Thursday, February 28, 2013

#Anglican Unscripted: The #Episcopal Church accused of buying election in Tanzania

The latest from Anglican Unscripted:

AnglicanTV: The Episcopal Church is being accused of buying the election for the new Primate of Tanzania and of course Kevin and George discuss this and it's implications for the New Archbishop of Canterbury.  Your hosts also discuss the ever growing controversy over Reconciliation and Justin Welby's desire to model it in this fractured Anglican Communion.  Peter and Allan will return next week with updates.  

Please keep George in your prayers as he recovers from surgery.  Get well notes to

Archbishop of Canterbury inaugurates new post at Coventry

The Crooked, Straight Path of Reconciliation by Justin Welby, presented at the Faith in Conflict Conference at Canterbury, Cathedral.  From here:

ABC Justin Welby at Coventry Cathedral
It is a pleasure beyond description to be back in this wonderful Cathedral where I have fallen asleep so often. The worst time was when leading Evensong, which is very visible. I slipped over sideways, and woke as the Magnificat ended. As I woke I wondered if I could pretend that this was merely an unusual position for prayer, but the stifled laughter by the verger soon stopped any pretence.

As usual each time I come in, the breath-taking and austere beauty of structure ruined and rebuilt catches my imagination afresh. In the golden anniversary service last year Rowan Williams preached memorably on the concrete text around us. And yet there is an irony, for the symbol stands as one of the greatest Cathedrals an age for Christian churches that appears too often to think the words “Father forgive” are mere formality. In blunt terms, we have this conference because conflict is so much part of our lives.

That is all wrong. I do not mean that conflict is wrong, but that our fear of it, our sense of it being wasted time and effort, is wrong. So often we seek like mindedness so that we can get on with the job of worship, of making disciples, of serving other human beings. Because conflict in the church is time consuming and destructive, we turn from facing it and instead seek those with whom we agree.

In Indiana there is a town called New Harmony. It is the rebuilt Harmony, which fell into disrepair when the original Harmonists fell out and left. It is the spirit of much Christianity: make a new frontier when things don’t work out with everyone, move on with those who agree - and again and again.

Conflict arises from the diversity in which we have been created. When we seek to find a way of life that avoids it we deny the three realities of our fallenness, our present diversity, and the tension between the realised present and anticipated salvation of our futures.

Reality is lived as part of a people united by the fact that they call on God. Ruth and Naomi were exiles, first one then the other, economic migrants whose suffering is matched by many of those who seek new lives today. Caught up in famine and war, families destroyed by disease, they come to a cross roads. Ruth’s unity with Naomi is established by the words “your God will be my God”. From that moment on, a moment of choice in love, responding to love, they are one far more deeply than as family in Moab.

That is passive unity, being part of the one family. But when we call on God he “calls us to his side as heralds of reconciliation”[1]. There is active co-operation with the life of God in our lives now. We live and we serve. The recognition by the Samaritan of the other as his neighbour leads to action, not mere existence. He becomes a herald of reconciliation.

In the old expression, we can choose our friends but we are stuck with our family. And so, by calling on God we are bound into a fellowship of being heralds of the reconciliation we have received. We had better get used to it because it lasts for ever.

In 1980 and 1981 Caroline and I were involved in taking bibles to Eastern Europe, then under Communist and Soviet domination. The two trips we made were remarkable, because through them we met Christians of all denominations and all sorts and personalities. Very often we spoke neither their language nor shared their assumptions about the world. But we found ourselves amongst family. I still recall clearly an evening of total non-comprehension and profound fellowship on the sixth floor of a tower block with a woman and her friends who were working with youth in the local church. For this crime they were made to suffer. We feasted on family reunion as we responded to the Spirit of God in each of us.

Reconciliation is recognition of diversity and a transformation of destructive conflict to creativity. It holds the tensions and challenges of difference and confronts us with them, forcing us to a new way of life that accepts the power and depth and radicality of the work of the Holy Spirit in our conversions.

We speak often in foreign policy of failed states, or failing states. Their common characteristic is the inability to manage diversity and grow with it, enabling it to change them significantly into better places. The core of the American sense of exclusivism is often found within that vocation of being a diverse and thriving nation.

If the Church is not a place of reconciliation it is not merely hindering its mission and evangelism, appalling as such hindrance is, but it is a failing or failed church. It has ceased to be the miracle of diversity in unity, of the grace of God breaking down walls.

