Category : TEC Bishops

The Lamb of God, a sermon by Bishop John Henry Hobart for his Feast Day

The striking and appropriate terms in which the prophet Isaiah depicts the character and offices of the Messiah, have procured for him, by way of eminence, the title of the Evangelical Prophet. He exhibits a glowing but faithful picture of the character of Christ, and all the humiliating and all the triumphant events of his life. In the chapter which contains my text, the prophet has dipped his pencil in the softest colours, and draws a portrait of the Saviour, which, while it conveys to us the most exalted ideas of his character, is calculated to awaken our tenderest and liveliest sympathy.

Let us then contemplate the character of Christ, as delineated by the prophet under the emblem of “a lamb brought to the slaughter,” that our penitence may be awakened, our gratitude enlivened, and our souls warmed with the ardent emotions of love and duty.

Under the character of a “lamb brought to the slaughter,” we are led to consider,

The innocence of Christ;

His tenderness and compassion;

His patience;

And, finally, to consider him as the victim for our sins.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

Brand new TEC in SC Diocese’s motion for reconsideration in Lawsuit with Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is denied

Monday, July 13 Judge Dickson denied the TECSC Motion for Reconsideration of his ruling.  They promptly filed their Notice of Appeal and a further motion requesting the S.C. Supreme Court to take the appeal directly.

The Diocese continues to give thanks for the clarity of Judge Dickson’s ruling and forward progress towards the conclusion of this litigation.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Brand New Episcopal Church (TEC) Diocese in South Carolina Asks Court to Reconsider its recent Ruling

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(Al.com) New TEC bishop takes office for the Diocese of Alabama

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Bishops

(AI) A Report on the Hearing Panel from Bishop William Love and Note of Thanks

It has been a very long and arduous process thus far, not only for me and my family, but for the entire Diocese of Albany and all those in the wider Body of Christ who have been following this case. Unfortunately, as just shared, it is not over. As Bishop, one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of the situation we find ourselves in, is knowing that regardless of what action I took in response to General Convention Resolution B012, it would be seen as divisive, resulting in hurting, angry people being left in the wake

As the Bishop of Albany, I love and care deeply for all the people of this Diocese, even those who may have a different understanding than I do regarding same-sex marriage. I know there are people of good will on both sides of this issue, and that ultimately, we want the same thing – to know how best to show God’s love and minister to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have same-sex attractions. The problem is, we have a different understanding of how to go about it. May God give us the grace to figure it out as we work together, keeping Christ at the center of all that we do. My hope and prayer is that whatever the outcome of this Hearing / Trial, God will use it for His purposes and that He will be honored and glorified, and His Church and people be blessed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(TEC OPA) TEC Bishop Love of Albany’s Hearing Scheduled for this Friday

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A S Haley–Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries

In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25):

In sum, TEC’s determinations as to which faction is the true diocese loyal to the church and which congregants are in good standing are ecclesiastical determinations to which the courts must defer. But applying neutral principles to the organizational documents, the question of property ownership is not entwined with or settled by those determinations. The Fort Worth Diocese’s identity depends on what its documents say. To that end, the Diocesan Constitution and Canons provided who could make amendments and under what circumstances; none of those circumstances incorporate or rely on an ecclesiastical determination by the national church; and nothing in the diocese’s or national church’s documents precluded amendments rescinding an accession to or affiliation with TEC. Applying neutral principles of law, we hold that the majority faction is the Fort Worth Diocese and parishes and missions in union with that faction hold equitable title to the disputed property under the Diocesan Trust.

The opinion then makes short shrift of ECUSA’s remaining arguments. It demolishes ECUSA’s Dennis Canon, first by holding that a beneficiary like ECUSA cannot declare a trust in its favor in Texas on property that it does not own, and second by holding that even if the Dennis Canon could be said to create a trust in ECUSA’s favor, the Canon does not, as Texas law specifies, make the trust “expressly irrevocable”. Thus it was well within the power of Bishop Iker’s Fort Worth Diocese to revoke any such trust, which it did by a diocesan canon adopted in 1989 — to which ECUSA never objected in the twenty years following that act.

The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ holding that ECUSA could not assert title to the parishes’ properties by way of any “constructive” trust (a creation of the law to prevent a wrongdoer’s “unjust enrichment”), or by the ancient doctrines of estoppel or trespass-to-try-title, or by accusing Bishop Iker and his fellow trustees of the diocesan corporation of breaches of fiduciary obligation allegedly owed to ECUSA. Each of those claims would involve the civil courts unconstitutionally in disputes over religious doctrine.

In conclusion, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the grounds last noted, reversed its principal holding that as an ecclesiastical matter, ECUSA got to say which corporation under Texas civil law was the entity which held the parishes’ property in trust, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment that Bishop Iker’s corporation was in law the trustee of the properties of the parishes in his diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Detroit FP) Challenges Ahead for the New Leader of the TEC Diocese of Michigan

[Bonnie] Perry’s election comes at a time when the Episcopal Church in Michigan and other Episcopal dioceses across the U.S. are facing challenges with declining membership and Sunday attendance. The decline is echoed in other denominations as some among younger generations move away from organized religion.

The number of baptized members in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan plunged 46% from 29,769 in 2000 to about 16,000 today, according to statistics from the Episcopal Church.

Perry said declining membership is a “concern, it is a trend,” but added that there are ways to grow congregations and also serve regardless of membership trends.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

TEC elects a new Bishop for the Diocese of Alabama

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Message From TEC Bishop of Albany Bill Love Regarding the Upcoming Hearing

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Albany,

Several of you have been asking about the status of the Title IV Disciplinary proceedings directed against me in regard to B012. I have been notified that a Hearing, headed by The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, (President of the Hearing Panel) is scheduled to be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The subject of the Hearing is “The Matter of Allegations Concerning the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany.”

It is alleged by the Intake Report and Investigator’s Report that I have “violated Canon IV.4.1(c) by failing to abide by the promises and vows made when he [I] was ordained, specifically the Declaration he [I] signed at his [my] ordination as bishop in which he [I] promised to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.’ ”

The above charge is the result of my unwillingness to abide by Resolution B012, passed by the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which if followed, would allow for same-sex marriages to occur in the Diocese of Albany.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Seabury

Eternal God, who didst bless thy servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America; Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

Samuel Seabury’s First years of Ministry for his Feast Day

Christmas day in 1753 fell on the Tuesday which was but two days after the ordination to the Priesthood just mentioned. The newly ordained priest on the morning of that day, was sent with a note of introduction from the Chaplain of the Bishop of London to the Incumbent of one of the Churches in that city, apparently with the view of assigning to him some duty for the day. The Incumbent gave him but a surly reception, sternly demanding upon his entrance to the vestry-room, who he was, and what he wanted; in silent reply to which demands he presented his note; the comment upon which was, “Hah! Well, if the Bishop has sent you, I suppose I must take you. Give him a surplice, and show him into the desk” (to the Sexton), “and do you, Sir, find your places, and wait there till I come.” A younger clergyman, of more amiable appearance, meanwhile seemed much amused at this splenetic reception. Coming back into the Vestry after the service, the Doctor turning fiercely upon the neophyte, exclaimed, “What is the reason, Sir, that you did not read the Litany?” “Because, Sir, it is not a Litany day.” “And don’t you know that if the Ordinary chooses to have it read on Festival days, it is your duty to read it?” “That may be, Sir, but it is the Ordinary’s business to let me know that.” The old man’s face was black with passion, but before he had time to explode, the younger clergyman came to the rescue, saying: “Doctor, you won’t get much out of this young man; you had better turn him over to me, for I see you don’t want him: come, Mr. Seabury, will you go with me to–Church and preach for me!” “I never preached a sermon in my life.” “Well, of all things I should like to hear a virgin preacher! ” So the young men took themselves off, and after dinner the virgin sermon was preached; though concerning its subject, and the place where it was broached, tradition is silent: as it also is in respect to any further official acts of the preacher during the remainder of his stay in England.

In the year following, 1754, having received his appointment as a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, he set sail for his native land, and soon after began the regular exercise of his ministry at New Brunswick, in the Province of New Jersey. One of his relatives, writing about this time to another, observed: “Mr. Samuel Seabury has returned to America again; an excellent physician, a learned divine, an accomplished gentleman and a pious Christian;” a record which indicates the reputation which he had in the small circle within which he was then known, and which it was anticipated that his future life would verify.

Not much is known in regard to his work during the short time of his charge at New Brunswick, but the period is interesting, both on account of the evidence of his doctrinal principles afforded by his sermons, and also on account of the evidence of the extension of his influence and reputation in a somewhat wider sphere, afforded by contemporaneous events with which he was associated.

Among his manuscripts are several of the sermons which he preached at New Brunswick….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Henry Hobart

Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Paul Jones

Merciful God, who didst send thy beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses, who, after the example of thy servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

(JE) New Maine Episcopal Bishop Unilaterally Transitions Holy Spirit to “She”

The Rt. Rev. Thomas James Brown was consecrated Saturday as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Maine at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland. The service was led by the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

A video posted on the diocese’s YouTube channel showed participants, including Brown, calling the Holy Spirit a “she” during the recitation of the Nicene Creed. It is unclear if Curry said “she.”

An order of service provided by the diocese lists an unaltered version of the creed, but video of the service, in which only Brown and Curry are shown with microphones, captures the creed being recited as, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who with the Father and the Son, She is worshiped and glorified. She has spoken through the Prophets.”

The original language for the Holy Spirit was adopted by the First Council of Constantinople in the year 381.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(Press-Herald) New TEC bishop ordained at service in Portland, Maine

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Bishops

Bishop William Love’s Address to The 151st Annual Convention of TEC Diocese of Albany

As I informed the Diocese after receiving the partial restriction, I plan to appeal the disciplinary action taken against me as well as officially challenge the legality of B-012 and bring clarity as to which has more authority when at odds with one another — a General Convention Resolution or a Diocesan Canon.

Unfortunately, my appeal is temporarily on hold, as I await a formal charge being brought against me. It has now been over four months since the Presiding Bishop took disciplinary against me, and to date, I have still not been officially charged with anything. I have asked (for my sake and the sake of the Diocese) that this process not be drawn out. I was told an investigation into the allegations made against me would be conducted and I should hear something in a couple of weeks. That was in the middle of February. It is now June. As soon as I hear something, I will let you all know.

At the end of our 150th Diocesan Convention, as I was walking Presiding Bishop Curry to his car, knowing the potential problems that might result from legislation that was coming before the upcoming 79th General Convention, I told the Presiding Bishop how much I appreciated him coming to be with in Albany and how it was my hope and prayer (as a lifelong Episcopalian) that there would always be a place in The Episcopal Church for bishops, clergy, laity and dioceses that were theologically conservative and orthodox in their faith. He said that was his hope as well; that he had been richly blessed by his time with us and that the Diocese of Albany has much to offer the wider Episcopal Church.

The jury is still out as to whether The Episcopal Church is truly welcoming, inclusive and diverse enough for those of us who cannot embrace TEC’s current progressive agenda. If we are to have a real place in The Episcopal Church, we must be provided a way to remain true to our understanding of Holy Scripture and the sacramental nature of the Church, and to differentiate ourselves from TEC’s progressive actions and beliefs that violate God’s Word (as we understand it), and are so offensive and problematic to the vast majority of the wider Anglican Communion and Body of Christ. Anything less is the equivalent of TEC’s enslavement of its conservative and orthodox members. For a Church that is constantly touting “justice issues,” I would argue it is currently doing a great injustice to its conservative and orthodox brothers and sisters.

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Bishops

(ENS) TEC Diocese of Michigan elects Bonnie A. Perry as 11th bishop

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

A Bp William Hobart Hare biography extract–“the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.”

