Friday, November 27, 2009

To Those Who Have Been Led Astray

From the Epistle Reading for the First Sunday in Advent:

[9] For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God,
[10] praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you;

[12] and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you,
[13] so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

It is the first Sunday in Advent. I realize that with Advent comes the idea of waiting . . . for Christ to come. My limited understanding is that I am waiting for both the birth of Jesus but also the Second Coming. But, as I read this passage it not only informs me of Christ and his anticipated coming/return but perhaps the coming/return of all those who have fled the Episcopal Church looking for something "else". Something "Anglican", something "scripturally bound". And so I look at verse 12,
"and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you".

You may think that you have not been lied to but look at your "Anglican connection". Are you closer to the Archbishop of Canterbury or further away? Look on the Anglican Communion website and see if you can find your diocese.

You may think you have not been lied to but have any of those issues that John David promised would be resolved, have they been resolved?

You may think that you have not been lied to but if you are praying out of the BCP 1547 something is amiss.

My prayer, this advent, is going to be for the coming home of all of you, coming home to the Episcopal Church. But more importantly, I pray for your love to grow to encompass all men! And my prayer for those of us is that our love for you will grow so that when you return we receive you with open arms, a grateful soul, and a loving heart.

Bless you all and peace to you and to your families in this Advent year, 2009, and we'll keep a light on for you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jesus Is On The Wire

With all that is currently going on with the Manhattan Declaration and the Jerusalem Declaration and the recent events in Uganda and Nigeria I think it is necessary to post this. Keep in mind Advent is just around the corner and it is time to think about the coming of Christ. What is it that he wants from you and me and our neighbor.


(Thea Hopkins)

Run down church
Red clay
River covered
In a smoky haze

Sunday morning
The fire is out
Sunday morning
No one about

The earth is soft
This time of year
Boots get caked
From there to here

Down the road
Route 25
They found this boy
He was barely alive

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

They took him down
Off the fence
Cold as ice
Almost dead
They said that he
That he slept with guys
They said that he
Deserved to die

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

©2001 Grown Up Girl Music (ASCAP)

The song was written by Thea Hopkins and a brief play is on her blog. The reference/url redirection is to Peter, Paul and Mary's version of this song. Any way one views it this is a great song!

A hat tip to PFLAG Tricities blog for their help.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Isn't The Manhattan Declaration a Radical Drink?

Everyone remember Jim Jones and Kool-aid? As an interesting lead in, what I will call a grabber, a very good friend of mine was married by Jim Jones. Yes, THE Jim Jones -- Guyana and Leo McCarthy and the whole 9 yards. He escaped only because he saw early where all "that" was going. Apparently, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Iker, Mr. Schofield are all leading many a "would-be' Anglican down that very path to what kan only be kalled a Kool-aid ending.

There is a book, Things Your Minister Wants To Tell You (but can't because he needs the job) that deals with the issue of homophobia in nine (that is correct, 9) pages. I understand the Manhattan Declaration is something like 4,700 words. The book, written by Rev. Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is a pretty neat work. By the way, Buzz is a BAPTIST. Buzz was also the temporary parent of a gay child. The first question he askedwhen he became that surrogate parent, was "What makes a father reject his son?" The answer, RELIGION! It is indeed interesting to note that we want to kill each other more and faster when religion comes into play -- more so than any other single issue. To wit, the Book of Leviticus has a grand pronouncement about a man laying with another man. But there are also about a ton of things in Leviticus we no longer adhere to. Checkout the following:

This scene was written/taken from a response to a Dr. Laura Schlesinger radio program. The listener/author of the words is Ken Ashcraft who was compensated by the West Wing for using it (somewhat altered) in the scene you just viewed.

Buzz takes us back to Genesis and god's view of his handiwork, "And the Lord saw that it was good." Buzz then speaks to the issue of being born gay and and after he covers the now basic science and genetics and facts adds the oft repeated retort from a gay person, "Who in their right mind would choose this?" The question cutting to the issue of the pain and suffering that LBGT people go through on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

The simple but inescapable logic Buzz uses is this, "If God created us and if everything God created is good, how can a gay person be guilty of being anything more than what God created him (or her) to be?" Buzz brings this all down to a chilling conclusion with this gem, "Viewed in this light, society's current intolerance toward homosexuals starts to look more like the racism of the Ku Klux Klan or the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany rather than authentic biblical faith." He then goes onto say that the people undermining the the family aren't the relative handful of gay couples lining up to marry; it's the multitude of heterosexual couples lining up to divorce!

