Saturday, March 31, 2012

Today at the Cafe: Mighty to Save

Only Time

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies, only time
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies, only time

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time
And who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time

Friday, March 30, 2012

Truro Church files notice of appeal to the VA Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Virginia
Truro Church has filed a notice of an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court regarding the recent ruling of the Fairfax Circuit Court.  Truro's Notice of Appeal is here. This is not an appeal, merely a notice in case an appeal is filed.

In addition to the notice of appeal, The Falls Church filed today a Motion to Suspend Execution of the Final Order and to Set the Supersedeas Bond and Truro filed a Motion to Stay Execution of the Final Order and to Set the Supersedeas Bond.  This was also to be expected in case an appeal is filed.

Curmudgeon has more info here.

Church of the Epiphany has settled with the Diocese of Virginia and their joint statement is here. God bless Church of Epiphany as they have shown such courage and faith and marvelous hospitality and will continue to do so in the years ahead.  God bless you!

Will they know we are Christians by our love?

As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. -John 17

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Washington Post: Bishop Shannon Johnston publishes editorial

The Bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev'd Shannon Johnston, writes for The Washington Post on what Judge Bellows ruling means for The Episcopal Church. Read it carefully and read it all:
Bishop of the Episcopal of Virginia Shannon Johnston
May the members of a congregation leave a hierarchical denomination and take the church property with them?

At great cost in time, effort, money and friendship — on both sides — the answer for the Episcopal Church in Virginia is no.

Many have followed this case and shared their opinions, both supporting and criticizing our effort to return Episcopal properties to the mission of the Episcopal Church. It’s tempting for this dispute to be about property, or politics, or just plain money. But the essence of the dispute is about theology itself.
Many denominations have a governance (“polity”) that allows for congregational self-determination. For hierarchical bodies, such as the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, it is quite a different matter. In these churches, local congregations represent and witness to the larger structure. Our polity has been established and codified for almost 2,000 years and is the result of a theological view of what the Church is and how it should be governed.

In our tradition, it is the diocese, not the congregation, that is the basic unit of the Church. The bishop is its chief pastor. The Church’s clergy vow to serve under the authority of their bishop. The elected leaders of congregations do the same. The congregations that separated from the Episcopal Church always existed within the authority of this tradition and polity. Without question, the members of these congregations were free to leave this authority, but according to the ancient polity to which they themselves subscribed, the diocese retains its right, and its generational responsibility, of oversight for the ministry of the local church.

Bishops Lee, Schori, and Johnston
We have a defining commitment to this ancient theology and tradition. We have a fiduciary duty to ensure that properties given to the Episcopal Church are used for its mission. That duty, however, is theologically based; we are called to be good stewards of property given to us by our forebears. Stewardship is a theological concept: we give thanks for the gifts God has given to us all. Stewards are bound to preserve gifts for future generations. The leaders of the departed congregations have asserted that this case was never about buildings or money but about larger principles. On that we agree.

The matter of biblical interpretation is at the heart of the issues, and there are real differences. Differences over biblical interpretation, not authority, remain unsettled. Even so, the common, ancient tradition as to authority, polity and property stands with the diocese and its bishop.

To be absolutely clear, as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, I do not want merely an outcome from the court; I seek a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray blessings upon those congregations who have made the painful decision to leave the Episcopal Church. They have prayed for the diocese and for me. Despite our dispute, we are being as gracious as we possibly can by providing smooth transitions for those congregations. And we must find ways to minister where we have much in common, such as in South Sudan. We both work to help those who face the perils of daily life there, most notably from the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army. There is no reason — and no excuse — why we cannot do so together. Both sides must seek ministries in which we can, in unity, serve a society and a world in desperate need. In doing so, we will find one another again as brothers and sisters in the one God and thus be better disciples of the Lord we all follow.

The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia
What’s next? We begin anew, as we hope those who left the Episcopal Church will, too. Dayspring is the biblical term for a new dawn that speaks of God breaking through to do new things.
Our Dayspring initiative is renewing and restarting Episcopal congregations and returning Episcopal congregations to their church homes. We will ensure that all recovered properties serve the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and thus serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have every confidence that our congregations will thrive. The Episcopal Church is built upon and celebrates its ancient roots, but is a faith in and for the modern world. Join us in God’s ancient yet new work.

The Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

WATCH LIVE the Consecration of Greg Brewer today!

The Rev'd Greg Brewer will be consecrated today as Fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida.  Watch live here at the Cafe starting at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).

Download the Service Booklet here.

The Rt. Rev'd John W. Howe writes his farewell column as Bishop of Central Florida here.

Today at the Cafe: Bob Dylan in 1961

While I was busy being born, Dylan was, well, busy ...

Friday, March 16, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Rowan Williams announces he will step down from the Archbishop of Canterbury office in December

UPDATE: The Church Times has their list of possible successors to Rowan Williams here.

After ten years, Rowan Williams returns to academia. 

UPDATE: Rowan Williams speaks to why he chose to leave his post this year:

From here:
Archbishop Rowan Williams has today announced his acceptance of the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge with effect from January 2013. He will therefore be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012.

Dr Williams’ intentions have been conveyed to The Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
Dr Williams was appointed the one hundred and fourth Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. He said today:

It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision. During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask your prayers and support in this period and beyond. I am abidingly grateful to all those friends and colleagues who have so generously supported Jane and myself in these years, and all the many diverse parishes and communities in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion that have brought vision, hope and excitement to my own ministry. I look forward, with that same support and inspiration, to continuing to serve the Church’s mission and witness as best I can in the years ahead.

Dr Williams will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury, both for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, until the end of the year.

The Crown Nominations Commission will consider in due course the selection of a successor.
Read it all here.

From Magdelene College, Cambridge: 
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Magdalene College, in the University of Cambridge, is delighted to announce that the 35th Master of Magdalene will be The Most Reverend and Right Honorable Dr Rowan Williams PC, FBA, FRSL.

The College has been fortunate in benefitting from the outstanding leadership of Mr Duncan Robinson CBE FSA,DL for the past ten years, during which time the academic standing of the College has been greatly enhanced, substantial efforts have been made to promote access, and a major new Court has been built, providing twenty-first century facilities.

The College looks forward to the Mastership of Dr Williams who has the capacity and vision to guide the College in a time of unprecedented change in higher education. His very distinguished record, both as a scholar and a public figure, will provide for the whole community a model of the high standards of achievement to which Magdalene is committed. Dr Williams will also work with Fellows and staff in the vital task of increasing access and widening participation to students from every background and walk of life.

Commenting on the appointment, the current Master says “I congratulate the Fellowship on the appointment of Rowan Williams. The College is fortunate to have recruited as Master someone of such outstanding intellectual stature, and such profound commitment to public service, especially at a time when collegiate Cambridge faces so many challenges. I wish him every success in the post it has been both my privilege and my pleasure to hold for the past ten years. My wife and I look forward to welcoming the Williamses to Magdalene.”

Dr Williams said: “I am very grateful to the College for the honour they have done me, and look forward to being part of such a lively and intellectually rigorous community. I hope I shall be able to continue the exciting developments that have been taking place under the guidance of the present Master and the Fellowship, and Jane and I look forward to taking up this challenging office next January."

There has been a continuous tradition of academic study on the site of the College since 1428. The College was refounded in 1542 and is now a vibrant academic community of some 350 undergraduates, 180 graduate students and 80 Fellows, together with 90 administrative and other staff.

The installation of Dr Williams as Master will take place in January 2013.
Statement from the British Prime Minister, David Cameron:
“I would like to thank Rowan Williams for his dedicated service as Archbishop of Canterbury.  As a man of great learning and humility he guided the church through times of challenge and change.

“He sought to unite different communities and offer a profoundly humane sense of moral leadership that was respected by people of all faiths and none.

“As Prime Minister, I have been grateful for his support and advice – and for the work he has done around the world, particularly in Africa where he has taken such a close interest in Sudan. I wish Rowan and his family the very best for the future.”
What's next?

Read the Outline of Procedures for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury here.  Here is an excerpt:
The responsibility for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury rests with the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC). Its task is to submit the name of a preferred candidate (and a second appointable candidate) to the Prime Minster who is constitutionally responsible for tendering advice on the appointment to the Queen.
The membership of the CNC is prescribed in the Standing Orders of the General Synod. When an Archbishop of Canterbury is to be chosen there are 16 voting members
  • The Chair (a layperson) – to be appointed by the Prime Minister
  • A Bishop - to be elected by the House of Bishops
  • The Archbishop of York or, if he chooses not to be a member of the CNC, a further Bishop to be elected by the House of Bishops
  •  Six representatives elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee
  •  The six representatives (three clergy and three lay) elected by General Synod to serve as members of the Commission for a five year period
  • A member of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion elected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
In addition, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary and the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments are non-voting members of the Commission.
Read it all here

BB NOTE: Over the last century the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly rotated between Anglo Catholic and Evangelical bishops.  Rowan Williams is Anglo Catholic (his predecessor George Carey is Evangelical) so we can possibly expect the next Archbishop to be from the evangelical wing of the Church. This is not a political wing (you may have both politically conservative or politically liberal Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals) but is a matter of polity (i.e., High Church and Low Church). As a matter of polity, this would eliminate the Bishop of London as a possible successor.

This might be a good time to review the Queen of England's speech in 2010 to the Church of England Synod:

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu has also released a statement:
John Sentamu and Rowan Williams
“It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year.

Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful. He is a real brother to me in Christ.

The last decade has been a challenging time for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Thankfully, Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection. Despite his courageous, tireless and holy endeavour, he has been much maligned by people who should have known better. For my part he has been God’s apostle for our time.

His stepping down to pursue something he dearly loves – teaching and writing - is received with gratitude, as this will continue to be a blessing to the Church. I am delighted that he is not going far away and will continue to offer service to the Church of England and the wider Church in its witness to our society. May God’s blessing continue to be showered upon him.
Read it all here.

UPDATE: AnglicanInk has the transcript of the AP Interview with Rowan Williams here.  Here is an excerpt:
The best part of the job has certainly been seeing churches at grass roots worldwide – seeing why and how they matter to people.  And being given the privilege and the possibility of sharing what you hear in one part of the world, or in one part of the Church of England with other parts.  You can become a kind of ‘switchboard’ for good news.  You can receive good news about what’s happening in one part of the world and pass it on elsewhere, and feel very much enriched and stretched in the process.

The worst aspects of the job I think have been the sense that there are some conflicts that won’t go away, however long you struggle with them.  And that not everybody in the Anglican Communion or even in the Church of England is eager to avoid schism or separation.  I’ve certainly regarded it as a real priority to try and keep people in relationship with each other.  That is what bishops have to do - what archbishops above all have to do.
Read it all here

Favorite Twitter headline so far:
BREAKING: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
is to quit his post, and return to Hogwarts.
Thanks to the British actress Emma Thompson who should know.

A look back on Rowan Williams ten years as Archbishop of Canterbury and a glance forward to what is next:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The BBC focuses on William Byrd

The BBC offers a fascinating discussion on the English composer William Byrd (c1540-1623) here.  The Rev Richard Coles hosts the discussion on how William Byrd survived as a recusant in Elizabethan England. While renowned for great Elizabethan compositions and Anglican sacred music, he devoted much of his life to composing "underground" Roman Catholic Masses even while still honored by the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I.

Today he is one of the all-time greats in Anglican/Episcopal liturgical music. Listen to the BBC radio show, "Twenty Minutes: William Byrd and Catholicism," here.  The BBC has more on Byrd here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

YAY! Bob Dylan is back in the studio!

From here:

“He’d say, ‘Wow, what’s that?’ He liked the sound. So we’d get it in there.”
Like a rolling stone, Bob Dylan's career shows no sign of stopping. The 70-year-old singer is recording his 35th studio album, which could be released before the end of the year.

"It's an amazing thing, how he keeps creativity," Los Lobos singer David Hidalgo told the Aspen Times. Hidalgo has recently finished recording with Dylan at Jackson Browne's Los Angeles studio. The multi-instrumentalist has appeared on Dylan's most recent albums, Together Through Life and Christmas in the Heart, both issued in 2009.

Read it all here.

So here's one that's been on the life-soundtrack lately:

Vintage Dylan.  This is from his latest studio album, Together Through Life.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rowan Williams preaches in Rome

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives a fine sermon at St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church today in Rome:

Yesterday he joined Roman Catholic Pope Benedict as they celebrated Vespers together in the church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio on Saturday afternoon. You may read more about the church here.

Rowan Williams full address at San Gregorio is here or listen to Vatican Radio report here.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Voice of America profiles Episcopal/Anglican division in Virginia

From here:

In northern Virginia, The Falls Church and six other breakaway churches - whose property is valued at $40 million - became the subject of a prolonged court battle.  In January, a Virginia judge ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church and The Falls Church congregation now has until April 30 to move out of the old church and the new additions.

"The buildings were built by us.  I had raised a lot of the money.  I remember when we burned the mortgage to pay for the most recent building that we had built," Yates says.  He says that the actions of the Episcopal leadership were "very hard to understand."

"No rector, no congregation, ever owns the property," says the Very Reverend Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest Episcopal divinity school in the United States.

"Just because I am a deeply charismatic preacher and teacher inside a congregation, am I allowed to suddenly wake up one morning - having mesmerized my congregation - and say, 'Hey guys, let's take this parish hall and the church and everything else out of the Episcopal church?'  That's not our policy," says Markham.

The Episcopal Church may have won in court, but it has been losing in the pews.  Its membership has been declining, like that of many other mainline Protestant denominations, and two years ago it dipped below 2 million people for the first time.

Read it all here.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Judge signs Final Order in Virginia Church Property Case

NEW UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has insightful commentary on the implications of the ruling, especially for donors in the Diocese of Virginia here.

UPDATE: The Final Order is here.

From here:
Virginia Anglicans remain prayerful and are reviewing legal path forward

(March 1, 2012) – Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s final orders by the Fairfax County Circuit Court on issues including transferring real and personal property. At the same time they are prayerfully considering their legal options.

“While our congregations will comply with the final order, we are saddened that the Circuit Court did not accept the motion for partial reconsideration and we continue to believe that, as a matter of religious liberty, it is the right of donors to restrict the use of their own gifts to the church of their choice,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven congregations.

Earlier this month, the congregations filed a motion for partial reconsideration with the Fairfax County Circuit Court asking that the court reconsider the portion of its January ruling stating that certain personal property, including monetary gifts, given to the congregations prior to January 31, 2007, belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The Virginia Attorney General also filed a brief with the Fairfax County Circuit Court in support of the defendant congregations’ motion for partial reconsideration.

“We remain grateful to our own legal team’s steadfastness and commitment to defending our congregations throughout this lengthy litigation process. Further, we are thankful for the support from the Virginia Attorney General who was present in this case to represent the public interest in enforcing the wishes of charitable donors in Virginia,” concluded Oakes.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, a historic property involved in the case, stated, “Our congregations are blessed by the confidence that God will always provide a home for His followers. We have always known that a church is not just its buildings, but its people and the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed and lived.  We look forward to God leading us in the days ahead.”

The Circuit Court heard the church property case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. Last month, the Circuit Court ruled against the congregations, after they previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America.

Here is the Diocese of Virginia's statement:

March 1, 2012

Today, the Fairfax Circuit Court entered a final order in favor of the Diocese of Virginia in its effort to recover Episcopal property for the mission of the Episcopal Church. The Court also denied the CANA congregations' recent motion for partial reconsideration of the court's original ruling of January 10.

"We hope that this will mark the end of this lengthy litigation," said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia. "By closing this chapter, both the Diocese and the CANA congregations have the freedom to focus our energies on the mission and ministries of our respective congregations, and even what we might be able to do together for people and a world in need of the Gospel's work," Johnston added. "For the Diocese, we even now are undertaking an initiative known as Dayspring, an integrated effort to discern and implement a comprehensive vision for our congregations and properties affected by this litigation. We look forward to sharing more news as Dayspring continues to take shape."

Under the final order, the CANA congregations must convey to the Diocese of Virginia all real and personal property by April 30, 2012. The real property includes seven church buildings and a significant number of other parcels. The personal property includes both tangible items, such as chalices, prayer books and crosses, and intangibles, including the funds on hand. The ruling allows the CANA congregations to retain some restricted funds over which they have no discretion and that do not benefit the local congregation, the Diocese or the Episcopal Church. The court has set March 30 as the deadline for the parties to determine the disposition of those funds. Where the parties do not agree, the court will make a judicial determination.

"Today marks a major milestone in this effort," said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese. "We respect fully the CANA congregations' right to pursue an appeal, and we are in discussions with them as they face significant issues of discernment and transition in their path forward."

Be still my soul

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

-Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752
Psalm 46:10

Final Order to be signed today

The judge did rule from the bench yesterday, including denying the motion for partial reconsideration as well as officially setting the date to turn over all the properties to the Diocese of Virginia by April 30.  He also ruled that the churches may keep their names, but should remove "Episcopal" and "Episcopalian."  Anglican will be used instead.  Though the court met from 10:00 a.m. until nearly 7:30 p.m. yesterday, Judge Bellows decided to reconvene at 2:00 p.m. today at the Fairfax Court House for the signing of the Final Order.  This continues to be a very good time to pray, especially as both sides work together to prepare the Final Order.

From here:

Proceedings continue with the Fairfax County Circuit Court reviewing the content of a final order implementing the Judge's decision. A final order is expected to be signed today, March 1, 2012.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church said last night tonight, "We remain prayerful and confident that God is guiding us in this process and look forward to reviewing the final order and understanding its implications for all of us."