27 September 2008

The Holy Eucharist for beginners and long-timers, too

Today's post is thanks to Fr. Matthew. That priest is amazing and he's the best thing our Episcopalian Evangelism has to offer.

26 September 2008

The face of hypocritical evangelism

Lambeth has been over for a month, now. We have had time to ruminate what Lambeth means to the ordinary pew-sitting members of The Episcopal Church. Most Episcopalians would say, “not much.” But I believe this Lambeth is the most important Lambeth Conference, in terms of TEC, that has ever happened.

I have read almost every U.S. bishop’s reflection on their experience and I consistently read the same concerning statement. Yesterday’s post of Bishop Whalon’s letter to the Convocation of Churches in Europe, he said that the recent meeting of our bishops began with “debriefing” on the Lambeth experience. He followed that by making the same statement all of the other U.S. Bishops have said.

Each has written about the connectedness they now feel to all the bishops of the Anglican Communion. On face value, that is wonderful. But it is the deeper meaning of that statement that is a matter of immense concern, at least for me.

With Lambeth behind us, well-informed Episcopalians have turned their focus to GC09. (Well this past week a lot of cyber ink has been spilled over the deposition of Robert Duncan.) One of the issues is what to do about the disgraceful B033 that was “clarified” by the bishops into an official moratorium on the consecration of qualified honest gay people.

My concern about the vestiges of Lambeth is that the bishops, still in love with the “warm and fuzzy” Lambeth experience, will oppose any move away from “moratorium. I have already heard a significant number of bishops state a need for “three more years.” Unfortunately, my own bishop is one of those spouting such nonsense. She has not been overly friendly to the GLBT community as it is.

A majority of bishops will fight the change while they watch property being stolen, TEC called apostate and their leader, the presiding bishop, called every possible derogatory name by the same bishops they are trying to appease.

The “Lambeth loving” bishops will attempt another last minute end run to acquire a prize of prince-bishops who are in charge of this church. They have done this in two General Conventions already.

This is so much more than just a matter of polity and justice; it is also a matter of mercy, empathy, honesty, and evangelization.

As the non-churched world increasingly rejects mainline religion as an antediluvian symbol of people out of touch with reality, how can we evangelize anyone, let alone the one segment of the American population who is most searching for something that only the way of Jesus provides? Many studies/surveys indicate that GLBT people are searching for a religious structure that meets their spiritual needs and is relevant to the world in which we live.

How can Episcopalians invite our friends to our church, when we know that our church practices open discrimination?

How can TEC honestly say that all are welcome and yet allow GLBT members to be held hostage by the a desire for "fellowship" with bishops who want TEC dead and replaced by their abhorrent version of Christianity?

The answer to these questions is, “It cannot.” If we wish to evangelize, we must practice what we say we believe. St. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” Our words are simply episcopal arrogance unless those words match our actions.

For those outside of the churches, religious dishonesty is transparent particualrly to the young people who can spot duplicity in a second. I hope our bishops agree with Jesus and refuse to sacrifice our members, and property, to appease bishops who have already departed in spirit, if not in fact.

It is not too late, though. We must express to our bishops and delegates how we feel about injustice negating evangelization, and discrimination being counter to Jesus’ teachings. We can reclaim this church for Jesus and the Episcopalians in the pews. We can tell the world that we practice the way of Jesus, and that our actions match our speech.

If we fail, brothers and sisters, in reclaiming the church by the delegates, TEC is dead in the water and our bishops will be holding the smoking gun and we will have supplied the bullets the bishops used.

25 September 2008

Bishop Whalon reflects on the HOB meeting

The Rt. Rev'd Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Churches in Europe, has sent a pastoral letter to his flock. It is a wonderful statement of the events. The letter is dated 21 Sepetember.

As you read this account of the events, please note the deep concern for Mr. Duncan; take special note of the words and actions of the Presiding Bishop. If you read only one bit of this pastoral letter, make sure you read the penultimate paragraph. My estimation of Bisop Whalon went up after reading that bit.

Dear people of the Convocation,

As I return today from the Salt Lake City House of Bishops meeting, I wish to make some comments on the meeting and in particular, the vote to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan.

As I have said before, I will soon issue a formal Pastoral Letter for all our congregations.

Our first day was spent "de-briefing" about our experiences of the Lambeth Conference. It was immediately clear that all of us were deeply affected by meditations on the theological content of the Archbishop of Canterbury's presentations as well as others like Rabbi Jonathan Sachs. For all of us, we feel new closeness to other bishops working in vastly different contexts, and we will continue to pursue developing these relationships personally and corporately.

One way that many encouraged us to use these new relationships is to write directly to people and explain the vote to depose Bishop Duncan.

There is a huge amount of disinformation and misinformation about this move. Bishop Robert Duncan was deposed for abandonment of the communion of this Church, under Canon IV.9. This followed a process begun by some clergy and laypeople of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. While he himself demanded a church trial in an open letter to the bishops, the only canonical basis for action by the Presiding Bishop and House of Bishops is the presentment itself.

The House of Bishops, in other words, could act only on what the complainants from Pittsburgh put before us, including the canonical frame of their charges. Neither the Presiding Bishop nor Review Committee, nor the House itself, could change it. A trial would certainly have been more damaging for the defendant, in any event.

It is easy to derail the Canon IV.9 process by denying that one has indeed left the Episcopal Church. Bishop Duncan did not do so. Nor did he attend the meeting. Less than five minutes after the vote to depose him, the Diocese website announced that he had been received into the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas.

My own understanding of the canons that I followed with a priest of the Convocation who claimed to be received in another province--while continuing to want to minister in Europe for that province and against us--is that one can only be legally transferred to another province of the Communion by moving there. As Bishop Duncan wished not only to join the Southern Cone province but also took active steps to remove the diocese with him, he clearly had done what the presenters charged.

The House upheld the rulings of the Presiding Bishop, her Chancellor, and the House Parliamentarian, that the canons were appropriately and correctly applied.

The Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, did a flawless job of chairing the meeting. She warned us not to indulge in vindictiveness. As she has done before, she also admonished us not to abandon those bishops who have been deposed. They are still connected to us in a real way, by baptism to begin with. Bishop Katharine also saw to it that when two retiring bishops were feted later that evening, that time was given for people to remember Bishop Duncan in positive ways.

As for me, I discovered with great joy the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Way of Christianity thirty years ago in Pittsburgh. I was received into the Church by Bishop Austin Pardue, one of our great bishops of the last century, and made a postulant for Holy Orders by Bishop Bob Appleyard, another giant whom I eventually succeeded as Bishop in charge. I was ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Appleyard's successor, Alden Hathaway, and served my first cure as rector of All Souls Church in that diocese.

Over the years, I have watched the once-great diocese become a shadow of its former self under Bishop Duncan's leadership. His clear schismatical intent to break up our church, as well as what I perceived as egocentric ambition to become its savior, also generated in me a great deal of anger toward the man. I took his actions even more personally, perhaps, because of my deep commitment to the diocese as the people who brought me out of a spiritual desert into a way of being Christian in which I have been able to follow Jesus. As I considered how to vote on his deposition, I realized that for the good of my own soul, I should abstain. It seemed clear that he would be deposed, and I fully concur with that decision. Had my vote been a tie-breaker, I would have changed it to a yes. However, in my heart I felt the temptation to use my vote as a way of getting even with the man. Abstaining seemed the healthier way.

This may seem precious to some. Perhaps they are right. But it is how I saw the matter at the time.

Yours in Christ,


Tomorrow, I will be commenting on one portion of this letter. I do not comment now because I prefer +Whalon's analysis and personal feelings to stand on their own.

24 September 2008

A day of fasting

Tomorrow we have an opportunity to experience what a large percentage of the world's population experiences each day. We have been asked to fast for the day, or, at least to forgo one meal and pray for the MDG.

A link to "sign up" for the fast is here. If you are a blogger, there is another link I urge you to visit, it is here. You may follow that link, sign up, and then put the badge on your blog and join the webring.

I urge everyone who reads this blog to join in the fast. It is scandalous that the world's population is very familiar with hunger. I read recently that each day, people living in the United States throw out enough food to feed the entire world's population. That is a sin, sisters and brothers.

If you chose to join the fast, I ask you to give up your evening meal so that you may go to bed hungry. Each day million upon millions of people do just that. In the United States hunger is a companion to far too many people -- including children. Calculate the money that one meal would cost and donate it to a local organization that feeds those in need.

With all my heart, I urge you to do this.

Powered By Ringsurf

23 September 2008

The letter of Deposition

Most Episcopalians (or Anglicans for that matter) have never seen a letter of deposition. I though you might find Mr. Duncan’s letter of deposition an interesting read. I did not know that there is a “Recorder of Ordinations.”

September 19, 2008

TO: The Secretary of the House of Bishops
The Secretary of the General Convention
The Bishops of the Episcopal Church
The Recorder of Ordinations
The Church Pension Fund
The Church Deployment Board
All Archbishops and Metropolitans
All Presiding Bishops of Churches in Communion with The Episcopal Church

Deposition of a Bishop

The Title IV Review Committee having certified on December 17, 2007, pursuant to Canon IV.9.1 of the Episcopal Church, that the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, has abandoned the Communion of the Church, and a majority of the members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote having consented to this Deposition at a meeting of the House of Bishops in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 18 September, 2008, I hereby depose The Right Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and declare that from and after 12:01 a.m. Saturday, 20 September, 2008, Bishop Duncan shall be deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God's word and sacraments conferred at ordination in this Church and further declare that all ecclesiastical and related secular offices held by Bishop Duncan shall be terminated and vacated at that time.

I hereby direct that this Deposition be served upon Bishop Duncan forthwith and that copies thereof be expeditiously sent to the Ecclesiastical Authority of every Diocese of this church, to the Recorder of Ordinations , the the Church Deployment Office, to the Secretary of the House of Bishops, to all Archbishops and Metropolitans, and to all Presiding Bishops of Churches in communion iwht this Church.

signed the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, XXVI Presiding Bishop,

+Richard Chang, Episcopal Witness and +Ken Price, Jr, Episcopal Witness

Does anyone know why the CPF was notified. Will Mr. Duncan’s pension be terminated?

Reading this letter of deposition made me incredibly sad. How tragic that it had to reach this point.

An oasis in the dreary land-- a new blog worth knowing about

Fr. Scott and "a couple of others" have inaugurated a new blog, Real Anglicans.

The focus is to support Episcopalians in the dioceses of Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy. Is is a "place to vent and a place to think together." Please check it out and book mark the URL. Oh, and make sure to tell them you heard it here. :)

22 September 2008

++Chew reveals his ignorance

By now most, if not all, of you have either read or heard of the statement issued by the Most Rev’d John Chew, primate of the Province of Southeast Asia. For those who have not read the statement, here it is.

We received with great distress the news of the deposition of the Rt. Revd Bob Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, by the House of Bishops (HOB) of The Episcopal Church (TEC).

I have to say it, I just don’t “get it.” These fundamentalist primates are so distressed over the internal disciplinary action of another province, but they are completely accommodating of theft and flagrant disregard of the polity of the same province.

The Communion has repeatedly asked TEC to make pastoral provisions and avoid steps that will alienate further those within TEC who wish to live by the Anglican faith which they believe to be true and remain in fellowship within the Anglican Communion. Even as recent as at the recent Lambeth, the great majority of Bishops present, including those from TEC, have expressed sincere desire for healing and reconciliation and to observe restraints on contentious issues for the Windsor-Covenant process to proceed.

The HOB has instead proceeded to depose a faithful bishop of the Gospel and the diocese under his care. This raises serious questions yet again, and more strikingly so soon after Lambeth, as to how sincere TEC and some of its bishops are in wanting to bring reconciliation, healing and resolution to the Communion crisis at hand.

There are none so blind as those who will not see, and the fundamentalists are the blindest of the blind. Duncan was not deposed because of his faith; he was deposed for breaking all three of his consecration vows and planning criminal activities. There is no evidence that the deposition was over theology and ++Chew knows this.

Pastoral provisions were suggested and plans for them made: however, the fundamentalists rejected the proposal. They refused to have a “woman” be part of any provision. ++Chew knows this, too, but he refuses to acknowledge that fact because doing so would show the fundamentalists for what they are: hypocrites.

To refer to Mr. Duncan as “a faithful bishop of the Gospel” shows what gospel the fundamentalists hold dear and it is not the gospel of Jesus. No only that, ++Chew’s statement is a slap in the face of every bishop of TEC. Additionally, there was no disciplinary action against the Diocese of Pittsburgh; Chew knows this, too.

The Province of Southeast Asia will continue to support, remain in full communion and prayerfully explore steps to strengthen our shared life with Anglican leaders like Bishop Bob Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh as well as other TEC bishops who respect the mind of the Communion and remain faithful to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the tradition and life of the Church. We urge those who have not chosen to ‘walk apart’ to work actively and sincerely with the Windsor-Covenant Process and other measures agreed at the Communion level. This is probably the only remaining opportunity to bind the Communion together out of this crisis which will strengthen our future common life, witness in the world and our place as an Anglican ecclesial family within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Notice that ++Chew intends to “support, remain in full communion and prayerfully explore steps to strengthen” his relationship with Duncan and his band of merry criminals. That makes ++Chew an accomplice to theft, (aiding and abetting) and calls into question his ordination/consecration vows at the very least and certainly calls into question his moral character.

What is hypocritical is that ++Chew refers to the Windsor process. One-third of that process is that there will be an end to border crossings. ++Chew deliberately ignores that. Even as ++Chew released his statement, ++Orombi was in Kansas in defiance of the Windsor process. He also appeared in the Diocese of NW Texas. Both appearances are without the Ordinary’s consent or knowledge. That is a violation of the Windsor process. Did ++Chew lament those events? Of course not. By his silence on the subject, he is complicit in ++Orombi’s actions.

Some will say that silence is not in and of itself concurrence. That opinion is wrong. Silence abets the action and the actor. If one does not believe that, then one should ask the victims of the Second World War.

What ++Chew's postulation shows is that he is either ingnorant or deliberately obtuse. I wonder, can one be both?

21 September 2008

Evensong for Pentecost XIX

This afternoon I chose Lord of All Hopefulness for our even song. It has always been one of my favourite hymns. But, it was instrumental in my re-conversion to the Anglican form of Christianity three years ago. It was the opening hymn at the principal service in Peterbourogh Cathedral the Sunday I was there. I managed to sing the first verse and then the emotion took over and I wept though the rest of the Eucharist. I knew when this hymn began that I'd been called home to the Episcopal Church.

For Evensong from the BBC, click here.

Pentecost XIX

Proper 20 - Year A [RCL]

Exodus 16:2-15, Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

The scene in Matthew is becoming more and more familiar. People are waiting for work, waiting to be hired, waiting to earn a day’s wage – which in those days was just enough to feed one’s family. The issue then is one of daily bread. Just like manna in the Exodus narrative. Just as in the prayer Jesus gives us when we ask him how we should pray.

To be hired late in the day and get less than a day’s wages means belt-tightening for the entire family. Not to mention what it does to one’s sense of self-worth to be overlooked or passed by when the hiring is being done. To not be chosen to work creates anxiety.

The lesson here is one of extraordinary generosity. Everyone got a day’s wage. Everyone could go home and feed his or her family. Just as it was with manna, everyone got enough, no one got too much, nothing was left over. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

We say this every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. Does it ever occur to us just what it is we are praying and saying? How many of us have experienced living one day to the next? People who do, come to our church doors every day hoping we have listened to Jesus tell this story – and that we believe it.

Jesus is somehow trying to engineer a return to the wilderness sojourn – a return to manna season – a return to utter and radical dependence on God and God’s daily provisions. God makes it clear to Moses that you cannot gather the stuff up and save it for a rainy day. It goes sour on you. It spoils. It starts crawling with worms and moths. Take it one day at a time and all will be well.

So with Jesus, everyone is given a day’s provision, those who worked all day and those who worked just a few hours. Like any household with children, the cries of those hired early in the day are oh-so-familiar. “It isn’t fair!” they whine. “We were there first. We deserve more because we did more.” And we glibly reply, “Life isn’t fair.”

Or is it? What Jesus seems to be getting at is that what is fair and what is just is established by God, not by our standards of merit, qualifications, and grounds for staking a claim. What is being discussed, as usual, is God’s kingdom – life lived under the reign of God, a God who is generous to a fault, a God whose generosity offends us and baffles us.

As Marguerite Shuster observes in The Lectionary Commentary:

“Grace is not grace if it is qualified by superior virtue in the recipient. Sinners are not sinners if some are less dependent on grace than others. Besides, if one has enough oneself … why would one even want more than someone else, unless out of some sense of pride and self-righteousness? That it seems odd to put the question that way – so normal, so natural, is our desire to want more – shows the depth of our sin. The more we insist on our tit-for-tat way of thinking, the more baffled and angry we will be at God’s whole way of dealing with us.”

Again, consider what it feels like to be hired late in the day with the anxiety of going home empty handed intensifying as each hour passes by. Is even laboring through the heat of the day any worse than having one’s hope of a meal for the family fade away as the sun begins to set in the western sky?

Even apart from the need for daily bread, work is an integral part of creation, and those denied the opportunity, whether for disability, age, or any other cause, must feel a deeper sense of despair and a keen lack of purpose and meaning in life. Work can be stressful, monotonous, and difficult, but to be out of work can be even worse.

I think of all the people who leave home each day, briefcase or tool box in hand, pretending to go to work long after they have been laid off. They cannot face telling their families that they no longer have a job. We are tempted to say, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

The temptation is always to assume God serves our sense of what is fair, our sense of “justice.” The temptation is always to believe that somehow those who come to the vineyard first and early are more deserving and have stake to a higher claim on God’s generosity, love, and forgiveness. The temptation is to believe that we can really earn the right to more than bread that is given daily. An even worse temptation is to think that it is always too late to accept the Master’s invitation to work in God’s vineyard.

The good news is that God’s grace is so great and so surprising that it can provide enough no matter how late in the day it is – on the deathbed, in the jail cell, after repeated failures – because the recipient need not add anything to the grace, but simply receive it in order for it to do its life-sustaining work. Even as the sun sets on this life, it is not too late to accept God’s Amazing Grace.

And it is never too soon for the rest of us to begin to consider that heaven’s “enough,” heaven’s daily bread, and heaven’s daily wages make all earthly comparisons look meaningless and silly.

Jesus’ assurance that the last shall be first and the first shall be last is tied to manna season, and settling for bread and wages that are given daily. We are called to be those people who pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and really make an effort to live that out. To live life in God’s kingdom is a journey to return to manna season.

Jesus seems to be announcing a great reversal of places in the kingdom. The New Testament calls this “turning the world upside down.” People outside the church in the first centuries called Christians “those people who are turning the world upside down.” Go figure!

So if 10 is Bill Gates or the Sultan of Brunei, and 1 is the poorest of the poor, it has been suggested that those who are really clever will live around number 5. That way, when it all turns upside down, they will feel the least amount of disruption in their lives.

Manna season: when everyone has enough, no one has too much. If you store it up, it sours on you. The world lived at number 5.

Sounds easy! But on a global and even national scale, most of us are living conservatively at number 9, except on April 15 when we pay our taxes and attempt to argue ourselves down to an 8.5. Looked at from this perspective, the journey to number 5 looks like a long, long journey. But, says Jesus, it is the journey to life lived in its fullest!

One suspects this journey begins with being as generous to others as God is with us. After all, there must be some reason that God has created us in God’s own image. And as John 3:16 states, “God so loved the world that God gave … .”

God loves and God gives. We are created in God’s image. We are created to love and to give. And to be as surprisingly generous with others as God is with us.

-- The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek is rector of St. Peter's Church in Ellicott City, MD, a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He also travels throughout the church leading stewardship events for parishes, dioceses, clergy conferences, and diocesan conventions. He has long been involved in the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), and the Ministry of Money. He frequently uses music and storytelling in his proclamation of the Word. E-mail: kkub@aol.com.