27 March 2009

Requiescat Barbara Fuller Roberts

For several months you have been praying for my cousin Barbara. She died this morning at 6.52 a.m.

Two deaths in my immediate family in two days is just too much.

Barbara's death is hard for me because had rejected God's mercy. Bobbie was raised in the church but left it after she married and, to our knowledge, thereafter never spoke God's name except in cursing. Please pray for Bobbie's soul that she may accept the grace and mercy of God.

Let us pray:
    O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Barbara, and grant her an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.

    Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with Jack, Cindy, Mike, Kimberly, Timothy and all their families, and all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord,
And light perpetual shine upon her.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed
though the mercies of God, rest in peace

Requiescat in Pace Bernard Elliott

I am the resurrection and the Life, says the Lord
Those who die in me, shall have everlasting life.

I ask your prayers for my cousin, Bernard Elliott who graduated from this life to the life of perfect freedom at 10.30 p.m. Thursday night.

I ask your prayers for his wife Zela, Bernie died on their 59th wedding anniversary.

I ask your prayers also for their children Valerie, Craig, Kim and Brett. The latter three are mentally disabled.

I ask your prayers for Maxine, Bernie's sister who was with Bernie and Zela when he died.

I spent the day yesterday with Bernie and the family. Bernie died from cancer although his emphysema had plagued him for nearly five years and he was little more than an invalid. Bernie had been though so many medical crises that I didn't really believe he would actually die.

It was not until Fr. Beason came with the Viaticum that I realized Bernie was really and truly going to die. It was the most emotional moment of this process. Bernie, Zela, his sister Maixine, his daughter Valerie, Zela's sisters and brother and I all received Holy Communion.

As Fr. Beason gave Bernie a drop of wine (Bernie was in a non responsive condition), after the words of administration, he said, "Bernie, next time we do this, we'll be together in heaven."

What comfort it is to know that for us life does not end, only changes and that we shall be together in the eternities.

Let us pray:
    O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Bernie, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.
    Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with Zela, Valerie, Craig, Brett, Kim, Maxine and all their families, and all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed
though the mercies of God, rest in peace

Blessed Bernie, pray for us.

If you make the Stations of the Cross today (post below) please remember Bernie.

Friday, Fourth Week of Lent - The Way of Sorrow

This week the Stations of the Cross are found here.
We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world

Almighty and eternal Father, accept our prayer of thanksgiving for your Beloved Son, our Saviour and Lord. As we recall his Sacred Passion send the Spirit of Christ into our hearts, we beg You, so that whether we pray or work we might do all in union with Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

26 March 2009

Armstrong announces new name for his flock

After you read today's post, make sure to read Eruptions at the Foot of the Volcano. You need to read Leonaro's post.

The Gazette, Colorado's newspaper, published an article on the extension granted to the schismatics. The article contains several intersting bits:
    A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that's been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.

    Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.
    The motion hearing in Fourth Judicial Court was held to resolve issues involving transition of the parishes into and out of Grace Church and those involving security of the $17 million property, among other issues.

    Schwartz urged both sides to work together to get through this transition. "If we act like adults, this can all be resolved," he said.

    The Episcopal and Anglican groups split two years ago, but the reason is disputed. The Anglican parish, which on Wednesday renamed itself St. George Anglican Church, claims it left the national body because it had become too liberal in its interpretation of Scripture; in 2003, the church consecrated a gay bishop, setting off a firestorm of criticism from Armstrong and others.

    The diocese, on the other hand, has accused Armstrong of financial misconduct, and it says the split was the only way the parish could retain him as rector.

    On Tuesday, Schwartz issued his order that the Tejon Street church and other properties belonged to the Episcopal Church and not to the congregation that split from the church in 2007 but continued to worship in the building. Hours later, Armstrong called police when a security team hired by the diocese showed up on Grace Church property to guard contents within the

    This incident was the impetus for the motion hearing on Wednesday.

    At the hearing, Schwartz asked the attorneys of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and the Anglican parish to agree on the appointment of a receiver, who would oversee and manage the transition of property between the parishes. The attorneys were unable to agree on a receiver, and will try again Thursday.

    Concerns have been raised by the diocese that staff members of the Anglican parish were taking church property. Some Episcopal parishioners snapped photos of Anglican staff carrying boxes out of the church to document possible thefts.

    "Nothing should be removed from the church without receiver or court approval," Schwartz told the attorneys during the hearing.

    The 4½ week trial to determine legal ownership of the majestic gothic church downtown concluded March 11. During the trial, the Anglican parish, which has occupied the property since March 2007, argued that since 1973 it's been its own corporation holding legal title to the church property. The diocese argued that the Anglican parish was part of the Episcopal Church until its secession two years ago. According to ecclesiastical law and Colorado legal precedent, an Episcopal parish never holds title of its property, and if it leaves the national body, it must vacate church property.

    Schwartz ordered that the Tejon Street church and other properties belonged to the diocese and that the church must no longer use the name Grace Church & St. Stephen's.

    The fight over ownership began March 26, 2007, when the Anglican group, at the time called Grace Church & St. Stephen's, seceded from the national church. The group aligned with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA. A few months later, the CANA parish filed a lawsuit to determine ownership of the property, and on Feb. 10 the longest church trial in Colorado history began.

    Gregory Walta, attorney for the Anglican church, said at Wednesday's hearing that the parish will comply with the order to be out by April 3. "If we are allowed to proceed without interference, we are confident we'll be out of the church" in the proscribed time, he said.

    The Rev. Alan R. Crippen II, spokesman of the Anglican church, said the vestry is seeking another building in which to hold their Palm Sunday service on April 5.

    As for the Episcopal congregation, which for nearly two years has been holding services at First Christian Church downtown, members said they are overjoyed to be holding Palm Sunday service at Grace Church, despite perhaps having only one day to prepare for the occasion.
    "We are just glad to be back," said David Watts, junior warden of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal. "It will be a joyous service."

The article is found here.

25 March 2009

Colorado schismats get three day repreive

Both "sides" in the Grace Church case met in court Wednesday morning. CANA asked for a 60-day stay of eviction stating that "it takes a lot of time to relocate a 1,200 member congregation." The original order stated that the schismatics must vacate the property by 1 April.

The judge granted a two-day extension. They must vacate by 3 April. This will allow the Episcopalians to prepare for Palm Sunday worship in their building.

Apparently, there is to be a video inventory of the premises. Additionally, the security guards were instructed to allow people access to the property but not to allow any physical property to be removed from the occupied buildings.

James in Colorado opined, "This could be so simple, but they're making it hard."

What I wonder is, what's in the buildings that Armstrong and CANA do not want to "fall into the wrong hands."

The Episcopal Congregation of Grace releases statement

I wonder about the coincidence of the decisions in the Episcopal Church of Grace and St. Steven trial. The decision came on the eve of the Annunciation of our Lord. It is remarkable that at the time the church is celebrating the new age tha came with the Christ, Grace is beginning a new age.

The Episcopal Congregation of Grace has released the following statement.

More than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church learned joyously today that Judge Larry Schwartz of the 4th District Court has ruled in their favor in a court fight over their historic property at 601 N. Tejon St. An Anglican congregation led by Donald Armstrong took over the church property in March 2007. For nearly 2 years since then the Episcopal congregation has continued their vibrant ministry, meeting for worship, study and fellowship at First Christian Church. (Disciples of Christ) nearby at Platte and Cascade.

Upon hearing the news, the Episcopal parish's priest, the Rev. Martin Pearsall said, “Wow! I did not expect the decision to come so quickly. There is so much to do, but we are thankful that the uncertainty is over and that we can return to our historic facility. There are no winners here. We just hope to rebuild the congregation and strengthen our ties to the downtown community."

Grace Episcopal parishioners who have belonged to the church for decades look forward to returning to the Tejon St. property and rejoining their many friends there. The first Episcopal services in two years at the majestic church on N. Tejon St. will be held on Palm Sunday, April 5: the Passion and Solemn Eucharist at 8:00 am, and the Passion and Solemn Choral Eucharist at 11:30 am. This date is especially significant to the returning parishioners, as their first service after the church property was taken over by the Anglican congregation in 2007 was a Passion and Solemn Choral Eucharist held on Palm Sunday in Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus. Among those who have joined Grace Episcopal since they left the Tejon St. property is 92-year-old Barbara Webb, whose uncle, Eugene P. Shove, gave Shove Chapel to the college. On hearing the news, she exclaimed, "I'm so delighted, I can hardly believe it!"

"We are so blessed by our association with First Christian," says Episcopal parish administrator Marti Lindberg. "Pastor David Van Heyningen, the ladies in the church office--everyone has been just unbelieveably helpful." The two parishes have combined forces in many areas, including producing a joint vacation Bible school for the youth of both churches each summer and joining to host homeless families through the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Members of both Grace and First Christian have pooled weekly food contributions for Ecumenical Social Ministries.

"The strength and effective hard work of our parishioners has been amazing, and the support we've received from other Colorado Springs churches, as well as the diocese and the national church, has helped us continue to be a vital Christian congregation during the past two years. We look forward to continuing our ministries with the help of our brothers and sisters who have stayed on Tejon Street" said Lynn L. Olney, Sr. Warden (president of the parish board).

Choirs for all ages and a superb pipe organ have been features of worship at Grace Episcopal for decades. Deke Polifka, organist and choirmaster, travelled with the choirs from North Tejon to First Christian. "The dedication of our volunteer choirs, the fine organ at First Christian, and the help of their organist, Carol Wilson--it's all helped us maintain the high quality of music that Grace parishioners have enjoyed over the decades."

24 March 2009

Armstrong as arrogant as ever

I've read almost everything I can find on the Grace Church decision. Reading the PDF of the decision is a true revelation. You'll find it here.

One bit of reading made me almost weep. It is found in the Colorado Gazette.

The judge's ruling said the breakway group, which goes by the name Grace Church & St. Stephen's, "shall immediately cease all use and relinquish all possession, control, and dominion over the disputed property."

But Grace Church & St. Stephen's leader, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, called police after security guards hired by the Episcopal church went onto the property to patrol it. Armstrong said the security officers were trespassing, so he called police. He produced what he called a "writ of restitution," indicating that the Episcopal Church doesn't take possession of the property until April 1.

"They must leave," Armstrong said. "They have no right to be on the property until April."

Mr. Armstrong has lost his case, the judge has told him to vacate the stolen property, yet he defiantly says the legal owners' representatives "have no right to be on the property."

The man is facing possible criminal charges for embezzlement, has just been called a thief by the courts, and he is still completely unrepentant. Yet, he purports to be a priest and worthy to lead a congregation by his moral example. This attitude is ubiquitous in the schismatic movement.

Pride goeth before destruction
A haughty spirit before a fall.

Grace Church belogns to TEC Court Rules

A decision has been made to resolve ownership over the multi-million dollar Grace church Monday.

A judge has ruled that the Colorado Springs church building belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and not a breakaway parish.

The ruling was handed down Tuesday in El Paso County District Court.

Ownership has been in dispute since March 2007, when some members and leaders of Grace Church and St. Stephen's left the national body over theological differences.

The breakaway group aligned itself with the conservative Anglican Communion province in Nigeria but continued to worship in the building.

Another group chose to remain with the Diocese of Colorado and has been worshipping at another building.

The church property is valued at $17 million.

Ownership claims of the historic landmark have been in dispute since it's congregation decided to leave the Episcopal Church in March of 2007. The diocese and Grace Church have battled back in forth in what many are calling a "messy divorce."

"It's analogous to a marriage that started 135 years ago, the local Episcopal body in Colorado Springs married the Episcopal church, bringing the house, our church, into the marriage" stated Reverend Alan Crippen of Grace Church and St. Stephen's.

Troubles in the marriage worsened when the Grace Church & St. Stephen's filed suit against the Episcopalian church. "Now we're looking essentially at a divorce," said Rev. Crippen.

Armstrong claims he retained possession of the church's property after leaving the church in 2006, but the Episcopal Church of Colorado disagrees. They argue the parish is a subsidy body of a larger body.

This is the second huge setback for the schismatics in the United States. We say, Deo Gratias!

Tip of the Biretta to Bonnie for the news.

See Thinking Anglicans for more on the story.

The Road to Reconciliation

One of the blogs I enjoy reading each day is Straight Friendly. It is owned by Tim, "A gay Pentecostal preacher's kid who fully managed to survive coming out of the closet with my faith intact." Tim's posts are reflections on scripture passages and they are very insightful.

