Category : Episcopal Church (TEC)

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

An article from ENS on the proposed Changed Budgetary formula discussed at the partial ACC Meeting

A new formula for setting the level of financial commitments from the Anglican Communion’s provinces approved May 4 by the Anglican Consultative Council has the potential to greatly increase the amount of money expected from The Episcopal Church.

Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that the new annual formula, which is based on the number “active bishops” in a province multiplied by their average salary (including housing costs) multiplied by 10%, produces “the most extreme case of potential impact” for The Episcopal Church….

Historically, the Church of England (at 41.4% of the total income) and The Episcopal Church (at 21.9%) have been the two largest contributors to what is known as the Inter-Anglican Budget. General Convention has budgeted $1.15 million as its total 2019-2021 contribution (line 412 here).

White’s budget report says the ACC’s unrestricted spending budget in 2019 is about $2.3 million. “Given the consistent excess of ambition over resources,” the report says the budget needs a 5% annual increase in money available for unrestricted spending, as opposed to money contributed for specific programs.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Consultative Council, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

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

A 2021 TLC Article on Harriet Cannon whose Feast Day is Celebrated Today

Harriet Starr Cannon was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 7, 1823. Both of Harriet’s parents died of yellow fever when she was 17 months old; she was left with her elder sister and closest friend Catherine Ann, then three years old. An aunt welcomed the two orphaned sisters into her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut — making for seven children in one house in this then-bustling mercantile center on Long Island Sound. As a young girl Harriet lost her sight in one eye in an accident, but all accounts point to a happy childhood despite many significant early setbacks. One relative described her as fond of dancing, “a great society girl and not at all religious.”

The decision to consecrate her life completely to God came in the wake of a personal tragedy. Catherine Ann Cannon married in 1851 and moved to California, intending for Harriet to join her when she had established a home on the West Coast with her husband. A telegram brought the news in 1855, just as Harriet was preparing to leave for the West, that Catherine had died. The event changed the direction of her life completely; later, she wrote: “You know, she was my all — neither father, mother, or brother. We were two, but were one — but if God had left her with me, I should not have been here.”

In New York City in 1856, the 32-year-old Harriet was received into the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, a parochial association of “evangelical sisters” who worked under the direction of William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) as nurses at his newly built St. Luke’s Hospital. Harriet thrived in her earliest medical and religious work among the poor. By 1863, however, conflicts with Muhlenberg’s collaborator and friend Anne Ayres, who was in immediate charge of the sisterhood’s activities, led to the withdrawal of four sisters and the essential dissolution of the order. (The last Sister of the Holy Communion died in 1940.)

Harriet was one of the four who left.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Prayer for the Feast day of Harriet Starr Cannon

Gracious God, who didst call Harriet Starr Cannon and her companions to revive the monastic vocation in the Episcopal Church and to dedicate their lives to thee: Grant that we, after their example, may ever surrender ourselves to the revelation of thy holy will; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