Buzz ends this rather brief chapter with the following words: "so I ask you: Would you want to be discriminated against? Would you want to lose your job, housing, or insurance benefits because of something you have no control? Better yet, would you like it if society told you that you couldn't visit your lifelong partner in the hospital or file a claim on his (or her) behalf if he/she were murdered?

Sometimes theology can get complicated and the answers hard to come by.

Not this time."

The Jerusalem Declaration, the Manhattan Declaration, GAFCON, AMia, CANA, ACNA, the Global South??? Not this time.

I really encourage you to read this Baptist Pastor and writer. When you do, ask yourself, "What is keeping us apart?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shadow Boxing In the Dark

Here is the latest quote from our Archbishop as he takes the Pope to task:

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

And, dear friends, here is a direct quote from Mr. Iker:

Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.

Why does the Archbishop continue to recognize Robert Duncan and John David Schofield despite the similar grounds?

Then there is the full inclusion issue for LGBT that seems to be a stumbling block for +Henri Luke Orombi and +Peter Akinola.

The Archbishop of Canterbury goes on to spar with the Pope saying,
But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

Why is this not true also:
But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on LGBT priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

It is easy to shadow box in the dark, see, you cannot get hit, but then neither can you hit anyone else.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Mission is Missing?

From the Jubilate Deo: The Diocese of South Carolina's Newsletter:

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” You might think, what a way to start… but it’s the only legitimate way, because prayer is the only way to activate the faith necessary to complete the earthly impossible.
For four years, four people prayed in a building that should have been condemned.

This is how the article starts. I am unfortunately, not interested so much in the specific mission as I am in the overall mission. It seems that South Carolina, along with six other diocese are interested in missions. Starting them, helping them grow, bringing them "new life" in an enriching environment. What a truly prophetic and wonderful goal. Oh, except for one thing, "your" mission, to get help, has to be "theologically sound". By theologically sound, that is code words for in keeping with the ideas espoused by the Communion Partners bishops. See, Mark Lawrence, has many would be missions in South Carolina. One in particular,St. Mark's Chapel has been then for over 7 years and has been passed over, first by Bishop Salmon and then by Bishop Lawrence. This mission wants to be Episcopalian, i.e., recognized and part of and in close cooperation with the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It holds strong beliefs in inclusiveness and in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Apparently, these are not the characteristics that endear them to +Mark Lawrence. +Lawrence wants a mission to be exclusive when it comes to certain, well you know, people. Never mind that they have survived all on their own with no help from the diocese and will continue to do so. He, +Lawrence, has on at least 2 different occasions told them flat out, they are not his kind of church.

Too bad mission means being loyal first to Mark Lawrence instead of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TRUST: What We See vesus What We Believe

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America has been in existence since at least 1789. General Convention, created at that time, not only included but started with the laity and then included clergy and only "reluctantly" and "belatedly" included a House of Bishops. Clearly, William White trusted the laity to balance whatever else would happen in the future. This is unique in all of the Anglican world and it is the least understood piece of the Episcopal Church by anyone outside these United States. Laity inside the church are supposed to be our hidden strength. We believe that given the spiritual strength of the laity our church can do anything. The laity not only balance the clergy but on more than one occasion lead the clergy. That fits so very nicely with the concept of scripture, reason and tradition -- the Hooker three-legged stool. Clearly it is the extension of the whole idea that balancing scripture with reason and reason with tradition and tradition with scripture (and so forth) and the extension of what was begun in England with Hooker and Elizabeth and Cranmer and Locke and Hobbes. Since 1994 the laity have led the church in full inclusion by all for all and with the sacraments. Most notably our LBGT brothers and sisters.

The citizens of the United States have enjoyed a representative democracy since about 1789 and while we may not be the envy of the entire world we continue to receive millions of refugees even today. Of late several states have exercised the franchise and in so doing restricted the rights of one or more groups. Most notably and most frequently our LBGT brothers and sisters. Proposition 8 in California and I think it was proposition 1(or 1E) in Maine. There has also been at least one other state where when given the opportunity, the laity elect bigotry instead of full inclusion.

This leads me to my real question or rather my dilemma. Trust, I am having some real trust issues with this whole area. What do i mean? Well, we, the laity have a significant role to play in the governance of our church. In fact, it would be interesting to see some changes wherein the laity take a more prominent role at convention. But, and this is a large but at that, what I have seen lately scares me almost beyond belief. One could say that those who have voted for the propositions throughout the country to restrict LGBT rights are Catholics and Mormons and Baptists and others, certainly not Episcopalians. And to that I would say, "Hold on Buckeroos!". Look at the diocese of Quincy and San Joaquin, and the diocese of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth. And Look at the diocese of South Carolina and the diocese of Louisiana. I am convinced that I would not want a majority of those folks voting on whether the sun will rise tomorrow let alone on any one's right to participate fully in sacraments.

So, folks what do you think we should do? Do we go with William White (ultimately he was a bishop) and strengthen and expand the the laity's role in General Convention or do we do something different? If something different what should it be?

While you are thinking on this, keep St. Mark's Chapel in Beaufort, South Carolina in your prayers and keep those cards and letters going to now Bishop Lawrence soon to be Mr Lawrence going.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who Are these Folks From St. Mark's?

Here, in their own words, is the community of believers named after one of the chroniclers of Jesus.

St. Mark's Chapel
A Community of Episcopalians

1004 11th Street , Port Royal, South Carolina

Who We Are and How We Came to Be

Anticipating the population growth on Ladies Island, in the mid 1990’s there was dialogue concerning establishment of an Episcopal mission in northern Beaufort County, an idea which unfortunately never materialized. The interest in such a mission resurfaced following the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2003 when St. Mark’s Chapel formed under the leadership of The Rev. Roger William Smith, a retired Episcopal priest. Initially, eight people met at his house and began a ministry which now averages over 20 communicants each Sunday. Overall, our mailing list includes about 60 individuals, mostly confirmed Episcopalians. Upon Mr. Smith's recent retirement, the chaplaincy was assumed by the Rev. Robert Hansel, also a retired Episcopal priest.

Initially we were a house church that met in one another’s homes bimonthly. Realizing the need for a “consistent” location (to avoid confusion and attract additional members), in the fall of 2007 we relocated to the Room by the Bay of the Sea Island Inn in downtown Beaufort. In April 2009 we moved to the Port Royal Masonic Lodge where we met every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Beginning our seventh year in November, 2009, we moved to our first actual church building, the historic, 1878 Union Church of Port Royal. Overall, we practice a shared lay/clergy ministry approach to worship and leadership of St. Mark’s Chapel. We have been fortunate in the availability of several priests to celebrate Holy Eucharist. When clergy are not available to celebrate Eucharist, we enjoy lay-led Morning Prayer or special lay-led services.

St. Mark’s continues to be a Total Ministry fellowship engaged in outreach. Total Ministry means that we encourage all members, not just the ordained, to offer themselves to the community. Representing our chapel, St. Mark’s members have been active in Family Promise, a program for homeless families in Beaufort County, and in RxAccess, an ecumenical effort to assist eligible clients in applying for free or reduced–priced medications. In addition to hands-on outreach, we have provided financial support for Habitat for Humanity, mission work in the Dominican Republic, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and have been one of the leading diocesan supporters of the Episcopal Relief and Development program.

We view church as existing to support, confront and challenge members to engage the world in Christ’s name. We believe church life respects differences, openly addressing them directly while seeking resolution, reconciliation and acceptance. Accepting challenge, our chapel anticipates and welcomes change as part of God’s action. Underlying all we believe is our commitment to follow Jesus’ Great Command: Love God and love your neighbor.

We are shaped by an educational ministry which focuses on the teaching of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit for change in contemporary life. Due to the age of our members, we have not yet developed a children’s program but look forward to that as we increase in membership. Several of our members have experience in planning and leading Christian education.

To understand St. Mark’s Chapel, one must understand the context in which it has evolved. The Diocese of South Carolina is a group of primarily conservative parishes which tend more and more to emphasize their Anglican roots vs. the Episcopal. It seems to be leaning toward the theology of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference sponsored by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans). While we respect this difference in religious perspective, this apparent departure from TEC is a major concern of ours: We have no desire to leave TEC. We believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding us in ways to live via an ever-evolving understanding of the Message of Christ.

St. Mark’s celebrated its sixth anniversary in November 2009. During those five years we have made several attempts to be recognized officially in the Diocese as a mission. Our first venture was a meeting with clergy and wardens of St. Helena’s Episcopal Church (the only Episcopal Church in northern Beaufort County) to discuss the possibility of becoming a parochial mission of that parish. By mutual concurrence, vast theological differences precluded such a relationship.

Our next step toward formal Episcopal status occurred in the winter of 2007 when we attended at St. Helena’s a meeting called by then Bishop Salmon who, over the years, had been supportive of St. Mark’s and posited that “it was not nice to be in exile,” leading to our hope of becoming a diocesan mission. Present in addition to Bishop Salmon and Bishop-Elect Mark Lawrence were the rector of St. Helena’s and his two wardens as well as their Bishop-in-Residence Alden Hathaway. The final decision about our status was passed to the hands of Bishop-Elect Lawrence who, after he was consecrated, declined to recommend to the Diocesan Convention the admission of St. Mark’s as a diocesan mission. .

After that disappointment, a fruitful meeting with the vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head, resulted in All Saints’ request to the Diocese that St. Mark’s become their parochial mission. In October 2008, a delegation from St. Mark’s met with the bishop to discuss that possibility, and he, again, opposed the admission of St. Mark’s to the Diocese even as a parochial mission. Since that meeting, the members of St. Mark’s have entered into a period of discernment to explore who we are, decide where we want to go, and articulate our role in spreading the Gospel. This historical review is part of the outcome of that discernment period. We continue to explore ways to gain official recognition as Episcopalians as we continue to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. For more details on St. Mark’s Chapel, see or call 522-9636.

Please do not let these Episcopalians be lost in the dance we have come to recognize as the Anglican two-step.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Even David What's His name Agrees

From ******online:

Despite the losses, some orthodox bishops have shown an amazing graciousness when equally orthodox parishes have decided to flee. Both the bishop of Central Florida, John W. Howe, and Dallas Bishop James Stanton have let parishes go (with fair market value) without a lawyer intervening, demonstrating that it is possible to be obedient to Scripture which abhors such actions. (Prov. 25: 8 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. But is the Bible explicitly against legal action? When is legal action appropriate for a Christian? To be clear, the Bible does not say a Christian can never go to court. In fact, Paul appealed more than once to the legal system, exercising his right to defend himself under Roman law (Acts 16:37–40; 18:12–17; 22:15–29; 25:10–22). In Romans 13, Paul taught that God had established legal authorities for the purpose of upholding justice, punishing wrongdoers, and protecting the innocent. Consequently, legal action may be appropriate in certain criminal matters, cases of injury and damage covered by insurance, as well as trustee issues and other specified instances.

So, if that is the case, then Bishop Lawrence, why do you not let St. Mark's Chapel move to a place where they can continue for the foreseeable future to be a constituent member of the Episcopal Church. they do not even own property so there is nothing to square up and there is nothing to balance -- except maybe justice with mercy.

+Mark, how about allowing the good people of St. Mark's Chapel Beaufort, SC to come out of exile?

For thopse of you who may wish to send a note of support, here is the official email address:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bishop Mark Lawrence: Did You Forget Something?

With the consents of 10 standing committees still needed for his consecration, the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, has again written to the Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church to clarify his position about the diocese's continuing membership in the Episcopal Church.

"I have been told that some diocesan Standing Committees have graciously offered to reconsider their denial of consent to my election as the XIV Bishop of South Carolina, if they only have assurance of my intention to remain in The Episcopal Church," he wrote. "Although I previously provided assurance of my intention, this has not been sufficient for some Standing Committees, which are earnestly seeking to make a godly discernment."

"As I stated at the walkabout in Charleston on September 9, 2006, and again in a statement written on 6 November 2006, I will make the vows of conformity as written in the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution & Canons, (III.11.8). I will heartily make the vows conforming ‘…to the doctrine, discipline, and worship’ of the Episcopal Church, as well as the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures. So to put it as clearly as I can, my intention is to remain in The Episcopal Church."

+Lawrence, this is your quote from the Episcopal News Service. Based on the recent convention news from South Carolina you maybe fibbed just a tad? perhaps stretched the truth? Was it so you could be bishop? There is this theory that "the ends justify the means"? Perhaps you and God subscribe to a higher truth?

Be that as it may, if you cannot live up to your promise why would you deny a small group of Episcopalians that right? Why would you not let the good folks at St. Mark's Chapel, you know, the ones you feel have no real standing, stay with the Episcopal Church?

Good readers of this blog, help Bishop Lawrence to remember his promise and remind him that there is room for disagreement and that that disagreement should not be buried beneath the weight of his crushing need to "follow his conscience". Remind him that there are others out there that would like to follow their conscience. Write to him or send a facebook message to remind him of this.

Thank you.