bishop to demand that he send a priest. He sent the Very Rev’d. John Abbot Emory, Archdeacon, who did not like Paso Robles and decided Templeton was the place for an Episcopal Church.

A few weeks later, Emory’s sister, Julia Emery came to the diocese for an official visit. She was president of the newly authorized United Thank Offering. Julia looked Templeton over and said, “There is nothing but Swedish Lutherans here!” She decided that Paso Robles was the place for the mission. She personally funded the initial work and pledged UTO funds. She also chose the patron saint – James the Greater. That is how the Episcopal Church came to Paso Robles and how we “got” our name.

During the anti-Asian hysteria of the 1910s and 20s, The Guild repeatedly went on record denouncing the discrimination. They also sent financial aid to Archdeacon Emery’s daughter and her husband to help them while there were hiding in the redwood forest. They were hiding because people wanted them both dead because Florence had fallen in love with and married a young seminarian who was living with the Emerys. What was so bad about that? He was the son of a Japanese nobleman – he was not “white.” In an odd coincidence, one of St. James’ early priests officiated at that wedding!

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the women of our parish ran the only soup kitchen in the city. They insisted on integration. The constable came to close down the kitchen and the women ran the police officers off the property. The kitchen stayed open and the seating was integrated.

In 1939, St. James’ became one of the first churches in the Anglican Communion to elect a woman to the vestry. (There is considerable evidence that we were the first to do so.) That woman was Florence Lyle, Bev Tornquist’s aunt.

In the 1940s, The Guild opened the hall for service members and their families stationed at Camp Roberts. Again, integration was enforced.

In the 1950s, the school board banned school dances for fear of interracial dancing. The Guild opened the hall for school dances, and there was no segregation.

In the 1960s, our rector, Fr. Steensland was presented an opportunity to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He went, funded by The Guild. Some parishioners were unhappy about this and so was the community. Fr. Steensland received death threats and his family was threatened. Bricks were thrown though the rectory windows. The Guild encouraged Fr. Steensland to go to Selma, assuring him that all would be well. And it was well.

Throughout our history, women have played a monumental role in our parish life, always standing up for what was right and against injustice. Many times the women of our parish were the only people who listened to the Holy Spirit's guidance and followed Jesus’ example of welcoming all without regard of who or what they were.

As I knelt, I remembered many of those women who had come before us in this place. V.A. Street, the Church sisters, Ruth Trussler, Dorothy Trussler, Maud Hansen, “Mrs” Sobey, Grace Lyle, Florence Lyle, Maud Neis, Estelle Galba, Glyndon Peachey, Connie Brooks, Niki Janny, Adina Bunting, Amy Braid, Lydia Smith, Marilyn Hansen, Isabel Dodd, Martha Swanson, Themla Shelvock, Irene Delleganna, Emily Baxter, Nita Peterson.

To all of you, these are just names. I was fortunate enough to have known most of those noble women. I wondered what they would think of our new rector. I had to smile because I knew what the answer was: “It’s about time!”

It was my birthday weekend and I went up at the offertory for the traditional blessing. When the rector traced the sign of the cross on my forehead, I actually felt the “electricity” of the Spirit. When she forgot my name in the prayer, she said, “for this dear man whose name I’ve already forgotten.” She put her hand on my cheek, leaned in, and our foreheads touched. I reminded her of my name; she patted my cheek and finished the prayer.

Minutes later, I watched the awesome mystery of our faith unfold as our new priest spoke the sacred words of consecration and God transformed simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The miracle happened just as it always has happened at our altar and always will happen. God’s grace came to us through the priesthood of Mary Morrison. It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.

I went to church “Curiosity Sunday” with a heart open to whatever God had to tell me about this new rector. I heard his voice repeatedly during that celebration of the Holy Communion. I also heard the voice of those St. James’ saints who preceded us. When mass was ended, I made my way to The Guild Hall where I once again greeted our new rector. Only this time I said, “Welcome, Mother Morrison.” And it was okay; I did not stumble over the words at all and they came from my heart.

I know, without doubt, that those noble women who founded our parish and fought so hard for civil rights are overjoyed that our vestry called the best-qualified priest to serve the parish. I also know that if all our parishioners give her a chance without prejudging her, they, too, will see Mother Morrison is the right person. This call wasn't extended from our parish, it was extended to her by God. There are too many little things that happened during the search process, too many wee things that went wrong with all the other candidates. The Rev'd. Mary Morrision didn't even submit her name to our committee until several other people turned down our call. God was holding her in reserve for us. I am convinced of that.

So, that is the report on Curiosity Sunday. Oh, there is another wee thing, Mother has a cool partner who is a deacon a female deacon. I have reservations about “the partner” though she stands during the prayers. That is positively schismatic.

10 August 2008

Prayers for a member of our Fr. T. family.

Our friend Fran O'Gorman has posted that they received what may possibly be very bad news concerning the health of her husband Tim. Brothers and Sisters, please join us in prayers for Fran and Tim.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift Tim and Fran, we pray thee, to thy presence, where they may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, we entrust Tim and Fran, and all who are dear to us to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Some good news also about Tim's white count. The doctor called last night and we learned that Tim's white count is almost half of what it was before. The hydroxurea is working- thank God and you for your prayers.. love, Fran


We finally got the EMG done which is a test to see how the nerves are or aren't firing in Tim's leg and thank God there is activity there. Because of Tim's myelofibrosis they couldn't evacuate the hematoma which they usually would do so how long it will take to completely resolve itself and everything to come back is hard to predict but they say but it should. Meantime we are finishing up the PT we were approved of from the group we were going to in Monroe and then will go several times a week to the day hospital part of Helen Hayes Hospital which is in West Haverstraw for 8 weeks. They have aqua therapy and extensive equipment and hopefully a setup that is appropriate for what he needs. Thanks so much for your prayers.. love, Fran