Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: June 2006 (Page 2 of 2)

Speaking of Communion…

Given the current difficulties in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and my enjoyment of Ephraim Radner’s and Stanley Hauerwas’ work, I made sure that I pre ordered this book– “The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism And the Future of a Global Church” (Ephraim Radner, Philip Turner)— months ago, and found it awaiting me on my return from my honeymoon. I’ve been digging into it and reading chapters out of order as I’m interested. It is a meaty book with lots of insight. This is my first exposure to Philip Turner’s writings outside of the Anglican Communion Institute, and I can say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his insights. I thought I would share a portion of his essay “The Windsor Report: A Defining Moment for a Worldwide Communion” in light of the defeat of the resolution to comply with the Windsor Report at General Convention yesterday. Consider the inability of the House of Deputies to pass any legislation whatsoever in light of the importance Dr. Turner gives the Windsor Report, and also consider the lame excuse posted below, that certain people were complaining that they hadn’t had enough time to consider the Windsor Report (TWR) (even though it’s been available for nearly 2 years and several books have been published dealing with it.) Here are Dr. Turner’s words:

A distinguished colleague has said that, when placed alongside most Anglican documents TWR is decidedly “up market.” This observation is quite accurate, and the burden of this chapter is to show that, despite certain omissions and errors (some serious), TWR provides a credible way for the Anglican Communion to remain a communion rather than devolve into a federation of churches. Further, it suggests a credible way for the non-Roman churches throughout the world to respond to the potentially church dividing tensions (both internal and external) that have arisen since the close of the colonial period. However, no matter what its strengths might be, it would be a mistake to wend one’s way along the path down which the report leads its readers without pausing to take note of the fact that TWR places before ECUSA, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Communion fundamental decisions that cannot be avoided. For ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, the decision is whether they wish to be self-identified as autonomous churches within the Anglican Communion or as denominational boutiques within the fan of Protestant options that now comprise the religious scene in North America. For the Anglican Communion, the decision is whether it wishes to retain its claim to be a communion of churches; or whether it wishes to devolve into a religious federation bound together only by pragmatic arrangements and a rapidly disappearing historical memory. For the divided churches, TWR suggests a way, amid the stresses ad strains of competing nationalisms, to maintain a worldwide communion without at the same time developing a centralized form of church government.

The most brilliant thing about TWR is the fact that it does not command. Rather, it offers a choice. It maps a way for Anglicans throughout the world to stay together as a communion; and basically asks it to choose something like this so as to “walk together,” or choose another way and so “walk apart.” In placing the issue in the form of a choice, TWR both honors the autonomy of the various provinces of the Anglican Communion, and places a serious proposal for future relations before its ecumenical partners. It does not smuggle in a putative but non-existent centralized polity that can issue commands. It begins with what is–a communion of autonomous provinces that have a real choice about their future.

It has become painfully clear that there are those on both the left and the right who, in the words of TWR, have made a choice to “walk apart.” The prophets on the left claim the backing of divine providence that has placed them ahead of the pack. They are content to go it alone and simply wait for others to catch up. The prophets on the right claim to be the champions of orthodoxy–charged with maintaining a faithful church in the midst of “apostasy.” They are content to go it alone and await the vindication of God. TWR maps a more arduous and painful way forward--one that seeks to create a space in time within which very serious divisions within this portion of the body of Christ can be confronted and overcome. The burden of this essay is that the way TWR maps is the obedient way–one that serves as a caution to the prophets on both the left and the right, and a beacon to those for whom the maintenance of communion constitutes a fundamental obligation.

Buy the book and read chapter 8 to see the rest.

It seems at the moment that the obedient path, the painful path, was too painful for The Episcopal Church to walk.

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On the failure of General Convention to Respond to the Windsor Report

I was over at Titusonenine catching up on all the convention news when this selection from a Chicago Tribune article caught my eye:

“Many leaders said the weeklong convention did not allow enough time to ponder the [Windsor] report.”

This illustrates one of the greatest practical problems of the Episcopal Church. The Lambeth Commission on Communion issued the Windsor Report in October of 2004–that’s almost two years ago for the less calendrically astute among us. When it was issued it was not simply published and put on a dusty shelf somewhere, but disseminated via PDF format through multiple internet sites… anyone who says that haven’t had time to “ponder” it is completely inept and shouldn’t be at the General Convention to start with–if they’re a Bishop they should be removed from their post and replaced. This is complete silliness.

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A Mole at general Convention

Fr. WB over at Whitehall has a mole, Father Thorpus, at General Convention, and they’ve been posting some tasty nuggets of information. Take a look…

I have sources in purple shirts who verify David

Virtue’s* allegation that the PB election was heavily,

even unduly, influenced by Bp. Bruno of LA. Check out

VirtueOnline for details. [Here is the link.]

{Read it all}

*Note: David Virtue is a firebrand who often rants too much, but does sometimes dig up kernels of information that others miss–you just have to wade through a lot of garbage and take a dose of salt to get to them.

Now playing: View From Heaven from the album “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard

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Statements from the new Presiding Bishop

Sad-2 Matt Kennedy+ over at Stand Firm posted portions of a transcript from the press conference at which the new Presiding Bishop was introduced. I have questions relating to two of her responses in particular:

Chris Sugden: You have spoken eloquently for our churches concern for social justice. The average Anglican is indeed poor, female, black, young, and evangelical. How do you think the poor would hear both your concern for building the reign of God and your positions on sexuality

Schori: IF the average person is indeed the sort of person you describe I would think that issues of sexuality are far higher up on the hierarchy of needs than food and clothing.

George Conger: As PB, you will be chief conscecrator in future episcopal consecrations There will be those who will not want this. How will you deal with these objections and objectors?

Schori: I would want to deal with this pastorally. Theologically speaking I would associate that position with Donatism, that the character of the actor effects the sacrament. I would disagree.

Assuming this was transcribed correctly, I am confused.

As for the first response, that seems plainly foolish to me, though I suppose she could be attempting to make a point–it would have been nice if she had simply spelled out what point she was trying to make rather than responding with such an interesting answer without expanding on exactly how issues of sexuality can ever outweigh food and clothing in the priority of human needs?

the second response is troubling because the question gives no specifics as to why these people might not welcome her ministry and yet she associates all those who would have problems with her ministry as Dontatists… right after saying she would deal with their objections pastorally! My sense is that Bishop Schori was specifically thinking of those Dioceses within the Episcopal Church that do not as of yet ordain women… but what would her response be in, for example, Albany, if they decided they would rather she not be the chief consecrator of their next Bishop, David Loving, not because of her sex, but because of the theological positions she’s taken (consenting to the election of Gene Robinson, setting up a means for same sex blessings in her own diocese). One would not have to be a “donatist” or deny the validity of her sacramental acts in order to prefer not to participate with her in such acts unless and untill some change of heart and repentance has taken place. That’s not donatism, that’s one way of offering correction and admonition in a church body. I’m curious as to weather Schori+ would see any distinction between the two–my sense is she would not, but I could always be surprised.

Currently playing: Wrecking Ball from the album “Soul Journey” by Gillian Welch

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ECUSA or TEC, the politics are the same…

General Convention Seal

Last week during the General Convention of the Episcopal Church a change was made. This change is one that a cynic might regard as an attempt at “spin” by the national Episcopal Church. The only thing Christians love more than the creation of obscure acronym is the exchange of those acronyms for new ones-I think it satisfies the gnostic streak in many of us by helping to separate those “within” from those “without.”

For years the (Protestant) Episcopal Church, USA has been known as (P)ECUSA, with the P for Protestant being optional. No more. Instead, as an attempt to emphasize the Episcopal Church’s status as the “only international Church body in the communion” the decision was made to refer to “TEC” or simply, “The Episcopal Church.” Of course, calling the Episcopal Church the only international Church in the Anglican Communion might be somewhat misleading when one considers those dioceses that are extra-provincial to Canterbury, or the limited amount of influence those dioceses beyond the borders of the US of A have. Be that as it may, the status of ECUSA TEC stems from an earlier, more evangelical period in the Episcopal Church’s history when it was living up–at least in part–to its official name as “The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society,” by sending missionaries to Central and South America and the Caribbean. The changing of the official acronym is not the only, or most important spin from Columbus these days. Yesterday the General Convention voted to elect Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, the next Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

It is already clear that the foremost issue in the media and among many observers is the fact that Bishop Schori is a woman. Indeed, the cheers of jubilation from her supporters largely center on her sex–of course, one doubts they would be nearly as effusive if a conservative woman were elevated to such a post. Make no mistake, the key issue related to Bishop Schori’s leadership will not be her femaleness, but her liberality. Unfortunately her position will only serve to further unite the issues of human sexual morals with the issue of women’s ordination in the minds of many people, reasserter or reappraiser, liberal or conservative, orthodox or heterodox. That this will be a result of this election is a shame, but it seems an inevitable outcome. And while part of me does not wish to give the liberals enough credit to think that this was orchestrated, I can’t help but think that this election is a huge victory for their cause precisely because of the obfuscation enabled by Bishop Schori’s sex. Now, because of the fact that she is female, any rejection of her oversight for theological reasons can be portrayed and seen as misogyny at work.

Female-Archbishop (Cartoon Church)

Perhaps the most irritating thing about this process is how easily Bishop Schori dismissed her detractors as “Donatists” in her first public statements, all the while touting reconciliation. It will be interesting to see how the request of the Diocese of Fort Worth for “immediate alternative primatial oversight” will be dealt with.

On a somewhat happier note, I want to indicate how thankful I am that our deputation was willing to put forth a resolution to disassociate from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice–Central Florida also submitted such a resolution. i don’t know if they’ve been voted on yet, but while I doubt they will pass, I am grateful to the Bishop and Council for approving and for Fr. Patrick Allen for drafting such a resolution; if I’m troubled at times by my association with the Episcopal Church USA, I can at least take comfort in the fellowship of so many Christ-loving Anglicans close to home in the Diocese of Tennessee and around the world.

The resolution from Ft. Worth is contained below.

Stand Firm

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Continue reading

Update: I’m a Married Man and a Rev’d Deacon now…

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;

you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,

with one jewel of your necklace. (Song of Songs 4:9)



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On the third day of June in the year of our Lord 2006, I wed Anna Elisabeth Aven in a ceremony at All Saints’ Chapel on the Campus of the University of the South. The service was wonderful, I don’t think there could possibly be any complaints. It was beautiful and Christ centered and we had so many of our family and friends in attendance–it was amazing.

I can say without a doubt that this was the most photographed event of my life–I don’t think there are as many pictures of me combined from other stages and events of life as there are from our wedding day. We were even able to get some pictures of the wedding ceremony itself by working with professional photographers who understood what it meant that that was first and foremost a worship service. They were in the back of the chapel and hidden in the side aisle and never moved, used no flashes and because their cameras were digital, there was no sound. I didn’t even notice them during the service, and I’m so thankful for that, it makes the pictures even more special since they didn’t detract from the service itself. Anna and I had a

The Groomsmen Line-upgreat time and we’re surprised by the amount we remember about the service considering all the comments we got beforehand about how it would be a blur and we wouldn’t remember it that well.

After a wonderful honeymoon in the mountains of East Tennessee, we returned to Nashville in time for my Ordination to the Diaconate at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville on Saturday, June 10th (sorry, I don’t have any pictures of the ordination yet.) It was a wonderful service and I’m very happy for the members of my family, who had just made the trip to TN for my wedding, who made it back to Nashville the next weekend for my ordination. This has been an exciting time to say the least, and I’m looking forward to starting work at Trinity Church in Winchester TN on July 1.

Here are some more pics of the wedding for those who are interested:

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