"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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Writes the Standing Committe of the Diocese of Fort Worth--Southern Cone

It really is just a formality, Gentle Reader, but I thought I would pass along to you the news that PB Schori of the TEC has just sent a missive to the Standing Committee of our diocese. In it she announces that she does not recognize them as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth. As our diocese is now a part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas this really isn't irrelevant to much, but there you have it.

You can read it all here.

There is no canon of the TEC, by the way, that gives the Presiding Bishop authority to "unrecognize" a Standing Committee. But there is also now not anyone left inside of TEC who is going to interfere with PB Schori's wishes. She has clearly made a habit of expanding the PB's alleged powers beyond their canonical scope. Were I still a member of the Episcopal church I would be quite concerned about this power grab. As it is, I wish those still inside TEC good fortune in their relations with their Presiding Bishop.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Thursday, December 18, 2008

George Conger Reports that the Vatican Will Not Create a Special "Enclave" for Anglo-Catholics

George Conger is reporting that the Vatican is not interested in creating any kind of special new "enclave" for Anglo-Catholics to come into union with the Holy See more easily. The usually-reliable Conger's report is based upon an article in a Rome-based Jesuit publication, and I am in no position to assess that source's credibility. Consequently, I believe this report should be read with a sizable grain of salt. For what it is worth, Conger's full story may be found here (hat tip to Transfigurations). A sample:

The Vatican will not create an enclave within the Roman Catholic Church for Anglicans opposed to women clergy and the ‘gay agenda’, Rome’s La Civiltà Cattolica predicts.

In an October article entitled Catholic Anglican Relations after the Lambeth Conference (La Relazione tra Cattolici e Anglicani dopo la Conferenza di Lambeth) the semi-official Jesuit bi-weekly stated the “corporate unity” under discussion between the Vatican and traditionalist Anglicans “will not be a form of uniatism as this is unsuitable for uniting two realities which are too similar from a cultural point of view as indeed are Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics.”

“The Holy See, while sympathetic to the demands of these Anglo-Catholics” for corporate reunion, “is moving with discretion and prudence.” Opposition to the ordination of women to the ordained ministry and to gay bishops and blessings “is not enough,” the newspaper said. Anglo-Catholics should be motived not by a rejection of Anglicanism but by the “desire to join fully the Catholic Church,” Fr. Paul Gamberini SJ wrote.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Epiphany: “an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity”--An Essay for the January Issue of "The Deacon" Newsletter of St. Vincent's Cathedral

January 6th is kept in the calendar of Catholic Christianity as the feast of the Epiphany, the Manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Nations. We will gather in our church that night to watch the young people of the parish present a traditional pageant in which “three kings”—Magi who represent the nations of the earth—leave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh by the holy Child’s manger while “shepherds guard and angels sing.”

But as we reflect on epiphanies this year I would like focus on another crucial manifestation of the Savior’s deity in Holy Scripture (and I do mean “crucial”). It is found in the Gospel according to St. Mark, chapter 15:

33 “When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’ 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

Most of us do not spend much time thinking about the specific portraits of Christ’s ministry given in each of the four Gospels. But each human author of the New Testament Gospels has a unique perspective on Christ’s ministry. The underlying facts are the same in each of these inerrant books, of course, but the emphases of the four evangelists vary. A characteristic theme stressed by St. Mark, for example, is the centrality of the Cross to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Take a careful look at St. Mark’s account of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Mark tells us about plenty of demons who recognize the divinity of Christ (Mk 1:24; 5:7), and at the mid-point of the story St. Peter recognizes Jesus as “the Christ” (Mk 8:29). But in the second Gospel no mere human being ever clearly hails Jesus as divine until the Roman centurion who crucified him proclaims “Truly this man was the Son of God!” while standing at the foot of Christ’s cross. The evangelists Matthew, Luke, and John all tell us about Jewish witnesses who discerned Jesus’ divinity far earlier in the story, but Mark saves this first human recognition of our Lord’s Godhead until a Gentile soldier “saw in this way he breathed his last” (Mk 15:39). This is, in fact, the reason why St. Mark does not relate the birth of Jesus in the way St. Luke and St. Matthew do. For according to Mark, one must first behold Christ’s humbling of himself to death on the Cross before one can properly understand the Savior’s divinity. In a sense Calvary is the Epiphany of the second Gospel.

For me the greatest beauty of the canon of Holy Scripture is the way the perspectives of its many inspired human authors unite under the sure guidance of God the Holy Spirit to form a single, infallible portrait of God our Savior’s mighty hand at work in history. The witnesses are many, but their witness is ultimately one. E pluribus unum! This is especially true of our Lord Jesus’ Manifestation to the Nations. St. Luke has the humblest of Jews—isolated, outcast, and unclean shepherds—bear witness to the good news that will be for all people, the One who was “born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). St. Matthew tells of Magi from the east—Gentiles who practice an alien wisdom but seek the Truth above all things—who offer on behalf of all the nations gifts befitting the divine Child, at once the King of all Kings, the eternal High Priest of all creation, and the spotless Victim who supplants all other sacrifice. And for St. John the glory of Christ is most completely manifest when our Lord is “lifted up”—an enigmatic expression that recalls simultaneously Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—and the Son of Man draws all mankind to himself (Jn 8:28; 12:32).

But for me it is the Epiphany according to St. Mark that is the capstone. If we can see what that Roman centurion saw at the foot of the Cross—perfect Love emptying himself completely of his eternal glory and offering himself up to death so that he might crush the power of death forever—then we will have truly seen God face to face … and live!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Sermon for Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again, rejoice!” Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus. Dominus prope est. “Let your gentleness be noted by all people. The Lord is near!” In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

These are the words that give today its name—Gaudete Sunday, "Rejoice Sunday." Since at least 750 AD (and probably for centuries before that date) Benedictine monks have begun Mass on the third Sunday of Advent by chanting this marvelous command from the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Be joyful in the Lord! On Gaudete Sunday Christians around the world light the rose Advent candle and preparations for the great Feast of our Lord’s Incarnation take on a more festive tone. Fittingly, all of our readings from Holy Scripture this morning touch on the theme of rejoicing.

John the Baptist, for instance, tells his followers that the sound of the bridegroom’s voice—the revelation of God’s Messiah—fills his heart with joy. The Baptist has been looking forward to this for years—in the recent past he has been “crying out in the wilderness” about it. John’s charismatic preaching and outlandish mannerisms made him a sort of first-century “rock star.” Crowds flocked from all over Palestine to hear him denounce their sinfulness and proclaim “the One who is to come.” John’s success as a preacher is astonishing when you think about the content of his message. But even more amazingly, the Baptist had been proven right! Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who takes away the sin of the world! It actually happened! The Christ really came! No doubt John’s heart was filled to bursting with joy. But there is no gloating on John’s part—no “I told you so.” Instead John the Baptist’s response to the vindication of his entire ministry is: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” A greater One than John has come and a new age has dawned. The Baptist bows down in humble submission, willingly laying down his celebrity at the feet of his Master. Joy over the Lord’s immanent victory and humble submission to God’s will as we await His triumph—these are two touchstones of Advent that John the Baptist models for us superbly this morning.

The monks in the early Middle Ages who first gave us “Rejoicing” Sunday understood something important encoded in John's message: Advent is about paradox. In a week and a half we will celebrate the piercing of the veil between Heaven and earth, when the sovereign Lord of the cosmos became one of His own creatures, united with us in joy and suffering by His own human flesh. We shall hear the familiar story again, a story that never grows old with retelling. God’s mighty arms, accustomed to swirling galaxies, will be bound in swaddling clothes. God the Son, serenaded from the dawn of creation by choirs of angels, will doze to his mother’s lullaby. The Source of Life will render Himself vulnerable to death on our behalf, the wood of the manger foreshadowing the wood of His cross, the cave of His birth echoing the tomb of His burial. We can’t help but tremble with joy as we contemplate such awesome, boundless grace! And that rose candle reminds us that the great feast of the Incarnation will be here very soon. “Rejoice!, indeed, my friends.”

But that is not our only cause for joy this morning. God’s Holy Word written promises that a day will come when our Lord will once again make His home among mortals. Every knee in Heaven, and on earth, and under the earth will bow to Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The glory of God will light up the world and the nations will walk by its light. And the God-who-is-with-us will wipe every tear from our eyes. “Death will be no more; mourning and crying will be no more.” The entire Universe will gaze in adoration upon Christ’s radiant scars and know that nothing will ever triumph over the boundless Love of God. Perfect joy. Perfect peace. Soon, my dear brothers and sisters, it will come very soon. Today’s rose candle reminds us of that, as well.

Unfortunately, the fallen world which you and I inhabit scoffs at such thoughts. The same voices that shouted down the prophets of ancient Israel and taunted our Lord Jesus on the cross still call out today—“realistic” voices, cynical voices, voices of despair and emptiness. “You don’t really believe all that baloney in the Bible, do you?” they ask. “If your Christ really is coming back why is He taking so long?” If only these sad people could comprehend just a fraction of the eternal glory that lay in that manger at Bethlehem, if they could see the love of God pouring out of Christ’s wounds on Calvary instead of just innocent Blood, if they could only glimpse the scale of the victory over sin and death won by the rolling stone of Easter morning, their doubts would be quieted and their hearts would be opened. You and I have to tell them. We must tell them that God is faithful and just, and His promises are true. But more than that: you and I must show them today the Love of God first manifest two millennia ago in the Babe of Bethlehem.

Advent is not simply about preparing ourselves for the glories of the Christ Mass. It is also about preparing ourselves to be living, breathing icons of the divine love that shows forth from the Nativity. Christ, the perfect icon of God’s love, must increase within us, if we are to "bring the Lord near" an age that desperately needs to see Him. That is the second meaning behind the Baptist’s pronouncement this morning: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Not only is John telling us that his celebrity status must diminish as Chirst’s ascends, he is also saying that the me inside of me—the “old man” as St. Paul calls it, our fallen human nature—must fade away as the image of Christ forms itself deep within my heart. For to borrow a phrase from St. Paul: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives within me.” He must increase and I must decrease until I become His image—His icon—in a world that needs to see Him more than words can express.

That is, of course, a very tall order. I know only too well how poorly I reflect the image of divine Love. How is this transformation to come about? In our lesson from First Thessalonians today St. Paul links constant prayer, unfeigned thankfulness, and a discerning spirit—a spirit able to choose the good and abstain from every form of evil--with a sanctification of our bodies, souls, and spirits--a "making holy" that will render them “sound and blameless” at the coming of the Lord, fully restored images of the perfect humanity of the Word made flesh. This fundamental renewal of our natures can only be the work of the Faithful One who calls us, the God of Peace who sanctifies. For as John the Baptist reminds us this morning, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from Heaven.” Such is God’s gracious will in Christ Jesus for us. No wonder Paul exhorts us to “give thanks in all circumstances” and to “rejoice always.” What other response could we possibly have to such unmerited generosity on the part of our Creator and Redeemerthan limitless joy and boundless gratitude?

So the rose candle burns this Gaudete Sunday, stoking our desire for that night when we will gather here to celebrate the coming of Christ’s light into the world so long ago at Bethlehem and reflecting our longing for that glorious day when all darkness will finally be put to flight. But the candle’s small, steady flame also reminds us that Advent is not simply about the distant past and the indeterminate future. We worship the Holy One “who was, and is, and is to come.” Between the wonders of the Incarnation and the Second Coming our God has not stopped coming to His people. We have not been left as orphans, my brothers and sisters. God the Holy Spirit, the sacred fire at the heart of Christ’s Church, abides with us, giving us life and growth, indwelling us at our baptism, sanctifying us in our walk through this world, and empowering us for service to the Kingdom, increasing the image of Christ within us at every stage until we radiate His joy and love even to the ends of the earth.

And so, my brothers and sisters, rejoice. I say again, Rejoice! “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord JesusChrist. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Network Going Out of Business Next Summer when ACNA is Born

Yesterday the delegates to this year's annual assembly took steps to wrap up the business of the Anglican Communion Network and hand over its functions to the Anglican Church in North America next summer. Here is the text of the resolution (emphasis added):

Resolution passed by the Network’s Annual Council on December 9, 2008

Whereas the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes was formed to call the Episcopal Church in the United States of America back to “the Faith once delivered to the saints;” and

Whereas this purpose of the Network has not been achieved, nor is the purpose, in human terms, viewed by most Network participants as achievable; and

Whereas the Anglican Global Mission Partners and the Anglican Relief and Development Fund have been birthed and successfully stand on their own, and

Whereas in the first six months of the Year of Our Lord 2009 the call of the Anglican Communion Network is to steward and transition: 1) Financial and administration support for the global role of the Moderator to be handed over to the Diocese of Pittsburgh in creation of the Primate’s office; 2) Financial and administrative support for the Common Cause Partnership to be handed over to a newly created Provincial office on (or after) July 1st, 2009; 3) Organizational and moral support of those remaining in the Episcopal Church to be mutually determined, and

Whereas the Lord has done great things indeed, in the five and a half years of the Anglican Communion Network’s season of witness,

Be it therefore resolved, that the officers and Steering Committee be authorized to undertake the six-month season of transition preparatory to the ratification of the constitution of the Anglican Church in North America.

Further resolved, that the leadership work specifically to turn over 1) The financial and administrative support given to the Moderator to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and 2) The financial and administrative support of Common Cause to a new Provincial office.

And finally be it resolved, that the Steering Committee enter into conversation with that part of the membership of the Anglican Communion Network remaining in The Episcopal Church as to whether they might desire to take upon themselves the original mantle of the Anglican Communion Network.

A press release from the Network may be found here, with this nice quote from Bishop Duncan:

“God did not use the Network to change the direction of The Episcopal Church as we had originally hoped. He has used it and us to create a Biblical, missionary and united Anglican province-in-waiting here in North America. We are deeply thankful to Him and to all who have supported its work.”

May God bless this season of transition.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Revised Version of the Apostles' Creed (thanks to Julian for pointing it out!)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bishop Iker addresses the alleged "renunciation of orders"

Just in case you wondered if I could possibly be wrong about Bishop Iker intending to renounce his orders in the statement of November 24th, the good bishop has made his intent crystal clear in this statement on our diocesan website:

What Renunciation?

The Presiding Bishop is misleading the Church and misrepresenting the facts in her
recent allegation that I have renounced the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.

According to Canon III.12.7, any Bishop desiring to renounce his orders “shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom…” and that the PB shall then “record the declaration and request so made.”

I have not written to the Presiding Bishop making any such declaration or request. I hope the House of Bishops will hold her accountable for her continued abuse of the canons.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
December 6, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

PB Schori acts swiftly against Bishop Iker, clearing the way for rapid "reorganization" in Fort Worth

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori today announced she was accepting Fort Worth's Bishop Jack Leo Iker's "voluntary renunciation of orders." The problem? Bishop Iker never sent such a letter of renunciation! Instead, PB Schori is treating this statement in his public letter of November 24th as a "renunciation:" "Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone."

This matters because it is now clear that 815 will move to establish a TEC loyalist "diocese of Fort Worth" far earlier than we once thought they would. I had assumed that once Bishop Iker had been "inhibited" by PB Schori (which happened two weeks ago) he would have the canonical 60 days to recant before the House of Bishops could depose him, which in practice meant that he could only be "deposed"at the upcoming House of Bishops' meeting in March. That would finally clear the way for 815's new "diocese of Fort Worth" to elect a loyalist leadership in late March or April.

But now that the Presiding Bishop has purportedly "accepted his renunciation of orders" the procedural way is cleared for TEC to act to replace Bishop Iker much sooner. PB Schori virtually says as much in her notice today (emphasis added by RWF):

"I have chosen to follow this course rather than seeking consent of the House of Bishops to Bishop Iker's deposition for abandonment of the Communion of this Church because I believe it to be a more pastoral response to Bishop Iker's clear expression of his desire not to be a part of the Episcopal Church at this time," the Presiding Bishop wrote in a letter to the House of Bishops. "I believe this course best expresses my hope and prayer that reconciliation in the future can be achieved by God's love and grace." ...

Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter that "accepting Bishop Iker's voluntary renunciation now rather than waiting for the March meeting of the House [to consider the question of deposition] will do much to alleviate the difficult circumstances facing the Episcopalians in Fort Worth, who are functioning in a Diocese devoid of any formal leadership." She also wrote that "renunciation is a more hospitable avenue of departure from the Church, and therefore increases the hope for reconciliation with Bishop Iker and his followers at some point."

Likewise, the "Steering Committee" that forms the heart of what will soon become the TEC "dioFW" is primed to strike while the iron is hot (emphasis added by RWF):

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians said as much in a statement issued the evening of December 5. "The Presiding Bishop's action saves the Church the expense and distress of formal procedures to depose the former bishop and opens the door for an early reorganization of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth," the group said, adding that they commended Iker and his wife to the prayers of the "many Episcopalians who opposed Iker's efforts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church."

RWF resumes: I had assumed we would have a few months of relative peace and quiet before the property lawsuits were filed here, but now it looks like the time-line has been moved forward quite a bit. I would anticipate the TEC loyalists will have the "TEC diocesan leadership" in Fort Worth they will need to file lawsuits seeking our property before the winter is out now that Bishop Iker has been pushed aside.

I leave it to my readers to assess the reasonableness of PB Schori's assertion that her move today "increases the hope for reconciliation with Bishop Iker and his followers at some point."

May God bring peace to this difficult situation soon.

Head of Orthodox Church in America expresses admiration and support for Anglicans who are realigning

Two weeks ago Bishop Iker had a meeting with the new head of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah. Because the meeting took place at our cathedral I got to meet the Metropolitan, which was an honor. (Some of my best friends are OCA priests. Honest!)

From our diocesan website:

The leader of the Orthodox Church in North America paid a call on Bishop Jack Iker during a recent visit to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The two met for about an hour on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford to discuss mutual concerns and goals.

The Orthodox leader requested the meeting with Bishop Iker. Consecrated the Orthodox bishop of Fort Worth and the South on Nov. 1, Blessed Jonah was elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada in a church synod just 11 days later. The Anglican and Orthodox churches have long enjoyed close theological affinities, having similar forms of worship and common roots in the faith.

Metropolitan Jonah, who was baptized in the Episcopal Church in Chicago as an infant, commended Bishop Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth on the mid-November decision of the Diocesan Convention to separate from the errors of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

On Nov. 15, Metropolitan Jonah wrote, "I deeply admire the stance you have taken and offer my support to you and to your clergy and faithful, as we must stand together to bear witness to the full integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the fullness of the Apostolic Tradition."

During their Nov. 25 meeting, the two shared concerns about the assaults of secularism and revisionism on orthodox Christianity in the West. The meeting ended with the two bishops expressing their mutual desire to "make this pilgrimage together, moving ever more deeply into the heart of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."

In a follow-up letter to Bishop Iker after the meeting, Metropolitan Jonah wrote: "There are multitudes of our American people who have been wounded in the 'culture wars,' which have brought long-standing essential American cultural institutions - like the Episcopal Church - to doctrinal, moral, and institutional degradation and collapse. It is my fervent hope that as the Orthodox Church in America, we can be a context of support for you and those communities with you that are seeking to realign themselves with Christians who stand fast in the Apostolic and Patristic Faith and Teaching."

Bishop Iker Interviewed

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has just interviewed Bishop Iker. The entire interview may be found here.

Here are some highlights:

Is the diocese officially a member of the new province?

It wouldn't be accurate to say that the Diocese of Fort Worth has joined the new province until we have a new convention vote to do that. We meet in November for our annual convention. And so presumably we wouldn't have reason or opportunity to vote on this until our convention in November.

In practical terms, what's changed for the diocese?

Nothing really. We had a three-pronged [approach]. The first one was to separate from [the Episcopal Church], which we did in the convention. The second was to affiliate on a temporary basis with an already existing province, which we did. And the third was to declare our intention to work with others who are working toward the establishment of a new province in North America.

Realistically, how viable is the new denomination?

Historically, in the Anglican Communion, to form a new province required four existing dioceses to organize it and put forward a constitution. We have those four dioceses in Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, [San Joaquin, Calif.; and Quincy, Ill.]. . . .I think the figure they were using [Wednesday] is . . . 100,000 average Sunday attendance. So it's certainly viable financially, and it's certainly viable in terms of number of dioceses involved because there are four already existing dioceses.

What do you foresee, legally and financially, for the local congregations that want to remain in Episcopal Church? Are lawsuits likely?

The congregations in this diocese that want to remain in TEC [Episcopal Church] will have to organize a new diocese or join an already existing diocese such as our neighboring Diocese of Dallas. I have offered my assistance to help them achieve this, as has the bishop of Dallas.I certainly hope that lawsuits over property will be avoided and that a negotiated settlement will satisfy the interests of all parties. Sadly, the TEC authorities have been all too eager to litigate in disputes like this. However, unless the local churches want to litigate against the Diocese of Fort Worth, there isn't much that the TEC leaders can do about it. Charity and forbearance are required on both sides.

Can you envision a way for this divide to be bridged so you would come back to the Episcopal Church?

We've given that, I think, about four years already to ask the Episcopal Church to back away from the path they've chosen. . . . Then you have these various communion organizations like the Windsor Report asking the Episcopal Church to declare a moratorium on all ordination of practicing homosexuals, a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions. And the Episcopal Church has refused to do that. If the Episcopal Church would repent and reverse their course, then there would be no need for the separation. But after four, five years now, there has been no indication that they're willing to draw back and adopt a moratorium.

SVS Advent Lessons and Carols

As exciting as the formation of the Anglican Church in North America is, there are other marvelous things going on in the Church as well. One shining example occurred last night: Advent Lessons and Carols at St. Vincent's School. A congregation of about 350 attended a service with traditional Advent readings and musical offerings to the greater glory of God lifted up by our young people from kindergarten through the eighth grade. All of our young choristers did a fine job with challenging music.

Ms. Candace Bawcombe, our Julliard-trained choir teacher for grades four through eight (and the music director at St. Andrew's, Fort Worth) did a marvelous job planning the service.
And Ms. Annie Laing got the kindergarten through third grade into fine voice.

And my six young readers and three acolytes performed flawlessly as well. Thank you, my friends, for your service to our Lord and His Church.
It speaks well of our school that so many of our alumni choose to come back to worship with us on a regular basis. It was great to see you, my dear sisters in Christ. Welcome back home.
Following in service there was a fine reception hosted by our excellent Parent-Teacher Club. Thanks, ladies, for all that you do for St. Vincent's School!
A marvelous time was had by all. Got enough cookies there, Hannah?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Eyewitness Report from Wheaton, by M.B. Hwang

Greetings to Texanglican's readers from your correspondent in Chicago/Wheaton!
Sadly, I was not able to get as many photos as I would have liked because they specifically asked at the beginning of the service that we not take photos unless we were professionally engaged to do so. So out of respect for worship, I refrained, but not everyone was so law-abiding. Even some clergy were breaking the rules - and with the flash on!

As you all know, the entire video is available on the Internet, so it would make little sense for me to describe the details of what actually happened when you can see it for yourselves. Rather, I'd like to write from a more personal (and biased) perspective. My guess is that most attendees found this an uplifting and liberating experience. People were saying afterwards, "That was an amazing service."

[The order of service may be found in pdf form here.]
For me, it was bittersweet. Anticipation - and watching it unfold - is a complex emotion. I am simultaneously amazed by the unity and dismayed by the difficulties in maintaining healthy diversity that still lie ahead, glad that a long-awaited future is taking shape and sad for the pain of the reality of divisions, relieved but also aware that our detractors are watching, appreciative of an obviously thoughtfully organized event bit also unmoved by the style of worship and approach to liturgy.

In short, I feel that this is a time for hope and endurance but not exultation or relaxation, so I suppose my greatest difficulty with the service was that it felt so insistently celebratory to me. I could tell right away that a lot of planning had gone into this service, because when we pulled into the parking lot, there were kind volunteers directing traffic. Bishops Ackerman and Iker made a nicely matching pair in the procession in. I had an advantageous aisle seat in a front row, near lots of clergy. (My teaching pastor was even able to give me a half-nudge of acknowledgment on the way past.) I was able to say hello to an old friend from InterVarsity; two faculty, one classmate, and one acquaintance from Nashotah; Ft. Worth's very own Dean Reed (in a tasteful cutwork surplice); and naturally, some familiar faces from All Souls'.

Even having grown up with evangelical style worship, I had some surprises. Bp. Duncan, for example, likes to say "God is good! "to which the correct response is "All the time!" (You're not allowed to laugh at my ignorance unless you know the response to "Our help is in the name of the Lord.") The most awkward part for me was the part where they blew a shofar and told us to shout. I am constitutionally incapable of shouting to the Lord in anything but anger despite having had a 5th grade teacher who insisted that it was scriptural, but I head some pretty vigorous sounds from many others. Perhaps I sound critical.

I'll admit it: I'm not convinced that the best use of praise music is at Eucharistic worship. However, those of us who prefer a more traditionally (western) catholic worship style need to remember that Wheaton is "Rez"-land. AMiA is big here. Charismatic is big here. There may have been stuff I wouldn't support, but no heresy, and since I believe that the formation of a second North American province would more or less benefit all Anglicans, I guess that means that tolerance and forbearance has to start tonight, even if it means getting a few songs stuck in your head or discovering that there is apparently such a thing as "non-alcoholic" wine. It's all too easy when one doesn't like somebody else's worship to forget that we used to put up with worse things.

To be fair, I probably stretched someone else's limits tonight as well. I went ahead and did as much of my usual bowing and scraping routine as I could, and I wouldn't be surprised if I turned out to be the only person who bowed through the Sanctus, knelt for the Anaphora and for Communion, and didn't give standing ovations. Nobody acted uncomfortable about it. Perhaps someone will go home thinking that it was prideful of me, and as a sinful creature I won't deny that somewhere in my heart, there's a part of me that likes to call attention to myself. But I want to show the utmost honor to our Lord the best I know how, I want others to feel free to do likewise, and I hope God will accept this and help me to live with the kind of humility that would seem to say that I did it not for my glory, but for His.

I didn't sign the Jerusalem Statement. I deeply wanted to, and had I been one of the bishops I probably would have done it for the sake of us all, but I strongly believe that the 1662 Prayer Book and the 39 Articles should be considered formative, but not "authoritative," for Anglicans. However, I want to be clear that the new Province has my full support. We're all going to have to be patient about things that mean a lot to us. I think more latitude would have been very wise in phrasing these particular statements, but hey, at least we're not compromising the Nicene Creed here. I mean if Bishop Ackerman can sign this without lying, there's gotta be hope.

Regarding Randall's question "Did you meet any bigwigs?" I have to reply: No, I did not meet too many bigwigs. I felt sorry for the poor bigwigs, who were immediately surrounded by crowds, and by the time the crowds had left, so had the bigwigs. So much for schmoozing and networking!

This event started at 7:30, and I had to take a 10:54 train back to Chicago. As I stepped into a cab on the way home, I had this telling little exchange with a friendly cab driver:

Driver: What's the secret behind that beautiful smile? You a naturally easygoing person? (This is the week before finals week, and I am a scrupulous worrywart.)

Me: Ha! Ha! Um, I mean ... actually ... I have clinical depression, haha.

Driver: Oh, well, so ...

Me: Actually, I spent the afternoon talking about God with a friend, and then there was this service...

Driver: So the service pleased you?

Me: Uh... actually, I didn't even like the service very much. But important stuff is happening in the Church...

I am Randall's best-friend-forever, a dual US and Taiwan (ROC) citizen, a Nashotah non-graduate, a second-year M. Div student at the University of Chicago, a member of the Church of the Ascension in Chicago (TEC), and an intern at All Souls' Anglican in Wheaton (Bolivia).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Anglican Church in North America

The new province's constitution has just been presented in Wheaton, Illinois, and was unanimously approved by the delegates present. It will officially go into effect at our first provincial synod six months from now. And that "birthday" of the new province--THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA--will take place at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford! Just think: Anglican history will be made again on the gym floor of St. Vincent's School!

The text of the ACNA constitution may be found here or here. The first set of canons may be found here.

Pray for the Peace of North American Anglicanism

Please do not forget to pray for the Common Cause Partnership meeting presently underway in Wheaton, Illinois. Tonight the draft constitution of the new orthodox, North American province will be unveiled. To this point it appears that God has blessed us with a remarkable spirit of co-operation and fellowship.

A recent article from The Christian Post on the effort at orthodox Anglican unity, featuring an interview with Bishop Minns, may be found here.

Our own correspondent in Chicagoland, code-named Julian, has promised pictures of the event and a short write-up. I will post them here as soon as I receive them.

Angican TV will cover the event live here.

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