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

A Letter from James Lloyd Breck to his Sister, July 22nd, 1850

Expect only a short letter, for I have much to do. It is a stormy morning. Our tent, however, holds well. The trench dug round about it leads off all the water, and we are left within perfectly dry. Our little house was to have been finished,–I mean the shell up, ready for use,–by the 15th of this month; but it has been delayed many days longer; yet we hope to enter it by the middle of this week. Until three or four days since, we had no bedding or buffalo robes. We had two tents loaned to us, but we pitched only one, so we put the other at night on the ground, and slept on it. Tell our excellent neighbor, Mrs. Myers, that both the overcoat and gown, which she gave to me, have been of the greatest service to me at this time. The most of my clothing was boxed up at Nashotah, and sent by another route from that which we traveled, so that I could make no use of it at this time, when it would have been so serviceable; but the above coat was strapped to the top of one of my trunks, and the gown was in it, so I felt thankful to her for several nights of greater comfort than I should otherwise have had. For the bed was rather hard under the best of circumstances; but, after two or three nights, I could sleep as soundly as I have ever, done in the best of chambers, and now it is nothing. This is Monday morning. On Saturday Mr. Merrick accompanied me to Cottage Grove, a point that we had not yet visited. Our road lay through an uninhabited country, which yet is the condition of most of Minnesota. Only here and there is a settler, and occasionally a settlement. This, though harder for us, is better for the Church. I mean to say, dearest Kate, that the earlier the Church enters a new country, the better it will be for the Church, after a few years. But I purposed telling you about our visit to Cottage Grove. This is a settlement of about twenty farmers, within a circuit of about five miles. We had an introduction to one of the settlers, but could not learn from him that there was so much as a single Church family in the settlement. There was no school-house consequently, in the event of an appointment, we should be under the necessity of holding Divine Service in a private house, and this would be rather a favor to us than the contrary. Finding that some one of the denominations had made an appointment for the next day, we made ours by invitation for the Sunday after next at 3 P.M., intending in the morning of that day to celebrate service at Point Douglass, which is eight or ten miles to the south, at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. We hope, under GOD, to establish the Church at the Grove and other like places, although several years may elapse before we can see churches arise, and communicants surrounding their altars. There is not a church or the first sign of the Church at that point. What a triumph if the Church can be brought to thrive there! With GOD rests what shall be done, yet we must employ our unceasing efforts to bring down the blessing. We had now walked about twenty miles to the Grove. It was also nearly two o’clock. What should be done? The next day was Sunday. Finding that we could not accomplish anything more here at present, we made inquiries after an English family that we learned was somewhere hereabouts, and found them to be living within five miles, and accordingly at once directed our steps thitherwards. Our road now lay over a prairie. The sun was very warm and we were tired, but on we traveled, thirsty enough to drink up rivers, for since morning we had drunk nothing but warm brook water or rain water. At length we reached a house, and calling for water, the man brought us a nice beverage of molasses, ginger and water, excusing himself by saying that the well was out of water, and that which he and the family used was warm. We drank, you may be sure, freely and safely of this. We were now within half a mile of the Englishman’s house, about the only English family as yet in Minnesota. We now quickly found our way to the log-cabin of Mr. Jackson, and the result of our visit was, that we remained under his roof the rest of the day and night, and in the morning at 10:30 o’clock held Divine Service, and preached to his family only. No appointment was made for others. Here was 4 quiet missionary visit, a seeking out in the wilderness the lost sheep of CHRIST’S flock. This old man (sixty years of age) for three years–the period that had elapsed since he left England, –had not had the opportunity of the Church’s services. He was d communicant, also his wife and daughter (married). The son-in-law had only been baptized in the Church, appeared to be attached to the Church, and engaged in the services understandingly. There was also a son (eighteen years of age) and a grandchild in the house, making six members of CHRIST’S flock under this one roof.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Terry Mattingly–After wars over Bible, marriage and sex: is Union possible for Reappraising Episcopalians and Methodists?

So far, leaders on the United Methodist left haven’t announced plans to leave. But that doesn’t mean that Episcopal clergy and other liberal Protestant leaders shouldn’t be prepared to help United Methodists who come their way, said the Rev. David Simmons of St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, Wis., a leader in several regional and national ecumenical efforts.

“We have to start with the fact that lots of United Methodists are really hurting,” he said, in a telephone interview. “What we should be doing is providing a safe harbor. Our primary motivation shouldn’t be to grab members from other churches. … If we do that then we’re not being a safe harbor. We can’t go around saying, ‘United Methodists hare having trouble, so let’s recruit them.’ ”

Thus, Simmons recently posted an online essay entitled, “How to Deal With Methodists at your Red Church Doors” – referring to the front doors at most Episcopal parishes. His subtitle was even more blunt: “Don’t be a Jerk.” His suggestions to Episcopal leaders included:

* Remember that Methodists have their own traditions and history. It’s wrong to hand them a Book of Common Prayer and try to instantly “make them Episcopalians. … ANY language about ‘Coming Home’ or ‘Returning to the Mother Church’ is harmful, insensitive and historically inaccurate, since American Methodism and the Episcopal Church are both technically equal children of the Church of England.”

