Daily Archives: July 3, 2007

How widespread is Communion Without Baptism?

The question of whether Communion without Baptism (CWOB, sometimes also called “Open Communion”) is actually widespread within ECUSA has come up in the discussion of Derek Olsen’s essay on CWOB which we posted this morning. Thanks to the work of a task force in the diocese of Northern California under Bp. Jerry Lamb in 2004 – 2005, we actually have some specific data to discuss on this question.

Survey data about the prevalence of Communion without Baptism
among domestic ECUSA dioceses, by Province

Here’s is an Excel version of the table above: CWOB_data_NCal_Survey2.xls which you can view onscreen or save to disk. (There are HTML links in this spreadsheet to the full survey report which provides important background). The original PDF version of this table is here. In the Excel version, we have slightly modified the PDF original to include a TOTAL column, and we have added separate “bottom line” totals separating out the YES responses from the “YES + Probable” responses, which we believe makes the data clearer. Otherwise the data is as reported.

Note that the first set of bottom-line percentages (tan color) represent the % practicing CWOB among responding dioceses in each Province. They cannot be assumed to be representative of other dioceses that did not respond. The final line of data (green) do give an idea of at least the MINIMUM number of dioceses per province practicing CWOB.

Summary of results:
— 48 dioceses (47%) responded.
— 24 (50%) reported that they have parishes in their dioceses who practice CWOB
— another 7 dioceses were considered to “probably allow CWOB,” bringing the total of “YES + Probable” responses 31 dioceses, or 65% (i.e. just about 2/3rds of all the dioceses which responded)

Even if the other 55 dioceses which did not respond did not allow CWOB (not likely!) that would mean a minimum of 23 – 30% of ECUSA dioceses allowed CWOB back in 2004 – 2005. If on the other hand the dioceses which responded are representative of ECUSA dioceses, than we can report that half to two-thirds of ECUSA dioceses allow CWOB.

As we wrote to one commenter in the discussion thread below: We’re really NOT talking about just a few extremists who advocate this practice!

This elf encourages all T19 readers to browse through the Northern California task force report and its appendices (click on individuals’ names) to better understand this survey and its results.

Important Update, October 2008:

In trying to access the Northern California Task Force materials linked here, we discovered that the original links are no longer working. However, all the documents can be found at the Internet Archive site:

[url=http://web.archive.org/web/20060517212454/http://www.dncweb.org/communion/OpenCommunionReport2.pdf]Here’s the Task Force Report[/url]

[url=http://web.archive.org/web/20061019104149/http://www.dncweb.org/communion/communion.htm]Here is the link to the Appendices and other supplemental material[/url]

[url=http://web.archive.org/web/20061028034407/www.dncweb.org/communion/communion_by_province_data.pdf]Here is the table from the original report, which we used to prepare our Excel spreadsheet and table.[/url]

Don’t hesitate to contact us should you need help finding and accessing this material. — The t19elves. (T19elves@yahoo.com)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, TEC Data, Theology

A Roundup of Canadian General Synod Legislation

Peter, from the Age to Come blog, who provided such wonderful service live-blogging the Canadian General Synod for the Essentials blog, continues his excellent work re: the Canadian Synod.

His latest post at Age to Come is a roundup of the Canadian Synod resolutions with brief commentary. Most of the attention here and other US-based Anglican blogs was on two resolutions. So, give Peter’s roundup a quick perusal to see what else happened.

Here are two items that caught our attention:

House of Bishops Statement on Pastoral Care of Same-Sex Couples


The pertinent part of the pastoral response is as follows:

We are committed, as bishops in Canada, to develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church. We offer the following examples of possible pastoral responses:
When a civilly married gay or lesbian couple seeks our church’s reception of their civil marriage and asks their parish’s recognition, it may be possible, with their bishop’s knowledge and permission, to celebrate a Eucharist with the couple, including appropriate intercessory prayers, but not including a nuptial blessing.
When a gay or lesbian married or committed couple seeks to hold a reception or celebration in a church for their life in Christ, again intercessory prayers for their mutual fidelity, the deepening of their discipleship and for their baptismal ministry may be offered, not including the exchange of vows and/or a nuptial blessing.

My question is whether this assumes the answer to the question of ”˜a gay or lesbian married or committed couple’ in a pastoral form? I.e., if it was assumed that these relationships were contrary to Gods purposes then the pastoral response would take different form.

ACC-13 Resolution 4

The intent of this motion was to deny the Primates membership in the ACC, and was passed quite easily. Again, perhaps last day fatigue setting in.

The Primates are not known for being favourable to the ACC ”˜new thing’, and as such the ACC as a whole is not favourable to the Primates. Hence, the resolution refusing to ratify their membership in the ACC (2/3 of provinces have to ratify for the change in membership to be effective).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Little to No blogging tomorrow

Just a heads up. This elf expects to be offline pretty much all day tomorrow, July 4th. Kendall has got at least one entry pre-posted. And we elves plan to post an Open Thread, and maybe one or two other entries. But that is likely to be it.

We’re committed to doing all we can to keep the blog lively and to cover important news while Kendall is travelling. But due to work constraints, etc. some days we’ll be more available than others. Thanks for understanding.

Posted in * Admin

Andrew Carey: What does identity mean today?

Identity is a very strange concept these days and something about which many people seem to be increasingly aggressive. Only recently we had the bizarre prospect of an Episcopal priest from Seattle proclaiming that she is both a Christian and a Muslim. Despite the fact that the two faiths are mutually incompatible especially about the role of Jesus, the theological problems don’t seem to trouble her at all. For her it was an identity issue: “I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 per cent both.”

According to news reports she has no interest at all in resolving the contradictions, “Why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam. “At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That’s all I need.” It’s purely a question of identity, she explained, “I could not not be a Muslim.”

Questions of identity, seem to have extra interest for minorities, especially for those who especially feel themselves to be victims. Naturally enough, white males (approaching middle age) like myself cannot understand this attachment to identity, as opposed to a common humanity. In fact, woe betide us if we attempt to question the identity of others, or criticise how they define themselves. In contrast, minorities have no problem at all in describing the so-called oppressing majority in the most uncomplimentary terms.

This is of course, not just about the lunacy of the Episcopal Church, tempting though it would be to go down that route because the syncretism, and the identity issues which this story raises, can be found across the world. In terms of the current dispute over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, I am equally worried when I hear African leaders resorting to the line that ”˜homosexuality’ is ”˜unAfrican’ and I sense a creeping nationalism in one or two of the responses from the global south. And frankly, we’ve had our own fair share of nonsense in the Church of England with notions of ”˜institutional racism’ and priests claiming that you can be Buddhist or Hindu and Christian at the same time.

Perhaps the biggest identity crisis is to be found among Muslims these days, highlighted if ever we needed it with the 18-year controversy over Salman Rushdie. In a recent Sunday’s Observer (Why the West must stay true to itself, Sunday June 17), Will Hutton took up the theme of the crisis of identity among Muslims everywhere, and especially minorities in the West.

–The Church of England Newspaper, June 25, 2007 edition, page 4

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity

From the Living Church — Canterbury: No Change to Bishop Robinson's Lambeth Status

George Conger of the Living Church has published a short article about Canterbury’s clarification regarding +VGR’s Lambeth invitation status. This elf found one section ironic:

In an interview with a reporter for The Living Church, a spokesman for Archbishop Williams called for a halt to further speculation and confirmed there had been no changes or new actions taken over Bishop Robinson’s invitation to Lambeth since the invitations were extended last month.

Senior advisors to Archbishop Williams noted it was possible that some bishops may have their invitations withdrawn to the gathering of the Anglican Communion’s bishops next summer in Canterbury.

So on one hand, Lambeth spokesmen want no more speculation. But in the next breath they keep it alive by speculating about the possibility of withdrawn invitations. The media and the blogosphere can certainly generate a lot of news about “no news!” LOL!

Here’s George Conger’s full article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Nora Ephron: The Six Stages of E-Mail

Read it all from Sunday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Terror plot hatched in British hospitals

A suspected secret cell of foreign militants, believed to be linked to al-Qa’ida and using British hospitals as cover, are being questioned over the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

Five of the eight people under arrest last night are said to be doctors. Another of those detained is the wife of one of the doctors, who is a medical assistant working for the NHS. The home of a sixth doctor is said to have been searched by police. Late last night an Australian television network reported that a suspect wanted in connection with the attacks had been arrested in Brisbane.

Attention has been focused on a group of nationals from the Middle East, who had not previously attracted the interest of security agencies.

Until now, cases of Islamist terrorism have involved mainly Muslims who were born and brought up in Britain. The alleged arrival of teams from abroad to carry out attacks, their identities unknown to the domestic law agencies, adds another dimension to the terrorist threat being faced in the United Kingdom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Terrorism

A Times Profile of Jeff Immelt

However, as the head of a company that is growing at 6 per cent in the US but 12 per cent in the rest of the world, Mr Immelt is acutely aware that the idea that underpins GE’s future ”” globalisation ”” does not have support from the people. “If globalisation was put up for a popular vote . . . it would be voted down,” he says. “People don’t like it. They are afraid. CEOs cannot take globalisation for granted.”

This is an increasingly common refrain of globe-trotting chief executives, who fear that trade liberalisation is not only losing its mandate, but also its momentum: they have watched as Russia has renationalised energy assets, Venezuela has clumsily done the same, the US has fended off the Chinese purchase of Unocal and India has bought companies abroad but kept its domestic market heavily protected.

Rising income inequality is adding to a sense of disenchantment with global capitalism. Mr Immelt says that the growing gap between top earners and bottom earners is chiefly caused by the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, as high-wage industrial jobs are replaced by low-paid service jobs. However, he forecasts that the issue ”” the super-rich and the new politics of envy ”” will loom large over the 2008 US presidential election.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Globalization

An Open Thread: Apologetics — How do you approach inter-faith debate

The Get Religion post by Terry Mattingly immediately below this entry asserts that many journalists, religious leaders and others too quickly try to dismiss the differences between various faiths and claim all religions are alike. Obviously readers who follow this blog are aware of the story of the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding who claims she can be both an Episcopal priest and a Muslim. We’ve seen the desire to try and minimize the differences between religions firsthand recently.

However, rather than just wring our hands in despair at this tendency, let’s compile some resources we can use to strengthen our skills in apologetics. What resources are out there: books, websites, etc. that you have found helpful in inter-faith dialogue and witnessing to those of different faiths, or, in answering those who wonder whether there really any differences among religions?

Enquiring Elves want to know…!

For instance, if you had the chance to sit down one-on-one with Ann Holmes Redding, what might you say to her? Or what will you say (or have you said) to friends who ask you about this story during coffee hour at church? With a growing trend towards multiculturalism and pluralism, this elf is convinced we need to be better equipped to share the distinctive truths of Christianity and answer specific objections and questions raised by adherents of other faiths as to how on earth we could be so “judgmental” and “exclusive” to believe that Christianity makes absolute truth claims.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * Resources & Links, Apologetics, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Theology

Terry Mattingly: One essential and troubling religious truth

Over at Get Religion, Terry Mattingly reviews a recent article by Newsweek and examines the tendency among some journalists as well as some liberal religious leaders to believe “all religions are alike:”

I was flipping through my copy of Newsweek the other day and came across a headline that almost made me swoon. To make matters more interesting for people who care about religion news, this little article was part of the magazine’s giant “What You Need To Know Now” spread.

The headline said: “True or False: The Major Religions Are Essentially Alike.”

According to author Stephen Prothero of Boston University, the correct answer is “false.” Prothero is, of course, the author of the new book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know ”” And Doesn’t.

Here is now the Newsweek article opens:

At least since the first petals of the counterculture bloomed across the United States in the 1960s, it has been fashionable to affirm that all religions are beautiful ”” and all are true. The proof text for this happy affirmation comes, appropriately enough, from the Hindu Vedas rather than the Christian Bible: “Truth is one, the sages call it by many names.”

According to this multicultural form of wisdom, the world’s religions are merely different paths up the same mountain. But are they?

Anyone willing to deal with facts and doctrines, rather than emotions and fog, has to come to the conclusion that the various world religions clash over and over again, creating eternal divides that are real and can only be covered up by living in a state of denial, according to Prothero.

Yet that is precisely where many people ”” including scores of journalists ”” like to live.

Here’s the full Get Religion entry.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Theology

Derek Olsen: Communion without Baptism

We were quite astounded the other day to come across Derek Olsen’s reflection on Communion without Baptism posted on the Daily Episcopalian blog, which is one of the blogs on the reappraising side of the Anglican/Episcopal spectrum. To our mind, Olsen makes one of the most eloquent and passionate defenses of requiring baptism before communion that we’ve yet seen. It is particularly interesting because Olsen obviously knows that many of his audience at Daily Episcopalian will strongly support Communion without baptism on the grounds of hospitality and inclusion. So he approaches his argument from that perspective. This elf really considers this blog entry MUST reading. Let us know if you agree.

Here’s an excerpt:

Coming from this perspective, Communion without Baptism misreads the logic of the liturgy. It demands intimacy without commitment, relationship without responsibility. To apply this same logic to another sphere of human relationship, this is the logic of the one night stand””the logic of the “meaningless” fling. Is this the relationship that we wish to have with the God who knows us each by name and who calls that name in the night, yearning for our return to the Triune embrace? But then again””who is this “we”? Exactly whose relationship are we talking about? Is this “we” the clergy, the members of the vestry, those who populate our pews day in and day out? Are those the ones invited to receive communion without baptism? No. The seekers, the strangers, the wanderers in our midst””they are the ones in view here. And here is my question; this is what we must answer to the satisfaction of our own consciences: Do we have the right to choose for the stranger and the seeker a relationship contradicting the logic of intimacy without offering them a yet more excellent way? Do we who make decisions for the church uphold our own baptismal commitment and covenant by offering the strangers and seekers less than what has been offered to and received by us?

The call of God is to all. God’s radical hospitality is for all. Truly Christ stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace. Truly the Spirit moves over the waters of renewal and new life, beckoning and inviting. To the stranger, to the seeker, through our mouths we offer and issue God’s words of invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden”¦” inviting them through the waters of Baptism into the household of God. And in doing so we fulfill Christ’s commission to baptize those of all nations and teaching them his words and ways, the depths of his love, the depths of a life hid with Christ in God.

The full entry, including more information about the author and a link to his personal blog, is here.

Note, this entry is part of a series by Daily Episcopalian on the topic of Communion without Baptism. An opposing perspective was posted here. Also, yesterday, Daily Episcopalian published an interview with leaders of St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, one of the Episcopal churches often considered to be in the forefront of the “Open Communion” or Communion without Baptism movement.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Don't Panic — Pray!

Peter Ould, an Anglican vicar and blogger in the UK suggests some ways we can respond whenever there is news of a terror threat:

Secondly, prayer for our enemies reminds us that no-one is beyond the grace of God, despite their sin. Praying for your enemies rests in a good understanding not only of God’s wrath against sin but also of his mercy towards those who fear him. To pray for a terrorist is to with it assume the mighty work of salvation that can attend even the vilest offender.

Thirdly, prayer for our enemies incites social responsibility, for it is not just good enough to pray for things. For example, praying that someone would do something about the local thugs who vandalise the bus shelter should stir one to do something about it. Why are there teenagers hanging around night after night? What’s going on it their homes and family life? What could we do to give their life more purpose? Prayer for our enemies induces us to do something for our enemies.

So don’t let whatever happens over the next few days get in the way of you and God and his creation. Don’t get angry or afraid – rather pray for the bombers and murderers and those who support them. See whether God does a transformation in your heart as you do.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Stretching and the Spirit: The Anglican Covenant

The upcoming Church of England General Synod will have a fairly significant focus on the Anglican Covenant process. As part of a contribution to that debate, Graham Kings of Fulcrum and Jonathan Clark of Affirming Catholicism have posted a commentary on the Fulcrum website. Here’s an excerpt:

The Anglican Covenant – Stretching a Point

We believe that we are being called beyond the comfort of our own convictions – that the Spirit is stretching us into embracing ‘interdependence’ as the principle of our life together. This need not undermine the ‘autonomy’ of provinces, but it places the focus clearly on ‘interdependence’, rather than ‘independence’, as the starting point for the life of our Communion.

To make this commitment will be demanding and sacrificial and there may well be parts of the Communion for whom this sacrifice is too great. Opting out may lead to ‘associate status’ at Communion meetings rather than ‘constitutive status’.

We believe that we need a Covenant which is evangelical, reasonable and catholic. Such a Covenant will sustain our communion with one another, will encourage our shared study of the Bible, will promote our Anglican pattern of synodical governance and episcopal leadership. It will enhance our co-operation with ecumenical partners and our participation in God’s mission to his world.

Rowan Williams, who will be on study leave during the General Synod debate, has written perceptively of Augustine of Hippo:

Augustine is unmistakeably working with the real questions of an earlier period, but implying that their fully theological resolution will need some new disturbing turns in the argument; and in that sense he is doing something very like the prelates at the Council of Nicaea who reluctantly adopted a fresh terminology in order to hold on intelligibly to a threatened belief.’ (Rowan Williams, Why Study the Past? The Quest for the Historical Church, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005, p50)

Sometimes indeed ‘some new disturbing turns in the argument’ and ‘fresh terminology’ are needed.

Robert Runcie, in his opening sermon at the Lambeth Conference of 1988 asked prophetically:

Are we being called through events and their theological interpretation to move from independence to interdependence? If we answer yes, then we cannot dodge the question of how this is to be given ‘flesh’: how is our interdependence articulated and made effective; how is it to be structured? Without losing a proper – but perhaps modified – provincial autonomy, this will probably mean a critical examination of the notion of ‘dispersed authority’. We need to have confidence that authority is not dispersed to the point of dissolution and ineffectiveness… Let me put it in starkly simple terms: do we really want unity within the Anglican Communion? Is our worldwide family of Christians worth bonding together? Or is our paramount concern the preservation or promotion of that particular expression of Anglicanism which has developed within the culture of our own province?… I believe we still need the Anglican Communion. (Adrian Hastings, Robert Runcie, London: Mowbray, 1991, pp154-5)

So do we. In the midst of this current crisis, the pattern of our friendship and collaboration in London has been encouraging and we are committed to worshipping, learning and proclaiming the gospel together. As our Communion is being stretched by the Spirit, a similar commitment to an Anglican Covenant, realistically and theologically, is the constructive way forward.

The full commentary is here. (h/t Thinking Anglicans)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Covenant

Keeping up with PCUSA goings ons

We hope our readers know that Reformed Pastor is the best blog to keep up with what’s happening among reasserting Presbyterians (if we can use Kendall’s Anglican-coined term in such a way). [Of course, this statement is merely this sometimes not-so-humble elf’s opinion! I’m trying not to presume to speak for Kendall. But you know, while the cat’s away….!]

Here’s David Fischler’s most recent Presbyterian news post. Interesting that as in ECUSA it’s some of the most-historic parishes that are leaving.

And David often provides excellent commentary on things Anglican. For instance, he’s picked up the news we posted this morning about Ed Bacon’s sermon about Vice President Cheney at All Saints Pasadena. And his comments are open. So, should you have been eager to comment on that story, now you can.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * Resources & Links, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Resources: blogs / websites

House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson meets with Rio Grande Episcopalians

From ENS:

[ENS, ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico] House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson told more than 275 people gathered June 30 in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to both be prepared and to stay calm amid the current tensions in the diocese, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

“Keep your eyes on the prize, which is the reconciliation of the world through Jesus Christ, whom we love more than life itself,” Anderson told the meeting at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. “And keep calm.”

People from 21 of the diocese’s 60 congregations attended the afternoon meeting sponsored by Episcopalians for the Future in the Diocese of the Rio Grande, which included presentations by Anderson and her chancellor, Sally Johnson, and a question-and-answer period. Those sessions were interspersed with hymns, prayers and a period of silent reflection.

One attendee, Dennis Prichard, the bishop’s warden at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Belen, New Mexico, said afterward that if Episcopalians heeded Anderson’s reminder of Jesus’ call for people to love one another “we would not be in the place we’re in.”

The Rev. Tom Woodward, rector of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, called the meeting a “rallying point” and a chance for people to share the “basic joy of being Episcopalians and not have to apologize for it.”

Anderson drew applause when she promised that “the leadership of the Episcopal Church will never leave you alone, remember that.”

The rest of the article is here.
(note: there are a number of embedded links that we did not reproduce above, the full text has them all.)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts