Category : Episcopal Church (TEC)

(SHNS) C. FitzSimons Allison–The Bookish Episcopal Bishop Who Dared To Say ‘Apostasy’

It has been three decades since the Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison took his first step away from his life as one of the Episcopal Church’s strongest evangelical voices.

That tentative move took place in a small-group discussion during an Episcopal House of Bishops meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, during Allison’s final year serving as the 12th bishop of the historic Diocese of South Carolina. The topic that day was “Why are we dysfunctional?”

Allison attacked Episcopal priests and seminary professors who were openly proclaiming their faith in an ancient, erotic, divine spirit “older and greater” than the God of the Bible. There was, Allison said, a clear, ancient word for that — “apostasy.”

Other bishops said they had no problem accepting clergy who were testing the boundaries of ancient Christian doctrines.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Soteriology, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Information Regarding Settlement Reached by the Historic Anglican and new TEC Dioceses of South Carolina Released

Reflecting on the agreement, Bishop Edgar said, “This settlement agreement allows us to invest our diocesan energy, time, focus, and resources in gospel ministry rather than litigation. While the losses we have experienced, including those of St. Christopher and several of our parish buildings are painful, I am grateful that the work we have done has brought an end to litigation between our dioceses. I am grateful, too, for the willingness to work to avoid further litigation that Bishop Woodliff-Stanley showed throughout this process. These hard past few months were made easier by her kind and generous willingness to compromise to reach this settlement.”

Bishop Woodliff-Stanley echoed this sentiment: “From the very beginning of this process, I have been grateful for the gracious spirit of Bishop Edgar in doing just this work with us. I am grateful for his leadership and his generosity. While each diocese has had to leave things on the table to get to this moment, and while we experience pain over losses of some of the historic churches our members hold dear, even still, we have seen the Spirit at work in drawing us toward God’s redemptive way of love at every juncture.”

While we give thanks that the legal disputes at the diocesan level are being brought to a close, we nevertheless recognize that a number of our parishes await a final resolution of their legal concerns. It is our prayer that these issues will soon come to a resolution as well as we move forward together as a diocese into this next season of ministry.

What does this next season look like? For some, it will be full of new challenges – and opportunities – as they as they learn to minister outside the walls of their beloved church buildings. For others we’ll seek to pull together as a diocese and grow in our roles as supportive brothers and sisters. For all of us we’ll continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and pursue the work of the gospel in South Carolina and beyond out from under the shadow of litigation with a renewed focus on our mission and ministry. Therefore, let us move forward prayerfully, in thanksgiving for this Spirit-led settlement, and in hope for the work of the Gospel and continued in-breaking of the Kingdom of God.

The Rt. Revd Chip Edgar, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
The Revd B. Tyler Prescott, President, ADOSC Standing Committee

Read it all and follow the link.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Departing Parishes

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

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

Ryan Burge–COVID-19 Only Accelerated the Decline of The Episcopal Church

In 2013, there were just over 22,000 confirmations. In 2020, that number was a paltry 3,710. Again, COVID-19 probably made it difficult, if not impossible, to hold the necessary confirmation classes, but that doesn’t explain the fact that in 2019 there were 15,594 confirmations. Confirmation numbers had already dropped thirty percent prior to COVID-19.

In terms of weddings, there were over ten thousand conducted nationwide annually in TEC through 2014. But from that point forward, the number of ceremonies dropped by about seven hundred a year between 2015 and 2019. Between 2019 and 2020 the number of weddings dropped from 6,148 to 3,839. Just for comparison’s sake, in 1980 Episcopalians conducted nearly 39,000 wedding ceremonies. They did 33,000 fewer weddings in 2019.

Finally, burials have also trended downward in recent years. There were nearly 30,000 conducted in 2013. That number had slipped to 26,667 in 2019 and there were only 18,739 in 2020. Consider this grim fact: beginning in 2017 Episcopalians were conducting more burials than baptisms. In 2019, there were more burial services than there were baptisms and weddings combined.