* “Lay off the smugness!” Episcopalians, for example, should not brag about “how much further ahead we are” on LGBTQ issues, noted Simmons. Some United Methodist congregations have “been way ahead of us in this in spite of the discipline of the UMC. … Don’t attempt to score cheap points….”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

A Fascinating Look Back at an old Thread on TEC (The Episcopal Church) numbers from 2007

Read it all. The whole piece as well as the links and comments are well worth the time. Of all the bits, I found this most revealing. If you look through the Christian Century article you see this quote:

[James B. Lemler, Episcopal director of mission] also said that officials were heartened that average Sunday attendance in 2005 did not decline as it did in the previous two years. The average Sunday worship attendance in 2005 was 787,000 people, down only 8,500.

Since that time, according to the most recent data available (from 2017) ASA has declined to 556,744, a decline of more than 29%.

Posted in TEC Data

TEC House of Deputies President Gay Jennings responds to the recent news about the spouses in same-sex marriages not being invited to Lambeth 2020

So, the situation in which we find ourselves is peculiar. The Archbishop of Canterbury is citing a resolution that does not set policy for the Anglican Communion as a reason to exclude same-sex spouses from Lambeth. That same resolution defines marriage as a “lifelong union.” However, the opposite-sex spouses of bishops who have been divorced and remarried have been invited to Lambeth. We are left to conclude that excluding same-sex spouses is a selective decision—perhaps even an arbitrary one.

Now, thanks to the intrepid reporting of Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service, we know that precisely two spouses are currently excluded from Lambeth. One is the wife of Bishop Mary Glasspool of the Diocese of New York, and the other is the husband of Bishop Kevin Robertson of the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. A third, the husband of Bishop-elect Thomas Brown of Maine—also known, for a few more months, as Deputy Brown—will be excluded assuming that the consent process to that election is successful.

In short, the universe of people directly affected by this situation is small. Very small. The Archbishop of Canterbury had already written to Bishop Glasspool and her wife and spoken directly to Bishop Robertson. And yet, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon wrote a blog post about it titled “The global excitement about the Lambeth Conference.” We are left to ponder why it was important for the Anglican Communion Office to make this situation very, very public nearly 18 months in advance.

One other thing: When Bishop Robertson and his husband were married late last year, after nine years together, we learned from media reports that they are the parents of two little children. I cannot overlook the fact that the Anglican Communion Office has created a public situation in which two children are learning that the hierarchy of the church considers their family to be a source of shame and worthy of exclusion. That makes me very angry. When little children are collateral damage, that is not the way of love.

If your internet spigot is similar to mine, and I imagine that it is, you’ve seen that there are a variety of opinions about what bishops and their spouses should do in response to this news. I leave that to the discernment of the bishops and their spouses. But there is the larger issue of how the rest of the Episcopal Church responds.

On Facebook, Deputy Winnie Varghese wrote, “I told an archbishop once that recent Lambeth conferences have done irreparable harm to the witness of The Episcopal Church to the most vulnerable in our society, poor, LGBTQI people of color, because if we show on the international stage that we won’t love our own people and our own leaders and their families, how could we possibly love them/us. … If you can’t invite everyone on equal terms, cancel. You’re not ready.”

I commend her entire post to you, and I agree with it. If we are not yet able to hold a global meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses to which everyone is invited, then I think we should not be holding global meetings of Anglican bishops and spouses.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A diminished Lambeth Conference

It is absolutely no surprise that the Anglican provinces of Nigeria and Uganda [and Rwanda] have already stated that they do not intend to go to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.

This is entirely consistent with the view of many global south Anglican leaders that the fabric of communion has already been broken by the actions of North American Anglicans – initially by consecrating Gene Robinson as a practising homosexual bishop in 2003. The process of discipline that was begun through the Primates’ Meeting and the Windsor Report was rapidly abandoned and the can was kicked down the road. But it was plain to anyone that communion between Anglicans was so badly damaged that never again could Anglicans pretend to have an interchangeable ministry and common worship.