But how do we escape the reach of these demons? Because by the grace of God we are defined as family with a call to action in reconciliation, then we have to find not only the call but also the means of being reconcilers, when our instincts and passions often lead us in the opposite direction. Circling the wagons and self-defining as those who are of one mind against the rest of the world has a noble feeling. Hollywood inspired, it gives us the feeling that this is a good day to die hard - hard of heart and hard in action. By contrast the process of reconciliation seems weak and unprincipled, alienating us from everyone involved in quarrel. It is a real work of grace, with all the absence of gratitude for grace that God Himself has experienced. I find myself often doubting myself deeply: have I become totally woolly, taken in by the niceness of bad people, trapped in an endless quest for illusory peace rather than tough answers. That is a question that all involved in reconciliation should be asked, and held accountable to, but it is also part of the process. Bonhoeffer, reflecting on the Good Samaritan, speaks of “the crooked yet straight path of reconciliation”[2]. The Priest and the Levite travelled straight on, the Samaritan turned aside. His path to the neighbour was straight to God.

Grace filled reconciliation begins with hospitality. Hospitality is a many faceted virtue, which reflects the doctrine of Catholic social teaching of the universal destination of goods. Because God offers enough for all, in our compassion we share what we have received as stewards of a great gift. It is not a matter of calculation of potential return but of gratuity, of grace. “To understand another’s distress as one’s own is to recognise that other as a neighbour, whether they are family, a friend or a stranger”[3]. Grace is lived in lavish recognition of our common receiving. The Samaritan turns aside, recognises the stranger, tends and nurses him at risk and cost, and provides.

Reconciliation is painful; grace is something that is squeezed out of our mixed motives. A church with which I worked had come near to absolute division. The challenge was to find a means of speaking truth safely to each other. The vicar and those who opposed him were in many cases truly heroic in being willing to listen and willing to change. They saw the distress of the other, recognised the call of God and the demands of grace and responded. But it was neither quick, nor universal. Grace crept into the cracks of the church and began to heal them, and the space for grace was opened by their own knowledge of the love of God. Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

“Awareness of God's undying love sustains us in our laborious and stimulating work for justice and the development of peoples, amid successes and failures, in the ceaseless pursuit of a just ordering of human affairs. God's love calls us to move beyond the limited and the ephemeral, it gives us the courage to continue seeking and working for the benefit of all,”[4].

The failing church fails because it is not open to the love of God. Success has many faces, but all of them are rooted in finding the love of God at work in us and seeing it in others.

The complexities of grace are experienced not only in our inner resistance and desire to circle the wagons, but also in grace having to be expressed as we journey. The Samaritan moved on, and came back. His journey and business continued, and yet he found the crooked, straight path. Journeys are periods of changing context. For me the journey to parts of Africa, often made, is always a time of tension. The context will shift so rapidly between boarding the aircraft and arriving that I feel fear and weakness, not of what I will find but of the challenge of adapting. A South African Islamic scholar reflecting on the ways of understanding texts in times of oppression wrote, “People’s lives are not shaped by a text as much as shaped by the context”[5]. The church is called to express reconciliation on the road together, in common journeying. We come to our texts, and find massive differences in understanding, but as the recent “Bible in the Life of the Church” report shows, context deeply affects how we understand. Ruth does not speak of understanding but of journey, “where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God, my God.”

Accepting we belong to God together because of His action, determined to express the common gift of grace and the universal goodness of what we have received, we journey together with much difficulty. We are many tribes, but one people. For that to have any possibility of success the journeying must be in truth, responding to the Spirit of God in us calling to the Spirit of God in each other. In journeying we must speak to each other. Silence is not peace. The Quaker Faith and Practice[6] book says “by their silence the progress of world peace has stood still”, there is a need to name issues, to listen and to let go of fear. A German Quaker in 1958, speaking with the experience of a defeated and divided nation said “the secret lies in the way in which truth is spoken”[7].

But speaking is not endless discussion.

“Care for the sick and the poor, hospitality to strangers, educational initiatives and peace-making endeavours are all examples of ways in which the church hosts the life together of its neighbours and enables that life to bear witness to its eschatological possibilities”.[8]

We are in a very demanding common journey and fear is an ever present reality. Fear is the opposite of trust[9] and our context is one of fear, a context which infiltrates the church. We do not trust the sciences on earth science, or the politicians, or the journalists or the Bishops or the bankers. The absence of trust renders all decision making a matter of law and all laws an attempt to cover every possible contingency, a complete impossibility in a world of change and journey.

The possibilities open to a church of reconciled reconcilers are more than we can imagine. Reconciliation touches every aspect of our lives and society, and every aspect of our creation and living in our world. We can be reconcilers of the environment and natural order, of families and communities, of economies and financial services, of families and nations. We will weather the issues of politics and flourish in the storms of societal change.

If we can name and listen, be in conflict but not destruction, take the crooked straight path of reconciliation, we can establish a pattern and model of trust filled living drawing on the grace of God, a model that changes the world. Captured by the grace of God the church has done it before, many times. Different yet feasting together we must be gluttons of the grace of God, like children at a grand birthday party sharing messily what we have been given. Gluttony and grace go together in worship to create trust, and the grace of the Eucharist is where we begin.

Seven steps to forgiveness and healing ...

It's been a tough week on the blog front.  

From here:

1. Admit that offenses have occurred in your life. Forgiveness is only appropriate when an offense has been committed and the offense has caused damage. When an offense has been committed against you, it is critical to recognize and admit the reality of the offense. Overcoming denial may be difficult, but it is essential. Forgiveness does not ignore the reality of an offense but, in fact, validates that the offense did indeed occur. Matthew 18:7; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:8-9.

2. Determine the damage caused by an offense. When an offense occurs it creates a spiritual debt. There is a spiritual value placed on the consequences resulting from the offense. God chose to use this financial idea to communicate His spiritual truth. The forgiveness parable of Matthew 18 shows that the value of indebtedness is determined by reconciling the account. There are offenses that have caused less injury. Greater offenses that create a greater debt need greater forgiveness. After the indebtedness has been determined the offense can be forgiven. Without understanding the damage caused by the offense it is not possible to forgive.

This parable is a financial illustration teaching the spiritual reality of forgiveness. Earlier in the chapter there is a serious warning not to offend children. Each particular offense by parents can have a different impact on their children. A rare angry outburst will have one kind of result. Continual name-calling and criticism will have a significantly different effect. The occurrence of incest has a dramatically different influence on a person's life. These various offenses will have a varying impact on a person's life. Forgiveness may be very challenging depending on the nature of the offense and it's impact on a person's life.

It is necessary to determine the value of the offense that needs to be forgiven. This may require some serious consideration. A severe offense can impact an entire life. The person may need to consider how the offense has or will impact them throughout his or her life. The impact from the offense will have to be considered for the past, present and the inevitable future. When the full impact is perceived, full pardon can be granted. Forgiveness should be viewed as a process. This is very accurate when new consequences from an offense are determined and the pardon is continually granted. Matthew 18:23, 24 and 26-28,

3. Choosing to forgive. "Forgive" is a financial term that simply means to cancel the debt. The person recognizes the debt as such and makes the internal personal decision to release the offender from his indebtedness. Forgiveness is often misunderstood. It is significantly different and often confused with such things as ignoring the offense, trying to forget it and reconciliation of the relationship. Choosing to forgive is a personal, conscious and powerful choice of the will. Choosing to release the offender from his or her indebtedness is to be like the Lord Himself. Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:21-35.

4. Develop and live life with boundaries. A safe environment must be established to protect from future offenses. Some who have been violated in the past may lack the understanding of the importance of good boundaries. The holy life learns the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness. Perceiving healthy boundaries as well as having the will, strength and commitment to live them is essential. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 6:20.

5. Confronting the offense. The internal decision to forgive needs to be followed by the appropriate activity. The Scriptures direct us to confront the offense. Spiritual wellness is connected to our obedience to Scripture. The degree of spiritual wellness you experience is in direct proportion to the degree of confrontation. As the seasons progress, healing occurs, strength grows and courage appears. The ability and desire to confront the offense arrives.

The extent of the confrontation will depend on the circumstances. The confrontation will begin with the internal acknowledgement of the offense and the damage caused. Ideally it is best if the offender can be confronted directly and the issue resolved. Realistically, this does not always happen. At times the injured person does not have the ability or opportunity to go to the offender directly and address the problem. Overcoming the fear associated with the person and or the offense has crippled some from confronting the situation. Sharing the problem with good confidants and gaining support helps tremendously. Some choose to receive counseling, journal, and rehearse before going to the perpetrator. Some bring their support person with them. Finding the right opportunity and method may be very difficult. This may be the toughest season of the journey. One thing is for sure - the degree of healing and strength is directly proportional to the degree of confrontation. Matthew 5:24; Matthew 18:15.

6. Live the holy life. Establish and maintain a growing committed life. As you walk in Christ you will experience the healing and sanctifying work of God. By sowing righteous seeds of obedience you will reap the desired harvest. Walking by faith rather than by sight and trusting in the Lord for His blessing produces the abundant life you desire. Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16.

7. Clear our own offenses. It has been said that hurt people hurt people. This ongoing season should keep us looking at our own life. We need to recognize when we hurt others and be ready to seek forgiveness from them. As we grow in Christ, we will be able to seek forgiveness for our offenses from those who offend us even before we confront them for their offenses against us. Matthew 5:24.

The weight of glory

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Morning at the Cafe

Late Night at the Cafe: Even the Winter

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heartsthrough faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  -Ephesians 3:14-21

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Conversation between Rector of Truro Church (ACNA) and the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

UPDATE: Click here for the live recording of the interview.

Notes of the Interview by William Marsh with Rev Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, Virginia, part of the Anglican Church of North America and Bishop Shannon Johnston, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

These do not claim to be verbatim notes – and should be checked against a recording. But they seek to give the flavour of the discussion that took place in Coventry Cathedral at the Faith in Conflict Conference on February 26 2013, chaired by Canon David Porter, Director of Reconciliation for the Archbishop of Canterbury and in the presence of the Archbishop and 200 plus participants.

William Marsh interviews the Rev'd Dr. Tory Baucum and the Rt. Rev'd Shannon Johnson, February 26, 2013.

William Marsh began by asking the two discussants to give some background.

Rev Tory Baucum explained that he became Rector of Truro Church in 2007. The church had already been engaged in a lawsuit over its property for eight months. There were accumulated grievances between Truro and the Diocese of Virginia and the national church (TEC). In the past Truro had helped introduce the charismatic renewal to TEC. It also had a strong missions involvement, for example with a 40 year long relationship with the Diocese of Kigezi in the Church of Uganda which helped shape its understanding of spirituality.

“The tipping point came in 2003 with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop, a man in a sexual relationship with another man. The Primates Meeting (of 2003) said that such a consecration would tear the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. Anglicans especially from the Global South said it was a schismatic act, which I think it was. This led Truro Church to align itself with another part of the Anglican Communion. This was the setting in which I came into Truro.

Bishop Shannon Johnston: I was elected Bishop coadjutor, with the right of succession in January 2007 and consecrated in May 2007. I do not know what it was like to be a bishop without legal issues around. I became the diocesan bishop in 2009. Truro was one of the fifteen lawsuits in progress when I became bishop. I agree that the tipping point was the election and consecration of a gay man in a committed monogamous relationship. This became the tipping point for the churches that decided to withdraw from the diocese.

Virginia is the largest diocese in TEC on the mainland of the USA. It is an iconic diocese with the oldest Anglican churches – for example Jamestown in 1607. It has many of the oldest congregations. It has many iconic churches in an iconic diocese. It was involved in the same conflict that was taking part in different parts of the USA.

WM: What happens then?

TB: The battle was protracted. A lot of lifelong friendships have been broken. There have been battles over custody of the property. Personal life and ecclesial life has been affected.

SJ The relational side affected me more than the legal side. The relational side is where I put my focus.

WM. So you are both in post and inherited litigation.

TB. We met two years ago in 2011. I had been wanting to meet Shannon. We had been in a lawsuit at war. I had asked a predecessor of mine at Truro, Bishop John Howe to reach out to Shannon. I went to Richmond to meet him.

The lawsuit was the occasion not the reason. I had been the rector for three years. I had seen a reluctance in the church to reach out to different communities in our area. There was fear. I could not just tell people to reach out to people and places they were afraid of without setting an example. I wanted to reach out to an adversary. We read that perfect love casts out fear, but equally perfect fear casts out love.

SJ. My interest was in the relationships – I love to listen. I was intrigued by the call that came out of the blue. I was delighted Tory could come to sit down in the office so we could sit down to talk. I was not sure what we would be talk about. I felt there was a leading of the Spirit in this. This caught me off guard. My sense would be to be defensive. I was surrounded by something that felt godly from the beginning.

The meetings were initially tense. But we ended with prayer. And we asked why do we not meet each month.

WM Did people know you were meeting?

TB The meetings were private. We considered that space to be safe. Truro Vestry knew that I was meeting. We kept it closed to protect it.

