"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
- Name: Texanglican (R.W. Foster+)
- 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, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
What Kind of Catholic Are You?
You are a Protestant convert, or have been affected by evangelical Protestantism in some way. You love Scripture and incorporate into your daily life. You have a clear vision of Catholic morals and doctrines, and you make great effort to adhere to them. However, your interpretation of Scripture may not be in line with Catholic teaching, and you may not accept legitimate plurality in doctrinal expression. You might want to read the Fathers of the Church and Papal encyclicals to deepen your Catholicism.
Covenant Prayer of John Wesley, Priest
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing;
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you, or brought low for you;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, You are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
Monday, February 26, 2007
The Overblown Claims of a "Jesus Burial Site"
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Less Than A Week To Go
If you are within easy reach of the Mid-Cities, dear reader, I hope you will consider joining us. St. Vincent's Cathedral is located in Bedford, three blocks south of Airport Freeway on Forest Ridge. Directions may be found here. I hope to see you at 10AM on Saturday, March 3rd. The wonderful music provided by Barbara Burton and our talented choir would make it worth your effort to get there, even if you don't know me from Adam!
If you cannot be there in person, friends, Chuck and I would be most grateful for your prayers. God bless.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Pastoral Letter from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network
The Episcopal Church has been given another chance to make an “unequivocal” response to Windsor and to Communion Faith and Order. Those of us who have already made clear our willingness to submit to the Windsor Report and to the Anglican Communion have been given the proposed Pastoral Council and a Primatial Vicar, to be nominated by the participating bishops and responsible to that Council. We have a call for the cessation of all civil legal actions. We can work with this. We will work with this. It is not perfect and there are a number of potential obstacles. We will enter in good faith. The Primates spent so much of their meeting on our concerns that we can do no less in response to their best assessment of a path forward. What we have is an interim proposal for an interim period with interim structures, while the Episcopal Church majority has one last opportunity to turn back from its “walking apart.”
For the Network parishes of the International Convocation (congregations under Uganda, Kenya, Central Africa and Southern Cone) and for the churches of the Anglican Mission in America and of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, there are particular concerns about relating to those still within the Episcopal Church, even if under the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar.
For the Alternative Primatial Oversight appellant dioceses, not least the Forward in Faith dioceses, there are still concerns about the role of the Presiding Bishop, about how the working relationship with the wider Windsor Coalition develops, and about whether “good faith” will characterize the other side. All we can do is be ourselves at our best. That is certainly, by God’s grace and your intercession, what two of us, on behalf of all of you, were within the Primates’ Meeting. Even though it is Lent, let Te Deum be said and sung. And let’s keep on, faithful to the Scriptures, focused on the mission, and submitted in unity, till the work is done, whatever the cost, always in prayer.
The Bishop of Chicago Speaks
Folks who live in dioceses like Fort Worth have no idea how prevalent non-celibate gay clergy are in other parts of the Episcopal church. Heterosexual males made up the minority of the legion of Episcopal priests I came to know during my many years at the campus ministry at U of C. In a diocese with a presbyterate of that composition, the Primates' Communique was dead in the water the moment it was promulgated.*
Not surprisingly, Bonnie Anderson of the House of Deputies is demanding a say in the decision making process. The line of the Episcopal Left is becoming clear--continue to stall on the grounds that bishops alone cannot do anything to modify our polity. They will demand that a full church convention take up the Primates' request, meaning potentially a delay of several years. Additionally, or in the alternative, have the House of Bishops pass something that tangentially addresses the Primates' requests but leaves lots of "wiggle room" in practice. As this response would be open to multiple interpretations, this would put off a final decision on TEC's future again as the Primates must meet again to decide whether TEC's response is "clear and unequivocal." Delay, stall, equivocate ... and win in the long run. It has worked for the Episcopal Left before, but I think the rest of the world may finally have had enough.
Let us pray that all will act with integrity in the upcoming months and face the issues squarely and honestly. Surely we have all had enough of word games. We need to settle this matter one way or another and move on.
*On the composition of the presbytery in Chicago, it is said that Louie Crew once joked, "How many straight Chicago Episcopal priests does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer: "Both of them." I don't know if Mr. Crew actually said this, but it is clever.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
TEC Liberals Stand-by With Lifejackets
A Nice Analysis from "First Things"
the Episcopal Church defended its actions in these terms, arguing that “Anglican comprehensiveness” means making room for all sincerely held beliefs, while “local autonomy” means allowing each Anglican national province to do as it pleases.
For most Anglicans, and indeed for most Christians, this understanding of church doctrine was difficult to accept. Each week, Christians confess in the Nicene Creed their belief in the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” which among other things means that the Church ought to be united in professing the teachings of Christ and the apostles. But the Episcopal Church by its actions had called this into question. Unity in truth, it in effect held, no longer mattered. The situation was described quite accurately by Bishop N.T. Wright, a leading Anglican intellectual, as “doctrinal indifferentism.” The likes of it have rarely been seen in the history of the Christian Church, and to most Anglicans worldwide it was absolutely unacceptable. A solution had to be found. ...
Which brings us to the threshold of last weekend’s meeting in Tanzania. Many conservative Anglican leaders, such as Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, seriously doubted that the Episcopal Church would be disciplined for its actions, thus making the idea of Anglican unity and authority something of a joke and turning the Lambeth Conference (as Akinola famously said) into an “expensive jamboree.”
Akinola had good reason to be doubtful. Many of the more liberal Anglican provinces, such as Canada and Brazil, did not seem eager to discipline the American church. The problem was compounded by a certain level of conservative mistrust of the English church, whose archbishop, Rowan Williams, had earlier in his career been an advocate of same-sex unions. African conservatives made a number of moves to distance themselves from Canterbury, signaling their willingness to cut ties if need be.
Above all, it was Williams’ goal to maintain the catholic substance of Anglicanism while avoiding schism. On the one hand, Williams had to convince Anglican evangelicals to remain in a church that lacks the confessional clarity and simplicity of mainstream evangelicalism—even though evangelicals tend to discount the value of church unity if it appears to cut against scriptural truth. On the other hand, Williams had to convince Anglican liberals to discipline an American church with which they had much in common—even though liberals tend to discount both scriptural truth and church unity if it seems to cut against progressive goals. ...
The next move belongs to the Episcopal Church, and Anglicans can only wait to see how it will respond to the primates’ requests. For many liberals within the Episcopal Church, for whom the gay-rights agenda is a nonnegotiable justice issue, complying with the primates’ requests would be seen as acquiescing to bigotry. The liberal argument in favor of delaying full homosexual inclusion has long been to wait “for a season” so as to “continue the conversation,” thus tactically awaiting the best opportunity to win the greatest gain. But this argument lost much of its luster at Tanzania, since the logic of subscription to an Anglican Covenant (a new and excellent version of which was also unveiled in Tanzania) means that the Episcopal Church would need to bind itself to the decisions of a largely conservative global Anglican body. The civil-rights-era argument that “justice delayed is justice denied” will thus appeal strongly to many liberals, some of whom are already tiring of an endless conversation that seems every time to end with conservatives having the last word. Still, there remains an outside chance that Episcopalians will join together to accept the primates’ requests, thus preserving the church’s Anglican status.
It has been a long road, and much uncertainty lies ahead. But what uncertainty remains is principally related to the decisions now facing the Episcopal Church. As for the Anglican Communion, its choice has been made. Years from now, it may well be that we will look upon this week as a crucial turning-point in Anglican history, crucial as anything since the English Reformation. For the Anglican Communion has finally decided to live up to its name: a global communion of churches, diverse yet united by a common faith and mutual hope, seeking together the mind of Christ, living humbly and prayerfully under the authority of Scripture. So may it remain.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Bishop Iker on the Primates' Communique
Dear Friends in Christ:
The Primates of the Anglican Communion concluded their six-day meeting in Tanzania on Monday, February 19, by issuing a unanimous Communiqué that points the way forward in these troubled days in the life of our Church. I commend it to you for your careful reading and study. While the meeting avoided a formal schism, it recognized that serious divisions still confront us and called upon The Episcopal Church to take specific actions to heal the breach in relationships caused by actions of our General Convention and a number of our bishops.
The traditional teaching of the Bible, that sexual relations are confined to heterosexual marriage, was reaffirmed as the official teaching of the Anglican Communion, and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has been given until September 30th to reverse practices at variance with this or face the consequences. In particular, we are asked to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions” and to confirm “that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent” to be consecrated as a bishop.
The Primates responded to the appeals for Alternative Primatial Oversight from several dioceses by agreeing 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. There are several problems with this proposal, and it raises some serious questions that warrant further discussion.
Another significant element of the Communiqué urges that all legal actions on property disputes between The Episcopal Church and congregations that have left TEC be suspended. Litigation in secular courts is not the way for the Church to resolve these controversies.
There are many questions that remain unanswered, and there are some serious difficulties that have to be addressed. Do keep these concerns in your prayers as various details and decisions are made in the weeks and months ahead.
Best wishes for a devout and holy Lent. May the Lord Jesus fill you with his grace and peace.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
An Encouraging Note on the Schedule to the Communique
On Clarifying the Response to Windsor
The Primates recognise the seriousness with which The Episcopal Church addressed the requests of the Windsor Report put to it by the Primates at their Dromantine Meeting. They value and accept the apology and the request for forgiveness made. While they appreciate the actions of the 75th General Convention which offer some affirmation of the Windsor Report and its recommendations, they deeply regret a lack of clarity about certain of those responses.
In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144);
and2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).
The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.
RWF: My inital thought on these paragraphs was that they didn't amount to much. I figured that the leaders of the Episcopal Left would simply endorse these statements before September 30th as requested in order to be declared "Windsor compliant" and then spin them to suit their purposes (i.e., we don't have formally approved written "rites" for same sex blessings in our diocese, so this doesn't really change current practice.)
However, some of the keen observers of the situation I spoke with tonight believe that the Episcopal Left is so committed to their ideas of "justice" that they simply cannot endorse these requests from the Primates under any circumstances, and they will pressure the House of Bishops to reject them. (See the first statements by Integrity and the Anglican Scotist.) If true, this surely would put TEC's rejection of the teaching and practice of the rest of the Communion beyond doubt. Then something meaningful might finally happen.
It is probably a long shot, but at least for tonight I retain a shred of hope that orthodox Anglicanism in North American will not limp away into oblivion. Of course, it all depends on whether the theological Left is committed enough to its principles to not play games with words and influential enough among the House of Bishops to get their way. We shall see in the next few months.
Here are the recommendations of the Schedule
The Pastoral Council will certainly be dominated by theological liberals or moderates--two of the five members will be appointed by PB Schori, one by ABC Williams. Even if the other two members are solid, they will be outnumbered. The Primatial Vicar will be answerable to this Pastoral Council. If all the people involved in this scheme are committed to providing the orthodox with oversight they can respect, then this might be an improvement over the present mess. But it is a far cry from the "second province" many of us were hoping for last week.
Notice how often PB Schori must give her consent or delegate powers for the scheme to work. This is little more than the Primatial Vicar scheme PB Schori herself proposed a few months back, with a few exhortations from the Primates to "play nice and be fair" thrown in. Nothing will happen that she does not want to happen, that is clear.
Here are the key elements from the Schedule:
A Pastoral Council
The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.
The Council will work in co-operation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops participating in the scheme proposed below to
negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147–155) and the Primates’ requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003 ;
authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme;
assure the effectiveness of the structures for pastoral care;o liaise with those other primates of the Anglican Communion who currently have care of parishes to seek a secure way forward for those parishes within the scheme;
facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion (TWR, §156);
advise the Presiding Bishop and the Instruments of Communion;
monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report;
consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion;
take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this schemeand report to the Primates.
A Pastoral Scheme
We recognise that there are individuals, congregations and clergy, who in the current situation, feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the Presiding Bishop, and some of whom have sought the oversight of other jurisdictions.
We have received representations from a number of bishops of The Episcopal Church who have expressed a commitment to a number of principles set out in two recent letters . We recognise that these bishops are taking those actions which they believe necessary to sustain full communion with the Anglican Communion.
We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.
On this basis, the Primates recommend that structures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church, and that
the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop invite the bishops expressing a commitment to “the Camp Allen principles” , or as otherwise determined by the Pastoral Council, to participate in the pastoral scheme ;
in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;
the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.
Once this scheme of pastoral care is recognised to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions. Congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight set out above.
We believe that such a scheme is robust enough to function and provide sufficient space for those who are unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or the Presiding Bishop to have a secure place within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion until such time as the Covenant Process is complete. At that time, other provisions may become necessary.
Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.
The Communique--What does it mean?
34. Those who have intervened [such as Nigeria and Rwanda] believe it would be inappropriate to bring an end to interventions until there is change in The Episcopal Church. Many in the House of Bishops are unlikely to commit themselves to further requests for clarity from the primates unless they believe that actions that they perceive to undermine the polity of The Episcopal Church will be brought to an end. Through our discussions, the primates have become convinced that pastoral strategies are required to address these three urgent needs simultaneously.
35. Our discussions have drawn us into a much more detailed response than we would have thought necessary at the beginning of our meeting. But such is the imperative laid on us to seek reconciliation in the Church of Christ, that we have been emboldened to offer a number of recommendations [note: These are recommendations to TEC, apparently. What if TEC does not follow them?]. We have set these out in a Schedule to this statement [When do we see the Schedule? How detailed is it? Is it entirely up to the good will of the TEC House of Bishops? Or would that be GenCon09?]. We offer them to the wider Communion, and in particular to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the hope that they will enable us to find a way forward together for the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process. We also hope that the provisions of this pastoral scheme will mean that no further interventions will be necessary since bishops within The Episcopal Church will themselves provide the extended episcopal ministry required. [Does this mean PB Schori backs the Schedule?]
36. The primates recognise that such pastoral needs as those considered here are not limited to The Episcopal Church alone. Nor do such pastoral needs arise only in relation to issues of human sexuality. The primates believe that until a covenant for the Anglican Communion is secured, it may be appropriate for the Instruments of Communion to request the use of this or a similar scheme in other contexts should urgent pastoral needs arise.
More of the Same from Tanzania
This Covenant will do nothing to help the orthodox who still remain within TEC. It is an astonishingly weak document with which the leadership at 815 must be overjoyed. There is little of substance in it, and what substance there is will undoubtedly be open to wide interpretation on a provincial basis. In the unlikely event that some future event happens that many other provinces believe should require serious discipline at the Communion level (and since recent events in the US apparently don't qualify, I don't want to even imagine what those future grave errors might be) then the very same primates who have endorsed the recent actions of TEC's leaders as mostly "Windsor compliant" and who have promoted PB Schori to the Communion's Standing Committee will pass judgement on the alleged offense. In short, this is shaping up to be a complete victory for the theological Left within the Communion. Frankly, all that remains to be seen is if any of the Global South Primates will walk away at the last minute rather than sign the unanimous communique sometime before midnight.
Will Dar es Salaam be remembered as the event that clearly marked Anglicanism as just another form of liberal Protestantism (albeit one that temporarily still allows a "local option" for orthodoxy in some parts of the world)? It is very hard for me not to slip into despair at the moment. But let us remember the awesome power of the One we serve. His will be done.
More Disappointing News from Tanzania
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Big News Out of Dar-es-Salaam!!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Can't Tell The Players Without A Scorecard
Graham's own preferred interim solution is the formation of a "College of Windsor Bishops" to oversee a grouping of "Windsor compliant" dioceses and parishes that, while still within the bounds of TEC, would apparently not be fully subject to the authority of PB Schori. (I am assuming this last part--the College would mean nothing is PB Schori had meaningful oversight of its actions.) If at some future date the Schori-loyal elements of TEC are reduced to some lesser Communion status than full membership, this Windsor College could remain full members. (Surely this would make the College a new Province of the Communion a few years down the line, though Kings does not lay out all this in detail.)
Personally, this proposed interim solution sounds like a classic "Anglican fudge" to keep from making final decisions and, hence, I find it a highly credible outcome of the next two years' wrangling. It would maintain the illusion of "unity" and delay the inevitable final and complete split in TEC by a few more years, I suppose. But are these "Windsor College" dioceses and parishes going to be fully bound by the actions of GenCon 09 and by future canons of the Episcopal church with which its members disagree? If so, that will result in an unworkable mess. (At this point surely no one can doubt that TEC will continue down its ultra-liberal, universalist-pluralist, culturally-accommodationist path! Most Windsor bishops will be hesitant to be part of that "progressive" future.) If this is not the case, will the Windsor College have the power to make its own contra-canons or veto the actions of past and future GenCon's it disapproves of? How would this solution provide a meaningful "unity" within TEC?
I suspect that any "solution" in the next year that does not result in a genuinely separate "ecclesiastical reality" for the orthodox in the US cannot work. Decisive action by the Primates must be taken, and SOON. The forces defending orthodox Anglicanism here will not, I fear, hold together much longer if nothing meaningful is done before 2007 is over. "Wait until the emergency London Primates' meeting following GenCon 03," "wait until Plano," "wait until Dromantine," "wait until the Windsor Report is published," "wait until GenCon 06," "wait until Tanzania", "wait until the proposed Covenant is endorsed" ... The waiting must come to an end soon, or it may be too late to save orthodox Anglicanism in this country as a fully constituent element of the world-wide Communion.