"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Of Orthodox Anglicans Still On-Board the Sinking TEC Ship

Sarah Hey at Stand Firm has published an essay for those traditionalists still inside TEC who are looking for a "third way" between departure for ACNA and working with the ACI and the Communion Partners to reform TEC from the inside. These folks have determined to remain inside TEC and not leave, yet they have given up strategizing to reform the national church.

They also recognize the following facts to be true. They:

-- have recognized for some years now that the Instruments of Unity have failed and will not provide relief or establish any sort of common order ever
-- wish to "engage in strategic, thoughtful action within TEC," not to "reform TEC" but to work within various local contexts for numerous possible goals and outcomes
-- have no interest in "patient and enduring witness" only without massive differentiation and strategic action
-- wish to be differentiated from the national structures of TEC in a more significant and apparent and compelling and communicative way than simply affirming the three Windsor moratoria
-- do not believe that an "Anglican Covenant" based on the corrupt Joint Standing Committee and zero spelled-out consequences will be at all effective in reigning in future chaos and division
-- do not believe that the Instruments of Communion are "the effective means of ordering the common life of the Communion" -- they are not effective and they do not order anything at all, much less "common life of the Communion"
-- recognize that the current Archbishop of Canterbury will not do what he needs to do in order to solve the chaos and disorder that is in the Anglican Communion -- this necessarily means that action must take place within TEC and among traditional Episcopalians to differentiate and "bring about desired future states" through other arenas and channels.

RWF resumes: I’m afraid I still don’t quite understand precisely what the goals of this "third way" are. If they are primarily interested in defending their local parish/diocese and preserving it's orthodoxy, that is admirable but surely ultimately doomed to failure. Their next bishop is going to have to get consents from the increasingly radicalized majority of TEC before he can be consecrated. I doubt he will be as solid as the present incumbent, in any case. And the bishop who follows after him will surely be even more “moderate.” Sooner or later, these orthodox “stayers” cannot endure.

To me it’s like TEC is a large, ocean-going vessel that has developed a massive breach beneath the waterline. Water is pouring in. It is becoming increasingly clear to most of those traditionalist Anglicans on-board that the hole cannot be repaired, though a dwindling number of hands are still furiously trying to do so (ACI/CP and those still striving to reform TEC from the inside). A significant part of the passengers and crew are convinced repair is impossible and have abandoned ship (ACNA). They are still alongside the sinking vessel and are pleading for their shipmates to jump into the lifeboat with them before it’s too late. Finally, there is a third group (those traditionalist “stayers” of whom Sarah speaks) who are steadfast in their determination to insure that their particular cabin stays free of the rising waters but who no longer believe repair of the ship is possible (I assume this since they are not actively working to reform TEC nationally from the inside any longer). They have barricaded themselves in an interior room and sealed the watertight doors. Due to their constant, valiant efforts at plugging leaks no water can get into their room, but as the ship as a whole passes under the waves they will surely perish along with everyone else still on-board. It is only a matter a time, unless they make a run for the deck and jump—and soon.

I truly don’t mean this to be harsh. I just don’t see a long-term survivability inside TEC for those who recognize that internal reform of TEC is impossible and that neither any of the Instruments of Unity nor the Covenant can retrieve the situation. No matter how orthodox their parish or diocese is today, they are at most two future bishops away from disaster as long as the majority of TEC must approve of their future episcopal elections. Remember Neuhouse's Law: "once orthodoxy becomes optional sooner or later it will be proscribed." Sixteen years ago it was still just barely possible for a bishop-elect who stood for the all-male priesthood to receive a majority of consents and be consecrated (i.e., Jack Leo Iker). No one can possibly imagine such a candidate would ever be approved today. In the same way, it is just possible a candidate who opposed ordaining non-celibate homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions could be approved today. I cannot believe this will be true in a decade.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Finally Speaks--Don't Hold Your Breath!

Well, a week after he should have said something ABC Rowan Williams has finally published a response to the actions of TEC's recently concluded General Convention.

Precisely as I predicted, ABC Williams has taken the obfuscatory statements made by PB Schori and Bonnie Anderson following the key votes in Anaheim as an excuse to do nothing. He is clearly willing to accept their mendacious statements that the resolutions affirming that the ordination process is open to non-celibate gays and lesbians at all levels and that rites for same-sex blessings can be performed as a "pastoral response" to those in need are merely "descriptive" and not "prescriptive." Even if Schori and Anderson were technically correct in reading these resolutions literally (e.g., it is true, after all, that B033 was not expressly repealed in the text of D025 and that no diocese will be forced to vote for a non-celibate gay man or lesbian as a bishop--they can still voluntarily observe the moritorium at the local level!), absolutely no one on the ground in Anaheim last week nor anyone reading the resolutions around the world could possibly take them for anything less than an abandonment of any pretense of moritoria on non-celibate gay bishops and church blessings of same-sex unions. The dancing in the aisles by the Episcopal LGBT lobby that took place following their passage is proof enough of that!

Yet ABC Williams seems to "buy it," mentioning only that "anxiety" persists around the world-wide Communion and there is not yet a consensus to move forward as TEC has done. What is the archbishop's remedy for this anxiety? The much-hyped but utterly toothless Anglican Covenant. And what is the outcome if provinces such as TEC don't want to sign onto the Covenant when it is finally ready a few years from now? Then TEC will simply go on being Anglican in a different "style" or "track" than the rest of the Communion! According to ++Williams, "The ideal is that both 'tracks' should be able to pursue what they believe God is calling them to be as Church, with greater integrity and consistency. It is right to hope for and work for the best kinds of shared networks and institutions of common interest that could be maintained as between different visions of the Anglican heritage."

Very helpful, your grace. Very helpful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's raining!!!

Add ImageIt is raining cats and dogs in Bedford, Texas, right now and the thermometer reads sixty-nine degrees at 7:27 PM on July 26th!!!!

Those of you who don't live in North Texas won't comprehend my enthusiasm for a good soaking rain, but for those to whom it has been given to dwell here no explanation is necessary.

Glory to God in the highest!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thanks to the Waco Anglican Fellowship

My father and I had a delightful time this evening worshiping with the members of the Waco Anglican Fellowship. I was honored to celebrate Holy Eucharist with about 25 faithful Anglicans (including half a dozen children) in a room made available by Meadowbrook Baptist Church. Following the service a couple of members who serve at Baylor University showed us around a portion of their campus, including a beautiful, Anglican-style college chapel (which, btw, would be a wonderful place to worship some day!). Finally my father and I were invited to participate in a lovely fellowship dinner at one family's home.

Thanks to all the members of the fellowship for making Pop and I feel so much at home. I very much hope to be able to join you for worship again very soon.

I hope any readers in the greater Waco area looking for an orthodox Anglican church would consider joining this thriving fellowship on Saturday nights at 5PM for worship at Meadowbrook Baptist in Robinson. They may be contacted here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Calling Traditionalist Anglicans within Driving Distance of Waco, Texas

Last month the Most Rev. Robert Duncan was recognized as archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America during a fine service at Christ Church, Plano. As it happened, that night I sat behind two gentlemen who recognized me from this little blog. We struck up a conversation before the service began. They told me that they were associated with Baylor University and were part of a traditionalist Anglican fellowship in the Waco, Texas, area (which is about 100 miles due south of my home in Bedford). It was a relatively new group of about 30 people that Christ Church, Plano, had been helping out a bit during formation.

During his homily that night Archbishop Duncan told us that he hoped ACNA could found 1000 new parishes in the next five years. This faithful fellowship in Waco seems well on the way to becoming one of those new ACNA parishes. Following the installation service I received an email from one of these worthy Waco Anglicans asking me if I would be interested in coming down to visit them. I was delighted to say "yes!"

So this Saturday evening I will be honored, God willing, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist for the Waco Anglican Fellowship at 5PM at Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Waco (which is, I believe, located at 1207 N Old Robinson Road) . I am sure they would be delighted to have visitors, and I would love to meet any readers of this blog who live in the greater Waco area. So do please consider coming on Saturday night and worshiping with us.

Archbishop Duncan Compares Bedford and Anaheim to Jerusalem and Babylon, Respectively

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America has released an excellent open letter to the members of the Anglican Communion. I heartily recommend this letter for your perusal, Dear Reader, most especially because it makes my hometown of Bedford, Texas, sound so marvelous. :-) It contrasts the faithfulness to our Lord Jesus and dedication to spread "the faith once delivered to the saints" displayed at last month's ACNA meeting here with the recent actions and attitudes at TEC's Anaheim, California, triennial General Convention, which concluded late last week. Hat tip to Stand Firm.

A few choice bits:

There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived. The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California. In the last month, the contrasting behaviors and values of the religious leaders who met in these two small cities made each a symbol of Anglicanism’s inescapable choice.

Jerusalem and Babylon come to mind as the Scriptural cities which are enduring symbols of choices to be made by God’s people, and of what can happen when God’s people make a choice for something other than God’s Way, God’s Truth, God’s Life, as set out in God’s Covenant, whether Old or New. ...

For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Before Canterbury Advocated "Indaba"

It seems that very few people, even among the attendees at General Convention, believe Archbishop Rowan Williams will actually take serious action to discipline the Episcopal Church. This video is a reminder that there once was a time when Archbishops of Canterbury were known for taking a "firm line."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NPR coverage of recent events at TEC's General Convention

National Public Radio has a good report on the recent vote by the Episcopal Church's General Convention here.

While I am no longer a member of TEC, and hence a bit insulated from the full emotional impact of this development now, I remain a priest of the Anglican Communion (through my diocese's link to the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas) and still am very much concerned about the effect this will have on world-wide Anglicanism. I hope it will hasten recognition of the Anglican Church in North America by more Anglican bodies around the globe. (If you have not already seen this story, the Church of England will take up ACNA recognition in February thanks to signatures collected from more than a quarter of the delegates to its provincial synod.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Die is Cast! The Episcopal Church has officially thumbed it's nose at the world-wide communion.

Tonight the blogger Baby Blue is reporting that the House of Bishops has passed a controversial resolution (already passed by the House of Deputies) that effectively does away the oft-ignored moratorium on same-sex blessings and the ordination of non-celibate gay persons. This quasi-moratorium had been enacted three years ago at the insistence of many of the Anglican world's primates.

99 Bishops voted in favor of the resolution
45 Bishops voted against the resolution
2 Bishop abstained

69% yes
31% no

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pictures from the ACNA Provincial Assembly

The diocese of Fort Worth's website now has extensive posts of photographs taken at last month's inaugural Provincial Assembly at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford. They include the photograph above of Archbishop Bob Duncan and Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth and that below, showing the members of the House of Bishops processing out of the nave at the end of Sunday's Eucharist.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sermon on Jairus' Daughter and the Woman with the Flow of Blood

Clicking on the title of this post should take you to an audio of the sermon I preached a week and a half ago on Jairus' daughter and the woman with the flow of blood.

This is the first sermon I have ever preached on a Sunday for which I had neither a complete script nor fairly detailed outline. (I had only five bullet points jotted down in the final minutes before mass began, and I am not sure I ever looked at them while preaching.)

When I first began to preach at St. Vincent's I always spoke from a carefully written and edited script. But I find that as I have slowly begun to liberate myself from a prepared sermon text that our parishioners seem to be able more and more to find genuine meaning in my sermons. I know this is the Spirit's doing and not my own. I must learn to trust that God will make some use of my feeble efforts. I should preach the message my heart feels compelled to preach in the manner that I am being led to preach it, even if it makes people ask me if I used to be a Baptist! (I was baptized into the Anglican expression of being a Christian as an adult and never have been anything else, btw.) I pray the results will serve to feed the flock of Christ as He would have them nourished.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunset over North Texas, 5 July A.D. 2009

My father, R.D. Foster, took this lovely photograph tonight in Chisholm Park, Hurst, Texas, about three miles from our home.

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