Wednesday, April 30, 2008
“It is a sign of new life in the church as we pass along leadership to a new generation. Our prayers and thoughts are with these five special ordinands this week. We are pleased that they will be continuing in their orthodox Anglican faith and that they will be able to minister to their brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Bishop Ames, who is also rector of St. Luke’s.
Once ordained, all five priests will continue as clergy members in their Anglican churches in Ohio: Deacon Lile will continue at St. Luke’s, Deacon Templeton in Holy Trinity in Milan, Deacon Smith in Church of the Good Samaritan in Cleveland Heights, Deacon Maney in St. Matthews in Westerville, and Deacon Heath in St. Anne-in-the-Fields in Madison.
“We are overjoyed over the growth of CANA in Ohio with the ordinations of these blessed deacons to the priesthood. They will no doubt serve as worthy shepherds to the flock of orthodox Anglicans in Ohio who live for profound transformation through Christ. We know that without Christ we are nothing, but with Christ there are no challenges or obstacles that we cannot overcome,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
The ordination liturgy will take place this Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm EDT. St. Luke’s Anglican Church is located at 565 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Akron, Ohio 44333. All are welcome to attend.
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (www.canaconvocation.org) currently consists of approximately 60 congregations and 100 clergy in 20 states. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in the USA, who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church, could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. CANA is part of the Common Cause partnership that includes representatives of more than 250 Anglican congregations that are connected to the rest of the Anglican Communion.
POSTED ON: April 29, 2008
Using a traditional Rogation service, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori blessed a new community garden at St. Thomas' Church, Dallas,
during a visit to that diocese April 28. About 140 persons from the dioceses of
Dallas and Fort Worth attended the blessing. The group met in the parish
hall for an informal question-and-answer session after the ceremony, which
followed a two-hour session with diocesan clergy in the morning.
Clergy and laity from the Diocese of Fort Worth comprised a little less than
half of those attending the reception. Their questions dominated, with
some pleading with the Presiding Bishop for "help to get us out of the
wilderness we now find ourselves in." Fort Worth is one of several dioceses that are
likely to consider leaving The Episcopal Church when their conventions are
held this fall.
Bishop Jefferts Schori assured her questioners that a plan similar to the
one employed in San Joaquin has already been prepared. When the Fort
Worth delegation declared that they have been forgotten in this battle, the
Presiding Bishop replied, "Have you been watching San Joaquin? They
were not forgotten and now show dynamic signs of new life. You will not be
Throughout much of the question-and-answer session retired Bishop Sam B.
Hulsey of Northwest Texas stood in the back of the parish hall. Last January
Bishop Hulsey held an organizational meeting for clergy from the Diocese of
Fort Worth, offering continuing care to those who wish to remain with
The Episcopal Church, an action to which Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth
objected. Since then Bishop Hulsey has visited a handful of Fort Worth
St. Thomas' new garden is located where the former rectory once stood.
Three years of constant work prepared the ground for the garden. There are 16
neighborhood tenants, each committed to donating a tithe of their produce to
any community group that feeds the hungry. Two large pantry plots are
growing food to be donated to the North Dallas Shared Ministries and
Resource Center of Dallas. The first harvest will occur in late summer.
Cheryl M. Wetzel
On Monday, April 28, 2008, students from across the country will stand together on the Day of Truth.
This marks the fourth year of the Day of Truth, which was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.
Editor's note: the Day of Silence in support of the homosexual agenda was promoted and celebrated in the school districts in our area of Central NY. I have heard no reports that the Day of Truth was celebrated, but as the sponsors suggest, "it's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality."
More from the Day of Truth website:
The Day of Truth was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.
In the past, students who have attempted to speak against the promotion of the homosexual agenda have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their beliefs. It is important that students stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the Truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations. The Day of Truth provides an opportunity to publicly exercise our free speech rights.
Participating students are encouraged to wear T-shirts and pass out cards (not during class time) with the following message:
I'm speaking the Truth to break the silence.The Day of Truth is scheduled for April 28, 2008. This is three days after GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) will sponsor the "Day of Silence." GLSEN’s Day of Silence encourages students to remain silent throughout the day. It is part of their overall strategy to change how our society perceives homosexual behavior. But the Day of Silence is a misnomer, because what is truly being silenced is the Truth.
True tolerance means that people with differing -- even opposing -- viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other.
It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.
There's freedom to change if you want to.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
An Interview with the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone
By David W. Virtue in Vancouver
Despite his lofty title and a name that wreaks history, the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, is amazingly humble as he sits and contemplates the future of the Anglican Communion and his role in it. No Archbishop has been more outspoken, tilted at windmills, or been vilified by a fellow Anglican Primate. Yet he still reaches out with love and compassion with firmness of resolve that the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be compromised and that its life-changing message, valid in the First Century, is just as valid in the 21st Century regardless of time, place, culture, gender, age or education.
In Vancouver to attend an historic moment in the life of Canadian Anglicanism, a group of orthodox Anglicans, meeting under the banner of the Anglican Network in Canada's (ANiC), inaugurated and commissioned 30 priests committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in a church (the Anglican church of Canada) that has lost its way and its message. "In this age of academic, clever people there are truths that mark our path forward. God has given us clear directions that are not secrets for the clever, but God's clear direction for all of us.
"Starboard is on the right; port is on the left," he says to 400 Anglicans looking for hope, direction and leadership as they see their old church rolling over to moral relativity, walking away from the revealed word of God and departing from the faith once received. "Once you move away from there, you have nowhere else to go," Venables says.
It is a moment like this that surprises everyone in an enthusiastic audience ready to step out in faith to bring the gospel back to Canadians.
Venables sat and talked with VOL at length about his role in the Anglican Communion, the problems he faces and the courage he needs to withstand the vitriol and forces arrayed against him. We are compelled by Christ's love, he says, as he takes up the theme of the conference. "Let's love those who disagree with us. They are in a terrible place because they are denying the very son of God. Let us be about the business of the Kingdom."
VirtueOnline: Archbishop, you took quite a public drubbing from Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz because you were coming to Canada and would preach, confirm and perform Eucharistically without his invitation. That must have hurt.
Venables: It was important that I come because the integrity of the gospel was at stake, and these particular Anglicans are no longer under his authority. He could have called me. My phone number is on the official Anglican Communion website. He chose to go public in the media. So be it. We have moved on. This occasion here in Vancouver has been momentous. I see a glorious future for Anglicanism in these wonderful men and women.
VOL: A recent report in The Living Church said your canons and constitution could not support taking a diocese out of one jurisdiction and coming under your ecclesiastical wing.
Venables: The Provincial Synod of the Southern Cone with our HOB resolved that, given the present day situation, our constitution and canons in no way tell us not to do what we believe God's Holy Spirit is calling us to do at this time. We would never have done it otherwise.
VOL: You talked the language of divorce at a press conference. That's strong talk, and not very inclusive.
Venables: At one time, the members of the Anglican Communion had no reason to question the relationships which held us together within what is called unity within diversity. The fact that certain members of our family have not only chosen to ignore the Word of God, but to disobey it flagrantly has brought us to a place where we can no longer pretend that we are in a meaningful and real relationship. The fact that the province where these things are happening has refused to take action against doctrinal and moral impurity implies that either they tacitly agree or that they believe that what is being done is in some way acceptable.
VOL: You use the picture of marriage and divorce; that's tough language.
Venables: I have used this language deliberately. I believe there comes a time when a marriage is no longer a marriage. We have to recognize that it is no longer a marriage of like minds on the nature of the gospel in the Anglican Communion. That is the reality of life. We deplore divorce, but the time comes when we must recognize a relationship is no longer what it was.
For the Anglican Communion to go on waiting for the situation to become resolved is both unrealistic and irresponsible. The question is, can the communion find a way of acknowledging and dealing with this irretrievable separation.
It is clearly in the interests of revisionists to have an inclusive church even though, at the end of the day, they both deny and despise what orthodox Anglicans believe and practice.
VOL: What about authority in the church?
Venables: Unfortunately, within the Anglican Communion there is no recognized authority to make or implement such a decision. Even more sadly, the Anglican system itself is Western dominated, inclusive and therefore biased to the liberal position and therefore the likely outcome will be to support 'local option' (which Pope Benedict XVI spoke against when he was in NY recently) and to condemn the absolute and united orthodox position on faith and practice.
VOL: Had there been any hint that the liberals want to dialogue or seek reconciliation, would this have happened years ago?
Venables: Since the primates can't and the Lambeth Conference and the system are paid for by the West, it is basically biased towards their positions.
VOL: Will a Covenant ultimately bring us altogether?
Venables: Since we don't stand together on Scripture or the creeds, it is unlikely that a covenant will do what they (Scripture and creeds) have failed to do. If we don't stand on these two basic foundations, we are unlikely to stand on a Covenant regardless of how many drafts are written or how long it takes. The likelihood is that the language will be so nuanced that even orthodox folk will think that something has been said to satisfy them, when in fact it hasn't.
VOL: Do you think the upcoming Lambeth Conference will bring up Resolution 1:10 vote and be reversed, and, if there is not a strong orthodox presence of bishops, that it could be overthrown?
Venables: It is being implied that that resolution won't be revisited, but given the winds of change over the year since Tanzania we have to acknowledge that anything is impossible.
VOL: What is your reaction to Durham Bishop Tom Wright's reaction to GAFCON?
Venables: I am sad that the dialogue was public and in no way addressed personally to those of us who are involved in the organization. The 'super apostles' comment by Wright is not only bordering on the absurd, but says far more about Tom Wright than it says about anyone else.
I see it as a violent statement, unsupported by any serious exegesis of Scripture nor is it a valid understanding of both the Early Church's understanding of heresy and its reinterpretation in the 21st Century, but perhaps he believes he is above all that. You can dismiss the past, but our present is rooted in the past and we cannot ignore the apostles' teaching, and their rootedness in Jesus as their master and God's Word written.
VOL: How do you envision what the Anglican Communion will look like over the next decade?
Venables: Anglicanism is in a very healthy place. Where it is dying out, it probably needs to die out, as there is little sign that the leadership in those parts sees any need to reform their theology and return to the faith once delivered for all to the saints. It needs to die. It is not going anywhere.
VOL: What about patience that the Archbishop of Canterbury keeps calling for?
Venables: If true Anglicans wait any longer, their procrastination will become complicit and we will be guilty of failing in the real mission of the church. The fields are white unto harvest and we have a job to do. At this crucial Canadian conference of orthodox Anglicans, we are seeing a determined return to commitment to the mission of the church as our first priority. It is a privilege to be in such a gathering and to be a part of such a movement. We are seeing the outpouring of new wine, which needs and requires new wineskins even as the old disintegrates and falls away.
VANCOUVER, BC: New Canadian Anglican Bishops Poised To Lead Church & Country Back to Christ By David W. Virtue in Vancouver www.virtueonline.org New Canadian Anglican Bishops Poised To Lead Church & Country Back to Christ
By David W. Virtue in Vancouver
After a 6-year struggle, two newly licensed Canadian Anglican bishops, along with 30 licensed priests and four deacons, are poised to win souls for Christ in a country that is fast becoming secularized and post Christian. They would also like to see their old denomination, the Anglican Church of Canada, won back to the gospel even as theological liberalism falters and fails and their churches close.
The Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, Moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), and the Rt. Rev. Malcolm Harding, Suffragan bishop for the Network, both made solemn promises to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the church and to defend the faith of the church to Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, in an emotionally and spiritually charged ceremony before some 400 former members of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In an interview with VOL, Bishop Harvey said that while he was saddened by what is happening to his former church, the course of their reaction in the past few days is not entirely unpredictable. "We are no longer members of the Anglican Church of Canada. I am moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, an ecclesial body under the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone and thus in communion with the rest of the Anglican world."
Asked about reactions from the Anglican Church of Canada, Harvey said the event (today) really does not require any response from them. "If they cannot be here to support us in our efforts why did they find it necessary to condemn us?"
Bishop Harvey said that the licensing was an historic moment in the life of the Anglican people in Canada who were unable to follow where the Anglican Church of Canada was leading them. "We want to remain a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. I believe that was accomplished by this Spirit filled service today."
"We gave licenses to 30 priests and 4 deacons and two bishops were commissioned by the Primate of the Southern Cone to go out and preach the gospel. We will do that unhampered by a denomination that no longer believes in the biblical message."
Harvey said that what took place in Delta was the culmination of six hard years of trying to find a way forward that would meet the two criteria of being biblically faithful and still be part of the Anglican Communion. "It is also the beginning of being able to offer similar hope to Anglicans across the country."
Asked if he had received any support from those orthodox Anglican bishops who still remained the Anglican Church, Harvey said he had not received any condemnation, but no support either from those orthodox bishops.
"It has been an overwhelming joy and very rewarding to bear the burden and heat of the day. There is both a sense of relief and a coming to fruition. As Archbishop Venables said, it is a strange combination of bitter sweet sadness and joy because we are deeply grieved that we have to take this action.
"I have received much comfort from reading John Henry Newman's on the 'Parting of Friends.' I realize the mixed emotions I have of joy and pain in this necessary but painful action."
Asked what personal reaction he has had from the official Anglican Church, Harvey said it was difficult to say. "I relinquished my license, so I have not had any official contact from anyone at the national level."
Questioned about property disputes and the litigation that has followed, Harvey said he is dismayed that they are not willing to even discuss the possibility of settling this in an amicable and biblical manner.
Bishop Malcolm Harding
Asked how he felt about his third career since he officially retired, the 71-year old Manitoba bishop said his gut reaction is one of excitement. "It is exciting to see a new birth. It is like First Century Christianity. There is no heavy superstructure to contend with, it is fresh people who are excited about doing new things of making Jesus known to a new generation."
Harding said the Network just planted two new churches, one in the city of Brandon and the other in North Dauphin. "In one place we have some 70 people meeting in a World War II canteen at Brandon airport. The other is meeting in a Seventh-day Adventist Church. Both churches hold mid-week Bible studies. "I am the interim pastor and Suffragan bishop for both churches."
"I love this new work, it is exciting. I couldn't sit back. I feel I am part of the much needed reform movement. I have been reading Wesley's Chronicles and I realize what he suffered and I have not suffered nearly as badly. I have been encouraged by that."
Harding said he and his wife made a leap of faith and are on a new journey. "I see great enthusiasm in this new journey for the gospel. The laity is enthusiastic and ready to go and plant churches. Another church plant in Manitoba is now just unfolding step by step."
The Anglican Church of Canada has described the actions of the ANiC as evil, polarizing and wrong.
He made it official on the weekend. The most famous orthodox Anglican theologian in Canada, and one of the world's most renowned, relinquished his orders in the Anglican Church of Canada, one of 11 priests to surrender their licenses. The Rev. Dr. J. I. Packer was then officially relicensed by the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone into his province.
It was an historic moment for the modest, humble 81-year old theological warrior, author, and one of the most compelling voices for evangelical Anglican Christianity of the late 20th Century. Time magazine hailed him as one of the planet's most influential evangelicals. He deserves it.
It all took place in Vancouver at the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) conference, where some 400 Anglicans in the Anglican Church of Canada made it official, renouncing an apostate denomination for the fresh spiritual pastures that affirmed the ancient faith and the gospel that goes with it.
Packer did not mince his words. In surprisingly harsh words, but acknowledging the realism of the occasion, he called many of the Anglican Church's bishops "arguably heretical" for adhering to "poisonous liberalism."
It's doubtful one could find tougher language. Dr. Packer has no axe to grind except the gospel. He is frighteningly aware of St. Paul's dictum that if anyone preaches "another gospel, let him be declared anathema." Jim Packer, as he is affectionately known, did precisely that. He did it without arrogance, pride or pedantry. He did so and said those words because in his heart and mind he knows he is right and he has the support of 2,000 years of Christian teaching to back him up. He is amazingly humble, free of the arrogance that afflicts self-righteous liberals, simple in speech and form, and although he is slightly stooped for his years, his mind is still razor sharp.
In words reminiscent of so many who have declared the church to be apostate from time to time, Packer said Michael Ingham, the Bishop of New Westminster, "is a bishop who appears heretical" and compared him to America's equally heretical bishop, John Shelby Spong whose 12 Theses castrates Christianity, denuding it of transcendence, hope and meaning. He also compared Ingham to the Church of Scotland's heretical Primus Bishop Richard Holloway who felt compelled to write a series of articles with such heady titles as "The Danger of Sincere Religion", "What's the use of the Bible?" What's the Use of Jesus?" culminating by his saying that "claims to absolute truth result in exclusivity. The better route to truth is passionate questing - that's what 'God-botherers' do!" he said. Perhaps someone will one day write a book, "What's the Use of Richard Holloway, and why was he made the leader of the Scottish Church if he couldn't believe in anything remotely Christian?"
At one point, Packer opened his Bible and read I Corinthians 6:9-11 where the Apostle Paul compares "men who lie with men to drunkards, thieves, slanderers and adulterers, none of whom will inherit the Kingdom of God."
Tough words indeed, but Packer feels compelled to quote them because he believes in the authority of St. Paul. Liberals long ago abandoned that notion and say the apostle was a man of his times, but his words ring hollow in today's world of science and human genetics.
For Packer, the blessing of same-sex unions is anathema. He will have none of it. Either marriage between a man and a woman or celibacy is the church's historic position. He is not about to imperil his soul by changing it to suit the fashions of the times in which we live. Naturally, he called homosexuality "a grave sin."
Packer is a member of the evangelically driven parish of St. John's Shaughnessy whose rector, the Rev. Dr. David Short is under siege from Ingham. The orthodox priest recently took his parish, the largest in Canada, out of the Anglican Church of Canada to come under the Province of the Southern Cone saying that the denomination had deboned truth turning the gospel into being nice, being compassionate, recycling "and we will even bless your pets."
Packer is adamant on how human beings should behave sexually. "I'm simply being an old-fashioned mainstream Anglican. The Bible teaches that people who feel erotic attractions to people of the same gender are called by God to remain chaste, avoiding sexual relationships."
The liberals will have none of it. Despite no formal resolution by the national church on same-sex blessings, Ingham has allowed eight out of 67 parishes to perform them. That is a bridge too far for orthodox Canadian Anglicans. They have watched similar moves made in the American Episcopal Church with devastating consequences.
There are 15 parishes under the ANiC and four more affiliated with the Anglican Essentials Network (AEN), also affiliated with the AniC, that have been formed in three provinces across the country. More are expected to leave the Anglican Church of Canada in the months that lie ahead. A total of 28 parishes have voted to split from that denomination.
Packer did not expect, in the twilight of his years, to be banished from the church, but other great saints and church fathers have gone before who have experienced similar expulsions. Packer stands with a great "cloud of witnesses". The writer of his official biography will no doubt note this historic moment in this great man's life.
I write to urge you not to bring further discord into The Episcopal Church. Visiting a special convocation of the Diocese of Fort Worth with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province. I ask you to consider how you might receive such a visit to your own Province from a fellow primate. The actions contemplated by some leaders in Fort Worth are profoundly uncanonical. They also prevent needed reconciliation from proceeding within this Province.
I urge you to focus your pastoral ministry within your own Province. May your ministry there be fruitful. I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Bishop Iker of Fort Worth responds:
Archbishop Venables is coming to the Diocese at my invitation and as an honored guest, which hardly makes it “an unwarranted invasion.” The only meddling going on here is on Katharine’s part. And who is she to accuse someone else of uncanonical actions?
"The Episcopal Church showed some typical American arrogance around the Robinson ordination when they weren't willing to continue to be in conversation with their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion globally. But the church shouldn't divide over this. They should stay together, live with their differences, keep talking, and respect each other's opinions. There are churches that will bless gay unions, and that's just a fact. They're there. And there are churches that won't. And those that won't shouldn't be pressured to do so by their liberal denominational leaders."
"Where Jim Wallis Stands," Christianity Today
Updated: 04/28/2008 07:06 PM
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in the 19th century and has since been a place of worship for its 80-plus members.
"We had generations and generations of people who had come to this church and have put their hard-earned money into maintaining it and keeping it and occupying it," said Matt Kennedy, the Church of the Good Shepherd rector.
But soon, they may all be evicted as the church is being sued by their former denomination, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.
The issue traces back to 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated a gay bishop and allowed others to perform same-sex blessings. Churches like the Good Shepherd stand firm that the Bible states this is a sin.
"There's Leviticus Chapter 18 verse 22 in which God says men are not to lie with other men as they would with a woman," said Kennedy.
But the diocese says that the Bible needs to be matched with the changing cultural context.
"The scriptures for instance assume that the Earth is flat. That's the assumption of the scriptures, that's the world view in which people had. But we know that's not true and so when we get new scientific knowledge along the way, one goes back to the scriptures and say okay we have a new awareness," said Gladstone Adams, the Episcopal Diocese bishop.
They also believe that one does not choose their sexual orientation, therefore stating that homosexuality is not a sin. It's this great divide that triggered the separation.
Good Shepherd since joined the Anglican Church of Kenya and extended two separate offers to keep their building. Both were rejected and in turn, the Diocese proposed to give them up to a year to find a new location. But there was no answer.
"We took their non-response to be a rejection and so we had then to protect the assets of the Episcopal Church, which includes the buildings and other things of the church that we needed to file that complaint with Broome County," said Adams.
The Episcopal Diocese filed its lawsuit on April 15th, giving the Church of the Good Shepherd 20 days to respond. Which now leaves less than a week for a course of action to be determined.
"We just want to keep our building and we're trying to defend ourselves to the best of our ability and to this day, we continue to say to the diocese ' please we'd like to talk and keep this out of the courts," said Kennedy.
While the Diocese says they're willing to compromise on time limits, they remain adamant that Good Shepherd will eventually have to move out.
A similar fate was almost met last year by the St. Andrew's Church in Vestal but they decided to relinquish their buildings. They now share a building with the Memorial Baptist Church.
Fr. Matt Kennedy comments:
Leaving aside his "flat earth" comment, Bishop Adams says that we did not respond to his offer of one year to vacate the property. This is a falsehood. We did respond. We asked for more time to decide. Twice. In response we were served with the lawsuit. All of this will be documented publicly in due course.
A reader at Stand Firm comments:
Monday, April 28, 2008
“We are delighted to welcome Pope Benedict to this country. When a group of concerned Episcopalians and Anglicans met in 2003 to discuss the future of orthodox Christianity in the U.S., we received encouragement from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had written to us on behalf of Pope John Paul II,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.
“We appreciate Pope Benedict’s commitment to orthodox Christianity here in the U.S. We pray that his message of hope will touch many lives as he visits this country,” Oakes concluded.
The following letter was received from Rome:
* * *
October 9, 2003
From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II
I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ¹s Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.
The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With this in mind, I pray in particular that God¹s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.
With fraternal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
by Renee K. Gadoua
Sunday April 27, 2008, 9:10 PM
The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York has filed a lawsuit seeking the property of a Binghamton congregation that opposes the denomination's policy on homosexuality.
It's the second such lawsuit filed by the diocese and among dozens of similar cases across the country as the Episcopal Church faces ongoing opposition from congregations that disapprove of the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson. Robinson has publicly acknowledged being in a committed gay relationship.
In August, a settlement between the diocese and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Syracuse stipulated that the diocese would retain the building at 5013 S. Salina St. while the breakaway parish would be allowed to remain there up to a year.
A third church, St. Andrew's in Vestal, has also broken from the Central New York Episcopal Church.
All three have affiliated with Anglican groups that consider homosexuality incompatible with Scripture.
In the latest case, involving Binghamton's Church of the Good Shepherd, the diocese filed a complaint April 15 in state Supreme Court in Broome County seeking "a full accounting and delivery of real and personal property of the church to the diocese."
The legal action came after the pastor, the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, renounced his ministry with the Episcopal Church and the parish voted to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with Anglican Church of Kenya, said the Rev. Karen C. Lewis, assistant to Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams.
