"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sept. Meeting Now Looks Much Less Important

For those who had hoped that the meeting Archbishop Williams had arranged next month between PB Griswold, PB-elect Schori, Bishops Duncan and Iker and others would actually accomplish something, the email below is disheartening. It turns out this will simply be another gab fest--an exclusively internal affair for TEC (with the canon who runs the Anglican Communion's office acting as a sort of facilitator or something). Its even going to take place on 815's home turf in New York. Clearly the ABC will neither be there nor try to influence the proceedings. In other words, this is just more of the same endless "dialog" that has served the theological Left so well for the last few years. Couldn't this non-event have been handled by a simple conference call? No one is going to budge without major pressure from overseas.

Thank you for your email. Its contents have been carefully noted. The meeting in September to which you refer has been convened precisely so that bishops who are asking for alternative primatial oversight can meet with their current primate and his successor to determine from within the Episcopal Church the best way forward. While the Archbishop of Canterbury had a role in establishing this meeting, and will be represented at it by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, it is intended to allow the Episcopal Church to reach its own conclusions, and does not represent any independent action by the Archbishop of Canterbury at all.

You may like to read Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold’s recent comment on the meeting, which you will find here.

Do please join with us in praying for the well-being of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and that God’s will for all God’s children may be clearly known and heeded.

G K Cameron
Deputy Secretary General
Anglican Communion Office

Canon Cameron's email may be found here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Resolution of the Vestry of St. Vincent's Cathedral

Whereas the Vestry of the Cathedral Church of St. Vincent in Bedford, Texas is deeply saddened by the actions of the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Ohio and by the general state of affairs in the Episcopal church;

Whereas the Convention could not affirm the uniqueness of Christ for salvation nor could it affirm the Scriptures as the Word of God;

Whereas the Convention was unable to embrace the minimal requirements of the Windsor report in that it could not agree to a moratorium on same-sex blessings or further consecrations of active homosexual persons, nor could it express regret for “breaking the bonds of affection” with the Anglican Communion by consecrating V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire;

Whereas the Convention promoted same sex marriage by opposing any constitutional amendments which seek to prohibit them;

Whereas the 2006 General Convention demonstrated its determination to reject the counsel of the Anglican communion and the witness of the whole Church in history by the election of Katherine Jefforts Schori who has, by her own words, rejected Jesus as the way, the truth and the life; who in her first public sermon as Presiding Bishop elect made the provocative statement: “ Mother Jesus who has given birth to a new creation…;” who has publicly rejected the “right” of the Anglican Communion to impose itself on the Episcopal Church; who has promoted the blessings of same-sex unions in her own Diocese of Nevada and also has given her blessing to the Consecration of V. Gene Robinson; and who has made it clear she will lead the church in the same direction;

Whereas the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his statement of June 27, 2006 has concurred that the Episcopal Church did not conform to the Windsor Report;

Whereas the Episcopal Church by its own actions has (in the words of the Windsor Report) chosen to “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion and has departed from historic Christian faith; and

Whereas the diocese of Fort Worth, along with other dioceses, have already declared their desire to seek oversight by an alternate Presiding Bishop or Archbishop;


The Vestry and Parishioners of St. Vincent Cathedral Church reaffirm our previous resolutions expressing our desire to disassociate ourselves from the actions of the General Convention of 2003;

The Vestry and Parishioners of St. Vincent Cathedral Church affirm our desire to disassociate ourselves from the actions of the General Convention 2006;

The Vestry and Parishioners of St. Vincent Cathedral Church affirm Bishop Iker's call for Alternative Primatial Oversight;

The Vestry and Parishioners of St. Vincent Cathedral Church affirm our desire to remain a constituent member of the Anglican Communion;

Finally that the Vestry and members of the Cathedral boldly stand alongside our Bishop, as he leads the way through these uncharted waters and we firmly support the actions of the Standing Committee and the Executive Council.

Unanimously adopted, Aug. 21st, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Common Cause Federation Formed

The next important step in the formation of a new, orthodox Anglican province in North America has been taken in Pittsburgh. It is interesting that CANA, the Nigerian missionary convocation in the US whose first bishop (Bishop Martyn Minns) was consecrated last weekend in Nigeria, has been included in the new Federation. This is a very encouraging sign.

From the Anglican Communion Network's web site:

The Common Cause Roundtable which represents nine orthodox Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America met in Pittsburgh August 16–18, 2006 to continue its unifying work. The Common Cause Roundtable Partners accomplished three major tasks:
  • affirmed their Covenant Declaration;
  • amended and approved the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership; and,
  • recommended the formation of the Common Cause Federation (CCF).

The Roundtable drafted and approved proposed articles to create the Common Cause Federation which would formalize the relationship of the partners and allow for other orthodox Anglican groups to apply for membership. The representatives at the meeting will now take the three above-mentioned documents back to their constituent bodies for approval and adoption. The approval process is likely to extend over the next 18 months. The texts of the Covenant Declaration and the Theological Statement are contained below and are available on the website of the Anglican Communion Network at www.acn-us.org. The text of the Articles of the Common Cause Federation will be available in mid-October.

One of the actions of the Common Cause Partners’ meeting was to include the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) as the ninth roundtable partner. In addition, the retired Archbishop of Southeast Asia, the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung was the Bible teacher for the Roundtable meetings over the three day period. Bible teaching took a central place in shaping the work of the Common Cause Roundtable.


We intend by God’s grace:

  • to partner together in a renewed missionary effort in North America and beyond, driven by our passion for Jesus and His Gospel.
  • to ensure an orthodox Anglican Province in North America that remains connected to a faithful global Communion.
  • to create a unity in the essentials of our Anglican faith that respects our varied styles and expressions.
  • to build trusting relationships marked by effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.


We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, the Common Cause Partnership identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:

  1. We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
  2. We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
  3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.
  4. We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.
  5. Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.
  6. We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
  7. We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

In all these things, the Common Cause Partnership is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.

“The Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher wrote, “has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ’s Church from the beginning.” It may licitly teach as necessary for salvation nothing but what is read in the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word written or may be proved thereby. It therefore embraces and affirms such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures, and thus to be counted apostolic. The Church has no authority to innovate: it is obliged continually, and particularly in times of renewal or reformation, to return to “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a “Mere Christian,” at the same time evangelical, apostolic, catholic, reformed, and Spirit-filled.

Proposed to the Partners
August 18th, 2006

"Stand Firm" Interviews Bishop Iker

The orthodox Anglican blog Stand Firm has published an interview with the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, bishop of Fort Worth. One highlight:

Bishop Iker: So far we Americans have had very little success in settling things amongst ourselves! That’s why seven dioceses (and I think there will be others) have appealed to the Archbishop for alternative primatial oversight. We need an intervention. We need the help and support of the whole Anglican Communion to address the crisis American revisionists have created. Yet the Archbishop is not a pope, and he cannot impose a solution upon us. Our problem is rooted in the fact that we have acted like an independent protestant sect, while historically we have considered ourselves a province of the whole Catholic Church. This is part of our objection to the revisionist agenda. It treats the Episcopal Church as just one church among many - a church that can decide whatever it wants, no matter what others think. The Network, on the other hand, believes in submission to the consensus of Christians throughout the world, Anglicans first, but then the whole of Christendom. We uphold the biblical faith of the undivided church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the key instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion, and it is his responsibility to hold the Communion together in this biblical faith. This means that he will have to use his influence to intervene in disputes within provinces such as the Episcopal Church. Neither he nor any other primate can compel the Episcopal Church to act differently than we have, but Canterbury does have the power and right to say who is Anglican and who is not - a power exercised by his prerogative to decide who should be invited to the Lambeth Conference of Bishops. The revisionist bishops know this, and it causes them no small amount of concern. When the Archbishop is ready to act, he will find the Windsor and Network bishops as strong allies.

Another noteworthy statement by the good bishop:

I have already said to my colleagues in the Network that I am not willing to allow the most timid of Windsor bishops to determine the course that the Diocese of Fort Worth will take in the future.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Finished Product

For those who have followed the progress of the second floor of St. Vincent's School here over the summer, I thought I would show you the finished product. There are a couple of whiteboards yet to hang in classrooms, but this is pretty much the finished product. (Click on the picture for a larger image.)
The hall still looks just a bit bare, but there will soon be an original watercolor of St. Thomas Becket's martyrdom (painted by Fr. J. Gordon Anderson, the APA priest who publishes the Continuing Anglican Churchman blog) hanging outside the chaplain's office. That's my father, R.D. Foster, standing in the hall. He's a frequent photographic contributor to this blog.
The stairwells are even attractive now!
And this is how the new chaplain's office turned out. Starting this Friday I will be scheduling individual visits for "ghostly counsel" with all the students of the sixth through ninth grades.

Finally, the higher ups seemed to have shared my feeling that the advertisement that I posted here last week, while quite good for our upper school, did not call attention to our lower school. As a result, the ad below will also be running this year:
It is an exciting time to be at St. Vincent's School!

Bishop Iker Writes His Clergy With Big News

Yesterday Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth issued the following statement about his participation in an upcoming meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops from across the spectrum of U.S. Anglicanism. Might this signal the opening of genuine discussions over how to bring about a separation between the opposing camps within the Episcopal church without crippling lawsuits?

Bishop Iker's letter, in its entirety:

At the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Robert Duncan and I have agreed to participate in a two day consultation next month that will address the controversies and divisions in the Episcopal Church that are impacting the entire Anglican Communion. The meeting will be co-chaired by Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida. The Presiding Bishop and the Presiding Bishop-elect will also participate. Archbishop Rowan Williams will be represented by Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
In accordance with the Archbishop's instructions, we are each to bring
along another Bishop to share in these deliberations, and we have asked Bishop Ed Salmon of South Carolina and Bishop James Stanton of Dallas to join us. All four of us are member Bishops in the Anglican Communion Network and our dioceses have requested alternative primatial oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
We are grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his efforts to broker a
cease fire in our current conflicts and to assist us in finding a way to work through the impasse we have reached. If things go well at this initial meeting, additional dates have been set aside to continue our deliberations in the future. Your prayers are asked for the participants as we seek a way forward for a church in crisis. The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker Bishop of Fort Worth

Read the comments to date on Titusonenine (including one by the bishop himself).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary

It was extremely hot and humid in Ephesus in June of 431 A.D--not an ideal time of year to hold a church convention. But the emperor had called a council in the great port city any way. Bishops were arriving in Ephesus from all over the Christian world to participate in the third Ecumenical Council of the Church. The fiery tempers of these churchmen matched the climate of the Mediterranean metropolis. People were itching for a fight and major theological issues were at stake. Among the items on the agenda that created the most heated controversy was a matter of semantics—was it appropriate to call the Virgin Mary Theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer”, or not? Battle lines had been drawn across the Roman Empire over whether or not this honorific title--“God-bearer”--was appropriate for the young woman who had given birth to the Savior of the world in that stable at Bethlehem. The debate raged so fiercely that imperial troops had to be called in to keep the pro-Theotokos and anti-Theotokos bishops from attacking one another! Such a great commotion over what to call a simple Jewish girl from Nazareth!

Of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary would never have wanted to be the center of so much attention. Nowhere in Holy Scripture does Mary vaunt herself or thrust herself into the limelight. In fact, she is clearly uncomfortable when others call attention to the special grace God conferred upon her in making her the mother of the Christ. When the archangel Gabriel greets her at Nazareth with the title “Favored One”, Mary is “greatly troubled at this saying.” In humility she sees herself as nothing more than “the handmaid of the Lord,” or to put it more plainly, “the Lord’s servant girl.”

Later, when St. Elizabeth expresses wonder at receiving a visit from the “mother of her Lord” and prophesies in the power of the Spirit that Mary is “blessed among women,” the Virgin responds by turning attention away from herself and onto “God her Savior,” who “has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden” and “done great things” for her. Even when Mary acknowledges in her great hymn of praise that “all generations” will in fact call her “blessed,” she takes no credit for herself. “It is the God who ‘exalts those of low degree’ who deserves the praise,” Mother Mary tells us across the centuries. “I’m not the important one here. Keep the focus on what matters!”

And yet that debate in Ephesus over whether or not the Virgin Mary may be called Theotokos did matter very much. For the title God-bearer, though it does highly honor our Lady, is ultimately a statement about the nature of Christ. The Fathers of the Church who defended the apostolic faith at Ephesus knew this well. For if the Virgin Mary was not the bearer of God Incarnate, fully human and fully divine, then we have not been saved. Only the divine Giver of the law Himself could redeem those who were under the law. Only the Lord of Life could have trampled Death under his feet and kicked down the gates of Hell. If Mary did not give birth to God Himself in the flesh, then all of us who worship Jesus her Son are idolaters, and we are lost in our trespasses. Thanks be to God, that is not so! God our Savior has indeed come to His people and set them free. The babe of Bethlehem, Emmanuel, God-with-us, has won the victory. To Him be honor and glory, forever and ever! Amen.

Yet it is also right that you and I should come together tonight to honor St. Mary the Virgin for her role in the saving work of God. After all, the human nature of Christ that suffered on the cross for our redemption and triumphed over the grave was a gift freely given to Him by His mother. Ponder for a moment the astonishing words of faithful obedience Mary uttered in response to the archangel’s message that fateful day in Nazareth: “Let it be to me according to thy word.” With those words the infinite gulf between creature and Creator was annihilated in an instant. Time and eternity merged. God and Man actually became One within the Virgin’s womb. By God’s gracious will, Mary was able to give her Son the genuine humanity that would bear our sins and open the door to eternal life.

This truth about Christ’s humanity is also reflected in the Virgin’s title, Theotokos. For Mary gave birth to her Son in the same wonderous way all of us were born. Many other religions have stories about gods who appear on the earth and walk about in the semblance of men. Christianity is unique in insisting that our God—the only God there is, in truth—actually became one of us. The Incarnation was not some divine parlor trick. God the Son took on a real human nature in the Virgin’s womb--flesh and bone, mind and soul. Christ is one with us in His humanity because He is His mother’s Son. Our God has known a mother’s love. And the love Chirst experienced craddled in Mary’s loving arms is of a piece with the love He showed Himself at Calvary.

As we come to the communion rail tonight to receive the precious Body and Blood of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, let us take a moment to remember the awesome gift of His own life that Christ pours out for us here is a gift His beloved Mother Mary first gave to Him. And let us be thankful.

Holy Mary, Theotokos, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

St. Vincent's School Ad

The advertisement for St. Vincent's School above will soon be running in Dallas-Fort Worth area newspapers. I think it looks pretty good. If we must have only one ad for both the lower and upper schools, I think it works pretty well. But my own feeling is that we would be better served to have separate ads for the younger kids and the older ones. (This ad doesn't say "pre-kindergarten" to me!) I also would have preferred an express reference to Christianity in the ad, but there is at least a reference to "the Anglican tradition". You might note that "Cathedral" has been dropped from the school's name in the ad. This is because at least one leading parent at the school thought it might lead to confusion with our neighboring Roman Catholic institutions. (About 30% of our upper school students are in fact RC's, but the area is predominantly conservative Protestant. There was concern about "turning off" some potential enrollees by foregrounding the tie to a cathedral.)

I would be interested in input from readers. What say you?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Dean of Trintiy ESM on the Failure of TEC

Dean Paul Zahl of Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry has published a reflection on the failure of both "high" and "low" ecclesiologies to save the Episcopal church. It is well worth a read. One highlight:

Both "low church" and "high church" have failed in their project of renewing or re-orienting the Episcopal Church to the values of a passionately understood Gospel and a passionately felt ecclesiology. The reason we know we have failed is because of this institution which has been judged so tangibly by the judgment of God.

Not our best intentions nor our highest hopes have been able to "save" the Episcopal Church. How can anyone deny this "fact on the ground"? The Episcopal Church has given itself over almost wholly to an account of itself that opposes both "low church" and "high church" as these schools of thoughts have traditionally understood themselves. ...

All this does is "put paid" to the idea of ecclesiology as a mode of thought that can win out in the world of the here and now. It forces us to look for another hope!

What is this "other" hope? It may well be the alternative of becoming a Roman Catholic. If your ecclesiology has survived the end of apostolic life in the Episcopal Church, then you may well consider entering the Roman Catholic Church. This is a very live option for all of us, and is even more attractive in relation to the present Pope.

For convinced Protestants, well, I don't know. The LCMS has a definite hitch: its extreme attitude toward other Christian churches. The PCA has hitches of its own. The Quakers? Well, I met a woman once who described herself as a "Christian Quaker." She said there weren't many like her!

What I do know, clutching my 1928 Prayer Book to my bosom, is that ecclesiology of any type has been called into question by the record of recent times in the Episcopal Church. And I do know that Christ said, "Follow me and let the dead bury the dead." There is something there that knocks the very deeply committed ecclesiologies of us all, both Catholic and Protestant.

The entire text may be found here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Little Personal News

Just a short note about what has been going on in my life during the last week:

First, last weekend I participated in our diocese's Vocations Retreat down at Camp Crucis, near Granbury. It was a very positive experience (again). But most importantly, on Friday night I appeared before a joint session of our Commission on Ministry and the diocesan Standing Committee and was interviewed for about thirty minutes (as was Chuck Hough, one of our seniors at Nashotah House Seminary). Most of the questions focused on recent events in the national Episcopal church and what we thought about them and our diocese's response to them. In the end both committees voted to endorse our petitions for admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders, and yesterday I received word from Bishop Iker that I have been officially enrolled as a Candidate. Thanks be to God! This means I must now begin preparing in earnest for my Canonical Exams (the priestly equivalent of the Bar exam that my diocese administers instead of ECUSA's General Ordination Exam). I will be sitting for these exams in late January. If I should pass the exams and survive one final set of interviews I will (Lord willing) be ordained a deacon in late February or early March of 2007. (For those not familiar with our polity, one must first serve as a deacon for at least six months before ordination to the presbyterate.)

Second, today I graduate from Clinical Pastoral Education with Baylor Health Care Systems. I cannot say that I "enjoyed" the experience, but it has certainly been useful. I have learned a great deal. And compared to some of the horror stories I have heard, my experience at Baylor was not all that bad. I had a skilled and toughtful supervisor and good peers in my group (two Southern Baptists, two Roman Catholics, and a Presbyterian, surprisingly all males). Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine was a good location to do my on-site clinical hours, and I would commend their "Western Region" program to anyone who is thinking of doing CPE in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Many thanks to all who have lifted up prayers with regard to my Candidacy process. May God's holy name be praised for the blessings he has showered upon me in these areas, and many others. And may He continue to bless you all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A United Request for APO

From The Living Church:

A single request for alternate primatial oversight consolidating the requests of the dioceses of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Central Florida, South Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Springfield has been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Living Church has learned.

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Orthodox Dioceses Are Still Growing, Others ... Not

The entire chart may be found here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Evolution of a Worshipper

I'm sure the "evolution" runs the other direction from time to time, but I know a dozen people who have come from "praise chorus" Evangelicalism to Ango-Catholicism. This image from cartoonchurch.com sums up that movement nicely. Hat tip to Whitehall.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Second Floor Progress at the Upper School

The work preparing the new second floor of our Upper School building at St. Vincent's continues apace. Today the workmen were finishing up laying tile in the hallway. Unfortunately,our elevator will not be here until October (most likely), but the city has granted us a temporary variance that will allow us to operate on the second floor without an elevator until then. The accoustic tiles (which can be seen stacked in the hallway above) cannot be placed into the framework of the ceiling until the building is inspected next Wednesday. There is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done to finish and clean the building before "Meet the Teacher Night" next Thursday. School actually begins on August 14th. Wish us luck! (Photo by R.D. Foster)

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