Daily Archives: July 14, 2007

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Smithfield, North Carolina, Welcomes New Priest

Attendance records at St. Paul’s shows that there are approximately 200 members at St. Paul’s and the average Sunday attendance is 90-95 people. This is just under the average size of an Episcopal Church today. However, on July 1, Miller’s first Sunday, attendance was 133, which is the highest attendance in years that the church has seen, not including Christmas Eve services and Easter Services. Then, on Miller’s second Sunday, attendance was still over 100. “The attendance the past two weeks has amazed me. I know that a lot of people have just come out to see the “new guy”, but I hope they will continue to attend Sunday services. To put the attendance in perspective, normal average Sunday attendance at St. Paul’s in June and July is around 60 to 65 people because a lot of people in this are flee to the beach on the weekends. So to have attendance over 100 at this time of year is amazing for this church. I can’t wait to see what the fall attendance will be which is traditionally when attendance goes back up.”

Miller, age 34 and originally from Bristol, Virginia is a 1991 graduate of Virginia High School. He attended King College in Bristol, Tennessee where he earned a B.A. in Mathematics in 1995. He then worked in the secular world for a number of years before attending seminary at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia where he graduated in 2005. He and his family then moved to Wichita, Kansas where he served as Assistant Rector at St. James. Miller also served as the Executive Director of the St. James After School Program, a non-profit program that taught choral music to at-risk elementary school children. Over the last two years, Miller helped to grow the After School Program from an outreach program with a $20,000 budget to a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation with an annual budget of almost $90,000 with one full-time staff member, one part-time staff member, and more than 10 volunteers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Father Dan Martins departing the Diocese of San Joaquin

Martins, 55, has taken a pastorate in Warsaw, Ind., a town of 12,000 along the historic Lincoln Highway, about two hours south of Chicago. His final service at St. John’s is set for 9:30 a.m. Sunday, after which congregants will throw him a farewell brunch.

Parishioners say Martins leaves a legacy that includes daily prayer times, Lenten services that incorporate Taizé (music and meditation with a French origin), a deep and conservative understanding of Scripture and strong sermons.

He also leaves a classical music program. The St. John’s Chamber Orchestra Festival, which is held each January and will be honored by the Stockton Arts Commission in October, started under Martins’ watch.

“It’s going to be tough without him,” said Teri Wantland, a member who said Martins helped her and her family through many personal difficulties over the years. “He’s gone beyond the call of duty as a minister of God.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

Ephraim Radner: The Common Cause of a Common Light

The concerns I have listed above do not diminish the respect and support I give to the Network and its leadership, of which I remain a member. My concerns, rather,derive from my desire that we hold our witness together, and that we do so in away that not only maintains but garners trust. We have a work and a witness we are called to do together,and I pray it is together that we do it.

But concerns are still concerns. From my own perspective, I cannot see any way through the current disputes and threatened divisions other than persistent and good-willed common counsel on the part of the Communion’s representative leaders done openly and with as wide a reach as possible. If Lambeth cannot meet and agree, then who will listen? If the Primates cannot meet and agree,in conjunction with Lambeth, nothing will be done together. If the ACC cannot consider and respond to the executive desires of the Primates, there will be no common following. If Primates do not take counsel and seek agreement with all their bishops, and bishops with all their dioceses, there is nothing but individual conscience and passion determining all things. And if, in all these things, the Scriptures of Christ are not placed at the center of prayer, discussion, and discernment, there is nothing about which to counsel that will bear the mark of the Spirit’s direction. And other than this last ”“ and most important! ”“ element, we already have the structures by which to carry through with such common decision-making, if we but discipline ourselves to submit ourselves to them in faith, hope, and love. Then perhaps we shall have made room to listen to the Word of God.

As I said, I believe these kinds of concerns need to be aired and debated openly, by those whose names are known, by those who have a stake in the outcome, and by the full gathering of those granted authority to take counsel and make decisions for the church. They should be debated, but they should also and even more be subjected to the wisdom of gathered representatives of our churches, and not pursued by one group or another regardless of the views and decisions of others. The Episcopal Church as a whole has been an egregious model of such brazen disregard, and the model is one to be rejected wholly and utterly.

It is not that the gathering together of traditional Anglicans in North America is not a worthy and evangelical goal. It is, and many of us would welcome and are willing to work for such a goal. The AMiA, for instance ”“ and one can say analogous things about other parties represented in Common Cause — has had for several years now a strong witness in evangelism and church-planting that is needed by all of us, and their full integration back into the Communion would prove a spiritual gift for mission that all of us need and that would do honor to the Gospel. But there are realities on the ground that require serious resolution for this to happen fruitfully, and that resolution requires the engagement of many parties and peoples in honest and common discussion on the basis of shared prayer and humble listening within the context of the Scriptures. What is one to do, for instance, of a long-standing lawsuit between a current Network bishop and a current AMiA bishop? How resolve the disagreements and even bitterness that exists between conservative bishops and AMiA plants and splits within their borders? What of the deep theological and ecclesiological differences that exist between many Network bishops and those of the AMiA, let alone other non-Network traditionalists? And this pertains to North America only, and has not yet touched on the divides and disagreements and misunderstandings that exist, on this matter, around the Communion, and with Lambeth in particular, where a trail of bitter denunciations cannot simply be papered over. It is not enough for this or that group to formulate position papers and declare their views and commitments apart from the whole (this includes the Network, ACI, Camp Allen, Common Cause or anyone else), and then to expect that these views will persuade or bear converting authority. The cause we have in common at present is the cause for common consultation, discernment,decision, and only then, action, so that our work “side by side” for the Gospel is founded on the “common mind” of the Church in Christ (Phil. 1:27).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Theology

AP: Changing Season for Catholic Church

The U.S. Catholic Church is quietly entering a new season.

Settlement negotiations are under way in Los Angeles for the largest remaining batch of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. Polls have shown greater trust in the nation’s bishops than a few years ago. There’s even been a fundraising recovery in the city at the epicenter of the worst scandal to ever strike American Catholicism – Boston.

Five years after the national abuse scandal began there, triggering a long season of reflection, the church is moving out of crisis mode.

That isn’t to say the scandal is over. Earlier this year, San Diego became the fifth diocese to seek bankruptcy protection. And the financial implications of a huge settlement in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest archdiocese, could be far-reaching.

But the Los Angeles situation can be viewed in a different light, as well: If a settlement in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars is worked out, it will be placed near the end of a list of American Catholic dioceses coming to financial terms with victims of clergy sexual abuse, not the beginning.

“I think the crisis mode is over, and I think that’s a good thing,” said Robert S. Bennett, a Washington, D.C., lawyer….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Sentamu tells new Church Army evangelists to be ’all weather evangelists'

Presiding at the recent commissioning service of ten newly-commissioned Church Army evangelists and a 400-strong congregation in the United Kingdom, the Archbishop of York told them they have been sent out as evangelists because they have a passion for sharing the gospel.

At the July 12 service in a packed Sheffield Cathedral, Archbishop John Sentamu told the seven women and three men admitted to the Office of Evangelist they should “loiter with intent” to help people experience, explain and demonstrate what new life in Christ is all about.

In a thoughtful and wide ranging sermon given in a city that had been devastated by floods only a couple of weeks earlier, the Archbishop called upon the newly commissioned evangelists to be “all weather” evangelists not waiting for the sun to come out and shine as it very rarely does, but “getting out there in all weathers” to share the gospel through words and actions. He said the Christ Jesus they serve is alive and working in the world and cannot be constrained or trapped within the covers of any book.

“God in Christ must be accessible to all — tell others what you know and your experience will bring joy and new beginnings for those you encounter,” he added. The Archbishop also called on the church to renew its focus on mission and evangelism and share with confidence an authentic and international gospel to our communities.

In blessing each one of the evangelists he admitted to the office of evangelist within the Anglican church, the Archbishop told the new recruits to bring, joy, passion and commitment to their ministry as they had the best news in the world to share. The name and story of Jesus should be constantly on their lips, he said

At the commissioning service that was held the day before, Church Army’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell urged the new evangelists to show compassion and love in their ministry so that people can have hope in the Christian gospel.

“Today, we commission you to love, to show compassion, especially to those considered most unlovable,” Russell said.

He told the evangelists: “Jesus spent time with the prostitutes, tax collectors and immoral of the day. He spent time with those considered unclean. He didn’t just spend time with those people, he loved them. He showed them compassion, he became their friend. He didn’t stick his nose up in the air and avoid people that others judged. He got in amongst them. That’s your job, get alongside people and love them in Jesus name. Allow Jesus to change you, and let you see them through his eyes.”

The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Man of the Flesh to Man of the Cloth

From the New York Times:

SOME people have their midlife crisis in reverse, like Ronald Boyer, who for most of his professional life has been better known as a star of pornographic films, Rod Fontana.

After 30 years of sowing the wildest of oats, Mr. Boyer, 54, has searched his soul and chosen, to the surprise of family and colleagues, to seek a priesthood in the Episcopal Church.

From his work in the rented villas of the San Fernando Valley, where hard-core sex films are shot, he has moved just a short distance west, to the Church of the Epiphany, which is guiding his transformation from pornography star to preacher.

The psychic distance, however, has been vast. In January, the lumbering 6-foot-3 performer was greeting fans on the red carpet of the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, along with the superstars of pornography like Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.

In June, he was carrying the Holy Bible and a text titled “Gospel Light” to a live Internet show where he preached on the relative evils of pornography. “Is pornography a sin?” he asked on the show, which is aimed at people in the sex industry. “Probably. Definitely,” he answered, a response that reflected his own ambivalence as much as a desire not to alienate his audience. “So is eating carrot cake until you’re sick to your stomach,” he continued. “And so is punching somebody in the face. That’s a sin.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pornography

Northwest Texas Diocese Heads into Transition

[Bishop Wallis Ohl] has had his challenges, not the least of which is the national church’s continuing quarrel with other Anglican…[provinces] over [the] consecration of practicing homosexuals as bishops.

Such issues do not stay at the national level. The diocese has filed a lawsuit in San Angelo to keep church property of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, which is being disputed by a dissenting congregation that has left the Episcopal Church.

“It doesn’t matter what the issue is,” Ohl said. “We’re going to have something to argue about as long as we have human beings. How do we treat one another in the midst of all that is, for me, more important than anything else – as brothers and sisters in the Lord or with ‘no, not as long as you disagree with me.’ ”

Whether a bishop agrees or disagrees with decisions made by the majority of fellow bishops, his or her task is that of peace maker and preserver of the diocese, and thus, the church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Idris Tawfiq comments on the Ann Holmes Redding story

Idris Tawfiq is a British writer who became Muslim a few years ago. Previously, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom. Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest. He now lives in Egypt.

One Religion or Two?
The Case of Anne Holmes Redding

[…] The question is, “Can you be Christian and Muslim at the same time?” I believe the answer to be a very resounding “No,” but it needs a bit of unpacking so we can understand exactly what is going on.

When I first heard the story, my immediate action was to go and look through some of my own papers. Some of you may know that I declared Shahadah and embraced Islam nearly seven years ago in Regent’s Park Mosque in London. Before being Muslim, I was a Roman Catholic priest. Not too long after embracing Islam, I came to live in Egypt.

[…]

I remember very clearly the words I had declared at Al-Azhar. The certificate, signed by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar himself, contained the words I had uttered.

It says quite clearly that I reiterated [my] acknowledgement of the Islamic Faith, saying [first in Arabic and then in English]: I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.

The next paragraph is most interesting, because it contains the other words that I said: I also acknowledge that Moses, Jesus and all other Prophets are servants and Messengers of Allah. I renounce all religions other than Islam. Furthermore, I hereby and henceforth adhere to Islam as my Faith and Shari`ah.

So there we have it, quite clearly. I remembered saying the words, and I know that the words make sense. In becoming Muslim, we renounce all other religions.

The problem doesn’t lie in Islam accepting what had gone before. Because Muslims accept all former Prophets, as Prophets of Islam, they could not call themselves Christian or Jewish, but they would have no problem in saying that they are followers of Jesus or followers of Moses, since both of these men were Prophets of Islam.

Muslims believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. The problem, in this situation, lies in what Christianity teaches. Christians believe that the final revelation of Almighty to God to humankind is in the person of Jesus Christ.

According to this belief, there are no more prophets after Jesus. A Christian would be unable to accept Muhammad as a prophet of God, because his Message denies some of what Christians have come to believe.

Anyone who claims to be Christian, then, can’t believe in Muhammad as a prophet. One of the central tenets of Christianity, regardless of the belief in Jesus as divine, is that Jesus died on the cross. The Message revealed to Muhammad in the Qur’an is quite clear: Jesus did not die on the Cross (An-Nisaa’ 4:157). So, anyone who claims to be Christian cannot be Muslim. And as we have said, anyone who claims to be Muslim cannot be the follower of another religion.

The situation of Reverend Redding is only fully known to Allah alone, who knows our intentions and the secrets of our hearts, but as the facts appear, she is neither Christian nor Muslim. Anyone in such a dilemma, having been a Christian minister and wanting to embrace Islam, has a very difficult choice to make.

As Muslims, we should never underestimate what it takes to renounce one’s former religion and embrace Islam. Just as we spend a great deal of time and money on calling others to Islam, we need also to spend similar, if not more, on helping those who have embraced Islam to grow in their new faith.

As an outsider to this particular case, it seems to me that her dilemma much reflects the doctrinal dilemmas being experienced by the Episcopal Church in the US, as much as her personal conversion story. It may be possible in her church to have a variety of beliefs, catering for a wide range of different points of view.

From the website Reading Islam. The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Church Army reaches out via You Tube

From Christian Today:

Church Army evangelists can now reach out to a new audience by featuring their videos on popular video sharing website YouTube.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, YouTube gets almost 20 million visitors each month.

The short story videos featured on the popular website will show Church Army evangelists reaching out to their communities with the gospel. The featured videos focus on the work of a skateboarding evangelist, a former Sikh and others working in urban, inner city and rural settings.

David Coleman, Church Army’s Communications Manager comments: “For some time we have been thinking about how more people could get a glimpse into what it is like to be an evangelist in different context today, and YouTube gives us a perfect platform to do just that.”

More online videos will be available over the next 12 months, according to Church Army, while they will explore other online opportunities such as MySpace.

To visit Church Army’s page on YouTube, go to: www.youtube.com/churcharmy.

[hat tip Pat Dague]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Resources & Links, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Resources: Audio-Visual

Anglican Report episode 31 now online

You can watch Kevin Kallsen and William Witt’s latest discussion of Anglican news here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Commentary, Resources: Audio-Visual

Martyn Davie: The Anglican Covenant and the Instruments of Communion

In this paper I examine theologically the nature of the Instruments of Communion and the proposal made about them in section 6 of the draft Anglican Covenant.

I begin by looking at what we mean by communion with the help of Andrei Rublev’s icon ”˜The Old Testament Trinity,’ before going on to look at how the word and the dominical sacraments are the primary means by which we enter into communion with God and each other.

I then argue that alongside these primary instruments of communion there are also secondary instruments of communion given to the Church by God in order to ensure that the word is rightly preached and the sacraments duly administered and that God’s people respond to Him in a life of unified obedience. In the Anglican tradition these secondary instruments take the form of an episcopal form of church government with personal, collegial and communal aspects.

I further argue that the four ”˜Instruments of Communion’ represent the development of this Anglican form of Church government at the international level and that they have a necessary function in allowing the Communion to operate according to is true nature as a manifestation of the Church of Jesus Christ. The proposals made about them in section 6 of the draft Covenant are entirely sensible and the criticisms of them ill founded.

Finally I note that while the Instruments of Communion have a proper God given authority that needs to be respected, this authority is based on their fidelity to God’s self-revelation in word and sacrament and their authority creases when and if they take decisions that transgress this limit. I also contend that this point needs to be made explicit in section 5 of the draft Covenant.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Anglican Primates, Ecclesiology, Theology

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Seitz Appointed Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Wycliffe College

Read the details here.

Dr. Seitz joins his ACI colleague Ephraim Radner who has recently been appointed Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Friday Evening Fun

For those who might be looking for a few chuckles and a light way to wind down an evening of reading the blogs.

Or those wanting to match wits with elfgirl and commenters like Sarah, Karen B., Irenaeus and others.

We present for your reading pleasure “Dueling Haikus and other bad poetry” (See comments 13 and following)

Posted in * Admin

Matt Kennedy on Article III and the Atonement

For those wanting an antidote of the classic Gospel and a defense of subsitutionary atonement after reading Ed Bacon’s denial of the same earlier today. Here you go. Matt Kennedy has his discussion of Article III posted on Stand Firm, and the section on God’s character and the atonement flashed out at us like a neon sign after we’d been reading so much of the reappraisers’ mush (or worse) on the topic recently as we’ve been working to pull together many of the recent articles which have been raising this question.

—–

And it is true that God is the very origin and measure of love. God is not simply “loving” as if love were some external quality that might be used to describe him, but as John says, “God is Love.” (1st John 4:8)

And yet love is not all that God is. As Dr. RC Sproul points out in his book, “The Holiness of God,” the one attribute of God revealed in the superlative sense is not “love” but “holiness.” In Isaiah 6, for example, God is not just described as “Holy” but as: “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The thrice-repetition of an adjective is the Hebrew equivalent to our superlative: “most”. God is “most” Holy. This is not to say that God is anything less than the perfectly superlative measure of love. It is to say, not to labor the point, that alongside his perfect love, God is also Holy. And elsewhere in the scriptures we learn that he is “just” and “righteous” and that sin provokes his “wrath”. God’s character, then, certainly includes love but love is not his sole attribute.

As we discussed in last week’s article, all of God’s attributes; love, wrath, justice, righteousness, come together perfectly on the cross where God’s just and holy wrath against human wickedness is exhausted or “propitiated” on himself in the person of his Son Jesus Christ. And, in his perfect love, God in Christ willingly bears it.

Through this, his own substitutionary sacrifice to propitiate his own just wrath at human sin, God has made a way for human beings to escape the wrath we all naturally choose and justly deserve. In him, in Christ, those who come to faith do not face the eternal and infinite consequences sin because Christ bears those consequences for us. There is no more wrath for those in Christ Jesus.

But while this eternal blessing and benefit of the cross is commonly acknowledged, what is often forgotten is that the cross stands as a stark and fearful warning that God, in his justice, does not leave sin unpunished. The infinite cup of God’s wrath that the infinite God in Christ willingly drained to the dregs on the cross remains full, it is brimming with judgment, for those who are unwilling to repent, cry out, and seek refuge and salvation in the Son.

Thus, throughout the New Testament, the promise and proclamation salvation in Christ Jesus is accompanied by a warning for those who refuse and reject it.

Matt’s full article is here.

Kennedy v. Bacon. Looks indeed like we have two very different “gospels” being preached. Only one of them can be true.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Atonement, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology

Giles Fraser: Talk about life, not church politics

Reading Alastair Campbell’s diaries on the train back from another depressing General Synod made me wake up to the similarity between old Labour and the leadership of the Church of England: both are more concerned to please their own activists than to reach out to the country as a whole.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)