29 August 2008

The Donatist Six finally speak

I am having major problems with the HTML today; it will not let me format correctly. I apologize for the appearance of this post.

Well, the Donatist Puritan Six (DP6) has finally spoken. Guess what, it is the same stuff different day. The most noticeable thing is that the curia is shrinking – it is now down to five archbishops and one presiding bishop. Also, Venables is now the number two man and Akinola is still on top.

The communiqué begins by establishing that they are out to establish a new organization:

The twofold task of the Council is 'to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.' The Primates have therefore laid the basis for the future work of both the Council and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The GAFCON movement continues its advance.

There are no “confessing Anglican jurisdictions.” The Anglican Communion is a creedal church, not a confessing communion. Therefore, they want a new organization – a single church structure, not a communion.

The Communiqué then goes on to give us more of why these super Anglicans are trying to destroy the Communion. First of course is because of the North Americans and their sinful actions. Notice the bit in bold – it will come in hand to remember that later on.

We maintain that three new facts of the Anglican Communion must be faced. We are past the time when they can be reversed.

First, some Anglicans have sanctified sinful practices and will continue to do so whatever others may think.

Second, churches and even dioceses affected by this disobedience have rightly withdrawn fellowship while wishing to remain authentic Anglicans. So-called 'border-crossing' is another way of describing the provision of recognition and care for those who have been faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture. [Emphasis added.]

Third, there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans with far-reaching global implications. The hope that we may somehow return to the state of affairs before 2003 is an illusion.

Now, they are going to contradict themselves; notice this emphasized bit:

GAFCON remains a gospel movement. It is far from saying that its membership are the only true Anglicans or the only gospel people in the Anglican Communion. We thank God that this is not the case. But the movement recognises the acute spiritual dangers of a compromised theology and aims to be a resource and inspiration for those who wish to defend and promote the biblical gospel. [Emphasis added.]

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but first they say that they were not the only authentic Anglicans and then they say they are. Which is it? Either this group (or whoever wrote the document) is really stupid, or they are telling a lie. Given that this has the watermark of Minns on it, I know it cannot be stupidity. They are trying to attract the widest possible base by not overtly offending anyone by telling calling everyone else apostates.

Notice whom it is that they wish to attract:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will function as a means of sharing in this great task. We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration to signify their desire to become members of the Fellowship via the GAFCON web site or written communication with the Secretariat. The Fellowship will develop networks, commissions and publications intended to defend and promote the biblical gospel in ways which support one another.

At the same time, the Council and its Advisory Board will seek to deal with the problems of those who have confessed the biblical faith in the face of hostility and found the need on grounds of conscience and in matters of great significance to break the normal bonds of fellowship in the name of the gospel. For the sake of the Anglican Communion this is an effort to bring order out of the chaos of the present time and to make sure as far as possible that some of the most faithful Anglican Christians are not lost to the Communion. It is expected that priority will be given to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership [Emphasis added.].

There it is again – we are not saying we are the only true Anglicans, but…we are the most faithful Anglicans. I had to laugh when I read that bit. The leadership of the fundamentalists really is funny. Sometimes I feel as if I am watching a Three Stooges movie when I read their actions.

Also, take note of the word ‘parachurch.’ Parachurch ‘ministries’ operate outside the command structure of the local church and cut across denominational lines. This means the DP6 are trying to woo all those who have left TEC during the past 100 years in addition to all those ‘poor, suffering righteous people’ who are stuck in apostate organizations.

They then move on to Lambeth Conference and state they are pleased that the infamous non-doctrine of 1.10 is still upheld.

Noting the reference to building bridges with GAFCON in the Archbishop of Canterbury's concluding Presidential Address at Lambeth, and that the Lambeth Conference itself made no decisions about the future of the Communion, we are grateful that there is an acknowledgement that Lambeth 1.10 of 1998 remains an authentic expression of the mind of the Communion. We also note the renewed call for moratoria on the consecration of bishops who are homosexually partnered and the blessing of same-sex unions as well so-called 'border-crossing'. Likewise there is mention of the creation of a 'Pastoral Forum' to look after disaffected parishes or dioceses and continued work on an Anglican Covenant.

