Friday, February 26, 2010

Bob Dylan awarded National Medal of Arts

From here:

President Barack Obama honored actor and director Clint Eastwood and singer Bob Dylan with arts and humanities awards Thursday.

The White House called Dylan "an icon of youthful rebellion and poetic sensitivity" and said Eastwood's films and performances are "essays in individuality, hard truths and the essence of what it means to be American."

"Obviously, their careers have helped to mark the landscape of American culture for decades," Obama said noting their absence from the East Room ceremony.

Read it all here and here. We've also learned from RWB that Dylan did not spend much time hanging out the White House the day he performed Times They Are a-Changin' and left right after his performance before the show was even over. I still think Must be Santa is all about Big Government in Washington, but that's just me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Potter Watch: Actress who portrays Bellatrix Lestrange gives us the scoop on upcoming films

As many of you know, the last of the Harry Potter books to be filmed will actually be done as two movies - one released later this year in November and the second half in July 2011. One of the big mysteries is "where is the film going to be split?" This interview with actress Helena Bonham Carter, who portrays the wicked Bellatrix Lestrange, give us the scoop and it appears that the split may be when Harry, Hermione, and Ron are captured by the Snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manner. That would be an excellent place to split the film - a natural cliffhanger. And the final film would open up at one of the most dramatic scenes in the book. Only nine months until we find out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Farewell Gary Jaskulski

Gary Jaskulski was my choir director at Truro. He did the impossible job of following the legendary George Mims - and he did it well, very well. When Gary first visited Truro, I recall he was not looking forward to the drums that is an integral part of our Sunday morning Eucharistic worship. But that all changed when he met our drummer, National Symphony Orchestra percussionist Joe Connell. In fact, they forged such a strong friendship that it was during Gary's tenure at Truro that Joe was baptized. His sponsors were Gary and Marilee and the entire Truro Choir.

Another early highlight of Gary's time at Truro was that he was sent up to Boston to be mentored and trained by the another great legend in the Episcopal Church, Horace Boyer. As I also recall, Gary spent a week training with Horace, re-learning how to play and lead American gospel music. That time forged a very strong between these two perhaps unlikely kindred spirits. But God is like that.

And now Gary has gone for a very early Easter. In this Lent we will sing Hallelujah. And somewhere, where they see now face to face, Gary and Horace shout their Hallelujahs!

Hallelujah, Christ is Risen. Go in glory, dearest Gary - who taught not only a widely suburban parish to sing a blend from Fauré to Townend and and sing it well (he was stickler for the clear sound of plain song - no wiggling!), but also sweet southern Gospel and the blues. Farewell Gary - you fought the fight, you finished the race, you kept the faith. To God be the glory.

From here:
Gary M. Jaskulski, music and choir director emeritus of St. Joseph Church, Sylvania, who began to play the organ in church after one lesson at age 12, died Wednesday in his Sylvania home of pancreatic cancer. He was 50.

He had cancer nearly two years. His wife, Merrilee, assumed his duties in June.
During a concert in December to dedicate the church's refurbished organ, he played piano and his wife played organ.

"He was the driving force in getting the St. Joe's community to raise the funds" for the organ, said Kay Bahna, a parishioner and choir member. "It was unbelievable, because he had been very sick, but it was like God gave him the strength to be there and do this. It was a beautiful concert."
As choir director, he was particular about the music and about how each word was sung.
"He tried to bring out the best in us," Mrs. Bahna said. "He taught us things about choral singing we hadn't seen before."

His wife added: "He was very serious about taking care of the people as well as demanding the best from them."

But he wasn't harsh.

"He had wonderful, funny stories about the places he had been and some of the ministers and other choirs," Mrs. Bahna recalled.

Mr. Jaskulski arrived at St. Joseph in 2006. In his career, he played organ at churches in six states.

"He firmly believed the music was a ministry and not a performance, and it was about the people, not the music," his wife said, "and it was the music that helped lead the people into worship.

"He was kind of a pied piper," his wife said. "Everywhere he went, the [music] program grew exponentially. People caught the bug when they saw his enthusiasm for what music could do to the worship at the church. People would look at him and wonder how he did it and still not know. He had a charisma."

Born Sept. 12, 1959, Mr. Jaskulski was 12 when he had that first organ lesson that inspired his life's work. Afterward, he starting playing organ in his grandparents' church at 12 in Tariffville, Conn. He was paid $5 a Mass.

He was a 1978 graduate of East Granby, Conn., High School. He had bachelor's and master's degrees in liturgical music from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.

"Church music was all he was ever interested in," his wife said.

He was fond of the traditional Anglican style of organ, especially early on. He studied the Gospel music of the black church with a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

He had posts at Episcopal churches in Winter Park, Fla.; Mobile, Ala., and Fairfax, Va., and a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania. He also worked at an Episcopal boarding school in Rhode Island and taught at the University of Central Florida.

"He found his niche in Sylvania, Ohio," his wife said. "We moved and moved, and there was a lot of growth in there."

He grew spiritually, realizing "that his style of music and the teachings of the Catholic Church were what he believed in," his wife said.

Surviving are his wife, Merrilee, whom he married July 22, 1983; daughter, Catherine; son, Christian, and parents, Barbara and Theodore Jaskulski.

The body will be in the Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe after 2 p.m. Thursday, with a Scripture service at 7 p.m. Thursday in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Church, where the body will be after 9 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the organ fund at St. Joseph.
Read it all here.

Worship Leader Jamie Brown movingly writes of Gary here. Here's an excerpt:

One of the first people I met at Truro was a man named Gary Jaskulski. He was the Director of Music and Arts and led a music program that was like none I had ever seen in my limited Episcopal (at that time) experience. After an opening hymn with organ, full choir, strings, brass, and timpani, they segued into the Gloria, still with the organ, full choir, and strings, but now with piano, guitars, drum set, and the pastor (now my bishop) playing his tambourine and shaking his hips. They actually attempted to do “blended” music, as in, do all kinds of styles of music in one service, and they actually pulled it off pretty well.

It wasn’t long until he cornered me after church and asked me to come by his office later in the week, with my shiny new Taylor, and audition. I wasn’t quite sure what to think – I was used to playing contemporary music with four or five chords, had never worn a choir robe in my life, and had never auditioned for anyone! A few days later I came by his office, we played and sang through a few songs together, and he asked me to play guitar on Sunday mornings. And I had to wear a choir robe.

So for several years I came every Sunday morning and played guitar at Truro Church under Gary’s leadership. It was just what I needed.

It was a place for me to grow and mature as a guitarist. Many Sundays he would put music in front of me with no guitar chords at all. Just a treble clef and a bass clef. I had to figure them out on my own. And many of these songs had more chords than I had ever seen in one song.

It was a place for me to grow in my love for more traditional forms of music. Up until coming to Truro, I might have sneered at what I thought was the irrelevancy of the organ. Now I got to sit under it every Sunday, hear Gary play it with amazing skill, and experience the grandeur of such a beautiful instrument.

It was a place for me to learn how to be comfortable with spontaneity. If Gary wanted me to take a verse of a song, he would just point at me about two measures before the verse started. I had to learn to watch him, to be ready, to be comfortable with making mistakes, and to rehearse just in case I got called on.

It was a place for me to experience multiple styles of music being employed in one service with excellence, humility, and joy. Gary was just as comfortable letting the organ soar on “Glory Be to Jesus” as he was playing gospel-style piano on “Soon and Very Soon”. He loved playing glissandos.

I had no idea when I first arrived at Truro and met Gary what a difference he would make to me as a worship leader and musician. I still try to emulate him on the piano. I’ll probably never come close. He was that good.

But after a year or two of playing under Gary’s leadership, I remember asking myself: “what is it that is so unique about how Gary leads?” I realized what it was. I never left a service thinking about how skilled an organist, pianist, or choir director Gary was. I left more aware of how great God is.

Today Gary stepped into the presence of that great God, after a long battle with cancer. His wife Merillee, son Christian, and daughter Catherine were by his side as he breathed his last breath.

I’m confident that there are pipe organs and pianos in heaven that we cannot even begin to imagine. It won’t be long until Gary has found one of them and is playing and singing “Glory Be to Jesus” with the saints and the angels joining in and falling on their faces in worship.

Gary, I thank God for you, your life, your ministry, and your contagious passion for his glory. Now you get to experience that glory in all its fullness. Enjoy your new robe.
Read it all here.

Another tribute has been written by Alan Bonsall of Truro Church. Here is an excerpt:

I first became acquainted with Gary in an unusual way: Many years ago I visited a church in Connecticut for a Christmas Eve service. Gary was the music director at the time, but I didn’t even notice him, much less meet him or remember his name. As I left the service, I only had one thought: how could a little country parish have such an excellent-sounding choir? The mystery stayed with me for a long time, and quite a few years later while I was serving on the search committee for a new music director at Truro, Gary submitted his resume. He found us! We had never met before he came to Truro, but we quickly became good friends.

Gary had some unusual gifts. His wife Merrilee, calls it the “Pied Piper effect,” and I agree. He was very soft-spoken, but somehow people just wanted to be around him. He was a great story-teller, and he always told side-splitting stories of his experiences in the music ministry wherever he served. He was the most persuasive person I’ve ever met. About two years ago at his parish in Ohio, he was busy raising funds to rebuild the pipe organ. When he showed me his plans I said, ”Gary, you have a perfectly fine organ here already! How can you convince a whole congregation that they need a new one?” He just smiled and said, ”I have my ways…” And the new organ was completed just about a year ago.

During his time at Truro,the Parish Choir did achieve new heights. Under Gary’s leadership, we were able to acquire section leaders, we learned new music, and we even learned how to sing gospel music, thanks to all the time Gary was able to spend with Horace Boyer. But Gary’s stronger passion was leading the children’s music ministry, with the Royal School of Church Music training program. He said that teaching good music for the church was important, but what he really wanted to do was give them great memories. While serving on the organ committee with Gary, I was really able to appreciate his superlative talent as an organist, which was his true passion. Because of the work of the organ committee at the time, I travelled with Gary around the country while he played and evaluated different types of pipe organs. I really had no idea of his skill until then, but I wished that all Truro parishioners could have heard him play some great pipe organs. With bachelors and masters degrees in organ performance, he had performed many recitals and he taught lots of young organists.

For his whole life, Gary was singularly dedicated to serving the Church and inspiring her people through the gift of music. From his first position as a church musician at age seventeen to his last at a large parish in Ohio, he taught, led, and worshipped with thousands of people who will greatly miss him. So at least for now, we must say goodbye and “well done” to a great servant of the Church.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Presiding Bishop holds a press conference

Katharine Jefferts Schori held a press conference today with Bonnie Anderson of the House of Deputies and the majority of the questions had to do with just one subject - her apparent threat to sue the bishop of South Carolina if he doesn't sue parishes who may separate from The Episcopal Church. Here's an excerpt:

Cherie Wetzel , The Anglican Voice: For the Presiding Bishop, Can you explain why Bishop Mark Lawrence’s decision to postpone the diocesan convention in order to respond to the attorney’s request, generated your extensive report to the Executive Council on South Carolina last Friday?

PB: I wanted the Executive Council to be aware of it.


Doug LeBlanc, The Living Church: In the ENS (Episcopal News Service) report on Friday, you indicated that the PB spoke about the situation in South Carolina, asking people pray for the people in SC. What change do you hope to see as a result of those prayers?

PB: I want a clear understanding of realities of TEC and don’t want the people of South Carolina to rely on erroneous information, provided by other sources.

Bonnie Anderson: Have heard from several of the deputies from south Carolina. They have a desire for clear and accurate information; prayer all across the church for this situation.


Mary Ann Moehler for Virtueonline: TEC has gone after traditionalists with a vengeance. Now you are going after South Carolina. What do you hope to gain doing this?

PB: Episcopalians in SC have expressed concern to my office about those who have left diocese or are contemplating doing so and continued to exercise control over Episcopal assets. That is my primary concern.


George Conger, reporter at large: to the PB and President: You both expressed receiving erroneous information in SC. What is this erroneous information? Where did it come from?

PB: Episcopalians, like many others who use the internet, seek information that is not subject to peer review [Ed. Note: as information is in academic circles.] They rely on opinion, not fact. The South Carolina representation of our theology and polity as a whole is not accurate. There are stated processes of this Church that are not accurate. I would encourage South Carolinians to ask bodies of TEC that are responsible for these decisions and get their facts straight.

Read it all here at AnglicansUnited. Tip of the Tinfoil to Kendall Harmon at T19.

Live from Anglican 1000

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) presents the Anglican 1000 Conference on church planting live from Plano, Texas.

Donate early and often to Anglican TV!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Diocese of Virginia nervous over drop in pledges as litigation costs continue to mount; plans to sell church properties if they win in Supreme Court

Once again he's on the beat. Report from Intrepid:
(1) Donald Cady of the Executive Board reported on the "litigation against those who have tried to appropriate Episcopal Church property" and stated that the Diocesan staff had "made prudent use of the line of credit." I'm not entirely sure what that means, and of course there was no time to ask.

Things at a Diocesan Council meeting in Virginia are tightly controlled. Mr. Cady explained in rather optimistic terms that the "line of credit will be retired at an appropriate time when sale of unconsecrated property takes place", all based on a change in the market when such properties will be more valuable. Perhaps we could call this the "new property for old" program.

I must say I have been severely tempted to ask for an addition to the budget of a line item for say $250,000 to cover the utility and property management costs for maintaining the properties at Truro and Falls Church, among others, should the Diocese actually win the court cases and regain the property. One does wonder if they know how they will pay the bills on such large properties with no congregations to maintain them.

Mr. Cady then said they were working hard to "minimize ongoing litigation costs on the program of the diocese" and wanted to stress in no uncertain terms that "parish pledges have not and will not be used to underwrite litigation costs." Phew, that's a relief. Though again I admit this last line sounds a bit odd when you consider how strongly the Diocese has made the case that we must protect the legacy of faith in these buildings, or something like that. It's clear that while someone at high levels believes litigation to be very important, there must be enough others in local churches who believe using pledges for litigation is a bad idea. And you know, pledges to the diocese from parishes are at a very low point, making the Diocese of Virginia one of the lowest rates of parish support in the country. Go figure.

(2) Bishop Jones gave a short address in which he mentioned that there have been hurt feelings and "issues" around the younger congregations that left the church but that we need to stay faithful nonetheless to the Great Commission. He devoted a large part of his address to encouraging delegates to Council to return to their parishes and explain to their Vestries how important the Diocese is, especially when budgets are being discussed. The lack of funding coming into the Diocese seems to have everyone nervous.

(3) Various resolutions had the usual attention to a word or phrase here or there that needed to be changed for reasons more apparent to those discussing them than to the rest of us. Do any of these resolutions telling us to work for peace and to pray for something or other make a difference in the long run? It seems to this observer that resolutions at Diocesan Council are a lot like smoking a pipe ... in the way in which Anna Russell described it when explaining how to play a bagpipe ... there's simply more fiddling with it than actually using it. You know, this report is simply not all that interesting, because what we did wasn't very interesting. The normal suspects were walking about huffing and puffing or saying the sky was falling, but on the whole it was procedurely boring and theologically bankrupt.

Which brings us to the great annual boondoggle that appears at every Diocesan Council when the Rev. James Papille and the good folk over at St. Anne's, Reston lead the charge for an extreme makeover of procedures and teachings around sexuality.

This year there was a large-scale revision of the motions originally presented at the Council meeting in Richmond. Due to a major snowstorm the Council reconvened weeks later with something totally new, written by the Resolutions Committee. It seems to have magically appeared from who knows where. I can understand why the authors of the original motions were not amused.The substitute resolution looked, sounded and proposed very little of what the originals had wanted. This lead to a lively discussion for the better part of an hour on the floor of Council. One side wanted to return to the original, carefully worded resolutions that asked the Council to state their support for what amounts to rewriting all of the sexual teachings of the church ... from how we handle same-sex blessings, to ordination, and employment issues. The focus was to get the house to show their desire to support these issues.

Those supporting the original motions seemed to fail to see the irony of their position, as so often happens in these situations. In order to get a resolution to show we are tolerant of alternative lifestyles, there was a desire to pass a resolution by majority vote and then explain that the Council and the diocese support this decision, which makes it sound like all of us were united in the position. We're not. And the rush to be able to say the Diocese officially supports something seems like an intolerant position to take towards those of us who do not have the votes in our favor any longer.

Well, the original motions failed to gather the needed support. The substitute resolution was a totally different thing, proposing that the Bishop empanel a group to determine consistent policies for implementing same sex blessings if (but more likely when) the bishop approved them. (Note: He's on record as saying he personally approves of blessings, and of the ordination of people in same sex relationships). Since this substitute was a narrower thing than the original resolutions, that made for some fuss. Personally I found the new resolution to be very odd. It asked for the group to be made up of lawyers and canonical scholars (who?) who would determine such things as the degree of kinship allowable in same sex blesisngs, how economic issues would be resolved in case of dissolution of the relationships, whether testing for health conditions should be mandated and whether clergy would be allowed to have the choice of whether or not to officiate without penalty. Scary stuff ... to think we should have a group discussing whether half brothers can have their sexual relationship blessed by the church, or whether we should limit things to first cousins, or second?

Who died and put us in charge of this stuff? Whoever it was, I am sure it wasn't Jesus.

In the end, the attempt to get the original resolutions considered again failed. By that time people were so tired of the discussion we moved and passed the substitute resolution so we could all go home. Well, not me, I voted against that one too, but you get a feel for how things are going after listening to the debate.

So once again we have asked for some group to study something and report back. A friend in my parish who is a systems analyst has asked what we expect to know differently after another year of study. Is any new data going to come forward? If not then what, he asked me, are we waiting for? Oh but I know that answer. It's in the Bible. We're waiting for enough people to die off, wander off, or just get so tired of things that the votes start going the way they are supposed to go. Then we can enter the new and improved promised land. Until then, we can look forward to at least one more year of studies and reports and another fine debate brought to us at next year's Annual Council. Mark your calendars now and make your reservations for a room in Reston. You won't want to miss the next thrilling episode of "As the Diocese Spins".
Intrepid is a member of the Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Church Insurance Company reports: Three Episcopal Churches close each month - church buildings falling into disrepair

The Episcopal Church Building Fund is apparently reading the writing on the wall. So if TEC can't afford what it all ready has (the Church Insurance Company is reporting that three congregations are closing their doors for good every month!), what in tarnation is it doing engaging in lawsuits for? Has the Diocese of Virginia considered if they can even afford the upkeep of the churches they are suing? The snow removal bills alone were a whopper!

From The Episcopal Church Building Fund:

As dioceses and parishes struggle with spiraling costs and shrinking budgets, our most significant physical assets - our buildings - are in serious disrepair. Crumbling buildings are in many cases the single biggest barrier to mission and ministry. According to the Church Insurance Company, every month more than three congregations close their doors for good.

This alarming situation threatens the health and life of the Episcopal Church. The raft of complex financial, pastoral, and historical issues surrounding our buildings has made this a problem easier to ignore than to address.

An upcoming symposium hosted by the Episcopal Church Building Fund will equip church leaders to solve this problem in ways that make both financial and pastoral sense, empowering the church to shift its focus to the vitality of its ministry.

The symposium will take place April 7, 2010 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Register for the symposium or view the program description. Limited scholarship funds are available for travel and registration.

Speakers include church leaders who are confronting and negotiating these struggles in their own dioceses and communities, and who will share creative and successful models. Topics include how and why to face the reality that a parish or diocese is in decline; how environmentally sensitive attention to church buildings can save money; and Emergence church models that de-emphasize buildings.

The Building Fund is uniquely positioned to help dioceses to recast their physical assets by evaluating troubled situations, working with congregations on re-imagining their use of space, bringing them insight into collaborative initiatives, best practices, and a community-wide vision. The Building Fund is committed to good stewardship, sustainability, and results.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcome to the 4th Annual CafeAnonsBall!

Yes, friends - it's that time again! This is the night that we celebrate all of you who drop by, drop in, and drop out of the cafe all year long and we never learn your name. Good news? At least two folks know who you are - God, of course, and you. You know who you are and tonight we celebrate you, our beloved anons - for all they say, for all they don't say, for having their say, and sometimes, having their cake and eating it too.

Here are links to CafeAnonsBall's Past:

And speaking of cake, here is the official CafeAnonsBall Cake:

And here's our first dedication tonight - this is for all of you fabulous Cafe anons, you know who you are:

Of course, we have the special Pancake Fest tonight, the one bit of food that we allow all our anons and non-anons to throw when things become a bit dicey.

Pancakes are being whipped up in the cafe kitchen as we speak and will be served hot with butter and syrup, or as BabyBlue likes them with chocolate chip embeded in them and served without adornment.

Bette's Oceanview Diner, 1807 Fourth St. (between Virginia Street and Hearst Avenue), Berkeley, CA; (510) 644-3230. Open daily for breakfast and lunch.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Choice of berries, sliced bananas, raisins or chopped toasted nuts (optional)
Oil for griddle

The ingredients. The baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk work together to make these the lightest pancakes possible. -- Stirring the batter. The batter begins to react the minute the wet ingredients are added. Stir quickly and don't overstir; there should still be lumps in the batter.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the eggs with the buttermilk, milk and melted butter.

Just before you are ready to make the pancakes, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just long enough to blend. The batter should be slightly lumpy. If you want to add fruit or nuts, stir them in now, or you may sprinkle them on the pancakes while they are on the griddle. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat (375 degrees on an electric griddle). Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle or skillet, spacing the pancakes apart so they do not run together.

When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes and the undersides are lightly browned, turn and cook for about 2 minutes longer, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Serve immediately on warmed plates with the topping of your choice.

It's time now to check in with the Anon Capital of the World - Bourbon Street in New Orleans. You can watch all the festivities - for better or worse - here at the live Bourbon Street Cam. It comes with audio as well, for better or worse. We recall being there on Bourbon Street when the House of Bishops met in New Orleans in 2007. Fun times.

Of course, we cannot celebrate at the Cafe without hearing from Bob. So here's a song off his summertime album, Together Through Life. It's called, It's All Good. heh.

So I've been thinking about some songs to dedicate to the Cafe Anons. In the past, we've had this:

Again, as last year, Firefox loads the tunes very slowly, though it comes right up on Safari.

So for this year, here are some tunes that we send out with shout-out to all are beloved anons. We are better because you take the time to post and for the most part - most of you post well. These tunes are for you:

Good night.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Report from the Church of England Synod

Dr. Michael Howell, who was one of the invited representatives to the Church of England General Synod for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has written a short report on yesterday's vote to affirm the ACNA. Here is an excerpt:
I stand in full agreement with those who take this as a very positive outcome ... I would also point out that the amended resolution even goes a step further than Lorna’s original text, by commending the CoE to work with the Communion’s instruments on the matter of ACNA membership.

After Bp. Harvey, Fr. (Tory) Baucum, Cynthia (Brust) and I gave our presentations at Tuesday’s luncheon, two things were very clear:

1) There are many (non-radical) CoE members who still have doubts that the atrocities of TEC and the ACoC are real. It’s just very hard for them to believe that “churches” could disregard proper procedure and behave in such a manner.

2) Our presentations had a VERY positive impact on many delegates who had previously thought the ACNA was nothing more than bunch of “homophobic schismatics,” who did not want to play by the “rules,” and were simply looking to rejoin “the club” for ulterior motives. Time and time again, delegates approached me and told me that after listening to us, they had to do a complete 180 degree turn on their previously-held opinions. Our strongest allies in the General Synod felt that this was a major reason why the (albeit) revised resolution passed by such an overwhelming majority.
Read it all here at SF. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church sues again - what the Archbishop of Canterbury described this week as "vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation" goes on. And it seems as though England now gets it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina postpones Diocesan Convention

The Bishop of South Carolina has released an important pastoral letter which outlines reasons why he had to take action to postpone the annual Diocesan Convention. From the vantage point of Virginia, it shine fascinating light on why, after the Virginia churches voted to separate, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia suddenly left the negotiating table to pursue litigation. As Kendall says, read it carefully, and read it all.

The Bishop of South Carolina's "important pastoral letter" is here.

Rowan Williams was not kidding when he rhetorically inquired of the Church of England Synod yesterday regarding the actions of litigious divisions in the Episcopal Church, "What are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?"

It seems clear that Bishop Mark Lawrence has been pursuing, as Bishop Peter Lee did briefly before him, another "vehicle" and The Episcopal Church is taking steps to intervene with litigation. Now is the time to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina.

BREAKING NEWS: Church of England "recognizes" and "affirms" ACNA's desire to "remain" in the Anglican Communion

The most fantastic news. Today the Church of England Synod recognizes and affirms that the ACNA wants to remain in the Anglican Communion. It provides a process forward.

That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada,

“(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and

(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.”

The key words here are "recognize" and "affirm" and "remain." It puts forward a process as the Archbishop of Canterbury requested yesterday and it has a target date for a report for the next steps. This is the most excellent news. It really laid the line where we go from here - the whole thing could have been voted down and that would have been devastating for the ACNA.

It took amazing faith and guts for the Church of England to go forward and I am at this moment blown away by this news - I look outside at the snow right now and I am just blown away.

Peter Ould in the Church of England writes,

"There’s no other way to read this motion except that the Synod of the Church of England is fully in line with the desire of ACNA to be part of the Communion, and recognising that this stance has issues has asked the Archbishops to report back next year on how to go about helping the ACNA be part of the Communion. "

Pure and simple, the Church of England recognizes the ACNA. We are not "schismatics." They call it as it is, as it was show in the courtroom in the Commonwealth of Virginia - we have a division, what bishops at the Church of England Synod today called a schism in the Episcopal Church. They do not close a blind eye, but say it plainly, that the Church of England is "aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America."

But they do not once name-check The Episcopal Church, but instead calls us all - calls us all - "Anglican churches of the United States and Canada." This is enormously significant.

Not only that, but the CoE recommends a mechanism for a way forward. It's a bold and courageous step forward, led by the mother church.

Today, the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, meeting in London February 8-12, affirmed the Anglican Church in North America’s desire “to remain within the Anglican family.”

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, thanked Mrs. Lorna Ashworth of Chichester for bringing the church to the attention of the General Synod. “We are very grateful to Mrs. Ashworth and the scores of other friends in the Synod of the Church of England for all they did to give us this opportunity to tell our story to the mother church of the Anglican Communion. It is very encouraging that the synod recognizes and affirms our desire to remain within the Anglican family.” said Archbishop Duncan.

A private member’s motion, put forward by Mrs. Ashworth, and subsequently amended by the Synod, states that “this synod…recognize and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family.” The motion passed by a resounding 309 – 69 margin (with seven abstentions).

The motion was amended by the Right Reverend Michael Hill, the Bishop of Bristol. His purpose, in his own words, was “(1) to encourage those who are part of the Anglican Church in North America; (2) to commend the process of recognition afforded by the Instruments of the Anglican Communion; and (3) to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to report progress back to Synod in a year’s time.”

The discussion at Synod presented an important opportunity for members of the Anglican Church in North America, joined by many friends in the United Kingdom, to share the vision and mission of the church with fellow Anglicans. “We are deeply thankful that we were given the opportunity to tell the Synod about our church, and our vision for reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. This chance to speak directly to our Anglican family was very rewarding. We look forward to working with the friends we made and reaching out to others in the years ahead,” said Bishop Donald Harvey, who, with Mrs. Cynthia Brust, Dr. Michael Howell, and the Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum, represented the Anglican Church in North America in preparation for the Synod vote.

Read it all here. Yes, my rector was among those officially representing the ACNA in preparation for today's vote.

Convocation of Anglicans in North America releases a statement:

HERNDON, Va. (February 10, 2010) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) welcomed the news that the General Synod affirmed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)’s desire to “remain with the Anglican family” today. CANA is a founding member of ACNA.

“This is a significant step forward for the ACNA and for all orthodox Anglicans in the U.S. We are grateful to the General Synod for recognizing the home that has been created for those Anglicans who wish to remain a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Both ACNA and CANA have provided that home at a crucial time in the life of the church. Today’s affirmation from the General Synod is a welcome response to that need,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
To close, we bring you an elegiac Bob Dylan performing his Times They Are a'Changin' last night at the White House.

UPDATE: Here is Lorna Ashworth's excellent speech to the General Synod of the Church of England:

• Good afternoon members of synod and guests

• I shared the other night that I once jumped out of an airplane, and that my parachute didn’t open all the way. You will have gathered by now that I survived. It’s funny how that memory began to resurface as the time for this debate drew closer… but like with that jump… I think I will survive.

• I have heard that some are wondering what secret, hidden agenda there is underlying this private members motion. I am sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t any. There isn’t any hidden agenda and I hope that I can make it as clear as possible as to why I chose to table this motion.

• The first reason is this; why not?

• Why wouldn’t we take this opportunity to stand by and affirm our brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to practice, faithfully, historical / biblical Anglicanism (as has been practiced for hundreds of years), who have not diverted from the doctrines, creeds and formularies of the world wide Anglican Communion, who have, like others, been getting on with the mission of the Church.

• It would seem obvious at this point to stop and simply ask why the debate? What’s the problem if they are just doing what Anglicans do?

• Let me put it to you this way. It was half a lifetime ago that I was sitting in a presentation by a visiting speaker at the theological college I was attending in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I was not really paying attention and was a bit distracted. I remember this so well because about a year or so later I read a book called, Knowing God by J.I. Packer and realised that the visiting speaker had been that man. I was gutted. I had missed the opportunity to learn from his humility, godliness and wisdom in person; something I have sought to rectify by reading his books as so many other thousands have also done around the world.

• Packer has been an honorary assistant minister for over two decades in the largest Anglican Church in Canada called St Johns Shaughnessy, Vancouver. On February 13 2008 the congregation met and voted 475-11 with 9 abstentions to accept the episcopal oversight of Bishop Donald Harvey.

• They and many other churches in Canada and in the United States have sought alternative oversight in order to continue to be historical / biblical Anglicans and in order to remain in communion with the rest of the world wide Anglican communion.

• The provinces to which ACNA members once belonged have strayed from the fundamental core teaching of the Anglican church. They have either rejected the uniqueness of Christ, or they have questioned it; the same with Christ’s virgin birth, and his physical, literal death and resurrection, as providing the only means of salvation for those outside the Kingdom of God. Scripture is not seen as the authoritative Word of God to His people, and the biblical standard of marriage not upheld.

• This unrest in the communion has not been sprung upon us. There have been many meetings of leaders and panels and many statements issued; one of which came on 15th Oct 2003 from Lambeth Palace after a meeting of worldwide church leaders. Quote “actions in New Westminster and in The Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardize our sacramental fellowship with each other.”

• Earlier in 2003 the Bishop of Yukon, Terrance Buckle offered alternative oversight to parishes in New Westminster after the diocese with its bishop, Michael Ingham, authorised same sex blessings and showed no signs of honouring the request for moratoria. Bishop Buckle was threatened with disciplinary action if he intervened. Then on Sept 19th, 2003, the Metropoliton of British Columbia, David Crawley, speaking about Bishop Terrance Buckle said, “Many of us are deeply grieved and embarrassed that a bishop, who has sworn an oath to maintain order in the life of the church, is himself the author of disorder.” Surely I cannot be the only one who sees the irony of this statement?

• On 28 February 2008, days after the parish vote at St. John’s, Dr. Packer together with the other clergy at St. John's were served with a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry under Canon 19 and the notice is based on the following facts:

1. that he has publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and
2. that he has sought or intend to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.

• More irony.

• Many of us fail to see how faithful Anglicans like Dr. Packer have publicly renounced the doctrine of the church? We fail to see how being a practicing Anglican outside the jurisdiction of the ACoC constitutes another religious body?

• Could it be that Packer and others like him have become doctrinally delinquent?

• On the issue of discipline… Those who would elevate the infringement of order, made to preserve doctrine, to the same level as violations of doctrine itself – are not elevating order but dumbing down doctrine.

• The question begins to surface, who is it that is causing division? Those who remain unchanged in their doctrine and practice as Anglicans? Or a small minority within the world wide Anglican Communion who are imposing doctrinal innovation and not allowing space for traditionalists to remain.

On 13th July, 2009 in the Washington Times, the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori is reported as reminding the Church of England that "schism is not a Christian act." I would agree.

• The second reason I chose to table this motion is that I would like synod to be able to express its own mind on this subject. The whole point of Private Members Motions is to bring matters of concern to this gathering for discussion and debate.

• Most lay members, like myself, have little understanding of the technical ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of canon law with its uses or misuses.

• But as a lay person, I can see very clearly that there is a problem.

• Men & women, clergy and lay had been left uncertain as to where they belonged in the Anglican family.

• They now however have come together, with the support of many other Anglican provinces to form ACNA. They once again have a home.

• This motion is not about the formal procedures of entering into institutional communion. I am very happy that those processes take their own proper course.

• I fully understand that certain aspects of church life are matters for bishops and archbishops. I have no intention of trespassing there. But I would remind synod that this elected body did have a role in the process of entering into communion with:

• The Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh after consulting the dioceses in 1970-71. In 1994-95, it did the same with regard to the Lutheran Porvoo Churches. In 1974, Synod also sanctioned communion with the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar.

• Synod, this is our opportunity to affirm others who believe what we believe as Anglicans. To affirm that we recognise in them the marks and life of a faithful Anglican church.

• In closing: We have been debating mission shaped church and will be discussing fresh expressions of church in our commitment to make the good news of Jesus and His kingdom known.

• The Anglican Church in North America, has set itself the goal of planning 1000 churches in 5 years. They have already established 37 new congregations among those who are un-churched in North America. Oh, that our vision would be that great, that detailed and that practical. They have set themselves a bold target.

• They might miss it… but let us not stand by as mere observers. Let us offer what we can. Our support as synod for them.

• We share the same gospel of the same Lord Jesus, according to the same tradition that has shaped us all.

Thank you Synod

And here is the video courtesy of Anglican TV:

Church of England Synod Coverage


11:44 a.m. - VOTING UNDERWAY ON:

That this Synod:
“(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.”.


Audio below:

Audio stream has now ended.

Recognize that there are faithful Anglican Christians serving in the ACNA

The live stream for the Church of England Synod is below or here. Deliberations will continue at 9:30 a.m. (EST).

WEDNESDAY: 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

(GS 1764A and GS1764B)

14. Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) to move:

"That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in
communion with the Anglican Church in North America.‟

TUESDAY, FEB. 9, 2010

"What are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?"
Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
Right on target - that is the real question. The Virginia Protocol was one of those vehicles. Even now, it's not too late.Ruth Gledhill of the Times twitters, "Calming Vivaldi playing #synod before ++Rowan steps up to speak. Colleague suggests is on same principle of classical music at Brixton tube."

We have learned that first up will be the presidential address from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He begins by stating that the governmental must recognize that there are boundaries between the government and the religious community. He is also addressing that issue of assisted suicide is a moral mistake and upsetting the balance of freedoms, and the freedom of vulnerable people.

He is now talking about the Episcopal Church to ordain Gene Robinson has a devastating affect on provinces in the Global South, as anti-gay legislation in the Global South affects the west.

The difficult issue - certain decisions made by some provinces that fellowship is strained or shattered and trust is destroyed. What are the vehicles to negotiate to spare us vicious polemic and stoney faced legislation? There may be different levels of relationship by those claiming the name of Anglican. But without a change of heart it may be a necessary.

He then pleads for the Covenant. Christian freedom is freedom from isolation, from sin and competing self interest. To be free is to be free for relationship, with the Holy Spirit carrying that gift from heart to heart. It's not simply of balancing liberties, but going to another level of thinking about liberty and not to thin - not unity above integrity, but that unity is how we attain Christian integrity. The challenges of the crisis is how we shape our councils and and decision making and not just pleas for minority to majority, how will the sacrifices of me or those like me to the sanctification of others. Sometimes that means restraint in the communion but that restraint must engage with others in cases of tension.

How do we go on learning from one another. We need to look for resolution that continues liberty and unity in some ways in their own terms. People have a claim to be heard in their own terms. We have to make difficult judgements - how to grant freedom to anyone to anywhere will contribute to each other's holiness.

I can't see everything at once. What is in front of me is not just the surface, seeing in three-dimension means we have to take time and not seek solutions that do to much all at once. Those structures may include distance. What will they make possible if used creatively over time. What future reconciliations may have in the future.

The other we meet is the person of who he or she is not what we imagine them to be.

(BB NOTE: I have learned this profound lesson in my engagement in the Anglican Cathedral in SL)

He positively name checks both The Episcopal Church and the ACNA in the same sentence.

He speaks positively of the Church of Uganda and their work of ministry. Thank you, Rowan.

Not how we win the conflict, but we have to give to our neighbor in sanctification in Christ's name and power. Balancing costs and restraints in order to keep life moving around the body. It will deepen our desire to be fed and nurtured by each other which will deepen the alarm of being separated from one another.

UPDATE: Rowan Williams address is here (and no, that's not a recent picture of General Synod).

"The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety."

"The Anglican Covenant has been attacked in some quarters for trying to create an executive power and for seeking to create means of exclusion. This is wholly mistaken. There is no supreme court envisaged, and the constitutional liberties of each province are explicitly safeguarded. But the difficult issue that we cannot simply ignore is this. Certain decisions made by some provinces impact so heavily on the conscience and mission of others that fellowship is strained or shattered and trust destroyed. The present effect of this is chaos – local schisms, outside interventions, all the unedifying stuff you will be hearing about (from both sides) in the debate on Lorna Ashworth’s motion. So what are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation? As I have said before, it may be that the Covenant creates a situation in which there are different levels of relationship between those claiming the name of Anglican. I don’t at all want or relish this, but suspect that, without a major change of heart all round, it may be an unavoidable aspect of limiting the damage we are already doing to ourselves. I make no apology, though, for pleading that we try, through the Covenant, to discover an ecclesial fellowship in which we trust each other to act for our good – an essential feature of anything that might be called a theology of the Body of Christ."

"Christian freedom as St Paul spells it out is always freedom from isolation – from the isolation of sin, separating us from God, and the isolation of competing self-interest that divides us from each other. To be free is to be free for relation; free to contribute what is given to us into the life of the neighbour, for the sake of their formation in Christ’s likeness, with the Holy Spirit carrying that gift from heart to heart and life to life. Fullness of freedom for each of us is in contributing to the sanctification of the neighbour. It is never simply a matter of balancing liberties, but of going to another level of thinking about liberty. And the ‘purity’ of the body of Christ is not to be thought of apart from this work. It is not to put unity above integrity, but to see that unity in this active and sometimes critical sense is how we attain to Christian integrity."

"The challenges of our local and global Anglican crises have to do with how this shapes our councils and decision-making. It is not a simple plea for the sacrifice of the minority to the majority. But it does mean repeatedly asking how the liberty secured for me or for those like me will actively serve the sanctification of the rest."

"Sometimes that may entail restraint – as I believe it does and should in the context of the Communion – though that restraint is empty and even oppressive if it then refuses to engage with those who have accepted restraint for the sake of fellowship."

"Whatever we decide, we need to look for a resolution that allows some measure of continuing dignity and indeed liberty to all – in something like their own terms."

Peter Ould has covered an interesting exchange regarding the Church of England's official doctrine on sexual practices. Peter writes regarding an exchange between the Archbishop John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and President of the Archbishop's Council and questions from the floor.
Suddenly Sentamu moved from diplomat to diplomat with a conservative agenda. No, he replied, the stance hasn’t changed. The Church believes that sexual practice should only take place within marriage of a man and a woman. All Issues in Human Sexuality does is say that laity who don’t hold to that standard will still be welcomed into our congregations.

And there you had it. In one blow Sentamu affirmed the conservative stance, confirmed (as President of the Archbishop’s Council) that it was still the official position of the Church of England and signalled very clearly that there was no intention to change that doctrinal stance.
Read it all here.


2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

(GS 1764A and GS1764B)

14. Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) to move:

"That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in
communion with the Anglican Church in North America.‟

Blogger Peter Ould has continued with some thoughts on the Archbishop of Canterbury's address here which are worth pondering. I think it is more Romans 6 and I can embrace that. He does take pains to reflect the Church in Uganda in a positive light and chooses an example from The Episcopal Church that I can also embrace. He chose his examples wisely and even cast a positive light on ACNA.

UPDATE from the Washington Times Belief Blog:

On Wednesday, there wil be an important vote in London on whether the Brits will side with a nascent would-be 39th North American Anglican province that has split with the U.S. Episcopal Church.

The General Synod, the governing body for the 27-million-member Church of England (on paper that's who belongs but real attendance is only a few million per Sunday) will vote whether to align themselves with the 100,000-member Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Read the rest of Julia Duin's post here. I must say, I am not in favor of the idea that ACNA is to "supplant" TEC, not by a long shot. The Episcopal Church itself will need to decide what it's own future is in the Anglican Communion. I happen to agree with Rowan Williams that we do need each other, but how we get to the place of unity is key and separation right now seems to be the healthiest alternative. That being said, this is not divorce. We need some space and some creative thinking from the next generation of leaders on how we may find ways to share common ministry. To continue as we have for the last thirty years though has brought us toxic and broken relationships. The Diocese of Virginia's Reconciliation Commission recognized the reality on the ground in its landmark 2005 report which you can still read here.

I embrace Rowan Williams view that we do need to look for the best in one another if we can - but space to do that is necessary. Therefore, I do not support a view that ACNA should or would "supplant" TEC, but that we would continue to find ways to build bridges together.

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes this, as we now see in his presidential address today when he asked, "What are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?"

This is my question as well.