Recently, Tim posted Man on the Run a reflection on Luke 15's story of "The Prodigal Son." I commented that I've always thought of this story as "The Loving, Patient Father."

I've reflected quite a bit on the story and Tim's post. The more I ponder these two things, the more I'm convinced that the story is for Episcopalians today.

In the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., the church universal was dealing with what we are experiencing. It was the original Donatist Heresy. For the full background on Donatism you might read this previous post.

The early church struggled with what to do about the traditori, those clerics who had renounced the church. Most of those who renounced had good reasons to do so - horrible torture and eventual death if they did not recant and turn informer. (Duncan -- who claims to be persecuted and a martyr for his faith -- insults our first-four century Christian ancestors.)

Many of those 4th Century clerics who renounced the faith regretted their moment of weakness and desired to be readmitted to the church.

Part of the church went Puritan on the traditori and refused to even consider allowing them to return. Another part of the church said, "After repentance and amendment of life, we will welcome you back." The Puritan bunch declared the welcoming church to be in apostasy and set up their own group. In the end, welcoming the traditori back was what the majority decided was the godly decision.

This is what TEC is facing. The day is coming, and will not be long, when the schismatics loose in court decisions. The majority of the laity who left will want to return to TEC.

The San Joaquin decision has been delayed (all courts are backlogged and that's why we haven't read their decision yet) but, that delay has been good. The California Supreme Court has now given the lower courts the road map. We shall see Bishop Lamb in St. James' Cathedral sitting in the Ordinary's stall.

I believe the lead in the reconciliation will have to come from the laity. TEC clergy, for the most part, are in the spot of the older brother in Luke 15. We, the laity, will have to play the father's role. We will have to tell our clergy how the situation is going to be resolved and wholesale welcome is what we want. I am not speaking of the lay leaders who abetted the clergy in the schism and theft. I do not believe they will return, but, if they wish to return, we must welcome them, too.

That scares some people a great deal.

Remember dear readers, the Diocese of San Joaquin is still there, but the doors and windows are open and the sun is shining in - it will not be the same cancerous dictatorship that it has been heretofore. We need not fear another coup by those who return. We must kneel at the Altar rail with them.

The schismatic clergy will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Any wholesale welcome as clergy-in-good-standing would be counter productive to the entire reconciliation. But, I doubt many of the clergy will wish to return. They have cast their lots with Akinola, Venables, and Duncan.

San Joaquin will need to find retired clergy who are interested in being part of the healing process and agree to short term rectorates. I would venture a guess that, also, there are a number of newly ordained and non retired clergy who would jump at the chance to be part of the healing process long term.

My favourite part of the Prodigal story is that the father sees the son coming while the son is just a speck in the distance. The father has been watching and waiting for him to come home. And the father runs to meet the son. This is what God is doing with the schismatics. This is what we must do - watch and expect them, and run to meet them as we welcome them home. Remember, they will be as apprehensive as we are.

The San Joaquin Valley will set the example for how our members deal with those who wish to come home. This will be the precedent to which the other dioceses look - or should look. Because of this, San Joaquin must be careful and prayerful in how they respond.

For those who were deeply wounded by the schism, it will be hard to do. After the resurrection, Jesus welcomed Peter back with open arms. Can we do less?

"Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive
those who trespass against us."

22 March 2009

Requiescat in Pace, Tim

I received news that at 3 P.M. Eastern Time today our brother, Tim graduated from this life to that life of Perfect Freedom. Although I did not know Tim, I feel as if a close family member has died.

Tim's wife is Fran who has been a frequent poster from our Fr. Jake's Place days. We've been praying for Tim for several months.

Let us pray:
    O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Tim, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.
    Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with Fran and her family, and all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed
though the mercies of God, rest in peace

Blessed Tim, pray for us.

Laetare - Lent IV

The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

    Introit: Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. -- (Ps. 121. 1). I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.
Quick, what is another name for today, the Fourth Sunday in Lent?

Give up? Actually, there are several possible answers to this question, all of them correct, and all of them originating in ecclesiastical history and liturgical practice.

In some quarters, especially among our Roman Catholic friends and neighbors, the Fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare [pronounced, “lay-TAH-ray”] Sunday, from the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” It may at first seem odd to speak of rejoicing in the middle of Lent, a season of penitence and sacrifice. After all, we have put away our alleluias and festive faces for the duration. Yet, in ancient times, the special, or proper, parts of the service on this day began with the single word “rejoice,” reminding worshippers that the Church is more than halfway through its Lenten discipline and well on the way to Easter joy.

“So lighten up a little,” the Church seems to have been saying. For much the same reason, in some Anglican circles this day has become known as Refreshment Sunday.

As if that were not enough, in the United Kingdom this day has been celebrated at least since late medieval times as, of all things, Mothering Sunday, the equivalent of Mother’s Day in North America. No one quite knows why mothers have come to be honored in the middle of Lent. But some scholars speculate that the original Scripture lessons, or readings, on this day made reference to Mary, the Mother of God and the mother of the Church. In any event, if you have British friends, be sure to wish them well today.*

There you have it. No matter how you name it, the Fourth Sunday of Lent – more or less the middle point of the season – is special.

Life itself, of course, is made up of middle points and transitions to which we attribute unique and special importance. It is human nature to mark time, to take note of milestones and halfway points. We may remember being halfway through high school or college; halfway through a transition between rectors at Church; or halfway through a project at work. And mothers will certainly remember being halfway through pregnancy, eager for the birth of their child.

Whatever the effort, being halfway through something is special. It can bring either anxiety or a foretaste of accomplishment. Or both.

In our first reading today, we find the ancient Israelites on their journey out of Egypt becoming downright anxious and “impatient on the way.” Their passage or transition has been long and arduous, and it is far from over. “Why,” they challenge Moses, “have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” As if that had been Moses’ purpose all along. They even complain of the food and drink. “We detest this miserable food,” they grumble like spoiled children. Did they perhaps expect gourmet fare in the desert?

The Israelites have forgotten that they are on their way home to the Promised Land. They have lost sight of the purpose and meaning of their journey. The desert and its hardships have robbed them not only of patience, but of perspective and hope as well. Only when the Lord punishes them with a multitude of poisonous serpents do the people come to their senses and repent. Only when those bitten by the serpents look upon the serpent of bronze raised by Moses do they once again come to live. The journey of the Israelites is not over, but it has gained new significance and purpose.

We find ourselves today as a nation in the midst of transformation and crisis. Our banks are failing. Our industries are staggering. People are losing their jobs at record rates. No one knows if the government’s remedies will work. And our minds are filled with anxious questions: Where do we stand? Will it end soon? Or has it just begun?

It would be easy for us to lose hope and to despair, as did the ancient Israelites. Indeed, today, as in ancient times, there seems to be no end of complaint and blame. Some fault the greed of Wall Street and business leaders for our problems. Others cite irresponsible politicians and world leaders. Yet few are willing to look in the mirror. We all feel the bite of our anxieties. Perhaps we too need a bronze serpent to gaze upon. Perhaps we too need to face our fears and learn once again to live.

We may well ask: Is there anything left for us to rejoice about on Laetare Sunday, halfway through this discontented Lenten season?

The season itself suggests that there is.

Lent is, after all, a time of reflection, repentance, and prayer – a time to allow the Lord to turn us around in faith so that we may at last be regenerated in the risen life of Easter. And that has little to do with business cycles or the size of our paycheck.

Jesus himself, in our gospel reading today, gives us the best reason of all for rejoicing. “God so loved the world,” he tells us, “that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

That is the kind of economy we can all believe in – the economy of salvation. So, yes: there is still plenty of room for hope and even joy.

Decades ago an irreverent wit once observed, “God protects fools, children, and the United States of America.” The truth of the matter is that God protects us all – fools as well as the wise; children as well as mothers and fathers; Americans, ancient Israelites, and people of every land and creed. In spite of our fears, complaints, and foolishness, God loves us all without bounds. We need only look to his Son to understand this truth and live.

And that is reason enough to rejoice even today – even in the middle of Lent.

The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedus has completed his interim ministry at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, California, and is looking for work. He invites your comments at frankhegedus@hotmail.com.

*It is generally accepted that the term Mothering Sunday comes from the practice of allowing servants to leave the manor house and visit their mothers on this day.