Notice that there is not a single word about the condemnation of border crossing. They forget the part of Lambeth 1998 that condemned the GAFCON actions. I have a friend who calls such acts “Convenient Alzheimer’s.”

As far as the fundamentalists are concerned, there was only 1.10 that came out of 1998. Never mind that it has at least ten points, only 1.10 is doctrine to be obeyed. That is because only 1.10 can be used to their fundamentalist benefit by demonizing TEC and the ACoC. Never mind that many other provinces of the Communion are not treating 1.10 as if it were actual doctrine. Only TEC and the ACoC are to blame. Most of Lambeth 1998 condemns the fundamentalist activities.

Then Minns, I mean, the primates, go on to bash TEC and justify the fundamentalist schism by the sinful acts of TEC:

But the Communion fractured in 2003 , when our fellowship was 'torn at its deepest level.' It seems that the facts which we have identified as the new reality have not yet been recognised as such, and we are therefore continually offered the same strategies which mean further delay and unlikely results. Indeed, delay itself seems to be a strategy employed by some in order to resolve the issue through weariness. The Anglican Covenant will take a long time to be widely accepted and may have no particular force when it does. The idea of 'moratoria' has never dealt with the underlying problem as is shown by the equivalence of cross-border care and protection with the sexual sins which have caused the problems. In any case, some North American Bishops appear to have indicated already that they will not keep to them. It appears that people living in a homosexual unions continue to be ordained in some dioceses in contravention to Lambeth 1.10. In principle, this is no different from consecrating a bishop who adopts the same pattern of life, or indeed, of blessing same-sex unions. The idea of the Pastoral Forum has only now emerged but has never been discussed with those actually affected by the innovations which have created the problems with which we are trying to deal (see appended letter). If the Panel of Reference did not work, it is unclear how the Pastoral Forum will succeed.

There it is again. “We are only doing this because of those apostate North Americans who won’t swallow 1.10 as doctrine are forcing us to do this.” The fundamentalists accept no responsibility for any of their schismatic actions.

They then state that
[E]ven though many of their colleagues from the Global South have “strongly commended the Windsor Process to us, we are reluctant to say that it cannot work, but there is nothing new here such as to make us hesitate from the course we are taking…”

Ah, yes, we are the Anglican Inquisition a we don’t stop for nobody, not no how, not no way, not never.

As I said at the beginning, we have heard the same Donatist rhetoric for years: “Poor us, we are so persecuted.”

The usual suspects signed the communiqué: Nigeria, Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Noticeably absent is the signature of Jensen. But, the rumours are that this had to be released before they could “contact one bishop.” I wonder who that might be.

Mark Harris has a good take on the communiqué.

In all of this we might note that

(i) the number of Primates buying on has not grown,
(ii) the request received for development of a new Province recognized by the Primates is from their own bishops in North America,
(iii) The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is a membership organization in support of the Primates Council and its actions (a kind of GAFCON continuation popular front for the liberation of the Anglican Communion, etc.), and
(iv) there is no longer talk of this being the work of the Global South.

Goodbye Global South, goodbye Lambeth, goodbye Archbishop of Canterbury. As far as the Primates Council is concerned, "the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse." Will these Primates meet with the others at the next Primates Meeting? How will they dare?

This Communiqué on the one hand says nothing not already in the works at GAFCON. It simply puts in place the various pieces. But it has become divisive in its own house. There are notable realignment provinces missing from this group and for good reason. This is not about saving the Communion. It is about replacing it, and if that is not possible, about starting something else entirely and recruiting from the Anglican Communion as it can.

And there you have it, folks. Make sure to read Preludium by clicking on the link on the right column.

27 August 2008

Del Martin dies - spouse in first legal same-gender California marriage

According to Gay.com and the Advocate, renowned lesbian activist Dorothy L. (Del) Martin died Wednesday at UCSF Hospice in San Francisco. Del is on the left in the photo.
An eloquent organizer for civil rights, civil liberties and human dignity, Del Martin created and helped shape the modern LGBT and feminist movements. She was a woman of extraordinary courage, persistence, intelligence, humor and fundamental decency who refused to be silenced by fear and never stopped fighting for equality.

A broken arm wleo weeks ago exacerbated Martin's existing health problems, said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Her last public political act, on June 16, 2008, was to marry Phyllis Lyon, her partner of 55 years.

They were the first couple to wed in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court recognized that marriage for same-sex couples is a fundamental right in a case brought by plaintiffs including Martin and Lyon.

"We would not have marriage equality in California if it weren't for Del and Phyllis. They fought and triumphed in many battles," said U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. "Through it all, their love and commitment to each other was an inspiration to all who knew them."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated their wedding, ordered American flags at City Hall and the rainbow flag in the Castro District to be flown at half-staff. Plans for a public memorial are pending.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

I am taking advantage of being the blog owner and posting a personal note.

Last night I received news that a friend, Violet Brown, died unexpectedly Monday evening. She joins her husband, Pastor Brown, in the Communion of Saints. I just realized that I do not know what his first name was; he has always been “Brother” or “Pastor” to me.

They were “in Pentecost” long before it was socially acceptable after the Charismatic movement took fire. They were firmly in the conservative, fundamental wing of Christianity, but they were not fundamentalists. They were products of a Pentecostalism and an age that is long gone when attitudes were very different, but they were loving people.

When their grandson broke the news about his orientation, the Browns surprised the heck out of me, though. They did not understand “it” at all, and they knew what the bible supposedly said on the subject, but, their love for that grandson never wavered and they never treated him different than they had before “the announcement.” And, they knew that God loved that boy. It’s too bad not all Christians can be that loving and caring.

Sister Brown’s final years were diminished by dementia. Nevertheless, she never lost the essential spark of her former self. Now, she is healed. As Bunyon wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress,

[She] formerly lived by hearsay and faith but now [she goes] where [she] shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company [she] delighted [herself.]

I’ll miss you, Sister Brown. Tell my mom and dad hello for me.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

26 August 2008

Good News from "The Big Valley" -- San Joaquin

According to our friend, Dusty, there is good news for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The court ruled yesterday that the frozen accounts may only be accessed with the consent of the Episcopal Diocese and/or by order of the court.

This includes funds critical to the operation of the Episcopal Conference Center at Oakhurst (renamed "The Evergreeen Conference Center in Oakhurst [ECCO] by Mr. Schofield).

This is a major blow to Mr. Schofield's ego. It is also a blow to his purse as the conference center is and can be a major source of income.

Please go read Dusty's article at The Grape Vine. The court documents are available here.

Plain words for toxic times, or, how the cows eat the cabbage

Warning: Toxic material from the blog owner

Those who know me will tell you that I do not often become angry. In fact, it takes a lot to provoke me to wrath. When that point is reached, my response is to “close down” and cease communication. Silence is the best way to avoid offence. Very occasionally I do “blow.” This is one of those rare times.

Earlier this morning I posted the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury without comment. However, one paragraph is so egregious, in my opinion, that a comment is necessary.

We were conscious of the absence of many of our colleagues, and wanted to express our sadness that they felt unable to be with us and our desire to build bridges and restore our fellowship. We were aware also of the recent meeting in Jerusalem and its statements; many of us expressed a clear sense of affinity with much that was said there and were grateful that many had attended both meetings, but we know that there is work to do to bring us closer together and are determined to do that work.

As my granny would say, “I’m sick to death” that people are still falling all over these malcontent conniving fundamentalists in a futile attempt to keep the Communion together by pandering to disgruntled Donatists. The simple fact is that most of their leaders did show up in Cambridge but refused to participate in the conference. Instead of joining the family in the dining room, they chose to stay in their room and scheme how best to steal the Communion and supplant it with their hate-filled sect.

