"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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

ACNA Diocese of Fort Worth is Growing!

From Bishop Iker's page on the diocesan website:

Good news is always worth sharing!

The results of the Annual Parochial Reports from each congregation in the diocese have now been tabulated, and we are pleased to see that we are growing!

The most significant numbers for us are the average Sunday attendance (ASA) and the combined Net Disposable Income (NDI) of all our churches. Our ASA for 2010 was 5,726, an increase from 5,567 from the previous year (almost 3%), and our NDI was $11,261,530, an increase of $803,572 from 2009 (nearly 8%).

For purposes of comparison, it is interesting to note that for the year before we separated from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church our ASA was 6,880 and our NDI was $12,369,944. At that time, there were 55 churches in the diocese, and there are now 58. Needless to say, we are well on the way to recovering the losses we suffered at that time.

My commendations and appreciation go out to all our clergy and lay leaders who are seeking to build up the Body of Christ. May the Lord in His goodness continue to bless us and guide us by His Holy Spirit!

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Four Candidates for Next Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin Announced

The ACNA diocese of San Joaquin has publicly announced the four finalists selected to be placed upon the ballot on May 14 in their election of a successor to Bishop John-David Schofield. These four candidates include the highly-regarded dean of our own St. Vincent's Cathedral, the Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed, along with three other fine men of God.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for the diocese of San Joaquin, that they may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip them for their ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On the value of studying the past

In addition to being a clergyman who preaches and teaches in a cathedral parish I am also a history teacher at the Middle School level. As a result I frequently have cause to answer this question put to me by early teens, "Fr. Foster, why do we need to study all this old stuff?"

In a recent article in First Things magazine Timothy George has provided one of the best brief answers I have every read to that question, being himself inspired by C.S. Lewis. George states:

C. S. Lewis noted: “We need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present.” For the present can become imperial, seducing us into imagining that the assumptions that reign today have always defined what it means to be reasonable, sensible, and mainstream. Against the tendency toward presentism, Lewis observed that “a man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: The scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.”

RWF resumes: That is a fine way to put it. The student of history is far less likely to be stampeded along with the herd into believing whatever the "talking heads" of the cable news networks and the Washington leadership tells them today is necessarily so. Most of the important issues of today have already been debated and attempted in a similar form at some point in the past. We need to learn from those past dialogs, successes, and failures in order to better prepare for our own future actions.

A similar lesson applies in the case of theology and ethics. Last night I saw a re-run of Jay Leno's Tonight Show in which he conversed with Lady Gaga. Deep thought was not necessarily involved, but Gaga is massively influential on young people today, while Leno reaches a somewhat older demographic, so what they both say truly does matter in shaping American public opinion. In the course of that discussion Mr. Leno asked the pop star if she had ever met a person her age who did not believe in "gay rights" (by which I assume he meant the right to marry, adopt children, etc). Assuming her answer would be "no" Jay then asked her something to the effect that, "In light of the near ubiquity of a "pro-gay" attitude among today's young isn't final "equality" simply inevitable over the course of time?"

Mr. Leno is, of course, on to something. Survey after survey shows that even among church-going young people the traditional Biblical position on human sexuality is losing ground rapidly. More and more the dominant pansexual mores of Hollywood and the elite universities are becoming simply "common sense"--or even, "mere common decency." Even to broach the question of the morality of homosexual conduct in polite society increasingly labels one as a hopeless troglodyte, or perhaps even a dangerous "homophobe." Indeed, I have been told by well-meaning people that any emphasis on Biblical sexual ethics will simply drive young people away from the Church, since our teens and young adults virtually all accept the loose sexual mores of today as normative and will simply not sit still to see them challenged. The pastor or teacher who calls into question those prevailing assumptions will be dismissed as out of touch and peddling outdated irrelevancies.

That may be so. But Mr. George--and Mr. Lewis before him--have a point. We must continue to challenge our young people with sound Biblical teaching that is in healthy dialog with the great interpreters of the past. If we do not keep them engaged with God's holy Word written and with the thought of the great Biblical exegetes and theologians who have gone before us there will be virtually no contemporary voices in their psyches encouraging them to question the assumptions they are picking up from music, movies, and the main stream media. Yes, it is true that sticking to the inerrant scriptural Word and the tradition of the Church may drive some young people away. But even more importantly, it might make some of them stop and think one day! And once they begin to question the moral assumptions of this present evil age the door will be open for the Holy Spirit to do His work in their hearts and minds.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Genuine Hero of the Faith who was Martyred in Pakistan Two Days Ago

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