Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mission Perspective: The Judicatory

By Robin G. Jordan

The term “judicatory” is used by ecclesiologists to describe the middle level administrative structure or organization found in a religious denomination between the local congregation and and the widest or highest national or international level. It is derived from presbyterianism where the local, regional and national bodies are themselves respectively higher courts. As used by ecclesiologists it is meant to be neutral with regard to polity. It may be applied to a conference of the United Methodist Church, a diocese of the Church of England, or a synod of the Evangelical Luthern Church in Canada. With a number of groups of churches exploring formation into a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, a brief overview of this particular structure or organization may be useful to such groups.

The former Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA was once a federation of autonomous dioceses. Each diocese was formed from a group of churches and was created to serve these churches. The governance of the diocese was shared by a bishop and a convention composed of clergy and laity. The bishop was elected by the convention. During the nineteenth centry the Anglo-Catholic movement not only sought to change the identity of the PECUSA but also its understanding of the nature of the diocese. It promoted the idea that the diocese was the local church, not the parish, and that parishes were the creatures of the diocese rather than the diocese the creature of its constituent churches. This represented a significant departure from the ecclesiology that underlay the formation of the PECUSA. During the twentieth century the PECUSA saw the increased centralization of the national church with the establishment of a Presiding Bishop and Executive Council elected by the General Convention.

More recently the PECUSA, now calling itself The Episcopal Church, has taken a step toward greater centralization with revision of its disciplinary canons. The Presiding Bishop has in effect been made a metropolitan over the other bishops in all but name only. There was another major shift in the ecclesiology of The Episcopal Church in which the denomination’s dioceses are now seen as branches of the national church rather than autonomous judicatories. Parishes and missions are viewed as sub-branches of the national church. The nation church is seen as having an interest in church property held in trust by the diocese.

It was against this background that the Anglican Church in North America was formed. In its constitution and canons the ACNA also shows a leaning toward centralization at the national level. The Archbishop and Primate of the ACNA has been given unprecedent authority in the area of church discipline that is not given even to metropolitans in the Anglican Church. This points to the need for groups of churches that do form dioceses within the ACNA to take steps to safeguard their diocesan autonomy in as many areas as they can.

The functions of a judicatory vary from denomination to denomination and may vary within a denomination. Among the more common functions of a judicatory are the following:

--Safeguards the doctrine and faith of its congregations and clergy.

--Develops and implements cooperative programs that benefit the ministry and mission of individual local congregations or the life of the judicatory as a whole. This may range from group health insurance, church building loans, and grants-in-aid for new church plants to conference centers, orphanages, and assisted living and skilled nursing care facilities for the elderly.

--Recruits, screens, and selects ministerial candidates, oversees their training, and certifies their fitness for ordination and licensing.

--Develops and implements training and continuing education programs for licensed and ordained ministers and other church workers (e.g., children’s ministry workers, youth workers).

Licensed ministers are laypersons trained and licensed to engage in gospel ministry. They include catechists, evangelists, lay preachers, lay readers, and pastoral assistants. Many denominations—both in and outside of North America—make much greater use of licensed ministers than The Episcopal Church. The effective use of licensed ministers is one of the factors that accounts for the explosive growth of the global South Anglican Provinces. According to Lyle Schaller, a leading US ecclesiologist, well over half of the local congregations in the United States are in charge of licensed ministers. In some provinces of the Anglican Communion (e.g., Anglican Church of Australia; Anglican Church of Canada) as well as in other denominations licensed ministers may receive a stipend.

--Ordains and licenses new ministers.

--Investigates the background of ordained ministers seeking license to minister in the judicatory’s churches and institutions and verifies the authenticity of their credentials.

--Receives ordained ministers from other judicatories and denominations and licenses them.

--Supervises licensed and ordained ministers, provides them with spiritual care and guidance, and enforces ecclesiastical discipline.

--Maintains a roster of all licensed and ordained ministers in the judicatory, listing those who are on leave of absence or retired as well as those who are active in ministry in the judicatory.

--Provides subsidies and other forms of assistance to local congregations.

--Mediates any disputes between a local congregation and their pastor.

--Helps local congregations in their search for a new pastor and their negotiation of a contract with a new pastor.

--Provide leadership and support to local congregations in mission, particularly in evangelism and church planting.

--Recognizes new congregations upon their formation in the judicatory and receives existing congregations into union with the judicatory.

--Organizes local congregations into areas, conferences, convocations, deaneries, districts, regions, and the like for common mission and mutual support in a specific geographic area.

--Estimates the financial needs of the judicatory and solicits and disburses funds for these needs.

This list is by no means exhaustive. The ecclesiology of a denomination will be a major factor in determining the functions of a judicatory. In some denominations such as the Anglican Church there is more than one recognized ecclesiological school of thought and different judicatories may reflect different ecclesiologies. They may also represent an attempted compromise between disparate ecclesiologies.

How judicatories are organized varies from denomination to denomination and may vary within a denomination. In some cases a small denomination may be organized into a single judicatory, for example, the Church of England in South Africa and the Reformed Anglican Church of Brazil.

The term used for a judicatory also varies from denomination to denomination: apostolic administration (Roman Catholic Church), conference (United Methodist Church, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ), state convention (Southern Baptist Convention), convocation (The Episcopal Church), diocese (Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England, Reformed Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, The Episcopal Church), district (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod), mission district (Reformed Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church), peculiarity (Church of England), personal ordinariate (Roman Catholic Church), prefecture apostolic (Roman Catholic), presbytery (Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church USA), regional network (Anglican Mission), synod (Evangelical Lutheran Church, Reformed Episcopal Church), territorial abbacy (Roman Catholic Church), territorial prelature (Roman Catholic Church), and vicariate apostolic (Roman Catholic Church).

A judicatory may be territorially defined. Or it may be distinguished by ethnicity, nationality, rite, or some other quality. Examples of the latter are the Diocese of All Saints and the Diocese of the Holy Spirit in the Anglican Church in North America, the Slovak Zion Synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Our Lady of Walsingham Personal Ordinariate in the Roman Catholic Church, and the All Native Circle Conference in the United Church of Canada.

A geographic judicatory may also have in union with it congregations that are located outside its territory. The administrative bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada permit congregations to become a member congregation of a synod adjoining the one in the territory of which they are located. The constitutions of its synods contain provisions identifying as within their territorial jurisdiction the geographic area served by member congregations outside the main territorial boundaries of the synod.

The constitutions of the Diocese of Quincy and the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic in the ACNA contain provisions that enable congregations located outside their territory to unite with these dioceses. Through such provisions these dioceses seek to overcome one of the major drawbacks of organizing on the basis of territory a denomination in which a number of disparate theologies are represented. The Diocese of Quincy is traditionalist Anglo-Catholic in its theological orientation. On the other hand, the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic recognizes the ordination of women.

The territory of a geographic judicatory may consist of a large city and its suburbs as in the case of the Diocese of London in the Church of England or a number of counties in the same state as in the case of most dioceses in The Episcopal Church. It may consist of an entire country as in the case of most dioceses of the Anglican Church of the Province of the Southern Cone of America. Argentina is divided into two dioceses—the Diocese of Argentina and the Diocese of Northern Argentina. It may consist of a number of countries as in case of the Church of England’s Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe and The Episcopal Church’s Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

The form of ecclesiastical governance of a judicatory varies from denomination to denomination and may vary within a denomination. It may be prelatical as in the case of the Anglican Mission and the Roman Catholic Church. A “prelate” is a bishop or other ecclesiastic of equal or higher rank. In a prelatical form of ecclesiastical governance a judicatory is governed by a senior prelate. He may be assisted by one or more prelates of inferior rank. The general term for the government of a Church by prelates is “prelacy.”

North American Anglicans tend to confuse prelacy with episcopacy. Prelacy is a form of episcopal government but it is not the only form of episcopacy, as we shall see.

In the Anglican Mission a missionary bishop governs each regional network. The missionary bishop derives his authority from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Rwanda through the Primatial Vicar who is the Primate’s deputy in North America. The Primatial Vicar has responsibility for governing the entire Anglican Mission with the assistance of the Council of Missionary Bishops. The Primatial Vicar is the sole legislator of the Anglican Mission. The Primatial Vicar is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Anglican Mission and may play a role in the selection of the members of the Board. The Anglican Mission has not posted its corporate bylaws on its website.

In the Roman Catholic Church a bishop governs each diocese. The diocesan bishop is appointed by the Pope and derives his authority from the Pope. He may be assisted by a coadjutor bishop, one or more auxiliary bishops, a vicar general and one or more episcopal vicars. A coadjutor bishop and auxiliary bishops are also appointed by the Pope, the latter at the request of the diocesan bishop. The authority of these officials like the diocesan bishop is derivative—directly from the Pope in the case of coadjutor bishops and auxiliary bishops or through the diocesan bishop from the Pope in all other cases except when a vicar general or episcopal vicar is a coadjutor bishop or auxiliary bishop.

The diocesan bishop may occasionally convene a diocesan synod composed of these officials, the priests of the diocese, and lay representatives. However, this body is purely consultative. The diocesan bishop is the sole legislator in the diocesan synod. The diocesan bishop is also assisted in the governance of the diocese by a council of priests. From the members of this council he appoints a college of consulters to advise him and to perform such other functions as may be determined by canon law.

The form of ecclesiastical governance in a judicatory may be synodical. This is most common form of ecclesiastical governance found in Anglican Churches around the world. The term “synodical” is derived from the word “synod.” A “synod” is “an ecclesiastical governing or advisory council.” The term “synod” may also refer to “an assembly of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church,” “the governing assembly of an Episcopal province,” “a Presbyterian governing body ranking between the presbytery and the general assembly,” and “a regional or national organization of Lutheran congregations.” It may, in addition refer to “the ecclesiastical district governed by a synod.”

In a synodical form of ecclesiastical governance a bishop shares governance of a judicatory with a synod of clergy and lay representatives and a number of other bodies. The bishop of the judicatory may be appointed or elected in a number of ways. The most ancient method of episcopal election is nomination and election by the clergy and people of the diocese and confirmation by the bishops of the province. To give the reader a better idea of how bishops are chosen in the Anglican Church and other denominations I am examining a number of the methods in a three-part article, “Methods of Episcopal Appointment and Election.”

The duties, responsibilities, and powers of the bishop of a judicatory vary from denomination to denomination and may vary within a denomination. In the Anglican Church there is more than one school of thought regarding the duties, responsibilities, and powers of a bishop.

In some judicatories the bishop have a fixed term of office. This term of office may be extended in accordance with the provisions of the bylaws, canons, ordinances, or regulations of the judicatory. In other judicatories he may retain his position as the pastor of a congregation in the judicatory and exercise a part of his ministry in that congregation. The instruments of governance of a judicatory generally contain provisions for the forced resignation or removal of a bishop on the grounds of permanent incapacitation, neglect of his duties and responsibilities, abuse of his powers, and other forms of misconduct, or prolonged absence from the judicatory.

In the synodical form of ecclesiastical governance the synod or its equivalent is the legislative authority of the judicatory. In some cases it is designated as the supreme authority in the judicatory in its constitution (Church of England in South Africa, Church of the Province of Uganda).

Other terms commonly used to designate a synod include assembly (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), conference (the Church in Wales), convention (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Lutheran Church of Australia; The Episcopal Church—most dioceses), and council (the Anglican Church of Australia, The Episcopal Church—the Dioceses of Mississippi, Virginia, and Northwest Virginia).

In addition to a synod or its equivalent a judicatory in a synodical form of ecclesiastical governance may have an executive body that conducts the affairs of the judicatory between the meetings of the synod or its equivalent. The functions of this body are prescribed in the bylaws, canons, ordinances, or regulations of the judicatory. This executive body is variously known as the Bishop-in-Council, Bishop’s Council of Advice, Diocesan Board, Diocesan Council, Executive Board, or Standing Committee.

One of the peculiar features of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church, when compared with other Anglican Provinces, is that they typically have a Standing Committee and a Diocesan Council or Executive Board. These two bodies have different functions. The Standing Committee serves as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese in the absence of the diocesan bishop or during a vacancy in the office of diocesan bishop. It may have other duties and responsibilities. The Anglican Church in North America has adopted this peculiar feature for its judicatories. Its canons prescribe that all its judicatories must have a Standing Committee.

In place of a Standing Committee of the type found in The Episcopal Church, other Anglican Provinces have a Diocesan Administrator or Vicar General who performs various duties and responsibilities of the Diocesan Bishop in his absence or during a vacancy in the office of Diocesan Bishop. In the case of the Diocese of Armindale in the Anglican Church of Australia the “Senior Clergyman”—the senior most presbyter by date of ordination in active ministry in the diocese—has responsibility for taking the necessary steps to convene a Special Session of the Synod of the Diocese for the purpose of electing a bishop or delegating the choice of a bishop to a Selection Committee. He also has other responsibilities prescribed by the ordinances of the Diocese.

The election or appointment of these bodies varies from judicatory to judicatory. They may be elected by the synod or appointed by the bishop in consultation with the synod and subject to its approval. They may be elected in part by the synod and appointed in part by the bishop.

The form of ecclesiastical governance in a judicatory may be conciliar. The term “conciliar” is used to describe “the theory of church government that places final ecclesiastical authority in representative church councils instead of in a papacy.” It can also refer to any form of ecclesiastical governance in which a representative church council governs the judicatory.

The conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance is similar to the synodical form of ecclesiastical governance except that the judicatory has no bishop. However, a conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance may have a moderator, president, superintendent or the equivalent who is elected by the representative governing body and whose role is close to that of a bishop in a synodical form of ecclesiastical governance, for example, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church of Australia. The president of a district in these Lutheran bodies has similar duties and responsibilities as a bishop does in an Anglican diocese. In these two bodies a new pastor, however, is ordained by the pastors of the district at an ordination service. The district president’s responsibility is to make the necessary arrangements for the ordination.

Conciliar forms of ecclesiastical governance are involuntary and voluntary. In the involuntary conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance the congregations forming the judicatory and the clergy licensed by the judicatory are bound to comply with the decisions and policies of the representative governing body of the judicatory. In uniting with the judicatory they have agreed to submit themselves to the authority of its representative governing body.

In the voluntary conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance the decisions and the policies of annual meeting of representatives of the congregations that form the judicatory only affect the ministries and programs that the judicatory itself operates. They are not binding upon the congregations forming the judicatory. Rather they may constitute recommendations to these congregations, which may accept them or disregard them as they choose. The local congregation is the final authority in all matters. It may choose to contribute toward the support of the ministries and programs that the judicatory operates or it may elect not to support them. This form of ecclesiastic governance is generally seen in denominations with a congregationalist polity (Southern Baptist Convention).

The representative governing body in a conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance usually has an executive body like that of a synod or its equivalent of a judicatory with a synodical form of ecclesiastical governance. The membership of this executive body, the mode of their appointment or election, and their term of office, and the functions of the executive body are prescribed in the bylaws, canons, ordinances, or regulations of the judicatory.

In a follow-up article to this one I am planning to examine specific provisions of the constitution and canons of the Anglican Church in North America and their implications for existing judicatories as well as groups of churches exploring formation as a judicatory of the Anglican Church in North America. In drafting its own constitution and canons would-be judicatories need to be wary of the “minimalist” approach that then Common Cause Partnership Moderator Bob Duncan urged the Governance Task Force to adopt. The result was two instruments of governance that are lacking in precise language and sufficient details where such language and details are needed.

The thinking behind this approach see these documents as a mandate that the leadership may use to do whatever they see fit, rather than as norms and procedures by which they must operate. As a consequence the present leaders have exercised much more discretionary judgment than the ACNA constitution and canons, if strictly interpreted, allows them. They have taken actions that constitute flagrant violations of the provisions of these documents. They are taking what in terms of constitutional and canonical interpretation is a very liberal approach to these documents—adding to them without formally amending them. At this stage member congregations and clergy of the ACNA appear to be willing to tolerate such an approach. The precedents that the present ACNA leaders are establishing, however, may prove even more problematic in the future when a different set of leaders replaces them.

At the middle judicatorial level such an approach would be as problematic as it is at the international level, if not more so. (The Anglican Church in North America has a judicatory in Canada as well as judicatories in the United States.) This is only too evident from reading the history of the Church particularly in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

The norms and procedures by which a middle level judicatory is to operate need to be delineated in clear but concise language with ample detail where it is needed. The limits of the discretionary powers of various decision-making bodies and officials need to be well defined. It should be plain to everyone in the judicatory, including the bishop or bishops that the judicatory will be operating in accordance with the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law. Vague references to traditional episcopal powers should be avoided as such powers are open to wide interpretation and are a potential source of conflict. Two or more different groups, when they read the judicatory’s constitution and canons or their equivalent, should have the same understanding of what they say and what they mean. The instruments of governance of a judicatory should foster cooperation and mission, not competition and factionalism. Otherwise the congregations and clergy of the ACNA judicatories will in a few years find themselves in the same kind of predicament as they experienced in the dioceses of The Episcopal Church that they left.

To read "Methods of Episcopal Appointment and Election--Part 1" click here.

Anglicans in Brazil

It is my great pleasure to announce the launching of new website, Anglicans in Brazil.

More than ever, we need to renew our vision of what it means to be an Anglican. My conviction is that not only is being reformed the most authentic way of being Anglican – we’ve been saying that for years – but also that being Anglican is the best way of being Christian.

Firstly, because the Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles, the Prayer-Book and the Homilies) subject themselves at every turn to the authority of scripture. Though they provide an extraordinarily rich theological foundation, they also offer themselves to be tested against a scriptural norm.

Second, because Anglicanism has a great sense of what is of primary and what is of secondary importance. Other Protestant denominations have a tendency to make secondary issues – like the manner of baptism or church discipline or church government – a primary distinguishing mark. And they endlessly divide because of it. The Anglican formularies commit us to important things – and allow us freedom under Scripture on the secondaries. What a blessing!

Third, Anglicanism is a great mission strategy. From the beginning, Cranmer and the others knew that they were in a battle for hearts – hearts, like Catherine Parr’s, that needed conversion. Today, the opportunities opening up for mission because of our Anglican networks – in Brazil and elsewhere – are extraordinary.

To visit the Anglicans in Brazil website, click here.

Church of the Holy Spirit, Leesburg, Settles Into New Home

Pastor Clancy Nixon reflects on the strides the church he founded 18 years ago has made.

It started out as a small meeting in his family living room, where eight people showed up.

"Four of them were named Nixon," he says with a smile.

Then an attorney in private practice, Nixon said he was called to full-time ministry by the Lord and envisioned that his role would be in church planning.

The Church of the Holy Spirit, affiliated with the Anglican Church of North America, was born out of Truro in Fairfax and moved to Ashburn in 2000, where it remained for 10 years in different forms.

"When we had 72 people in our living room we realized it was time to move," he said.

For nine years, the church gathered at Mill Run Elementary School, where each week church-goers would help in setting up and tearing down the school gym for church services.

"It was a wonderful time for us," Nixon says. "It was a way that people could serve that's so different from a traditional church. It helps to remind us that church is the people not the steeple."

To read more, click here.

Hispanic Population Helping U.S. Christianity Thrive

With the Hispanic population booming in the U.S., one prominent evangelical believes Hispanics will be the “lifeguards for Christianity in America in the 21st century.”

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez made the comment to The Christian Post on Tuesday in response to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, released last week, which revealed that the Hispanic population has grown to 50.5 million, or roughly 1 in 6 Americans.

That marks a 43 percent growth over the last 10 years. The Hispanic population growth accounted for over half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population.

Reflecting on the massive increase, Rodriguez, president of America's largest Hispanic Christian organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, talked about the impact from a church perspective.

It has “two powerful impacts” on the church, he said.

Firstly, “it forces the Anglo-Saxon American churches to expand their outreach in their communities.”

He explained, “Previously, the Anglo-Saxon church was able to survive by reaching out exclusively to its own people, but now it can no longer do so.”

Secondly, the Hispanic church is experiencing the fastest growth in history in such a way that the largest denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, Churches of God, and The United Methodist Church, among others, have confirmed that their growth comes largely through Hispanic churches.

“In other words, without the Hispanic population the evangelical church in the U.S. would decline,” he observed.

To read more, click here.

What makes good preaching?

We know it when we hear it, but what makes good preaching? Why does one person think preaching is good while another doesn’t?

Preaching is

David Jackman, to founding principal of the Cornhill Preaching College in London has just left Australia and taught at Cornhill Sydney and at Moore College. His summary of preaching is very helpful.

Quoting John Piper, Jackman says that ‘the aim and purpose of preaching is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men and women’. David Jackman goers on to say that God is the perfect communicator through his Word, and so when we preach to an audience he asks ‘where is the Bible?’ He says that in many of our pulpits the Bible is behind the head of the preacher who is facing the congregation. That is, the preacher reads the Bible and preaches himself. Jackman would rather have the Bible figuratively positioned between the preacher and the congregation, so that the congregation sees and hears the Word of God; because it is the Word of God in the hands of God that produces the work of God.

So the first element of good preaching comes from the God who speaks. We must preach the truth spoken by the true and living God made known to us through the Scriptures.

To read more, click here.

Church Easter Service Ad Pulled for Mention of Jesus

A pre-movie advertisement promoting an Easter church service was banned from local theaters because of its mention of Jesus.

Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, Calif., created the 30-second ad to air for three weeks on 45 movie screens across Orange County starting April 1, paying more than $5,000, according to ABC.

The commercial posed questions about what some conspiracy theorists believed may have happened to Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Claims like “the disciples stole the body” and “Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross” were mentioned.

It asked moviegoers “Did it really happen?” And ended with “Why we actually believe in the resurrection.”

But the money was returned and the ad was pulled for its “controversial” material, mainly its mention of Jesus, and its failure to comply with specific guidelines set by National CineMedia.

The agency for the national theater remarked that their constituents might be offended by such an advertisement.

To read more, click here.

Archbishop of Sydney urges Christians to defend true Gospel

Unless Christians acted now to defend the church and the true Gospel, liberal forces that preached a false Gospel would prevail within 10 years, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) said in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Speaking at a meeting of the FCA in St Saviour’s Anglican Church last night, Jensen said that the turmoil in the worldwide Anglican Communion which was triggered by the approval of gay marriages and ordination of gay bishops in North America, highlighted an issue that was much broader than homosexuality: it went to the authority of Scripture and the heart of the Gospel. He said the issue was not just a threat to Anglicans but to the church at large.

He warned that the apparent lack of any decisive action by the liberal leaders within the Anglican Communion was in fact a calculated strategy to stall for time in the confident expectation that the majority of church members would gradually come around to their viewpoint which was shaped by modern culture rather than by the authority of Scripture.

To read more, click here.

Ordinariate Watch: No date yet for local Anglican Ordinariate

No date has been finalised yet for the foundation of the Australian Ord­inariate, says Bishop Peter Elliott, the Bishops' delegate for assisting lay Anglicans wanting to join the Church, reports the Catholic Weekly.

"In Australia we are quietly moving to that stage when we hope the Holy See will establish an ordin­ariate," said Bishop Elliott, auxiliary Bish­op of Mel­bourne.

It had been hoped the first personal ordinariate would be established by June.

To read more, click here.

Spiritual Growth Isn’t Imitation – It’s Inhabitation

The Bible says the key to spiritual growth is, “Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 GWT) You can’t be like Christ on your own power. It’s simply not possible. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. So, spiritual growth isn’t imitation; it’s inhabitation!

Remember a few years ago when so many people were wearing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets? It’s an interesting question, but it’s also an impossible proposition. The only way you can do what Jesus would do is if the Holy Spirit empowers you.

As pastors, we need to emphasize there’s both a mystical and a physical element to spiritual growth. There’s a part for people to do and there’s a part that only God can do.

To read more, click here.

Ordinariate Watch: Archbishop Collins begins timetable for Ordinariate

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins has asked Canadians interested in joining a Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans to signal their intention in writing by May 31.

He told the Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference on March 26 he wanted to “clarify the commitment” of individuals to find out “who wants to proceed, understanding exactly what it means.”

Archbishop Collins, who is the Episcopal Delegate representing the Holy See in the formation of a Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans within the Catholic Church, stressed the importance of individual conscience, and that each individual have “fully informed consent to this.”

Though May 31 is not a deadline and Anglicans can commit to joining later, Archbishop Collins said he wanted to provide the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) with an idea of preliminary numbers.

To read more, click here.

Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands, Buys Oaksworth Farm

Looking for a new home after breaking with the Diocese of Virginia, the Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands last week purchased the 24-acre Oaksworth Farm located just north of Oatlands Plantation.

Oaksworth Farm was operated as a Christmas tree farm and vineyard by retired diplomat Marian Czarnecki, who sold the farm in 2005 and died in February.

The Rev. Elijah White said the acquisition was fortuitous for both the church and Oatlands Plantation, as the two entities now protect each other from development.

Our Saviour had been among 11 conservative Episcopal parishes in Virginia to break with the Diocese of Virginia and the national Episcopal Church over doctrinal and other issues and join the Anglican Province of Nigeria.

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Methods of Episcopal Appointment and Election—Part 1

By Robin G. Jordan

In its constitution and canons the Anglican Church in North America makes provision for two methods of electing the bishops of a judicatory (i.e., cluster, diocese, or network) in the ACNA. Before the adoption and ratification of the ACNA constitution and canons there was a heated debate on the Internet regarding these methods of episcopal election. While allowing the ACNA founding entities such as the Reformed Episcopal Church to continue to elect their own bishops, the constitution and canons were open to interpretation as requiring groups of churches uniting with the ACNA as new judicatories to delegate the selection of their bishop to the College of Bishops. The form for application for recognition as an ACNA judicatory supported this interpretation, stating that the group of churches applying for recognition should nominate a slate of two or three candidates from which the College of Bishops might select a bishop for the new judicatory.

A spokesman of the Governance Task Force that drafted the proposed ACNA instruments of governance eventually made a public statement to the effect that new judicatories were free to elect their own bishops like the founding entities as long as their constitution and canons made provision for this method of episcopal election. This spokesman stated that Article IV.7 of the ACNA constitution recognizes the right of each judicatory to establish and maintain its own form of governance, constitution and canons not inconsistent with the provisions of the ACNA constitution and canons.

The Governance Task Force, however, did not change the language of the constitution and canons to make it clearer that newly formed judicatories were free to elect their own bishops. They retained the existing language that appears to require newly formed judicatories to employ the second method in the selection of a bishop and which commends this method of episcopal election to the founding entities. The provisional Provincial Council did not withdraw the application for recognition form that instructed groups of churches seeking to unite with the ACNA to nominate two or three candidates for bishop and to submit their names to the College of Bishops. The group of churches that formed the Diocese of the West would submit two names to the College of Bishops. However, the group of churches that formed the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic would elect their own bishop.

In this article I examine the methods used by a number of judicatories to select a bishop. Most of the judicatories are Anglican. I have also included for further comparison the methods of episcopal election of the Anglican Mission (formerly the Anglican Mission in America), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Roman Catholic Church. The latter has strongly influenced episcopal election methods of the African Provinces, as has traditional African society.

In promoting so-called African forms of ecclesiastical governance the advocates of these forms fail to consider the influence of both the Roman Catholic Church and the indigenous culture upon the African Churches and the theological differences between Roman Catholicism and historic Anglicanism and the cultural differences between North America and Africa above and below the Sahara. Moreover, a number of methods touted as African are in actuality not African at all. While the churches that have adopted them may have a connection to Africa, these practices originated in the Roman Catholic Church and corporate America.

The methods of episcopal election examined in the article show the wide range of methods that were available to the Governance Task Force and they raise questions as why the Governance Task Force chose the two methods that it did—particularly the second method. The Governance Task Force could have drafted a provision that left it entirely to the judicatory how it chose its bishop (as the constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia does).

A comparison of the episcopal election methods examined in the article with the provisions of the ACNA constitution and canons regarding the election of bishops also draw attention to a number of other problems in the wording of these provisions. If a group of churches seeking to unite to the ACNA adopts the second method and delegates the selection of its bishops to the College of Bishops, the ACNA constitution and canons do not bind the College of Bishops to choose the bishops from the nominees the judicatory submits to it. They do not state what happens if the College of Bishops rejects the judicatory’s nominees. They also do not prohibit the College of Bishops from nominating and electing its own candidate for bishop of the judicatory. They also do not state whether a judicatory, having delegated the selection of its bishops to the College of Bishop can rescind that delegation. They presumably can if Article IV.7’s recognition of the right of a judicatory to adopt its own form of governance, constitution, and canons is interpreted as having final authority in the matter. But it is very possible that the qualifier, “not inconsistent with the provisions of the ACNA constitution and canons,” could be given greater weight at a later date. Whether a judicatory can rescind its delegation of the selection of its bishops to the College of Bishops has yet to be tested.

As we will see, the second method is modeled upon the method of episcopal election used in the Anglican Church of Rwanda, which is derived from a similar method used in the Roman Catholic Church but given a conciliar form with an episcopal synod replacing the Pope. It represent a significant departure from the longstanding tradition of judicatories’ electing their own bishops in the North American Anglican Church, a practice that can be traced to the early Church and which was preserved in the Church of England in the practice of the canons of the cathedral of a diocese electing a new bishop after consultation with leading lay persons in the diocese.

It is also similar to the provisions in the proposed canons of the Anglican Missionary Province in North America that was submitted to a meeting of Anglican archbishops and bishops at Kampala in November 1999 with what would become the Solemn Declaration of Principles of the Anglican Mission in America. It was at this meeting that the AMiA was launched.

Title III. Ministry
Canon 9. Bishops
Section 2.

Any Diocese of this Church may at a Synod of the Diocese, by majority vote of Clergy and Laity voting by orders nominate three Presbyters to the House of Bishops one of whom to be chosen by the House of Bishops to become the Bishop of the said Diocese. The name chosen will be sent back to the Diocese to be ratified by the Synod of the Diocese that will reconvene for that purpose. Should, for any reason, the name not be ratified, the Diocese will go through the process anew in order to send up a new slate of three names to the House of Bishops. When a name is chosen and ratified by the Diocese, the President of the House of Bishops shall take order for the consecration of the Bishop-elect.

These provisions incorporate a number of procedural safeguards that are missing from the provisions of the ACNA constitution and canons.

The strong influence of the Anglican Mission is seen in the ACNA constitution and canons. The minimum age requirement for ACNA bishops is the age requirement of Anglican Mission and Anglican Church of Rwanda missionary bishops. It is also the minimum age requirement for Roman Catholic bishops. The ACNA canons contain a number of provisions that are adapted from the Anglican Church of Rwanda’s canons, which in turn are adapted from the Roman Catholic Church’s canons. The Rwandan canons are the work of Anglican Mission Canon Kevin Donlan, a former Roman Catholic priest, who studied canon law at Cardiff University. Bishop Murphy and Canon Donlan represented the Anglican Mission on the CCP Governance Task Force that drafted the ACNA constitution and canons. The ACNA Provincial Assembly is modeled upon the Anglican Mission’s Winter Conference, which is not involved in the ecclesiastical governance of the Anglican Mission. After influencing the organizational structure of the ACNA at its highest levels, the Anglican Mission decided against full integration into the ACNA and opted for ministry partner status, leaving the ACNA with a constitution and canons designed in part to facilitate its integration into that body.

With these developments in mind, let us take a look at the various options that were also available to the Governance Task Force. All of these options are found on the Internet. As readers examine the options with me, I believe that they will conclude as I have that a number of the problem areas that I have identified were avoidable.

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. An Electoral College consisting of those persons entitled to clerical votes and lay votes in the Synod of the Diocese by a majority of clerical votes and a majority of lay votes nominates a Bishop or delegates its right of nomination to any person or persons. The nomination of the person to be bishop is submitted to the Primate for sanctioning. The Primate submits the nomination of the person to be bishop to the General Synod, if in session, or otherwise to every voting member of the General Synod. If the nomination is sanctioned by the General Synod, or by the members of the General Synod when not in session, the Primate takes the necessary steps for giving effect to the nomination once the nominee has declared in writing both assent to the Constitution and adherence and sub¬mission to the authority of the General Synod and has accepted the nomination.

Anglican Church of Australia. The Anglican Church of Australia is organized into ecclesiastical or internal provinces as are a number of other Anglican Provinces, e.g., the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), and The Episcopal Church.

Under the provisions of Chapter III.8 of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia a diocese is free to determine in its constitution or its ordinances or regulations under its constitution the manner or manners of election of the bishop of the diocese. The provincial synod is authorized to prescribe by ordinance how the election of a bishop elect of a diocese will be confirmed except when a diocese is not a part of a province in which case the General Synod is authorized to prescribe by canon the method of confirmation.

The following descriptions of the methods of episcopal election of nine Australian dioceses show the variety of episcopal election methods found in the Australian Church. As may be seen the most common election method is election of the bishop of the diocese by the synod of the diocese, meeting as an Election Synod. The Australian dioceses value their autonomy. Most Australian dioceses were established independently of each other. A few were originally a part of another diocese.

Diocese of Adelaide. Nomination by Bishop Nomination Committee consisting of Diocesan Administrator and clerical and lay members of the Synod elected by the Synod, and election by the Synod, meeting as an Election Synod. The election must be confirmed under the provisions of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia or “any Canon of the General Synod that may for the time being be in force in the diocese.” The Election of a Bishop Ordinance 2002 contains this provision.

9. If the Synod shall fail on three successive occasions to elect a Bishop then the Synod may, either absolutely or subject to any conditions it may think fit to impose, delegate its power and authority to elect a Bishop to the members of the House of Bishops for the time being of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, and the election shall be made by them in such manner as they shall determine.

Assistant Bishops are appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese after consultation with the Diocesan Council.

Diocese of Armindale. Nomination by the members of the Synod; election by the Synod at a Special Session called for purpose of electing of a bishop.

The Special Session of Synod may delegate its responsibility for electing a bishop to a committee of clergy and lay members of the Synod “subject to any conditions that it may see fit to impose.” If the committee fails to elect a bishop within 6 months of the date of its formation it is—“by that very fact”—dissolved, and a Special Session of Synod must be convened.

The Bishop Appointment Ordinance 1984-1999 stipulates:

12. Before any person be deemed the lawful Bishop of the Diocese, his appointment shall be confirmed as provided in the Determination of the General Synod for the confirmation of Bishops, in force in the Diocese for the time being.

Diocese of Brisbane. Archbishop—Nomination by the diocesan bishops of the province; election by Archbishop Elections Committee consisting of clerical and lay members elected by Synod; and confirmation of election of Archbishop elect “subject to confirmation as prescribed by canon of the Synod of the province of Queensland.” Additional nominations may be made by the members of the Archbishop Election Committee after the Committee has considered the submissions of the bishops of the province. As used in the Archbishop Election Canon the term “province” refers to the internal province, not to the Anglican Church of Australia. The Archbishop Election Canon contains this failure to elect section:

10. In the event of the failure to elect within a period of twelve months from the date of the first meeting of the Committee, the appointment shall vest in the members of the house of bishops of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia; and the Administrator shall request the Primate to call such meeting or meetings of the house of bishops (at the expense of the diocese) as shall be necessary to make such appointment.

The appointment of Assistant Bishops is made by the Archbishop with the concurrence of the Diocesan Council. The Assistant Bishop Canon stipulates:

6. No priest appointed to the office of an Assistant Bishop shall be consecrated unless the appointment of such priest as to canonical fitness pursuant to section 74(1) of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia has been confirmed in the manner prescribed by The Confirmation of Bishops Canon of the Province of Queensland in force for the time being.

Before an archbishop or bishop of the Anglican Church of Australia may appoint an assistant bishop, he must clear a number of hurdles. The appointment of an assistant bishop ordinances of the Australian dioceses generally require that the synod of the diocese authorize the creation of an office of assistant bishop before the archbishop or bishop may make an appointment to that office. They may also contain provisions like the following provisions from the Diocese of Brisbane’s Assistant Bishop Ordinance:

4. Before making any such appointment the Archbishop shall notify the Primate of an intention of making the appointment and inform the Primate of the stipend provided for the occupant of the office.

5. No appointment shall be made until the Primate has informed the Archbishop in writing that the Metropolitans or a majority of them are satisfied that a sufficient stipend has been provided for the occupant of the office.

Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Nomination by members of the Synod; election by the Synod meeting as an Election Synod. Confirmation by the metropolitan and bishops of the province in accordance with the provisions of the Provincial Ordinance for the Confirmation of Bishops' Elections Ordinance 1965 of the Province of New South Wales.

Diocese of Grafton. The Governance Ordinance of the Diocese of Grafton limits the tenure of the bishop to ten years. The normal mandatory retirement age is 65. The bishop’s tenure may be extended for periods up to three years by a Bishop’s Tenure Review Committee consisting the Metropolitan of the Province of New South Wales or the Metropolitan’s nominee who must be in Episcopal Orders; a person nominated by the Bishop of Grafton; and “one cleric and one lay person elected by the of the Synod of the Diocese held immediately prior to the Bishop reaching 65 of age and then at each subsequent first session of the Synod.” His tenure may not be extended beyond the age of 70. Nominations for bishop are made by the members of the Synod and a Bishop Nomination Board prepares a list of candidates. The Synod meeting as an Election Synod elects a new bishop. The Diocese of Grafton’s Governance Ordinance contains these provisions:

33 Referral to Bishop-in-Council
33.1 Should Synod decline to proceed to election or has been unable to elect, the question of the election of a Bishop shall be referred to Bishop-in-Council which shall proceed to nominate a person canonically fit to be Bishop of the Diocese.
33.2 Any such nomination by Bishop-in-Council shall be the subject of a ballot by the Election Synod on the question that the said nominee be elected Bishop of the Diocese. If a two-thirds majority of the members present of each House votes in the affirmative, that nominee shall be declared to be duly elected.

The ordinance further stipulates:

35 Election Result Announcement
35.1 No member of the Electoral Synod may disclose the name of the Bishop elect until it has been published by the President of the Electoral Synod.
35.2 The name of the Bishop-elect must not be published until–
(a) the name of the Bishop-elect has been communicated to the Metropolitan and Bishops of the Province in accordance with the provisions of the Confirmation of Bishops' Elections Ordinance 1965 of the Province; and
(b) if the Bishop-elect is not a Bishop of the Anglican Church of Australia, the election has been confirmed by the Metropolitan and Bishops of the Province in accordance with that Provincial Ordinance.

Diocese of North Queensland. Nomination by the members of the Synod of the diocese; preparation of a Nominations List by a Nominations Committee; election by the Synod meeting as an Election Synod; and confirmation of the election of the bishop elect “in accordance with the procedures in force in the Diocese at the time….” Assistant Bishops are appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese with the concurrence of the Diocesan Council.

Diocese of Sydney. Nomination by the members of the General Synod of the diocese, election by the General Synod, and confirmation in accordance with the provisions of The Provincial Synod Ordinance for the Confirmation of Bishops’ Elections (N.S.W.) Assenting Ordinance 1965.

Assistant bishops may be appointed by the Archbishop with the prior approval of the Standing Committee. The Metropolitans of the Province must certify the availability of funds for a stipend for each assistant bishop.

In the second part of this article I will continue my examination of various methods of episcopal election used in the Anglican Church of Australia and other Anglican Provinces. I will give particular attention to the episcopal election methods used in the five Global South Provinces that provided episcopal oversight to founding entities of the Anglican Church in North America—Kenya, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Nigeria, and Uganda. I will also look at the methods used in four Northern Hemisphere Provinces—Canada, Wales, England, and Ireland—and an extramural Anglican body—the Church of England in South Africa. The latter is one of three evangelical jurisdictions, the formation of which was prompted by the Tractarian and Ritualist movements in the nineteenth century. The other two jurisdictions are the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Church of England in South Africa has a close relationship with the Diocese of Sydney and is a member of GAFCON.

Five Significant Facts about Church and First–Time Guests

Healthy and growing churches pay close attention not only to their members but also to those who are not yet a part of the flock. New people are the lifeblood of a growing church. We want to ensure that nothing impairs or cuts off the flow of new people to the church.

Pastors need to be aware of five significant facts about first-time guests looking for a church home.

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Ministry Mulligans

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "mulligan" is a free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played.

I used to be a pastor. For nearly two decades, I enjoyed the thrills, spills, chills and can't-quite-pay-the-bills of local church ministry. Now, five years after packing up my office for the final time (including two boxes of Leadership back issues), I still think about those years in the pastorate every single day. No exceptions. It's as though the word pastor is branded on my heart. And as I reflect on those 1,000 weeks in the world's most glorious, dangerous profession, I often think about what I would do differently if I had another shot at it. If I was given a ministry mulligan, here is what I'd do with it.

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Developing a Core Group: The Underground Stuff of Church Planting

In drawing this material together, we will explore several questions. The first question is"What is a core group?" The short answer to this question is, "a core group is the new church in seed form." New churches have genetic codes that determine their nature. Multiple factors inputthe development of this code. Two primary sources of this encoding are the core group and thepastoral leadership. These two sources can dramatically impact the size, strength, health,personality and reproductive capacity of the new church. A prominent church growth writer hassaid, “Your first 20 members will determine who your next 100 members will be--even if therewill be a next 100.” It is best if the core group reflects the ministry focus group and lives withinthe target area for the new church. The gathering, developing and deploying of a core group is the process of preparing a new church for its planting. In a graphic, it is the underground stuffthat prepares for the church plant, or the church “going public.” The African American ChurchPlanter’s Guidestates, “The core group are those people you recruit to help you plan and launch the new work.” Two words of warning are added:

1. When gathering a core group, don’t recruit just anyone; be cautious and prayerful.

2. Remember that your core group will influence the attitudes of your new congregationfor many years. (p. 52, 53)

Lyle Schaller echoes the same sentiment as he writes,

From a long-term perspective one of the most significant decisions in planting newchurches is the choice of that initial cadre of volunteer leaders. A review of theexperiences of new congregations reveals a huge array of alternative approaches for enlisting that initial cadre of volunteer leaders. Perhaps the worst approach is to blessevery person who comes long and volunteers to be a leader. The second worst is thetraditional search for warm bodies to fill vacant slots in the organizational table

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Evangelical Alliance: Bell's 'Love Wins' Void of Clear Answers

The oldest alliance of evangelical Christians in the world has weighed in on the controversy over Rob Bell and his new book on heaven and hell.

Calling for a debate characterized by respect, humility and grace, the U.K.-based Evangelical Alliance acknowledged Bell's "brilliant communication" skills and passion to make God's love known.

But what Bell presents in Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived is confusing and unclear, the alliance said.

"I can see now why people are asking whether Rob Bell is a universalist (all will be saved in the end) or not, because it's unclear," Derek Tidball, a member of the Alliance's Board and Council, said in his review Tuesday. "Brilliant communication sometimes gets in the way.

"The book contains volleys of rapid-fire questions but isn't so good at giving answers, at least not clear ones."

In Love Wins, which is No. 2 on The New York Times Best Sellers list and sparked wide debate even before its release this month, Bell raises numerous questions about Jesus, salvation and eternal life that many likely hold.

To read more, click here.

Related article: Driscoll: Without Jesus, You Go to Hell

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Board-and-Batten Anglican Churches: St Paul's Anglican Church, Middleport, and Wooden Ecclesiology

Wooden Anglican churches in Ontario of the second half of the 19th century are not plentiful. In the first place, rich, large and/or more ambitious congregations opted to build their churches in stone or brick rather than wood because a masonry edifice was seen to be more permanent. Secondly, wooden edifices were more susceptible to destruction by fire.

The survival of St Paul's Anglican Church in the village of Middleport, located on Highway #54 about 22km east-southeast of Brantford, is therefore quite remarkable (Figs 1-3). The History of Brant County published in 1883, records that St Paul's was 'erected during the year of 1868, on an eligible plot of ground, the gift of Robert Wade, Esq.'. The church is described as 'A neat frame building with tower and bell, its value being $1,500'. St Paul's was consecrated in 1880 by Isaac Hellmuth (1817-1901), Bishop of Huron (1871-1883).

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This Is Islam: Second Afghan Convert Faces Death Penalty under Apostasy Law

An Afghan Christian convert remains in jail awaiting the death sentence that an apostate is likely to receive under Afghanistan’s apostasy law. Just a month prior, fellow Christian believer Said Musa was granted religious asylum in Europe.

Shoaib Assadullah, 23, was arrested on Oct. 21 last year in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the fourth largest city in Afghanistan. He had given a Bible to a friend, who later reported him to authorities. Assadullah was locked up in the city’s jail roughly the same time the international community rallied behind Said Musa.

“Diplomatic attention has now shifted on Shoaib Assadullah’s freedom, yet five months have passed and little progress has been made,” said Aidan Clay, International Christian Concern (ICC) regional manager for the Middle East. “The international Christian community must stand together and be a voice for Assadullah in the same way that it was a voice for Musa.”

Since Musa’s release in late February, watchdogs monitoring Christian persecution expressed dismay toward the Afghan government for its complacency in protecting Christian converts.

“While the Afghan government relented by releasing Said …Afghanistan continues its anti-Christian crackdown and is far from altering any policies to protect apostates,” Clay explained. “Diplomatic attention has now shifted on Shoaib Assadullah’s freedom, yet five months have passed and little progress has been made.”

In prison, Assadullah reportedly endured physical abuse and death threats from fellow prisoners and guards. Although Assadullah has not been tried, he expects to receive the death penalty for his conversion from Islam.

To read more, click here.

'Facebook Depression' Affecting Teens, Report Says

Youths who spend a lot of time on social media sites are at risk of "Facebook depression," a group of doctors say.

Though the symptoms and the resulting harmful behavior may be similar to "offline depression," the American Academy of Pediatrics has proposed Facebook depression as a new phenomenon.

The AAP issued a new clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families,” published online on Monday, detailing both the negative and positive effects of social media use on youth and families.

The report points out that the number of preadolescents and adolescents using such sites as Facebook and MySpace has increased dramatically during the last five years.

Facebook currently has more than 500 million active users. According to ComScore, a firm that measures Internet traffic, the share of visitors to Facebook under 18 years of age increased over the past year to 11.1 percent.

A 2009 Common Sense Media poll revealed that 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day.

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The Christian Worker’s Prayer Life

I WAS ONCE INVITED by a publisher to write a book on Prayer. You can be quite sure that I would never have volunteered myself for such an assignment. As I put in my introduction, ‘How hypocritical one feels in making the attempt!’ Anyone who writes or speaks about this most vital of all Christian activities will essentially need to be addressing oneself ahead of anybody else. Otherwise it would not be possible to face the Lord with integrity.

And then prayer as it relates to the Christian worker; how does this differ from prayer in general? In one sense, not at all. Prayer is God’s appointed means by which his work is done in our world. In co-operation with him, we pray; he works! He works in our own lives and in people and situations outside of ourselves. The newest believer can be involved from Day One.

But it is, perhaps, the full appreciation of this point that transforms a Christian beginner into an active worker. The simple action of turning up at the church prayer meeting is enough to demonstrate that we mean business with God; that we expect things to happen! As you take your seat there, say to yourself, ‘Just by being here, I am a Christian worker.’

We sometimes talk about ‘praying for the work.’ The reality is that prayer IS the work. It is the most important thing that we can ever do for the kingdom of God.

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7 lessons we can learn from critics

I really don't like to be criticized. A criticism can make my entire day gloomy. I have to wonder how someone so thin-skinned ended up in the position where I am today.

Still, when it's all said and done, I have to say that I have benefited in many ways from criticisms. Indeed, part of my training to be a better leader comes from dealing with critics. Let me share with you seven lessons I have learned from them.

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Manchester Cathedral: From Via Media to Via Medium

The success of the nineteenth century Tractarians and their successors in promoting the idea that the Church of England represented a ‘via media’ between Protestantism and Catholicism was such that it is still accepted by many today as one of Anglicanism’s main defining features. But this mythology is being replaced by another and it is not a change for the better. It is what we might call a ‘via medium’, a project which is already well under way in TEC, to reshape Anglicanism into a New Age style spirituality which bypasses the cross and promises personal fulfilment through connection with a mysterious and many faceted world of ‘the Spirit’.

Yesterday, some enthusiasts for this movement slightly overreached themselves and attracted headlines in the national and regional press after it was announced that Manchester Cathedral would be the venue for a diocesan ‘New Age’ style Festival themed as ‘Spirit of Life’. Planned for 2 May, Manchester Diocese’s website promised ‘about 25 workshops and stalls covering poetry, Franciscan spirituality, arts and crafts, healing, icons, angels, meditation, personality profiling, music and blessings, labyrinths, dream interpretation, Christian symbolism of gem stones, tarot and Celtic saints, prayer bead making, choral evensong, foot and hand massage, Jesus Deck readings, Taize chants and, finally, fire breathing!’

And the Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch was quoted as adding ‘Practitioners from all over the country will be on hand to offer their experience of how God speaks to us today through the cultural language and practices so common in mind, body, spirit fairs.’

Not surprisingly, the press ran headlines such as “Manchester Cathedral to host tarot card readers and healers at ‘new age’ festival”, almost immediately followed by the unmistakable sound of crunching gears as diocesan communications staff struggled to engage reverse.

To read more, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nearly 1 in 5 Experience Food Hardship

Lorraine Hanks, a former nutrition instructor, can barely afford to put food on her table.

Two years ago, she was laid off after 17 years working for San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department, teaching people about healthful meal planning. Still unemployed, the single mom manages to feed her children with free produce and dry goods she gets from the San Francisco Food Bank.

Hanks is one of a growing number of Americans struggling to nourish her family, according to a study released this month by the Food Research and Action Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that works to end hunger.

To read more, click here.

Tiny church finds original King James Bible

A little English village church has just made a remarkable discovery.

The ornate old Bible that had been sitting in plain view on a table near the last row of pews for longer than anyone could remember is an original King James Bible - one of perhaps 200 surviving 400-year-old original editions of arguably the most important book ever printed in English.

In fact, the Bible at St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England, was sitting right under a hand-lettered sign saying it was an original.

The sign said it had been found in "the parish chest" in 1857, that the cover had been added, and that it was the second of the two impressions published in 1611 - the year of first publication.

But no one knew whether to believe it, parish council member Geoff Procter said. As the anniversary of publication in 1611 approached, they decided it was worth investigating.

"We had no way of knowing whether it really was a 1611 Bible so we had to get it verified somehow," he said.

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Why There Are Still Atheists

A lot of ink has been spilled over whether God exists. Within this context, some theists like to point out that "God has made it plain" that he exists, that "God's invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20). They urge us to remember that the "heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps. 19:1). In a recent Christianity Today article, Jim Spiegel cites these passages and writes: "This naturally prompts the question: If the evidence for God is so abundant, then why are there atheists?"

Spiegel asserts that for many atheists, it's not "cool, rational inquiry" that led to their atheism. Rather, in many cases it's complex moral and psychological factors that produce atheism. For example, Spiegel points to research suggesting that some prominent atheists had broken, defective relationships with their fathers. Others live in perpetual disobedience and rebellion—resisting lifestyle changes required upon adopting theism. And still others confess that they just don't want there to be a God. Spiegel contends that immorality has cognitive consequences—it impedes one's ability to recognize that theism is true.

To read more, click here.

Growing Intolerance for Christianity in U.S.

"In a world of political correctness devoid of the rule of law, tolerance has come to mean total rejection of Christianity and moral standards. Modern tolerance redefines words like 'marriage,' 'discrimination,' 'equality,' 'morality,' and even 'absolutes.' The word 'tolerance' as it is used today never includes opposing arguments or competing worldviews. Tolerance has become Orwellian and decidedly intolerant." – Matthew Staver, Dean and Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law.

A few examples of recent intolerance for Christianity:

• The Supreme court determining to exclude anyone who prays in Jesus name from a rotation of officials who open city business meetings

• The removal of US military Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, over the issue of praying in Jesus Name

• UCLA’s prohibiting a graduating student from thanking her “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in her graduation speech

• Colleges making special accommodations for foot baths and Muslim only prayer rooms, while a Muslim group membership may be suspended or revoked for 57 reasons including but not limited to: unbecoming behavior, insubordination, or inactivity; but denying Christian groups campus recognition “because it requires its officers and voting members to agree with its Christian beliefs"

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Is the New Testament Forged?

A new book by a major New Testament scholar is sure to make mincemeat of many people’s faith. Needlessly.

The scholar is the iconoclastic Dr. Bart Ehrman, who teaches religion at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The book is called Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Ehrman said on a radio broadcast that about 75 percent of the New Testament documents are supposedly forged. They’re frauds.

Dr. Sam Lamerson is a conservative New Testament scholar who teaches at Knox Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale. (By way of full disclosure, I earned a theology degree there). He heard Ehrman on a radio broadcast say words to this effect: “I want to be the scholar that uses the F-word about the Bible. I want people to know that these books were forged.”

“Forged” is a strong word. Several of the New Testament books claim no authorship at all. Church tradition has attributed them to various writers, but the biblical text itself does not claim authorship for these particular books. For instance, none of the four Gospels (of which tradition names the writers as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) actually have the names of the authors at the beginning of their documents.

But if a document is anonymous, how could it be a forgery?

To read more, click here.

First Rob Bell, now Bart Ehrman.

Malone alum to start Anglican church in Stark

The 28-year-old has been assigned the task of planting a new Anglican congregation in Stark County.

He will conduct a series of informational meetings April 1, 6 and 9.

A native of St. Clairsville, Chase graduated from Malone University in 2005 where he majored in Bible and theology. He also earned a master of divinity degree in 2010 from the Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.

“I grew up in the Friends church, but I never really (embraced) the theology of a Quaker,” Chase said. “I was more Calvinistic in high school. In college, I began reading the early church fathers and very much agreed with what I read.”

Chase said he found his spiritual destiny when he read the Anglican Common Book of Prayer. Compiled in 1549 by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, the central purpose of the Book Of Common Prayer is the “Daily Office,” a liturgy of prayers and Scriptures.

Chase likens praying the Daily Office to running a spiritual marathon.

“It’s a well-worth path that’s at the heart of Anglicanism,” he said. “What really brought me to Anglicanism was a prayer life grounded in the ancient prayer life of the church.”

Chase is assistant pastor at Holy Cross Church in Kent under the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, which has churches in Akron and Hudson.

To read more, click here.

Manchester Cathedral to host tarot card readers and healers at 'new age' festival

Manchester Cathedral is to host a ‘new age’ festival featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers and ‘dream interpretation’.

Local Anglican leaders have agreed to throw open the doors of the historic cathedral in a bid to embrace alternative forms of Christianity.

Fortune tellers, meditation experts and traditional healers will fill the pews during the day-long festival in May. The Bishop of Manchester, Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said he wanted to celebrate ‘all forms of spirituality’.

The Spirit of Life festival on May 2 will also feature stalls and workshops on angels, prayer bead-making and massage.

Fire-breathing vicar Rev Andy Salmon, of Sacred Trinity Church and St Philip with St Stephen in Salford, will also perform.

Bishop Nigel said the unconventional activities were not incompatible with Christian belief.

To read more, click here.

Related article: Church of England row as cathedral opens doors to tarot card readers and crystal healers in 'new age' festival

I read the comment of an Anglo-Catholic priest who saw this development as anothe reason to join the Anglican Ordinariate. He obviously has not been to New Orleans where Jackson Square in front of St. Louis Cathedral (Roman Catholic) is filled with fortune tellers or to Mexixo where the fortune tellers do business inside the Roman Catholic cathedrals as well as on the plazas outside them and the Roman Catholic Church turns a blind eye to them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Raising a Home Place

By Robin G. Jordan

In western Kentucky where I live, in the Land between the Lakes, is the Home Place, a replica of the homesteads that the earlier pioneers who settled the Jackson Purchase built. It has a house and outbuildings, a garden, and fields. It is a favorite of the tourists who visit the Land between the Lakes in the summer. The early pioneers came to Kentucky from Virginia, crossing the Appalachian Mountains through the Cumberland Gap. They were looking for a place where they might start a new life. This part of Kentucky was at one time dotted with small family homesteads. One generation after another would farm the land. Times have changed. The family farm is becoming a thing of the past. The old home places are disappearing one by one. This may be a part of the fascination that the Home Place holds for visitors to the Land between the Lakes. It is not only a window to the past but also it symbolizes something for which many people yearn--a place where the family has lived for generations—a fixed point of reference in our ever-changing world, a place that generations of family members have called home.

In my article, “No Place to Call Home,” I drew attention to the predicament of traditional Anglican evangelical congregations that form in Canada or the United States. They must become independent or compromise their convictions and affiliate with an Anglican body that does not fully share their beliefs and values. North America has no Anglican body that upholds the historic Anglican formularies; maintains the Protestant and Reformed character of historic Anglicanism; affirms the teaching of the English Reformers on such matters as Holy Scripture, justification, the sacraments, and ministry; and uses a Prayer Book that is consonant in doctrine and liturgical usage with the classical Anglican Prayer Book of 1662. Traditional Anglican evangelical congregations are at a real disadvantage as far as preserving their theological identity and producing more congregations that share their theological outlook if they are not a part of a judicatory that also shares the same theological outlook. This includes congregations that decide to become independent.

In the past evangelicals in the Church of England have organized pastoral aid societies, or home missionary societies, through which they were able to help and support each other. They also established trusts that acquired the patronage to parishes, enabling the trustees to always nominate evangelical clergy as the pastors of these churches. Where a diocese had an Anglo-Catholic bishop or a bishop who otherwise was not friendly to evangelicals, they planted independent evangelical churches. In Scotland they established a loose network of licensed chapels. These congregations were known as the English Episcopal Chapels. They used the English Prayer Book and called English evangelical ministers. They were not subject to the Scottish Bishops. The primary reason for their establishment was theological. The Scottish Episcopal Church was High Church and Anglo-Catholic. English evangelicals found in the Scottish Prayer Book a great deal that was objectionable.

As long as evangelicals in the Church of England had bishops who were willing to ordain evangelicals as ministers and to license them for ministry in their dioceses, these strategies worked for them. However, they cannot rely on such strategies today. The number of bishops willing to ordain and license evangelical ministers is decreasing. In time evangelicals may have no bishop who may be willing to ordain them, much less license them.

The same strategies have limited application in North America. Traditional evangelical congregations and clergy might benefit from establishing their own pastoral aid organization. But in the Anglican Mission that places a high value on organizational loyalty such an organization would eventually be viewed as a competitive organizational structure and therefore a threat to the effective operation of the Anglican Mission, which relies to a large extent on this organizational loyalty for its effective operation.

A pastoral aid organization might not be viewed as much as a threat to the effective operation of the Anglican Church in North America but one cannot say that with any certainty. Over time the involvement of a congregation and its clergy in such an organization might lead to questioning of their loyalty to the ACNA and would result in pressuring of the congregation and its clergy to disassociate themselves from the organization.

Neither the Anglican Mission nor the Anglican Church in North American can be expected to look positively upon the establishment of new churches that are independent of their respective organizational structures. The new churches would face the same problems as traditional evangelical congregations that upon forming become independent. An evangelical pastoral aid organization might address some of these problems but it would not resolve all of them.

These two strategies would not by themselves fully address the problems of preserving a traditional Anglican evangelical identity and producing more congregations and clergy committed to authentic historic Anglicanism. Over time the establishment of a number of independent evangelical churches with no real connection to historic Anglicanism might exacerbate the problem.

At issue here is not just the preservation of a theological identity or the multiplication of congregations and clergy standing in a particular ecclesiastical tradition. It is the transmission of the New Testament gospel and the apostolic faith as the English Reformers understood them.

For historic Anglicanism and traditional Anglican evangelicalism apostolic succession is not a succession of bishops but a succession of doctrine. This demands that not only congregations and clergy are taught sound doctrine but also that they teach sound doctrine. It also demands a succession of teachers, ordained and non-ordained, who are sound in their doctrine along with structures which ensure that their teaching is indeed sound. This is where a judicatory plays a critical role. This is also where both the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church have failed and where the Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America fall short.

If traditional Anglican evangelicals and other Anglicans who are committed to authentic historic Anglicanism have any plans to organize a non-geographic diocese or sub-provincial jurisdiction within the Anglican Church in North America, the time is now. The window of opportunity to erect such a diocese or sub-provincial jurisdiction is closing. If it indeed closes and they have done nothing or their efforts met with opposition from ACNA leaders, they can expect to find themselves in an environment in which it will become increasingly more difficult to teach sound doctrine, to maintain their theological identity, and to transmit the same to others.

What is involved here is not a petty dispute over secondary matters—over candles, vestments, and the like. Anglican’s Protestant and Reformed heritage is at great risk of being lost to posterity. With it will vanish the New Testament gospel and the apostolic faith as the English Reformers understood them.

If ACNA leaders are not willing to agree to the establishment of a non-geographic diocese or sub-provincial jurisdiction for traditional Anglican evangelicals and other Anglicans committed to authentic historic Anglicanism, this needs to be brought out into the open so that Anglicans committed to authentic historic Anglicanism outside North America can see where the ACNA stands. If ACNA leaders are not willing to a agree to a protocol waiving the application of objectionable doctrinal provisions of the constitution and canons to such a judicatory as was done for the Anglican Mission, this also needs to be made public. Silence in this matter does a great disservice to those who are seeking to determine what should be their next course of action.

Whatever they may believe, traditional Anglican evangelicals and other Anglicans committed to authentic historic Anglicanism—to “the true gospel” and “the Protestant Reformed religion” of the 1688 Coronation Act—cannot hope to maintain a witness to their faith and to pass it on to another generation scattered throughout the Anglican Mission, the Anglican Church in North America, and other jurisdictions, Anglican and non-Anglican, without organizing themselves. No present organization that recognizes the existence of the problems identified in this article, much less appreciate their nature, extent and seriousness, exists in North America.

An organization committed to the promotion of authentic historic Anglicanism would be no panacea but it could further raise awareness of problems and bring people together to work on solutions. It could develop and disseminate educational and training materials and resources. It could establish and administer grant-in-aid and scholarship programs for qualified individuals preparing on a part or full time basis for licensed or ordained ministry in an approved residential program, non-residential program, distance-learning program, correspondence course program, or program of independent study. It could develop and implement strategies such as apprenticeship programs, conferences, in-service training programs, internship programs, mentoring programs, seminars, study groups, and work shops for preparing qualified individuals for licensed or ordained ministry.

An organization committed to promoting authentic historic Anglicanism could foster the use of the classical Anglican Prayer Book—The Book of Common Prayer of 1662—wherever and whenever its use is practicable. It could develop and recommend guidelines for the revision of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and develop and recommend specific proposals for the revision of the 1662 Prayer Book. It could develop and disseminate alternative rites and forms of service in the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and good contemporary liturgical English for use together with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which are consonant to Scripture, which conform to the biblical and Reformation teaching of the 1662 Prayer Book, and which in liturgical matters show due regard to the continued use of the Prayer Book and its continuance as the standard of the Anglican worship and prayer. It could develop and recommend guidelines for Anglican churches that have adopted local patterns of worship and develop and disseminate worship resources for such churches.

An organization committed to the promotion of authentic historic Anglicanism could also lay the foundation for a convocation of churches committed to authentic historic Anglicanism within which congregations that are not a part of an existing Anglican body and which wish to form a voluntary association of churches for common mission, mutual support and aid, and the recruitment, training, and oversight of clergy and other gospel workers might unite. Congregations and clergy that are a part of an existing Anglican body might over time find reason to migrate to this convocation as it become apparent to them that authentic historic Anglicanism had no future in that body. If the convocation was to prove itself effective in planting new churches as well as to show growth through the transfer of churches from other Anglican bodies and the affiliation of independent churches, it might shift the equation in North America. It might even lead evangelicals outside of North America to question the global South Primates endorsement of the ACNA as “a genuine expression of Anglicanism” and look to the convocation as the true expression of authentic historic Anglicanism in North America.

An organization committed to promoting authentic historic Anglicanism could network with other groups and organizations outside of North America that share its aims. Between them they could plausibly bring about a renaissance of authentic historic Anglicanism. It is time to think big in the service of the kingdom and for the glory of God, to not allow the limits of our imaginations to become an obstacle to what we can accomplish to further the cause of the gospel. God has a way of giving the wherewithal—the money or the other means needed—to those who seek to honor him with their audacity.

On the frontier in the pioneer days neighbors would come from miles around to help a new family to raise a home place. It would be a community undertaking even though the members of that community might be widely scattered. In western Kentucky they call this neighborliness—the willingness to lend a neighbor a helping hand. We need to recover this old-fashioned value in our day and time. Those who share a commitment to authentic historic Anglicanism need to start thinking of themselves as a community. While they may not be close to each other, they are neighbors. They can lend each other a helping hand. Together they can raise a home place. They can raise many home places. They can raise a home place for folks like themselves. It is something to think about, and when we have done thinking, to do something about.