Several years ago, the fundamentalists saw the weakness (loss of nerve) and moved in to do their deceitful deeds. There is no placating any fundamentalist movement (of any religion or political flavour). They do not want to work with the group; they want total dictatorship over it.

What needs to be said to these fundamentalists is, “You chose to stay away from the family reunion and therefore you have withdrawn from the family. We have no choice but to wish you Godspeed and inform you that you are no longer Anglicans.”

Instead, like an enabler, many are running about like lovesick adolescents trying to placate the scheming lover who no longer wishes to continue the relationship as is. But some prefer to ignore the truth like the spouse who refuses to acknowledge infidelity.

Perhaps a presentation from Al-Anon on “enabling” would be beneficial at the next primates’ meeting.

The ABC writes to the bishops

The Most Rev’d. and Right Honourable Rowan Williams, Primate of All England and Spiritual head of the Anglican Communion has written to the bishops of the communion following the conclusion of the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

As the Lambeth Conference of 2008 comes to an end, I want to offer some further reflections of my own on what the bishops gathered in Canterbury have learned and experienced. Those of you who have been present here will be able to share your own insights with your people, but it may be useful for me to add my own perspectives as to where we have been led.

For the vast majority of bishops, it seems, this has been a time when they have felt God to have been at work. The Conference was not a time for making new laws or for binding decisions; in spite of the way some have expressed their expectations, Lambeth Conferences have never worked straightforwardly in this way. The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships -- the rebuilding of trust in one another -- and of confidence in our Anglican identity. And it was with this in mind that they planned for a very different sort of Conference, determined to allow every bishop's voice to be heard and to seek for a final outcome for which the bishops were genuinely able to recognize an authentic account of their own work.

I believe that the Conference succeeded in doing this to a very remarkable degree -- more than most people expected. At the end of our time together, many people, especially some of the newer bishops, said that they had been surprised by the amount of convergence they had seen. And there can be no doubt that practically all who were present sincerely wanted the Communion to stay together.

But they also recognized the challenge in staying together and the continuing possibility of further division. As the proposals for an Anglican Covenant now go forward, it is still possible that some will not be able to agree; there was a clear sense that some sort of covenant will help our identity and cohesion, although the bishops wish to avoid a legalistic or juridical tone. A strong majority of bishops present agreed that moratoria on same-sex blessings and on cross-provincial interventions were necessary, but they were aware of the conscientious difficulties this posed for some, and there needs to be a greater clarity about the exact expectations and what can be realistically implemented. How far the intensified sense of belonging together will help mutual restraint in such matters remains to be seen. But it can be said that few of those who attended left without feeling they had in some respects moved and changed.

We were conscious of the absence of many of our colleagues, and wanted to express our sadness that they felt unable to be with us and our desire to build bridges and restore our fellowship. We were aware also of the recent meeting in Jerusalem and its statements; many of us expressed a clear sense of affinity with much that was said there and were grateful that many had attended both meetings, but we know that there is work to do to bring us closer together and are determined to do that work.

The final document of Conference Reflections is not a 'Report' in the style of earlier Conferences, but an attempt to present an honest account of what was discussed and expressed in the 'indaba' groups which formed the main communal work of the Conference by the Reflections Group. But although this document is not a formal Report, it has a number of pointers as to where the common goals and assumptions are in the Communion. Let me mention some of these.

First, there was an overwhelming unity around the need for the Church to play its full part in the worldwide struggle against poverty ignorance and disease. The Millennium Development Goals were repeatedly stressed, and there was universal agreement that both governmental and non-governmental development agencies needed to create more effective partnerships with the churches and to help the churches increase and improve their own capacity to deliver change for the sake of justice. To further this, it was agreed that we needed a much enhanced capacity in the Communion for co-ordinated work in the field of development. Our Walk of Witness in London and the memorable address of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom formed a powerful focus for these concerns. And the challenge to every bishop to identify clear goals for developing environmentally responsible policies in church life was articulated very forcefully indeed: information was provided to all about how the 'carbon footprint' of the Conference itself might be offset, and new impetus given to careful and critical self-examination of all our practices. We were reminded by first-hand testimony that the literal survival of many of our most disadvantaged communities was at risk as a result of environmental change. This enabled us to see the issue more clearly as one of justice both to God's earth and to God's people