Those are obviously some very ominous signs of a grim future for those affiliated with The Episcopal Church. But, from a pure academic perspective, the data team at TEC is providing an incredibly valuable service to the academic community. It’s highly likely that the denomination will be releasing statistics on these types of activities for the next few years, which will let us know just how much of an aberration the numbers were in 2020 and 2021. We can answer questions like: will religious activity rebound to 2019 levels in 2022? And, which types of behaviors will come back the fastest or the slowest?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture

TEC finalizes the merger of 2 Texas dioceses

The Episcopal Church has voted to approve the merger of two dioceses in Texas, one of which lost its property, name and assets in court to a…[group of Anglicans who hold to what the majority of Anglicans worldwide believe about anthropology and marriage].

The Episcopal Church in North Texas (ECNTX), formerly known as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, has been seeking to merge with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

At the mainline denomination’s 80th General Convention, the House of Deputies approved a resolution for the merger last Saturday, while the House of Bishops approved it on Monday.

Bishop Scott Mayer, bishop provisional of North Texas, spoke at the General Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, explaining that he was “looking forward to a wonderful future.”

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Local Paper Article about the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

On April 20, the state’s top court ordered that 14 of the 29 congregations that split from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina were to hand over the properties to the Episcopal Church. It appeared that the court’s decision put an end to a decadelong legal battle over the ownership of dozens of church properties valued at roughly $200 million.

But in a stunning development Tuesday, the state’s top court did not deny petitions for rehearing submitted by seven of those churches. Instead, the court requested that the Episcopal Church respond by June 20 to the arguments made by the seven parishes.

The court’s order gives hope to some of the breakaway parishes, which fall within the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina umbrella, that they could, in fact, retain their valuable religious facilities.

“We are encouraged by the recent development from the South Carolina Supreme Court and are buoyed by the hope that seven more of our parishes might keep their properties,” said Bishop Chip Edgar of the Anglican Diocese. “But in all these legal matters, we are keeping our eyes focused on our Lord Jesus and the work he has called us to — to glorify God in worship and in our lives, to proclaim his name, to build up the church, and to love our neighbors as Christ loves us.”

Read it all.

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

Greenough White–Jackson Kemper: An Apostle of the Western Church

In the same report a “Catholic feature” of the mission is noted,–classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, “according to primitive practice,” is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,–but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying “Twin Lakes”), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o’clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o’clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.

At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,–but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which “promised a rich return for its fostering care,” and seemed destined to “hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages.” There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop–but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs’ consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero’s life,–the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,–that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops

Robert Kunes Chimes in on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

From there:

The state Supreme Court got it right, and the state Supreme Court got it wrong when it came to the opinion issued last week regarding the former Episcopal Church parishes in South Carolina.

The court got it right when it quoted the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1979 case of Jones v. Wolf: “(The) constitution of the general church can be made to recite an express trust in favor of the denominational church.”

The state Supreme Court got it wrong when it relied upon the canons — not the constitution — of the Episcopal Church to determine that some of the parishes had “acceded” to the Dennis Canon.

Anyone who looks at the constitution of the Episcopal Church will find no provision in it addressing trusts for real estate owned by any church.

Such language is in the canons, which are analogous to an entity’s bylaws or operating rules, of the Episcopal Church but not in the constitution of the church, as required in the Jones v. Wolf decision.

The language was put into the canons because adopting those is a much simpler process that can be accomplished quickly.

ROBERT M. KUNES

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Alan Haley Analyzes what happened in the Oral Arguments Wednesday before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the TEC in SC/Anglican Diocese of SC Case

If anything remained clear at the conclusion, it was this: the current Justices will have to do the homework of looking carefully at all the documentary evidence in the record in order to feel comfortable with any final ruling they make. There has been too much legal bias and posturing in the past — like the claim that All Saints Waccamaw was no longer the law in South Carolina, when it clearly was; or like the claim that the Court was required to “defer” to the unilateral decisions by ECUSA in matters of property law (as opposed to religious doctrine).

The reason for much of that bias and posturing, it has to be said, should be laid at the feet of the now recused, but in 2017 highly partisan, Justice Kaye Hearn — aided and abetted by retired Justice Pleicones. Together, their unified front against (former) Chief Justice Toal seems to have deprived her of the command of the law and the authority she wielded to great effect in achieving the unanimous decision eight years before, in the All Saints Waccamaw case. They appear to have determined that she not be allowed to treat ECUSA in the same fashion again, and alas, if that was their goal, they succeeded. Fortunately, that success may not be lasting, if the current justices prove up to the evidentiary task before them.

Trying to make the Court’s work less burdensome, by having the parties pare down the record, Chief Justice Beatty admitted at the end, had been a mistake. The complex cannot be made simple in that way. There will be no easy out for this Court, and I predict we will have to wait a good many months for a consensus to emerge. Given the facts as we all know them from the history of the last twenty-odd years, there is no reason, in my humble opinion, why there should not be another 5-0 decision in this case.

Read it carefully and read it all and make sure to take the time to follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Brand new TEC Diocese in South Carolina Press Release of Wednesday’s Oral Arguments before the SC Supreme Court

The Rt. Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, watched remotely in Columbia, SC, near the proceedings and met with the attorneys afterward. “I am grateful for the outstanding work of our legal team, and I ask the people of the diocese to continue holding all concerned in your prayers,” said Bishop Woodliff-Stanley.

The South Carolina Supreme Court is expected to respond to today’s hearing after a careful weighing of the issues before them, including the information they learned today. There is no expected timeline for a response.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops

(Historic Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court hears TEC appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

…[Wednesday] the South Carolina Supreme Court heard the appeal of Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s interpretation of the high court’s 2017 ruling. On June 19, 2020, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar W. Dickson granted the motion by the Plaintiffs (The Anglican Diocese of S.C. and Parishes) for clarification and other relief related to the August 2017 ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court. That ruling had the rare character of consisting of five separate opinions (the “Collective Opinions”). Judge Dickson’s clarification determined that the disassociated parishes and The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina are, “affirmed as the title owners in fee simple absolute of their respective parish real properties.”

The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) arguments at that time that the Dennis Canon alone, or the Canon in conjunction with various pledges of allegiance and the like were sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law were rejected. Judge Dickson’s ruling clarified the Collective Opinions, explaining that, “the Dennis Canon by itself does not create a legally cognizable trust, nor does it transfer title to property.” This affirmed that those congregations that followed state non-profit guidelines for their disassociation from TEC retained all their real and personal property.

TEC appealed this interpretation of the Courts 2017 collective opinions in July 2020, not on the basis of Judge Dickson’s legal arguments, but only on the assertion that he had no authority to provide any interpretation. Their argument is that his only possible role was to simply enforce what they assert the Court had ruled.

In today’s hearing, the justices were very active in their questioning. The time allotted to both sides legal counsel was exceeded because of the extensive questioning.

Read it all.

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

Yesterday’s Oral Arguments Before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the long running between the brand new TEC in SC dispute with the traditional Anglican Diocese of SC

Watch and listen to it all (about 1.5 hours). For some crucial background information, please see all the information and links provided there. The single most important thing constantly to remember about the original 2017 ruling is then Chief Justice Toal’s statement: ‘As I stated at the outset, this is unfortunately a difficult case leading us to five
different, strongly-held opinions…we all write separately
‘ (footnote 72). For those who wish to reread the 2017 SC Supreme Court decision please see there.

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

(ADOSC) The Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, Jr. (1926–2021)

From there:

Bishop Dickson was consecrated as the First Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee on April 9, 1983. Prior to his consecration as Bishop, he served 10 years as a parish priest in the Diocese of Mississippi; four years at Rolling Fork and Hollandale; six years in Jackson; and then he served as Rector and Headmaster of All Saints School in Vicksburg for 15 years.

In 1995, after he retired as Bishop of West Tennessee, he began Mission Work in Southeast Asia and Africa. At the time of his death, he was serving as Bishop in Residence at St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, SC. He was also Chairman of a mission to a leprosy colony in Liberia. His greatest passion was to bring people to a deep faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He loved to work with people in small groups, teaching them to pray the Scriptures. He was working in this ministry until the day of his death.

During World War II, he served on a destroyer in the Pacific during the Battle of Okinawa.

He was born on September 9, 1926, on New Africa Plantation near Alligator, Mississippi. He married Charnelle Perkins of Glen Allan, MS on October 7, 1948. They have three sons: Alex III (now in heaven), Charles in Sylva, NC, and John in Memphis, TN; six grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. God is good! Charnelle died on October 16, 1995. He married Jane Graham Carver of Charleston, SC on January 2, 1999. Jane has three children and six grandchildren. God is good!

“I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

Memorials may be given to G3 Ministry (led by his stepson), The Rev. Graham Schuyler, 76 Westfield Drive, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

A Strange Development in the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth Property fracas–the Corporation of All Saints’ Fort Worth (TEC) files for bankruptcy

From the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth:

A hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the 141st District Court was abruptly canceled when a surprise bankruptcy filing was shared with the Court. However, it was not the plaintiff All Saints’ Episcopal Church but rather its corporation that submitted the filing. As our attorney’s letter (attached) makes clear, that corporation has never at any point been a party to the litigation now being concluded before the Court. Therefore, we are asking for another hearing date in order to proceed as originally planned with motions that were filed to compel the Plaintiffs to surrender property and funds awarded to the Defendants.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(JE) Alarm Bells as the Episcopal Church (TEC) Decline Accelerates

Episcopalians took a major hit in the year 2020, not only in attendance but also in membership and – unusually – in the pocketbook of the historically affluent denomination.

Statistics released today by the Office of the General Convention show domestic membership in an uninterrupted drop of 61,243 persons to 1,576,702 (-4%) from 1,637,945, while average Sunday attendance declined 60,232 persons to 458,179 (-12%) from 518,411.

These numbers indicate a doubling in the rate of membership decline and a tripling in the rate of attendance decline over the previous year. Median Average Sunday Attendance in the denomination has dropped from 57 persons in 2016 to 50 persons in 2020. Long-term, 61% of Episcopal parishes saw their attendance decline 10% or greater in the past five years.

The statistics cover the year 2020 and are the first affected by COVID-19 restrictions, although the church only reported attendance data for the pre-pandemic period January 1 through and March 1 (missing the traditionally high-attendance periods of Christmas and Easter), similar to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Membership and giving, in contrast, were reported across the entire calendar year.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data

South Carolina Supreme Court sets hearing date for TEC’s appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

The Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church in the fall of 2012, along with 80% of its congregations and members. That action was taken in response to attempts by TEC to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as Diocesan Bishop. Litigation in this case began the following January. The Diocese and Parishes filed this action seeking a declaratory judgement to clarify the rights of the Diocese and its parishes. In February 2015, the Honorable Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese and those parishes in union with it, “are the owners of their real personal and intellectual property and that [TEC and TECSC] have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Diocese’s real, personal and intellectual property.” TEC and TECSC were permanently enjoined from using, assuming or adopting the marks of the Diocese.

Judge Goodstein’s ruling was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled on August 2, 2017 in the form of five separate opinions. The lack of agreement among those five opinions required clarification. The Diocese and Parishes filed a Motion for Clarification on March 23, 2018.

In his ruling, Judge Dickson made several important conclusions of law. Chief among them was his ruling on the central issue of interpreting the Collective Opinions. As he noted in quoting former Chief Justice Toal, “The Court’s collective opinions in this matter give rise to great uncertainty, so that we have given little to no collective guidance in this case or in church property disputes like this going forward.” He concluded that, “This court must distill the five separate opinions, identify the court’s intent and produce a logical directive.”

With respect to parish property, the law of this case follows the precedent of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw (2009). In his deciding opinion, Chief Justice Beatty, “found that the Dennis Canon, standing alone, does not unequivocally convey an intention to transfer ownership of property to the national church…” In accordance with established South Carolina law, establishment of a trust interest must meet the standard of being “legally cognizable”. Judge Dickson concluded there is no evidence that any parish agreed to the Dennis Canon: “This court finds that no parish expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon” and “defendants failed to prove creation of a trust.” He further concluded, “TEC’s argument that their unilaterally drafted Dennis Canon created a trust under South Carolina law is rejected.”

Read it all and where necessary follow the links.

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

(Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth) State Supreme Court rejects TEC loyalists’ bid to keep property

Today the Supreme Court of Texas declined to overturn or delay the April 2021 order of the 141st District Court directing Episcopal Church parties to return property removed from churches they formerly occupied.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(WCAX) TEC Diocese of Vermont confronts financial squeeze

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont is considering its next steps after a recent financial analysis revealed problems.

“Fewer people may mean fewer dollars coming in to those congregations and thus those congregations giving fewer dollars to support the dioceses,” said the Diocese’s Rev. Walter Brownridge. This is the flow of finances for the church in Vermont and he fears they will struggle to support their 45 congregations. “We knew we were facing some real challenges in a few years if we didn’t change course.”

There are less than 6,000 Episcopalians in the state, a number that is on the decline due to various reasons, including an aging demographic.

“I’m almost 80 myself and I’m not particularly unusual in our congregation, and there are a lot of parishes like this that are losing members due to attrition, to deaths, to people moving away,” said Glenn Sproul, a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in South Burlington.

Read it all (part of summer break article catch-up).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

‘The Advent has changed’: Andrew Pearson on why he left TEC’s Advent Cathedral, dealing with the diocese, starting an Anglican church in Birmingham

A church shouldn’t have to compromise its identity, he said.

“Do you have to have an elaborate document in order to get permission to preach the gospel?” Pearson said. “That shows me there’s something not quite right in the relationship from the get-go. It really was those core issues that were being brought to bear and of course, yes, they manifest themselves in the sexuality issue.”

He was not pressing other churches to change to the Advent’s position, he said.

“In one of our earlier conversations the president of the Standing Committee said to me, ‘Well, Andrew, what would you say if an Episcopal Church in Birmingham hired a transgendered clergy person to be their associate?’” Pearson said. “My answer was, ‘What I’d say is ‘Welcome to the Episcopal Church.’”

It was more about the Advent’s right to keep its tradition, he said.

“The issue really became, for me anyway, I think the individual congregation should have the ability to go in the direction they feel called to go, but I’d ask the same for the Advent,” he said. “I wasn’t really concerned what other Episcopal churches in the diocese were doing, but there seems to be a great concern from other churches as to what the Advent is doing.”

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes

Brand New TEC Diocese of SC has lawsuit against the Church Insurance Company dismissed by the 4th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

Plaintiff Episcopal Church in South Carolina is embroiled in litigation…It filed this action against its own insurer—the Church Insurance Company of Vermont—after discovering that the company had reimbursed its adversaries’ defense costs. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing. We agree with that assessment and affirm.”

Read it all.

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

Greenough White–Jackson Kemper: An Apostle of the Western Church

In the same report a “Catholic feature” of the mission is noted,–classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, “according to primitive practice,” is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,–but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying “Twin Lakes”), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o’clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o’clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.

At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,–but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which “promised a rich return for its fostering care,” and seemed destined to “hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages.” There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop–but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs’ consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero’s life,–the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,–that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops

For Jackson Kemper’s Feast Day–Gustaf Unonius’ Summary of [some of] his Work

In the course of time almost all the states and territories which at first had constituted a great missionary district under Bishop Kemper’s oversight became separate dioceses which for a time continued under his care but finally selected their own bishops. In this way, after a period of only a few years, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin–where, at the time I began my studies at Nashotah, there were only a few scattered churches and mission stations–and finally Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas–territories which at that time were hardly known even by name–have now churches and ministers enough to be organized into separate dioceses. In Wisconsin alone there are more than fifty ministers, and an equal number of churches without ministers, belonging to the Episcopal church. All of this, under the grace of God, may be ascribed to the tireless labors if Bishop Kemper and the excellent mission school at Nashotah.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jackson Kemper

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, that by his arduous labor and travel congregations might be established in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

Paul Zahl–How Mary And I Spent Holy Week, 1973

Two days later I was pinned against the wall by the soullessness of Harvard Divinity School. Alone, I attended a sunrise Easter service on the roof of Divinity Hall. Krister Stendahl, who was then Dean, preached and conducted the service. He told us that the only trustworthy Resurrection text in the Bible was St. Mark 16:8c: “… and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.” Let me repeat that: the famous New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl, one of the founders of the “New Perspective on Paul,” told his congregation on Easter morning 1973 that the Resurrection appearances of Jesus are all “untrustworthy” except Mark 16:8c. And that what Christians need to do and be on Easter morning is be afraid. This really happened.

As if to pour salt in the wound, the rector of Our Saviour, Arlington, said something comparable during the main service there later that Easter morning. (Mary was wearing a black-and-white dress and looked stunning.)

The rector said that his Easter sermon was to be his public announcement that he had recently found the meaning of his ministry for the next phase of his rectorship in Arlington. That meaning lay in a popular new form of therapy known as “Transactional Analysis” (i.e., “I’m OK/You’re OK”). The rector was hoping that the congregation would find joy in joining him during the next half of 1973 and also 1974 as together we would enhance our relationships through that system. This really happened.

Even while sitting there, with Mary, I kept thinking of Peggy Lee and her song from 1970 entitled, “Is That All There Is?” I mean, seriously, here were two back-to-back Christian services on Easter Sunday in which “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed” (Lycidas).

Well, that is how Mary and I spent Holy Week 1973. Thumbs up for Piero Paolo Pasolini; thumbs down for Dean Stendahl, Professor Cox, and the rector of Our Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Parishes, Theology: Scripture

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, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Andrew Pearson, Dean of the Cathedral of the Advent, steps down over tensions with TEC

With significant sadness, the Vestry of the Cathedral Church of the Advent has accepted the resignation of Andrew Pearson as our Dean and Rector. Andrew has discerned that the ongoing tension he feels serving in the Episcopal Church makes him no longer able to serve as the spiritual leader of the Advent. Although saddened, we are grateful for the significant gifts which he has shared with us for nearly ten years, and remain confident that those gifts will continue to be exercised for our Lord’s kingdom, leading people to Christ. In that sense, we are excited for him and continue to love and support Andrew, Lauren, and their girls, wishing them Godspeed as they move to this next chapter in their lives.

Andrew’s last Sunday as our Dean and Rector will be May 16. He will preach at both services, and also teach the Dean’s Class. We look forward to a reception for Andrew and Lauren that afternoon, after the 11:15 service, in the Rector’s Garden.

Although the Advent has its own tension with the Episcopal Church, we are hopeful that the new leadership of Bishop Glenda Curry has provided an opportunity to build a foundation for a continued and generational peace between the Advent and the Diocese. Accordingly, the Vestry of the Advent appointed a team to talk with Bishop Curry to find a better, amicable path forward while protecting the essential attributes of the Advent. During these discussions, the Bishop has affirmed the Advent’s ability to express its theology and its ability to call, develop, and maintain clergy who are committed to the Advent’s theological expression.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

Still More Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–his 1925 Sermon “the Authority of Christ”

(This sermon was preached at the consecration of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island–KSH

Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com­manded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:18-20.

I wish I could hear these words for the first time. Familiar as they are, they thrill me with their exult­ant strength whenever I read them anew. They open up new vistas of hope and happiness, of greatness and immortality, of a world exalted, completed, uni­fied, made Christian wholly and irrevocably. They set their own seal upon their authenticity. Under their spell we move out into life with the joyous sting of certainty goading us on to renewed effort to do the great bidding of winning the nations of the earth to Him.

How hedged in with finality that bidding is! Before the commission comes the charter under which it is issued. He who bids us to the new creative act of making disciples has been given authority over and possession of all things in heaven and on earth.

We are familiar with authority in piecemeal fashion—authority over a nation, an institution, a department. But this is authority over all things seen or unseen. It is the unifying authority for which human life had been waiting. It is final and exercised by Man over man. There is no separation of the religious from the secular in His jurisdiction. It includes in one vast sweep the whole universe—nations and all their contents, the realm of thought ramifying into ten thousand specialisms, the domain of activity running into a myriad vocations, fast slipping time past, present and future, the tiny sphere of the known and the endless stretches of the un­known from Alpha to Omega, from the beginning to the end.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

(JEC) Michael Snape–‘Anglicanism and interventionism : Bishop Brent, the United States, and the British Empire in the First World War’

Brent himself stands as perhaps the ultimate example of these successful clerical migrants to the United States. Born in Newcastle, Ontario, in April 1862, Brent’s father was an Anglican
clergyman and a first-generation immigrant from England, his mother a descendant of Loyalist refugees from New York.20 Although the infusion of immigrants from Canada was smaller than the stream from Great Britain around the turn of the twentieth century, it was still considerable, as around 450,000 Canadians entered the United States in the quarter century prior to the First World War.21 While Anglicans represented a smaller proportion of the Canadian population, comprising around 15 per cent of all Canadians in 1914 as opposed to two-thirds of all Britons,22 there was already a well-established tradition of Anglican clergymen moving across the porous border between Canada and the United States in search of employment,23 a situation that brought Brent to the State of New York in 1886 while still in deacon’s orders. As Alexander C. Zabriskie emphasised in his concise biography of 1947, Brent’s move to St. Paul’s Church, Buffalo, was entirely pragmatic: with no opportunities available in the diocese of Toronto, ‘it was circumstance rather than conscience or preference that sent [Brent] there. He had not the least intention of remaining permanently under the American flag; rather he looked forward to returning to a Canadian country parish within a few years.’24 In fact, it took a further appointment, as associate rector of St. Stephen’s Mission in the slums of Boston, to persuade Brent to take out his naturalisation papers in 1891, and even then he
appears to have maintained dual citizenship.25 In the event, his years in Boston served to reinforce Brent’s links with Great Britain, for there he developed a formative relationship with the Society of St. John the Evangelist, or Cowley Fathers, a connection that would take him to England on his very first overseas trip in November 1891.26

Read it all (numbers are to footnotes in the original).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–Time Magazine’s Cover Story on him, August 29, 1927

In the past few weeks, the Christians of the world have been holding their first major conference in some 500 years for the specific purpose of seeing what can be done about unifying Christianity as the sum of its world-wide parts.

Preparation. Today the parts (denominations) number 200-odd, all of them organized as distinct entities. The practical necessity of relating so many parts, of discovering identity among so many entities, was established by the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. The logical necessity was established later the same year, at a convention of the Episcopal Church in Cincinnati. The man who then proposed a world conference on Faith & Order lived to see such a conference actually held, after 17 years of preparation, and to preside over it as chairman, at Lausanne, Switzerland, the past three weeks.

Chairman Brent. This man was Bishop Charles Henry Brent of the Episcopal diocese of Western New York. Canadian-born and educated, naturalized in the U. S., an obscure worker in the awkward robes of the Cowley Fathers among the poor of Boston, later (under Bishop Phillips Brooks) an Episcopal rector who was made a missionary bishop and sent to the Philippines because of his earnest simplicity, rugged strength and adaptability among people of other races, it was Bishop Brent who confirmed General Pershing in the Philippines and subsequently became Chaplain-in-Chief of the A. E. F.

First in war, first in peace, Bishop Brent had had experience in handling international conferences, as president of opium parleys at Shanghai (1909) and The Hague (1911). He declined the bishoprics of Washington, D. C., and New Jersey, to preserve for his world ministry the freedom of action he enjoys at Buffalo, N. Y. When his world ministry reached its peak this month, he was not content merely to preside over the hundreds of churchmen he had brought together, but went with them into their councils; explained, directed, adjusted and dictated daily despatches on their progress to the New York Herald Tribune.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops