17 January 2009

DV and the science of writing science fiction

I seldom venture over to the H8 pages, but I have a Google alert set for certain words. A few minutes ago an alert came though about the Diocese of San Joaquin. When I clicked the URL, it took me the the most infamous H8-r-us site.

The post concerns the recent letters sent by +Lamb and the Chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin (Which you may read at The Grapevine).

The H8 post has the usual science fiction explanation of things. One bit of note is this bit (and I'm paraphrasing because I did not obtain permission for a direct quote:
According to an attorney who wishes to remain anonymous, "the decision is useless in its application to the ability of a diocese to leave The Episcopal Church. and steal the property. Since the diocese left that means the parishes left too."
I had to laugh right out loud.

One of the first lessons we learned in Journalism 101 is that an "unnamed source" is completely useless to prove anything. Forget about using it. Anyone who won't go on record has a reason and it's never a good one unless it involves the mob and even then it's a shady reason. To quote an unnamed source is the same as saying, "as everyone knows...."

In this case, if such an unnamed attorney exists, of course he wants to be unnamed. Otherwise he would be the laughing stock of the legal community of California and most of the US. For one reason, he thinks he knows more than the entire California State Supreme Court Justices do. Second, it would mean he can't read a legal document.

One must wonder what is the meaning of that second sentence? The diocese thinks it left so the parishes had to go with it and therefore have no legal standing?

Fortunately, the court was explicit in its ruling that church property belongs to the national church, not to any departing group.

And as expected, the H8speak comments of the "wonderful Christians" has begun and guess what, The Presiding bishop and Bishop Robinson are the first two names to appear for attack. Who would have guessed, eh?

I'd love to sit down with Mr Virtue in, say, five years and see how he views things then. Will he say, "man, was I wrong, or will he, like the none-too-soon departing US president deny he was wrong about anything? Or, will he be the one to say, "So, James, your huttin' dog didn't fly, did it."

Being bored beyond belief today, I've been poking about at the H8 site. I found another great bit of science fiction that really is funny.

The site is defending Mr Armstrong against the overwhelming evidence presented by the detectives in court stating that he embezzled nearly 400 thousand from Grace Church. The site quotes Mr Armstrong who blames the police, well rather, implicates them in some sort of plot against him. Remember this is a paraphrase
Armstrong said that police removed a file folder from his desk that had all the documents in question about the trust fund. Included in that folder were all the cheques and they were endorsed by the very same people who said they never singed any of those cheques.
Now isn't that interesting. I wonder what motive the police have to be in cahoots with The Episcopal Church to defame this fine upstanding former priest? The author of that site says the reason has something to do with the success of Armstrong's ministry being a threat to TEC.

Armstong goes on to say that the information presented was at least three years old, just with a new spin on it. His vestry, he says, had it's own audit and all was in order and all was well, and that Armstrong was just an all around okay guy. Hugs all around.

Talk about science fiction!

Requiescat in Pace Fr. Neuhaus

I am a split personality. No, not in the way you think, but in a quirky way. I am able to separate a person from what that person does.

For that reason, I was saddened today to learn that The Rev'd Richard Neuhaus died on 8 January. Most of you have no clue who he was. But, if you watched any of the events of John Paul II's funeral coverage and the election of Benedict, you know Fr. Neuhaus. He was the principle commentator. He's the guy who nailed the "white smoke" when everyone else said, "no, you're crazy, that's black smoke."

Fr. Neuhaus was a convert from Lutheranism to the Roman Church. He was an ultra conservative. But I liked him. He had a wicked sense of humour and he was a brilliant theologian and had a brilliant mind. But more than all of that, he truly was a compassionate man. I count it an honour to have known him. Here is a small tribute to him.

He marched with Dr. King Jr, and was a a tireless worker for the Civil Rights movement. Yes, he was anti gay rights, but as I said, I'm a split personality. Despite his stand on equal rights for GLBT, I still liked him.

In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in to adventu suscipiant te martyres,
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere,
aeternam habeas requiem.

Into paradise may the angles lead you
at your coming may the martyrs receive you,
and lead you into the holy city Jerusalem.
Choirs of angles receive you
and with Lazarus who once was poor,
may you have rest eternal.

On a different note, make sure to read The Grapevine's post for yesterday and today. One bit is from Bishop Lamb and the other from the chancellor. The tropical storm is about to hit land in the central valley. Thanks to Dusty for the news!

16 January 2009

Presiding bishop to participate in Inaguration prayer service

It has been announced that The Rt. Rev'd John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington will give the invocation at the Inauguration Prayer Service in the Washington Cathedral.

Even more exciting is that The Morst Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church will offer the closing prayer.

This is "the" official National Prayer Service organized by the Presidential Inaugural Commitee. The service will take place at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (7 a.m. PST) on Wednesday, January 21 at Washington National Cathedral.

The Cathedral will webcast the service live from its Web site.

Isn't it nice to be members of the Established Church? (Sorry, I just couldn't resist. The Devil made me do it.)

Good Shepherd's flock moves on

In an update of a previous story, apparently the more than generous offer from the Diocese of CNY was too tainted to accept. Fr. Matthew Kennedy and his schismatic congregation have decided to get out of Babylon as soon as possible for parts unknown. Well, actually, a gymnasium well known to them where the theology is acceptable. According to the Greater Binghamton press,

Church of the Good Shepherd Anglican, which was ousted from its Conklin Avenue building last week, will worship in the gymnasium of Conklin Avenue Baptist Church, 91 Baldwin St., Binghamton.

Worship services will be held at 8 and 10:30 a.m. each Sunday, with Christian education at 9:15 a.m
How sad for all concerned. One wonders, was the location the only location available or was it theology that was the deciding factor?

Notice the press release though. Catch the falsehood? The congregation was not ousted. They were told they didn't own the buildings. The diocese gave them two months to make plans. Here we have another case of the martyr complex at work. Always spin facts to maximize the "poor persecuted me angle." That is the modus operandi for the schismatic organization.

- - -

Now, in an unrelated matter, go read Three Rivers post on one of the scare tactics Duncan used. It involved a proposed change in the canons. There it is again, get a copy of and familiarize yourself with the C&C and you can defend yourself.

Then go over and read the latest from Fort Worth. on Katie's excellent blog, Desert Child. I tell you, it's impossible to make this stuff up!

Canons and Constitution and General Convention 09

In light of the scathing post I made yesterday (please don't send me the bills for melted computer screens!) The topic of General Convention 2009 has been broached.

As we move closer the 76th Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Canons and Constitution of this Church will be discussed much more, particularly the sections to be revised (Title IV being the most important). This will be an interesting convention, to say the least.

Every Episcopalian should have a working knowledge of the C&Cs that you'll be able to follow the various discussions on the blogs. But also so that you will know how your church works and what your rights are in that church. For example, do you now what makes you a communicant member of this church? It's right there in Title I, Canon XVII:
Sec. 2. (a) All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church.
(b) For the purposes of statistical consistency throughout the Church, communicants sixteen years of age and over are to be considered adult communicants.

Sec. 3. All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing.
I ask you to go here, the National Church web pages, and download a copy of the 2006 Canons and Constitutions of this Church in PDF format. Please do so and begin to familiarize yourself with the C&C.

Louie Crew's Unofficial Anglican Pages will be invaluable to you as you follow the discussion. I t is my understanding that the blue book will be a available there , too.

Finally, there is the official GC09 page found here. I believe that the blue book will also be available at the site. The blue book is the bible for the convention. It contains every resolution to be considered and is a wealth of other information, alas, most of which is in legal language.

Although I am not an expert in canon law or the constitution, I will do my best to post the relevant sections in our discussions. The more information you have, the better you'll be able to form your own opinion.

I firmly believe that if the Episcopalians in SJ, Pittsburgh, FW and Quincy had a knowledge of the C&C the schism in the US would have largely failed because the former could have defended themselves from the C&C.


It is apparent that my teaser didn't work. The comments reflect the fact that readers weren't "teased" into downloading the C&C and looking up Title 1: Canon XVII, "Of Regulations Respecting the Laity." So, in response to the comments, here is the relevant portion:
Sec. 1 (a) All persons who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, whether in this Church or in another Christian Church, and whose Baptisms have been duly recorded in this Church, are members thereof.

(b) Members sixteen years of age and over are to be considered adult members.

(c) It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in communion with this Church. Those who have previously made a mature public commitment in another Church may be received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church, rather than confirmed.

(d) Any person who is baptized in this Church as an adult and receives the laying on of hands by the Bishop at Baptism is to be considered, for the purpose of this and all other Canons, as both baptized and confirmed; also, Any person who is baptized in this Church as an adult and at some time after the Baptism receives the laying on of hands by the Bishop in Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows is to be considered, for the purpose of this and all other Canons, as both baptized and confirmed; also, Any baptized person who received the laying on of hands at Confirmation (by any Bishop in apostolic succession) and is received into the Episcopal Church by a Bishop of this Church is to be considered, for the purpose of this and all other Canons, as both baptized and confirmed; and also, Any baptized person who received the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church at Confirmation or Reception is to be considered, for the purpose of this and all other Canons, as both baptized and confirmed.

Sec. 2 (a) All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church.

(b) For the purposes of statistical consistency throughout the Church, communicants sixteen years of age and over are to be considered adult communicants.

Sec. 3. All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing.
Notice that Section 1(a) says, to be a member of TEC, one talks to the priest, provides proof of a Trinitarian baptism, states "I want to join this church," and has one's name recorded along with the baptism information.*

So there it is. No one needs to obtain a copy of the C&C. as I asked my readers to do. You can just trust me to have accurately presented the information. Or, did I?

*NB - The baptism must have been in Trinitarian form. That means the phrase "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Ghost)" must have been used. Some churches baptize people "In the name of Jesus." That won't satisfy the requirement for the Anglican, RC, Eastern Orthodox, or Lutheran branches. If one has been baptized in the "name of Jesus" the person will receive a Trinitarian baptism and then be admitted into membership.

15 January 2009

HOD responsibility

Recently, there has been a minor thread on the HOB/D list concerning B033, specifically its repeal or nullification. Some of the posts are down right arrogant. A comment from a delegate last night so angered me that I was unable to sleep.

One must wonder about the logic behind "leave B033 alone / don't revisit it / my God, don't dare ask me to apologize for it" posts. What GC06 did was egregiously and deeply hurtful a large percentage of the most active communicants of this Church But even worse is the apparent lack of remorse over the intentional wound.

Posts by some delegates appear to turn the perpetrators into the victims -

Believe me, I agonized over voting to hurt my GLBT brothers and sisters; poor me. But I went ahead and did what I knew was the wrong thing, and I have no intention of apologizing for voting the way I did.

I heard that same logic countless times from my father just before his belt met the seat of my pants: "Believe me, this hurts me more than it hurts you."

It is faulty logic at best, and is, in reality simply an attempt to justify the injury and to absolve the perpetrator(s) of any need of remorse. However, a perpetrator is a perpetrator no matter what the logic.

This church has rightly apologized to the American Indians and blacks for the hurt it caused by word and deed, commission and omission.

To my knowledge, this church passed no legislation proscribing the rights of Indians and Blacks in the egregious manner it treated the GLBT members in 2006.

Why is a formal apology to the former the "right thing to do" while at the same time the willful proscriptions and intentional bigotry against the latter needs no apology whatsoever? Will the GLBT community have to wait two hundred years before the delegates can find the spine to offer an apology?

No one is asking for an apology that says "I was flat our wrong." The delegates made the decision they thought was best, at that time, given the options available to them. In retrospect it is evident that the decision was doomed from the start. But, the did not realize it at the time.

What they must do , however, is to apologize for the hurt that decision has caused. To do less is sheer arrogance.

I realize that not all delegates feel the same way, and some are advocating for an apology. Thank God for such righteous delegates.

We cannot look to our Bishops as a House to do the right thing. They are still basking in the sunset of Tea with the Queen. They betrayed the GLBT community not once, but twice, and many bishops did so a third time. Sadly, my own bishop is in that last category.

The members of this church should, however, be able to count on the Deputies to do the honourable thing. Deputies have a custodial responsibility over the church and its membership.

As a communicant member in good standing of this church, I respectfully call upon the HOD to repudiate B003 and apologize to the GLBT community.

Unfortunately, as the Scots say, "I might as well saved my breath to cool my soup. The HOD will not find their collective spine in '09.

14 January 2009

Robinson, media, and why the fundamentalists fear him.

The Right Rev'd V. Gene Robinson appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday evening. My thanks to Bonnie for alerting me to the appearance.

After watching his interview (if it can be so called), I came to the realization that the fundamentalists do not hate +Robinson. No, it's much worse: they fear him.

Why? The answer is complex but the main reason is that he is always a gentleman. I've never seen him caught off guard and reveal anything in his personality that is not a true gentle-man.

So why would that be the main reason fundamentalists masquerading as evangelicals fear him? Because he is the true face of the gay community. He isn't painted in makeup, he isn't flamboyant, nor does he run around in drag. (Well, some of those vestments are questionable.) He is none of the "fear images" the fundamentalists love to show -- snapshots from Gay Pride events or Halloween on Castro Street. He is just good old middle class America. He's not uppity or arrogant. He's the type of guy you'd go out and have a beer with. (Well, I'd have tea with.) The only thing missing from Robinson's image is the smell of apple pie or bread baking.

No, he is the face of mainstream gay life. Just a simple man doing a job in the best way he knows how to do it. He is so, well, normal; and kind. And that is what scares the fundamentalists so much. All the gay pride footage or once-a-year Halloween costume parties can't counter his normalcy.

And thank God for that because that is what the GLBT community really is, just normal people with normal problems, trying to survive this journey.

And, as JCF put it, he is just so Christocentric. He brings God down to us without it appearing he is being churchy. There is no show about it; no Televanglist drama to it. It's just so much a part of who he is, that it enters the normal conversation and no one really notices until it's all over.
And here's to you, Bishop Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please Bishop Robinson.
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Just like you.
Ain't that the truth, thanks be to God. I repeat the promise I made the first time I heard Bishop Robinson speak: If I am ever so honoured to meet him, I will take off my shoes because I will be standing on holy ground. (Ex 3.5)

In addition to the links above, JCF informs us that Walking with Integrity has the video clip of the interview. You'll find it here.

A letter from Schofield

Some time ago, I was given a copy of a Christmas 2008 letter written by the former bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. It was sent to a longtime fiend who wrote David about his/her concerns about David's mental and physical health. That friend passed it on to me. Having established the authenticity, I asked the legal experts about posting it and they said there is are no impediments to its publication. The following are relevant excerpts from the letter.
You needn't worry too much about me for at least two reasons.

First, my doctor has taken me in hand and has insisted on a very stringent diet which seems to be working. So far I'm down some 28 pounds. Even though i hate to admit it, I do feel much, much better!
I'm very glad to know that. I've been concerned about David's physical health for years. I hope the new heath plan continues to work.
Second, what you read in the media about the Diocese of San Joaquin and me is largely from the fevered brains of the new York's P.R. People.

I find it interesting that they are still telling the public that The Episcopal Church has 2.4 million members.

Even if that were true, and it isn't, those figures include the four dioceses of: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and Forth Worth who have left with nearly 50 thousand members.

This says nothing about the known figure of approximately 750 individuals who have been leaving The Episcopal Church weekly for some years now, not to mention the large numbers of parishes who have left their dioceses without yet affiliating with on of the Anglican bodies in North America. Among those, I believe, are the 11 parishes in Virginia who have won two law suits brought by Presiding Bishop Katherine [sic] Jefferts-Schori against them.

Equally exciting is the fact that over 100 thousand members of the Common Cause Partners with some 30 bishops will also be joining us.

The actual facts, then, are that The Episcopal Church with somewhere around 700 thousand (not 2.3 million) will be encountering a new day when the new Province arrives on the scene with over 150 thousand of us. Mmmmm. [Sic.]
One of David's best abilities is manipulation of numbers -- someone once described it as Schofieldmath. Of course, David gives us no facts to back up the claim of those leaving weekly from The Episcopal Church nor does he give us facts to back up the membership of the renegade bishops and their followers.

It is a known fact that David continues to claim that ninety to ninety five percent of the Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin followed him like lemmings. The facts disprove that. All one needs to do is look at the attendance of the churches who did not follow him.

Putting the best interpretation on the facts, the number is at best sixty percent. When dealing with David, one must always remember the Schofield-factor - use salt liberally and divide by at least sixty. But for the schismatics, number are validation that they are right. So, the figures must be "adjusted."
I have just returned from national meeting near Kansas City, Missouri where final preparations are being made for the new Province that it now appears will be up and running by June 2009! imagine that! I've never seen the Church move so quickly.

We already have the approval of the seven Primates of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). We expect massive support from the Primates of the Global South who will be meeting in the Caribbean in January. And, I don't think the liberal Primates at the worldwide conference of Primates who be held in Alexandria, Egypt at the end of February will have anywhere near the votes necessary to stall the recognition of the new Province to be called the Anglican Church in North America (since it includes the Canadians as well).
Who are the seven GAFCON primates? The last count we had it was five.

As for "massive support" well, that remains to be seen. I don't think it will be as clear cut as David imagines it will be.

For one reason, the primates are nervous. If the schismatics have no regard for rules and polity in North America, why should any Primate think that this new schismatic group will not claim new territory. We know the goal -- Today North America, tomorrow the world.

Also, for better or worse (and in my opinion for better), the sane majority of primates do and will continue to look to Canterbury. All one needs do is to look back to his summer and the wonderful party Canterbury threw for the bishops of the WWAC. I am afraid to say, David is going to be sorely disappointed. But, the new organization has made it crystal clear, "Canterbury is irrelevant to our goals."

All things considered, if even one "other" primate supports the schismatic organization, it will mean the "support was unanimous." Always remember Schofield math and the schismatic spin.

However, perhaps it will be I who will be sorely disappointed. It won't be the first time I've been disappointed by the bishops and primates.

UPDATE: H/T to David for pointing out a new post by Mark Harris that seems to confirm the schismatics aren't in the cat-bird seat as they believe.
The Anglican Communion website now confirms The Episcopal Church's understanding that there is currently no bishop in either the Diocese of Quincy or the Diocese of Fort Worth. In addition, the entries are for "The Episcopal Church," rather than "The Episcopal Church, USA." Additionally, the Diocese of Fort Worth website now lists the site belonging to that of the "Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians representing The Diocese of Fort Worth."

As dioceses of the Province of the Southern Cone, the AC Website does not list any of the four breakaway groups from TEC, namely San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy or Fort Worth.

It would seem the Anglican Communion website is keeping a bit better pace with events on the ground. Thanks to whoever is on the case.
Apparently, the schismatic's huntin' dog don't fly none too good.

13 January 2009

Central New York writes to Church of Good Shepherd

Some days, I feel like a clearing house for new, but some things are just worth posting.

The Diocese of Central New York has sent a letter to the congregation of The Church of the Good Shepherd, who lost the recent lawsuit to keep their building. In that letter the diocese proposed to rent the buildings to the breakaway congregation. The letter from Paul J. Curtin, Jr., Chancellor states
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chancellor of the diocese of Central New York. I am in receipt of a Decision and Order of the Court dated January 8, 2009. The Court has ruled in favor of the Diocese with regard to the first three (3) causes of action.

More particularly, the Court has declared "that the legal title to all real and personal property of Good shepherd, including the church building and rectory rests with the Diocese and that the Diocese is entitled to immediate possession thereof: an Order directing Good Shepherd to
to deliver all real and personal property of Good Shepherd to the Diocese; and an Order directing Good Shepherd to account to the Diocese for all real and personal property of Good shepherd".

I have consulted with the leadership of the Diocese and have been directed to advise you, and turn, your clients as follows:

FIRST: The diocese requires that all books, records, accounts, ledgers, statements, band records, minutes of meetings and resolutions be prepared and deliver to its offices on or before Friday, January 16, 2009.

SECOND: That a complete inventory of all personal property not otherwise included in paragraph "First," above, be prepared and submitted to the Diocese at its offices on or before Friday, January 16, 2009. That inventory is to include, but not to be limited to all furniture, fixtures, equipment, mechanical devices, office supplies, kitchen equipment and related supplies, l vestments and all other tangible personal property located, now, or formerly, at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

THIRD: Conditioned upon the strict and complete compliance with the requirements of paragraphs "First" and "Second" hereinabove, the leadership of the Diocese is willing to allow the continued use and occupancy of the Church Building located at 74 Kendall Avenue, Binghamton, New York from the date hereof to no later than April 20, 2009, at which time the Rectory shall be vacated and possession shall be given to the Diocese of Central New York.

FOURTH: Conditioned upon the strict and complete compliance with the requirements of paragraphs "First" and "Second" hereinabove, the leadership of the Diocese is willing to allow the continued use and occupancy of the Rectory located at 78 Kendall Avenue, Binghamton, New York from the date hereof to no later than April 20, 2009, at which time the Rectory shall be vacated and possession shall be given to the Diocese of Central New York.
So we see that the congregation is not being kicked to the curb as many have suggested. The rent on the Church is proposed to be $1,000 per month or fraction thereof, as adjusted. For the rectory the rent is $1,500 or a fraction there as adjusted. The congregation will also be obligated for all upkeep and any damage as well as the usual utility bills.

In either case, they have approximately six weeks to vacate or to agree to rent the building until the end of April. The diocese is not kicking them from the in the cold; it is granting them more than six weeks to make plans. Six weeks or eleven weeks - the decision is up to the departing congregation and its leaders.

If you would like to read the fax of the letter sent to CoGS, you'll find it over at one of the other sites to which I do not link. But, it's on two of them.

Ordination Vows Sacred says former president of house of deputies

Today on the House of Bishops/Deputies a post was made regarding ordination vows. The article confirms my comments on the subject a few days ago. I would like to post the comments and offer my thanks to the Rev'd George Werner, 31st President of the House of Deputies for granting permission to share his thoughts.
Fifty years ago, I was accepted as a postulant for Holy Orders.

When I was ordained, our vows were referred to as "Sacred Vows" committing ourselves to a calling, a vocation and not just a job.

The Vows were so significant that after we recited them, the service was stopped, while we went and signed a printed copy of the vows.

I pasted my copy in my prayer book hymnal. I made those vows at ordination to the Diaconate and again at my ordination to the Priesthood. I was ordained by Bishops of a Diocese but for the Episcopal Church.

In later years, when I was required to establish my identity by various secular authorities, I gave the page and edition number of the Episcopal Church Annual. My authority, my "license", my legal standing as a priest, came from the Episcopal Church. When I moved to a Diocese, the first credential was to be in good standing as a Priest in the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church welcomed me as a steward, not an owner, but a steward of ministry resources.

When I was called to a parish, I was given the use of Church buildings and grounds; vestments, chalices and other altar appointments; organs, pianos, office equipment; funds for mission & ministry, endowments and designated funds for scholarships and outreach.

I was responsible for working with the congregation to maintain all of the above and (see parable of the Talents) to enhance and grow those resources to the best of our ability. When it was time to leave, I turned all of the above over to my successor. I was told from day one, you are a steward not an owner and the Episcopal Church is trusting you with these resources because of your ordination to the priesthood and license within the Episcopal Church.

Bishops have a third set of vows. [Candidates] are approved by the whole Episcopal Church before they may be ordained and consecrated to the Episcopate. The Diocese elects and the Episcopal Church, through a vote of Bishops holding jurisdiction over Diocese and a majority of Diocesan Standing Committees, consents and affirms the election. When the consents are required within three months of General Convention, the House of Deputies of General Convention acts in the role of the Standing Committees. Once Consecrated, the Bishops receive the use of the resources of a Diocese as stewards not owners. When they leave, they are to turn it all over to the succeeding Bishop.

There have always been times when a Deacon, Priest or Bishop, as a matter of conscience, deems it impossible to continue in the Church which has empowered them. There are appropriate ways to declare such.

Two Bishops I greatly respect, John Lipscomb formerly Bishop of Southwest Florida and Jeffrey Steenson of Rio Grande (New Mexico and part of West Texas) each have been received into the Roman Catholic Church. As Paul reminds us in Romans, we are to outdo one another in honor. These men took honor seriously.

Some are arguing that the property belongs to the current members of a Church or Institution. That requires forgetting the great contributions of the hundreds and thousands of Saints who have preceded them in those places.

Trinity Cathedral is the mother Church of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and has served Western Pennsylvania for 25 decades. I had the privilege of being responsible for Trinity for two of those decades. Bp. Duncan was responsible for one. Does that mean I am twice as worthy to "own" the Cathedral? That is absolute nonsense.

Someone wrote that since the Episcopal Church has a polity of participatory democracy that the majority of current members has the right to property. As many on the list know, I love our polity. While I am quick to point out its flaws, I have found it to be more helpful for me in ministry and mission for Jesus than other polities. But simply stated, we in Pittsburgh watched as the checks and balances of our polity were dismantled over the last eight years or so. At the end, we were not even permitted to have a roll call vote at Convention. I did not speak at our Convention to the issues of controversy during my six years as President of the House of Deputies, since I would have to preside over them.

In November of 2006, in the two minutes I was allotted (and then only if you were near enough to the front of the line to be called on before debate was ended) I decried the fact that as someone who had served the mother parish of the Diocese for more than twenty years; as someone who had an unusual, if not unique, view of the entire Episcopal Church, that I was allowed only 120 seconds to speak to the most difficult and complex question the Diocese of Pittsburgh had faced since its founding following the war between the states.

I do not question the sincerity or commitment to Jesus of those with whom I may disagree. Like the late Bp. Herb Thomson said to the wardens and rector of a parish which chose to leave the Episcopal Church, "How may we help you board another ship in the fleet of Christ?" For fifty years, I have never once considered claiming ownership of property and resources entrusted to me and my colleagues.

I was surprised, even shocked, when a Pittsburgh priest started talking about this twenty or more years ago. I think, like Bp.Thompson, we may work to find ways to make these painful period gracious and to give the Body of Christ in our areas the best opportunities to do ministry in Christ's name. I still believe my vows are sacred.... I still thank God for the sacred trust given me by the Episcopal Church. How blessed I have been.

Well said, Father Werner; very well said.

12 January 2009

Iker reveals brain death

It must be really nice to live in total denial in a self created dimension. Iker has written to the Presiding Bishop telling her she is not welcome in the Episcopal Diocese and has no canonical authority to call a convention. Here's the whole letter. I use it in jpeg format so you won't think I'm making this up.

Make sure to read the last paragraph. It's most revealing.

I thought you might be interested what the Canons say about this situation: Title III, Canon 13
Of Dioceses without Bishops

Sec. 1. A Diocese without a Bishop may, by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, be placed under the provisional charge and authority of a Bishop of another Diocese or of a resigned Bishop, who shall by that act be authorized to exercise all the duties and offices of the Bishop of the Diocese until a Bishop is elected and ordained for that Diocese or until the act of the Convention is revoked.

Sec. 2. Any Bishop may, on the invitation of the Convention or of the Standing Committee of any Diocese where there is no Bishop, visit and exercise episcopal offices in that Diocese or any part of it. This invitation may include a letter of agreement, shall be for a stated period and may be revoked at any time.

Sec. 3. A Diocese, while under the provisional charge of a Bishop, shall not invite any other Bishop to visit and exercise episcopal acts or authority without the consent of the Bishop in charge.
As the see of Forth Worth is vacant, section one and two apply. The special convention will elect a new standing committee and most likely extend a call or accept the provisional oversight of a bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop.

+Robinson to lead nation at prayer - kinda-sorta, well, maybe

Mr. Obama has asked The Right Rev'd V. Gene Robinson to offer the first prayer of the Inaugural Week. Bishop Robinson has released the following statement:
I am writing to tell you that President-Elect Obama and the Inaugural Committee have invited me to give the invocation at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, “We are One,” to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm.

It will be an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the “I have a dream speech” was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

The sad fact is that few people will have any clue that the Inaugural Week has begun - in fact, few people are aware that there is an Inaugural Week. But, the entire world will be watching on Inauguration day when a bible thumping homophobic bigot will purport to represent every American that opening prayer.

UPDATE: Episcopal Cafe is now reporting the story and posed the question I asked when I learned this news a few days ago.

There will undoubtedly be some controversy over whether Gene was invited as a response to the intense criticism of Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. We don't know. We've been sitting on this news since just before Christmas, so it has been in the works for a while. But if Gene had been contacted before the Warren selection was announced, it seems unlikely he would have spoken out so strongly against the choice.)

The Huffington Post chimes in, as do the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Human Rights Campaign and New York magazine's Daily Intel. The Boston Globe has also filed a story. Ben Smith of Politco's blog writes:

It's a mark of Obama's raw power at the moment as much of his unifying message, that he can bring in fundamentally opposed Christian leaders like those two, without either walking out. (Though, to be fair, they're a safe 48 hours apart.)

Still, it's a mark of just how different, when it comes to mainstreaming gay leaders, it is to have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican, or even than a 1990s Democrat.

The interesting read is the Christian Broadcasting Network's take.

11 January 2009

Evensong for Epiphany I and updates

Before I get to Evensong, I want to give a special advertisement to Oremus.

I don't know how many of you know about a unique service run by our brothers Steve Benner and Simon Kershaw. Their Internet ministry, OREMUS is better than sliced bread.

You may visit their site and find the daily office in several versions. or, you may subscribe and each day the Daily Office will arrive in your inbox complete with readings, canticles and all the prayers.

Their ministry is absolutely free. But if you avail your self of this excellent service, i encourage you to encourage them by making a donation. You won't be sorry. I mean, where else can you find everything necessary for the daily office from the 1662, 1979, and New Zealand BCP including the hymns appropriate for the day? You open your e-mail, start scrolling and absolutely everything you need is right there on your screen.

Also we need to note that our brother Lee, for whom we have been praying, has graduated this life for the life of larger life and perfect freedom. Please remember his transition and remember Melissa whom he could not take wit him. She needs our prayers more now than ever.
ALMIGHTY God, with whom do live the spirits of them that depart hence in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity: We praise and magnify thy holy Name for all thy servants who have finished their course; and committing our brother Lee to thy gracious keeping, we pray that we with him, and with all those that are departed may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, In thy eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Also a new name appears on our Prayers of the People. Susan D has cancer and the prognosis is not good. Please remember and her family in your prayers.

Also, please remember my cousin, Barbara who is terminal with cancer. We learned of her terminal status the day her sister died of cancer. My family is plagued by cancer. Bobbie had faith when she was a little girl, but for the past 50 years, she has not darkened the door of a church except for weddings. She raised her children with absolutely no faith of any type. I do not know Bobbie's spiritual condition, but God does. Please remember her in your prayers.

Now on to more pleasant matters.

Three Rivers announced that another of Pittsburgh's churches has voted to remain in TEC. St. John's in Jonestown voted by a two-thirds majority to remain and the vestry vote was 7-0.

Evensong this week is from All Hallows (All Saints) London, England. The choir is the Kings College Choir from Cambridge. The link is here.

Epiphany I - The Baptism of Our Lord

The First Sunday After Epiphany -- The Baptism of Our Lord
Ecce advenit

Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

Today we celebrate a rite of passage: the baptism of Jesus in the Jordon River, the river that held so much significance for generations of ancestors before him. Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John. It was a baptism of repentance, an act of humility and the receiving of a name – the death to the old and the creation of a new identity. The readings today help us connect and focus on baptisms, including our own baptisms.

The foundation for the gospel is laid in the creation story from Genesis, in which God creates the earth from a void where water, wind, and fire come together. Each of these elements have the power to both create and destroy, as we know; but God uses them for good through his Holy Spirit, and it is this Spirit that brings to completion the rite of baptism that bind us to God.

The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has put together a publication called Changes: Prayers and Services Honoring Rites of Passage. It provides us with a thorough description of the elements of rites by people from many cultures and religious traditions that recognize and effect change. Although the structure of the rites may differ, there are key elements or themes common to them, such as: naming the transition and its affect on the person and whole community; declaring what went before to include loss and grief, growth and letting go, gratitude, and the need for healing, courage and imagination; and proclamations of hope and willingness to discern a new call to create a rite.

And that is what happens to us when we are baptized. The Spirit or “wind” moves through the symbols of water, fire, and the community or “earth,” calling us by name to fulfill the Kingdom of God. We are called into the vocation of Christian life, but we must be willing to accept the name signifying our vocation and new life. When an infant is baptized, the child’s parents and sponsors offer the name and accept the vocation until the time when the baptized child is able to accept the call.

We are never really fully ready for the significant transitions of life, but thanks be to God, the power of the Holy Spirit comes in God’s time, not ours. Today’s gospel reading describes for us the experience witnessed by the community when Jesus was baptized.

Jesus had been named, and in his family’s tradition, he was presented and circumcised at an early age. The time for Jesus to accept his role as Messiah, to become fully human and begin to model the glorious impossibilities, came when the heavens were torn apart – tearing the social fabric that separated the rich and poor, the rigidness of law that separated rather than bringing together, and brought into focus the true Kingdom of God through God’s beloved. God revealed his true incarnation in Jesus on that day of the baptism.

From that point on, it was up to Jesus to live into his transformed identity. This is also true for each of us as baptized Christians.

A Native American Coyote story describes a poor man who had a dream or vision that there was a place where everything is perfect. You might say that this was heaven. He had been told that this place was visible to all who had accepted a life of humility and complete service to their community. The poor man felt very humble, especially since he had no real possessions, but he felt that he must set out on a journey away from his present life and community in search of this perfect place.

He set out the next day at dawn. He walked and walked the entire day, and when evening arrived, before he had found the perfect place, he set up camp, took out his meager meal of bread and a flask of water to satisfy his hunger and thirst. He gave thanks, ate the bread, drank the water, and then he removed his sandals and placed them facing in the direction he was headed so he could continue his journey the next day. Then went to sleep.

While the poor man slept that night, Coyote came and turned his shoes around so that they faced the direction from where the man had come that day. When the poor man awoke, he put on his shoes, and began to walk again. While he walked all day, he thought about this perfect place, this heavenly city. When it was nearly dark, he came to a place that looked strangely familiar. He walked down a street, turned a corner, and saw a somewhat familiar dwelling. He waited outside the dwelling until its inhabitants came out to greet him and invite him in. When they did, he entered and was given warm clothes and a warm meal that was so delicious he could not remember the last time he had eaten so well. He was received with such hospitality that he felt as though he was a member of a family he had known his whole life.

After much talk, singing, and praying, the whole household offered the poor man their best bedding. He thanked them and laid down to sleep thanking Creator God for the abundant blessings shared with him. He could not help but think that this was, indeed, a perfect place, a heavenly place. How could there be another more perfect?

This is what our journey into baptized life is like. Baptism is our glimpse into the Kingdom of God right here and right now. We frequently reaffirm our covenant relationship with God and one another, but at times we get lost and think that somehow we must go away from who we are in order to fulfill our call to be people of God. Once in a while we lose sight of what is right before us and we begin to focus our energy elsewhere, hoping that we will find that perfect place. We struggle with the challenge that the “perfect place” can only exist when we are living our promises and inviting everyone around us to share in that life as well.

We enter into this covenant. It is a contract in which each party has a responsibility to the other. We are baptized with the Holy Spirit and receive a new awareness, a new appreciation and comprehension of creation. We realize that we have a power that has always been there since the beginning of our existence as human beings. And that is the power to change tomorrow – to change reality from what it is to what it should be.

The creation story is not over. It is not finished. God is still creating and has declared us as co-creators, co-authors, of the next chapter. Tomorrow is up to you. What are you going to make of it? Will there be a voice from heaven saying, “You are my child, the beloved. With you I am well pleased”?

Here is a prayer by Jean McCallum from the book Read Mark and Pray:

Jesus, you are the one who rises from the water and the tomb to offer new life to all.
We offer our life as a sign of our worship.
Jesus, you are the one who agrees to be baptized to be at one with us.
We offer our baptism as a sign of being with you.
Jesus, you are the one for whom the heavens open to allow the Spirit to descend.
We offer our ready heart as a sign of our open life.
Jesus, you are the one who is the Son so well loved that God’s delight is in you.
We offer you our delight and joy as a sign of our everlasting love.

-- The Rev. Debbie Royals is a regional missioner for Native Ministry Development, based in the Diocese of Los Angeles. She is the Province VIII Indigenous People's Network chair and a CREDO health faculty member. E-mail: debroyals@yahoo.com.