In physical aspect Bishop Hare represented clearly, as any picture of him will show, what may be called the best Anglican type. The English churchman of gentle breeding, of native and acquired distinction, has rendered it familiar. Such men are born both to their appearance and to their profession. In the lineage of William Hobart Hare there was quite enough to account both for the outward and for the inward man. On each side of his parentage he was a son, immediately of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and, more remotely he sprang both from the New England Puritans and the Pennsylvania Friends whose beliefs and standards have played so important a part in the religious and political life of America.

His father, the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare, an eminent Biblical scholar, one of the American Old Testament Committee appointed under the direction of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1870 for the revision of the authorized version of the English Bible, was for many years a teacher in Philadelphia–first in a temporary professorship at the University of Pennsylvania; then at the head of the old Protestant Episcopal Academy for Boys, revived in 1846 by Bishop Alonzo Potter; and finally as professor of Biblical Learning and Exegesis in the Divinity School in West Philadelphia, of which he was the first dean. “From the period of his ordination,” it is written in a brief sketch of his life, “the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.” One sees him in memory, a typical figure of the scholar, formal, remote, known of those who knew him as demanding of himself the same exacting standard of industry and integrity that he demanded of his pupils.

–M.A. DeWolfe Howe, The Life and Labors of Bishop Hare: Apostle to the Sioux (New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1911), chapter one (my emphasis)

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops

The TEC Communion Partners recently released Communiqué

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

An Easter Carol

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.

While the patient earth lies waking,
Till the morning shall be breaking,
Shuddering ‘neath the burden dread
Of her Master, cold and dead,
Hark! she hears the angels say,
Christ will rise on Easter-Day.
And when sunrise smites the mountains,
Pouring light from heavenly fountains,
Then the earth blooms out to greet
Once again the blessed feet;
And her countless voices say,
Christ has risen on Easter-Day.

Up and down our lives obedient
Walk, dear Christ, with footsteps radiant,
Till those garden lives shall be
Fair with duties done for Thee;
And our thankful spirits say,
Christ arose on Easter-Day.

–Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops

(Buffalo News) TEC Buffalo bishop retiring; it will share new leader with Pa. diocese

In the eight years since he took the helm of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, Bishop Bill Franklin has watched…[Average Sunday Attendance] plummet from 11,000 people to 8,000.

Like other Christian denominations, the Episcopal Church is grappling with its future in an era of falling church attendance. So when Franklin retires on Sunday, the diocese is taking a radical, first-of-its-kind step: Instead of electing a new leader, as it has done for decades, the diocese will begin sharing a bishop with a diocese in Pennsylvania.

The unusual move, which may become a model for shrinking, cash-strapped churches around the country, is an effort to right-size the bureaucracy of a shrinking organization and to realign both dioceses with modern culture, Franklin said. His replacement, 44-year-old Bishop Sean Rowe — already the head of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania — is considered a progressive, reformatory voice in a denomination that has publicly soul-searched for ways to stem its membership and fiscal losses.

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Bishops

(ENS) Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

(ENS) Thomas Brown elected 10th bishop of Maine–Massachusetts priest is first priest in a same-sex marriage to be elected to lead a diocese

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

(Baltimore Sun) Former Episcopal Church bishop Heather Cook seeks to serve rest of sentence for drunken-driving death at home

Read it all.

Posted in Alcoholism, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

The TEC Bishop of Albany Appeals his partial restriction by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

In accordance with Canon IV.7.10 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, I do plan to appeal the above disciplinary action taken against me by the Presiding Bishop and in so doing, I will also be challenging the authority and legality of Resolution B012 passed at the 79th General Convention. I have already verbally informed the Presiding Bishop’s Office of my plans. This will soon be followed by an official written appeal as required by the Canons.

While I obviously would rather not have had disciplinary actions taken against me, and hope to see it overturned in the near future, I will abide by the restrictions placed on me by the Presiding Bishop during the appeals process.

With that said, as your Bishop, it is important that you understand I have not changed my understanding or teaching regarding the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The official teaching of this Church as outlined in the rubrics of the Marriage Service in the Book of Common Prayer is that: “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God” (BCP 422.) Canon 16 of the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Albany upholds this teaching and remains in effect until it is either changed by the Diocesan Convention, or is legally proven to be over-ridden by the legitimate actions of General Convention; none of which has yet taken place.

