"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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PB Schori Gets The Hammer Ready

The Episcopal News Service has the story of a letter PB Schori has apparently already sent to Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and will soon send to my own bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker. The ENS story may be found here. (Hat tip to Stand Firm.) The full text of the letter to Bishop Duncan follows the ENS story. The key line of her threatening letter is clear enough: "If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased -- and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action."

A particularly interesting part near the end of the ENS story is quoted below (boldfaced emphasis added by me). I call the reader's attention to a couple of points. First, Mr. Beers expressly states that the three bishops who have simply "proposed and supported these changes" to our constitutions may be attacked. PB Schori is not going to wait until second readings next Fall actually put the changes into effect before acting. She will act "promptly" following the upcoming conventions. A mere episcopal endorsement of breaking with TEC at a future date will be enough for her to go after Bishops Duncan and Iker. (Is the third man in line for attack Bishop Schofield or Bishop Ackerman?). Secondly, there is also a clear threat to sue "representative parishes" of the dioceses that are departing, not just depose our diocesan leaders.

Here is the key portion of the story:

At some point, assuming that all these and other constitutional changes go forward, the Presiding Bishop could ask the Title IV Review Committee to consider whether the three diocesan bishops who have proposed and supported these changes have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.

Presentment charges were filed in 2005 against Connecticut Bishop Drew Smith, because he deposed a priest on the ground that he had abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church in rejecting the bishop's authority. The Title IV Review Committee upheld Smith's action, and Beers said the decision is "an important road map to where we are going."

If the Presiding Bishop were to present materials to the Review Committee regarding potential abandonment by the bishops in question, and if the Committee were to agree that abandonment had taken place, the bishops would have two months to recant their positions. If they failed to do so, the matter would go to the full House of Bishops

If the House concurred, the Presiding Bishop would depose the bishops and declare the episcopates of those dioceses vacant. Those remaining in the Episcopal Church would be gathered to organize a new diocesan convention and elect a replacement Standing Committee, if necessary.

An assisting bishop would be appointed to provide episcopal ministry until a new diocesan bishop search process could be initiated and a new bishop elected and consecrated.
A lawsuit would be filed against the departed leadership and a representative sample of departing congregations if they attempted to retain Episcopal Church property.

"These are consequences, not punishments," Robertson said, "consequences that have long been clear, and are now being reiterated by the Presiding Bishop in the letters of warning. The goal is reconciliation, but also accountability."

Beers added, "The consequences can easily be avoided. But the Episcopal Church has the obligation to discipline its leaders under circumstances like this."

A Mighty Fortress

As the castigation by my Anglo-Catholic brethern was not too severe following my admission of sympathies with CCM last week, I have decided to push it a little bit further today. Luther's writings played a significant role in my early development as a Christian following my conversion seventeen years ago. I therefore cannot resist posting this amazing rendition by Steve Green of one of my favorite hymns this October 31st. Give it a listen! Hat tip to Stand Firm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bible Club Sweatshirts at SVS

We will soon be ordering our Bible Club sweatshirts at St. Vincent's School. The front of the shirt will be the same as our uniform school sweatshirt--a handsome red shirt featuring a big, blue-and-white "V" with "St. Vincent's" emblazoned across it. But the back of the Bible Club sweatshirt will feature the design above in white. Very nice, don't you think?

If any reader of this blog is interested in acquiring one to support our endeavors, please e-mail me and let me know. The cost will be $20. A portion of the proceeds will go to buying Bibles to present to this year's fifth grade class, who will begin their daily Bible studies with me in the Spring semester.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bishop Iker Addresses the Future with Clarity

God bless Bishop Iker. This godly man speaks with stunning clarity, unlike most of the bishops of the Episcopal church. Please listen to his address to Forward in Faith in the U.K. (hat tip to Midwest Conservative Journal). In it Bishop Iker lays out our future course in the diocese of Fort Worth and the Common Cause Partnership. Even those who do not agree with him on every point (such as the ordination of women to the presbyterate) cannot doubt his honesty and integrity in speaking clearly and not "hiding his cards under the table." This is a very important address.

A full transcript is available at Stand Firm.

Fall Family Festival at St. Vincent's

Saturday was our Fall Festival at St. Vincent's. The Chili Cook-off was a smashing success (I was a bean judge!). A good time was had by all.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Christian Contemporary Music

Generally I run with a pretty "high" Anglican crowd. Among these friends are those for whom "Christian Contemporary Music" is pretty much synonymous with "wretched." But I must confess that I enjoy a good deal of CCM. In fact, I have frequently participated in worship services where CCM was the preferred music format and I felt drawn closer to our Lord from the experience. Please don't get me wrong--Sunday morning Mass is not the best place for this sort of thing, IMHO. (My own tastes run strongly toward the classics--Gregorian chant, Byrd, Palestrina, Wesley, Neale, etc.--for Sunday Eucharist.) But CCM can be most helpful for some people, including myself, in fostering personal devotion to our Savior Jesus Christ. It is a normal part of my own devotional life and the pre-sets on my car radio include the major DFW area CCM stations. Here are a few of my favorite songs from YouTube for those who might not have much previous experience with the genre. (Note: some of these videos were produced by the artists themselves, while others are "home brew." I do not endorse the videos' content, per se [a fair amount of it is a bit schmaltzy]). But give the music a listen and let me know what you think (feel free to conclude that I have no taste!).

Nicole Mullen "Redeemer"
Natalie Grant "Held"
Rich Mullins "Hold Me, Jesus"
Jody McBrayer "To Ever Live without Me"
Phillips, Craig, and Dean "Crucified with Christ"
Phillips, Craig, and Dean "When God Ran"
Newsboys "He Reigns"
Newsboys "You Are My King"
Avalon "Orphans of God"
Rich Mullins "Sometimes by Step"

Amy Grant "El Sheddai" -- a classic from the early days of CCM
4 Him "The Basics of Life"
Sandi Patti "We Shall Behold Him" -- another classic from the early days

Just in case anyone ever doubted, I am sure this post will prove that I am not a "purebred" Anglo-Catholic. I prefer to call myself an "evangelical Catholic." I have been told that deep down I am essentially an evangelical with a high sacramental theology and an obsession with the Fathers. And I must admit that my theological "default settings" probably tend to the evangelical side almost as much as they do the Catholic. Its amazing that my Anglo-Papalist friends here in Fort Worth put up with me!

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Local TV Report about Our Diocese

Please take a minute to view this report broadcast earlier this week about our diocese's upcoming convention and the proposed changes to our diocesan constitution. It features some nice shots of my parish, comments byDean Ryan Reed (who is also the author of the letter that accompanied the proposed changes on the diocesan website), and a couple of our most active parishioners. [There is a brief advertisement before the story begins. Just wait for ten seconds for the story.]

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Day Has Come--Sad But Necessary--Fort Worth Will Vote on Constitutional Changes

From our diocesan website (emphasis added):

Standing Committee sponsors proposed changes to diocesan Constitution and Canons

October 1, 2007

Today the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth announced its decision to sponsor five proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution and Canons for consideration at the diocese’s 25th Annual Convention on November 16 and 17, 2007. [RWF: The text of proposal D on page 7 of this document is what the Committee is proposing. It would replace the present "accession clause" that places our diocese under the authority of the General Convention of TEC.]

If adopted, the Diocese would take the first step needed to dissociate itself from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and to begin the process of affiliating with another Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Since constitutional changes do not go into effect until they are approved by two successive diocesan conventions, the second, ratifying vote would come at the annual meeting in 2008. Under the proposals, the Diocese would reaffirm its position as “a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, consisting of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

EXPLANATION from the Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed, President, on behalf of the Standing Committee

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has always been a traditional, conservative diocese, adhering to the beliefs and practices of the historic catholic faith. This means it has often found itself in conflict with decisions of the General Convention, which has continued a series of innovations in liturgy, theology, and the sacraments. For 25 years, the diocese has attempted to differentiate itself from the actions of the General Convention and its ongoing effort to revise and redefine the historic teaching of the Church on faith and morals, as revealed in Holy Scripture.

To submit to and comply with the current direction of the General Convention would mean for us to embrace a distortion of the Christian faith that our forebears would not recognize as a continuation of “the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship.” It would mean driving an even deeper wedge between us and the rest of the Anglican Communion, as well as other Christian bodies, who do not condone recent actions of the General Convention, but rather view them as schismatic and sectarian. We cannot act against our conscience and in violation of the faith once delivered to the saints.

For 25 years, we have struggled to remain as a faithful remnant within The Episcopal Church, witnessing to our beliefs, which have been repudiated by our brothers and sisters in other dioceses. Over these years a great deal of subtle and overt pressure has been exerted in an effort to make this diocese conform to their innovations. Among these were visits in 2001 and again in 2002 from members of a task force established by the General Convention to bring us into compliance with the ordination of women priests. During the past year there has been an escalation of threats and intimidation as officials of the General Convention church have brought additional pressure to bear upon our diocese and others like us, demanding full compliance with and unqualified accession to the decisions of General Convention. Our freedom to continue to be who we have always been and to practice what we have always believed is rapidly coming to an end in The Episcopal Church.

Beginning in June 2006 with the election of a new Presiding Bishop, we have sought Alternative Primatial Oversight as an intermediate measure that would afford us a way of remaining a diocese of The Episcopal Church, but under the leadership of an orthodox Primate. We have worked through the structures of the church in pursuit of this goal, and we have waited patiently for some accommodation of our need. We were encouraged by the pastoral plan proposed by the Primates’ Meeting in February 2007, with the full support of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the resounding rejection of this proposal by the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has sent us a clear message: “We have no need of you and will provide no secure place for your future in this church.”

We have now seen the expiration of the September 30th deadline set by the Primates for a statement of unequivocal assurance from the Bishops of The Episcopal Church that our Province would abide by the provisions of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 concerning same-sex blessings and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The statement from last week’s New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops maintains the status quo and signals no change of direction for the future. Same-sex unions continue to be blessed in a number of dioceses across the church, and in the Diocese of Chicago a partnered lesbian is now an official nominee for Bishop.

We believe it is time for us to take action to secure our future as a diocese. We believe it is time to separate our diocese from General Convention religion and to join an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion. However, we do not wish to compel any parish in the diocese to remain with us as we pursue this course of action. With Christian charity toward those who differ from the majority, we are offering an amendment to Canon 32 to provide a process whereby parishes may leave the diocese in an amicable and Christian manner.

It is important to note that the four Constitutional amendments to be voted on in November will be on a first-reading basis, and they will not have any force or effect unless ratified at our next annual Convention in 2008.

In closing, we wish to express our gratitude to the Committee on Constitution and Canons for its work in the drafting process, and we call the whole diocese to prayer as we undertake the challenges that are before us.

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