Daily Archives: October 22, 2012

Bishop Mark Lawrence's April Address given in England – Transcript

Transcript of the talk given to the Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship of the Church of England Evangelical Council in April 2012.
The Presiding Bishop hired an attorney in the Diocese of South Carolina, who presented himself as ”˜Counsel for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’. I said, wait a minute, according to our polity we are The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. I am the only one that has juridical or jurisdictional authority here. She has not spoken to me. She has not asked for my permission, and there is no constitutional or canonical authority that the Presiding Bishop has to hire an attorney to investigate me and the Diocese or South Carolina. We called a Special Convention; told the Presiding Bishop to remove the attorney. I have never received any notice from her ”“ it is four years later.

That brought us into a cold war with the national church, and in a cold war the difficulty is everything you do to protect yourself in a cold war, can be interpreted by the person on the opposite side of the cold war as an act of aggression. That goes for me towards them and them towards me and so we have lived with that for three years now.

I need to conclude because our time is all but up, mine is already past. In the Fall of last year, I was informed that there were 12 allegations brought against me that I had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. And after 2 or 3 months, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops came back and said, there is not enough evidence – I think that is the simplest way to put it ”“ that I have abandoned the communion and so I will not be brought up on charges. They will not go forward to become actual charges, they will just be removed.
Philip Plyming:
It’s my pleasure to hand over now to the Chair of the DEF, Stephen Hofmeyr, who is going to introduce our two speakers.

Stephen Hofmeyr, QC:
Thank you very much indeed Philip.
Some of you will know the bishops well, others of you will not, and so please forgive me ”“ I just thought it would just be helpful if I gave you just something of their backgrounds.

Bishop Mark Lawrence was born in Bakersfield, California. He is a fifth generation Californian. He is married to Alison and they have five married children, some of whom are following in their father’s footsteps. His youngest daughter in fact right now is expecting. He is hoping that the baby will be born today, on St Mark’s Day, so let’s be praying for her at this time. He was educated at California State University, Bakersfield – BA in 1976 and Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry – he got a Masters in Divinity in 1980. He also has received honorary doctorates from Nashotah House in 2008 and Sewanee in 2009.

Bishop Lawrence has ministered in a wide variety of parish settings ”“ suburban church plant, rural mission, inner-city church, downtown parish. These include Holy Family in Fresno, California, St Mark’s Shafter, California 1881-84, St Stephen’s, [McKeesport] Pennsylvania 84 to 97 and St Paul’s Bakersfield California 1997 to 2007. Bishop Mark is widely known for being a dedicated pastor-teacher. He served as a deputy to the General Conventions of 2003 and 2006 and he has published articles on devotional and ecclesial concerns in various different periodicals. Bishop Mark was consecrated the fourteenth bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina on the 26th January 2008, and just to bring him down to earth as well, like many of us he enjoys reading on various subjects. He likes outdoor activities ”“ hiking, back-packing, canoeing, fishing and jogging.

Bishop John Guernsey was born in St Louis, Missouri and now lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, and his wife, the Reverend Meg Phillips Guernsey is with us this evening and we welcome you as well. They have two married children. Bishop Guernsey is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bishop Guernsey served as the Associate Rector for Christchurch in Alexandria, Virginia from 1978 to 1981 and was called to be Rector of All Saints Church, Dale City, Virginia, a position he then held for 29 years, and during that time from 1982 to 1993 he also served as an Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology in the area of Stewardship at the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary of Virginia.

In 2007 he was consecrated as the Bishop for Congregations in America under the Church of Uganda, and he became Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit in the Anglican Church of North America in 2009 shortly after that was formed, following the GAFCON Conference in 2008. He serves as a volunteer in many ways on a number of different ACNA committees. He also serves as Chairman of the board of SOMA [Sharing of Ministries Abroad] USA and he has served as the Dean of the Mid-Atlantic Convocation of the Anglican Communion Network 2004 to 2009 and on a number of other committees and agencies.

So we have two very distinguished bishops with us this evening. We are most grateful for you giving up ”“ it is the one free night they have at the FCA Conference this week ”“ and they have given up that night to be with us, so thank you both very much indeed. Bishop Mark will speak to us first in a moment and Bishop John after that. But before they do I am just going to hand over to Julian Henderson who has a message to bring.

Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking:
Thank you Stephen – just simply to add a welcome not just from the Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship, but from the Diocese of Guildford and Bishop Christopher knows that this gathering is happening and has asked that these words be read out as a form of his welcome to both of you here in the Diocese this evening:

”˜I hope the evening at Claygate on the 25th with Bishops Mark and John goes well. I wonder if you would be kind enough to give my greetings to the assembled gathering as the host church. You may add if you wish that it is my intuition and prayerful hope that in the long term there can be some restoration of relationship between the two streams of Anglicanism in the United States such that the rifts within the whole Anglican Communion may also at least in part be healed.’

So he sends his greeting and his welcome to you and he is delighted that this meeting here tonight is happening and I think I have been asked to pray for our two bishops. Let us pray.

God our Father, we thank you for the opportunity of meeting here this evening. We thank you again for Bishops John and Mark and their willingness to be with us. We pray that you will help them as they now come to speak to us and inform us. We pray that it will be a useful meeting for us as we listen and learn and we pray that you would help us to hear your voice and what it is that you are saying to us in this country through the experience of our colleagues across the water. And so we pray, Father, for your blessing on this evening’s gathering, that it may be for your glory and the extending of your kingdom for Christ’s sake we pray. Amen.

6 mins, 45 seconds in
Bishop Lawrence
Stephen mentioned that we gave up the only free evening. I don’t think I have given up anything. It is a delight to be here with you tonight and to talk a little bit about the challenges that we face in the Diocese of South Carolina, and thank you for your interest.

When I meet with our various deaneries to talk about the various challenges and things coming up recently in our various conventions and special conventions I’ve said: you know I have to thank you first off tonight because you have given up an evening, and evenings are precious things. And most people go to church, at least the last time I checked, to be comforted, to be strengthened and to be encouraged, and to walk into these muddy waters of church conflict and struggle are anything but comforting, encouraging and strengthening. So the fact that you are willing to engage these things, especially for those of us who are Anglicans on the other side of the Atlantic, thank you, and I am sure I am speaking for Bishop John as well.

How to talk about these things in 20 minutes? Let me say first that I received a letter recently from an editor inviting me to write an article for a publication and it said in the letter: ”˜As you are aware, Anglicans in our age are facing a unique set of problems, and there are an array of responses that North American Anglicans are making, and we are wondering if you would be willing to make a contribution to that. We do ask that it be positively written, emphasising what can be done rather than just what cannot be done.

A Unique Set of Problems ”“ well let’s go quickly through them:

Anglicanism, Episcopalianism, that I received so many decades ago, the way I’ve described it has been dominated in the Episcopal Church by what I’ve called an ”˜Indiscriminate Inclusivity’, that like Kudsu on an old growth forest [Kudzu is a plant from Africa that has taken root in many parts of the American South] and since there is no natural enemy or hindrance to it, it just goes rampant and it will cover entire forests. And the first time I came to South Carolina as a Californian and driving down the highway you’d see these vines covering the trees and I thought ”˜well that’s lovely’ you know, because in California it is more desert, arid. So the lush green looked gorgeous. What I didn’t know is the Kudzu is killing the tree upon which it had climbed and gutting it of all life] ”“ and so I’ve described this gospel, a false gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusivity, not that we don’t want to be inclusive of all people, but we can include certain things indiscriminately that can begin to destroy the church from within. And so I have described it as Kudzu in an old-growth forest that has decked The Episcopal Church with decorative destruction.

And one of the key dimensions of that, besides what we would call ”˜Communion of the Unbaptised’ would be just one indiscriminate inclusivity. But another would be to fully embrace what Helmut Thielicke once called ”˜Individual Eros.’ Individual Eros – he didn’t mean just our sexual expression, but how we understand ourselves sexually, and he began to see as he wrote in the 1970s and 80s that people were beginning to define how they, by their own choice how they went about expressing their eros, their whole sense of romance, sexuality, behaviour. But Individual Eros has gone now to the point of not just how I express my sexuality, but what my sexuality is, and we now have the capacity don’t we, because of medical developments in technology to even change our sexuality, so that we are at a place where we can choose whether we be male or female, how we engage that, how we understand that, everything about sexuality is now individualised; and it can be radically reinterpreted, reapplied, lived out and changed.

Then there is this tearing of the fabric of the Anglican Communion that recent decisions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada has brought about, which I assume that most of you at least know something. And then the fracturing within Anglicanism in North America, and the recent law suits, parallel jurisdictions, provinces that have emerged.

And then there is the reshaping and revision of the polity of The Episcopal Church, in some cases in order to win litigation and law suits, so that the polity of the church is being revised, reinterpreted and transformed for the sake of an agenda of control over things like property.

And then there is the radical decline within The Episcopal Church in terms of numbers. I don’t have time to go into all of those things; but that is just a quick thumbnail sketch of the overarching challenges that we face within North American Anglicanism.

Now let me talk briefly about the context of the Diocese of South Carolina and the complexity of that; and then what I see as our calling or vocation; and then finally our challenges.

When I became Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina in 2008, I inherited a strongly evangelical orthodox diocese, that most people on the outside assumed was almost monolithic in its approach to the Christian Faith as Anglicans or Episcopalians. But as I began to drive around the diocese, I began to see that it was a bit more diverse than that, especially in terms of how we are understanding the current challenges which I outlined to you just ever so briefly, and along with that is how we should respond to them. So, about a year into the whole task of being a bishop, and I had visited every parish and made a visitation at all the parishes of the diocese, often doing that by visiting two or three on a Sunday, or in the middle of the week ”“ and I developed what I would call a taxonomy or typology for the Diocese of South Carolina. You may recognise some of these characteristics in your parishes or congregations:

There were the Number Ones who were in lockstep with the decisions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church for the last 20 years, completely on board with what I would call this ”˜gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusivity’ and wherever The Episcopal Church goes in its decisions, they will gladly go, even enthusiastically go. They are not merely following it, some are even leading the charge – very few actually in South Carolina leading the charge. But that group, what I call the Number Ones, make up 10 per cent of the diocese.

Then there are the Number Twos, I call them ”˜St Swithun’s by the Swamp’, and St Swithun’s by the Swamp just want to do what they have done at St Swithun’s for two or three hundred years. My job as bishop is to keep all the problems of the national church away from them, and all the problems of the diocese away from them, and if I need to show up once a year for a confirmation, a visitation, that’s fine, but ”˜bishop here’s the reception, and there’s your car, have a pleasant journey back to Charleston’.

They just want to be St Swithun’s and they are convinced that these things that I am talking about aren’t going to happen, in South Carolina. God-willing on my watch, I trust they won’t, but as I said the culture is bringing it all to a neighbourhood near you, so you need to awaken and engage the challenge culturally if not ecclesiologically. But those are the Number Twos ”“ they make up about 30 to 35 percent of the diocese of South Carolina.

Then there were the Number Threes, I call them ”˜St Mary’s by the Marsh’. They keep up with what is going on, not every day, but they will visit the blogs at least once a week. They really become involved when there is some controversy. They know there’s problems out there, they know they are opposed to them. They make sure that it is not going to happen in their parish: ”˜There may be a day that we cross the Rubicon and we have to leave The Episcopal Church, but it hasn’t happened yet’. Every General Convention, as it approaches, and there is one this Summer in 2012 in July – it may be a rattling of the cages but by and large ”“ they make up 35 percent of the Diocese of South Carolina: ”˜There may be a time we have to leave but it hasn’t yet happened’.

Then there are the Number Fours. They have had two questions of me from the time I landed in South Carolina. The first question is: ”˜Are we leaving, or are we going?’ [laughter], and the second is like unto it: ”˜When?’ And they are some of our strongest, most innovative, and evangelistic parishes.

So that was the Diocese of South Carolina. And so the Number Threes and the Number Fours were all focused on this question: ”˜Are we leaving or not?’ and I told you the Number Fours were not ”˜Are we leaving or not?’ but ”˜When?’ and ”˜Are we leaving or going?’ And then the Number Twos were concerned about that because they just want to be who they are and they are afraid of something that might disrupt. And the Number Ones, 10 per cent of the diocese, they are concerned about that because they are enthusiastically Episcopalian whatever that means and wherever that goes.

So, As I began to look at that I thought: you know, you know the problem with this is we are paralysed by a decision. And the problem with a decision is a decision is not a vision. You can make a decision about leaving or staying and still not have a vision for who you are and what you are to be about!

And it just so happened my first year as a bishop I ended up going to Lambeth 2008 and I also went to GAFCON, so I got a good exposure to the Communion. I came back thinking to myself what I had already suspected as a parish priest and that is that what is at stake in this current crisis in North America is not The Episcopal Church. Frankly the Episcopal Church could drop off the face of the earth and it would hardly be a blip on the radar screen of the kingdom of God. Well ”“ we are less than two million people, and on any given Sunday we are lucky if we have 600 thousand people in church. There are more Muslims in the United States than there are Episcopalians – far more Pentecostals of various different denominations than there are Episcopalians – we are hardly a blip on the radar screen of the kingdom of God in North America. But the Anglican Communion, ah now, now we are talking about 80 million Christians, the third largest body in Christendom.

As I began to think about this I thought what is at stake here is the Anglican Communion, and whatever we do in the Diocese of South Carolina, it is time that we begin to think as a diocese, not about what’s best for us, but what’s best for the larger Anglican world. And so ”˜Emerging Anglicanism’, that’s what had caught my imagination as to what we are to be about ”“ helping to shape that. And so as I began to look at that I thought you know, our vocation here in the 21st Century has to go beyond ourselves. As the Stanford Economist Paul Romer once said ”˜a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’ [laughter]. Sometimes I think we are wasting it as Anglicans. We are not grappling with what we need to be engaged with.

So, I wrote a vision statement for us. It went like this: We will help shape the future of Anglicanism in the 21st Century through mutually enriching missional relationships with dioceses and provinces of the Anglican Communion [biblical texts Romans 1:11 and 12, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15], and through modelling a responsible autonomy and inter-provincial accountability [Philippians 2:1-5 and Ephesians 4:1-6] for the sake of Jesus Christ, His Kingdom and His church.

Now the problem with that as a vision statement is ”“ you are never going to get most of the people in the diocese to even read it, let alone remember it. So I thought yup, boil it down to T-shirt size. You know I’m from California, you got to have it on a T-shirt. So the T-shirt version of that vision is:

”˜We are called to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.’

There’s no going back, even if you are St Swithun’s by the Swamp. There’s no going back to a non-global age. What happens in Rwanda is read about in Alaska. What happens in New Zealand is read about the next day in Egypt. You can’t even be a farmer without knowing what to plant because of who is going to be buying products and needing goods in various parts of the world. How in the world do we think we in the church can somehow or another begin to focus or continue to focus on our own little world, as if the rest of the globe is not important? Well I don’t need to tell you as English persons that. And so, our task was to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.

I need to tell you something by the way before I forget. When I say the Number Fours were asking are we leaving or are we going and when, it’s not because they are separatists. They really want to be Anglicans. You see no one goes into Episcopal or Anglican ministry because he or she wants a preaching station. They are there because they are committed to at very minimum, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: the importance of Holy Scriptures as the Word of God containing everything necessary for Salvation, point 1 of the Lambeth Quadrilateral. Number 2 is the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist with the words instituted by Christ. The historic Creeds as a sufficient statement of faith and the historic Episcopate locally adapted. And most of the Number Fours, if not all of the Number Fours, if they left would want to be reconnected, or connected or linked somehow or another with some Anglican body. We are not talking about separatists back in the time of Elizabeth or later. We are talking about people who want to be Anglicans. But it has become for them such a profound compromise with this, what I have called a false gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusivity, that they feel like it is hindering their mission.

So, that was the context, if you will, within the Diocese of South Carolina. That is our mission to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. So we have formed relationships with Egypt, North Africa, Horn of Africa, the Sudan, Uganda, Ireland [Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh], various dioceses in England, the province of Tanzania, Turkey, we have Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali as the visiting bishop of Anglican Communion relationships, connected with Burundi, Uganda. We have connections all over the Anglican world because you see, we are so isolated as a diocese that if we are going to model a legitimate, authentic, responsible autonomy we better be in relationship with other places around the world who can keep us authentic and true to our calling.

So, I said that we would quickly look at the context of South Carolina, our calling to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. The challenge is that while we are struggling with these, what I would call theological and moral issues of a false gospel as I understand it, we also have a church which is changing its polity, as I said in some cases, at least from my perspective [others would give you a different take], in order – You know when an institution begins to decline it seeks greater and ever greater control over what remains. It doesn’t realise that that is the wrong thing it needs to do. And so one of the things that happened at General Convention 2009 is that we changed what is called the Title IV canons – the disciplinary canons of The Episcopal Church. They expanded the charges that a priest could be brought up on. They expanded the power of the bishop over a priest to pursue charges and in one reading of it, in our reading of it within the diocese, it removed the priest’s ”“ what’s the word I want ”“ rights for due process.

And along with that, as it expanded the powers of the Presiding Bishop over a Diocesan Bishop, essentially granting the Presiding Bishop metropolitan powers, the same powers that a bishop has over his or her diocese, the Presiding Bishop through this disciplinary canon, now has that power over a sitting bishop. That is contrary to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church, so we as a diocese looked at that and said we are not embracing that canon, because the Constitution takes precedence over the canons of the church and it is an unconstitutional canon that has been constructed, that has been approved and we are not going down that road. That happened in 2009.

I don’t have time to go into all these things but let me briefly say another thing that happened in the Fall of 2009 – there was a Court Ruling. My predecessor had a parish that chose to leave, some 10 years before I arrived on the scene in South Carolina, that formed what is called the Anglican Mission in America. Some of you may have heard of the Anglican Mission in America. That mission that broke away from The Episcopal Church, its headquarters are located in the Diocese of South Carolina. They sued the Diocese of South Carolina. We counter-sued. The Episcopal Church nationally entered into the lawsuit and that went on for some eight to nine years, and in the Fall of 2009 the Supreme Court of the State of South Carolina ruled in favour of the departing parish. It is probably, if not the only, one of the most clearest rulings of any Supreme Court ”“ it went contrary to what is the case every place else in the United States.

So suddenly, we have a landscape in South Carolina where parishes believe and rectors believe they can leave the diocese at any time, take their property with them. Suddenly how do I hold the Number Fours together? How do I keep them intact? Well it can no longer be by coercion, by manipulation or fear. There is only one thing that can hold us together, and that is a common commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a common vision of what we are called to do.

Most of the diocese held firmly to that. Our largest congregation came to the conclusion that to continue with The Episcopal Church was going to hinder their proclamation of the Gospel and they felt conscience-bound to leave at that time, or to begin a process to leave at that time. It is not that they wanted to leave the Diocese of South Carolina, they are quite comfortable with that, but to be labelled with The Episcopal Church was hindering their mission.

So when noises began on that front, the Presiding Bishop hired an attorney in the Diocese of South Carolina, who presented himself as ”˜Counsel for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’. I said, wait a minute, according to our polity we are The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. I am the only one that has juridical or jurisdictional authority here. She has not spoken to me. She has not asked for my permission, and there is no constitutional or canonical authority that the Presiding Bishop has to hire an attorney to investigate me and the Diocese or South Carolina. We called a Special Convention; told the Presiding Bishop to remove the attorney. I have never received any notice from her ”“ it is four years later.

That brought us into a cold war with the national church, and in a cold war the difficulty is everything you do to protect yourself in a cold war, can be interpreted by the person on the opposite side of the cold war as an act of aggression. That goes for me towards them and them towards me and so we have lived with that for three years now.

I need to conclude because our time is all but up, mine is already past. In the Fall of last year, I was informed that there were 12 allegations brought against me that I had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. And after 2 or 3 months, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops came back and said, there is not enough evidence – I think that is the simplest way to put it ”“ that I have abandoned the communion and so I will not be brought up on charges. They will not go forward to become actual charges, they will just be removed.

But one of the things I have continued to seek to do, is to not see the Anglican Church in North America as our enemy – that if we can bless a priest, a deacon, a congregation within the Anglican Church n North America, we would seek to do that – so that when St Andrew’s Mount Pleasant, our largest parish left, we brought no lawsuit against them – challenges when allegations were brought against me that I did not sue them or practice litigation. And so we look for opportunities that we can be of assistance to them and pray that they look for opportunities to be a blessing to us. So in spite of the fact that many within The Episcopal Church see the Anglican Church in North America as the enemy, we are committed to see them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, many of them served right beside us in various councils of the Diocese of South Carolina, and in The Episcopal Church.

I am going to end there because I am over time. [Applause].

To 35 mins in

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

Poll: Religiously unaffiliated less likely to vote

The recent boom in religiously unaffiliated Americans may ultimately help explain the results of the upcoming 2012 presidential election, according to a new poll that shows such voters lean heavily toward President Obama but are less likely than the religiously affiliated to turn out.

Nearly one-quarter of likely Obama supporters say they have have no particular religion ”” a group less likely to vote than those affiliated with an organized religion, according to a poll released Monday by the Public Religion Research Institute. Sixty-one percent of unaffiliated Americans said they are certain to cast a ballot, compared with 73 percent of Americans who are religiously affiliated.

The poll, one of a slew being released in the days before the election, focuses on the overlap ”” and sometimes contradiction ”” of a person’s faith identity and their views on newsy topics from religious freedom to abortion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Woodham Ferrers Bicknacre Parish Vicar Recruitment Video

Watch it all, really a lot of fun.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

World's Oldest Survivor of Auschwitz Dies at 108

n official says the oldest known former prisoner of the Auschwitz death camp has died in Poland at the age of 108.

Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum, says Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday in the northwestern town of Debno.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Germany, History, Poland

Philip North Appointed to be the new Bishop of Whitby

The Revd Philip North said, “I am excited and humbled to have been appointed as Bishop of Whitby and will do my best to serve the people of the Cleveland Archdeaconry and the Diocese of York. The North East of England is very dear to my heart, having been a vicar there for many years, and it’s great to be coming back. I’m looking forward to meeting people and helping churches make the Gospel known in their communities.

“Whilst I will be sad to leave Parish life behind, I relish the opportunity to return to the north of England and to the diversity of the Cleveland Archdeaconry, from inner city to rural life, from market towns to fishing villages. As a keen walker and cyclist I look forward to being close to the Cleveland Hills and North York Moors. I also used to play cricket for the Diocese of Durham and was often on the wrong end of a hefty thumping from the Diocese of York. It would be good to think that I might have the opportunity to be on the winning side!”

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

Local Paper front Page–Episcopalians on both sides of the schism feeling the pain

The fact that the break has been coming for a long time doesn’t make it any less painful, [Saint Michael’s rector]… said.

“For many years there has been a split coming in the Episcopal Church over the core issue of the authority of Scripture,” Zadig read. “Do we have the freedom to rewrite the Bible to fit social trends, or do we rewrite our hearts according to the changeless word of God in Scripture? ”¦ The National Episcopal Church is changing Scripture according to social norms and in doing so has changed the core of the Christian faith.”

[Grace Episcopal Church rector Michael] Wright said the Episcopal Church has always welcomed diverse opinions, and the issue was disregarding church law.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

John Stott on how opposition to Christian truth unfolds

”¦[The] opposition”¦ [to the Christian gospel in the Book of Acts follows an]”¦ order of events that has often been repeated [throughout history]. At first there is serious theological debate. When this fails, people start a personal campaign of lies. Finally, they resort to legal or quasi-legal action in an attempt to rid themselves of their adversary by force.

The Message of Acts: The Spirit, The Church and the World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990), p.127

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

New bishop of Anglicans in Singapore installed

In a ceremony steeped in tradition, the Anglican Church here received a new head when the Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah was installed as its new bishop on Saturday night.

The almost three-hour-long service at St Andrew’s Cathedral was attended by more than 2,500 people, including dignitaries, politicians, leaders of other Christian denominations and Anglican clergy from all over the world.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

(Washington Post) CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say

The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.

The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots, officials said.

If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Terrorism, The U.S. Government

Episcopal Church Hits Bottom, Keeps Digging–Robert Munday on South Carolina Developments

Wander into any of Charleston’s downtown parishes on a Sunday morning and you will hear some of the finest Anglican choral music on either side of the Atlantic. The Bishop of London, preaching at last year’s Mere Anglicanism conference, at St. Phillip’s Church in Charleston, praised the choir for one of the finest renditions of Sir Hubert Parry’s “I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me” that he (or I, for that matter) had ever heard. (If you aren’t familiar with that piece, you can listen to it here, although you will have to settle for the choir of Westminster Abbey performing it at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.)

More importantly, if you visit most of the Diocese of South Carolina’s parishes on a Sunday you will hear the Word of God exposited faithfully and well. And therein lies the problem, at least as far as the Episcopal Church is concerned. Anglicans/Episcopalians in South Carolina want the Word of God preached whole and entire, and unadulterated (no pun intended). Consequently, they aren’t on board with some of the new things the Episcopal Church has been promoting lately. As the Episcopal Church’s departure from biblical and historic Christian belief and practice has increased, the Diocese has sought to differentiate itself from the innovations of the Episcopal Church, while still remaining in it.

But it appears that some local malcontents, in concert with the Episcopal Church’s leadership, decided that they were tired of the Diocese of South Carolina not getting with the program; all of which led to this week’s news

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Nigerian soldiers 'killed by Boko Haram' in Potiskum

Several Nigerian soldiers have been killed by suspected Islamist militants in the north-eastern town of Potiskum, an army source has told the BBC.

The town has seen days of violence, with 31 reported killed and hundreds of residents fleeing since Thursday.

Meanwhile, China has a diplomatic protest against the killing of a Chinese construction worker in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Violence

New dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in Oklahoma City rejoices in life outside the 'bubble'

Justin Lindstrom said his father told the class that he knelt in front of the bed where his tiny boy lay covered with a large plastic, tentlike bubble. He and his wife, Jeanne, couldn’t even touch the child without placing their hands in gloves that enabled them to grasp him inside the bubble that insulated the weakened boy from disease.

Joel Lindstrom told the class he simply prayed: “Lord God, if you save my son, I will make sure he becomes a minister in your church, and I will also.”

Joel Lindstrom told his son and the other seminarians that the machine was unplugged the next day, but something happened that even the doctors couldn’t explain. His little son began breathing on his own.

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

(One News Now) Bible-believing South Carolina Episcopal Bishop Penalized

“I think the Episcopal Church has really shot itself in the foot by doing this,” …IRD spokesman [Jeff Walton] comments. “They’re losing one of their larger, more vibrant dioceses. Indeed this diocese is one of the few that’s posted growth in recent years, and there is just nothing that the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church is really gaining by effectively forcing this diocese out the door.”

Walton does not believe the national office wants to tolerate the type of public dissent displayed by South Carolina.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Data, TEC Polity & Canons

Top 10 Twitter Pictures of the Week

Check them out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Media

”˜Distilled Spirits’ traces birth of New Age spirituality

Gerald Heard is the most influential religious thinker you’ve never heard of.

Without Heard, some of the major spiritual developments of 20th-century America — the introduction of Eastern mysticism, the development of the human potential movement and the spiritual use of psychedelic drugs — might never have happened. And at least one skeptical California newspaperman named Don Lattin might never have sobered up, stopped using, and found a measure of serenity and faith.

All bear the fingerprints of Heard, who has been called “the godfather of New Age” — an Englishman born at the end of the Victorian era who migrated to California and died here in relative obscurity.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

What one South Carolina Rector is Doing in Adult Education Right Now–What does it mean to die well?

Jim Eliot, missionary in South America, wrote years ago in his journal: “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

What does it mean for us to die well? What would you need to do? What needs to happen? Are you prepared for heart-stop day? I want to offer a time”“in Adult Class on Sunday mornings”“to explore that question and fix our hearts on being prepared for the life which awaits us who know Christ, and not as a stranger….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, O Lord, so to enter on the service of our Christian warfare, that, putting on the whole armour of God, we may endure hardness and fight against the spiritual powers of darkness, and be more than conquerors through him that loved us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

–Luke 9:51-62

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

French President Hollande Proposes Banning Homework

Talk about courting the youth vote. French President François Hollande has proposed banning homework as part of a series of policies designed to reform the French educational system.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said in a speech at Paris’s Sorbonne University. “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home.”

The justification for this proposed ban? Inequality….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Children, Economy, Education, Europe, France, Personal Finance, Politics in General

Will Willimon on Lamin Sanneh's experience after his Conversion

[Lamin] Sanneh acknowledges a debt to the missionary schools that unintentionally introduced him to a desiccated version of Christian faith, and he tells how as an earnest young man he wandered from pastor to pastor, desperately seeking baptism, only to be deflected by missionaries who had compromised mission in their uneasy accommodation to Islamic culture. The story would almost be humorous if it were not so sad. Yet even the account of the missionaries’ rebuff is less painful to read than the account of what he received at the hands of liberal, mainline North American pastors who had long before enmeshed themselves in their culture by reducing their ministry to caregiving rather than conversion. As for many frustrated would-be converts in our age, it was easier for Sanneh to find Christ than for him to find Christian community. Eventually he became a Catholic while at Yale.

–Will Willimon in a review of Lamin Sanneh’s new Summoned From the Margin (Eerdmans, 2012), Christian Century, the October 17th, 2012 issue, page 53 (emphasis mine)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Books, Disciples of Christ, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Methodist, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, United Church of Christ

(New Yorker) James Wood–God Talk: The Book of Common Prayer at three hundred and fifty

The Book of Common Prayer was born of a time of “War and Tumults.” In Europe, a powerful anti-Catholic movement had found its boldest leader in Martin Luther, who excoriated the Church in his Ninety-five Theses (1517-18). Luther attacked the Church’s practice of apparently offering salvation (or, at least, partial remission from sins) through the sale of indulgences. Luther came to believe that absolution and salvation were not in the power of the Church but were freely bestowed as gifts by God. The sinner is justified””redeemed from sin, made righteous””by faith alone in God, not by doing good works or by buying ecclesiastical favors. Along with this emphasis on faith went a necessary stress on the sinful helplessness of man, and on our spiritual fate as predestined by God (since we cannot earn our own redemption). Luther and his fellow-reformer John Calvin appealed to the Church fathers as theological sponsors. Both Paul and Augustine, after all, were preoccupied by the narrative of our original sin, and Augustine had argued that God’s grace was bestowed, not earned. The Catholic Church struggled internally after the Reformation with the problem of “double predestination”””the idea that God has already decided who will be in the elect and who will be damned.

Pope Leo X could not see the Catholicism in Luther’s Protestantism: he excommunicated the insurgent in 1521, sealing a schism that Luther had probably not desired. In the next twenty years, Lutheranism became a German church; Calvin established a kind of Protestant theocracy in the city-state of Geneva; Protestantism spread to France, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Scandinavia; and the Catholic Church in England severed its ties with Rome. Thomas Cranmer was at the middle of this revolution. Henry VIII had used him in 1527 on diplomatic business, as one of the theologians tasked with arguing the rectitude of the King’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Henry, who made him Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533, was probably less of a reformer than Cranmer: he wanted the Pope out of his business, but saw himself as “Defender of the Faith,” a faith still essentially that of English Catholicism. (The British monarch is to this day the “Defender of the Faith.”)

Only when Henry was succeeded by Edward VI, in 1547, could the reform that Cranmer wanted truly proceed. Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was revised in 1552, three years after its publication, in order to intensify the Protestantism of its theology….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Five are still in the running on the long road to Canterbury

The secretive committee responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury is to meet for an unprecedented fourth time in the next few days in an attempt to break the deadlock over who succeeds Rowan Williams.The Times understands that as many as five senior bishops may still be in the running for the top job and that the favourite, the Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev Justin Welby, might have peaked too early.

The present Church leadership is pushing for a decision before the end of the month, to be announced in early November, because of the coming vote on women bishops at the General Synod next month.

The two-thirds majority needed for women bishops hangs by a thread and the choice of the next Archbishop is seen as crucial in getting that through….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture