13 September 2008

Duncan's not going to the bisohps' gathering

For "my" post today, I ask you go to over and read Mark Harris' blog today on the Rt. Rev'd. Mr. Duncan's refusal to attend the meeting of bishops this coming week.

Pay particular attention to the irrefutable argument "it isn't legal if I say it's not legal."

My thanks to Mark for an excelent summation of the situation.

12 September 2008

Church of England goes to hell in a portrait

In the very characteristic manner to which one is accustomed in the British Empire, a change has happened in the Church of England. Well, it's not a change, it's a return to an old practice -- a practice that has been banned for 802 years. This will never fly over in Akinolaland.

There is a new portrait of the new bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt. Rev’d. Peter Price and the portrait is absolutely scandalous! It has the bishop’s wife, Dee, in the portrait! Oh, the humanity!

Since the twelfth century, it has been considered “unsuitable” for women to appear in paintings alongside any religious figures. I mean, the mere image of a woman can cause natural disasters, you know. The last time a woman appeared in such a portrait was back in 1206 A.D. It was only a mere twenty-two years later that 100,000 people drown in a flood in Holland. God is serious about this “no wimmin in pictures!”

Bishop Price was insistent that his wife appear in the portrait:

Throughout our ministry we have always worked together and I would say that she was called to be a vicar’s wife before I was ever called to be a vicar.

The portrait shows Bishop Price, 64, standing clad in a purple cassock, while Dee, 63, sits on a pew in the background. She said

I think it’s an amazing picture and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s a massive step forward for women in the church because previously it had never been considered.

I don’t at all mind being the Bishop’s wife and being in the background, but I do look forward to the day when there is a woman Bishop in the foreground.

The painting was commissioned by the Bath and Wells Diocese to mark its 1,100th anniversary. Diocese spokesman John Andrews said:

Before the Reformation, bishops didn’t have wives and many still don’t. But Dee has been a massive inspiration in the regeneration of the Palace here since her husband took over.

Having a man and women together had never been considered suitable before as portraits have always just been individuals.

It was fitting to have her in the portrait and it shows the role of women is now very much appreciated and applauded within the church.’

Well, did you notice that “many [bishops] still don’t [have wives]. Now, that leads one to wonder – I bet The Rt. Rev’d Mr. Akinola is wondering!

Our thanks to the Mail Online for breaking the scandal. It is true, as ++Akinola said, the Church of England has sold out to secular society. We are all doomed to hell.

PS – you know what my favourite part of writing this article was? Telling the spell check to “ignore” the name Akinola. Can you tell I’m in a particularly spunky mood today?

11 September 2008

11 September

Today as the Nation, and indeed most of the Western World turns its collective memory to the events in New York City, I remember one particular man who was one of the heroes of Flight 93. Mark Bingham helped in the attempt to halt the hijacking. But, because it was discovered he was gay, his role was deliberately obscured by the media and the U.S. Government.

For Mark, and all the innocent people who died on this day, let us pray to the Lord....

Remember thy servants, O Lord, according to the favour which
thou bearest unto thy people; and grant that, increasing in
knowledge and love of thee, they may go from strength to
strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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 us, we pray thee,
to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou
art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us also pray for the hijackers.

10 September 2008

The Primates of the Anglican Communion

I stumbled upon an Episcopal Life page that has photos of all the Primates. It was interesting to see the faces of all those bishops about whom I've been reading. The photos are here.

09 September 2008

Duncan gives his side of the court action

From The Rt. Rev’d Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
September 9, 2008

Bishop Robert Duncan has released a statement on the results of a hearing before Judge James that took place on September 8.

The statement follows:

On Sept. 8, there was a hearing before Judge James in the Calvary litigation. Calvary took the position that the Realignment vote will violate the 2005 Stipulation and that Calvary was entitled to the appointment of a "monitor" to take over the financial affairs of the Diocese. Calvary first initiated this request in a July 2008 filing. Since July, we have documented with the Court the Diocese's strong opposition to Calvary's position, and the fact that Diocese has consistently complied with the Stipulation since it was signed, and will continue to comply with the Stipulation after the Realignment vote. The Diocese always has been, and remains committed to administering Diocesan assets for the beneficial use of all parishes and institutions of the Diocese, regardless of any parish's position on Realignment.

The relief Calvary sought -- a court-appointed monitor who would effectively run the financial affairs of the Diocese -- was not what was done yesterday. To the contrary, we proposed the appointment of an independent third-party (called a "Special Master"), who will have no role regarding the operation of the Diocese. Rather, the Special Master will review all Diocesan financial records and make recommendations to the Court regarding which property is covered by which provisions in the 2005 Stipulation (i.e., what is Diocesan property and what is parish property). The appointment of a Special Master has no impact on whether TEC or its representatives can make any claim to any property. These issues will be addressed at a later date. We have clearly stated our position that the minority who oppose Realignment are not entitled to seize the assets of the Diocese. If necessary, we will vigorously pursue this position in litigation.

It is important at this juncture, however, to be mindful of the destructive effect of the all-or-nothing approach to property disputes that has characterized so much of the church property litigation across the country. Judge James has voiced his concern that all members of our Church -- regardless of where they stand on Realignment -- should be permitted to worship as they deem appropriate. Before the conclusion of yesterday's hearing, Judge James asked counsel for both parties to confirm that nothing about the appointment of a Special Master, or the establishment of an escrow account, would negatively impact any parish's ability to continue worshiping as that parish chooses to worship.

We think appointment of the Special Master is an excellent way to begin the process of pursuing a fair and equitable distribution of property. To repeat, this process does not determine how property will be divided, it simply identifies the property at issue so the Court has a clear picture of what property is in dispute. We will continue to seek the Court's assistance to work through these issues to maximize our opportunity to avoid a destructive (and expensive) all-or-nothing battle.

There are many things upon which to comment, but I will limit myself.

Notice that Duncan states the minority is not “entitled to seize the assets of the Diocese” and that they will sue the cassocks off anyone who tries. Yet, when TEC files suit against Duncan and his thieves, Duncan will scream bloody murder that TEC has no right to sue him and those who leave TEC and the diocese of Pittsburgh.

I am very concerned about Duncan’s report of the judge’s “concern.” It appears to me that the judge is wading into dangerous waters here because of the First Amendment and the so-called “separation clause.” For the U.S. Courts to step in to deal with an internal matter or worship is of great concern to me.

And finally, notice that the theft of TEC property by Duncan is a done deal and he is bragging about the coming theft. “To repeat, this does not determine how property will be divided.” Sorry to inform you, Bobby, but the property is TEC’s to divide, not yours.

If the HOB does not depose this self-righteous crook, then the HOB deserves to be voted out of existence at GC09.

08 September 2008

Pentecostalism at the root of the GAFCON movement

In an interesting article about the decline of Pentecostalism as a revival movement, Monty Lee Rice made an interesting comment.

The second tradition I served with, though quite briefly, was within Anglicanism, which involved a brief stint in a cathedral followed by ministry for a while in a charismatic, contemporary-driven, Anglican “mega-church.” I had gained some appreciation towards Anglican spirituality. At one point, I began initial steps towards entering the priesthood, with the hope of seeking a synthesis between the two traditions. [. . .]

[…] At some point I realised however, I could journey no further into Anglicanism. I found myself facing the prospect of having to displace those [Pentecostal] embedded values and paradigms, and I did not to risk that. On a critical note, I became even more aware of the contrast between an oral-nuanced and print-nuanced liturgical ethos.

Most particularly I realised all the more that a print-nuanced liturgical ethos does indeed produces a deadening, cerebral-skewered approach to worship which hinders any desire towards an in breaking of the Spirit’s power, and thus why printed liturgical elements must be kept subordinate to a broader oral-based liturgical or congregational setting; .

What I found so interesting was that the above perfectly sums up the alleged crisis in the Anglican Communion. They can go no further in Anglicanism, and so are develop a new religion of book worship

Christians, with Jews and Moslems, have long been called “people of the book,” but Christians have never been libercentic. We have always been Christocentric. Even the Roman and Orthodox churches do not worship the book as the fundamentalists do.

But a libercentric religion meets the needs of the fundamentalists who cannot function without iron clad rules and proscriptions to counter the “secular humanistic” world they must live in, but cannot not be part of.

What these neo-fundamentalists are attempting to do is to put new wine in old wine skins. The new religion is cloaked in the legitimacy of Anglicanism and “the faith once delivered”—but it is neither Anglicanism nor the faith that has been delivered throughout Christian history. It is a completely different religion, one Jesus would not recognize.

Jesus’ entire ministry was spent overthrowing the Law. Jesus repeatedly chose people and compassion over the law. He chose love over legalism. But the fundamentalists do not want this Jesus; they want a “new Moses” who give a new law – one which the fundamentalists develop from selective verses of Moses’ law. And they have found him in ++Akinola who speaks for God.

The explosive growth of Pentecostalism in African religion and politics plays into the Anglican drama, too. The Anglican churches of Africa have “bent to society.” As the African society moved in the Pentecostal/fundamentalist direction, the African Anglicans moved in that direction.

Now, the primates will deny that until the cows come home, but it is a fact. Before Pentecostalism took root, there was no “broken communion” between the Anglicans in the Western Word and Africa.

Heresy begets heresy. Pentecostalism is deeply donatist by nature (among other things including Montanism, Modalism Jansenism, Catharism, and some Gnosticism, too).. Just as the charismatic movement (with its donatist neo-Montanism leanings) brought the headache to TEC, so the Pentecostal movement in Africa brought schism to the Communion. If one understands the historic heresies of the Church, one will see the Gafcon movement for what it is – heresy. (Here is a great resource on Pentecostalism.

To end this post on a much better topic, I’d like to wish the Blessed Virgin Mary a happy birthday, today.

Over on The Grapevine, Susan O. has posted an update on the situation in San Joaquin at St. Mark's in Shafter. Please go read it.

07 September 2008


On Thursday I wished a very good friend, Richard Beers, Godspeed for his journey into eternal life. Dick was a veteran of both the Second World War and the Korean War. He was given a field promotion (I think that's what it is called) to lieutenant. Dick and Ruth were married 57 years.

Dick beat cancer twice only to be diagnosed last week with kidney failure. I saw him on the morning before he died. He was unconscious, but when I went into the ICU and called his name, he opened his eyes. I talked to him for a few minutes and then said I was going to leave so he could rest and told him I would "be back tomorrow." Dick pulled the oxygen mask off and said, "I won't be here; see you in heaven, Jim." (Which is the reason I chose this particular hymn for tonight. And as far as I'm concerned, it is a hymn.)

Dick was the head greeter for our local WalMart for thirteen years. and knew about half the shoppers by first name. At the memorial, every greeter who had worked for WalMart here in Paso attended. St. Peter has help at the gates now, because Dick is there to greet people.

Tonight's Evensong is for Dick. And the answer to the question posed is, "Yes, Dick, I'll know your name."

For the BBC Evensong, click here.

Pentecost XVII

Proper 18 - Year A

By the Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz

Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 149; or Ezekiel 33:7-11, Psalm 119:33-40; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

We thought last week's gospel was the tough one, didn't we? Last Sunday's passage was the turning point in Matthew's gospel – the point where Jesus begins to announce his fate. He begins telling his followers that his end is death and theirs, most likely, would be death, too.

Remember, Peter said, “God forbid,” and got severely reprimanded by Jesus: “Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me.”

That whole story was pretty serious. It's the kind of gospel that should make us sit up and take notice and realize that being a Christian isn't a lark, it's a serious commitment to a radical new way of life.

Well, to tell you the truth, this week's gospel makes taking up your cross and following Jesus look a whole lot easier. There's a little bit of chest-swelling pride in being able to say, “Yes, indeed, I'm willing to carry any cross. Willing even to die for my faith.” We can say that because as we sit here in the U.S., we can be pretty sure we'll never have to die for our faith.

But look at this gospel. Here's where the rubber hits the road. This is part of what Jesus means when he says, “Take up your cross.”

Today Jesus says, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.”

Oh, right! Is there anything harder than confronting someone who's grieved you? Especially when it’s someone you know well? It's so much easier for us to take our grievance to someone else – to talk about it to anyone else who would listen. Anyone else that is, except the one we ought to. But this is what this gospel is all about. It's about how we should behave if we are indeed going to call ourselves members of God's family.

So, let's take a look at what's going on in this straightforward gospel passage.

There are no secrets here. We don't have to look too far beyond the images Jesus uses in order to understand what he's saying.

What is often helpful is to look at what comes before and after the Sunday passage. The whole of chapter 18 talks about our behavior as God's people. In verse 1, the disciples ask Jesus who the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven is, and he says it's anyone who is like a little child. In fact, he says unless you become like a child, you cannot enter the kingdom. And worse, anyone who causes the downfall of a child would be better thrown into the sea and drowned.

Then he told the parable of the lost sheep. The good shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to find the 1 that is lost.

Today's gospel follows directly after this parable. All of this concerns what our faith life should be like. Bottom line: we should look after one another and be honest with one another.

But of course, that's not as easy as it sounds, and we know this. We often fail, even in the best of circumstances – or more accurately, in what we know should be the best of circumstances.

But this is life. Gossip happens and people are wronged in many different ways. We all make poor choices at times. We're human; life here will never be perfect.

So this gospel also talks about reconciliation. Reconciliation, because our actions have an impact not only on the one person we've wronged, but on the whole community. Because we are the people of God, what we do affects the whole. We show that in the way we worship together. That's why we baptize and confirm people within a community celebration. That's why we say the confession and pass the peace together. That's why we say, “We” believe in one God. That's why our hymns have a lot of “we” and “us” in them instead of “me” and “I.”

So, Jesus says, go to the one who wronged you. If that doesn't work, go to the community. Now, more than one thing can happen. Going to the community means sharing perceptions. Maybe we've misunderstood what someone has done. The community could help us see our misperceptions – see things in a different light so to speak. Maybe it turns out that we've not been wronged at all.

But if the other is at fault, he says, and if the community doesn't seem to be able to help, treat this person as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. His disciples would understand that image immediately. A gentile or tax collector was about as much of an outsider as you could be in that culture. They could be ignored, pushed aside.

Except these same disciples had seen how Jesus treated gentiles and tax collectors.

A couple weeks ago, we had Matthew's account of the Canaanite woman. Remember how Jesus was forced to go beyond the cultural boundary and extend his care and healing to a gentile? Jesus also called a tax collector to be in his closest circle of disciples.

So, evidently, we can't put limits to our forgiveness either. We can't say, “OK, fine, that didn't work. I don't have to do anything more.” Reconciliation means the door to forgiveness has to stay open. But there’s more. When we wrong others, we must repent. We'll hear more about that in next week’s gospel.

So, what do we take home today? If we want our life as a church to grow, we need to work constantly on our witness. Others must see us care for each other. They should hear us speak kindly of one another and they should see us forgive and ask forgiveness.

It's not always easy, and we won't always do it. But as we try to live as we are called to live, we have only to remember that Jesus also said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

-- The Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz is executive director of the Center for Ministry in Small Churches at the School of Theology, Sewanee, Tennessee, and assistant professor of Contextual Education. She is also publisher of Tuesday Morning, a quarterly journal of ministry and liturgical preaching.