Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Night at the Cafe: Update on the Chicken Wing Crisis

NOTE: Richard Lobb is with the National Chicken Council. You can read the latest here. No, really! Pass those wings. Go Steelers!

Preview: "Bob Dylan's" Super Bowl Pepsi Ad

Here it is - times might change, but do they really? Well, sorta ...

Cross-Complaint lawsuit is filed in California against The Episcopal Church

From Anglican Curmudgeon:
The litigation in San Joaquin has entered a new phase with the filing of a cross-complaint against the Episcopal Church (USA) by the parties it initially sued last April. The cross-complaint, brought by Bishop Schofield and two diocesan investment entities which he heads (the Episcopal Foundation and the Diocesan Investment Trust), seeks an award against ECUSA for the amount of attorneys' fees those defendants are being called upon to expend in defending the suit instigated by Bishop Jerry A. Lamb and a group calling itself the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin", and joined in by ECUSA.

The cross-complaint states two claims for relief. The first asserts that ECUSA in effect put Bishop Lamb and his followers up to bringing the lawsuit that was filed in Fresno County Superior Court on April 24, 2008, by making false representations to them that they could be plaintiffs because they were now a genuine diocese of the Episcopal Church who had met in a legitimate "special convention" the previous month and elected a bishop. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, convened the special convention herself, and proposed the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, the resigned (retired) bishop of the Diocese of Northern California, to be its "provisional bishop". After it concurred, the convention proceeded to adopt resolutions authorizing him to claim ownership of the corporation sole that holds title to diocesan real property, and to file the present lawsuit against Bishop Schofield and the investment entities, which manage the funds belonging to the diocese.

Bishop Schofield alone asserts the second claim for relief in the cross-complaint. It is a contingent claim, dependent on the outcome of the principal lawsuit against him. In essence, it asserts that Bishop Schofield simply followed the wishes of his employer, the Diocese of San Joaquin, in taking the steps for which he has been sued by the plaintiffs, and that he believed those steps were lawful. He has an agreement of indemnity with his employer, the cross-complaint alleges, whereby the Diocese is required to reimburse him for any legal expenses incurred as a result of his good-faith obedience to its decisions. Therefore, if the plaintiffs succeed in their lawsuit against him, and regain all the property and other assets of the diocese, he alleges that they will have to reimburse him for all his legal expenses under the provisions of California Labor Code section 2802 and the general indemnity statute, Civil Code section 2778 (4).

The cross-complaint also names as a defendant the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of ECUSA, which it alleges is the alter ego of ECUSA, and is the entity that actually holds its funds and property. In order to be able to collect any judgment awarded against ECUSA, the cross-complaint alleges, judgment would have to be awarded against the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society as well.

The filing of the cross-complaint raises the stakes considerably in what is already a very high-stakes game being played by ECUSA, as I explained in this earlier post. Essentially, ECUSA was risking everything on its bet that the Fresno court would accept the legitimacy of the "Remain Episcopal" group in San Joaquin as a lawfully constituted diocese of the Episcopal Church, with full standing to claim title to the assets of the actual diocese, which had voted to disaffiliate. By lending its authority and recognition to that group, by installing Bishop Lamb as their titular head, and by bankrolling both of them from the outset, ECUSA may fairly be said to have been the driving force behind the current litigation.
Later Anglican Curmudgeon writes:
The lawsuit filed by ECUSA, Bishop Lamb and the unincorporated association which styles itself as "the Diocese of San Joaquin" in its complaint places directly into play the legitimacy of the moves used by Bishop Jefferts Schori to "prove" her assertion that "dioceses cannot leave the Church; only people can." The cross-complaint hones in on that assertion by charging her Church with the legal consequences of carrying it into effect.

Bishop Schofield had announced, prior to the December 2007 vote by the Diocesan Convention to disaffiliate, that any parish wishing to remain with ECUSA would be allowed to do so without rancor or legal consequences, so long as it did not owe any debt to the Diocese. Had ECUSA's Presiding Bishop not insisted on recruiting and financing the group that remained to serve as a plaintiff to sue Bishop Schofield, it is doubtful in the extreme that the group alone, which constituted around a third of the parishes in the Diocese before the vote, would have marshaled the resources (and the will) to maintain a lawsuit.

In quite a few previous posts, I have gone into the manifold legal difficulties which I believe ECUSA will face in trying to make Bishop Jefferts Schori's claim stand up in court. The problem essentially is that there are two aspects to what Episcopalians understand as a "diocese": it is an entity that has a canonical status in the Church itself, and which is wholly apart from its legal status as an entity under a state's secular law. It is not possible to have one without the other, and still be a diocese of the Episcopal Church (USA).

A church itself has to have a legal existence, in order to be able to hold title to property and to have bank accounts, for one thing. In just the same way, a diocese has to have a legal existence as well. The flaw in ECUSA's theory in San Joaquin (as well as in Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and Quincy) is that an entity recognized as such in the law cannot be two entities at the same time, just as one person cannot be two people at the same time. Sam Jones, for example, may legally change his identity to Sam Smith, but the law will then cease to recognize Sam Smith as Sam Jones.

And that is just what happened when the dissenters from the vote in San Joaquin left and formed their own unincorporated association under California law, with its headquarters in Stockton. They were not the association who had held the vote, because that association continued to exist and to have its headquarters where they had always been---in Fresno. They were a new association in the eyes of the secular law. They cannot, in the eyes of California law, be the same association as the one that left.
Read it all here. We do hope that Bishop Lamb and the laity in Remain Episcopal who were drawn into the litigation by The Episcopal Church understand what they've been brought into and have received independent advice.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Part One: It's a Mystery!

This is first in a series of essays that explores how classic liturgy and real evangelical outreach may actually work together to bring non-believers to Christ. How does the journey challenge everything we thought we knew not only about evangelism, but about the role of liturgy as a tool for evangelism? Is such a thing possible? Really?

How is it that the liturgical form of worship is so intriguing? And daunting? If it breaks many of the evangelical rules for seeker sensitivity - and it does, it certainly does - then why hasn't it gone away after thousands years? What did the old guys know?

What can the evangelical commitment to bring the Gospel of Jesus to a new generation, an unchurched generation, bring to ancient liturgical worship? What happens when rooms full of seekers walk into a liturgical worship service? What do the people do? What do we do? What questions are raised not only with how we use liturgy for worship, but why? Are we ready to respond? Are we prepared? Do we know why it works?
Stepping through the Door

When I was an eighteen year old free-flowing evangelical, I walked into a liturgical Episcopal Church and wondered, now what in the world is going on here? How am I ever going to engage in this? Did I even want to?

Everything about me was strange, the prayers were formed, apparently out of a book, the clergy were dressed like Roman Catholics, the people kept jumping up, sitting down, and - heaven's to betsy - kneeling. A cross was processed in and then processed out. The choir was robed not once, but twice - with one solid red robe down past their knees and another white robe over that - as though at any minute they might just take flight.

There was a myriad of things going on - first the attention was at the front, somewhere near the bottom of the pulpit it seemed, than it moved over to a podium - a lectern - on the other side of the room, then the choir stood up and the choir sat down, then the preacher went into the pulpit up high, then another voice came from back over near the lectern, then everyone stood up and shook hands, and then finally the attention turned to the center with a lot of pronouncements and waving of hands.

Meanwhile, out in the congregation, the people stood up, they sat down, they stood up again, they sat down again, they knelt, they stood, they swapped howdies, they sat down, they knelt yet again - and then they left their pews and went forward.

There was no sawdust in the aisle. They just knew to do it, they knew when to do it, and they went, with ushers standing by, everyone, but for a stray here and there, went forward. A voice from somewhere up front said, if you've been baptized, then come. Well, okay.

Then more kneeling, and the bread went by, and the Common Cup (with real wine), and everyone knew what to do (and how to do it) and then the reverse, filing back orderly, nodding at friends, and then more kneeling and more sitting and standing and more hand waving, only this time from the congregation. Than the dismissal, and bowing, and hand waving, and a great recession out, with the robed ones, the ones in white, the clergy, the ones in red, the choir, and then the people, their voices filling the air in song.

And you could feel something, as though you'd just been to the best play of your life. And you got to be in it, too.

But you weren't the star. None of us were.

And then it was done.

I remember I had no idea what was going on. I thought the head pastor wrote the whole thing in his study, not just his sermon, mind you, but all those prayers, all those directions - week by week - and I imagined the rehearsals they must have all gone through, not just the clergy and the choir, obviously, but rehearsing all those people. When did they do it? How did they get everyone to come, to learn their parts, to know their cues, to follow-through as though it was written in their hearts? It was like a gigantic theatrical drama and everyone knew their parts - and played those parts as though their lives depended on it.

Which of course, in many ways, it did.

That was it. I was hooked.
Part Two of It's a Mystery! is entitled, Cue William Shakespeare. Stay tuned.

It seemed just like a regular day commuting at the Liverpool Street Station in London ...



Tip of the tinfoil to RB, who was exactly right.

But wait, there's more ...

From the Anglican Communion Institute:

Defenders of the Presiding Bishop are scrambling to re-interpret her extraordinary action of depriving a bishop of the Church of England of the gifts and authority conferred in his ordination and removing him from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church. For example, the group supporting the Presiding Bishop in Pittsburgh stated that “[t]his is a routine way of permitting Bishop Scriven to continue his ministry.” In the strange world of TEC, renunciation of orders has become a routine way of continuing one’s ministry.

But it is not routine. Indeed, it has not been used for those transferring from TEC to another province in the Anglican Communion until the Presiding Bishop began what resembles a scorched-earth approach to her opponents within TEC. Not surprisingly, in the past such matters have been handled by letter. One can see the evolution of the Presiding Bishop’s “routine” policy in the treatment of Bishop David Bena, who was transferred by letter by his diocesan bishop to the Church of Nigeria in February 2007. A month later, the Presiding Bishop wrote Bishop Bena and informed him that “by this action you are no longer a member of the House of Bishops” and that she had informed the Secretary of the House to remove him from the list of members. That was all that needed to be done. A year later, however, as her current strategy emerged, she suddenly declared in January 2008 that she had accepted Bishop Bena’s renunciation of orders using the canon she now uses against Bishop Scriven. In other words, if this is now sadly routine, it has only become routine in the past year.

Not only is this not routine, it was not necessary. As we pointed out in our original statement, Bishop Scriven ceased to be an Assistant Bishop in TEC and thereby ceased to be a member of TEC’s House of Bishops the moment Bishop Duncan was deposed. This was a constitutional disqualification imposed on Bishop Scriven by Article I.2 of TEC’s constitution. Canonically speaking, he ceased to be a bishop in TEC at that point. His original status as a bishop of the Church of England was not thereby affected, of course, and upon requesting and receiving an honorary role in the Diocese of Oxford that became his formal diocesan home. All that was necessary in January 2009 was for TEC to conform its records to this fact.

Most importantly, however, this action reflects profound confusion about the nature of TEC’s communion with other churches. In the past year, Bishop Steenson, Bishop Iker and now Bishop Scriven have been dealt with in precisely the same way. The implication of the back-pedaling on Bishop Scriven is that he remains a bishop (like the Archbishop of Canterbury) that TEC would welcome provided he had the right license. If that is all the Presiding Bishop accomplished with her solemn “Renunciation of Ordained Ministry and Declaration of Removal and Release,” she needn’t have bothered. She did not need to inform all the bishops of TEC that Bishop Scriven could act in their dioceses only with their license or permission. They already knew that. It is what Canon III.12.3(e) plainly requires (and required of Bishop Scriven even before the Presiding Bishop’s action).

And is this what she was trying to communicate with respect to Bishop Iker? That he remains a bishop of a church in communion with TEC, is no longer under inhibition or amenable to presentment for violations of the constitution and canons and is welcome to act in TEC provided he get the same license or permission of the diocese that is required of all TEC and communion bishops, including herself? One suspects not, but in that case, how can the very same action taken against Bishop Scriven be considered routine?

A major concern in all this is that a canon written with a catholic understanding of both the Church and Holy Orders is being handled in such a way that, in order to get a job done, the Presiding Bishop and her Council of Advice are creating a new functional/local definition of Holy Orders. To call this a minor alteration and something we should all understand under the rubric of ‘good housekeeping’ threatens to create yet a further mess, the net effect of which might well be to redefine American Anglicanism as an autonomous church with an autonomous understanding of Communion and Holy Orders both. Does the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church agree to this understanding? This is not an idle question precisely because the actions in respect of Bishop Scriven have, in the nature of the case, been acts of communication to the wider Communion about the character of Communion and Holy Orders as TEC presumes to understand them. One can rightly worry that the catholic character of our Anglican life and practice is now threatened by a desire to achieve an end, even if it means the conflating of very different cases so as to deploy a single canonical statute that was arguably never meant for any of them.

Read it all here. Andrew Carey now has an article up here. And drop by Anglican Curmudgeon for his analysis as well.

Fascinating Chart

From dshort.com. The author uses the Dow Crash of 1929, but the S&P 500 for the other selected bear markets. Is the blue going up - or is it going down? It is an interesting way to view the past with the current situation.

In this current situation, it might be good to feed the bears, if we just knew what they wanted for dinner. Right now it looks like TARP is on the menu.

Global Anglican Leaders gather in Egypt

Religious Intelligence reports:
The agenda for next week’s 2009 Primates’ Meeting will avoid taking action on the problems dividing the Anglican Communion, focusing its energies on discussion on how to discuss the conflicting truth claims within the church.

The Feb 1-5 meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria will open with a morning retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams followed by worship at St Mark’s pro-Cathedral. Business sessions will be interspersed over the week with worship and excursions to local sites, including the Alexandria School of Theology and the newly renovated Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

However it is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will survive unscathed. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania the primates rebelled, forcing the meeting to address the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

In organizing the agenda, Dr Williams solicited the views of his fellow archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators, asking what topics they wished to discuss. From these responses he developed a lesson plan that will include a session on global warming, international finance, co-ordination of development work among church agencies, and the Communion’s theological working group. Time has also been set aside for a discussion of the May agenda of ACC-14 in Kingston, Jamaica, the Anglican Covenant, and a presentation from the Windsor Continuation Group.

Five primates: Uganda, the Episcopal Church, Canada, Pakistan and South Africa have been asked to prepare briefings on issues facing their churches, while leaders of the Gafcon movement have been asked to present a paper on the third province movement in North America.

The primates come into the Alexandria meeting with some degree of bad feeling amongst themselves and with the leadership of Dr Williams. The Gafcon primates are seeking a mandate to create a third province in North America, while liberal leaders are adamantly opposed. Last week, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan told delegates to the Diocese of Virginia’s annual synod that he would vigorously oppose any plan for parallel jurisdictions, while earlier this month the Church of Nigeria’s bishops said their call for a new province was non-negotiable.

In his closing press conference on Aug 3 at the Lambeth Conference, Dr Williams told reporters there was a broad desire for a “season of gracious restraint” marked by abstentions from further gay bishops and blessings, and a halt to foreign incursions into the jurisdictions of the North American provinces.

“The pieces are on the board” for the resolution of the Anglican conflict, Dr Williams said at Lambeth, “and in the months ahead it will be important to invite those absent from Lambeth to be involved in these next stages.”

He also had promised that “within the next two months” a “clear and detailed specification for the task and composition of a Pastoral Forum” to support embattled traditionalists would be unveiled. So far, these promises have yet to be honoured, while litigation and canonical and ecclesial chaos grow within the North American churches.

Of the Communion’s 38 primates, two have written that they will be unable to attend the gathering: South India and Pakistan. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has been invited to attend the gathering by Dr Williams, while the deans or senior bishops of provinces currently without primates: the West Indies, Central Africa, and Melanesia, will represent those churches.
Read George Conger's article here.

Turning it all Upside Down



Tip of the tinfoil to MikeS.

Uh Oh ...



Despite the numbers released today on the GDP, it's not looking good. The song is Bob Dylan's Workingman's Blues, #2 off Modern Times (2006). We're convinced it's a bittersweet tribute to America. The voice is distinctly American, hardpressed, humbled, and bewildered, and yet, optimistic that around the bend it will be better - the real America.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

London Telegraph: "Traditional Anglicans 'to be offered personal prelature by Pope'"

Interesting speculation by Damian Thompson of the Telegraph regarding reports that the Pope may be preparing to recognize the Traditional Anglican Communion (with about a half a million members, including about 5,200 members in 100 parishes in the United States) and may offer "personal prelature" or a non-geographic diocese with a bishop to the breakaway group. The Telegraph speculates that "if this happens, Anglo-Catholics in the C of E [Church of England] will move to Rome in unprecedented numbers under a similar arrangement."

The American Catholic reports that "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) be offered the status of personal prelature. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions. They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007. "

The Record reports that "History may be in the making. It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church."

"Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years, The Record speculates. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines."

The Record goes on:

The TAC's case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church - as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches - but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.

Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.

Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

The TAC's Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC's bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.
Read it all here.

In the United States, according to Wiki, the Traditional Anglican Communion counts only 5,000 members (though there are other congregations that follow the Anglican Rite in the Roman Catholic Church). "The Anglican Church in America was created in 1991 following extensive negotiations between the Anglican Catholic Church and the American Episcopal Church," Wiki reports. "The effort was aimed at overcoming disunity in the Continuing Anglican movement. This was only partially successful. Most ACC parishes declined to enter the new ACA, resulting in a continuing existence for the ACC, while the remainder of its parishes and some of its bishops joined the AEC in forming the new church. In 1995, some parishes which had formerly been part of the AEC, primarily in the East and the Pacific Northwest, withdrew from the ACA and formed the Anglican Province of America under the leadership of Bishop Walter Grundorf."

The Anglican Province of America has been a member of the Common Cause Partnership, but last summer its Provincial Synod voted against officially joining Common Cause, taking a wait-and-see attitude as the Common Cause Partnership folds into the Anglican Church of North America, led by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop, the Rt. Rev'd Bob Duncan. However, the majority of the APA's Diocese of the West did vote in favor to join the Anglican Church of North America now. The Bishop Richard Boyce of the Diocese of the West "has moved to disaffiliate the twenty-three parish Diocese of the West from the Anglican Province of America so that it could affiliate instead with the Reformed Episcopal Church," which separated from The Episcopal Church in the 19th century. The Reformed Episcopal Church is a member of the Common Cause Partnership and is moving forward as well into the new Anglican Church in North America. The Anglican Church in North America is all ready recognized by a growing number of Anglican Primates in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

So what do we have? On one hand we have a potential new diocese being formed, the Traditional Anglican Communion under the authority of Benedict XVI for traditional Anglicans and Anglo Catholics to join who will be permitted to retain essential parts of the Anglican character but be united with Rome, while on the other hand we have a new province being born, the Anglican Church in North America, that seeks to keep Anglicans in the fold and remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Wonder what he thinks about all this?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

100,000 Anglicans are ‘Total Nonsense?’

From The Living Church:
The Primate of the Church in Wales will oppose any attempt to form a parallel Anglican jurisdiction when the primates of the Anglican Communion meet next week in Alexandria, Egypt. Leaders of the GAFCON movement, however, have pledged not to back down from their support of Bishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), setting up the potential for a clash of views when the primates meet.

On Jan. 24, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales told delegates attending the annual council meeting of the Diocese of Virginia he would oppose the creation of the ACNA with “every fiber of his body.” Another North American province was “total nonsense,” he said, according to a report by Anglican blogger Mary Ailes, but the archbishop conceded that his views were in the minority among primates.

The degree of support for the ACNA among the primates is uncertain, but a core group representing a near majority have given public and private assurances of support. On Dec. 5 five primates from the steering committee of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral telling him that Bishop Duncan and the ACNA had their full support.

The political strength of the GAFCON primates will be tested against Archbishop Morgan and supporters of The Episcopal Church. The proposed agenda, however, seeks to avoid a direct decision, calling for further dialogue on the issue of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of non-celibate homosexual clergy to the episcopate, and the violation of traditional diocesan boundaries by overseas bishops.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams solicited the views of his fellow primates in crafting an agenda that includes business sessions on global warming, international finance, coordination of development work among church agencies, and the Communion’s theological working group. Time has been set aside for a discussion of the agenda for the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, in May, the proposed Anglican Covenant, and a presentation from the Windsor Continuation Group.

It is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will go unchanged. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania, the primates insisted on confronting the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz said that he and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, along with the primates of Uganda, Pakistan and South Africa have been asked to prepare briefings on issues facing their churches around the issue of human sexuality. Leaders of the GAFCON movement also have been asked to present a paper on the third province movement in North America.

However, a spokesman for Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said he was unaware of any request by Archbishop Williams for him to prepare a reflection paper. The primates of Pakistan and South India previously notified Archbishop Williams that they would be unable to attend. The deans or senior bishops of provinces currently without primates—the West Indies, Central Africa, and Melanesia—will represent those churches.
Read it all here. More on the 100,000 Anglicans here.

The Living Church: Virginia Council - Bless Same-Sex Unions with Unauthorized Liturgies

From The Living Church:
The annual council of the Diocese of Virginia, meeting Jan. 23 in Reston, approved a six-week “listening process” on sexuality for 12 of its congregations.

A report by the diocese’s Windsor Dialogue Commission included two liturgies that provide pastoral blessings for same-sex couples. Another proposed rite celebrates friendship.

The report provides detailed instructions for the listening process, including a “facilitator’s script.” The report does not, however, explain what congregations are supposed to do with the proposed rites, which are not authorized but are nevertheless available.

“The majority of the group believes that the time is right for same-gender unions to be blessed, albeit [sic] the liturgies should not be authorized,” the report said.

“In discussion with Bishop Peter James Lee, the Windsor Dialogue Commission was invited to develop liturgical resources in making a pastoral response to the gay and lesbian community,” the report later added. “While we are limited by the [Windsor Report’s] moratorium from offering a Blessing of Same Sex Unions, we did want to offer liturgical resources that would recognize couples in committed relationships.”

Both rites recommend adapting prayers into what the report calls “The Holy Eucharist Rite Two in Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship.”

One proposed rite borrows concepts from a wedding, changing the vows into prayers of the people instead: “Bestow on N. and N. the grace to be faithful to each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health that they might love and cherish each other until they are parted by death.”

A second proposed rite simply incorporates the couple into one reference in the prayers of the people: “For the special needs and concerns of this congregation; For this couple that comes before us this day.”

Bishop Lee presented the names of the 12 congregations, which will work in pairs, to the commission. The commission instructs that the six pairs of congregations provide written reports before Easter. Another committee appointed by the Bishop will “evaluate the reports and determine next steps.”

Bishop Lee also told the council that he will retire earlier than previously announced as a cost-cutting measure.

Read it all here.

Mercy Me releases Finally Home

What will Canterbury do?

George Conger writes:
The Feb 1-5 meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria will open with a morning retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams followed by worship at St Mark’s pro-Cathedral. Business sessions will be interspersed over the week with worship and excursions to local sites, including the Alexandria School of Theology and the newly renovated Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

However it is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will survive unscathed. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania the primates rebelled, forcing the meeting to address the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

In organizing the agenda, Dr Williams solicited the views of his fellow archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators, asking what topics they wished to discuss. From these responses he developed a lesson plan that will include a session on global warming, international finance, co-ordination of development work among church agencies, and the Communion’s theological working group. Time has also been set aside for a discussion of the May agenda of ACC-14 in Kingston, Jamaica, the Anglican Covenant, and a presentation from the Windsor Continuation Group.

Five primates: Uganda, the Episcopal Church, Canada, Pakistan and South Africa have been asked to prepare briefings on issues facing their churches, while leaders of the Gafcon movement have been asked to present a paper on the third province movement in North America.

The primates come into the Alexandria meeting with some degree of bad feeling amongst themselves and with the leadership of Dr Williams. The Gafcon primates are seeking a mandate to create a third province in North America, while liberal leaders are adamantly opposed. Last week, we heard Rowan Williams successor, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan tell delegates to the Diocese of Virginia’s annual synod that he would vigorously oppose any plan for parallel jurisdictions, while earlier this month the Church of Nigeria’s bishops said their call for a new province was non-negotiable.
Read it all here.

Similar commentary has been heard in recent weeks, that the charm offensive has been underway since Lambeth to placate the Anglican primates into a non-active stupor. With Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's "defrocking" (for all intensive purposes) of a Church of England bishop this past week, one wonders if the primates are just going to gather to play a few rounds of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or if they are actually going to justify the enormous expense they are incurring in traveling to the Middle East in the middle of one of the greatest economic downturns in recent history.

We heard the Archbishop of Wales vow to oppose with every fiber of his body any conversation on the creation of a third province in North America, mostly motivated by what appeared to be his own selfish fears that it could happen to him too. There's a major lesson there, but to actually stop and consider that perhaps the "new and improved" progressive innovations being imposed on the North American provinces are actually having a devastating affect on its ability to grow (which the provinces haven't actually done in recent memory). If the North American provinces were businesses, they would be heading to Washington for a TARP handout.

One of the major pulls for leadership of the Anglican Communion is do they listen to their people or do they listen to the Establishment? The Anglican Communion is blue blooded, not particularly red and that fact can be quite enticing, as we saw in the lavish afters-party at Lambeth when the bishops marked against poverty and then followed it up with a five-star party and a visit to the Queen of England. Will this meeting in Alexandria just be an expensive junket, or will they actually grow up and be the leaders God has called them to be and do something constructive, rather than play their global game of Kick the Can?

Will the need to preserve a historic well-defined caste-system that wants to retain the trappings of a bygone Victorian era while infusing it with progressive western cultural innovations continue to strong-arm the Global South into compliance? Who doesn't want to be hip? Will we see the well-financed Episcopalians running this show in Alexandria (while the British charm offensive continues), as the majority of the Anglican Communion are swept aside in irrelevant silence?

Rowan Williams is deeply into his role now as Archbishop of Canterbury now. He was extremely effective at Lambeth in accomplishing what he set out to do, so much so that the Presiding Bishop stood with arms folded in defiance in the end. The staffers from bygone years are now gone. Who will the Episcopalians saddle up to now that Jim Rosenthal is gone? What sort of leverage does Katharine Jefferts Schori enjoy over the Archbishop of Canterbury, even now?

We will know not by what he says, but by what he does.

If the Episcopal Church - which has no intention of ever embracing an Anglican Covenant as it kicks that can down the road this summer - is able to come through this Primates Meeting unscathed then it will be obvious that Rowan Williams is under the authority of the Episcopal Church. Who can remove from ministry (i.e., defrock) a Church of England bishop and get away with it, except someone who has the power to do that without fear of reprisals? Rowan Williams made it clear he sees the Anglican Communion as the Church and we enjoy recognizing the orders of all our provinces as one church. How can one "primate" remove from ministry in a punitive fashion a bishop in from another province without their be consequences in the Church of England, where Rowan Williams is the Primate? Will there ever be any consequences to the actions of the Episcopal Church for the past five years?

Even the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is now circulating liturgies for same sex blessings - what more evidence does Canterbury need, unless he too agrees that this is the future for the Anglican Communion, to embrace the innovations of Western culture and impose those innovations on to the rest of the world?

He doesn't seem to me to be that sort of person, for he has appeared to be a man without guile - but this Primates Meeting will show us the truth.

Perhaps this is a good time to recall this historic event in Jerusalem.


One of the most inspiring stories - ever

Get out the box of Kleenex first.



Tip of the tinfoil to Chris Rothgeb.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Cafe: Send in the Clowns



Judi Dench's extraordinary interpretation of this song captures the moment perfectly.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop attempts to remove from ministry a bishop in the Church of England!

UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon is on it. Read his analysis here. And another update here.

Does it just get stranger and stranger? Here's commentary on Katharine Jefferts Schori's attempt to remove from ministry a bishop of - yes, indeed - the Church of England. From the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) via e-mail and from
here:
In recent months ACI has asked with increasing urgency whether the Presiding Bishop is willing and able to comply with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Her most recent canonical misadventure is purporting to remove from the ordained ministry a bishop in the Church of England canonically resident and working in England and subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her canonical overreaching has now extended into the heart of the Church of England, placing in serious question the extent to which the Presiding Bishop continues to perceive herself as in communion with that church and its primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On January 15, 2008, the Presiding Bishop purported to accept the “renunciation” of ordained ministry by Bishop Henry Scriven. It is now sadly evident that an actual renunciation is no longer a prerequisite for the Presiding Bishop’s “acceptance” of such an extraordinary action by a bishop of the church. In her zeal to remove from office those with whom she disagrees what started only two years ago as the canonically appropriate, if misguided, procedure of using presentments under the disciplinary canons of Title IV quickly evolved into abuse of the “abandonment of communion” canon in order to avoid the procedural protections afforded to those charged with presentment. But even the summary procedures of the abandonment canon require some process, including a vote in the House of Bishops by a majority of the bishops in TEC entitled to vote. The fact that she has been repeatedly unable to assemble such a majority has not stopped the Presiding Bishop from using this canon, most recently in the case of Bishop Duncan, who at the time he was purportedly deposed for “abandonment of communion” was still actively performing his duties as the Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. After her widely criticized handling of Bishop Duncan, however, the Presiding Bishop dispensed with canonical process altogether and since then has simply adopted the tactic of “accepting” renunciations that were never given. Bishops of the church are removed with nothing more than the stroke of a pen.

The Presiding Bishop’s problem in the case of Bishop Scriven, however, is that he was not in fact a “Bishop of this Church” as required by the canon the Presiding Bishop invoked when she purported to remove him from the ordained ministry and to pronounce him “deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations.” Those “Ordinations” of which she purports to deprive him were conferred on Bishop Scriven not by TEC but by the Church of England, including by the Archbishop of Canterbury personally. The Presiding Bishop has no authority to deprive him of the ministry conferred on him by his ordination in the Church of England.

Bishop Scriven was consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. He initially served as Suffragan Bishop in the Church of England’s Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. At the same time, he also served as Assisting Bishop in TEC, acting in that capacity for Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning in the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

In 2002, Bishop Scriven was again asked to serve as an Assistant Bishop in TEC, this time by Bishop Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Under the applicable canon, III.12.5, assistant bishops may be selected from among either “Bishops of this Church” or “Bishops of a Church in communion with this Church.” For bishops in the latter category, special procedures are followed, including obtaining the consent of the church in which the bishop was consecrated and the consents of the TEC House of Bishops. Notwithstanding his prior service as an assisting bishop in TEC, Bishop Scriven’s appointment in Pittsburgh was treated as falling in this latter category in recognition of the fact that he was a bishop of the Church of England. Approval from the Church of England was given personally by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Scriven served as Assistant Bishop in Pittsburgh until September 2008. Under Canon III.12.5(e), the tenure of an Assistant Bishop automatically ends when the tenure of the diocesan bishop under whom he serves ends. Thus, if the deposition of Bishop Duncan was legal, Bishop Scriven’s tenure as Assistant Bishop in Pittsburgh ended on September 19 , 2008, when the Presiding Bishop pronounced the sentence of deposition on Bishop Duncan. At that moment, Bishop Scriven ceased to be a bishop of TEC. The fact that his tenure as Assistant Bishop had been terminated was recognized both by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Bishop Scriven, and he ceased to serve as Assistant Bishop on September 19, 2008, and ceased to be a bishop of TEC at that time. At that point he became what the rules of the House of Bishops refer to as a bishop from another Church in the Anglican Communion who is resident in a TEC diocese. Under Article I.2 of TEC’s Constitution, Bishop Scriven was not eligible for membership in the House of Bishops at that point, no longer being an Assistant Bishop, but would have been eligible for membership as a collegial member or nonvoting member under the rules of the House of Bishops had he requested such membership and had it been approved by that House. Therefore, no action was required to remove him from the House of Bishops, certainly not the inappropriate action of purporting to remove him from the ordained ministry. He ceased to be a member of the House of Bishops on September 19, 2008, by operation of canon law.

To the extent Bishop Scriven continued to function in the Diocese of Pittsburgh it was with the permission of its ecclesiastical authority as a bishop consecrated by the Church of England canonically resident in another church. But on October 16, 2008, Bishop Scriven informed the Presiding Bishop, by letter copied to the Bishop of Oxford, that he was returning to the Church of England where he would become an Honorary Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Oxford and be subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford. The Presiding Bishop clearly acknowledged this fact in her letter of response, dated November 12, 2008: “I understand your request to resign as a member of the House of Bishops to mean that you will become a bishop of the Church of England, serving as assistant to the Bishop of Oxford.” Bishop Scriven has now resumed his residence in the Diocese of Oxford in the Church of England, where he is recognized as a bishop in good standing and has been asked to perform episcopal duties.

Notwithstanding these facts, on January 15, 2009, the Presiding Bishop purported to accept Bishop Scriven’s renunciation of his ministry “of this Church” and claimed to remove him from all ministry conferred in his “Ordinations.” Canon III.12.7, the canon under which the Presiding Bishop claimed to be acting, plainly applies only to a “Bishop of this Church.” The only way Bishop Scriven could have been a bishop of TEC on January 15 is if the deposition of Bishop Duncan were invalid. In such a case, Bishop Duncan would have continued to serve uninterrupted as Bishop of Pittsburgh and Bishop Scriven’s tenure as Assistant Bishop would not have ended by operation of Canon III.12.5(e). We doubt, however, that this is the theory under which the Presiding Bishop is operating.

Moreover, in addition to constituting an abuse of the canons, the Presiding Bishop’s action has profound consequences for TEC’s status as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and its communion with the Church of England. The Declaration of Removal and Release states categorically that Bishop Scriven “is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations.” Those ordinations occurred, of course, in the Church of England. On its face, this declaration appears to prohibit a bishop in good standing in the Church of England from acting sacramentally in TEC. Since the use of Canon III.12.7 carries with it a certification that the bishop is not in violation of the constitution and canons and is not taken for causes that affect moral character, Bishop Scriven in this regard stands in no different position than any other bishop in the Church of England. If Bishop Scriven is so barred, is not the Archbishop of Canterbury barred as well?

Defenders of the Presiding Bishop’s course of conduct attempt to soften the impact of these actions by claiming that all that is being done by these acceptances of “renunciation” is the removal of a license to act in TEC. But this is clearly erroneous. All bishops, including all TEC bishops, require a license to act outside the dioceses in which they are canonically resident. Indeed, the very canon the Presiding Bishop invokes in the case of Bishop Scriven provides that “No Bishop shall perform episcopal acts or officiate by preaching, ministering the sacraments, or holding any public service in a Diocese other than that in which the Bishop is canonically resident, without permission or a license to perform occasional public services from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in which the Bishop desires to officiate or perform episcopal acts.” (III.12.3(e).) If all the Presiding Bishop accomplished in her Declaration of Removal of Bishop Scriven was to inform all the bishops of TEC and the other authorities to whom the declaration was sent that Bishop Scriven needs permission or a license to act in their dioceses, it was a waste of time. That was as true on January 14 as it was the next day after the declaration was issued.

What the Presiding Bishop clearly intended was not this trivial notification, but the more significant one of barring Bishop Scriven from receiving any such permission. And the sole reason for that debarment is that he returned to the Church of England, the church of his ordination and consecration to the episcopate, where he is now a bishop in good standing. The Presiding Bishop treated his return to the Church of England in precisely the same manner she treated Bishop Steenson’s move to the Church of Rome. Does the Presiding Bishop draw no distinction between the two? Has the Presiding Bishop now broken communion with the Church of England?

Thus, it appears that the Presiding Bishop has attempted to remove from the ministry—or at a minimum, bar from TEC– a bishop of the Church of England who is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford and is working in England as director of a missionary society of the Church of England, the patron of which is the Archbishop of Canterbury. At this point, one must ask whether the Presiding Bishop is incapable of interpreting the canons or incapable instead of following them. Her abuse of the canons has now reached beyond TEC and into the Church of England itself.

We have called attention to the problems inherent in sloppy and inappropriate application of the canons and in serious departures from the Constitution of The Episcopal Church. In the case of Bishop Scriven we are witnessing a new problem: the knock-on effect of using canons for purposes for which they are not intended with the consequence of calling into question the very character of catholic life across provinces of our Anglican Communion. Perhaps this is the autonomous counterpart of the autonomous actions in respect of Gene Robinson. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, in seeking to deal with what is regarded as a problem within her own province, has so misused the canons that it is no longer clear if The Episcopal Church understands what ordination and interchangeability of ministry in a Communion entails. Has The Episcopal Church de facto ceased to view itself and its Constitution and Canons as meaningfully related to the life of catholic Anglicanism at the most basic level and instead sees them as laws governing (it might be hoped) a national denomination and really nothing more? If so, we call on those Bishops of TEC who wish this church to remain “a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the See of Canterbury” to call a halt to this conduct or to request that the Presiding Bishop clarify what her understanding is of the place of The Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion.
Read it all here. The original "story" from Bishop Schori's office is here. It opens with an amazing lie, which is just incredible that a Christian organization to publish such an untruth without further research (which tells us again that "Episcopal Life" is now a full-fledged flak organ. The article makes no mention that Bishop Scriven was consecrated a bishop by the former Archbishop of Canterbury and that he is now under the jurisdiction of the current Bishop of Oxford (Church of England). Is this bad research and faulty advice on the part of Bishop Schori's executive staff - or do they just no longer care? Whatever the case, it appears that the litigation is now driving the decision-making of Bishop Schori's office, while mere common sense flees.

WED. UPDATE: George Conger has reaction from Bishop Scriven here, including:
On Oct 16, Bishop Scriven wrote to Bishop Schori to inform her that he was returning to the Britain to take up the post of director of South American ministry for SAMS-CMS. Ordained in the Church of England, Bishop Scriven was consecrated in 1995 as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe by Archbishop George Carey. In 2002, Bishop Scriven became the Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church. Following Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan’s deposition from office as Bishop of Pittsburgh on Sept 19, Bishop Scriven’s position in the US church was terminated.

In his letter, Bishop Scriven informed Bishop Schori he was returning to the UK to take up the SAMS-CMS post and had been appointed an Honorary Assistant Bishop and would be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford.

In her response of Nov 12, Bishop Schori acknowledged that Bishop Scriven was now a Bishop of the Church of England, and said she would “release you from your orders in this Church” for reasons “not effecting moral character.” Bishop Schori added that she believed “that subtlety was lost on some of our Communion partners” over her understanding of canon law, as her action would not undo the “indelible” mark of ordination, but was a housekeeping action that would end his licence to serve in the US Church.

However, before Bishop Schori’s tenure as Presiding Bishop, bishops who left the US church to serve in other provinces were not released from their orders, but transferred to other churches.

The decision to deprive Bishop Scriven of his right to celebrate the gifts of ordination was an egregious violation of canon law, the Anglican Communion Institute said. “Her canonical over-reaching has now extended into the heart of the Church of England, placing in serious question the extent to which the Presiding Bishop continues to perceive herself as in communion with that church and its primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

From a canonical point of view, Bishop Scriven was not under the authority of the Episcopal Church when she released him from his orders, the ACI observed. And the ordinations “of which she purports to deprive him were conferred on Bishop Scriven not by TEC but by the Church of England, including by the Archbishop of Canterbury personally. The Presiding Bishop has no authority to deprive him of the ministry conferred on him by his ordination in the Church of England,” the group of Anglican scholars and canon lawyers argued.


Read it all here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A long walk through Georgetown ...

I took a long walk through Georgetown today to say good bye to a great friend, a mentor, someone who taught me about servant leadership by her example, by her life.

Earlier today I received word that, after years of a brave fight against cancer, the end is near and so I started walking from Dupont Circle, down M Street, up Wisconsin, across Reservoir, passing my parents' old high school and the neighborhood where my mother grew up, and then to Georgetown Hospital to say goodbye.

She was awake when I got there and we were able to share together for a little while and I prayed with her, not quite comprehending that this is farewell. I worked with her, for her, until she retired to spend time with her husband and her son and enjoy her life. Dedicated to her job, she was even more dedicated to her staff, a truly remarkable witness in this fast-paced and most often so self-centered world of Washington. Over the years, she's kept up with all of us, checking in, keep tabs, making sure. She encouraged me in my writing and even today asked me about the writing. And always the hostess, she talked with me as though I had just dropped by for tea. Even to the end, she thinks about others, including her son and her husband.

As I left Georgetown Hospital for another long walk through Georgetown and back to Dupont Circle, this song came up on the iPod and so here it is. One of the last things she said to me was "we will talk again," and looked me straight in the eye. Yes we will, to God be the glory.

Proposed Liturgies for Same Sex Blessings in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Here are the two same sex blessing liturgies that will be officially circulated to the laity and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia following the actions of Annual Council last weekend. You can read original report of the "Windsor Dialogue Commission" posted at the diocesan website.
LITURGY – IN THANKSGIVING FOR A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP

The Holy Eucharist Rite Two

In Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship I

“Of the six forms provided (BCP pp. 383-393), none are required. Any of them may be used or adapted to the occasion. They may also be replaced by other forms. All that is required is that the topics listed at the top of page 383 be included in the prayers” (Enriching Our Worship, 54). This collect, suggested readings, and prayers of the people are intended to be used with the Book of Common Prayer’s Rite II Eucharist.

The Collect of the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, especially N. and N., that in their lives and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Suggested readings are:

Ruth 1:16-17
1 Samuel 18 1, 3; 191b; 20:16-17, 41-42
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Colossians 3:12-17
Suggested readings from the Gospel are:

John 15:9-12
Matthew 5:13-16

Prayers of the People

The couple desiring to make a statement of commitment comes forward at the invitation of the celebrant. Standing before the congregation, the two persons read a prayer or prayers asking for God’s grace and committing themselves to support and care for one another. It is essential that the persons seeking to make the statement of commitment prepare their petitions in advance, in consultation with the celebrant. Their prayers may be read jointly or alternatively, and be in the form either of a single petition or a series of versicles and responses. The prayers should include a request for God’s grace and assistance.

Let us pray for N. and N. who come before this community today to give thanks for the
grace of companionship and to make a covenant to live together in faithfulness and love.

Grant, O Lord, that N. and N. be sheltered under your wing, welcomed as your own flock,
and serve the Church together to your glory.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


Bestow on N. and N. the grace to be faithful to each other for better or worse, for richer or
poorer, in sickness and in health that they might love and cherish each other until they are
parted by death.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Grant them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be
to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a
companion in joy.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault,
and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Make their home a place of refuge for those in fear, a place of hospitality for those in
need, and a place of renewal for those who are weary.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

May their lives together be lives of service and prayer for their neighbors, their nation,
and the world that their ministry may be a sign of God’s mercy in this troubled world.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for those who have died in hope of the resurrection, [including
______who were loved by N. and N.] May we share with all your saints in the eternal
kingdom.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one
to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will
may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son and the Holy
Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and forever.

Amen.

Before the exchange of the Peace, members of the congregation may come forward and lay hands upon the couple. The service continues with the exchanging of the Peace. At the Offertory, it is appropriate that the bread and wine be presented to the ministers by the couple that has made the statement of commitment.
====

38
The Holy Eucharist Rite Two In Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship II

“Of the six forms provided (BCP pp. 383-393), none are required. Any of them may be used or adapted to the occasion. They may also be replaced by other forms. All that is required is that the topics listed at the top of page 383 be included in the prayers” (Enriching Our Worship, 54). The following form is provided for congregations that wish to include prayers for a same-sex couple among the Prayers of the People at the Eucharist. It is based on Form VI of the Prayer of the people, Prayers and Thanksgivings (BCP pp. 810-41), and the Form of Commitment to Christian Service (BCP pp. 420-21). It may be further adapted.
The Leader and People pray responsively.

In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.

Silence

For all people in their daily life and work;
For our families, friends, and neighbors, and for those who are alone.

For this community, the nation, and the world;
For the victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression.

For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
For those who minister to the sick, the friendless, and the needy.

For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
For all who proclaim the Gospel, and all who seek the Truth.

For all bishops and other ministers;
For all who serve God in his Church.

For those who have died;
For the grace to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of your heavenly kingdom.

For the special needs and concerns of this congregation;
For this couple that comes before us this day.

For all the blessings of this life;
For family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

The couple desiring to make a statement of commitment comes forward at the invitation of the celebrant.

Standing before the congregation, the two persons read a prayer or prayers asking for God’s grace and committing themselves to support and care for one another.

It is essential that the persons seeking to make the statement of commitment prepare their petitions in advance, in consultation with the celebrant. Their prayers may be read jointly or alternatively, and be in the form either of a single petition or a series of versicles and responses. The prayers should include a request for God’s grace and assistance.

At the conclusion of the prayers the celebrant says the following prayer:

For those we Love
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer may also be added:

For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look
with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and
work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly
throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Peace

The celebrant may then say to the people

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

At the Offertory, it is appropriate that the bread and wine be presented to the ministers by the couple that has made the statement of commitment.


Read it all here, starting on page 35.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Night at the Cafe: Saving Grace



If You find it in Your heart, can I be forgiven?
Guess I owe You some kind of apology.
I've escaped death so many times, I know I'm only living
By the saving grace that's over me.

By this time I'd-a thought I would be sleeping
In a pine box for all eternity.
My faith keeps me alive, but I still be weeping
For the saving grace that's over me.

Well, the death of life, then come the resurrection,
Wherever I am welcome is where I'll be.
I put all my confidence in Him, my sole protection
Is the saving grace that's over me.

Well, the devil's shining light, it can be most blinding,
But to search for love, that ain't no more than vanity.
As I look around this world all that I'm finding
Is the saving grace that's over me.

The wicked know no peace and you just can't fake it,
There's only one road and it leads to Calvary.
It gets discouraging at times, but I know I'll make it
By the saving grace that's over me.


-B. Dylan


Tip of the tinfoil to RWB.