"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.

Monday, March 26, 2007

News Story on the Bell Tower

Do take a moment to view Fox 4 News' recent story on our new bell tower, which may be found here. The bells had their official debut tonight before the Annunciation Mass.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Archbishop Venables Responds To TEC Bishops

Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone (i.e., most of South America) has issued a strongly worded response to the rejection of the Primatial Vicar scheme by the TEC House of Bishops. From his concluding paragraph it sounds like a resolution of the plight of the orthodox within TEC may not be very long in coming! (From Titusonenine--boldfaced emphasis added by me):

The decision of the House of Bishops of TEC to reject what the Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously and very respectfully asked them to do is tragic but predictable. It is also totally unequivocal. Their protestation that they want to remain Anglican is specious when viewed in the light of their actions. In any other context it would be laughed at. The contention that the request of the Primates violates the polity of the Episcopal Church is just as hollow. It would have been very easy to say, “As bishops we will comply with what the Primates have asked and will seek the approval of other legislative bodies in TEC.” They didn’t. It dramatically demonstrates how far out of step TEC has gone. If there were any remaining doubt, the barrage of lawsuits against individual parishioners and new ecclesiastical charges against clergy (and even an aged and saintly retired bishop!) make their disdain for the rest of the Communion clear.

In all of their meetings and discussions, Episcopal Church leaders have failed to see that the issues involved are not just matters of disagreement about the order of the Church (though they are that). We are concerned because the Church has always taught and understood that the content of belief and behaviour impacts salvation. The great deal of energy, time, and money that has been expended in the meetings associated with this conflict has been invested because we are concerned that people not be led away from Jesus Christ. For that reason, as a Primate who has offered refuge to clergy and congregations, it is important to say that our support for the faithful remains undiminished. I know I am not alone among my colleagues in saying that we will not abandon those who remain committed to the faith of the Scriptures; the faith that Anglicans of every previous generation have received and believed and which it is our responsibility to teach and pass on.

Episcopal Bishops claim authority they do not have when they selectively apply Scripture and dispassionately ignore the pleas of those with whom they have been linked for years. That is not only manifest in what is said, it is writ large in bold letters as they reject the Panel of Reference and file new legal actions targeting individual church members. It is behaviour not even worthy of a social club, much less what is expected in the Church.

The reference to the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is a particularly painful illumination of the heart of the American leadership. To say, “Words mean only what we say they mean,” is not true and is more suited to Lewis Carroll than it is to the Body of Christ. The difference is that he wrote fantasy and knew what was real and what was ridiculous.

It is not possible to maintain relationship when one party unilaterally and coldly departs from previously agreed foundations. Now we must move to separation as quickly and as gracefully as possible. Of course, the realignment must take into account those in the United States who remain committed to historic teaching and Biblical Truth as it has been handed down. To limit further needless damage, may God have mercy on the Anglican Communion and help us come to resolution quickly.

–The Most Rev. Gregory Venables is Primate of the Southern Cone

Thursday, March 22, 2007

PB Schori Spins the Failure of the Pastoral Council Idea

Take a look at Christopher Johnson's anaysis of Presiding Bishop Schori's remarks at Camp Allen.

This woman truly is remarkable! (Read her actual remarks here.) It turns out she didn't "sign" the Communique after all, but simply said verbally to Archbishop Williams that the Communique was something she could "live with" in order to "build consensus among the primates." I can't help but think PB Schori never really believed the plan as crafted at Dar-es-Salaam would ever see the light of day. Is it possible that she verbally agreed to the Pastoral Council and its partially-foreign oversight of the Primatial Vicar simply to get Archbishop Akinola off her back that last night in Tanzania, knowing full well that she would never have to live with it in reality since the House of Bishops would never consent to it?

But perhaps I am being too cynical. Right?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Bit of Humor

From The Cartoon Blog:

How Will TEC Respond To The Other Demands?

Technically the House of Bishops' statements of yesterday (see post below) dealt only with a complete rejection of the Primates' Communique's scheme for "alternative primatial oversight" for the orthodox still within TEC. But there are hints in these documents about how the "mind of the HOB" sits with regard to the Primates' demand for "unequivocal" assurances that the bishops of TEC will consent to no more non-celibate bishop-elects and will not authorize rites for same-sex blessings within their dioceses. Take a look at the paragraph below from their statement of yesterday and tell me if there remains any chance that the Communique's demands on these other disputed questions will be met:

It is incumbent upon us as disciples to do our best to follow Jesus in the increasing experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit. We fully understand that others in the Communion believe the same, but we do not believe that Jesus leads us to break our relationships. We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God's truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.

