Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Indian Ocean: Archbishop issues appeal for cyclone-hit Madagascar


Thirty-one people have been killed and 250,000 left homeless after Cyclone Giovanna devastated Madagascar.

Part of the Dioceses of Toamasina and Antananarivo in Madagascar have been destroyed by Cyclone Giovanna. The death toll, now at 31, continues to rise and the number of people homeless has reached 250,000.

The local bishop sp0ke of a "desperate" situation, whilst the primate Most Rev Ian Ernest appealed to Anglicans worldwide to help those devastated by the disaster. Keep reading

9 dead, dozens hurt after possible tornadoes rip through Midwest


A powerful storm system that produced multiple reports of tornadoes struck the Midwest early Wednesday, killing at least nine people in Illinois and Missouri.

Lt. Tracy Felty of the Saline County Sherriff's Office said six people were reported dead in the small town of Harrisburg, Ill., one of the areas hardest hit by the early morning storm. The apparent twister tore through the area around 5 a.m., causing widespread damage.

In Missouri, three people were killed -- one in a trailer park in the town of Buffalo, Fox News has learned. At least three people were critically injured in the small eastern Kansas town of Harveyville.

The tornadoes were spawned by a powerful storm system that blew down from the Rockies on Tuesday and was headed across the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys toward the Mid-Atlantic region. Keep reading

Related articles:
Up to 15 Tornadoes Rip Through Midwest; 4 Dead
9 dead in storm aftermath; weather threat moves east
Storms damage country music resort town, kill 9
Storm, tornadoes damage Missouri, Illinois, Kansas; kill 9

Updates:
Massive storm system claims at least 12
Storms Cross the Midwest and South, Crushing Towns
Torando destroys Branson, Missouri
Tornadoes pound 7 states, killing 12

'Naked Archaeologist' finds signs Jerusalem cave was used to bury Jesus' disciples


Simcha Jacobovici, an Emmy-winning documentary director and producer, hopes findings of current explorations will substantiate his earlier theory that Jesus was buried in a nearby cave.
Under an ordinary residential building in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, a robotic arm with a camera inserted into a Second Temple-era burial cave has revealed mysterious inscriptions and drawings on ossuaries.

Simcha Jacobovici, an Emmy-winning documentary director and producer who is best known for his documentary TV series "The Naked Archaeologist," argues that the cave served as a burial cave for at least some of Jesus' disciples.

Jacobovici is exploring the cave for his latest documentary project, backed by the Discovery Channel, and hopes his findings substantiate his earlier theory that a nearby cave is the one where Jesus was buried. He made that claim in a previous documentary, and said the theory was backed up by the names found on the ossuaries, or receptacles for bones, in the cave.

The discoveries could potentially have revolutionary implications for the understanding of early Christianity and of Jesus as a historical figure.

Jacobovici's previous theories were based on findings by others, and a press conference he is scheduled to hold today in New York to unveil a book and film about his current project will be the first time he and his colleagues reveal findings from their own explorations.

Every few years, Jacobovici shakes up the archaeological world, mainly with his interpretations of Second Temple-era finds having to do with the New Testament. Last year, he argued that a pair of nails found in another burial cave in Jerusalem were the original nails used to crucify Jesus. Keep reading

Related articles:
New find revives 'Jesus Tomb' flap
New Archaeological Discovery Questions Jesus' Bodily Resurrection
'Jesus Discovery' Has 'Zero Percent Chance' of Being True, Say Experts

Church discipline - what happened?


The Bible could not be clearer about the reality and necessity of church discipline. While it is right to expect Christians to be undergoing the process of sanctification, in a sinful world, from time to time there are people who are not growing to be more like Jesus in this way. And, sadly, there are some occasions when professing Christians rebel against godly behaviour.

1 Corinthians 5 is perhaps the clearest place that the Bible speaks to the need of discipline. The Corinthian church is proud of the sexually immoral behaviour of someone who professed to know and follow Christ. The church is told that some form of discipline is necessary both for the sake of the rebellious person (1 Cor 5:5) and also to protect the whole church from accepting, and ultimately engaging in the same kind of sinful behaviour (1 Cor 5:6).

The excommunication of the one professing to know Christ under such circumstances is hard, but necessary for the spiritual well being of all concerned. Keep reading

The myth of the eight-hour sleep


We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.
In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. Keep reading

According to this article, waking up in the middle of the night appears to be a a part of a normal human sleep pattern. From a Christian perspective, the time between "first sleep" and "second sleep" is a great opportunity to read the Bible, to mediate upon God's Word, and to pray rather than fretting about falling back to sleep again. The Bible talks about praying in "the watches of the night." Generations of devote Christians have taken advantage of this time to seek God in prayer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An American Prayer Book (2009): The Canticles


THE CANTICLES

Venite (Psalm 95)

O come, let us sing to the Lord;*
let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving*
and be glad in him with psalms

For the Lord is a great God*
and a great king above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth*
and the heights of the mountains are his also

The sea is his, for he made it,*
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down*
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God;*
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.

The canticle may end here with 'Glory to the Father…'

O that today you would listen to his voice:*
'Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
on that day at Massah in the wilderness,

'When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof,*
though they had seen my works.

'Forty years long I detested that generation and said,*
"This people are wayward in their hearts;
they do not know my ways."

'So I swore in my wrath,*
"They shall not enter into my rest." '

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,*
and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now*
and shall be for ever. Amen

Keep reading

An American Prayer Book (2009): Collects and Readings at Holy Communion


COLLECTS AND READINGS AT HOLY COMMUNION

The following Collects, based upon those provided in The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, are to be used with the services in this book.

The Reading from the Old Testament, the Psalm, Epistle (or Reading from the New Testament) and Gospel may be taken from one of the modern lectionaries of the Church of England or another Province of the Anglican Communion. If the Epistle and Gospel are taken from the Eucharistic Lectionary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, a Reading from the Old Testament may be taken from
Proper Lessons To Be Read at Morning and Evening Prayer, on the Sundays, and Other Holy-Days Throughout the Year and the Psalm from Proper Psalms on Certain Days of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or any other approved source such as the Table of Lessons and the Table of Proper Psalms for Sundays and Holy Days of the Church of Ireland’s 1926 Book of Common Prayer.

The First Sunday in Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came among us in great humility so that on the last day, when he will come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN. An English Prayer Book (1994), altered

This collect is to be said daily during Advent until Christmas Day)

The Second Sunday in Advent

Blessed Lord, you have caused all the Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: grant us so hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, encouraged and supported by your holy Word, we may embrace and always hold fast the joyful hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN. An Australian Prayer Book (1978)

Third Sunday in Advent

Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare the way before you, grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN. An Australian Prayer Book (1978), altered

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Raise up your great power, Lord, and come among us to save us; that, although through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us through the sufficiency of your Son our Lord to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be honor and glory now and for ever. AMEN. An Australian Prayer Book (1978), altered

The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas Day

Almighty God, who gave us your only Son to take our nature upon him and to be born of a pure virgin, grant that we, who are born again in him and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN. An English Prayer Book (1994)

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Six Barriers That Hinder Small Group Growth


Did you know that you get a new skeleton every seven years? Your bone marrow is constantly creating new bone, and you’re sloughing off old cells so that your skeleton can grow with your body. For your church to keep growing, your structure also has to change constantly.

The only purpose of restructuring is to prepare your church for growth and to break through barriers. About 95 percent of all the churches in the world stop growing before they get to 300 people because they are structured to be at a size less than 300. It’s not the problem of the pastor or the people; it’s a problem of the structure.

We often ask the wrong question. The wrong question is, “What will help my church grow?” The right question is, “What is keeping my church from growing?” Growth is natural. All living things naturally grow. I don’t have to command my grandkids to grow; they just do it, if they’re healthy. If your church is healthy, then it is going to automatically grow.

A church becomes healthy by removing the barriers and balancing the purposes. There are 10 common barriers that keep our churches from growing. The first six are.... Keep reading

How Will They Hear?


A surprising way to spread the word about your church.
What's your best bet for spreading the word about your church? The Internet, of course. Well, maybe not. Believe it or not, the newspaper is still an important communication venue. Pew Research asked adults which sources they rely on most for information on businesses, restaurants, and clubs. Top responses:

Internet: 28%

Local Newspaper: 18%

Word of Mouth: 13%

Keep reading

Splinter churches realign mainline Protestantism


There's a popular saying in church-planting circles: It's easier to make babies than to raise the dead.

That principle applies to denominations as well, said the Rev. Paul Detterman, who helped found the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians in January.

"We thought it was easier in the long run to create something new rather than to keep on trying to modify existing forms," he said.

The "existing form," in Detterman's case, was the Presbyterian Church (USA), which remains the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination despite a decades-long plunge in membership.

The ECO may steepen that decline. Thousands of conservative Presbyterians, upset over the PC(USA)'s vote to lift its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy last year, are eyeing the new group. Planning for the ECO, which will not ordain sexually active gays and lesbians, preceded that vote, Detterman said.

Nonetheless, the ECO represents the third new mainline Protestant denomination since 2008 to split from a national church following elections to permit partnered gay clergy. Keep reading

What reformation?

Is Iran Using Youcef Nadarkhani's Case as Political Leverage?


Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, told Fox News Monday that Iran is using the case of Youcef Nadarkhani as political leverage, using the sanctions enacted against the country as an excuse to keep the Christian pastor imprisoned.

As Sekulow told Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly, he believes the Iranian regime is trying to use Nadarkhani's case as a "bargaining chip" against the sanctions placed by the U.S. on Iran.

"That's just not right. We're not going to let that happen," Sekulow told Kelly. Keep reading

Related article: Youcef Nadarkhani's Case Proves World Still Concerned About Religious Freedom

Survey: Pastors Mostly Assess Church's Mission, Reputation to Improve


Pastors looking to improve their church mostly focus on assessing their church's mission and assessing their church's image in the community, according to a new survey.

According to The Barna Group's findings, 88 percent of pastors surveyed said they were definitely or probably going to "assess your church's vision and mission" and 72 percent said they were definitely or probably going to "assess your church's reputation in the community" in trying to improve their church.

David Kinnaman, who oversaw the research, remarked in a statement that pastors across the country are looking to adjust to the new realities of the culture. Keep reading

The Intolerance of Tolerance


Several times in the past decade D.A. Carson has been asked to give a public lecture at one university or another. Three times he has taken the opportunity to speak on the subject of tolerance, or intolerance, as the case may be. Those lectures proved the foundation of what would become his cleverly-titled new book, The Intolerance of Tolerance.

Here’s the thing: In a society obsessed with tolerance, we are actually not tolerant at all. It’s all a big lie, a big fiction, and we’re all playing along. In order to claim tolerance we’ve had to rewrite the definition of the term and in so doing we’ve put ourselves on dangerous ground. Tolerance has become part of the Western “plausability structure”—a stance that is assumed and is not to be questioned. We are to be tolerant at all times. Well, almost all times, that is.

Carson begins by showing that tolerance presupposes disagreement. That’s the beauty of being tolerant—one person expresses disagreement with another but still tolerates him, accepting that differing views exists even while holding fast to his own. He puts up with another person even though they do not believe the same thing. But over time there has been a subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle shift in the word’s meaning. Today’s version of tolerance actually accepts all differing views. We’ve gone from accepting the existence of other views to believing that we need to accept all differing views. This brings us into the natural outworking of postmodernism, a philosophy that denies the singular nature of truth. Keep reading

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just in time for Lent: Here are a few suggestions on how to end your prayer problems


Prayer problems fall into two major categories:

1) things that are wrong in your attitudes or actions; or

2) things that can interfere with your concentration and hinder the effectiveness of your time alone with God. Keep reading

Bishop defends gay priest appointment


The Anglican Bishop of Gippsland has defended his decision to appoint an openly gay priest to a local parish, saying he has acted appropriately.
Bishop John McIntyre, says his decision to appoint Reverend David Head, who formerly held a position within a Melbourne parish, to the parish of Heyfield is in line with the policy of his diocese.

Bishop McIntyre's decision was criticised by a group called the Anglican Church League who, according to reports, had claimed that the appointment was in conflict with a resolution made at the Anglican Bishop's 1998 Lambeth Conference.

But Bishop McIntyre says the recommendation from that conference pertained particularly to the ordination of gay priests. Keep reading

Michael Youssef: Christians More Persecuted Today Than at Any Time


Evangelicals Should Focus on Persecuted Nations Despite Bad Economy at Home, Pastor Said During the NRB Convention
The bad economy should not stop evangelical Christians from sharing the Gospel and also humanitarian aid in nations with high Christian persecution, Pastor Michael Youssef, founder and president of Leading The Way ministries, said in a speech earlier this week.

Despite having "problems at home," evangelical Christians should not ignore the need for missionary work and they should sacrifice resources even at a time of recession, which is not the case currently, Youssef said at the National Religious Broadcasters convention.

Besides being the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Ga., Youssef is also a media personality with his weekly television and daily radio programs broadcasted in 20 languages and reaching into more than 200 countries.

Youssef continued that a "half-hearted effort to support global mission" is not enough. Evangelicals need to get out of their "comfort zone" in order to truly follow the biblical teachings. Staying in that "comfort zone" puts lives of Christian minorities at stake, Youssef suggested.

"When God's people refuse to get out of their 'comfort zone,' tragic consequences follow," the minister said, quoting grand historical examples. Would the Vikings have had ravaged Britain if someone had taken the Gospel to them, he asked.

"Christians are being more persecuted today than at any time except in the first century," Youssef stated. Keep reading

Prayer book contest to take place


Young people will recite their favourite passage from a prayer book as part of a speaking competition in London.

The Cranmer Awards is seen as a way to introduce younger generations to Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican church's founding liturgy. The awards are in their 23rd year.

Young people aged between 11 and 18 who have won regional heats in Church of England dioceses and at various literary and public speaking awards, will take part in the final on March 1, at Sutton's Hospital Chapel, The Charterhouse, London. Keep reading

Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti murdered


Recife bishop and wife killed by their adopted son
The Diocese of Recife reports that Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife were murdered in their home in Olinda in Northeastern Brazil last night. The bishop's adopted son is alleged to have knifed his parents following a quarrel.

On 26 February 2012, at approximately 10:00 pm the bishop returned to his home in Olinda after having visited a parish earlier in the day. The bishop’s son is alleged to have pulled a knife on his father and stabbed him.

Mirian Cavalcanti, the bishop’s wife, attempted to intercede and was stabbed also. The two died at the scene.

The bishop’s son, Eduardo (29) who had lived in the United States, sources tell Anglican Ink, is believed to have had a history of drug abuse and petty crime. The younger Cavalcanti was facing deportation from the U.S. at the time of the crime. Keep reading

Swedish Homeschoolers Face Persecution


Homeschool Leader Flees Swedish Persecution
As the government intensifies its persecution of homeschoolers in Sweden, the president of the Swedish Association for Home Education (ROHUS) has finally been forced into exile with his family in neighboring Finland. The battle for human rights and homeschooling in the Scandinavian kingdom, however, is far from over.

The Swedish Parliament passed a draconian law in 2010 purporting to ban homeschooling, all school curriculums except the Swedish government’s, and all alternative education nationwide. Despite a global outcry, the prohibition went into effect last year. Dozens of families were left wondering what fate might await them. But so far, the official persecution campaign has backfired in a stunning way.

After fighting a valiant years-long battle for the right to homeschool in his native land, ROHUS chief Jonas Himmelstrand (above left) — probably the most prominent advocate for homeschooling in Scandinavia — decided it was time to join more than a dozen families that have already fled. The persecution was only getting worse, and there was not much cause for optimism about the immediate future. Keep reading

Facing persecution, Swedish homeschoolers seek American help
Swedish homeschoolers are seeking help from their American counterparts as they face persecution including harassment, fines and separation of families for not sending their children to government-sanctioned schools.

"We ask our fellow home educators to email the Swedish authorities on a mass scale about the situation in Sweden," Jonas Himmelstrand, president of the Swedish Association for Home Education, said.

"We want to let Swedish officials know that their actions have drawn international attention. Please write to the Swedish Embassy in your country on our behalf," Himmelstrand said. Keep reading

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An American Prayer Book (2009): Alternative Forms of Morning and Evening Worship


ALTERNATIVE FORMS
OF MORNING AND EVENING WORSHIP
FIRST FORM

GATHERING IN GOD’S NAME

Instrumental music may be played. Hymns and songs may be sung. The minister may greet the people, who may greet each other.

The minister may read aloud one or more of the sentence of Scripture on pages 10-14, 18-19, and 33-34 or other suitable sentences of Scripture.


CONFESSION OF SIN

The minister then reads one or more of these sentences of Scripture.

When a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord; so turn and live. Ezekiel 18: 27,32

I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51: 3

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Psalm 51: 9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51: 17

Rend your hearts, and not your garments. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and relents over disaster. Joel 2: 13

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us. Daniel 9: 9-10

Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.
Jeremiah 10: 24

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 3: 2

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
Luke 15: 18-19

Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
Psalm 143: 2

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 8-9

The minister says this Exhortation. He may omit the second paragraph.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Scriptures encourages us repeatedly to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not try to hide them from Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient hearts, so that we may receive forgiveness through God’s infinite goodness and mercy.

[We ought at all times humbly to admit our sins before God, but chiefly when we meet together to give thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to offer the praise that is due him, to hear his holy word, and to ask what is necessary for our bodies and souls.]

Therefore let us approach the throne of our gracious God and say together:

Or he may omit the Exhortation, saying instead

Let us humbly confess our sins to Almighty God.

All kneeling, this general Confession or another authorized General Confession is said by the whole congregation with the minister.

Heavenly Father, you have loved us with an everlasting love, but we have gone our own way. We have broken your holy laws and have left undone what we ought to have done. We are sorry for our sins and turn away from them. For the sake of your Son who died for us, forgive us, cleanse us, and change us. By your Holy Spirit enable us to live for you and to please you more and more each day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

This Absolution or another authorized Absolution, or declaration of forgiveness, is pronounced by the priest alone standing; the congregation still kneeling.

God desires that none should perish but all should turn to Christ and live. In response to his call we acknowledge our sins. He pardons those who humbly repent and truly believe the gospel. Therefore we have peace, through Jesus Christ to whom be blessing and honor for ever.

The congregation answer AMEN.

Or instead of the Absolution the minister may say this prayer

Merciful God, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace; that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Or this Word of Assurance may be said.

If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1,2

Or a short period of silence may be kept.

PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD

All stand, and the minister says

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
His steadfast love endures for ever.

This thanksgiving or another suitable thanksgiving may be said here or after the time of praise.

Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed on us. For life and health and safety, for power to work and leisure to rest, and for all that is beautiful in creation and in human lives, we praise and glorify your holy name. But above all, we thank you for your spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. Fill our hearts with all joy and peace in believing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

A time of praise follows, including suitable hymns, songs, and prayers.

THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

One of the following prayers or a suitable alternative is said in preparation for the reading and teaching of the Scriptures.

Thank you, Father, for making yourself known to us and showing the way of salvation through faith in your Son. We ask you now to teach and encourage us through your word, so that we may be ready to serve you; for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.

or

Heavenly Father, give us wisdom and understanding. As we listen to your Word, may we know you better, love you more, and learn to please you in all we do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

or

We thank you, heavenly Father, for inspiring all Scripture by the Holy Spirit. By your Spirit, help us so to hear your holy word that we might be equipped for every good work, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

The First Reading from the Old Testament

The readings are announced, The First/Second Reading from…, chapter…, beginning at verse….

After each reading, the reader may say

Hear the word of the Lord,
thanks be to God

A psalm, hymn or song may follow the First Reading.

The Second Reading from the New Testament

A New Testament Canticle (see pages 47-59), hymn or song may follow the Second Reading.

The sermon may be preached here, after the Apostles’ Creed, or later.

A time of congregational reflection may follow, involving questions and discussion and mutual encouragement based on the sermon and the readings.

A hymn or song may be sung after the sermon. The offerings of the people may be received and presented at the Lord’s Table during this hymn or song or during the final hymn or song of the service.

The Apostles’ Creed is said or sung by all standing.


I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.


THE MINISTRY OF PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer is said here or after the Prayers.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. AMEN.

or

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. AMEN.

Prayers may be offered
for the world
for the community
for the work of the Church,
for the needs of individuals

See pages 79-86 and pages 140-141 for suitable patterns of prayer


The sermon is preached here if it has not been preached earlier in the service, and may be preceded by a hymn or song.

THE SENDING OUT OF GOD’S PEOPLE

One of these prayers or another suitable prayer may be said.

Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers, feeding us with your word, and encouraging us in our meeting together, take us and use us to love and serve you and all people, in the power of your Spirit and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or

God of wisdom, grant, we pray, that the words we have heard today may be grafted in our hearts so that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good works to the honor and praise of your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or

Almighty God, we thank you for your holy word. May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths, and strength to our lives, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

or

Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created, and by whose love we are redeemed: Guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

or

Lord Jesus Christ, send us out with confidence in your word to tell the world of your saving acts, and bring glory to your name. Amen.

The service may conclude with a hymn or song and one of the endings on pages 113-114, one of the blessings on pages 111-112, or the Grace.

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. AMEN. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Keep reading

In editing the HTML for this post, I inadvertently deleted a comment in response to the post and my own response to the comment. I have reproduced the comment and my response.

Matthias wrote:
I am a Catholic however I have discovered my Anglican heritage both in A PRAYER BOOK FOR AUSTRALIA and the BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. My Mum use to quote it to me verbatim. I was talking to a local Vicar and was was saying there are quite a few Anglican Churches of the Evangelical /Low Church branch who do not use any Prayer book. Are they still entitled to be called Anglican if they do not use the Prayer Book? (Oh and I still go to Mass and do worship at the Anglican church of the above said Vicar intermittently- )

I wrote:
Matthias, You raise an interesting question. Is Anglican identity tied to the use of prescribed forms of service? From what I gather, there is considerable latitude in the Anglican Church of Australia in how a congregation may worship on Sunday and at other times. The ACA has three authorized service books, The Book of Common Prayer (1662), An Australian Prayer Book (1978), and A Prayer Book for Australia (1995). A diocese may also produce its own service book as have the Anglo-Catholic diocese of Ballarat and the evangelical diocese of Sydney. I further gather this latitude extends to the use of local patterns of worship that do not involve prescribed forms of service. In the Church of England there is also considerable latitude in how a congregation may worship. The C of E has two service books, The Book of Common Prayer (1662) and Common Worship (2000). Common Worship includes most of the services of 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book and New Patterns of Worship, a guide to developing local patterns of worship and texts for use in these local worship patterns. The GAFCON Theological Resource Group in its commentary on The Jerusalem Declaration, Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, notes, "The Jerusalem Declaration affirms the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, while recognizing that many parts of the Anglican Communion have other forms of liturgy." It further notes,"the Anglican church in many places have developed informal patterns of corporate worship, with less obvious patterns than those found in the Prayer Book." Earlier it notes that acceptance of the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles is "constitutive of Anglican identity." The GAFCON position would appear to be is that Anglican identity is not tied to the use of a particular liturgy but to adherence to the doctrine of the classic Anglican formularies. Its answer to your question would appear to be is that as long as a congregation adheres to the doctrine of the classic Anglican formularies, it is Anglican. It appears to take the position that Anglicanism is confessional, not a particular way of worshiping.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

An American Prayer Book (2009): Prayers for Various Occasions


PRAYERS FOR VARIOUS OCCASIONS

PRAYERS FOR THE SUNDAY SERVICES

The prayers may be introduced with these or similar words.

Let us pray for the world and the Church.

or

Let us pray for all people and the Church throughout the world.

and/or

Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ has promised that you will hear us when we ask in faith: receive the prayers we offer.

The intercessions may close with a suitable collect or the Lord’s Prayer.

FORM A

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Hear our prayers, O Lord our God.
Hear us good Lord.

Guide and govern your holy Church, fill it with love and truth, and grant it the unity that is your will, binding it together with your Spirit.
Hear us, good Lord.

Give your Church boldness to preach the gospel in all the world, and to make disciples of all the nations.
Hear us, good Lord.

Enlighten the minds of all bishops, pastors, and ministers with true knowledge and understanding of your holy Word; that in their teaching and their lives they may declare it clearly and show its truth.
Hear us, good Lord.

Bless and keep all your people, that all may find and follow their true vocation and ministry.
Hear us, good Lord.

Give us a heart to love and reverence you, that we may diligently live according to your commandments.
Hear us, good Lord.

Give to all your people grace to meekly hear your Word, receive it with joy, and to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.
Hear us, good Lord.

Bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived.
Hear us, good Lord.

Strengthen those who stand, and comfort and encourage the faint-hearted, raise up those who fall; and finally beat down Satan under our feet.
Hear us, good Lord.

Give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and give to everyone in your world dignity, food, and shelter.
Hear us, good Lord.

Bless and protect your servant, the President of the United States, and rule his heart in your faith, reverence, and love; that above all things he may have trust in you, and seek your honour and glory.
Hear us, good Lord.

Endue with grace, wisdom and understanding the members of the Cabinet, the Congress of the United States, the Supreme Court, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and all in authority.
Hear us, good Lord.

Bless and keep all judges and magistrates, giving them grace to administer justice with fairness and mercy and to maintain integrity and truth.
Hear us, good Lord.

Bless and defend all who strive for our safety and protection, and shield them in all dangers and adversities.
Hear us, good Lord.

Grant us abundant harvests of the earth and the sea; strength and skill to conserve the resources of our planet; and wisdom to use them well and for the benefit of all.
Hear us, good Lord.

Enlighten with your Spirit all places of education and learning.
Hear us, good Lord.

Protect all who travel by land, water, or air, all women in labor, all sick persons and young children.
Hear us, good Lord.

Help and comfort the bereaved, the aged, and the lonely, and show your pity on all prisoners, captives, and detainees.
Hear us, good Lord.

Defend and provide for the widowed and the fatherless, the refugees and homeless, and all who are desolate and oppressed.
Hear us, good Lord.

Heal those who are sick in body, mind or spirit; and give skill and compassion to all who care for them.
Hear us, good Lord.

Come to the help of all who are in danger, need or trouble.
Hear us, good Lord.

Have mercy on all people.
Hear us, good Lord.

Forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and turn their hearts.
Hear us, good Lord.

Grant us true repentance; forgive our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and strengthen us by your Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to your holy Word.
Hear us, good Lord.

Here silence may be kept.

Keep reading

Ordinariate Watch: Former Anglicans celebrate Mass in St. Peter's, give thanks to pope


For perhaps the first time ever, Anglican hymns, chants and prayers reverberated off the marble walls of St. Peter's Basilica as some members of the world's first ordinariate for former Anglicans celebrated their coming into the Catholic Church.

"Wonderful is not a strong enough word to express how we feel to be here," where the apostle Peter gave his life "and where his successors guarded the faith for generations," said Father Len Black in his homily.

Mass at the basilica and the pilgrimage to Rome generated "a feeling of coming home," said the Catholic priest who served as an Episcopalian pastor in the Scottish Highlands for 31 years.

The group of about 94 pilgrims, including a dozen priests, was led by Msgr. Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in January 2011 for former Anglicans in England and Wales. Keep reading

"After celebrating morning Mass Feb. 24 in a side chapel, the group moved to the center of the basilica and stood in front of the 'Confessio' -- a lower chapel honoring St. Peter's confession of faith that led to his martyrdom -- and recited the General Thanksgiving, a traditional Anglican prayer." A General Thanksgiving was composed by the Right Reverend Edward Reynolds, Bishop of Norwich. It was composed for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Bishop Reynolds was a Puritan and one of the Westminster Assembly divines.

There may be no God, ‘but let us live as though there were’, says Bishop Richard Holloway


As bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway led his congregation in prayer and offered spiritual guidance to his flock in the Scottish episcopal church.

But now the former head of the Anglican church in Scotland has told how he began to lose his faith in God five years after he was ordained as a priest.

For years he was the tabloid’s favourite “Barmy Bishop”, as well as a popular if sometimes controversial figure among Scotland’s nearly 60,000 Episcopalians. Now Holloway’s new memoir, Leaving Alexandria, is rising rapidly up the best-seller lists and appears set to become a milestone in the 78-year-old former bishop’s career.

No stranger to controversy, the author of 25 books often wrestling with issues of faith told The Scotsman how his belief in the Bible began to ebb away within a few years of his ordination, although he continued to do his parish work. Keep reading

Prayer Walking: Putting Legs to Your Prayers


If we want to see God show up and show out we have to be willing to get out of the way. We are a culture that ‘plans’ everything and then asks God for His approval. But I believe that if we are going to see God move beyond our abilities or our plans, we must start with one very powerful thing. This is called PRAYER! Prayer is not ‘plan B’ or an afterthought. Prayer should be our ‘plan A’. It should be where we start with everything we do.

There has never been a mighty movement of God where He did not call His people to pray. Prayer revives the hearts of God’s people as it prepares our communties for God’s word to be spread. As we pray for our communities, we can begin to see a spiritual awakening around us that is prompted by God, not our gimics. Prayer allows us to tap into God’s power. Realizing all of this, we can know that concentrated prayer has the power to literally change the world around us. A great way to put our prayers into motion is through prayer walking our communities and neighborhoods. Keep reading

Sign Language Users Overlooked by the Church


Sign language is the fifth-largest minority language in the United States, but those who use it are often overlooked by the church.

In the United States alone, as many as 2 million deaf individuals are unable to listen to church sermons or speak with members of their congregation.

The Evangelical Free Church of America reports that "about 20 percent of Americans have some level of hearing loss," according to Dr. Marguerite Dartt, an Arizona-based audiologist.

"Deaf individuals have such severe hearing loss that they cannot be helped with hearing aids or cochlear implants, and they communicate through American Sign Language (ASL)," she said.

Because of this language barrier, many of the deaf are unable to participate in the church. Another reason is oftentimes churches don't always know how to incorporate deaf ministries into the church body, or don't have the means and resources to do so.

The EFCA is working to change that and give other churches help and ideas for implementing ways to reach the deaf. They have three approaches that churches can adopt. Keep reading

The Art of Making Conversation


Five tips on improving this important skill
Not everyone is a natural at creating conversation. However, this is an important skill for small-group leaders. Your ability to make conversation helps people feel at ease in your group and encourages them to participate in discussions. Here are some practical tips to build your confidence in facilitating conversation. Keep reading

Judge: NYC churches can meet in schools


A federal judge handed New York City churches a major victory Friday, issuing a preliminary injunction that will allow congregations to meet in schools while the lawsuit proceeds -- that is, unless the city wins on appeal.

The order by District Judge Loretta Preska made clear that all churches -- and not just the named plaintiff, Bronx Household of Faith -- will be able to meet in public schools. Unlike her previous order that was to last only 10 days, Preska's latest decision contains no expiration date, meaning it will remain in effect while the case proceeds -- or until a higher court decides differently. City attorneys said they would appeal.

Congregations are attempting to overturn a New York City Department of Education rule that prevents school buildings from being used for "religious worship services."

Preska's decision prevents the city from enforcing the rule against Bronx Household of Faith or "any similarly-situated individual or entity."

"If a rule is unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional as to all similarly-situated parties," Preska wrote. Keep reading

Related article: Court Lets NYC Churches Resume Worshipping at Schools

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anglican liturgy, evangelical worship style combine at Imago Dei in Orono


The Rev. Justin Howard stands before his congregation on Sunday afternoons dressed in liturgical garb unfamiliar to many in his flock at Imago Dei Anglican Church.

“A lot of people have questions about this,” he said, gesturing to the white alb, the long-sleeved, ankle-length vestment he wears over his clothes to conduct services. “It’s representative of our baptism. After all, Jesus wore a tunic. The cincture, this rope around my waist, signifies that we are bound in service to Christ.

“The stole that hangs around my neck represents servanthood,” he continued earlier this month. “I wear this Celtic cross because I believe the same spiritual DNA that was part of the early Celtic church is what we are planting here in Orono.”

Underneath his traditional church garments, the Anglican priest most often is clad in sneakers and blue jeans — the same kind of clothing worn by a most of the 40-60 people, a majority of whom are students at the University of Maine, who attend weekly worship services held at the Newman Center on College Avenue. Keep reading

I am posting articles like this one from The Bangor Daily News because they offer readers of Anglicans Ablaze a glimpse of the emerging face of the Anglican Church in North America.

How to Give Your Sermon Conclusion More Impact


We spend hours working on our sermons, in particular, making sure we grab the congregation’s attention at the start. Yet, far too many of us simply trail off at the end. We never press the congregation for a decision. A sermon without a conclusion is a message without a purpose.

Here are a few ways Pastor Rick makes sermon conclusions more effective.... Keep reading

3 Keys to Great Hospitality


I recently spent a few hours in a Starbucks in a large town far away from home doing some work for church and enjoying an exquisite Eggnog Latte. As always I positioned myself in a place that allowed me to watch the door. I saw that each and every person who entered immediately scanned the room before taking more than a few steps in. Many times they even stopped all together before entering. At first I thought they were looking for faces they knew, but then I realized that while that might be a part of it, they were really looking for something much more basic. They were looking for a welcome.

So I decided to do what I always do back home in my small town, I just began greeting everyone from my seat. To some I would say hello, to most I just offered a smile. And with the exception of one young man who may have already had too much caffeine, everyone smiled back some even took the time for a kindly good bye gesture upon leaving.

Of course as I thought about this experience I related this to church and business. I believe that we are fundamentally relational creatures we are all looking for a positive connection with others. (Though admittedly we all define positive connection differently.) So what does that mean for our churches and businesses? Keep reading

Rod and Reel, or Net?


When you think of fishing, what image comes to mind: a solitary figure with a rod and tackle box, patiently choosing a lure, casting, and reeling? Or a commercial shrimp boat with nets spread wide?

When Jesus said, "I will make you fishers of men" (Mt. 4:19), what kind of fishing did he have in mind? When he called out that first ministry team, was he picturing them as net-fishers or anglers? The question is one worth considering, since we, too, are called to that same task.

Jesus used the fishing metaphor to describe evangelism and disciple-making, and today's assumption is often that it's an individualized task. We tend to think of a fisherman as an angler, which is defined as (1) a person who fishes with a hook and line, or (2) a person who gets or tries to get something through scheming.

The individualized terms personal salvation, personal evangelism, and personal discipleship are actually relatively new within Christendom. Even the phrase personal Savior is a 20th-century expression attributable at least in part to Charles E. Fuller, the popular host of The Old-Fashioned Revival Hour radio program (1937-1968).

Certainly vast numbers of people have come to faith in Christ through individualized strategies and approaches to evangelism, but many along the way have also managed to "fall off the line." Unfortunately too often some have approached evangelism more as an individual "sales pitch" instead of a collaborative, compassionate, and gospel-modeling community. Keep reading

A 'Move' in the Right Direction


A new book takes a closer look at how churches foster spiritual growth

This book may not be for every pastor. There may be a few churches out there in which most of the congregation excels in loving God and loving their neighbors, but for the rest of us, this book is right on target. It lets us peek inside some of the churches that are effectively moving people from a place of nominal belief to living Christ-centered lives.

The book is based on the Willow Creek Association's REVEAL survey, which, since its inception, has been taken by 250,000 people in more than 1,000 churches. My church took the survey the first year it was available. We found it a helpful tool in assessing the spiritual growth of our people, but we really wanted to know which churches were excelling at helping their congregations mature in Christ and discover what we could learn from them. Move answers that desire.

While based on detailed statistics, this is not a book about numbers. It is divided into three sections, and Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson write engagingly by (1) detailing the stages people go through toward becoming fully devoted followers of Christ, then (2) examining the practices that move people forward in their spiritual journey, and (3) conversing with 13 pastors whose churches show the highest percentage of Christ-centered people. The conclusions are game changers. Keep reading

An extra day for blessing others


29 February has traditionally been a blessing for single women wishing to propose marriage. If you were a man living in Scotland, refusing to accept resulted in a large fine! This strange tradition is thought to have originated from St Bridget who petitioned St Patrick that woman should have more of an active role in choosing their husbands. As a result women were granted permission to propose … once every four years!

While it’s not marriage, I have a rather outlandish proposal for you: seeing as you’ve got an extra day of the year how about making the most of it and doing something that will allow others to get something of what we have as followers of Jesus!

Treat this February 29 as a day given for a purpose. How about challenging yourself to bless others around you? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting it’s a day for gimmicks and games but rather an opportunity to express something of our Father’s heart to his children who haven’t connected yet with what you and I have in Jesus. Keep reading

Mormons and Baptism by Proxy


Some Jewish leaders are outraged by a practice they say echoes the forced conversions of centuries past.

What do George Washington, Albert Einstein and Stanley Ann Durham (Barack Obama's mother) have in common? Mormons have baptized each of them by proxy, performing a temple rite they believe gives human beings a posthumous opportunity to obtain salvation.

Researchers recently discovered that Mormons had similarly baptized the parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, whose mother died in a Nazi extermination camp in 1942. And one Mormon recently proposed for proxy baptism the still-living Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

This esoteric practice doesn't always provoke complaints—President Obama refused to comment on his mother's case, for instance—but it has strained Mormon-Jewish relations over the past two decades. Keep reading

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Truth Matters: An Evangelical Response to A Guide to Anglican Church Planting—Part 1


By Robin G. Jordan

In his treatise, “A Guide to Anglican Church Planting” Victor Novak’s Anglo-Catholic churchmanship is evident from the outset. Novak asserts that baptism is more important than hearing the gospel or believing in Jesus Christ. This is clearly what he is inferring with his statement: “It is not enough for people to hear the Gospel, or even to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour; they must be grafted into the Church - the Body of Christ - where they can share in its sacramental and corporate life [emphasis added].” As a consequence the treatise has limited usefulness to church planters who do not share his theological outlook. This is not the only drawback of the treatise. It is full of inaccuracies and other forms of misinformation. In this article we will examine the first part of the treatise, which is titled “A Fruitful Past And A Promising Future.”

In this part of the treatise Victor Novak repeats the claim that the downward spiral of the Episcopal Church began with the Prayer Book revision and woman’s ordination. This theory, while popular with Continuers, fails to take into consideration the larger picture. Early in the nineteenth century the Episcopal Church would fall under the spell of the Tractarian and Ritualist movements. The two movements would undermine biblical Anglicanism in the Episcopal Church and would prepare the way for modernism. During the nineteenth century the Episcopal Church did not join the westward movement until the advent of the steamboat and the railroad. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians accompanied the pioneers west and had already been laboring on the frontier decades before the arrival of the Episcopal Church.

In the nineteenth century the Episcopal Church had a vibrant Evangelical wing. The growing influence and spread of Ritualism would lead to the succession of conservative elements of that wing from the Episcopal Church and the formation of the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1873. The more liberal elements of the Episcopal Church’s Evangelical wing would subsequently migrate to its Broad Church wing. By 1900 traditional Anglican evangelicalism had disappeared from the Episcopal Church.

Catholic Modernism, the outgrowth of Anglo-Catholicism and modernism took a grip upon the Episcopal Church in the years before World War I and would increase that grip between the wars and after World War II. Far from being “as evangelistic and soul-winning as any evangelical Church in America, and more so than most” the Episcopal Church developed an identity that was not only anti-evangelical but also anti-evangelistic.

The 1950s were not the heyday of Americanism Episcopalianism as Novak would like us to believe. Growth in the Episcopal Church was largely confined to cities and to the wealthy, educated, upper middle class. The Episcopal Church did not do as well in small towns and rural areas or with the poorer, less educated, blue collar workers. When compared with the Episcopal Church of today, the Episcopal Church of the 1950s may appear healthier but looks are deceiving.

The Episcopal churches here in the Jackson Purchase in western Kentucky exemplify the pattern of growth and decline of the Episcopal Church in many parts of the United States. The four oldest churches were founded in the nineteenth century and are located in four of the region’s older commercial centers. A new Episcopal church was launched in Murray, a modest-sized university town, in the 1950s. The last new Episcopal church was launched in Gilbertsville in 1980. Wherever these churches were planted, one finds a Roman Catholic parish in the same community. (The Episcopal Church in Kentucky was decidedly Anglo-Catholic in character.) The exception is Gilbertville. The Roman Catholic parish is located in the adjoining community of Grand Rivers. Except for Grace Church in Paducah, all the surviving churches are missions. St. Martin’s in the Fields in Mayfield was closed in 2005.

The Episcopal Church threw the classic Anglican Prayer Book overboard more than thirty years before the trial liturgies of the 1960s. The 1928 revision introduced far-reaching and even radical changes in the American Prayer Book. In the 1920s the two dominant theological streams in the Episcopal Church were Anglo-Catholicism and Broad Church latitudinarianism. Both had fallen under the influence of modernism by the opening decades of the twentieth century. This influence is observable in the 1928 Prayer Book. For example, the 1928 Prayer Book dilutes the penitential language of the American Prayer Book and eliminates the requirement of blanket belief in the Old and New Testaments for the ordination of deacons. It also gives countenance to beliefs and practices that are contrary to the Word of God.

The Episcopal Church’s abandonment of the classical Anglican Prayer Book had begun one hundred and thirty-nine years earlier with the adoption of the 1789 Prayer Book. It replaced the Prayer of Consecration of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with that of the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer Book. The latter was the work of two superannuated Scottish Non-Juror bishops who belonged to the minority Usager faction among the Scottish Non-Jurors. The Usagers are not only known for their revival of medieval practices—the Mixed Chalice, Prayers for the Dead, prayers of Oblation and Invocation before the Communion, and the Unction of the Sick—that the English Reformers had rejected on solid biblical grounds in the sixteenth century but also their peculiar view of the Atonement. They held that Christ did not offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross but at the Last Supper. He was only slain on the cross. They taught that the priest re-offers Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist.

Contrary to what Novak claims, the 1977 St. Louis Church Congress did not bring organization to the Continuing Anglican movement. Rather it revealed its divisions. “Loyalist Anglicans” would struggle with “Ultra-Catholics” for the control of the direction of the movement. The “Ultra-Catholics” would triumph. They, however, would show little enthusiasm for reaching the unchurched and enfolding them into new churches.

Novak also claims that the Global Anglican Future Conference’s issuance of The Jerusalem Declaration sparked “a new reformation.” But the evidence of such a reformation in North America, if one has occurred, is negligible. Retrograde movement to pre-Reformation beliefs and practices hardly qualifies as “a new reformation.” A new counter-reformation would be a more accurate description.

Novak goes on to claim that “a new orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion in North America” has been organized to replace the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada. This is wishful thinking on Novak’s part. The Anglican Church in North America may at best, out of charity, be described as an Anglican province in formation. While the ACNA may have the recognition of some Anglican provinces, it has not been admitted as a province of the Anglican Communion.

As for the ACNA being “orthodox,” that is highly debatable. The “theological lens,” which the ACNA Prayerbook and Common Liturgy Taskforce developed and the ACNA College of Bishops approved, raises serious questions about the “orthodoxy” of the ACNA as do the doctrinal provisions of its constitution and canons and the rubrics of its ordinal.

Novak indulges in hyperbole when he asserts that the ACNA has 1000 congregations. Archbishop Robert Duncan has made similar claims but upon investigation it turned out that he was counting congregations of the ACNA’s then ministry partner, the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

What is Novak inferring when he makes statements like this one? “A New Reformation has broken out in the Anglican Communion that promises to restore the Communion to Biblical orthodoxy….” Is he suggesting that “Biblical orthodoxy,” at least as he understands it as an Anglo-Catholic, has vanished entirely from the Anglican Communion? It is noteworthy that Novak is a presbyter of the Reformed Episcopal Church that has since the late twentieth century departed from what its founders regarded as “Biblical orthodoxy” and has succumbed to the very beliefs and practices from which its founders fled in 1873.

In this writer’s opinion Novak might have done well to omit this part of his treatise altogether. He might have devoted the opening paragraphs of his treatise to a thoughtful examination of the gospel imperative:

“Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 Good News Bible

“Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all mankind. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned….” Mark 16:15-16 Good News Bible

“This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later, and in his name the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem….” Luke 24:46-47 Good News Bible

“As the Father sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21 Good News Bible

“But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8 Good News Bible

All followers of Jesus Christ are first and foremost servants of the gospel, and therefore church planters. They are called to establish, grow, and multiply communities of disciples that not only proclaim the good news but also are the good news. The gifts that Holy Spirit gives are for the increase of the people of God as well as their upbuilding. While some Christians may be called to lead in mission, all Christians are called to be missionaries, sharing in God’s mission to the world.

Michael Green: Personal Evangelism


Hear audio of Michael Green's January 11, 2012 chapel sermon at Trinity School for Ministry.

Militants target churches in Nigeria


Suspected Islamic extremists detonated a bomb outside a church building Nigeria on Sunday, two months after Boko Haram Islamists killed 44 Christians and blinded seven in a church bombing in nearby Madalla.

Compass Direct News says Sunday's blast in Suleja, in front of Christ Embassy church during morning worship, injured five people, one seriously, according to sources.

Compass reports the bomb, planted in a parked car, was left by suspected members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, and authorities arrested some members of the sect the same day.

Triumphant Ministries International Church is also near the site of the explosion. Keep reading

Curiosity killed the cat


“Curiosity killed the cat” is the saying that rebuked many of us, when, as children we explored something dangerous or asked ‘why?’ too many times. But is it a true saying?

Curiosity aids learning

One of he key motivations to learn is curiosity. There is an excitement in exploring something that you do not know the answer to and a fulfillment in finding the answer. It pushes you to understand yourself and your world better. Seeking answers to questions like, Why? How? What else is affected? How do I apply this? push us to greater understanding. Keep reading

Reforming the Diocese from Within


What can you do if you are a small group of evangelicals in a diocese where it seems that nothing organized by the institution ever reflects a sound theological agenda or is likely to feed the mass of God’s people?

That was the question raised almost thirteen years ago at a committee meeting of the Chelmsford Diocesan Evangelical Association, following a diocesan conference for laypeople. By universal agreement it had been fantastically well-organized but lacked real ‘substance’.

After listening to the discussion for several minutes, I was moved to ask, “Why don’t we lay on something ourselves?” And that was how the Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference was born. Keep reading

Brazil Becomes Second-Largest Christian Missionary Exporter in the World


Brazil has become the country that sends the second-most missionaries abroad across the world, according to the director of a Global Christianity study organization.

Of 400,000 global missionaries that were sent to foreign countries in 2010, Brazil sent 34,000, second behind the United States, which sent 127,000.

The statistics were presented by Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Interestingly, even though the United States sends the most missionaries abroad, it is also the country that receives the most foreign missionaries as well; with 32,400 foreign missionaries arriving to the U.S. in 2010 – the majority of whom come from Brazil.

Beaten only by the United States, Brazil has the second largest protestant population in the world. The South American country also has a huge number of mission organizations, of which, Jovens Com Missao (Youth with Mission) alone has 16,000 people providing missions to 150 countries. Keep reading