"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.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Glory to God in the Highest! Huge News from Pittsburgh

The Common Cause Partners have taken the first steps toward creating a new Anglican ecclesiastical structure in North America:

Common Cause College of Bishops Statement

In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, to whom belong all might, majesty, dominion and glory.

We, the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership, meeting together in Pittsburgh, September 25-28 in the Year of our Lord 2007, solemnly affirm this agreement.

In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:

1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).

2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.

3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).

4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.

5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.

6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).

7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.

8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Response to the HOB Statement

The primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Dar es Salaam last Spring, asked the bishops of TEC for clarity about the errant US province's teaching and practice on certain matters relating to human sexuality. This weekend's meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans was suposed to give the world just that clarity. Instead, the meeting proved to be more of the same--mendacity and ambiguity that undermine the classic teachings and practices of Christianity masquerading as "social justice" and "inclusion." Essentially, the HOB's final statement yesterday defended the status quo in TEC.

The one thing that was clear from the final statement of the HOBs is that nothing is going to change. Every concern of the primates was brushed aside as having already been dealt with sufficiently in accordance with TEC's polity. For example, the Pastoral Council/Primatial Vicar scheme outlined in the Dar es Salaam Communique was tossed aside without discussion, and a hopelessly inadequate DEPO scheme under PB Schori's direction (announced late last week without details) was endorsed in its place, even though the dioceses that had appealed for APO were never consulted and rejected the new plan as insufficient the moment it was announced.

Of course, two things were included in the HOB statement that might on their face seem to address the primates' concerns. First, the House again pledged to exercise "restraint" in approving future bishop-elects whose "manner of life" posed a "challenge" to the world-wide Communion. But a pledge of "restraint" is not a prohibition, and "restraint" is purely voluntary and subject to termination any time at the whim of the party "restraining " himself or herself. Secondly, the House collectively pledged not to endorse any official, public rites for same-sex blessings, while clearly leaving a vast amount of room for the continued practice of "private, unofficial" SSBs as a form of "pastoral care" (which "private" same-sex blessings may, of course, be performed in a church in front of 500 people by a priest or bishop in full vestments using language that may sound uncannily like a formal liturgy, just so long as no official text of a rite has been approved in advance by the bishop!). There will clearly be no turning back by TEC.

My response to all of this is deep sadness. New Orleans was undoubtedly the last chance for TEC to reverse course. I didn't expect the HOB truly to repent and turn away from their path of the last several years, but frankly I had thought they would produce something that went a bit further toward meeting the actual requirements of the primates. Instead they spent their time finding loopholes that allowed them to slip through the wording of the Communique of DES. This was "Anglican fudge" of the finest quality, which was apparently endorsed at the highest levels by officials of the world-wide Communion. No doubt, many leaders of Anglicanism in the industrialized world (especially ABC Williams) will seize on this statement as just enough to hold the Communion together and ensure TEC's place at Lambeth. But I am sure that the Global South primates will not view this response as adequate. Only time will tell if the Communion itself survives.

Even though ABC Williams astonished us all last weekend by insisting that the DES Communique was not an "ultimatum" but rather a starting point for "conversation", and that Sept. 30th was not a "deadline," pretty much everyone I know--reasserter and revisionist--has understood this meeting as "the end of the line" as far as the "Global South" primates go. And many faithful Anglicans still within TEC have also seen this week's meeting as the "make or break" event for their staying within or leaving TEC. If traditionalist leaders do not treat this HOB statement as TEC's last word on the subject I fear the faithful will begin to desert us in droves. After GenCon03 we told them "wait until London," then "wait until Plano," then "wait until Dromantine," then "wait until GenCon06," then Dar es Salaam, and finally--with an actual deadline apparently in hand--"wait until New Orleans." We have all waited far too long for something to be done. Real, robust action to preserve orthodox Anglicanism must be taken now. I am heartened by the meeting of the Common Cause bishops in Pittsburgh going on at present. There may still be a future for orthodox Anglicanism in North America if these godly men have anything to say about it. May God bless their work.

As a statement by our Standing Committee released yesterday made clear, the leadership of the diocese of Fort Worth has determined that a strong sentiment exists here to move forward with realignment now. No other path now seems viable to me either. I believe it will simply be too difficult for our diocese to remain a faithful witness to Jesus Christ within our heritage as Anglican Catholic Christians if we continue to be a constituent unit of "the General Convention church" following the Great Fudge of New Orleans. The HOB meeting has made it clear that nothing will change for the better. They have set their faces like flint in the direction of radical inclusion and will not be turned aside. That means the dire situation for the orthodox still within TEC will only get worse. As uncertain as our diocesan future may be, I do not see a faithful way forward for Fort Worth that keeps us within 815's fold in light of this week's failure in New Orleans. Our future must clearly be charted by our November diocesan convention. Let us pray hard for wisdom and discernment.

May God bless the leadership of my diocese and the faithful leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, and all the faithful people and clergy of the world-wide Anglican Communion, as difficult decisions are made in the months ahead.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fort Worth's Mood and Action in the Future

The President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth has written concerning the outcome of two meetings with clergy and lay leaders here taken in the last months. His concluding paragraph speaks volumes about the mood of our diocese about remaining in our present relations with 815 and its adherents (emphasis added):

Three general options for the future were identified in May. During the whole course of both meetings, we heard two or three persons voice support for a path of complete accession to the positions taken by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. There was a little more support for continuing the current course of staying and witnessing within The Episcopal Church. The overwhelming opinion expressed by those who spoke was that it is time for the realignment to move forward, as we committed ourselves to doing at our Diocesan Convention of 2003.* Sadly, no other solution to the crisis could be identified. With faith and renewed hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, we will move forward.We appreciate the contributions made by all who participated, and we pray for the life and direction of this diocese.

The Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed
President on behalf of the Standing Committee

Friday, September 14, 2007

Many thanks to all for their prayers

Tonight at St. Vincent's Cathedral I was ordained into the sacred order of priests by Bishop Jack Leo Iker. It was a marvelous occasion. My dearest friend, Mary Beth Hwang, made all of my vestments by hand and was our litanist. Other friends from out of town in attendance included two clergy presenters, the Ven. Dr. Edwin Byford of the diocese of Riverina in western New South Wales, Australia, and Fr. Christopher Ashmore of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois. Fr. Ed Scully of Western Michigan, Steve Lord and Jay Weaver of Chicago, and Fr. Matthew Cantrell of Pennsylvania were also in attendance, as well as dozens of friends and family from across the DFW area. The choir was amazing and the liturgy was superbly done. The bishop's sermon brought many to tears, including myself. Students from my school brought the vestments to the bishop for my vesting. Below are some photos of the night. Thanks to all for their prayers and encouragement and to all who participated in the service tonight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The time is drawing nigh

It is now less than a week before, God willing, Bishop Iker ordains me into the sacred order of priests. The service will take place at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, at 7PM on Friday (Sept. 14th). Yes, that is FRIDAY, not Saturday. And it is at 7 o'clock in the EVENING. (Ordinations so routinely take place in our diocese on Saturday morning [may God bless your new ministry begun yesterday, Fr Hough] that a good number of folks here seem confused about time and date!) Friday is the feast of the Holy Cross. I know the time conflicts with "Friday Night Lights"--Texas high school football--but sometime the calendars of two different religions coincide.) ;-)

St. Vincent's is located just three block south of Airport Freeway on Forest Ridge Drive in Bedford. If there is anyone in the greater north Texas area who has not yet received an invitation and would like to come and pray, please do consider this your invitation.

Your prayers over the next week would be most appreciated. Fr. Ed Byford, a good friend from the diocese of Riverina, New South Wales, Australia, has arrived to lead me in a retreat, during which I will focus my study and prayer on the nature of priestly ministry. We will be at St. Joseph's, an Anglican monastery in Natchez, Mississippi, until Thursday morning. Then we shall race back to prepare for Friday's service and to settle my out-of-town guests in their various motels. May God bless the travel of all those friends who are traveling to Texas for the occasion. I am most grateful for your time and efforts.

May God bless you all, my friends, in the coming week. I covet your prayers.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fort Worth Comments on the Continuing Realignment

Yesterday Bishop Iker of Fort Worth released a statement (in his always clear and concise prose) about the continuing realignment of the Anglican Communion and our diocese's commitment to remain part of orthodox Anglicanism should TEC finalize its movement out of the fold by rejecting the requests of the primates in the Dar Es Salaam Communique in two weeks at New Orleans.

The key texts to my mind are the following (boldfaced emphasis added by me):

As you know, in March the House of Bishops voted down a very workable proposal for alternative primatial oversight that the Primates’ Meeting had offered to provide for our expressed needs, and no other alternative plan has been suggested. This resulted in the declaration that the Standing Committee and I made on May 16th that we would now have to pursue our original appeal for APO – an appeal that was supported by an overwhelming majority vote at our Diocesan Convention last year – independent of the structures of The Episcopal Church. We have had some very encouraging meetings and conversations over the summer months with a number of Bishops and dioceses and Primates and Provinces that share our concerns and our commitment to Christian orthodoxy. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been kept informed of these developments. More about this will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

as well as:

By the end of this month, the House of Bishops will have decided the future direction of TEC, and as a result we too will have to declare our future as a diocese. I do not expect that TEC will comply with the requests of the Primates in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué. In that case, we will see further fraction and division in the Communion during the months ahead. We will then have to choose in favor of the Anglican Communion majority at the expense of our historic relationship with the General Convention Church.

The entire statement may be read on the bishop's official page here.

As I read it we are no more than a month away from catching our first glimpse of the new North American province, should TEC refuse to repent and amend its ways in New Orleans by completely accepting the DES requests and granting the appellant dioceses genuine APO apart from PB Schori's oversight and jurisdiction. (May God work on the hearts of TEC's bishops to do so--fully, and without further equivocation. Amen.)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Kenyan and Ugandan Consecrations

As sad as the decline of much of the national Episcopal church into grave error during recent years has been, one positive side effect of "the recent unpleasantness" has been increased unity among orthodox Anglicans worldwide. My bishop, the Right Rev. Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth, and my pastor, Dean Ryan Reed of St. Vincent's Cathedral, have been in Kenya and Uganda for the last week attending the consecrations of three American priests as bishops of those provinces. The new bishops are being consecrated specifically to serve Anglicans in North America who could no longer remain within PB Schori's TEC.

The fact that traditional Anglicans from across the "churchmanship" spectrum are co-operating so well today in the service of the Gospel warms my heart. Should TEC refuse to repent and amend its way later this month in New Orleans, one can certainly hope that the bonds formed during events like those in Africa this week will help insure the continuation of orthodox Anglicanism in the United States in the coming years. May God bless the new bishops and their ministries. These are the American bishops at the Ugandan consecration, including the two new bishops consecrated in Nairobi (The new Kenyan bishops are shown in their mitres with croziers at top). The Anglican jurisdictions represented include the still TEC-affiliated Network (by Bishops Iker and Duncan), as well as AMiA, CANA, Kenya, and Uganda. More photos can been seen on the Anglican TV blog. There was apparently a packed, seven hour bus ride involved in arriving at the Ugandan consecration. But these worthy folks do look in good spirits. That is Bishop Iker and Dean Reed seated on the third row back on the left, behind Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh, the Network's moderator.Dean Reed seems to have recovered nicely from the long journey (he's on the second row, fourth from the left). And Bishop Iker is practically beaming in the picture of the American bishops at Uganda further above. I am sure it was a joyous occassion. May God grant them all a safe trip home.

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