RWF resumes: It cannot be doubted from this last sentence that the HOB will not do anything more to keep the dioceses and people of the Anglican Communion Network within TEC, or for TEC to remain in communion with staunchly orthodox provinces of the Global South. Will we have to wait until the September 30th deadline of the Communique for the chips to finish falling, or is this statement from the HOB "unequivocal" enough for the Global South Primates to act sooner? Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It is all over but the shouting!

Frankly, I did not expect much big news to come out of the House of Bishops' meeting down near Houston this week. Boy, was I wrong. ENS has a bombshell. The bishops have collectively REJECTED OUTRIGHT the Primates' scheme to set up a Pastoral Council to protect the orthodox within TEC! Astonishing. Simply astonishing. (Note that even as they toss the hard-won agreements of the Communique into the trash can, they insist on their "passionate desire" to remain part of the Communion. Words fail me to describe this hypocrisy and arrogance.)

I have difficulty imagining a scenario now that includes the possibility of the orthodox remaining within the Episcopal church a year from now.

Here are the relevant resolutions from the HOBs:

Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

The following resolutions were passed by the House of Bishops March 20 during its annual Spring retreat meeting in Navasota, Texas.

Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas


Read the letter produced by the bishops on the same site, as well as the statement below to the Archbishop and the other Primates.

To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee:

We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, March 16-21, 2007, have considered the requests directed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the Communiqué dated February 19, 2007.

Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Primates' Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity.

We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates' Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

Friday, March 16, 2007

Grave News With Regard To TEC's Future

News has just been published on the Net that Fr. Mark Lawrence, the bishop-elect of South Carolina, has been rejected by the national Episcopal church, having failed to receive a sufficient number of consents from diocesan Standing Committees around the denomination in proper form.

For anyone who still believed that there was a realistic hope some way might be found for the orthodox to stay within TEC, this is terrible news. Father Lawrence's only "offense" was his outspoken criticism of the extreme leftward trend of TEC. In the last few weeks he had made it abundantly clear that he was not going to act precipitously to take the diocese of South Carolina out of TEC, but rather he would support the Primatial Vicar process outlined in the Primates' recent Communique. There was no reason at all for standing committees to vote against his confirmation other than his orthodox theological convictions. Certainly his "manner of life" posed no challenge to the standards of the world-wide Communion!

Following this catastrophe there can be no hope at all that traditional Anglican dioceses, be they predominantly Anglo-Catholic in focus like Fort Worth or Quincy or Evangelical in orientation like Pittsburgh or South Carolina, could possibly seat a faithful successor to their incumbent bishops. The powers that be in TEC will never again allow a solidly orthodox candidate to be consecrated if he has ever even hinted that the orthodox might need to seek "realignment" in the future.

The Episcopal Left has flexed its muscle in a serious way in torpedoing Fr. Lawrence's consecration. I hope the world-wide Anglican Primates are watching closely.

I wonder if Fr. Lawrence would allow himself to be elected by South Carolina again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Michael Medved on Pop Culture Attacks on Christianity

If the mind behind Titanic and The Terminator had not been behind it, that lame documentary on the Discovery Channel last week purporting to have identified the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth would have passed from the scene little noticed and joined the ranks of just another crack-pot theory on a minor cable TV show. Unfortunately, because of James Cameron's hype its bad science and open hostility to Christianity got quite a lot of airplay a couple of weeks back. Fortunately, however, it has now pretty much fallen off the radar screen again. But if you would like to read a fine critque of the show and of anti-faith trends in Hollywood by Michael Medved, I commend this piece from USA Today to you:

... nearly all prominent Israeli archaeologists reject such reasoning. Amos Kloner, who conducted the original excavation, has denounced the project as sloppy, exploitative and irresponsible. Joe Zias, who was the curator at Jerusalem's Rockefeller Museum for 25 years and personally numbered the now controversial bone boxes, has said this of Jacobovici: "He's pimping off the Bible...Projects like these make a mockery of the archeological profession."

Such critical voices receive scant attention in the documentary, where their absence contributes greatly to the listless energy level of the proceedings. The show also displays no awareness of the religious implications of its controversial conclusions. If his followers really interred Christ under the label "Jesus, son of Joseph," wouldn't that indicate that they didn't consider him the son of God? And if they allowed his remains to decompose for a year before they sealed his bones in a limestone box, doesn't that contradict the New Testament account of a miraculously empty tomb and a Resurrection after three days?

According to a Newsweek poll for its "From Jesus to Christ" issue of March 2005 (yes, it was Easter season again!), 78% of Americans say they believe "Jesus rose from the dead." The Lost Tomb of Jesus largely ignores this prevailing faith, while the documentary's cheesy Monty Python-style re-enactments of Christ and disciples remain too lame to convince or offend anyone. Suggesting that he views the conclusion jump as an Olympic event, Jacobovici even cites flimsy or non-existent evidence to echo the Da Vinci-coded conclusion that Jesus bore a child with Mary Magdalene.

Such provocations helped draw a respectable audience for The Lost Tomb of Jesus, allowing it to tie for sixth place among the most-viewed cable programs of the week (but still significantly below such worthy offerings as World Wrestling Entertainment Raw). Newsweek.comcalculated that its report on the show represented the week's most-viewed article, but that reactions "ranged from outrage to outright indifference." Jacobovici still hopes to gain additional traction for his theories and allegedly history-changing discoveries with a new book, The Jesus Family Tomb (co-authored with Charles Pellegrino, one of the "experts" who appeared in his film), released to coincide with the broadcast of the documentary.

Meanwhile, some offended Christian callers to my radio show expressed the conviction that this project represented one more component in the aggressive secularist counterattack on traditional religious beliefs, along with best-selling books such as The God Delusion and Letter to a Christian Nation, and tireless efforts to remove crosses and Ten Commandments monuments from public places.

At the moment, major media outlets certainly seem to grant more publicity to academic efforts to challenge religious orthodoxy than they do to countervailing evidence to confirm it.
Biblical support

For instance, Simcha Jacobovici himself created a 2006 documentary, The Exodus Decoded, on the History Channel that argued for the factual basis of the Moses story, but it drew vastly less attention than Lost Tomb. Dore Gold's excellent new book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, is also full of dramatic proof that blows away prevailing scholarly skepticism about the historicity of King David's reign. But these richly documented discoveries never received the intensive coverage offered to feebly supported speculations that "disprove" the Bible.

Another fascinating book, The Exodus Case: New Discoveries Confirm the Historical Exodus by Swedish scientist Lennart Moller, provides gripping evidence about deliverance from Egypt and the real location of Mount Sinai. It also has inspired an ambitious feature film now in production. Considering general media instincts to slam rather than support biblical narratives, it will probably struggle to impact pop culture.

If The Lost Tomb of Jesus provides little basis for a re-examination of Jesus, it does offer a sad perspective on Cameron's once-flourishing career. With Titanic, he emerged as one of the most successful filmmakers in entertainment history, so it's surprising to see his current association with a sketchy project seeking attention through frontal assault on cherished beliefs.
Sadly, J.C. of Hollywood may no longer say, "I'm King of the World," but he has done nothing to alter the fact that J.C. of Nazareth still inspires billions as King of Kings

Hat tip to Titusonenine.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bishop Duncan's Pastoral Letter to the Faithful within the Network

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, has released a Pastoral Letter that was distributed to our congregation at St. Vincent's today. Some of the more interesting portions (boldfaced highlights are mine):

... Most of us are at present within the Episcopal Church. This is where the Network was principally called to stand. One can be “within” something and not “under” it. The Network has been proving that for the last three years. The Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations represent a last attempt at reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and in the Episcopal Church. What the global leadership of the Anglican Communion has proposed is a marital separation. Pastorally, the church recommends such separations because they sometimes bring restoration of right relationship. Both parties are still technically within the marriage. But marital separations never leave one party “under” the other; such an arrangement would be doomed to failure from the start. The words of the Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations are carefully chosen. Any sense that the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar are “under” majority TEC is absent from the documents themselves, would surely doom the vision to failure, and could hardly prove “a sufficiently strong scheme.”

Whether this last effort to reconcile both the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion and the two parts of the Episcopal Church to each other can succeed is, in human terms, up to the Network, to the Windsor Bishops, and to the wider House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Three things must be said: As Network Moderator, I will do everything I can to bring the hopes of the Primates Meeting to fruition. Necessarily, I will attend the meeting of the House of Bishops about to convene. The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for “generosity and graciousness” in response to what the Primates have done. I will go in that spirit. Attendance at the meeting of the House of Bishops, however, should not be construed as anything more than doing what the situation requires. It remains that “the theological differences” with the Presiding Bishop and with those Diocesan Bishops who have taught and acted contrary to received Faith and Order (as upheld in the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiques) are of such magnitude that discussion of the issues before us is the limit of our participation in the life of the House of Bishops at the present time. This represents no alteration of the grounds on which most Network Bishops have participated in the House of Bishops since August of 2003.

The Windsor Bishops (which includes the Network Bishops) – all those who adopted the Camp Allen principles – will meet shortly after Easter to shape our part of what the Primates’ Meeting has envisioned. Obvious agenda items include discussion about a Primatial Vicar, about a “sufficiently strong” plan for the Network and Windsor minority, and about imagining whether any form of ministry could be designed that would be acceptable to those who have gone out. 3) The House of Bishops will have to respond to us and to the recommendations of the Primates’ Meeting in a vastly different manner than has characterized the majority’s behavior toward us in recent experience.

... Most of us, but certainly not all, in the Anglican Communion Network now believe that it is the Episcopal Church majority’s clear and continuing intention to “walk apart” in matters of Faith and Order. Nevertheless, we owe it to our beloved Communion to follow the Primates’ wisdom as to how to take a last step in that discernment. The Primates have established a deadline of September 30th for the Episcopal Church’s entire House of Bishops to make an “unequivocal” response. (7) For all that is ahead, the Anglican Communion Network will continue to work with those “within” and with those who have “gone out” for a biblical, missionary and united future for North American Anglicanism. There can be no turning back from that Godly commitment: the Network’s vision from the beginning. “And since we have this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” [2 Cor. 4:1] Please continue to pray with fervor for me and for all who lead, as well as for all who are having an especially hard time with yet one more time of waiting and of testing. Your prayers are the vehicles of our Lord’s victory realized in the crises and crosses we face at every level both great and small.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” That is one of the perennial questions that confront the human race. It is an inescapable fact of life—bad things happen to all of us, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. There is no human life untouched by suffering and loss. We cannot help but ask, “Why?”

Christians, and the people of Israel before us, have pondered that question deeply. We know that when God created the world He pronounced it “very good.” And we know that our Father Creator is good and just. Indeed, He is pure Goodness and Justice. Yet we live in a world that is not always good and where justice does not always prevail. It is a world where things fall apart and we cannot put them back together again, a world of death and decay.

In the Gospel lesson today our Lord Jesus addresses a solution to the problem of evil commonly held in His own day. You see, some first century Jews thought they had found a straight-forward explanation for the troubles of this life. They simply denied that bad things happened to good people. From their point of view, good people are rewarded by God and bad people are punished. If you follow the Law of God, health and wealth and happiness will follow right behind. Sin against God, on the other hand, and His wrath awaits you. If something bad happens to you, it’s because you are a sinner. This is a clear and simple solution, and it is not difficult to find passages in the Old Testament that appear to support it.

Take the case of certain Galileans who had been murdered by the Romans while in the act of sacrificing to God. Now that was very bad. Not only had these people been killed, but their deaths had polluted the temple of God with human blood. A more complete catastrophe could hardly be imagined by faithful Jews. If the “you-sinned-and-you-have-been-punished” explanation is valid, these Galileans must have done something unspeakably wicked. Or what about the eighteen people who were crushed under that tower in Jerusalem when it collapsed? Just imagine what they must have done wrong for God to smite them in such a spectacular way. Thank goodness we are not that bad!

But Jesus will not stand for it. If we look at the context of our Gospel lesson today, we discover that Christ is addressing both his disciples and “the multitudes”. He is speaking to a “mixed bag” of all kinds of Jews, faithful and lax, educated and ignorant, those who have left everything to follow Him and random passers-by. And Jesus tells them that none of them are morally superior to the victims of these disasters. Destruction awaits all those present unless they repent. It seems there may be some truth, after all, in the theory that bad things happen to bad people. The problem is, if we look in the mirror we discover that we all on the road to Perdition! We have all “got it coming”! As St. Paul would tell us, “There is no one righteous. No. Not one.”

So there is no place for spiritual pride or complacency among those who would be saved. As our lesson from First Corinthians reminds us today, even people who have been greatly blessed by God may still be lost if they do not stay close by the Lord and seek to follow His will. God brought the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, revealed to them the perfect Law, and marked them uniquely as His covenant people. He fed Israel with bread from Heaven and let them drink from the spiritual Rock—the pre-existent Christ Himself. Yet they turned away from Him and were struck down in the Wilderness. One cannot simply “coast” into the blessedness of God. He expected love and obedience from them in return, and most did not give it.

The idolatry, immorality, and discontent St. Paul attributes to ancient Israel are, or course, still with us. The human heart has not changed a bit in the last 3,500 years. We are just as much “poor, banished children of Eve” as they were. And we live in the same fallen world they did. It is a world that is perishing, a world where things fall apart—where you and I fall apart. This has been the common lot of the human race since the day our First Parents were driven from the Garden of Eden. Mankind was created by God for permanence. We were meant to eat from the tree of Life and walk and talk with our Creator in blessedness forever. But we have lost that. Now even the ground is cursed because of our pride, and in the sweat of our faces we eat our bread. We bear our children in pain till we return to the earth; for we are people of the dust and to dust we shall return. It is the nature of sin to rob us of the enduring blessings God intended for us. Our rebellious hearts infect everything we touch with decay and death. “Unless you repent,” Christ tells us, “you will all likewise perish.” That is a weighty Lenten message, indeed.

But we are not left in despair, my friends. There are few stories in the Bible more awe-inspiring than our Old Testament lesson today. In it we find Moses, a fugitive from justice wanted for murder. He has been reared as a prince of Egypt, but is now a shepherd in a hard and bitter land. He is an outcast, living in a world of dust where nothing lasts. Everything in the desert falls apart before the heat and the wind, and Moses the sinner has been slowly disintegrating himself for quite some time. But one day on the holy mountain this ghost of a man unexpectedly came upon He who is Real and Permanent. In the bush that burns but is not consumed Moses encounters the One who is the source of all motion yet never changes, He who is boundless energy and rock-solid stability all at once. Moses stands on holy ground before the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, seen and unseen. And to this hollow man the Hidden God reveals His exalted Name, His identity as "I AM WHO I AM." In the Greek version of the Bible known to St. Paul and the four Evangelists fourteen hundred years later God’s sacred Name is rendered in two magnificent Greek words—Ho Wn, “Absolute Being,” the One-who-truly-IS.

Moses stood barefoot before the Absolute that day not only as representative of Israel, but of all sinful men and women everywhere—we who have been robbed of our permanence by sin and are passing away into death. And Moses received the promise of redemption along with the Exalted Name of God. That promise of redemption was not fully realized for the people of Moses’ time. God intended them to drink from the spiritual Rock that sustains all things, the Fountain of Living Water that conveys the permanence of eternal life. But sin barred their way to this life-giving Water, and they perished in the Wilderness. The hold of sin was too strong for them to break free.

But thanks be to God it is not so for you and me. For the Holy One of the burning bush has restored the gift of permanence to our human nature by becoming one of us. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Absolute Being become frail Humanity, took our iniquities to the cross in His own precious Body and suffered Himself to depart from this world under the cloud of death just as you and I will. Then He kicked down the gates of Hades and dealt Satan a grievous blow, trampling down death by His own death.

By His victory over sin and the grave Christ has broken sin’s hold over us, His brothers and sisters. But we can, unfortunately, through carelessness or willing submission allow ourselves to fall back into sin’s clutches. When we do, our access to the River of Life is impeded. We are isolated from the only thing that ultimately matters. And that is tragic. But no one who has faith in Christ Jesus needs to settle for bondage any longer. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength”, St. Paul reminds us. If we repent of our sins and turn back to the One who loves us and gave Himself up for us, Christ graciously allows us to bask in His limitless, divine Being. We will never be without His Living Water welling up in our souls to eternal life. For “He redeems [our] life from the grave and crowns [us] with mercy and loving-kindness.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bishop Iker--"We stand with the Primates"

Bishop Gerard Mpango and his wife, Margaret, of the diocese of Western Tanganyika, Tanzania, joined Bishop Iker at our diocesan offices on Tuesday for the Holy Eucharist. Bishop Mpango recently served as the chaplain to the Primates at their Dar es Salaam meeting.

Bishop Iker has placed the following statement on our diocesan web site (boldfaced highlights are mine):

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to note the striking consensus between the reaffirmations in the Communiqué issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the deliberations and decisions of our Diocesan Conventions over the past several years.

1. The Communiqué reaffirms that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1:10 is the standard teaching of the Christian Church on human sexuality. It restates the traditional teaching of the church that “in the view of the teaching of Scripture, [the Conference] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.” Our Convention affirmed Resolution 1.10 in 1998 and again in 2006.

2. The 2004 Windsor Report called upon the Episcopal Church to adopt moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of any bishop living in a same-sex relationship. Our Convention affirmed these recommendations in November of that year. Now, because the 2006 General Convention failed to do so, the Communiqué asks the House of Bishops to adopt these moratoria in clear, unequivocal language by Sept. 30, 2007. This is again fully consistent with the resolutions of our Conventions. Like the Primates, our diocese sees compliance with the Windsor Report as the way forward in healing and reconciliation in the Communion.

3. Our Convention of 2006 appealed to the Primates for some form of Alternative Primatial Oversight, and in their Communiqué the Primates have responded with plans to establish a Pastoral Council that will oversee the ministry of a Primatial Vicar, who will in effect act as the Presiding Bishop for those who are unable to accept the ministry of Katharine Jefferts Schori. The Primates have affirmed the need we expressed.

In addition to the above, the 2005 Primates Meeting established a Panel of Reference to deal with controversies concerning “congregations in serious dispute and unwilling to accept the episcopal ministry of their bishop” and “dioceses in serious dispute with their provinces.” Our Diocese appealed to the Panel over the 1997 canonical amendments by the General Convention that made the ordination of women priests and bishops mandatory in the Episcopal Church. In December 2006, the Panel issued recommendations in our favor and declared that:

1. “while the Communion is in a process of reception, no diocese or parish should be compelled to accept the ministry of word or sacrament from an ordained woman.”

2. “The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop and the other Primates of the Anglican Communion should publicly commend the adequacy of the Dallas Plan.”

3. “theological views on the ordination or consecration of women should not be a ground on which consent might be withheld” in the election of a bishop opposed to the ordination of women.

Where does all of this place us as a Diocese in our relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion? In the eyes of the Primates, clearly we are a mainstream Anglican, orthodox diocese that stands shoulder to shoulder with them in witness to the authority of Holy Scripture and the Lordship of our only Savior, Jesus Christ. Last fall The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council tagged us a “problem diocese.” But instead The Episcopal Church has now been recognized as a “problem province.”

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Lent 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ordination to the Diaconate

The service yesterday was remarkable. It was very moving to see so many people from so many different venues there. I believe the substantial majority of my students at the Upper School were there, and lots of folks from both St. Vincent's and St. Laurence's Churches. Deacon Hough and I are most grateful for all your prayers. (Photo above: Canon Hough, Deacon Hough, Bishop Iker, me, and Dean Reed)

Andy Bartus, author of All Too Common and our youth minister at St. Vincent's, has posted a video of the service on YouTube. It may be found here.

Putting on a clerical collar for the first time ... nervously.

Signing the Declaration.

Prostration during the Litany for Ordinations.

Kneeling before the bishop before the laying on of hands.

Bishop Iker laying hands upon the candidate Foster.
The bishop censing the gifts.
The canon of the Mass.

My father, Randy Foster, and me after the service.

Finally, my dear friend MB and me.

Photos by R.D. Foster and Julian.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Irreconcilable Differences and the Coming "Divorce"

Judging from the comments being made in the blogosphere by the Episcopal Left, it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that the requests made by the Primates last week in the Communique will be complied with by TEC. When you see the portrait of an Episcopal parish in a wealthy suburb of New York City compiled by the Bovina Bloviator, it is not difficult to see why. Compare that New Jersey parish with, say, St. Vincent's Cathedral, Bedford, and it is all but inconceivable that these two parishes can remain under the same ecclesiastical roof much longer. The worldview encoded in life, worship, and message of these two places is very, very different. And my experience of parishes in the Chicago area tells me these radically-inclusive folks in New Jersey are not alone in the path they are walking. Read it all here.

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