Religion writer Renee K. Gadoua has a full report in Monday's Post-Standard.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
April 20, 2008
The Anglican Church of Canada's House of Bishops has rejected an overture from the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) to seek negotiated settlements of property disputes rather than pursue litigation. Bishop Donald Harvey, moderator of ANiC, expressed his disappointment, and said that, while he was fully aware of the sensitivities of "diocesan autonomy" and wasn't surprised at this response, "I had hoped the Primate would have attempted to facilitate negotiations between the dioceses and the Anglican Network parishes." In a letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC), dated 11 April 2008, Bishop Harvey wrote: As you know, litigation has occurred in various parts of Canada as a result of the votes of some parishes to join ANiC. Further litigation is contemplated or expected in other places. I think we can all agree that such litigation has been damaging for the mission of the church and is a poor witness to the very people with whom we are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, neither the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) nor ANiC will end up a "winner" in the courts and we will both find our mission hindered by the distraction and cost of such litigation. We would like to propose a meeting at the earliest possible opportunity with the Primate, the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, and any affected ACoC bishops, together with representatives from ANiC, and our respective legal counsel, to discuss the possibility of pursuing alternate dispute resolution mechanisms (i.e. negotiation, mediation or arbitration) to address the outstanding issues between the ANiC parishes and the ACoC bishops or dioceses. It would be much better for everyone concerned if we could work out some interim arrangements between ourselves without the necessity of resorting to the civil courts. We recognize that any decisions will have national impact and therefore propose that all affected bishops be at such discussions, which would be without prejudice to either party's legal rights to employment issues, ownership and use of parish property and assets or any other issue that should arise from the discussions. In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6, we pray that you will consider meeting with us in a spirit of peace and in a more amicable setting to discuss the way forward in light of the profound theological differences that have arisen between us and that are currently being addressed in the global Anglican Communion. Peaceful negotiations will always leave the door to future reconciliation open but we fear that further litigation will lead to irreparable harm that will close that door forever. The ACoC statement from their recent House of Bishop meeting and an April 18 Anglican Journal story confirm the rejection of ANiC's peacemaking overtures. Currently, four ANiC parishes are in legal disputes with ACoC dioceses: Parishioners of St Mary of the Incarnation (Metchosin) in Victoria were locked out of their church by Bishop James Cowan of the Diocese of British Columbia on April 4th. A court ordered the Diocese to return the church building to the parishioners the following day and ordered the parties to return to court before May 3 to consider a longer interim order. The Diocese of Niagara took three southern Ontario ANiC churches to court seeking to evict the congregations from their buildings or, failing that, to have joint administration and shared use of the church buildings. The three churches, St George's (Lowville), St Hilda's (Oakville) and Church of the Good Shepherd (St Catharine's) were given sole access to their buildings in an initial court decision and now await the longer interim decision of Madam Justice Milanetti stemming from a hearing on March 20. As well, the Diocese of New Westminster issued statements of "Presumption of Abandonment of Ministry" to clergy in ANiC parishes in the Vancouver area. Some of these clergy, including the Rev Dr J I Packer, a world-renowned Anglican theologian, serve in the Vancouver parishes of St John's Shaughnessy, the largest Anglican parish in Canada, St Matthias and St Luke and Church of the Good Shepherd, the largest Chinese Anglican church in Canada. In addition, clergy and deacons in three other ANiC parishes in the Fraser Valley were served with these notices, including St Matthew's and Church of the Holy Cross in Abbotsford and Church of the Resurrection in Hope. Clergy were given until Monday, April 21, to respond to these charges. Since the ANiC launched its ecclesial structure last November under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, it has received two bishops - Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding - and 15 parishes. END
April 21, 2008
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has asked South
American archbishop Gregory Venables to cancel a scheduled visit to Canada this
week and "stop interfering in the life of this province."
In a letter dated April 21, Archbishop Hiltz noted that Archbishop Venables,
primate of the Province of the Southern Cone (the southern part of South
America) is to participate in an Anglican Network in Canada conference in
Vancouver April 25 to 26.
The network is a group of 15 churches that have decided to leave the Canadian
church over theological differences including attitudes toward homosexuality.
Archbishop Hiltz wrote that "your visit to Canada is without any reference to or
consent from my office or that of the bishop of the diocese of New Westminster.
This represents a breach in what is considered normative in protocol among
primates and bishops throughout the (Anglican) Communion."
Archbishop Venables, reached by telephone in Buenos Aires, where the province is
based, said he did not intend to cancel his visit. "I don't see any reason to
call off the trip. I was invited to share with people who have already separated
from the Canadian church. I wouldn't have done anything had they not already
separated," he said.
Contacting Archbishop Hiltz or diocesan bishop Michael Ingham was unnecessary,
he said, since he is "not meeting with people who are members of the Anglican
Church of Canada." He added, "I didn't encourage them to separate; I simply
received their request (to join the Southern Cone)." He said his activities at
the conference, called "Compelled by Christ's Love" would be "to be with them,
to talk and share and listen."
"This (visit) emphasizes the strained relations (between the Anglican Church of
Canada and the network) as opposed to offering any kind of help or assistance,"
said Archdeacon Feheley, speaking for Archbishop Hiltz, who was out of town.
Mr. Feheley pointed out that Archbishop Hiltz' letter referred to the Windsor
Report on communion which asked archbishops and bishops who believe it is their
conscientious duty to intervene in other provinces "to seek an accommodation
with the bishops of the diocese whose parishes they have taken into their own
According to a media advisory from the network about the conference, "Archbishop
Venables will celebrate and worship with us, as will a number of other global
Anglican Communion leaders. Our time together will culminate ... in a special
service of celebration, commissioning and communion." Archbishop Hiltz said in
the letter that "your visit at this time will further harm the strained
relations between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Network in
Canada."Archbishop Hiltz said his request came "with strong support from the
house of bishops," which just concluded its spring meeting in Niagara Falls,
Ont. The bishops' discussion about Archbishop Venables' visit was closed to the
Mr. Feheley said the primate introduced the issue and although there was no
vote, there was a "sense of consensus" in the meeting that the letter should be
Mr. Feheley said Archbishop Hiltz noted that on April 10, the bishops of the
Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil strongly criticized a visit by Archbishop
Venables to the city of Recife. A statement issued by the Brazilian bishops said
that Archbishop Venables "took part in and celebrated at official occasions
outside his province without the knowledge and consent of the archbishop of the
Province of Brazil and this house of bishops." In 2004, then-diocesan bishop
Robinson Cavalcanti tried to take the diocese of Recife out of the Brazilian
church. Bishop Cavalcanti was deposed, or removed from office, after an
investigation and ecclesiastical court process.
Archbishop Hiltz' letter also noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, earlier stated that "I do not endorse any cross-provincial transfers
of allegiance and that this office and that of the Anglican Communion recognize
one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the communion, the
Anglican Church of Canada."
The letter said that Canadian bishops have made provision for those "who find
themselves in conscientious disagreement with the view of their bishop and synod
over matters of human sexuality." The process, called shared episcopal ministry,
provides for diocesan bishops to invite another bishop to minister to
By David W. Virtue
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
was not in town when Pope Benedict came to New York. She was invited, but she
had previously scheduled appointments. Bishop Mark Sisk Bishop of NY and Bishop
Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations for the
Presiding Bishop, represented her, according to Neva Rae Fox of the Episcopal
According to a Roman Catholic priest who was there and who emailed VOL, other
Episcopalians present, in addition to Bishop Sisk, were the Archdeacon and Vicar
General of the diocese of New York, as well as Fr. Barry Swain SSC of
Resurrection NYC, Fr. Andrew Mead of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue NYC and Fr. Michael
Brandt of St. Michael's NYC.
Mrs. Jefferts Schori was at St. Mark's Cathedral and at the opening of the new
Episcopal Church Center of Utah (ECCU) in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was not in
New York City as the leader of The Episcopal Church to greet His Holiness. The
snub was apparently not deliberate. Some Protestant dignitaries who did not show
up to meet the Pope also had representatives.
The Pope did meet Bishop Sisk, but he was dead last in the line to be called up
to meet His Holiness, a signal in itself just how much respect the Roman
Catholic hierarchy has in New York City for the Episcopal Bishop. Sisk recently
went on record trying to put his predecessor, Bishop Paul Moore, on a pedestal
for his social justice stands even though he was involved in scandals that
included both adultery and homosexuality.
Here is how it went.
It was at St. Joseph's Church on New York City's Upper East Side, that Pope
Benedict XVI met with a number of Christian leaders. Bishop Sisk was there and
presented to him, but at the very end of the line.
The first to be introduced were a number of Orthodox hierarchs who were called
up by name; then, clergy of various Protestant denominations were called up
individually by name. A minister representing Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, was in attendance. The ELCA
bishop of the Atlantic Synod was also there. There were a number of clergy of
obscure Protestant denominations, a Presbyterian Stated Clerk from the PCUSA, a
Missouri Synod leader and then Sisk. He was the very last one to be called up.
There are unconfirmed reports that the Rev. Andy Meade of St. Thomas's was there
as was the Vicar General of New York.
It was the Pope's remarks to the ecumenical leaders, clearly aimed at The
Episcopal Church, that stole the show. He singled out for particular
condemnation the notion of "local option" in changing sacred doctrine. The Pope
made it clear that dialogue is only possible within the context of revelation
and the apostolic teachings of the Church. (One should bear in mind the
rejection of General Convention Resolution B001, which asked TEC to uphold
certain basic doctrines of the church, but could not muster enough votes to do
Why did he do this? Who informed him? Many readers will recall that this Pope,
when he was simply Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, was the one who sent a congratulatory note to some 4,000 orthodox
Episcopal priests meeting in Dallas at Plano One in 2003. This was occurring
right around Frank Griswold, then Presiding Bishop, thus humiliating the PB in
the biggest single snub of his career. Ratzinger, now Benedict XIV, and 81,
clearly has a long memory. Furthermore, it should be noted that VOL, according
to Google Analytics, is read every day by more than 130 Italians. Some 30
readers are clustered in and around Rome and the Vatican.
That the Pope understood what "local option" has done to the Episcopal Church
speaks volumes for the Pontiff's memory.
For those not in the know, "local option" is what revisionists and homosexuals
like Louie Crew scream and whine when they can't have their way at one General
Convention on homosexuality and cry "local option" until it is brokered in at
the next General Convention.
It is the most disingenuous and opaque form of church politics you can imagine.
The conservatives who see it coming are powerless to prevent it. A case in point
has been the issue of rites for same sex unions (one can't really call them
marriages as that implies two people of the opposite sex uniting in holy
The Episcopal Church has still not officially approved such rites, but
experimental rites are being shamelessly used and allowed by revisionist bishops
with never a thought about whether a resolution for General Convention will
Of course, those of us who have been watching this "gay parade" called General
Convention long enough know that it is only a case of when, not if they will be
ushered in. No one has any doubt. The Pope knows it and called it for what it
If the Bishop of New York did not see this, he was blind, deaf and dumb, perhaps
in his case all three. Perhaps, he was still in recovery from the knowledge of
his predecessor Bishop Paul Moore's sordid life and was still reeling from that
when he got hit with a one two punch from the Pontiff.
The truth is the Episcopal Diocese of New York is one sordid, sodomite enclave.
So much so that one is hard pressed to find a handful of orthodox parishes still
remaining in the diocese! What sort of a church pays good money to have a
colorfully displayed motor car display upholding homosexuality at a Gay Pride
Parade proudly announcing its support for a deadly behavior, while the Roman
Catholic cathedral on 5th Avenue closes its doors for the day!
As one blogger observed, "The Episcopal Church's actions for the past quarter
century has been characterized as an abandonment of doctrinal norms to press for
sociological relevance. From the unilateral ordination of women to the
priesthood, based not upon Scriptural or theological analysis but upon political
considerations (using theology to back-fill once the political decision was
made) to the idea of "open communion," that is, giving the Eucharist to the non
baptized in direct and flagrant contradiction of both the Epistles and the
ancient tradition of the Church, the Episcopal Church has claimed that it was
Benedict decried the "splintering" of Christian churches over "so-called
'prophetic actions' that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with
the datum of Scripture and Tradition." Such actions, he said, cause Christian
communities to "give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead
to function according to the idea of 'local options,'" thus losing their
connections to Christians in other times and places. Some, but not all,
interpreted that as a veiled reference to controversy in the Episcopal Church
and the Anglican Communion.
He said that "only by holding fast to sound teaching will we be able to respond
to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world." There is little doubt
that the Pope's remarks must be seen in the light of his words of encouragement
to the 4,000 faithful at Plano. He has not forgotten. Equally, there can be
little doubt that he has been informed of the sexual "progress" the Episcopal
Church has made with regard to the Robinson consecration and the
Benedict said the power of the preaching of the Christian faith "has lost none
of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has
not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to
that found in secular ideologies. ..." Secular worldviews, "in alleging that
science alone is "objective," relegate religion entirely to the subjective
sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application
through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment
of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the "knowable" is limited to the
empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of
He would know that tens of thousands of faithful Episcopalians are leaving the
Episcopal Church and parishes and whole dioceses are being litigated against
with millions being spent on lawsuits. The notion of "mission" has nothing to do
with the Great Commission, but everything to do with the push for very secular
Millennium Development Goals at the expense of saving souls.
The Pontiff is pushing his own priests and bishops to get involved in evangelism
even as Islam is on the rise. This pope has talked more about evangelism than
any pope in living memory, mindful no doubt that Europe is becoming extremely
secularized, As Europe goes, so goes the rest of the world. Maybe.
"I think he did us the honor of giving us a serious address that I think needs
to be read and reflected upon," said Sisk. Asked whether he thought Benedict had
singled out the Episcopal Church in his remarks, Sisk responded, "It's
possible--but I would be rather surprised. I don't think he was trying to send
shots across the bow at particular churches. I think he spoke in a respectful
way and I didn't see that as a shot at the Episcopal Church."
Churches claiming "prophetic actions" such as the sexual innovations of the
Episcopal Church do not sit well with the Pontiff. Such prophetic actions are
not necessarily prophetic at all.
Mrs. Jefferts Schori's absence cannot be ignored. That she put the opening of a
building ahead of the leader of one billion Christians speaks volumes. It might
have something to do with the fact that she sees property issues as being of
such great value that she has instructed her attorney to litigate, at every turn
of the road, those faithful Episcopalians who would seek to leave and keep them.
The Episcopal Church is on a trajectory downwards. There is no stopping it. The
only question is, will the Pontiff offer a safe harbor for Anglo-Catholics in
the Episcopal Church or among Anglo-Catholic Continuers as the church continues
to head gadarene like towards the cliff edge?
Those in the reformed Anglican tradition, however, will have to look elsewhere
for a safe harbor.
Editor's Note: We all try to frame our arguments in ways that favor our interpretation. The Presiding Bishop, Episcopal News Service and other pecusa leaders too often do this in ways that distort reality. Even if her 1% figure is true, the churches that pecusa is losing are many of her largest ones. In Virginia it's Truro and the Falls Church. In Texas it's Christ Church, Plano. In Kansas, it's a megachurch in Overland Park. In Florida, it's Trinity, Vero Beach.
Pecusa is also losing midsize churches, including a fair number in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Ohio and elsewhere. This 1% of congregations equals thousands of members. It has been reported that pecusa is losing 1,000 members a week. You would think that instead of misrepresenting the current reality pecusa might find ways to stop the flow. But, of course, that would call for repentance and a return to the robust Anglicanism that pecusa will not accept.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The troubles in the American Episcopal (TEC) world continue unabated, like an aircraft that has gone into a death spiral and can't pull out. One of the major TEC seminaries, Seabury-Western, has given termination notices to its entire faculty. Although it was known that Seabury-Western was having financial difficulties, this announcement came as something of a surprise. Physically closing the doors and turning out the lights can't be too far away. Meanwhile the two orthodox Anglican/Episcopal seminaries, Nashotah House and Trinity, continue to prosper. Is it too much to say that the hand of God's blessing rests on those who teach and live the true Gospel of Jesus Christ?
TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori snubbed the Pope, turning down an invitation in order to attend to second or third-level appointments. I'm afraid that she may miss the second coming, if only because it didn't get on her calendar far enough in advance, and she has "see me" appearances already scheduled in Florida or Utah.
Under the Schori public mantra, we are about at the end of the churches leaving - most of those so disposed to leave have done so. In fact, she is terribly out of touch with the real world; churches are leaving on a weekly basis. Now it is true that as long as one or two people don't leave with the rest of the parish, and the bishop can hold onto the name and the building (four walls and a janitor) then TEC will claim that they haven't lost the congregation. The truth is that a viable church has been lost to the diocese, and down the street in a school cafeteria or gymnasium a new orthodox Anglican Church has been formed with most of the former Episcopalians, now under the care of an overseas Anglican province. This week one of the churches departing TEC was Church of the Good Shepherd in Tomball, Texas. The building was left behind, but the congregation will move to a junior high school nearby for this Sunday. Pray for them on this first Sunday "out." It kind of gives "coming out" a new and more acceptable meaning than that to which we have been accustomed.
When the Pope spoke in New York and Presiding Bishop Schori was so very busy elsewhere, she had Bishop Mark Sisk stand in for her. Although the Pope's words were clearly applicable to TEC, Sisk claimed that the Pope's observations were "respectful of our legitimate disagreement." I read the remarks and I saw no such sentiment. The problem with using refined and diplomatic language when speaking to revisionist TEC bishops is that they will purposefully dodge the clear meaning.
We have read that the membership in the Anglican Church of Nigeria, using their highly successful 1+1+3 program, has increased in the last three years from 18 million 25 million. This growth has enabled the Province to tell the respective dioceses to stop sending assessments, as they are no longer needed, and to spend their resources on evangelism locally. The churches are encouraged to have fundraising projects, for which the members donate time, to assist in achieving financial independence. Additionally, the Province of Nigeria has been able to raise enough money internally to provide the means for the Nigerian bishops attend the GAFCON Jerusalem Pilgrimage.
If the Anglican Communion is supposed to have 77 million members, but of England's 25 million only 1.6 million can be found, and of TEC's 2.4 million only 1.6 can be found, then just between those two provinces 24.2 million needs to be subtracted from the 77 million. That leaves a number 52.8 as a more realistic number. If you add back in the new Nigerian increase of 7 million new members, that bumps the total up to 59.8 million. Of that number Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya total 40-45 million or between 66.9% and 75.2% of the Anglican Communion. Dr. Williams, are you listening? I imagine not, since he is more concerned with reinforcing Archbishop Fred Hiltz in his protests about Archbishop Gregory Venables visiting Canada without permission of the Anglican Church of Canada. These Archbishops, when they give up on the Gospel of Christ, first begin to explain things in such a fuzzy way you can't understand them... then as the disease of revisionism progresses they become clearer, but also more alarming in their heresy. When they lose the power of the Gospel, they grasp for the coercive power of Canon Law. They believe that they have an invisible but real spiritual "force field" around their boundary, and no uninvited prelate can come in.
All I can say, from Star Trek days, is "beam me up, Scotty!" Revisionist Anglicanism is so unlike real Anglicanism that they are in fact two different religions entirely, just with interchangeable vestments. They can't keep the Roman Catholic bishop out of their province, they can't keep the Eastern Orthodox bishop out of their province, and they certainly won't keep the orthodox Anglican bishops and archbishops from visiting their own flocks, no matter how many fictional boundaries they have to step on, across, or over. We wish Archbishop Greg a wonderful visit to his Canadian flocks.
Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson
President and CEO, The American Anglican Council
In transactional change, we control the process of change and can clearly see the steps needed to reach our goal.
In transformational change, we are not in control, and we do not see all the steps between where we are now and where we want to be. Instead, we rely on God to give us three things:
- A clear understanding of our present reality
- The vision
- The next step
A—Our present reality is one of tension.
Z—Our vision is a biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America.
B—Our next step is the Global Anglican Future Conference on June 15th.
Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, has released a short statement at the conclusion of the meeting of Network diocesan bishops in Chicago on April 24.
“The diocesan bishop of every Network diocese, as well as a dean representing all the Network convocations, met together in Chicago on April 24. It was an extraordinarily productive meeting. As has happened so many times before in the Network’s five year history, deepened understanding and deeper unity, despite remarkably different contexts and strategies regarding the Episcopal Church, were the fruit of the meeting. The Network’s vision of a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism was again affirmed and embraced,” stated Bishop Duncan.
Editor's Note: The three network parishes in Central NY are St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Syracuse, St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Vestal, and Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Binghamton.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
April 24, 2008
EVANSTON, IL – The Trustees of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary today declared that the Episcopal Seminary “is in (a state of) financial crisis that threatens survival of the institution” and has given notice to all faculty that employment will end on June 30, 2009. The school also eliminated nine staff positions. The final date of employment for most of these staff will be May 23 – a week after graduation and the school’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
The decision was the outcome of a special board meeting in which the trustees were presented with recommendations by a committee charged with reviewing the seminary’s finances. In February, the board was informed that income from tuition, fees, and endowment resources would be insufficient to overcome an ongoing deficit of nearly $500,000 per year. The seminary currently has an estimated $2.9 million in accumulated debt -- likely to climb to $3.5 million later this year because of transition costs. The board ordered a financial plan that brings expenses in line with revenues.
“This is an especially painful and difficult decision to make and announce,” said the seminary’s dean and president, Gary Hall. “However, it became clear during the past 18 months that the seminary’s endowment and other income sources are not capable of sustaining a traditional residential seminary program.”
“At its heart, Seabury will always be a school in service of the mission of God as proclaimed and enacted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Hall said. “We simply cannot sustain our mission with limited resources and by using a traditional model of ministry education.”
In February the board suspended admissions recruitment for its three-year residential master of divinity (MDiv) program, its master in theological studies (MTS), two doctor of ministry (DMin) and certificate programs. Students currently enrolled in the MDiv and DMin programs will be allowed to finish their degrees at Seabury. Some courses may be taken at other Chicago-area seminaries.
Seabury is not alone among the Episcopal Church’s 11 seminaries in facing financial challenges. In recent months Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and Bexley Hall Seminary in Rochester, NY, announced decisions to sell property or consolidate operations in order to continue offering similar programs. Bexley Hall is consolidating its remaining program and students to Columbus, OH, where it will continue its MDiv program with Trinity Lutheran Seminary. EDS announced last month that it has sold some of its campus to Lesley University in order to remain in Cambridge.
All Episcopal and other mainline seminaries have faced rising costs and stagnant or declining enrollments for the past 30 years while higher education costs have accelerated. At Seabury, tuition is $13,000 while the actual cost per student has risen to more than $50,000. Sustaining that $37,000 expenditure gap over a period of more than two decades exhausted the seminary’s resources despite an increase in alumni/ae and other giving during the past few years.
In 2006 the board began a strategic planning process to identify ways to respond effectively to the shifts in the seminary market. Last October the case statement estimated at least $10 million would be needed to eliminate the current debt load and increase the endowment, while $8.7 million could be targeted program development and campus renovation to support any new programs. The $18.7 million goal significantly exceeded Seabury’s fundraising capabilities.
Declaring financial exigency – the technical term for determining a financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution -- allows the trustees to end faculty tenure and terminate faculty positions, resulting in immediate and long-term savings. Faculty will be given one year’s notice that their positions will end effective June 30, 2009. They will receive full salary and benefits in the 2008-2009 academic year and teach a reduced course load so that they have opportunity to search for a new position. Staff will have separation benefits that include severance pay, payment for unused vacation, continuation of health benefits, unemployment benefits, and career counseling.
“Faculty understand the precarious financial situation of the seminary and have appreciated being consulted in the decisions leading to the board’s declaration of exigency,” said Dr. Ruth A. Meyers, academic dean and professor of liturgics. “While there is a range of emotion as they face an uncertain future, there is also tremendous good will and support for one another, for students and staff, and for the institution.” “Our primary work right now is caring for the people in the Seabury community whose lives are being dramatically disrupted,” Dean Hall said. “While we need to look to what Seabury might become in the future, we have focused almost all of our energies on the immediate concerns facing those around us.”
“Seabury is an amazing community, and this process is extraordinarily difficult for all of us involved,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Butler, vice president for advancement and administration. “While we understand the necessity of dismantling the current structure of our beloved institution, the reality of doing so causes profound grief on so many levels. It is difficult to have to say goodbye to faculty and staff.”
At the same time the trustees have wrestled with controlling costs, they also have investigated future program options, including merging with another institution, offering non-residential programs, and distance learning.
The administration is optimistic that it can resume offering the doctoral programs in preaching and congregational development that have been a hallmark of Seabury for many years. The trustees plan to focus on future plans during the coming months.
For more information, contact the Rev. Elizabeth Butler at 847-328-9300 x 41.
Monday, April 21, 2008
This vote does not pass the...[impropriety] test. It stinks.
It is so...[poorly done] and weak to go forward on voice vote only, for of course, there would be No recorded vote, so:
1) No one knows how many were in the house to vote on the motion.
2) No one knows how many in the house were entitled to vote.
3) No one knows how may voted for the motion.
4) No one knows who voted for the motion
5) No one knows if any of the bishops who were present but not entitled to vote, voted anyway, for one mumbled “Aye” sounds much like another.
6) ...[It appears] the bishops there made sure that they have their political shelter of plausible deniability in place.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) -- Using unusually strong words for an ecumenical prayer service, Pope Benedict XVI said the witness of Christians in the world is weakened not only by their divisions, but also by some communities turning their backs on Christian tradition.
"Communion with the church in every age," he said, is needed particularly "at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel."
The pope met April 18 with about 250 representatives of U.S. ecumenical organizations and a dozen Christian churches and denominations for evening prayer at St. Joseph's Church in New York.
He began by praising the ecumenical commitment of U.S. Christians and acknowledging that the agreements found in their theological dialogues have contributed to the theological agreements later forged by the Vatican and its official dialogue partners.
But Pope Benedict also focused on ways the Christian obligation to share the good news of the Gospel suffers in the modern world.
"Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself," he said.
But another, growing problem lies in the fact that "fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called 'prophetic actions' that are based" on a reading of Christianity "not always consonant" with that found in the Bible and in Christian tradition.
While the pope did not offer specific examples, he has in the past questioned Christian communities that have decided to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopacy or to bless homosexual unions and ordain openly gay men and women.
The pope's concerns obviously extend to the Anglican Communion and its troubled relations with the U.S. Episcopal Church and some dioceses in Canada.
The Anglican Communion is attempting to find ways to strengthen its structures for ensuring that one national member does not take actions that make other members of the communion uncomfortable. At times, bishops have been named to oversee pastoral care of members who do not go along with the changes.
Pope Benedict said it was unfortunate that some church communities have given up "the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of 'local options.'"
The pope said he was concerned that in a world marked by a greater sense of global unity and interdependence, the feeling of "fragmentation and a retreat into individualism" is seen in Christian denominations just as it is in the world at large.
The unity of the early Christian community and the cohesion of its members "was based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession," the pope said.
But now, he said, there are signs that some Christians are taking the same "relativistic approach" to doctrine that many modern people take to moral and ethical values in general.
Christians cannot pretend that there is no such a thing as Christian truth, he said. The Christian faith is not a matter of picking and choosing what to believe and what to discard from the Scriptures and Christian tradition.
When Christians think they only need to follow their own consciences and find a church that suits their individual tastes, the result is a "continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living," he said.
Pope Benedict said that when a church, like the Catholic Church, asserts its doctrines, it is not throwing up an obstacle to progress in Christian unity.
"A clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching," he said. Christians must hold the faith that Jesus gave to his apostles.
Only by holding on to the sure teaching of the Gospel, he said, will the Christian churches be able to find the basis for unity and for a united witness to a troubled world.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 17, 2008
CONTACT: Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Caitlin Bozell (ext. 119) at (703) 683-5004
CANA Responds to Diocese of Connecticut’s Attempt to Seize Control of Bishop Seabury Church
HERNDON, VA (April 17, 2008) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) issued a response to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut’s attempt to seize control of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, Conn. Earlier this week, the Diocese demanded the key to the building, financial records, and appointed a new priest-in-charge.
“Sadly, the Diocese of Connecticut seeks to undermine the faithful work of the parishioners at Bishop Seabury Church, which unanimously voted to affiliate with CANA since the Diocese and The Episcopal Church decided to walk apart from the Anglican Communion by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
“Despite our continued willingness to settle this matter amicably, the Diocese of Connecticut has refused as long as we remain with CANA. We are sorry the Diocese and The Episcopal Church have chosen to go their own way. We hope they understand that their choice to be a prodigal church does not give them the right to take our house of worship with them,” said The Rev. Ronald S. Gauss, senior associate rector of Bishop Seabury Church.
At each annual meeting from 2004-2007, the Bishop Seabury Church congregation had unanimously, in total parish unity, given its vestry full authority to stay in the Anglican Communion, to stay in the church property and to affiliate with CANA.
“There is clear division between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion. Recently, a Virginia court affirmed that a division does indeed exist within The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. Pitting Christian against Christian in court does nothing to save one soul, strengthen one family, or help one person in need and CANA parishes keep getting pushed into this situation,” said Bishop Minns.
“We will continue to share the life-transforming power of the Gospel in mission and ministry with our community and beyond. We hope and pray that the Diocese and The Episcopal Church will work with us instead of against us,” Fr. Gauss said.
Second, we never "rejected" any offer we simply did not make the bishop's imposed deadline. We were still formulating our answer when the lawsuit was filed on April 15th. We had notified the bishop twice that we needed more time to make a sufficient answer.
Third, as we will see in the coming weeks, the timing of Good Shepherd's decision to leave the Episcopal Church and our (Anne's and my own) decision to resign our ministry in the Episcopal Church was determined by a protocol that had been previously worked out and drawn between the bishop, me, and the wardens of the Church of the Good Shepherd. The bishop and the Standing Committee told us that they would not be able to negotiate with regard to the property until and unless we officially departed from the Episcopal Church.
Subsequently, we sent up several offers only to have them summarily rejected with no counter offers and then, finally, the lawsuit was filed.
All of this has been exhaustively documented and it will be brought to light in the coming months right here on Stand Firm.
The diocese said the action was taken "in response to several actions enacted by Good Shepherd to sever its ties with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Central New York."
According to the diocese's statement, the vestry, wardens and rector of Good Shepherd passed a resolution on November 8, 2007 stating that they "disassociate and end our affiliation with The Episcopal Church of the United States of America and the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York and apply for membership within the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Kenya."
Good Shepherd's weekly update, posted on the church's website the next day, noted that "we have taken the decision to leave the Episcopal Church and we are currently in negotiations with the Diocese of Central New York for the ownership of this building."
An April 18 weekly update said that the lawsuit was "to put it mildly, a disappointment."
Good Shepherd's rector, the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, voluntarily renounced his ministry within the diocese and the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church in keeping with Title III Canon 9 Section 8 of the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church on December 21. Central New York Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams recorded that renunciation on January 15, the diocese's statement said.
The statement noted that both the constitution and canons of both the Episcopal Church and the diocese state that all real and personal property held by any parish, mission, or congregation is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the diocese. "The Church of the Good Shepherd has clearly stated it is no longer an Episcopal church or in communion with The Episcopal Church, and their clergyperson is no longer an Episcopal priest," the statement said.
Adams offered to allow the congregation up to a year to remain in its current location "while seeking alternative worship space that would best fit their ministry needs," the statement said, adding that the Good Shepherd leadership's rejection of the offer led to the filing of the complaint.
The April 18 update on the Good Shepherd's website gives Kennedy's account of some of the meetings and offers leading up to the lawsuit. "The vestry is confident in our defense strategy," he wrote. "Still, the case law in New York state is not great. We do not know the outcome. We could lose. We could win. We just don't know."
Kennedy, a frequent contributor to the website Stand Firm in Faith, went on to write that "no piece of property or amount of money is equal to the inheritance we have been given in Christ," adding that "we must love those who hate us and seek to persecute us."
Adams said in the diocesan statement that his hope "has been all along that the clergy and people of Good Shepherd would remain in The Episcopal Church."
"We, the Diocese of Central New York, will continue to seek to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ in this time and in this place in its ministry to all of God's people," he concluded.
-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II. She is based in Neptune, New Jersey, and New York City.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference will be asked to affirm their willingness to abide by the recommendations of the Windsor Report and work towards the creation of an Anglican Communion Covenant.
A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams told The Church of England Newspaper that letters affirming support for Windsor and the Covenant process had not yet been mailed, but would go out presently.
Bishops attending Lambeth must have a “willingness to work with those aspects of the [Lambeth] Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of [the Windsor Report], including the development of a Covenant,” Dr. Williams wrote in his Dec. 14 Advent pastoral letter.
The Windsor Report calls for a ban on gay bishops and blessings and discouraged violating the diocesan boundaries of bishops in opposing theological camps. Affirming the recommendations of the Windsor Report may cause difficulty for US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other progressive American, Canadian, Brazilian and British bishops who have given either their formal or informal support to moves to normalize homosexuality within the life of the church. It also closes the door on full participation in the conference of the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson.
Overseas primates who have backed the violation of diocesan boundaries by African-consecrated American missionary bishops, could also fall afoul of Dr. Williams’ dictate. However, as the principle provinces backing overseas missionary bishops-Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda-will not be at Lambeth, the warning is a “moot point”, one overseas primate told The Church of England Newspaper.
Approximately 600 of the Communion’s 716 diocesan and 171 suffragan and assistant bishops have stated they would attend Lambeth, and more responses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, a member of the conference team said.
Dr. William’s Advent letter warned against campaigning by the bishops on the disparate issues dividing the Communion. Attendance at Lambeth was predicated at avoiding “the present degree of damaging and draining tension arising again. I intend to be in direct contact with those who have expressed unease about this, so as to try and clarify how deep their difficulties go with accepting or adopting the Conference’s agenda.”
Speaking to the Fulcrum Conference in Islington last week, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright said “when the Archbishop issued his invitations, he made it clear as I said that their basis was Windsor and the Covenant as the tools to shape our future common life.”
“Those bishops who might be thought particularly unsympathetic to Windsor and the Covenant” would be asked by Dr. Williams “whether they were really prepared to build on this dual foundation. “
“Many will say this is far too little, far too late - just as many others will be livid to think that the Archbishop, having already not invited Gene Robinson to Lambeth, should be suggesting that some others might absent themselves as well,” Dr. Wright said. “But this is what he promised he would do, and he is doing it.”
--This article appears in the April 18th, 2008, Church of England Newspaper, page 1
(1) It is a sad day when the greatest barrier to religious freedom is not the secular authorities but by the strong armed gestapo like tactics of the Episcopal church. All the Good Shepherd church is trying to do is to remain true to their theological/Biblical foundations and it is the Episcopal church hierarchy who is violation of that foundation-a foundation that has been a part of the Anglican/Episcopal tradition for centuries. The Episcopal church's deviation from their Biblical/theological roots would be like the Red Cross giving up its blood drives & first aid. If the Episcopal church has the freedom to redefine itself, then the Good Shepherd church should have the freedom to remain truly Anglican without the oppressive strong hand of the hierarchy.
(2)It is interesting that people love to talk about diversity unless you disagree with them. It reminds me of an incident when the late Bob Casey of Pennsylvania was not allowed to speak at the Democratic convention because of his pro life views on abortion. In a convention that celebrated diversity, opposing views were not tolerated. Likewise who hold strong convictions about human sexuality and the sanctity of marriage are not tolerated and even loathed by even church officials.
My prayers are with you church of Good Shepherd.
Posted by: waverlypastor on Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:01 am
The crux of the arguement is about whether the Episcopal Church which has elected conventions, elected bishops, elected delagates, elected deputies, elected committee members, elected vestries, due process, diocesen canons, senior wardens, and vacation bible school theologians is like the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church whose one election is actually a divination followed by a ritual fire. If one gets a fair hearing on that the ballgame changes. The Episcopal Church is not hierarchical. The Presiding Bishop can’t tell a bishop what to do under the canons. All she can do is offer them for inhibition or deposition if the House of Bishops decides to meet and vote on it which they passed on this May. That is a long way from the Pope’s reach. The Episcopal Church has the same rituals of Mass as the Roman Catholic faith, but that is not hiearchical organization. The Episcopal Church is essentially Congregational.
So, is pecusa really hierarchichal? Certainly not in the way that the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches are. Maybe Good Shepherd or another parish in the U.S. can explore this question in litigation and break the Dennis Canon. That would be a service to Christendom and a back-breaking decision against the Episcopal Fraud.
Binghamton church vows fight over property takeover
Good Shepherd contests Episcopal Church stance
Press & Sun-Bulletin
In a lawsuit filed this week, the diocese asked the State Superior Court to force Church of the Good Shepherd, on Conklin Avenue, to leave the facility as well as account for all money -- including an endowment fund -- because the congregation withdrew from the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Church of Kenya.
"It's a David-versus-Goliath situation; the Episcopal Church has deep pockets. This is a powerful and wealthy institution that is trying to crush a local church, only to put it on the auction block and sell it for cash," attorney Raymond J. Dague said Thursday from his Syracuse office. "It's a sad thing that a bishop who's supposed to protect sheep is trying to crush them."
Dague, who represents Good Shepherd, said the diocese is trying to "seize" the church's property because the congregation and regional Bishop Gladstone A. Adams are "on the opposite sides of a controversy over homosexual bishops and the authority of Scripture."
The attorney for the diocese, Jonathan B. Fellows of Bond, Schoeneck and King in Syracuse, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.BINGHAMTON -- The Diocese of Central New York is attempting to order a former Episcopal Church in Binghamton to vacate its buildings and turn over legal title of the property to its regional office.
In November, Good Shepherd withdrew from the Episcopal Church and joined another Anglican community, according to the court document filed with the Broome County Clerk's Office.
By withdrawing from the Episcopal Church, the lawsuit claims Good Shepherd broke canon law, which states a congregation's property is held in trust for the church and the diocese -- a relationship which is a characteristic of Episcopalian hierarchy, according to the complaint.
Dague said Good Shepherd is "weighing all its options," including challenging the diocese in court, during the 20-day time period to reply to the complaint.
Good Shepherd's pastor, the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, said he did not believe "the diocese's claims to this congregation's property and assets are legitimate." Kennedy also withdrew from the Episcopal Church and affiliated himself with the Anglican Church of Kenya.
Since the denomination consecrated Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Good Shepherd has been a vocal critic of the national church's stance on homosexuality and the authority of Scripture.
Like other former Episcopalians, Good Shepherd aligned itself with an Anglican communion which claims orthodox or traditional theology opposing homosexuality.
In a news release, the church noted: "Good Shepherd adheres to the traditional teaching of the church that sex outside of marriage is prohibited by the Bible, while the bishop and leaders of the diocese have been outspoken supporters of the homosexual bishop of New Hampshire."
Good Shepherd is one of two congregations in Broome County to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and its central New York jurisdiction, which is headquartered in Syracuse, over homosexuality and authority of Scripture.
In June, St. Andrew's in Vestal voted to withdraw and align itself with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
Six months later, St. Andrew's gave the keys of its buildings to the diocese, rather than face a lawsuit, and moved to Memorial Park Baptist Church on Front Street in Vestal.
The buildings, near Vestal High School, were still listed for sale Thursday.
St. Andrew's in Syracuse was the first diocesan congregation to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and wanted to stay in its facility on South Salina Street, but eventually opted to vacate rather than continue litigation with the diocese over ownership of the property.
Across the United States, as well as Canada, former Episcopal churches and their dioceses are increasingly going to court to settle property questions after parishes withdraw from the denomination over homosexuality and scriptural authority.
In March, St. James in Elmhurst, Queens County, lost a legal battle to keep its building when the State Supreme Court ruled for the Diocese of Long Island after the church broke away in 2003 and sued to keep title to its property.
Earlier this month, a judge in Fairfax County, Va., issued a favorable procedural ruling on behalf of 11 parishes -- including two of the denomination's largest and wealthiest congregations -- that want to leave the Episcopal Church. The case is working its way through Virginia courts and is far from being settled.
The 2.3-million member Episcopal Church is essentially the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican community.