Read it all.

Posted in Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

The TEC Presiding Bishop’s response to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Long Road to Freedom: The Diocese of South Carolina and Parishes File 38 Motions for Summary Judgement

The Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) continues on the long road to freedom from The Episcopal Church (TEC), filing motions for summary judgement in the now nearly six-year-old federal suit brought by its former denomination. Motions by the Diocese and its fifty-four parish defendants ask the Court to acknowledge, as a matter of law, they have neither infringed on TEC trademarks, diminished the value of those marks or harmed the denomination by continued use of names which have been in use before the denomination existed.

The current federal litigation was initiated by TEC in 2013, after the Diocese made the decision to disassociate from the national denomination it helped charter in 1789, five years after its own founding. The decision to leave was made in the fall of 2012 after denominational leadership attempted to wrongly remove its duly elected bishop. Over 80% of the congregations and their members affirmed that decision at a special Diocesan Convention in November 2012. TEC has never accepted that decision by 23,000 parishioners of the Diocese, continuing to litigate all such efforts by congregations and dioceses across the country wishing to free themselves from its control.

The original federal court complaint was initially against Bishop Lawrence alone, asserting that he continued to hold himself out falsely as a bishop of TEC, thus creating “confusion”. In April of this year the case was expanded to include the Diocese and all its congregations, even those formed after the disassociation who had no prior affiliation with the denomination. All are now charged with being party to the willful creation of confusion for attendees by virtue of using their historic names and continuing to conduct worship as they always have. These actions are alleged to mislead attendees to believe these are still TEC congregations.

Read it all and make sure to follow all the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(TLC Covenant) Eugene Schlesinger–Things Fall Apart: Musings on TEC and Eucharistic Hospitality

There is a movement afoot in the Episcopal Church to remove our restriction that only the baptized receive Communion. In my new location, it seems to be diocesan policy not only to allow the unbaptized to commune, but to invite them explicitly to do so. Every parish my family has visited in the diocese has made it very clear that absolutely everyone is invited to the altar for Communion. I have found this grating, theologically. It disregards the proper sequence of initiation. It undercuts the long-standing historical practice of Christian churches. It renders incoherent any sort of claim to have a baptismal ecclesiology. Most important, it downgrades the central role of commitment to Jesus Christ and a life of discipleship to something optional. I’d heard of such things from afar, and now my eyes have seen them.

Recently, our family ventured a bit further north, into the Diocese of California, to a parish where the logic of Communion without baptism is being carried to its logical conclusion, which is also a reductio ad absurdum. The parish we visited did much well: the hymnody and chant were excellent; the liturgy, while using expansive language, remained fairly grounded in traditional forms. Then we reached the fraction anthem.

After a verse about Christ giving himself to his beloved in the bread, we turned a corner in which claims about breaking this bread with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims were articulated. While I am confident that the intention behind these words was to be open and inclusive, to express solidarity among people of faith, its effect was to undo any sort of claims about Christ’s uniqueness or the necessity for salvation, as well as to colonize these other religious traditions, rather than respecting them in their diversity.[1]

The canons of the Episcopal Church are clear: no unbaptized person is eligible to receive Holy Communion at our altars (I.17.7). This creates a rather interesting contrast in the current church.

Having updated our canons (but not our doctrine, as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) to make marriage gender-neutral, there is a movement afoot to bring Communion Partner bishops into line, so that the trial rites for marriage are celebrated in all jurisdictions. At General Convention, Resolution 2018-B012 provided a means for doing this while also respecting the consciences, teaching office, and liturgical presidency of bishops within their dioceses. William Love, the Bishop of Albany, has caused a furorwith his refusal to comply with the provisions of B012, prompting suggestions that Title IV charges be brought against him.[2] Leaving to the side the question of the precise canonical force of a resolution passed by General Convention, and, hence, the applicability of disciplinary charges, we must acknowledge that this outcry is in some tension with other realities in our church….

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons