"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.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Oh so Pretty

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Sermon of Last Sunday

Those interested in what preaching at St. Vincent's Cathedral is like might find my sermon on the Canaanite woman last Sunday to be useful.

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Warmest congratulations to the newly inducted members of the National Junior Honor Society's St. Vincent's School chapter. These seventh and eighth graders have demonstrated a zeal for learning and a heart for service. May God continue to help them grow in both!

Thanks to Ms. Fergus, Ms. Wren, Mr. Monk, Fr. Petta and all those who helped make this a lovely Induction Eucharist.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Good News from the Court

The diocese has provided this happy news from Judge Chupp's court:

In a hearing today before the Hon. John Chupp, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation persuaded him to grant all our objections to the Partial Summary Judgment orders he issued Jan. 21. As a result, The Episcopal Church authorities will not succeed in their efforts to force some 6,000 regular Sunday worshipers to vacate their churches any time in the near future - and perhaps never, depending on the results of an appeal of the case. As the appellate process proceeds, the Bishop, clergy, and elected lay leaders will continue to carry out their duties and ministries as in the past.

Responding to one of the most serious concerns raised in the objections, Judge Chupp said that he does not "want to see empty buildings." He added that in his original orders, all he intended to say was that "the Diocese should be holding property in trust for the national church."

Attorneys for both sides cooperated with the court in drafting a revised order which will be in effect until final a judgment is signed in March, after the judge returns from a medical leave of absence. Once the judgment is signed, the Diocese and Corporation will pursue their appeal. The judge agreed with attorneys for both sides that the case is ultimately bound for a ruling from the State Supreme Court of Texas.

The parties expect to return to the 141st District Court in about 30 days.

Monday, February 07, 2011

St. Vincent's School Website

Our new website for St. Vincent's School is up and running. Do please take a moment to visit it. We anticipate adding a great deal of material in the next couple of weeks so please stop by from time to time and check out the site's progress!

St. Vincent's School is a traditional Christian school, at which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is worshiped every day in morning chapel and each grade level of the school--from Pre-Kindergarten to Eighth Grade--receives regular classroom instruction in "the Faith once delivered to the saints" from one of our clergy (Kindergarten through 8th grade) or a well-trained lay instructor (in the case of the three-year-olds). The quality of our academic program competes well against the other top-flight private schools in Tarrant County. If you know of anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex seeking a high quality, intentionally Christian education for a child please consider passing along this link to them. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

An Australian Suggestion for New Reformation in the Anglican Communion

Dr. Mark Thompson of Moore Theological College in Sydney has proposed 12 Theses for reformation in the Anglican Communion (hat tip to the Rev. Daniel Stoddart). I must admit that Sydney's ultra-Reformed version of Anglicanism is a bit much for me at times (e.g., lay presidency), but these theses are well chosen and merit serious consideration. Give them a read and let us know what you think!

If the Anglican Communion is to be reformed again it needs to be hear and heed these crucial truths:

1. It is impossible to take Jesus seriously without taking the teaching of Scripture seriously. Faith in Christ entails acknowledging Christ's Lordship. Submitting to Christ as Lord means being willing to conform our thinking and our behaviour to the words he has given us. Since he endorsed the Hebrew Old Testament (Lk 24:44) and appointed those whose mission produced the New Testament (Mtt 28:18–20; Acts 1:8), we cannot avoid the reality that faith in Christ manifests itself in obedience to the teaching of Scripture (Mtt. 7:24; Jms 1:22).
2. The Spirit of God never leads people in ways contrary to the teaching of Scripture, which he has been instrumental in producing. Jesus' promise of the Spirit to his disciples was not that the Spirit will lead the churches on from Scripture into truth which somehow supersedes it, but that he will ensure that Jesus' words are heard until the end of the age (Jn 16:13–14). To pit the Spirit against the Scriptures is to fail to understand either.
3. The most urgent and important need of every human being is to be reconciled to God. We are all naturally God's enemies (Rms 5:10) with the result that we stand under the wrath of the God who loves us (Rms 1:18; Eph. 2:1–3). Our natural disposition is to insist on our own autonomy, to repeat the folly of the Garden of Eden where the goal was to determine right and wrong without reference to God and the word he had given (Gen. 3:4–6). If we are to be reconciled to God, then the cconsequences of our rebellion against him — our guilt, corruption, enslavement to sinful thinking and behaviour, and death — must all be dealt with in their entirety. A gospel which does not explain this most basic need is no gospel at all.
4. The gospel which the Christian church proclaims is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3–8). Christ was delivered up for our transgressions and was raised for our justification (Rms 4:25). This is the provision of the triune God whose determined love for the men and women he has made causes him to bear all the consequences of their sin and exhaust them (Eph. 2:4–7).
5. The embrace of this salvation is only possible by the work of the Spirit transforming human hearts, bringing new life and creating faith (Jn 3:5–6; Rms 8:9–17; 1 Cor 12:3). Without such a work we all remain lost. No human effort will bring us within the orbit of Christ's salvation, it is entirely a gift of grace to undeserving sinners (Eph. 2:8–9). We are justified by faith alone and this faith which is the instrument of our justification is produced in us by the Spirit (Rms 5:1; Gal. 5:5).
6. To be forgiven, and so incorporated into the family of God, transforms the entirety of our lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ determines an entirely new set of priorities which shape life in the public square, in the workplace, in places of recreation and in our homes. There is no facet of life which stands beyond the claims of Christ's lordship (Phil. 1:27; Col. 2:6–4:6; Eph. 4:1–6:9).
7. While each of us continues to struggle with various forms of temptation, the continuing dynamic of the Christian life is one of repentance and faith (Mk 1:15; Acts 20:21; Heb. 6:1). Our orientation to sin, in whichever form it is expressed in each of us, is not what defines us and should not be given expression in our thoughts, words or actions. Once again it is the Spirit who has been given to us who enables us in this struggle: 'the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do' (Gal. 5:17).
8. We are not saved to a life of individualism, self-realisation, independence or autonomy. God has always been about saving a people for himself (Gen 12:2–3; Ex. 19:3–6; Jn 12:32; Rev. 5:9–10). Following Christ means serving others just as he has served us. This is why the local congregation is at the centre of God's purposes. Here the life of service and love is lived out in relationship with others who have been saved by Christ and reaching out to those who are still lost. After all, it is the church — and not just individual Christians — which Christ presents to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish' (Eph. 5:27).
9. This is not to deny important responsibilities beyond the local congregation, responsibilities modelled at points even in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 15:1–35; 1 Cor. 16:1–4; 1 Thess. 1:6–8). Over the centuries, various institutional structures have been developed in order to support, resource and assist the faithful life and witness of the gathered people of God. Yet these must never become the focus of loyalty themselves nor must the unity of the Spirit be confused with a common institutional structure. The unity the Spirit brings is neither created nor preserved by institutional regulation. It arises out of a fellowship in the gospel (Phil. 1:5) which is maintained 'in the bond of peace' (Eph. 4:3). It is a unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 4:13) which cannot be separated from a unity of mind (Phil. 2:2; 1 Pet. 3:8). Denominations need to concerned with faithfulness to the gospel of Christ above any consideration of structural cohesion.
10. Leadership amongst God's people is first and foremost about fidelity to the gospel and a transparent, humble submission to the teaching of Scripture. There should be a mutual accountability of those set apart to serve the churches and those who follow their lead in the churches (Mtt. 23:8). Leaders who abandon the biblical gospel in teaching or lifestyle (ie a lifestyle either lived by them or endorsed by them and contrary to the teaching of Scripture), should be held to account and if they will not repent, be removed for the sake of the people they are meant to be serving in truth and faithfulness (Acts 20:29–31; 1 Tim. 1:18–20; Jude 3).
11. The mission of Christ is the priority of Christ's people. Amidst the myriad of demands made upon the resources of individual Christians, churches or denominations, those being conformed to the image of God's Son share his concern to save the lost. Preeminently concerned to see lost men and women come to faith in Christ and grow to maturity in him, they will not let evangelism and discipleship be overshadowed by other worthwhile activity.
12. A longstanding temptation facing the churches has been a longing for acceptance, a sense of respectability, and an acknowledgement by those with power or influence that they have a legitimate place in contemporary society. Such a temptation has often led to an accommodation to elements of the contemporary secular agenda. In all of this the words of Jesus are easily forgotten: '... because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you' (Jn 15:19; 17:14). The church will always be a despised minority in a world arraigned against God. Nevertheless, despite such opposition, even the power of death will not prevail against the church that Christ is building (Mtt. 16:18). Though we ought not to seek the animosity of the world, or indeed provoke it by our own arrogance or folly, we need to remember that vindication and legitimization will only come on the day we are invited to 'enter the joy of our master' (Mtt. 25:21, 23).

Sundown 1 February 2011

My father took this lovely picture last evening next to our home. We had a significant ice storm yesterday morning and it was actually still flurrying snow on him at the time he took this photo. Today we are expecting the coldest temperatures here 15 years (8 deg. F), but I know that pales in comparison with what much of the country will endure before this storm is done. Stay warm, my friends!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

UPDATED AGAIN: Unsettling News--But the game isn't over yet!

The Star-Telegram publishes the news that yesterday Judge John Chupp of the 141st District Court of Texas ruled in favor of the TEC's loyalist diocese of Fort Worth against the Southern Cone/ACNA diocese of Fort Worth (my own diocese) in our long-running property dispute.

The paper's account seems to be a bit inaccurate, in that it appears to me from looking at the pdf of the judge's order that he has crossed out much of the plaintiff's proposed order insofar as it related to their corporate law arguments before he signed it. Instead Judge Chupp seems to have based his decision entirely upon the question of whether or not TEC meets the legal definition of a "hierarchical church." In this case he held that TEC is such a hierarchical church and therefore no subunit within the denomination can ever depart from it, under any circumstances, without the express consent of the "hierarchy." In short, Judge Chupp bought TEC's argument that "individuals may leave us, but parishes and dioceses cannot do so without our permission."

I would be lying if I said news of this decision didn't lead to some difficulty for me in getting to sleep last night. I had thought this first stage of the property litigation was tilting our way. And I still think we have the superior legal arguments under Texas law so I am very disappointed at this decision by the trial court. But we should remember that this is not the end of the matter. The summary judgment's order to vacate property within sixty days will all but certainly be staid pending our appeal, so I am confident that no one in going to be locked out of their churches just before Easter. After all, the ACNA diocese of San Joaquin, California, lost a similar summary adjudication decision in their property dispute with TEC on July 21, 2009 and the orthodox Anglicans continue worshiping in their churches today as the legal process of appeals and re-hearings grinds on. I am pretty sure that the daily life of service and worship of the Southern Cone/ACNA diocese of Fort Worth will also be continuing just as it has for the foreseeable future.

And let's not forget--the Fort Worth Court of Appeals has already sided with our Southern Cone/ACNA diocese in a previous procedural matter against the TEC diocese. We might very well find sympathetic ears for our arguments at the appellate level. Our appeal of this summary judgment from Judge Chupp will certainly take many months to be heard and decided upon at the Court of Appeals level. And then whomever loses in the Court of Appeals will surely appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. So nothing really is likely to be resolved for far more than a year from now. This is no time to panic. Unless TEC decides to negotiate a fair settlement with us in good faith this matter is likely to continue to be unsettled for a long time to come.

Let us pray that wisdom and justice will prevail on all sides. This matter never should have come to litigation in the first place. Resources are being squandered that should go to building up God's Kingdom. Lord, have mercy and grant us all peace.

UPDATE: The Southern Cone/ACNA diocese of Fort Worth has just released this statement:

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation received two orders from the Hon. John Chupp in the matter of the main suit against us, in which a minority of former members has been joined by The Episcopal Church in an effort to claim diocesan property. Judge Chupp signed an order drafted by the plaintiffs' attorneys, from which he struck several points with which he did not apparently agree. The order does find that TEC is a hierarchical church, and on that basis the judge has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. [The judge's order can be read on the diocesan Web site.]

Friday's ruling from the trial court is a disappointment but not a disaster. The plaintiffs have offered no evidence, either in the courtroom or in their voluminous filings, supporting their claim that the Diocese was not entitled to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, as it did in November 2008. Nor have they demonstrated a legal right to our property, which is protected by Texas statutes regulating trusts and non-profit corporations.

On the contrary, it is our position that the judge's order does not conform to Texas law, and we are therefore announcing our plans to appeal the decision without delay. We believe that the final decision, whenever it is signed by Judge Chupp based on these orders, will not be sustained on appeal. According to our lead attorney, Shelby Sharpe, "These orders appear to be contrary to the earlier opinion from the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and current decisions from both that court and the Supreme Court of Texas."

In response to the ruling, Bishop Iker has said, "We are obviously disappointed by Judge Chupp's ruling and see it as fundamentally flawed. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will carefully consider our appeal and will rule in accordance to neutral principles of law as practiced in the State of Texas. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on mission and outreach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while praying for the judges who will take up our appeal."

We give thanks to God in all circumstances, and we trust in His plans. While we disagree with the judge's ruling, we offer our sincere appreciation for the time and study he has given to the case

UPDATED AGAIN! Also from our diocesan office:

Answers to some of your questions, from our legal team:

Should we be surprised by this ruling?

This result at this level was not entirely unexpected. It is for that reason that our motions and briefs and other submissions were drafted in the manner in which they were drafted.

To what court will we appeal?

The 2nd Court of Appeals, which is located in Fort Worth, has jurisdiction. This is the same court that heard and granted our Petition for Mandamus last year.

Will our appeal be heard?

Assuredly. We have anticipated this possibility in all the evidence and arguments that have been presented. We expect the court to appreciate the importance of reviewing this decision, not only because of its extensive effect on our diocese, but because of its implications for property controlled by non-profit corporations throughout the state of Texas.

Will we have to vacate our property and relinquish our assets in 60 days?

That is most unlikely; we expect to continue we are. There are several ways this might be accomplished. One possibility is that we will seek a stay on Judge Chupp's order while we appeal. In the absence of another eventuality, we need not worry about having to turn over the property in the immediate future, if ever.

What should clergy and church members do?

Pray. Pray for those of us on your legal team, and for the judges who will hear our appeal. The lawyers and courts need the wisdom that only God can supply. Pray for Bishop Iker and for the members of our Board of Trustees named in the suit. Pray for your clergy, and for your congregation.

Finally, we must remember that Christ's Church is not the property, but the clergy and people. These, with the presence, protection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, are our true assets. Empty buildings are of no use to the Gospel. Nevertheless, our property is justly our own, and we will continue to press our case in the courts. But property pales to insignificance when compared to the unity of the Church and her mission to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. Jesus said, "Let them all be one, as We are one." Let us be one.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reports from the Cambodian Mission Field

Last weekend we heard a report from the mission team that St Vincent's Cathedral parish recently sent to work with the infant Anglican Church in Cambodia. We heard that more than than 1100 children and adults in isolated Cambodian villages attended services they and their local host congregations organized last week in five locations outside the capital, Phnom Pehn!

But that is not is not the only good news I have received this week out of Cambodia. This morning I received an email from Summer Twyman, a missionary sent by our diocese to Cambodia through SAMS--the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. Summer is an old St Vincent's girl (her father was curate here in the late nineties). She is a social worker by training and is serving in Cambodia primarily through an NGO in the capital that runs an aftercare facility and residential counseling center for teen girls who have been rescued from sexual slavery.

In this morning's report Summer told us that eleven of the girls she works with every day are now enrolled at "4 Rivers," an English school run by the Anglican Church of Christ Our Peace in Phnom Penh. These girls have also started attending that parish's youth group each week. And last night EIGHT of these eleven girls accepted Christ as their Savior! An almost 80% conversion rate is an amazing result after a relatively short period of missionary activity on Summer's part. But she witnesses to the Gospel through the care and compassion that she shows those girls every day. Her life and work are mirrors of the love of Christ. As she is helping these girls rebuild their shattered lives day-by-day, Christ is making them into a new creation!

Both Summer and the St. Vincent's mission team that has just returned report that Cambodia is wide-open for the Gospel of Christ right now.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, my friends, and pray for the Church in Cambodia!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford - Evensong

My father, Randy, took this lovely picture of tonight's Vesper Light in Bedford, Texas. Enjoy it along with Choral Evensong from Oxford, a fine example of the "Anglican patrimony."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Timeline Set for English Ordinariate

Thinking Anglicans has posted a press release by the Roman Catholic bishops of England in which an anticipated timeline for the establishment of the Ordinariate in England is laid out.

They anticipate that the five previously-announced Anglican bishops will be received into full communion with Rome in early January and ordained Roman Catholic deacons and priests before Lent, so that they might assist with the preparations of the other Anglican clergy and lay people who will be received into the RCC during Holy Week. Those other former-Anglican priests should be ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood around Pentecost. So we should have some idea how big the English Ordinariate will be at the time of its launch around Easter and it should be fully functional by early summer.

Nothing is said in this release about how the clergy and parishes of the Ordinariate will be financed long-term. The Church Times reports, however, that "Archbishop Nichols said that a fund had been created 'so that the Ordinariate can get going', and that money had been sought from 'one or two contributors and trusts'. It had been agreed that RC dioceses would contribute £25,000 to the fund, he said." Of course, there are not any numbers yet available for how many converts or Ordinariate parishes there will be. We shall know by early June if the predictions of fifty priests and around 600 lay converts are accurate.

This is intriguing, to say the least! But is it the earthquake within the Anglican Communion that some were predicting earlier this year? Hmmm. Time will tell.

UPDATE: Britain's Catholic Herald reports that the RC dioceses of Britain have contributed a quarter of a million pounds to formation of the Ordinariate, not just 25,000 pounds as the Church Times reports.
Other important information in the Catholic Herald report is highlighted by me below:

The dioceses of England and Wales have pooled a quarter of a million pounds to fund the Ordinariate, it was announced today.
The news was announced at a press conference this morning by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales, and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark.

Archbishop Nichols said that according to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus the clergy are the responsibility of the Ordinariate, financially and otherwise, but that the bishops had been looking at putting together money from contributors and trusts to form a fund. He said the dioceses have put in a quarter of a million pounds. He said: “We’ll do it together to start with and then it all depends on the Ordinariate.”

Bishop Alan Hopes, who has been one of the bishops in charge of liaison with Anglicans wanting to take up an ordinariate, added that
places in which groups were formed, the local dioceses would provide help to Anglican clergy coming over both in terms of housing and financial aid.

The archbishop stressed that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus was in no way about “acquiring property through this.” He said “the simpler route is the best in that those who come in use Catholic churches.” But he said that the question of buildings would be settled on a local basis, depending on the size of the groups of Anglicans and the arrangements made by the local churches.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SECOND UPDATE: Fifty Church of England Priests (including Five Bishops) to Join Roman Catholic Church Early in New Year

The Daily Telegraph of England reports that fifty Anglican priests in the C of E are expected to be received into the Roman Catholic Church early in the new year, along with "hundreds" of laity. The number of converts is expected to double after the new structures are in place.

I have made it clear to readers of my blog that I am committed to the future of orthodox Anglicanism and that I have no plans to avail myself of the pope's kind offer within the Ordinariate. I simply have too many theological differences with Rome to make it an option for me. But I am glad that my brothers and sisters whose theology aligns with that of the Vatican will have their path toward full communion with the See of Peter eased for them. I wish them Godspeed and blessings on their future ministries.

I cannot help but wonder, however, if the Vatican is starting to be disappointed with the numbers that are likely to take up the pope's offer. Fifty priests and three sitting bishops (none of whom is a great surprise--the two other bishops are retired) out of the entire Church of England is a respectable number of clergy, I suppose. But the number of laity who have been attracted so far does not seem great. In fact, of all the small number of Anglican parishes world-wide I have heard about that have declared their desire to enter the Ordinariate none of them yet has an average-Sunday-attendance over fifty.

Surely there are some larger parishes in the "Continuum" that will join the Roman Catholic Church in the future, but I cannot help but wonder--even if those "hundreds" of laity doubles to become one or two thousand lay people opting to join the Ordinariate within England, how precisely will those fifty converted Anglican priests serve their quondam Anglican flocks? Will Rome chose to divide them up between thirty new Ordinariate parishes with an ASA of 50 Anglican converts? (Remember, the Apostolic Constitution makes it clear that only Anglicans who convert can actually become members of Ordinariate parishes--"normal" Roman Catholics who might be attracted by the beauties of Anglican liturgy cannot become members of Ordinariate parishes.) How would Rome financially support all these married, former-Anglican clergy serving micro-parishes in light of the fact that most RC priests in the West serve huge parishes for little pay? Or will Rome settle for forming about a dozen parishes of a more financially viable size served by large staffs of part-time, "tent maker," former-Anglican clergy?Time will tell the answer to these questions.

On a tangentially related bit of news: today in Bishop Iker's address to diocesan convention (delivered by Canon Hough in the bishop's absence) it was estimated that it may well take up to four more years before the shadow of TEC lawsuits over property will be finally settled in our diocese by having all issues litigated and every appeal exhausted. In practice this means that no parish in our diocese that might dream of leaving for the Ordinariate along with its building and church-owned vestments and furishings could possibly do so with a clear title until four years from now. I personally don't imagine there are many Fort Worth parishes hoping to join the Ordinariate en masse, but those that are thinking in these terms probably will not relish so long a wait for their dream to come true. It is most unfortunate, but I doubt TEC will give up their punitive course of legal action until the last possible appeal has been followed through to the U.S. Surpreme Court sometime after 2014.

UPDATE: Catholic On-line has a fascinating report about an upcoming conference on the Ordinariate available today. In it is this paragraph:

In the United States there are at least 20 identifiable Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, Traditional Anglican Communion, Missionary Episcopal, and Anglican Use congregations, societies and religious orders, incorporating thousands of individuals, who are seeking membership in the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States. Now a unique opportunity has risen to allow all these various individuals and groups to begin to intermingle and start to become one Catholic spiritual family in the Anglican Ordinariate which is starting to take shape in the States.

I note that if the average size of the "at least 20" congregations and groups seeking entry into the Ordinariate is an ASA of about seventy-five persons (a bit larger than the ASA of the known parishes who have openly declared for the Ordinariate up to this point, but I know at least a few of the existing Anglican use parishes are larger than ASA 75 so this is plausible) this would give the organization a starting size of around 1500 lay people. That is very much in line with what we have seen in England so far. Is it possible that the entire Ordinariate in the United States may not be any larger than the largest Latin Rite Roman Catholic parish in my home county at the time of its launch?

UPDATED AGAIN!: The Daily Telegraph today has another article in which it is said (emphasis added):

About 30 groups from across the country are believed to have registered an interest in joining the Ordinariate. This would mean an estimated 500-600 Anglicans, including about 50 priests, will be in the first wave of converts to join the Ordinariate when it is established in the first half of next year.

So it appears that the "thousands" of a few days ago may must be about 600 in the "first wave." Will it be 600 lay people served by about 50 priests? Interesting.

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