For 10 years after the consecration of Gene Robinson there were various attempts to put the show back on the road but even Rowan Williams’ valiant attempt to create an Anglican Covenant, which might help to set some limits to the diversity of Anglicanism, was rejected by the General Synod of the Church of England. I still cannot quite believe that Synod members humiliated their Archbishop in such a brutal way.

When Justin Welby picked up the pieces, he travelled tirelessly around the world meeting with Anglican leaders. It is clear he picked up the message that the Communion was ‘broken’ in a very fundamental way. But he concluded that, because Anglican leaders were willing to meet with him, they might be willing to start meeting together once again. It was a risk worth taking but it hasn’t paid off. The boycott by…[three] of the biggest Anglican provinces will stand. Like the 2008 Conference in which almost a third of bishops refused to participate, the 2020 conference will be a diminished gathering.

 

Can the Anglican Communion be saved?

 

In a fascinating essay the evangelical theologian Andrew Goddard agrees that the signs are not good for the Lambeth 2020.

The great risk facing Justin Welby, he argues, is that a failure to gather all the bishops of the Anglican Communion will mark the end of the Lambeth Conference as an ‘effective Instrument of Communion’. He cites four factors, which could equally be applied to the other instruments of communion – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting – which are:

  1. The failure to discipline
  2. The Archbishop’s changed approach on invitations to the Lambeth Conference
  3. An unwillingness to explore the logic of impaired communion
  4. And the conscientious objection of a large number of bishops.

I admire Goddard’s optimistic outlook that the Anglican Communion can still be saved. He sees the Communion as breaking down, whereas my slightly more brutal approach is to say the faultlines are too great and can never be bridged. The damage limitation exercise that Archbishops must engage in is to keep all the parties talking but it is long past time to abandon the so-called instruments of unity/communion and the pretence that Anglicans are in the same ‘Church’ in any meaningful sense.

But where I mostly disagree with him is on the obscure but important point that Justin Welby is wrongly acting out of step with his predecessor by issuing invitations to the Lambeth Conference on a different basis. Readers will remember that Rowan Williams refused to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, but even this little gesture backfired because those who refused to attend weren’t opposed in any petty sense to one single bishop, but to a heterodox theology that led to his consecration.

But Rowan Williams was wrong to think that he had the power of invitation to individual bishops. In fact his invitations should have been directed to all bishops in good standing with their own provinces. It is an over-mighty Archbishop who thinks he can personally decide for himself who he is in communion with, and therefore who is in the Anglican Communion. Archbishops of Canterbury have never been this powerful.

One of the problems that resulted from the Gene Robinson crisis in 2003 was that Anglicans pretended they had powers that they didn’t. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s clear choice in 2008 was not the petty power to single out one particular bishop but the greater and properly exercised power not to invite the Episcopal Church of the USA because through its actions it had torn the fabric of communion.

That was the only way to save the Anglican Communion. Of course, he didn’t and the rest is history.

–This appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, 15 February 2019 edition, on page 11; subscriptions to CEN are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates

(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

(RNS) As one historically black Episcopal church closes, others face strong headwinds

On a chilly December morning, 100 years and one week after its sanctuary opened, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, an African-American congregation with a proud history, was formally closed.

Bishop Samuel Rodman presided over the Eucharistic service in an elementary school a block away from the church, where weekly services ended more than three years ago. Several longtime members returned to read Scriptures and sing hymns. Afterward, the group of 100, including history buffs and well-wishers from North Carolina and Virginia, shared a meal of fried chicken and baked beans.

All Saints is hardly alone among mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations. Faced with dwindling members, crumbling infrastructure and costly maintenance, some 6,000 to 10,000 churches shutter each year, according to one estimate. More closures may be in the offing as surveys point to a decline in church attendance across the country.

But All Saints is an example of an even sharper decline.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

An ENS story on The Funeral for President George HW Bush yesterday at the national cathedral

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Office of the President

A Fleming Rutledge Sermon on Mark 13 (the Synoptic Apocalypse) for Pre-Advent and the First Sunday of Advent

Let me illustrate this sequence by quoting from the memoirs  of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the famous Scottish-born tycoon who made his fortune in America.[2] Raised as a Presbyterian, he became suspicious of religion. When he read Darwin’s theories of evolution, the great philanthropist received what he thought was a revelation.[3] In his memoirs he wrote (this was during the Gilded Age, before the world wars):

…I remember that light came as in a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth…“All is well since all grows better,” became my motto, my true source of comfort. Man…has risen to the higher forms [and there can be no] conceivable end to [man’s] march to perfection.

I don’t believe anyone can read that with a straight face today. And indeed, as it happens, those were not the last words from Mr. Carnegie. The last paragraph of his autobiography was written as World War I broke out. He reread what he had written earlier, and here’s how he responded to it:

As I read this [what he had previously written] today what a change! The world convulsed by war as never before! Men slaying each other like wild beasts! I dare not relinquish all hope.

The manuscript breaks off abruptly.[4] He never finished the autobiography.

In a certain way, this illustrates the turn in biblical interpretation that I’m describing. The horrors of the two World Wars caused a widespread change in the way that serious people understood history. For biblical interpreters, it caused a change in the way the apocalyptic passages in the Bible were read. It was noted that Jesus said, “Behold, I have told you all things beforehand.”

Apocalyptic writing came out of a catastrophe. The Hebrew people—the Israelites—were the people of blessing. They were the people favored by God, who had promised them a future of safety and prosperity. But then they were overwhelmed and conquered and forced into exile in the far distant, pagan Babylonian empire.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(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

Episcopal Church Statistics from the Diocese of San Joaquin 2007-2017

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Data, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Parishes

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (III)–TLC finds a priest in the diocese told the publication he “intends not to abide by” Bishop Love’s directive

One priest in the diocese told TLC he “intends not to abide by” Love’s directive and will celebrate a same-sex marriage if the opportunity arises.

The Rev. Glen Michaels is an assistant attorney general for New York State. He serves as priest in charge of All Souls Memorial Chapel in St. Hubert’s in the Adirondacks, about 100 miles north of Albany. All Souls is open only in the summer, and Michaels said it frequently serves as a wedding venue.

Michaels said that as he reads the canons, Love’s prohibition of same-sex marriage is “not enforceable” because of the action of the General Convention.

“For better or worse I see myself as a good person to challenge this,” he said, because his livelihood does not depend on his work as a priest.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (II)–St. Andrew’s parishioners burned a copy of Bishop Love’s letter outside the front door of the church recently

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Latest Developments in the TEC Diocese of Albany (I)–A. S Haley offers an Analysis: Bishop Love’s Last Stand

In his letter, Bishop Love details seven grounds for his opposition to the directive in that 8th Resolve. For purposes of this post, I summarize them in point-form here, but be sure to read the whole thing:

  • First: B012 contradicts God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture;
  • Second: B012 is contrary to the 2000-year-old understanding of Christian marriage as still reflected in the rubrics of the BCP, and in the Canons of the Diocese of Albany;
  • Third: B012 “is doing a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman”;
  • Fourth: B012 encourages Episcopalians to engage in sexual behavior which is expressly forbidden in both the Old and New Testaments;
  • Fifth: By its false teaching and encouragement to sinful behavior, B012 is leading same-sex couples, as well as ECUSA itself, to come under God’s judgment (resulting in the precipitous decline in membership throughout the Church);
  • Sixth: B012 attempts to force Bishop Love to violate his ordination vows, as stated above, and would lead to schism and departures in his Diocese; and
  • Seventh: Succumbing to B012’s directive would render it impossible for Bishop Love to represent his diocese before the wider Anglican Communion and the whole world.

There is much more in the letter, including assurances to same-sex couples that scripture does not forbid close friendships or living together, only sexual intimacy (citing this article; see also the other resources linked on this page). As a consequence of the seven factors he identifies, Bishop Love closes his letter with this Pastoral Directive:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

Thus the lines are drawn, and the conflict caused by the actions of General Convention now invades the hitherto peaceful diocese of Albany. For instance, could Presiding Bishop Michael Curry now try to exercise his supposed authority to issue a “Pastoral Directive” to Bishop Love, requiring that he make the trial rites available to any in his diocese that request them? (Note that Resolution B012’s mandate does not take effect Churchwide until December 1.)
As I pointed out in this earlier post, it is extremely doubtful that the enactment of the provision in Title IV that purports to confer upon the Presiding Bishop metropolitan authority over his episcopal colleagues can be squared with the grant of all ecclesiastical authority, by Article II.3 of ECUSA’s Constitution, to a bishop within his own diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

The New TEC Diocese in South Carolina Press Release on Yesterday’s Court Proceedings in Orangeburg

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Latest Development In the Highly Contentious Court Battle Between the new TEC Diocese and the Historic Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

Judge Dickson Will Determine What the Supreme Court Opinions Mean

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (November 19, 2018)  –  Today, in the Orangeburg County Courthouse the honorable Edgar W. Dickson, heard arguments from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church on motions directed to the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The judge began by asking, “Who thinks this case will be resolved today?” When one person in the courtroom raised a hand the judge indicated he hoped they were pulling for South Carolina in their upcoming game against Clemson, and concluded, “Six judges have heard this case. I’m number seven. I hope that’s a lucky number.”

While five motions are presently before the court, Judge Dickson said, “the motion I’m most interested in” is the issue of what he has to decide.

Alan Runyan argued for the Diocese that given the lack of clarity in the five separate opinions, Judge Dickson had to first decide, what, if anything, the Supreme Court decided. The slide presentation summarizing his argument may be found here. Mr Runyan noted at the beginning of his argument  that the last statements by half the Supreme Court were that “We have given little to no coherent guidance in this case” and “The Court’s collective opinions give rise to great uncertainty” in “this matter of great importance.”

Tom Tisdale, counsel for TECSC and Mary Kostel, Counsel for TEC, presented their arguments which essentially repeated their prior assertions that “the decision has been made,” by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and all that was left was enforcement of the results.

It was obvious that Judge Dickson had problems with the argument that it is clear what the Supreme Court decided.

Addressing Mr. Tisdale, he asked, “How many times have you seen a Supreme Court decision with five separate opinions?” Mr. Tisdale acknowledged that it had never happened in the history of the court.

When counsel for TEC continued to assert that the result was clear, the judge replied,  “Like through a glass darkly.”

In commenting on the present ruling he observed, “Usually when I get something remitted it’s clear what I’m supposed to do.” In this case, however, interpreting the Supreme Court ruling will entail “trying to ferret out what they meant.”

In concluding he observed, “I have to decide and whatever is decided will be appealed by one side or the other.”

The Judge indicated he would be sending follow up questions by email for both sides.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Bishop of Central New York responds to the Bishop of Albany

All human love is a reflection of God’s love, and The Episcopal Church has resolved that the rite of marriage is open to all in our Church, regardless of sexuality or gender expression. The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York continues to uphold the policies of The Episcopal Church and is dedicated to Jesus Christ who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our dedication to our LBGTQ siblings was exemplified this past summer when priests and laypeople from across our Diocese marched in Pride parades and participated in Pride festivities in Syracuse, Binghamton and elsewhere. As the Diocesan Bishop, I am resolute in my affirmation of equality, dignity, and full inclusion for all people regardless of their political, social, or theological views. We are, first and foremost, people committed to the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus.

I recognize this is a challenging time and that some may have found the recent statement of Bishop Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to be injurious. I want to be clear that God loves you and has created you as a blessing in our world. Each of us is called to be our authentic self, for only then can we truly be the beloved community God intends. I affirm marriage equality and stand as an ally for social justice for all persons. All of us—LGBTQ people, Bishop Love, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and the people of this diocese—are beloved children of God….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The President of the House of Deputies’ Responds to Bishop Love’s Letter

From there:

For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, our highest temporal authority, first acknowledged that God calls LGBT people to any ordained ministry in 2009. In 2012, the General Convention authorized a liturgical rite for the blessing of same sex unions, and in 2015, we authorized marriage equality in the church.

We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of LGBTQ people and we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture