Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nomination of Lesbian for Bishop Adds Fuel to Episcopal, Anglican Row

[The Christian Post] 30 Aug 2007--The Episcopal Church has stoked further controversy amid the ongoing Anglican debate over homosexuality in the Church with the nomination of an openly lesbian priest for bishop.

Episcopalians in My Backyard

[Stand Firm] 30 Aug 2007--James M. Kushiner at Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments blog....

Diocese of Northern California Publishes Response to “Communion Matters”

[Stand Firm] 30 Aug 2007--Bishop Beisner sums it up (link in PDF format)....

Legal Briefs in New Orleans

{Still On Patrol] 30 Aug 2007-- , has reported on an e-mail sent by Lexington (KY) Bishop Stacy Sauls to some 90 Bishops requesting information on parishes which "claim" to be within the oversight of Anglican Communion Bishops other than TEC Bishops. +Sauls further defines his request: "This would include AMiA, CANA, Uganda, Kenya, Bolivia, the Southern Cone, etc. but not so-called Continuing Churches. We would like to have this information as complete as possible before our September meeting." A commenter to this post estimates that the total may be as many as 150 parishes or more, hence the reason for this inquiry, i.e., to get a clear handle on the scope of existing defections.

US Anglicans consecrated in Kenya

[BBC News] 30 Aug 2007--Kenya's Anglican Church has consecrated two US bishops in a move likely to deepen a bitter row over homosexuality. Bill Murdoch, of Massachusetts, and Bill Atwood, of Texas, will be answerable to the Kenyan Church, although they will serve in the US. They left the US branch of the Anglican Church - the Episcopal Church - after it consecrated an openly gay bishop. There are growing tensions within the Anglican denomination around the world, mainly over the issue of homosexuality.

Related articles:
US priests getting ordained in Kenya say American church has lost its way - International Herald Tribune
US congregations defect to Africa as schism over gay priests widens - Times Online
Report on Kenyan Consecrations - Stand Firm
Kenya: Church to Ordain American Bishops Couple -

Anglicans lack structure to solve gay row - prelate

[Reuters] 30 Aug 2007--The worldwide Anglican Communion lacks the structures needed to end its current impasse over homosexuality, a conservative prelate opposed to gay clergy and same-sex marriages said in Kenya on Wednesday.

Bishop Sauls: 'Nothing Secret' About List of Congregations

[The Living Church] 30 Aug 2007--The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, has written to all diocesan bishops asking for their assistance in compiling a comprehensive list of congregations which claim oversight from an overseas Anglican bishop and are located within the geographic territory claimed by The Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mission in North America Today

[VirtueOnline] 29 Aug 2007--Let me begin with a disclaimer. I have been working in the US for rather less than 2 years, since I left the staff at Wycliffe. For the vast majority of that time I have been pastoring a start-up Anglican church in Raleigh, which has now grown to some 300 a Sunday.

Timothy Matkin is Ready for the Prayer Book Revision

[Stand Firm] 29 Aug 2007--Not sure if there will be room for them next to the gay marriage liturgy or the Millennium Development Goals Eucharist, but it's always good to have your proposals ready ahead of time. Here are just a couple of his suggestions:

A Second Open Letter to the Excecutive Council of The Episcopal Church

[American Anglican Council] 29 Aug 2007--Last month, four of us wrote you to express our concern with your threats of litigation against four dioceses that affirmed their membership in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and to ask you to make a public report of the following:

Mark Harris Gets Squeamish; Peter Ould Mans Up

[Stand Firm] 29 Aug 2007--Of the insights I've gained over the past few years about this conflict between orthodox and liberal theology, I believe one of the most important is a glimpse into why it is that so many liberals recoil at the crucifixion, and do all sorts of logical and semantic gymnastics in an attempt to distance themselves from it. I think it comes from two realizations: One, to admit that they are dependent on someone else's sacrifice is to admit that they are powerless to help themselves. This doesn't jibe with the post-modernist thought that undergirds their worldview, and threatens the arrangements they have with their egos and intellects. Two, it reminds them that they are not made of the stuff that would make such a sacrifice. We are not all Latimers and Ridleys and Cranmers, much less Christs, but there are among us those who could make sacrifices that require great courage, and by and large they are not found among those who reject the utility of the sacrifice, or the plain fact of a world in which its utility is needed. A bloody cross is at once a beautiful but very ugly thing, and there are broadly two types of people: Those who can gaze upon it, and those who must avert their eyes.

+Sauls Enlists Bishops’ Help Compiling List of Parishes under Foreign Oversight

[Stand Firm] 29 Aug 2007--In an email addressed to 90 bishops in the Episcopal church, bishop of Lexington Stacey Sauls instructed them to send him a list of churches under foreign oversight and information about their property, in advance of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans in Septmber.

English General Synod members send congratulations on African consecrations

[Anglican Mainstream] 29 Aug 2007--The following 31 members of General Synod send their greetings to Bishops-elect Atwood and Murdoch in Kenya, and Guernsey in Uganda, and to the Houses of Bishops in the Anglican Church of Kenya and the Church of Uganda....

Lesbian priest makes list for Chicago bishop,1,1017691.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

[Chicago Tribune] 29 Aug 2007--Though global Anglican leaders have urged the U.S. church to unequivocally exclude gay bishops by next month, an openly lesbian Episcopal priest is among the five nominees for bishop of the Chicago diocese announced Tuesday.

Related articles:
Integrity Responds to List of Candidates for Bishop of Chicago - TitusOneNine
Outrage as US Episcopal Church Nominates Lesbian for Bishop - Christianity Today UK

Fr. Timothy Fountain - Stay or Go?

[North Plains Anglicans] 29 Aug 2007--January 23rd will be my twentieth anniversary as a priest. When it comes to questions about staying in TEC or getting out, the blogs are full of commentary by folks I respect and upon whose ideas I can’t improve. What I offer here is a bit of personal perspective. As will become clear, I don’t have the final answer, but I hope my thoughts will be useful to others who are grappling with a decision, and especially to lay people who are praying and talking with their conflicted clergy.

San Joaquin Pushes Back Convention to December

[The Living Church] 29 Aug 2007--The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin, has exercised his right under the canons to reschedule the date of the annual convention. The new date is Dec. 7-8 at St. James’ Cathedral in Fresno, Calif. The convention originally had been planned for October.

Lost Opportunity

[The Living Church] 29 Aug 2007--In late June, the official papers were signed, and the Cathedral of Christ the King, former center of the Diocese of Western Michigan, was sold to the Kalamazoo Valley Family Church for some $2 million. The sale and relinquishing of the cathedral represents a great failure on the part of the diocese to live into a strategy for the mission and ministry of Christ in Western Michigan.

Leadership Team Resigns at Colorado Parish

[The Living Church] 29 Aug 2007--The rector, vestry and most of the leadership at Church of the Holy Comforter, Broomfield, Colo., have announced their intention to resign from The Episcopal Church, effective Oct. 1.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gay U.S. bishop says hurt by African critics

[Reuters] 28 Aug 2007--Gay American bishop Gene Robinson on Tuesday compared the stance of some senior African members of the Anglican Church, who have accused homosexuals of bestiality, with that of American racists and slavers in years gone by.

Akinola: Anglicans must not sacrifice Bible for unity

[The Boston Globe] 28 Aug 2007--Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, a leader of Bible traditionalists in the Anglican world, says the "the moment of decision is almost upon us" about whether Anglican conservatives and liberals can stay together.

Love is the Issue, Not Sex

[Washington Post] 28 Aug 2007--The concept of "don't ask don't tell," has been a painful failure for the U.S. military and has no place in the Episcopal Church.

Three Irrelevant Arguments in Favor of Homosexual Behavior

[Stand Firm] 28 Aug 2007--It is quite inconsistent for the Episcopal Church on the one hand to proclaim, with trumpets blaring on street corners, her generosity in almsgiving, her love for the poor and downtrodden, her care for the bodies of those without food and medicine, and, on the other hand, to declare that the body does not matter. It is true that Christians are called to vigorous social action that involves self-sacrifice, service, and generosity toward those without proper food, water, shelter, sanitation, and health-care. We are called to this because Christianity is an enfleshed faith. God loves and cares for our bodies and will, at the resurrection, redeem them from death. But it is precisely for this reason that the use of our bodies sexually matters.

Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream sends congratulations to ACK

[Anglican Mainstream] 28 Aug 2007--On behalf of Anglican Mainstream in the Diocese of Chelmsford, we send our best wishes to yourself and to the Revds Bill Murdoch and Bill Atwood on the occasion of their consecration as Bishops of the Anglican Church in Kenya.

Now hear this: Gene Robinson and the voice of God

[The Ugley Vicar] 28 Aug 2007--Having just listened to Gene Robinson being interviewed on Radio 4, I am struck by the fact that the division in the Anglican Communion over sexuality is, at heart, very simple.

Related article:
Gene Robinson to be interviewed on BBC Radio 4 - Anglican Mainstream

In Colorado The Church of the Holy Comforter Announces Resignation of Church Leadership

[TitusOneNine] 28 Aug 2007--The Church of the Holy Comforter today announced the resignation of its leader, The Reverend Dr. Charles Reeder and his departure from The Episcopal Church effective October 1, 2007. Holy Comforter also announces that Vestry, the Children’s Minister, Youth Minister and Treasurer will resign and follow Father Reeder’s move within the greater worldwide Anglican Communion Network (ACN).

Paul Zahl

[Anglican Eucharistic Theology] 28 Aug 2007--Paul Zahl, an Evangelical Anglican in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, in his book entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism, published in 1998, sets out “to restore the image within the Anglican tradition, indeed within the larger Christian Church, of the Protestant legacy of faith” (Zahl, 1998: 2). He suggests that within Anglicanism there are two different faces – one he terms “Catholic and Apostolic” and the other “Reformed and Protestant” (Zahl, 1998: 2). Zahl suggests that each face has been prominent within Anglicanism, with the visibility of each face being more prominent at certain times. He argues, for example that the Reformed and Protestant face was more prominent in the eighteenth century, while the Catholic and Apostolic face was more prominent in the second half of the nineteenth century. Indeed Zahl argues that there has been an historic tension between the two faces of Anglicanism, but that in more recent times there has been an attempt to form a balance rather than a tension between these two faces, a synthesis rather than an antithesis. He describes this balance as a “reformed Catholicism” and a “catholic Evangelicalism”, such that, “either it is a tension between two contrasting views of Christianity, one Catholic and one Protestant; or it is union of opposites” (Zahl, 1998: 3). This is an interesting view since it argues that opposite views have in some way come into union in a third face, that of a deliberate ambiguity that attempts to reflect the world (in this case the Anglican world) as it really is (Zahl, 1998: 4). Zahl rejects such a view on the argument that “it tends to elevate aspects of Christianity that are of secondary importance in responding to the problem of being human” (Zahl, 1998: 4). By this Zahl means that the third face argument elevates aspects such as Anglican ‘distinctives’ in worship and liturgy, sacred time and space, decency or orderliness and sources of religious authority, at the expense of what Zahl sees as more primary themes, such as atonement and grace, freedom versus bondage, and the question ‘Who is Jesus?’. It is Zahl’s view that “the third way sells short what we have to offer” (Zahl, 1998: 4). Zahl therefore rejects the idea of a third face of Anglicanism and returns to his theme of a tension between two divergent schools of thought within Christianity, although he acknowledges that the third face view is popular in the present day (Zahl, 1998: 6).

Monday, August 27, 2007

The 5th Article: Of the Holy Ghost (part 1)

[Stand Firm] 27 Aug 2007--It has become increasingly common both in mainline denominations and in some (not all) of the more radical charismatically inclined bodies to blame all sorts of odd practices and aberrant behaviors on the Holy Spirit. Apparently, the “Holy Spirit” has caused many to flop backwards onto the floor, rained gold dust from convention center ceilings, provided golden tooth fillings and called the various leaders of Trinity Broadcasting Network to amass great personal wealth so that through their “prosperity” they might show forth the glory of God. It seems that for all the contemporary talk of spiritual gifts (and there are indeed spiritual gifts) and spiritual power (which is real) and claims of being a spirit-filled this or a spirit filled that, the Holy Spirit has in truth been largely reduced to a religious euphemism for “what we want to do.”

The Dennis Canon

[VirtueOnline] 27 Aug 2007--Did the Dennis Canon pass the 1979 General Convention? This article lays out the facts and controversy surrounding the issue.

It is an unabridged version of a piece I submitted to The Living Church magazine. The details did not survive the editing, which is understandable, as this is an insider's inside story-one that would make no sense, nor spark interest outside of that small group who follow in detail the Episcopal Church's property wars.

Africa gives refuge to rebel U.S. Anglicans

[Reuters] 27 August 2007--Plans by African bishops to consecrate American colleagues will not deepen an Anglican rift over gay clergy but instead provide refuge to U.S. believers at odds with their liberal church, Kenya's archbishop said.

MY Dream Begins with the Word

[] 27 Aug 2007--Just think of the part played by the Bible in your own life. We learn at once of the fact that this is one world, created and owned by one God; we learn what it is to be human; we learn about marriage and work; we learn what pleases God; we learn about the redemption that God accomplished through Jesus; we learn how his death has saved us; we learn that history has a purpose and that Jesus will return to judge the world; we learn about the Holy Spirit and the church; we learn about the new heavens and the new earth. These are the great facts which give us our special worldview. How empty would be a world without them!

That Exasperating Nicene Creed

[Anglican Mainstream] 27 Aug 2007--The following quotation from Bishop Gene is on Ruth Gledhill’s blog, ‘Articles of Faith’, 27 July and relates to her shorter, more formal article, ‘Without gay priests Church would be lost claims Bishop Gene’, 27 July, the Times Online. Given the present heightened state of interest in the interplay of theology and sexuality for Anglicans around the globe, I found its omission rather odd, to be sure.

Gay Priests, Cowardly Bishops & the Church’s Survival

[Anglican Mainstream] 27 Aug 2007--From Ruth Gledhill, in a recent - 27 July - ‘Times’ article which some of my readers may have missed at the time (I did). If nothing else Gene is unafraid to call things as he sees them - his sincerity is obvious! - and does so quite freely, and in relation to more than one issue. I am quoting him here in relation to his comments on the large numbers of partnered gay priests and colluding but sadly (for Gene) cowardly bishops in the Church of England.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Selling Churches - When Getting Folks Into the Pews Fails, Selling The Property is Almost as Hard

[The Real Estate Bloggers] 25 Aug 2007--An interesting article in the AP discusses the difficulties in selling churches after the congregation declines or the demographics of an area change. The balance of getting the right price and having the buyer use the building for purposes that the church deems acceptable are a tough balance. In a younger day I went to the Limelight in Manhattan, a night club that was housed in an old church. Even in those days it was not the most comforting place to have a cocktail.

Now churches are fighting the battle of how to sell and who to sell to.

The building of St. Martin's in the Fields Episcopal Chuch in Mayfield, Kentucky has been for sale since 2005 when the church was closed and what was left of the congregation merged with the congregation of St. John's in Murray. From what I have been able to gather, St. Martin’s in the Fields was not able to replace the members who moved away or died. The location of the church is a poor one. It was built on a dead-end street in an older subdivision. Whoever located the church in the subdivision mistakenly assumed that the residents of the subdivision would attend the church since it was located near them. They did not consider how changes in the demographic make-up of the subdivision might effect the church. The dead-end street in the subdivision, isolating the church which might have fared better on a major artery, became a dead-end for the church.

Canadian Anglicans Still Tackling Same-Sex Blessings

[Christianity Today UK] 25 Aug 2007--Anglicans in Canada are in the midst of discussion to clarify recent decisions on same-sex unions that many have found confusing.

St. Luke's of the Mountains Anglican Church Wins Reprieve from Superior Court

[VirtueOnline] 25 Aug 2007--A parish, formerly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and now with the Province of Uganda, has successfully won its right to remain in their church buildings for the duration of their appeal to the Los Angeles Appellate Court for permanent title to the property.

Nigerian primate accused of beng a puppet of Western conservatives

[ekklesia] 25 Aug 2007--The war of words over sexuality and authority within world Anglicanism stepped up a notch today, with controversial Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola - who many believe wishes to take over from the Archbishop of Canterbury as the focal figure in the 77-million strong church - standing accused of having a major document written for him by Western conservatives.

Retraction and Apologies to the Rev. Dr. James Packer

[Stand Firm] 25 Aug 2007--Last week I posted an article purportedly written by Dr. James I Packer entitled: Anglicanism: Protestant or Catholic.

It was sent to me, with attribution, by two independent trustworthy sources.

It turns out that the article was not written by Dr. Packer. It has, apparently, been making the rounds for some time.

Dr. James I. Packer Disavows Recent Article

[Stand Firm] 25 Aug 2007--Just received this via email from a trusted third party....

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Fitzsimons Allison Responds to Sarah Hey (updated version)

[Stand Firm] 25 Aug 2007--Sarah Hey's critique seriously misrepresents Steve Noll's position when she claims he advocates leaving the Anglican Communion. The fact is that the Episcopal Church is in the process of leaving the Anglican Communion and has already departed in polity and doctrine. The Episcopal Church has been given a deadline of the 30th of September to repent. A score of Anglican primates have already declared themselves out of or in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. If the Archbishop of Canterbury sides with the Episcopal Church against the stated policy of the Windsor Report and against a majority of the primates and the Dar es Salaam agreement where will Sarah stand?

Church of Nigeria responds to Church Times article

[Anglican Mainstream] 25 Aug 2007--It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to. Is this in continuation of the ‘jamming’ of people opposing the agenda?

Software suggests Minns rewrote Akinola’s letter

[Anglican Mainstream] 25 Aug 2007--A bishop in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday.

Change of address, affiliation for West Newbury church

[Amesbury News] 25 Aug 2007--When All Saints Church of West Newbury moves into the former Sacred Heart Church building on Friend Street next month, it will be as a member of the Anglican Church of Kenya, not as an Episcopal Church.

A look back to 2006--Marilyn McCord Adams: A Shameless defense of a Liberal Church

[TitusOneNine] 25 Aug 2007--At least from the mid-twentieth century, traditional gender and sexual mores have been coming “unstuck” in Europe and North America. Legal and social prohibitions have been lifted--first against divorce, then divorce and remarriage; against extra-marital sexual activity and cohabitation; against birth control and abortion; against out-of-wedlock pregnancies; against homosexual activity and partnerships; against adoption by singles and homosexual couples. Reproductive technologies have opened the possibility of effective birth control, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood and other biological-clock extensions. In some places, public consensus is beginning to resettle and to take the form of positive legal provisions--no fault divorce laws with equal parental rights; legalized abortions; a variety of legal arrangements for cohabiting and/or reproducing couples; and--in this country most recently--civil partnerships open to same-sex as well as mix-gendered pairs. Likewise, after a post-war lull, women have re-entered the workplace and moved into the professions. Slowly, laws have been passed to guarantee equal access, to require equal pay for equal work, to institute maternity/paternity leaves, and to remove glass ceilings.

Kenya: Anglicans Plan to Send Clergy to America

[] 25 Aug 2007--The Anglican Church of Kenya will ordain two bishops to serve in the United States of America.

The bishops will be ordained next week to minister to its faithful and clergy in the US in the wake of a split in the global Anglican community pitying anti-gay clergy predominantly in Africa against opponents in America.

The Church Times Story on Martyn Minns and Peter Akinola

[TitusOneNine] 25 Aug 2007--In response to this story, we have the following from Greg Griffith....

Keeping it in the family

[Church Times] 25 Aug 2007--The build-up to the Lambeth Conference 2008 is repeating patterns established immediately before the two previous conferences. Leading up to 1988, it was feared that the ordination of women as priests would split the Communion. Archbishop Runcie had to use his remarkable diplomatic skills in attempting to avert this.

A Second Betrayal

[The Living Church] 25 Aug 2007--The leadership of The Episcopal Church seems intrigued as to why the Global South Anglican leadership has failed to buy into Western revisionism. The Episcopalians seem equally intrigued as to why the “poor” Global South church leaders, faced with multiple problems like HIV/AIDS, malaria and education, to name a few, refuse to take foreign aid, or even worse, why they have returned aid already received prior to the events of the infamous 2003 General Convention.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reading the Signs of the Times

[VirtueOnline] 23 Aug 2007--Much will be happening in the Anglican Communion over the next few months. Will we be able to "interpret this present time?" Here is what I am getting at: The Episcopal Church House of Bishops will meet in late September.

Hope for Unity Fading in Divided Anglican Communion

[The Christian Post] 23 Aug 2007--Hope for the Anglican Communion is not any brighter now than it was when leaders tried to resolve divisions earlier this year or even 10 years ago, said the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria.

Change and chaos in our churches

[The Observer] 23 Aug 2007--Christian churches nationally are facing enormous changes. In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, for example, scores of churches have been slated for closings. The reasons are multiple and complex: a lack of priests, lack of parishioners, deteriorating buildings, duplication of services, geographic location, the end of the immigrant parish as the children and grandchildren of immigrants move away. In some communities these proposed closings have abraded raw nerves and engendered much controversy. I’m not addressing the merits of the competing arguments. I only wish to state that change in church life, as in all life, is inevitable.

The Final Word on Ecclesiology

[Stand Firm ] 23 Aug 2007--Last Tuesday night Moore College, the seminary where I'm studying, had their annual revue. There were a number of great items but these five videos were so good that I wanted to share them with you.

Clear Instructions, Clear Choices

[Washington Post] 23 Aug 2007--If one believes the "instruction book" for such offices as "overseers" in the church -- as opposed to believing in the supremacy of cultural trends and opinion polls -- Paul lays out the requirements for such offices in his first letter to his protege, Timothy.

Provincial Secretaries Meet in Hong Kong

[The Living Church] 23 Aug 2007--Canon Margaret S. Larom, director of Anglican and Global Relations for The Episcopal Church, will attend a meeting of the Anglican Communion’s provincial secretaries Aug. 23-30 in Hong Kong.

‘The Gay Invention: Homosexuality Is a Linguistic as Well as Moral Error’

[Anglican Mainstream] 23 Aug 2007--In this brilliant article from ‘Touchstone’ Professor Young exposes the myths which legitimize, buttress and perpetuate gay rights. Though the Emperor (Empress?) wears no clothes, few dare admit it. But unless we begin to say so - now, in our circles, churches, denominations and in the wider public square - it will be too late. It will be illegal to question the PC status quo; in places it already is. Take a look at Canada and Sweden, cultural trendsetters, and specific areas in the States and the UK. Again, for the Doubting Thomases among my readers, there is no problem as long as one keeps one’s head below the parapet. A problem only presents itself as one exits from the safety of one’s private religious (or whatever) sphere into the Big Bad World. There, the political-cultural shift is such that even to mention ‘alternative’ nonPC points of view is unacceptable and will gain you nothing but could cost you much - perhaps everything. And perhaps many would feel it is not worth it, I don’t know. What cannot be doubted, however, is that the gagging, censorship and fear of the Thought Police is having a real impact - laws and regulations do effect significant social change. Do we care?

St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church News Release on recent Court Proceedings in California

[TitusOneNine] 23 Aug 2007--St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church will continue to occupy the church property and buildings it has purchased and maintained for over 60 years, during the appeal of a ruling by the Los Angeles Superior Court on July 3, 2007. St. Luke’s Church is located at 2563 Foothill Boulevard in La Crescenta, California, and was formerly affiliated with the Episcopal Church until it aligned with the Anglican Church of Uganda in February 2006. The Court had previously granted summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and The Episcopal Church on their claim to take over the property of St. Luke’s based on an internal Episcopal rule, following a recent decision of the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District. On August 15, 2007, St. Luke’s Church appealed the Court’s judgment against it.

The Bishop of New York: "The Presenting Question"

[Admiral of Morality] 23 Aug 2007--The Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, XV Bishop of New York, has written his diocese about the state of, and prospects for, the Anglican Communion. "My personal guess is that the Communion will emerge from these struggles, changed but recognizable," Bishop Sisk says. "I say this because the long history of the Church suggests a strong tendency to adapt to challenging circumstances rather than break apart over them."

Civil partnership for Gene Robinson

[TitusOneNine] 23 Aug 2007--The Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Rev V Gene Robinson, is to enter into a Civil Partnership with his long-term partner just weeks before next year’s Lambeth Conference. The openly gay cleric, whose consecration as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 caused outrage among traditionalist wings of the Anglican Communion and has placed the Church on the brink of schism, unveiled his intention during an interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 next week, in a programme entitled the Choice. Interviewed by Michael Buerk, Bishop Robinson denied the plan to hold the ceremony next June had been chosen to be deliberately provocative.

Post-Conservatives and Post-Liberals

[Stephen's Witness] 23 Aug 2007--I have rushed this essay into print because of the relevance of the discussion between those orthodox “conservatives” who see long-continuing (invincible) heresy on central matters of doctrine as a church-dividing necessity and those who argue that the maintenance of the form of church unity takes precedence over agreement on doctrine. Within the current Anglican context, members of the former group have sometimes been labeled “Federal Conservatives” or “Confessionalists,” while members of the latter have been called “Communion Conservatives.” To some extent, this fault-line mirrors the historic divide in Anglican theology between Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. Now I am proposing, following Kevin Vanhoozer, a new binary classification: post-conservatives and post-liberals.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008

[Church of Nigeria] 21 Aug 2007--We have been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008. At a time when we should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth and the many wonderful ways in which our God has been at work in our beloved Communion as lives are transformed new churches built and new dioceses established there is little enthusiasm to even meet.

Nine Doors to Knock On

[] 21 Aug 2007--Most ministers fear not being creative enough when it comes to taking the Gospel to our city. My response is that we don’t all need to be innovators. But we must watch, critique and improve upon what others are doing for our own situation. Often new ministries commence by us being reflective “bower birds”; collecting and using the work of others.

Nigerian Anglicans Mull Boycott over Gay Bishops

[Christianity Today UK] 21 Aug 2007--The Church of Nigeria gave its strongest indication yet on Monday that it would boycott next year's conference of global Anglicans to protest against what it called "intransigence" by pro-gay US and Canadian churches.

San Dieogo Bishop Spins Episcopal Unity While Desposing Orthodox Priests

[VirtueOnline] 21 Aug 2007--The Bishop of San Diego, the Rt. Rev. James P. Mathes, has written a letter to his diocese pleading for unity and understanding while he deposes nearly 20 percent of his priests. Multiple lawsuits against priests, parishes and their vestries have also been initiated.

In a "state of the diocese" speech, Mathes admits that as stewards of the Episcopal Church, "we find ourselves in a time of turmoil." Mathes says he went to Spain to attend the bought-and-paid-for "Walking to Emmaus" consultation put on by Trinity Wall Street Church. In Spain he experienced a different reality with six of the eleven primates from the African continent present. Mathes concluded by saying that "we are fully capable of maintaining communion and mission partnerships despite disagreements."

Mathes said that as he left Spain he found himself optimistic about the future of the Anglican Communion.

A Report from Truro

[Stand Firm] 21 Aug 2007--Yesterday, our new rector, Tory Baucum preached his first sermon and much to our pleasure and surprise Bishop Akinola was there and offered words of encouragement and support. He reiterated what he had already stated in "A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008." He emphasized that it was not his desire to see a split in the Communion, but that he would not back down on Tanzania. He referred the congregation to his statement on the Church of Nigeria website and asked that the churches reprint it and hand it out to their congregations.

Heresy Precedes Homosexuality

[Albert Mohler] 21 Aug 2007--The mere fact that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is the Episcopal Church's first openly homosexual bishop ensures that he will be a media celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. To a great extent, he has become a symbol to both conservatives and liberals in contemporary Christianity.

Anglicanism: Protestant or Catholic

[The Protestant Alliance] 21 Aug 2007--Anglicanism is the most debated form of Christianity. It is judged in a variety of ways not only by outsiders and spectators, but also by Anglicans themselves. Even for a person who has spent a great part of his life in the world of Anglicanism, it is not easy to disentangle the knot of misunderstanding about Anglicanism.

Church of England Newspaper: Williams ‘set to be manipulated’

[Stand Firm] 21 Aug 2007--Well duh...

Archbishop of Canterbury to Begin U.S. Visit With Ecumenical Celebration

[The Living Church] 21 Aug 2007--The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Louisiana will celebrate the “Resiliency of Spirit” at a special ecumenical service Sept. 20 in New Orleans.

“We are humbled that the archbishop has accepted our invitation to visit and touch the mission of renewal and restoration on the Gulf Coast,” said the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana.

Models of Anglicanism (that show up in our discussions)

[Betwixt and Between] 21 Aug 2007--Sometimes offering images for what we are trying to write or speak about is helpful.

Models of Communion: Performing Our Anglican Identity

[Anglican Communion Institute] 21 Aug 2007--The essay that follows was begun a month ago and has a context about which I must be clear. I wrote from a particular location and for a particular purpose, both of which shape the way I hope my words will be understood. The location was the Canterbury Cathedral, where I spent three weeks this summer as Canterbury Scholar. These were the days leading up to and during the ACN meeting. At the time I was a postulant for holy orders outside the official structures of TEC, hopeful to be ordained as deacon following my graduation from the Duke Divinity School in December. These two factors are crucial to the interpretation of this essay. First, the gift of time as a Canterbury Scholar - having worshipped in the cloisters St. Augustine built 1,400 years ago, having prayed in 22 languages by candlelight with my fellow Anglicans in the shrine of Thomas Becket, having sung the song of the Ugandan martyrs with my African brothers during the Cathedral's Eucharist service, and, at Oxford, having stood on the spot where Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were martyred - has reinforced my sense that our Communion is a gift from God that we rightly treasure. Second, this essay was borne out of a struggle to understand rightly the character and purpose of our Communion's Instruments of Unity, in the midst of a deep and wrenching controversy among conservatives as how best to find freedom from TEC's ‘heresy and oppression.' It is therefore rightly received as a reflection of my own agonies through which I made the decision that I could not follow a course that willingly accepted global schism as the price for such apparent freedom - agonies which have resulted in a difficult decision to seek holy orders within a current diocese of the Episcopal Church. In that sense, what I share is my own wrestling, in the hope others, similarly struggling to navigate, may benefit. &Two points arise from this context. First, I wrote not for the blogosphere (or ACI), but for myself and for those like me who seek a renewal of the evangelical center but feel torn in their efforts to act in a theologically rigorous way while "pursuing vigorously a right order in the body, including in terms of teaching and discipline." And I wrote while at the International Study Center at Canterbury in the shadow of the cathedral. That explains the admittedly academic genre found here and also my purpose. Second, as I read my essay today, my own criticism is that I perhaps have not given sufficient voice to this last duty, and I fear that others may infer that I see our duty of table fellowship (a key theme of my essay) in opposition to our duty to pursue vigorously right order and discipline. So let me be clear: if I understate this latter duty, it is solely because it seems to me a ‘given,' a duty so clearly handed down to us by those forebears in whose footsteps I walked this summer at Canterbury, that I cannot imagine Spirit-led bishops like Bishops Duncan, Iker, Beckwith, Jenkins, Smith, Stanton, and Wimberly (and many others) abandoning it. I fully expect and count on them to stand firm. My concern in this essay is with the course advocated by those who, in my view, are still too quick to relieve the tension inherent in our duties of table fellowship and discipline. Accordingly, what follows is something I wrote as one who believes our Communion is a gift from God that we reject only at the risk that, in our quest for "truth," (borrowing from Stanley Hauerwas) we underwrite forms of violence that put our salvation in jeopardy. My prayer is that others, wrestling as I still am to make sense of all this, will benefit from my own efforts to work through this theologically.

America's Most Innovative Churches of 2008

[] 21 Aug 2007--Once again, I'm going to be partnering with Outreach magazine to develop the second annual America's Most Innovative Churches list, coming in the January/February 2008 issue. We want your help! We want to hear about the churches YOU think are innovative, the diverse churches, perhaps under our radar, that are doing ministry "out of the box." It could be your own, or one you admire. We invite you to nominate a church for consideration by our panel of experts as they compile a list of 25 churches, both from your nominations and their own research and experience, that will be featured as America's Most Innovative Churches in 2008.

Statement of Support for the Draft Anglican Covenant

[Scottish Anglican Network] 21 Aug 2007--The Scottish Anglican Network warmly welcomes the draft Anglican Covenant. It is insightful in its understanding of the Church and Anglicanism, generous in its orthodoxy, and uncontroversial in its expression of the historic Christian faith. Furthermore, we feel the idea of Covenant could be an inspired way ahead for our troubled Communion, embodying as it does the biblical concepts of working through issues in committed relationship, building unity around the revealed truths of the gospel, and listening carefully and respectfully as we do so. We thank the drafting committee for all their hard work, and assure the wider Communion of our continued prayers for our future.

Legal experts tackle same-sex blessings questions

[Episcopal Life Online] 21 Aug 2007--Conflicting interpretations of the ramifications of General Synod's recent decisions around same-sex blessings have led the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada to consult with their chancellors.

Among the questions that have arisen are: What does the approved motion stating that "the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada" mean? Can clergy and dioceses now conduct same-sex blessings? Some bishops have issued pastoral letters asking clergy not to conduct same-sex blessings -- can priests be disciplined if they ignore this directive? How can clergy be disciplined if General Synod already declared that same-sex blessings are "not in conflict" with the core doctrine of the church? What does the defeat of the motion affirming the authority of dioceses to offer same-sex blessings mean?

Parish Accused Of A Trespass,0,3178210.story

[Hartford Courant] 21 Aug 2007--The Rev. Donald Helmandollar has become accustomed to the refrain he hears when he greets parishioners outside Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol each Sunday: "I see we're here for another week."

Their weeks there may be numbered now that the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has sued Helmandollar and 10 members of the church's governing body, accusing them of trespassing on church property.

Related article:
Connecticut Diocese Seeks Damages from Former Bristol Vestry - The Living Church

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dr Jensen stalls on Lambeth invitation

[Church Times] 17 Aug 2007--The Archbishop of of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has told the Archbishop of Canterbury that he and his five assistant bishops cannot yet give a firm reply to their invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Anglicanism: Protestant or Catholic

[VirtueOnline] 17 Aug 2007--Anglicanism is the most debated form of Christianity. It is judged in a variety of ways not only by outsiders and spectators, but also by Anglicans themselves. Even for a person who has spent a great part of his life in the world of Anglicanism, it is not easy to disentangle the knot of misunderstanding about Anglicanism.

African archbishop to worship with local Episcopalians

[Contra Costa Times] 17 Aug 2007--The archbishop of South Africa will teach, pray and talk with parishioners in Walnut Creek -- and, it is hoped, return home with a renewed appreciation of diverse views.

Bishop Spong attracts new criticism From Adelaide Anglicans

[Christianity Today Australian Edition] 17 Aug 2007--The Anglican Dean, Dr. Steven Ogden, from St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide said that although Bishop John Spong was not ban from visiting Anglican churches in Adelaide, but nevertheless he was a ‘reductionist’ who pulled things apart but do not help people restore the pieces back together.

Reggae music and the Anglican Church

[The Nassau Guardian] 17 Aug 2007--"What you have to understand is that every diocese would have the right to use hymns that reflect their particular setting," says local Anglican Bishop Co-adjutor The Rev. Laish Boyd. "You know that reggae and Bob Marely are a regular part of the Jamaican culture, so I'm not surprised that they are adding such songs to their hymnals," he said.

“Sharing Our Faith” Conference Opens in Gainesville August 24th

[Stand Firm] 17 Aug 2007--“Whether you are an atheist or a Christian, there is a lot to be said for remaining loyal to the position you have undertaken to uphold, and not play baseball when you have signed up for golf. Unfortunately, as everybody knows, many of the leaders in the Episcopal Church no longer believe the faith to which they swore allegiance in their ordination vows. Instead, they have set out to reinvent the Christian faith. This has caused such distress among orthodox members of the Episcopal Church that large numbers of them have left it, while remaining part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Others temporarily remain within the Episcopal Church but are harassed for their adherence to New Testament Christianity. Those Anglicans who affirm the historic Christian faith, whether they are inside or outside the Episcopal Church, are determined to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the millions of Americans who do not know him. We regard evangelism, or the sharing of God's good news, as the primary calling of the Church.

Revision to Part V of The Revisionist Dictionary

[Stand Firm] 17 Aug 2007--Oh my. A kindly reader just pointed out that somehow the entries after Tolerance had gone missing in Ireneaus' revisionist Dictionary, Part V. It has now been restored.

Bishop Stephen Platten accuses media of ‘mischief’ with regard to Lambeth 2008

[TitusOneNine] 17 Aug 2007--A Bishop has roundly accused newspapers and television of “machinations and mischief” over next year’s Lambeth Conference. The charge is levelled by theBishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, in the latest issue of Awake, the newspaper of theWakefield diocese. Controversial issues — including gay bishops — threaten the unity of the Anglican Communion and make the Lambeth Conference pointless, sections of the media have claimed.

An Appalling Lack of Orthodoxy

[TitusOneNine] 17 Aug 2007--Two weeks ago The Church of England Newspaper titled my article "Why the Archbishop of York got it wrong."

My purpose in writing then was twofold: to point out that York had made a statement that went against the facts; and to provide the facts on why the Episcopal Church in the US was not theologically orthodox, especially in the top levels of leadership.

The response of York, or rather the staff member Arun Arora who wrote for York, was to ignore what was actually said in my article and to assume two things, both incorrect.

U.S. Bishops Ask Archbishop of Canterbury for Clarity

[The Living Church] 17 Aug 2007--Bishops who have made a public commitment to support the Windsor Report have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to be clear and articulate in explaining what the consequences will be if the House of Bishops fails to give the assurances sought by the primates.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CESA News: The Journal of the Church of England in South Africa

[CESA] 16 Aug 2007--August-October 2007. PDF format.

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows

[] 16 Aug 2007--In her wildly successful “children’s” series JK Rowling has constructed a narrative that asks us to consider not just how we should live but matters of eternal consequence.

Texas Megachurch Harassed for Refusing to Host Pro-Gay Memorial

[The Christian Post] 16 Aug 2007--A Texas megachurch is drawing fire from the homosexual community for refusing to host a gay man’s memorial service, which the church says goes against its church policy.

Sydney's bishops, archbishop postpone response to Lambeth 2008 invitations

[Episcopal News Service] 16 Aug 2007--The Anglican Diocese of Sydney's five bishops and one archbishop have told Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that they are postponing a decision about whether or not they will attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, scheduled for July 16-August 4, 2008 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel

[] 16 Aug 2007--In 1856 J. C. Ryle published the first volume of his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. When he finally finished the series in 1873, he had produced one of the finest devotional studies of the four gospels ever written. Baker Book House recently reprinted the entire series in four volumes. I mention it here because, as a great admirer of J. C. Ryle, I am glad when anything of his comes back into print. It would not be overstating the case to say that Bishop Ryle was the leader of Anglican evangelicals in the last half of the 19th century. He stood against liberalism on one hand and against ritualism on the other. In the current debates convulsing the worldwide Anglican communion, his sympathies would be much more with the leaders in Africa than the leaders in Canterbury.

Hebronville home for Anglicans

[The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle] 16 Aug 2007--The former Hebron United Methodist Church is now being brought back to life by All Saints Anglican parish.

1st Court Ruling After Defections Favors Continuing Episcopalians

[Falls Church News-Press] 16 Aug 2007--In the first official court ruling concerning the defection from the Virginia Episcopal Diocese by 11 churches last December, a Fairfax Circuit Court judge ruled against dismissal of lawsuits by the diocese and the national Episcopal Church last Friday. It was a victory for the Episcopal Church against the defectors that include a majority of voting members at the historic Falls Church that have continued to occupy that church property.

Sermon preached by the Archbishop of Armagh at Clonmacnoise

[Church of Ireland] 16 Aug 2007--Anglican leaders are seriously wondering whether they can recognize in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation. While some feel there will be inevitable separation, others are trying to deny that there is a crisis at all. That is hardly a meeting of minds. Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together we are destined to grow apart.

Related article:
The new Archbishop of Armagh - Reform Ireland

Anglican Mission Launches New Website

[Anglican Mission in America] 16 Aug 2007--The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) launched a new website Friday, July 20, 2007. The interactive site features three primary sections geared toward specific audiences. "Experience the Anglican Mission" provides detailed information and connects those already affiliated with the Anglican Mission, those who have some knowledge and appreciation of the Anglican tradition as well as those who may be looking for a new church home; "Mission Networks" offers detailed information about the Anglican Mission’s unique network structure; and "Explore the Anglican Mission" seeks to reach the unchurched or "seekers" and was designed intentionally as an evangelism tool with a significantly different look and feel.

Rwanda: Anglicans Reject Western Accusations of Rebellion

[] 16 Aug 2007--The Anglican Church in Rwanda and Africa will not be bullied into keeping quiet about the non biblical behaviors of the American and European churches, a senior bishop has said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Anglo-Catholics Face Isolation and Demonization

[VirtueOnline] 15 Aug 2007--Anglo-Catholicism or "High" Church Anglicanism is facing extreme isolation and demonization, as the movement finds itself marginalized by the American Episcopal Church on the one hand and the Roman Catholic Church on the other.

Jesus For The Non-Religious’ Described As Gutting The Christian Faith

[Christianity Today Australian Edition] 15 Aug 2007--The Sydney Anglican Archbishop has given an order to prohibit an American liberal Episcopalian priest from entering any of the churches in the diocese, as a reviewer wrote a scathing opinion of his latest book; saying it “…Defaced the only portrait of Jesus that makes any real sense.”

Related article:
Bishop Spong banned in Sydney - Religious Intelligence

Police look into Grace funds

[Colorado Springs Gazette] 15 Aug 2007--Colorado Springs police are investigating a complaint that funds were embezzled from Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, which broke from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in March.

Central New York Priest Admits to Sexual Abuse

[The Living Church] 15 Aug 2007--A priest of the Diocese of Central New York has been suspended after he admitted to inappropriate sexual conduct with four underage boys while he was the rector of St. James’ Church, Skaneatales. The Rev. J. Edward Putnam was suspended from all ministerial and priestly responsibilities for 20 years by the Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. Adams, Bishop of Central New York.

Canadians attend low-pressure meeting of African and American bishops

[The Anglican Church of Canada] 15 Aug 2007--"There's nothing that beats face-to-face conversation." This is what Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships, said after returning from a one-week consultation between African and American bishops called "Walking to Emmaus: Discovering New Mission Perspectives in Changing Times," held July 21 to July 26 in El Escorial, Spain.

Tiny church perseveres

[St. Petersburg Times] 15 Aug 2007--Ten years ago, a small group of disenchanted Episcopalians decided to leave their St. Petersburg church to join a conservative breakaway group.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Evangelical Theologian: Bottom Line is Mormons are not Christians

[Christian Post] 14 Aug 2007--Mormons believe in a false gospel and are not Christians, concluded one of the nation’s preeminent evangelicals in what appeared to be the close of an online debate over Mormonism.

Evangelical Drop-Outs

[Christianity Today] 14 Aug 2007--A new study reported by USAToday finds that a high percentage of young adults who attended church while in high school stop attending by age 23. The poll was conducted by LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. 70% of young adults drop out of Protestant churches, and 34% do not attend even sporadically after age 30. That means at least one in four young people who leave the church never return.

Guiding Us Through Change

[Christianity Today] 14 Aug 2007--God does not abandon us when the future seems uncertain.

Singing With Style Without Sacrificing Substance

[] 14 Aug 2007--When does style overtake substance? This is one of the perennial issues in youth ministry. Our aim must be to ensure that our ministry is consistent with God’s revelation of who he is and who we are. Just because our target audience has a unique form of clothing, language or other cultural quality, we are not at liberty to change the core of God’s ministry.

Ecumenism's new basis: testimony

[The Christian Century] 14 Aug 2007--After keeping a low profile for several years, advocates of a fresh approach to ecumenism are going public about a promising international gathering in Kenya this November.

The new approach is based on an old religious practice—"personal testimony."

Va. Episcopal Property Battle Still Far from Over

[The Christian Post] 14 Aug 2007--The Episcopal Church agreed to dismiss all unpaid church volunteers and rectors as defendants in one of the largest lawsuits ever in the denomination.

Letter from the Anglican District of Virginia regarding outcome of TEC/DoV lawsuit hearing

[VirtueOnline] 14 Aug 2007--As you may have heard, we had a preliminary hearing on Friday, August 10, in court, at which the court heard arguments on our demurrers and pleas in bar. (Our demurrer asserted that even if everything The Episcopal Church claims is true, they still would have no case. The plea in bar argued that vestry members are immune from suit for actions taken in an official capacity as volunteers).

Carnival of the New Anglican Blogs

[Stand Firm] 14 Aug 2007--Step right up...

PCUSA Moderator Goes Awry in Her Claims of a "Deeply Pernicious Heresy"

[Robert Gagnon] 14 Aug 2007--When Rev. Joan Gray was elected Moderator of the PCUSA at the last General Assembly I, as a voting delegate, felt that, though we could done better (had one of the other candidates been elected), we also could have done far worse (had either of two other "Covenant Network" candidates been chosen). She is certainly a much better moderator than a couple of recent ones. However, recent remarks by Joan Gray should be filed under the "we could have done better" category—unless, of course, she has the courage and humility to acknowledge publicly her error.

Sydney Archbishop Jensen bans John Shelby Spong,23599,22239593-421,00.html

[] 14 Aug 2007--A row has erupted within the Anglican Church over a visit to Australia by an American cleric who has being accused of modernising Christ to the point of stripping him of all divinity.

Nzimbi to consecrate two American priests

[The Standard] 14 Aug 2007--Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi will consecrate two American priests fleeing the liberal US church over a gay clergy crisis.

Full Emerge-ion

[Amy Welborn] 14 Aug 2007--I was actually going to save this for a couple of months, and will, indeed, probably return to the subject when October rolls around, but since the topic of Emergent Christianity has popped up on a couple of Catholic blogs over the past week, as well as reaching a sort of energize peak on other Christian blogs, mostly because of these sarcastic posters created by some vigorous anti-Emergents. I thought I might as well take a crack at it now.

Episcopal bishop hopes for healing

[Corvallis Gazette-Times] 14 Aug 2007--A year after her controversial election as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori is still hopeful tensions within the denomination and the worldwide Anglican Communion can be resolved.

"...refocus on the mission of the church." Katie Jefferts Schori reminds me of one of those wind-up toy monkeys beating a drum. She is always playing the same tune.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coming Home

[Christianity Today] 13 Aug 2007--Do your neighbors go to church? If not, do you know why? Their reasons are probably not the ones you'd expect. New research reveals why people leave churches and what you and your church can do to bring them back.

Simple Church

A book review by Robin G. Jordan

I just finished reading Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger (Nashville: H & B Publishing Group, 2006). This book is a must read for clergy and lay leaders planning to plant a new Anglican church from scratch or to lead an existing congregation out of The Episcopal Church and to reorganize the congregation as a new Anglican church under the jurisdiction of another province.

Rainer and Geiger’s research points to the need for a simple process of discipleship in 21st century American churches and the great difference that a simple discipleship process can make in the ministry of churches that adopt this approach. Rainer and Geiger found a definite relationship between a simple church design and the vitality of a local church. Among their findings was that a simple church is much better suited to the growing complexity of life in the 21st century.

Many American churches have become too complicated, adding more and more programs out of the mistaken notion that more is better. Yet they are having no appreciable impact upon the lives of their church members or the communities in which they are located. The more vibrant churches, the churches that are making a difference, have a very simple discipleship process and few programs. What programs they do have serve this discipleship process.

Simple Church is written to help church leaders to design and to implement a simple process of discipleship in their own churches. While the transition to a simple church approach is not an easy one, it is easier for new churches. This is good news for church planters. Becoming a simple church does not require that a church own property or have a lot of money. According to Rainer and Geiger, a simple church approach is the best stewardship of limited resources.

I believe that Simple Church will be particularly helpful to clergy and lay leaders contemplating the loss of property and reduction in programs that face a congregation leaving The Episcopal Church. Starting over may not seem as daunting as it may have at first. God is actually presenting the congregation with an opportunity to adopt a streamlined church design that will make it much more effective in fulfilling his mission.

Churches that make the transition to a simple church are likely to experience a new lease on life. Adopting a simple church model can provide a non-growing or declining church with a new direction that puts the church back on the upward side of the church growth bell curve.

The Problem with Mere Christianity

[Christianity Today] 13 Aug 2007--We jettison 'nonessential' theology at our own peril.

What Did Paul Really Mean?

[Christianity Today] 13 Aug 2007--'New perspective' scholars argue that we need, well, a new perspective on justification by faith.

Africans woo conservative U.S. Anglicans in gay row

[Reuters] 13 Aug 2007--As an Anglican row over gay clergy deepens, growing numbers of conservative American priests are abandoning the liberal U.S. church and pledging allegiance to traditionalist African bishops instead.

Portraits of Impotence: TEC Polity and the Windsor Bishops (Mark Harris, Chris Johnson, etc…)

[Stand Firm] 13 Aug 2007--Here is a section from Mark Harris' article on the Windsor Bishops' gathering in Navasota....

St Peter’s College Oxford faces enquiry after chaplain made redundant in cost-saving

[Anglican Mainstream] 13 Aug 2007--An Oxford college founded by a former bishop on Christian principles is to be investigated after making its chaplain redundant as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Ecclesiastical Courts and Universal Fallenness

[The Kew Continuum] 13 Aug 2007--During the last couple of days I have been following the responses to the reporting of the ecclesiastical trial of a priest in Colorado who has been accused of the misuse of more than $400,000 of funds. It is not so much the details of this tragic case that I want to focus on, however, but the way people have greeted the guilty verdicts of the church court.

'A huge victory' for gay Lutheran clergy,CST-NWS-luth12.article

[The Chicago Sun-Times] 13 Aug 2007--The nation's largest Lutheran denomination on Saturday passed a measure calling on church leaders to "refrain from or demonstrate restraint" in disciplining gay clergy in committed relationships.

Church rift cuts deeper for brothers

[The Boston Globe] 13 Aug 2007--The Murdoch brothers don't often talk about the controversy dividing the Episcopal Church, but they really don't have to: In the Murdoch family, schism starts at home.

An Interview with Archbishop of York John Sentamu

[The Religion Report] 13 Aug 2007--The Ugandan born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu talks about how the violent regime of Idi Amin propelled him into ordination in the church of England.

Archbishop faces conference snub

[Telegraph] 13 Aug 2007--Only a couple of hundred of the 880 Anglican bishops invited to next year's Lambeth Conference, one of the most critical gatherings in the Church's history, have replied by the deadline set by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"High" and "Low" Church

[The Anglican Church of Canada] 11 Aug 2007--The terms "High" and "Low" are rarely used nowadays but refer to different "parties" or schools of churchmanship within the Church of England/Anglican Communion. "High" Church is the older of the two terms historically and was first applied, in the late seventeenth century, to those individuals who were opposed to the Puritan wing of the Church of England.

Overstepping Authority?

[The Connection] 11 Aug 2007--Former Episcopalians claim the latest move by The Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church of the United States is just another legal step meant to intimidate both current and former Episcopal clergy.

Dr. Ephraim Radner: A Conversation with Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison

[Stand Firm] 11 Aug 2007--In response to renewed interest on the blogosphere to the topics covered, I am re-posting the original response (from '04) that Ephraim Radner wrote to an article about him written by the Rt. Rev Fitzsimmons Allison....

The Rt. Rev. Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison on Dr. Radner and the ACN

[Stand Firm] 11 Aug 2007--The following article was written several years ago in response to Ephraim Radner's address to the ACI in Charleston, S. C. I offer it as a contribution to the discussion among Radner, Noll, and Turner...Fitz Allison.

Episcopal bishop publicly deposes three area clergy

[Facquier Times-Deomcrat ]11 Aug 2007--Bishop Peter James Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced late in the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 2, that the 21 clergy who have transferred to the Anglican Communion are officially deposed.

Reverend Doctors

[Captain Yip's Secret Journal] 11 Aug 2007--Watching the reverend doctors Radner, Noll, and Turner go at it about What To Do is like watching giants wrassle - stunning, amazing, instructive, and conducted at a level of skill and learning far above us midgets. That people of intelligence, learning, and devotion to God should come to differing conclusions shouldn't surprise us.

Down in the comments, Craig has a pretty good analysis of the situation that I think holds lots of water, so I'm going to post it in its wholeness up here....

Canon David Anderson reports on the current state of the orthodox Anglican movement

[Anglican Mainstream] 11 Aug 2007--The American Anglican Council (AAC) released its first video interview for the internet this week. The video comes in response to requests for interpretation of current events in the orthodox Anglican world.

“Inherent racism” at root of LGCM attack on Archbishop Akinola - Sydney Diocese

[Anglican Mainstream] 11 August 2007--ACCUSATIONS made by the head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) that the Church of Nigeria was a puppet of the Archbishop of Sydney are false and demeaning, a spokesman for the diocese has said. “No one guides and advises Archbishop Akinola what to do except the Lord of the Bible,” the Archbishop of Sydney’s media officer Margaret Rodgers said in a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper.

Related article:
Sydney Diocese respond to LGCM allegations - Stand Firm

Bishop Pope: Catholic Movement at an End

[The Living Church] 11 Aug 2007--The Catholic movement in The Episcopal Church has degenerated from a theological imperative into haberdashery, the retired Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., told a reporter for The Living Church, explaining his departure to the Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Jensen and the five Assistant Bishops from the Diocese of Sydney reply to Lambeth 2008

[Global South Anglican] 11 Aug 2007--As Archbishop and Assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, we send our thanks for your kind invitation to attend next year’s Lambeth Conference. Your invitation has been received with pleasure and it would give us a great deal of joy to be able to join you.

Unfortunately the timing of the invitation has proved difficult. We have been looking for the response of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church to the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. We understand that this response is due by 30th of September.

Related articles:
Sydney Delays Lambeth Response - The Living Church
Sydney Anglicans Adopt A ‘Wait-And-See’ Approach To Lambeth Invitation - Christianity Today Australian Edition
Sydney bishops snub Anglican chief in gay row - Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Church in the City

[Christianity Today] 09 Aug 2007--Although they are different New York City churches with very different audiences, Redeemer Presbyterian and Infinity Church are part of the same multiplication equation with a product of continuous Kingdom growth.

The Childcare Checklist

[Christianity Today] 09 Aug 2007--Use this practical tool to determine the childcare options in your small group.

Praying by the Book

[Christianity Today] 09 Aug 2007--Historian Eamon Duffy's latest work sheds light on medieval prayer practices—and may prompt us to think againabout our own.

Slotting in Seniors

[your.sydneyanglicans] 09 Aug 2007--Seasoned evangelist John Chapman says he feels “cared for wonderfully” as an older member of his congregation at Hurstville Grove.

However he admits resources for telling the gospel to his generation are thin on the ground.

Young adults aren't sticking with church

[USA Today] 09 Aug 2007--Protestant churches are losing young adults in "sobering" numbers, a survey finds.

Episcopal Church deposes separation ministers

[Fairfax County Times] 09 Aug 2007--Several local ministers who have been removed from the rosters of the clergy by the Episcopal Church are calling the move an uncalled-for act of intimidation.

The Revisionist Dictionary - Part IV

[Stand Firm] 09 Aug 2007--Without further ado, Part IV of The Revisionist Dictionary by Ireneaus.

DISCLAIMER: Drinking liquid beverages while reading may cause permanent and irreversible harm to your keyboard.

The Revisionist Dictionary - Part III - Updated

[Stand Firm] 09 Aug 2007--Are you ready to dive into Part III of Ireneaus' Revisionist Dictionary?

WARNING: Liquids should not be consumed while reading. May cause permanent harm to sensitive electronics.

Lambeth RSVP deadline extended

[Ruth Gledhill] 09 Aug 2007--The deadline for bishops to respond to their invite to the Lambeth Conference has been extended, according to a report in the Church of England Newspaper tomorrow.

Gay Lutheran clergy lead fight against church's celibacy rule

[The Star-Ledger] 09 Aug 2007--The Rev. Robert Kriesat, 68, never hid his relationship with his male partner from his congregants, even though his denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, mandates celibacy for gay ministers.

Former rector Don Armstrong found guilty of financial misconduct

[Episcopal Life Online] 09 Aug 2007--The Rev. Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, has been found guilty on all counts of financial misconduct presented to an Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Colorado that has been reviewing the evidence since July 31.

DOV releases "Hijack By Forces" letter two days before hearing

[BabyBlueOnline] 09 Aug 2007--BB NOTE: We've highlighted the lovely bits. Wonder why Patrick would write such a letter? It's curious, very curious. And we'll just leave it at that.

Its the Anglican Communion not just the Episcopal Church that is lost

[Anglican Mainstream] 09 Aug 2007--On all sides there is a sense of betrayal. Conservative Episcopal theologians are divided, stretching and straining friendships over whether the apostasies and heresies of the Episcopal Church are worthy of flight or fight.

Deadline for responding to Lambeth Invitations extended. Sydney "cannot give an answer until later in the year"

[Anglican Mainstream] 09 Aug 2007--The diocese of Sydney’s six bishops has told the Archbishop of Canterbury he will have to wait to find out if they will attend next year’s Lambeth Conference. While they were grateful to receive an invitation to attend the Conference, they said they would not decide until they know the course of action taken by the American bishops to the demands made by the Primates in their February Dar es Salaam communiqué.

The Miserable Theology of TEC

[Peter Ould] 09 Aug 2007--Most people realize that change within the church is difficult. In fact, change within any organization is hard, and systems theory has long studied the reality that any change, whether good or bad, will be greeted with resistance. That is because all change causes loss, which creates accompanying reactions of confusion, anger, and grief. The best way to make a change is for the people involved to become convinced that, although they are still doing things the old way, they should be doing them the new way. In religious institutions it is important to undergird changes with a clear and articulated theological reasoning to justify the change. This stated reasoning should always precede the change and allow for a theological discussion about whether the change should be made. In this process either the change will be owned by those involved in the change, or the change in the form proposed may be revealed to be inappropriate before any injury is done to the church. The recent turmoil within the Episcopal Church demonstrates what can go wrong when the articulated theological reasoning follows rather than precedes and founds the change.

Bishop Pope Rejoins Roman Catholic Church

[The Living Church] 09 Aug 2007--The retired Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., has rejoined the Roman Catholic Church.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Episcopal Theologians Fight Over Staying or Leaving TEC

[VirtueOnline] 06 Aug 2007--A war has broken out among orthodox Episcopal theologians as to whether dwindling conservative Episcopalians should stay or leave. More than 700 Episcopalians flee the Episcopal Church each week. Massive litigation has been instituted against many parishes, from east coast to west coast, both large and small. At the same time orthodox theologians cannot agree on what should be done.

Episcopal diocese settles lawsuit

[The Boston Globe] 06 Aug 2007--A group of former Episcopalians from Attleboro has agreed to return an undisclosed amount of money to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to settle a lawsuit alleging that the group, who broke away to protest the denomination's approval of an openly gay bishop, took cash and property belonging to the diocese.

Article Four: Of the Resurrection of Christ

[Stand Firm] 06 Aug 2007--It is difficult to identify the source(s) of this broad contemporary shift toward a disembodied faith. Perhaps two centuries of academic skepticism with regard to the historicity of the bodily Resurrection and Ascension has succeeded in refocusing Christians away from the once foundational hope in the general Resurrection as a real future event? That is, perhaps in the age of Marcus Borg and the Da Vince Code, average Christian people, not just radical skeptics and carnal “Christians”, have effectively, if subconsciously, surrendered, given up hope in the real restoration of creation and the literal Resurrection of the body and, as a result, begun to content themselves with a “demythologized”, other-worldly, experience-centered “faith”?

The Revisionist Dictionary - Part I

[Stand Firm] 06 Aug 2007--Whether guarding a Little Stone Bridge or held hostage by the man behind the curtain, this is a must read. The Revisionist Dictionary takes the mystery out of the metaphorical language of the Revisionists. Sure to be a classic.

Bravo, Irenaeus, Bravo!!!

The Revisionist Dictionary - Part II

[Stand Firm] 06 Aug 2007--For your pleasure and edification - Part Two (or as we say in Louisiana, Part Deux). By reader Irenaeus.

The Parish of St. Odilia: A Helpful Survey for the Upcoming Rector Search Process

[Stand Firm] 06 Aug 2007--With so many rector search processes going on throughout the Episcopal church, I have found this guide to be most helpful. It arrived a few days ago in my email box and so far I have been unable to discover the author's name. So I am attributing this to St. Anonymous, and wish whoever wrote it great joy -- because she or he has certainly given that to me.

Why Canon Anderson Got it Wrong

[The Diocese of York] 06 Aug 2007--Arun Arora responds to The Revd. Canon David Anderson.

The latest in the theological debate: Philip Turner answers Stephen Noll’s response to him

[TitusOneNine] 06 Aug 2007--This elf is thinking we might need a scorecard soon to keep track of who has written what to whom... But all kidding aside, ACI has posted Dr. Turner's rebuttal to Dr. Noll's letter to him.

Lutherans to Open Sexuality Debate--Again

[Ethics Daily] 06 Aug 2007--The nation's largest Lutheran denomination will again face the divisive issue of sexuality when it considers resolutions on gay clergy and same-sex blessings at its biennial assembly in Chicago this week.

Church dispute heads to state Supreme Court

[San Jose Mercury News] o6 Aug 2007--Three churches that split from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in a dispute over a gay bishop are asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on who controls the parishes' buildings.

Communiqué from the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

[Global South Anglican] 06 Aug 2007--The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East met in Iran on the occasion of the installation of Bishop Azad Marshall and issued the following communiqué....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dr. Stephen Noll: Reply to Sarah Hey

[Stand Firm] 06 Aug 2007--As always, Sarah Hey is impassioned and provocative.

But this is a curious essay. Since I appear as one of the protagonists in her dialectic between the Federal Conservatives (FedCons) and the Communion Conservatives (ComCons), I beg to reply at some length. I have tried to follow the logic of her piece, and here is what I have come up with.