Second, on the controversial issue of the day regarding human sexuality, there was a very widely-held conviction that premature or unilateral local change was risky and divisive, in spite of the diversity of opinion expressed on specific questions. There was no appetite for revising Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998, though there was also a clear commitment to continue theological and pastoral discussion of the questions involved. In addition to a widespread support for moratoria in the areas already mentioned, there was much support for the idea of a 'Pastoral Forum' as a means of addressing present and future tensions, and as a clearing house for proposals concerning the care of groups at odds with dominant views within their Provinces, so as to avoid the confusing situation of violations of provincial boundaries and competing jurisdictions.

Importantly, it was recognized that all these matters involved serious reflection on the Christian doctrine of human nature and a continuing deepening of our understanding of Christian marriage. A joint session with bishops and spouses also reminded us that broader moral issues about power and violence in relations between men and women needed attention if we were to speak credibly to the tensions and sufferings of those we serve.

Third, there was a general desire to find better ways of managing our business as a Communion. Many participants believed that the indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely – and to continue among themselves the conversations begun in Canterbury. This is an important steer for the meetings of the Primates and the ACC which will be taking place in the first half of next year, and I shall be seeking to identify the resources we shall need in order to take forward some of the proposals about our structures and methods.

The Conference was richly blessed in its guest speakers, who all testified to their appreciation of the Anglican heritage, while asking us searching questions about how flexible and creative our evangelistic policies were, about the integration of our social passion with our theology and about the nature of the unity we were seeking both within the Anglican Communion and with other Christian families. Our many ecumenical representatives played a full and robust part in all our work together and we owe them a considerable debt.

Finally and most importantly of all, we were held within an atmosphere of steady and deep prayer by our Chaplaincy Team. The commitment of the Conference members to daily worship was impressive; and this has much to do with the quality of that worship, both in moments of profound quiet and in exuberant celebration. It mattered greatly that we were able to begin with a period of retreat in the context of Canterbury Cathedral; the welcome we received there was immensely generous and we all valued the message clearly given, that this was our Cathedral, and that all of us were a full part of the worshipping community that had been here since Augustine came to Canterbury in 597.

I know that all present would wish me to express thanks once again to all who planned and organized the Conference, to those who composed the Bible Studies, those who devised and monitored the work of the indaba groups and all others who served us so devotedly in all sorts of ways – not least the Stewards, whose youthful energy and commitment and unfailingly supportive presence gave all of us great hope for the future. Thanks to all of you -- bishops and spouses -- who attended, for the great commitment shown and for the encouragement you have given each other.

But together we give thanks to God for his presence with us, his faithfulness to us and his gifts to our Communion. As was said in the closing plenary session, we believe that God has many more gifts to give to and through our Communion; and we ask his grace and assistance in teaching us how to receive what he wills to give. "He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness." (2 Cor. 9v10)

Your servant in Christ

+Rowan Cantuar

25 August 2008

The Fundamentalists "respond" to Duncan's e-mail

This morning a note from a reader pointed me to the “response” to +Duncan’s top-secret e-mail that the bishop has now allowed to be published.

The email led me to believe that the response was from reasonable people. I was wrong. The letter really is more of a defense of the fundamentalist ideology.

One bit that really made me shake my head in disgust is this:

1. The first difficulty is the moral equivalence implied between the three moratoria, a notion specifically rejected in the original Windsor Report and at Dromantine.

Actually, it is largely American and Canadian liberals that have implied a moral equivalency between the two. We think most people are clear that the crisis in our Communion was precipitated by specific American and Canadian actions. In any event, someone has to be the first to give up their “rights” (either Bishop Duncan and the GAFCON folks by agreeing to moratorium #3 in clear terms, or the American and Canadian leadership by agreeing to moratoria #1 and #2, as well as an immediate cessation of the lawsuits and ecclesiastical trials). Who will be the first to display an act of Christian charity and self-giving on behalf of the Communion at this critical turning point in the life of the Communion? [Emphasis added.]

Well, everyone knows that the fundamentalists are never going to budge, so by implication, the signers of the response are really calling upon the North American churches to “do the right thing.” They still want the North American churches to throw a large number of their membership to the lions and allow the theft of church property as “an act of Christian charity and self-giving.” It is so easy to be charitable when it is other people’s lives one is negating.

Now, here is a second bit of “logic”:

2. This process cannot be stopped — constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal.

[…] We suggest this is such a crucial issue that Dr. Williams convene a meeting, preferably in person, by September 30th, to work through an agreement on the assurances of the moratoria as well as the “safe haven” for those in the American and Canadian churches who feel the need for protection. We respectfully submit that this meeting be chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury and include the bishops of Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, the primate of Uganda, the primate of the Southern Cone, the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the chair of the Windsor Continuation Group, and perhaps two bishops agreed to by all other parties. This meeting should be held at a neutral site without attorneys present. Such a meeting would acknowledge the urgency of the matters under consideration and give an opportunity to the parties to work through the implementation of the moratoria requested. [Emphasis added.]

Now take notice of the people who should be at the meeting: six to two in favour of booting the North American churches out of the communion. Well, actually, we must include +Williams in the first category as he is supportive of the fundamentalists, so it is seven to two against the North American Churches. Given the personal character of Duncan, Akinola and Venables, I can really see honest, open discussion taking place.

What all of these fundamentalists deliberately ignore is that TEC has abided by the Windsor requests. We have not elected nor consecrated a single honest gay/lesbian, nor have we not approved liturgies for blessing same-gender marriages. They chose to ignore this fact because they can justify their plundering.

Not only have we done what was requested of us, we have bent over backwards to accommodate the fundamentalists. And we continue to do so. There is strong evidence that nothing will be done about the Duncan situation at the September meeting of the bishops. According to The Living Church, Neva Rae Fox, programme officer for public affairs of TEC said,

[It is my] understanding was that there would be time set aside for an updated presentation on the activities of some members of the House of Bishops, but [I am] not aware of any plans for disciplinary action during the fall meeting."

Now, keep in mind we have no real knowledge of what the bishop might do. However, the programme officer’s statement is pretty clear – nothing will be done to stop Duncan. Ah, yes, TEC certainly likes to persecute those poor fundamentalist bishops who want to leave the apostate sect and steal the property on the way out the door to bigotland.

Then we come to the most revealing part of the response

We believe some pressure has to be brought to bear on the American Church at such a meeting to stop the legal proceedings. The reason for withdrawing the lawsuits is for the sake of fostering relationships which are of utmost importance in Anglicanism. The rationale is “I give up my ‘right’ to sue this church/diocese for the sake of the possibility of reconciliation. I acknowledge the ‘safe haven’ as a place of integrity within the Communion until we can work out our differences, regardless of however long it might take.”

There you have it, friends: let us steal your house for the good of the whole Anglican community. Why not, “We’ll give up the property we have or are attempting to steal, for the good of the whole Anglican community.” The answer to this is because it is all about money and the control of money (which means power), not about theology. Who was it that said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I think the fundamentalists are absolutely corrupt and their actions exemplify that.

The “response” is signed by”

The Rev’d Canon Neal Michell, Diocese of Dallas
The Rev’d George Willcox Brown III, Diocese of Dallas
The Rev’d Anthony F. M. Clavier, Diocese of Northern Indiana
The Rev’d Daniel K. Dunlap, Diocese of Texas
The Rev’d Joseph B. Howard, Diocese of Tennessee
The Rev’d Nathan J.A. Humphrey, Diocese of Washington
The Rev’d Dr. Richard Kew, Diocese of Tennessee
The Rev’d Canon Dr. Graham Kings, Vicar, St. Mary’s Islington (CoE)
The Rev’d Daniel H. Martins, Diocese of Northern Indiana
The Very Rev’d Dr. Jean McCurdy Meade, Diocese of Louisiana
The Rev’d Matthew S. C. Olver, Diocese of Dallas
The Rev’d Dr. Ephraim Radner, Diocese of Colorado
The Rev’d Bruce M. Robison, Diocese of Pittsburgh
Mr. Dale A. Rye, Diocese of Texas
Mr. Dave Sims , Diocese of Dallas
Mr. Craig Uffman, Diocese of Northern Indiana
Mr. Christopher Wells, Diocese of Northern Indiana

If you would like to read the whole “response,” you will have to Google “A Word in Time: An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion.” I won’t link to a hate site.

Now, take a moment and go read Mark's post Tommyrot over at Preludium. You'll find a great expose of intentional misinformation.

Smart readers noticed that the name in red, above, wrote the sermon posted on Pentecost XIV.

24 August 2008


Most of you may not be aware that the BBC Radio Three has broadcast Evensong each week for the past eighty-two years. It used to be that Evensong was recorded each Thursday in one of the major cathedrals of the United Kingdom and broadcast live. Now it is recorded each Sunday afternoon. It is also archived for one week.

This week Evensong is broadcast from the Priory Church, Edington, during the 2008 Festival of Music within the Liturgy. The link is here. Bookmark the BBC site, you will want to listen to Evensong each week. Trust me!

Also, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, California, has an audio archive of the past week's services. Included is their weekly Thursday Evensong. The link for the audio page is here.

Pentecost XV

Proper 16 - Year A [RCL]
Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

At various points in our lives we need to “step up to the plate.” As scary as some of these times have been, they usually have been moments that have initiated some transitions in our lives and offered us the opportunity to drawn upon the memories of our early years. The lessons for today lead us to renewed discoveries: the importance of stepping up to the plate; the persistence of God in furthering God’s intentions and mission; and the incredible opportunity that even you and I might have to touch, carry, and share that which is very sacred.

In ancient Egypt, the Hebrew population was flourishing even as they were struggling under oppression. The Pharaoh wanted their numbers to decrease, so he tried to kill off young Hebrew males by drowning them in the Nile River. Moses was set in a basket (the same name used for Noah’s ark) by his mother and cared for in the early journey by his older sister. Eventually he was discovered by the daughter of the Pharaoh, and we know the rest of the story.

Out of the most unlikely beginnings, a small vessel of God’s grace was saved to do God’s bidding. The women of the story – the mother and sister of Moses, the daughter of Pharaoh, and the midwives who earlier refused to participate in Pharaoh’s terrible scheme – all become for us beacons. They are carriers of the sacred, and people who stepped up to the plate to make possible an emergence of a scared story that was to define Old Testament history and the foundations of our Hebrew scriptures. It was part of larger pivotal event in the life of the Hebrew people and in our religious heritage.

In Matthew, we hear again Peter’s confession, which became for him and for the disciples an invitation to carry an awesome responsibility of furthering God’s mission of reconciliation. Peter’s confession is preceded by a question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Answers come readily. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” It is easy to say what we have heard others say.

But another question appears: “But who do you say that I am?” The disciples are asked to step up to the plate. And so are you and I.

In Romans, we encounter familiar words: all have been given differing gifts through God’s grace that are to be used for the welfare of the entire community. No one can claim that his or her gifts are more important. All are important for wholeness and holiness.

So what do we do with these stories? In what ways do they affect us? Are they only part of our lore or are they alive in some new ways in our hearing? Which ones stand out to us? Which ones especially challenge us? Do we see ourselves as ones who stand for the little ones of life, or are we drawn to step forward to proclaim new life and possibilities? Is ours the quiet loving care of a sibling or the incredible angst of a mother who wants desperately to hold on to her child and yet let that child go? Do we believe that we have gifts? And are those gifts available for others? Do we as a parish community help one another discover our giftedness and welcome them when discovered? When asked the question asked of the disciples – “Who do you say that I am?” – what will we say?

Today’s lessons begin with a horrific history, the slaying of young children, and a sacred, nurturing history of the caring for a little baby; and today’s lessons end by asking adults to answer important questions and to take responsibility. As such, the lessons imitate life as we know it. There can be no greater work than the care of young children. We know that by the age of six, children have formed many aspects of their personalities and have a history of either being loved or not being loved, experiencing security or insecurity, feeling treasured as sacred vessels or feeling abused as ones of little worth. And they will deal with all of these feelings for the rest of their lives.

A priest in Pennsylvania and team from his parish regularly went into Graterford Prison for over 10 years, and what they discovered were men who were in the main abused as children and who had often abused others, continuing the circle of violence. Our work in the midst of the abuse and neglect of children today is to be a people who care, nourish, and protect them. There is no greater work. We start out with our own families and as community who gathers here at this congregation. Our future is determined in part by how we welcome and treasure the young ones in our midst.

Today’s lessons end by asking the rest of us, the adults, to step up to the plate of taking responsibility for living out the answer to the question: “But who do you say that I am?”

This is not easy to answer, for behind our responses we have our own histories, our own working through all of those messages from our own childhood, our own disappointments and failures, our own physical and emotional pains, our own experiences of loneliness or feeling of little worth. We come to this place from the contexts of our living, a place one might call “tall grass.” In this tall grass, we are buffeted by many things, some which we cannot see. Life is complex and full. Sometimes the tall grass becomes a haven where we can hide out. Sometimes it is a maize where we don’t know where we are going or who is around us. At other times we like to smell its uniqueness and at other times we feel choked by its overbearing sameness. Life is full in all of its complexities, and we bring all those complexities here at this moment in this place.

So we are a people of the context.

We are also a people of the gathering.

We are here together. And in our gatherings we have a sense of who is around us, and in this reality we have a choice: do we circle the wagons or do we create circles of trust? Our work as a parish community, without being intrusive in others’ lives, can be a place where we can start again and feel that here is a community that values me as a treasured earthen vessel of worth and significance. This can make all the difference in people’s lives. It can be a place where we can be loved in healthy, life-giving ways, and where we are fed not only by bread and wine but also by a people, who, sharing our human journeys and our human condition, are willing to not just to talk the talk but walk the walk with us in our journeys in daily living.

We are a people of the table.

To engage in this most special walk, we present ourselves, at God’s invitation, before the holy table to receive what the world might see as a small gift – a morsel of bread and a drop of wine – but which we know is the gift of life. It, too, is a reminder that doing something that may seem small and insignificant can make all the difference. Who would have known that putting that baby in a basket and setting him upon the water under the watchful eye of his sister would change the course of history? It is from the table – holy table, tables of conversation, tables where other meals are shared, tables/platforms where other interactions take place– that we know most fully that our journeys are inextricably connected to others’ journeys.

We are a people of the dismissal.

We are called from the table to return to the complexities of life, to the tall grass. This is where most of our life is lived in all of its fullness, struggle, sorrow, and celebration. It is from the tall grass that a basket was made for a baby that changed the course of history. It is the tall grass that the disciples were beckoned from the Mount of Transfiguration. It is where death and resurrection happens most frequently.

So what are we to do or say when we hear the words “But who do you say that I am?”

In the midst of our fears and hesitation, it is the stepping out in faith and being alive and present to ourselves and to others, the world around us, and to God’s reconciling love breaking into the world in often small, seemingly insignificant ways that is the source of our future hope and promise. So with courage and hopefulness, with our pain and struggles, with our joys and celebrations, we dare come again to the holy table and to a special presence with each other in prayer.

Who would know that as a result of our coming here we and the world around us will never be quite the same again? Be on the alert, for God’s spirit is dwelling in our midst!

-- As the program officer for Ordained Leadership and Ministry Development at the Episcopal Church Center, the Rev. Melford “Bud” Holland is involved in a number of initiatives related to education, lifelong learning, leadership, and ministry development. He has also previously served in congregations and other diocesan positions. E-mail: bholland@episcopalchurch.org.