Truro Church has not been afraid to take a stand if it is a real matter of truth and justice. Deep in the soul of the parish is the desire for peacemaking.

To give an example: the Chapel of Virginia Theological Seminary burnt down. The Vestry decided to give significant sum of money to rebuild the chapel in our former diocese.

After the second ruling came which we lost, we called a special prayer meeting. 500 members gathered to pray. A reporter who came said “I do not believe this. There is no anger but a sweet spirit.”

SJ My chief of staff, a practicing attorney was nervous about what the bishop might say. There were misgivings about a meeting behind closed doors and with no reports. There was a fear of the unknown. As the meetings went on they began to give it more space. He began to see some change in me in relation to my ministry as a bishop from the time I began to meet with Tory. I had more of a sense of confidence.

BM Did this enhance you?

SJ. I grew through this friendship.

TB This path changes you.

WM What else developed? What else progressed?

TB. God was with us. There were always three present in our meetings. Trust had been destroyed in this process. The pathway to trust is transparency. We would not paper over our differences nor would we exaggerate them.

I would not exaggerate them to say there were two different religions. This has caused great disruption in a church which we loved. We were doing this for the sake of the communities we were called to pastor.

SJ Our prayers grew in scope and depth. I began to think something was opening up. Our conversations were going to places we did not think they would go. We talked about ordinary and personal things, theology and personal things. Things opened up more and that set the stage for the next step. It has always been we take a step into the unknown – we do not know why. Trust has been the great virtue. Trusting God’s presence among us. What do we see new? That new thing we see calls us to take another step. We do not have much knowledge about where this is leading,

WM: What has been the impact on you of those who disagree with what you are doing?

TB It is painful and unfair. A lot of people who write about this have been wounded and betrayed. They ask “Please do not let Tory betray us”. I have had those experiences myself. I did not become the Rector of Truro to fight the Episcopal Church. I do not preach against TEC. I still love TEC. I consider Shannon a friend and a brother who has taken a wrong turn. This is not the same thing as not being a Christian.

He does worship the same resurrected Christ, he believes the same Nicene Faith. These are not nothing. Those conversations do not happen on the blog. By persevering over time – if this is godly and right God will vindicate it in time.

WM A brother who has taken a wrong turn. Is one mutually exclusive of the other?

TB Augustine in discussion with the Donatists refers to his interlocutor as a brother. One can be in serious error and be a brother. The patron of a divided church is St Francis de Sales. He did not convert the Protestants in Geneva back to the Catholic church. He decided to assault Geneva with love. He only cited the authorities they could both accept. This was relational orthodoxy. It does matter how we talk with one another. Even if someone is not in your view a brother, he is still made in the image of God. I do not feel lonely in terms of the great cloud of witnesses.

SJ I hold the same tension about agreeing and disagreeing. I am concerned about the way our position in TEC has been characterised. Agreement is overrated. What I am trying to do is stay in there and reclaim the best charism of Anglicanism – a ‘both-and’ quality. Looking back to the Elizabethan settlement. I am committed to being able to say that we do not paper over our differences.

WM How has your thinking about unity changed?

SJ I was a Music major and so I take an illustration from Music. Leonard Bernstein is a favourite conductor of mine. In 1962 he conducted a concert of Brahms second piano concerto. Bernstein said he disagreed with the pianist’s conception of the concerto. Bernstein decided still to conduct the performance because of the integrity of the pianist. They both disagreed with each other’s view of the score. We make the music the gospel makes even when we find there are points of disagreement.

WM: What is the price you have chosen to pay?

TB So many of our sisters and brothers around the world have truly suffered for the faith. My experience has been most intense. I have to say that it has not been worth it so far. But I am living in hope. I have a deep confidence that God has called us. I am looking to see what God is going is to do. I come from a place where Jazz is the music. In Jazz there is no such thing as a bad note but there are no bad resolutions.

SJ We have come to know each other. There is an incredible role of leadership in spirituality. Some of Elizabeth’s (Mrs Baucum) comments been very influential.

WM: What are the challenges to being leaders in this context.

SJ How could I have a relationship with a church that had pulled out of the diocese? They sense less than a steady hand on the wheel. I have received more affirmation than criticism. Agreement is overrated. It has been very rewarding, Many people have come out of the shadows. Though it was right that the diocese should retain the property, they felt that the way we had been going through this divide has not felt right. The way in which this was unfolding did not work for me. Something between Tory and myself enabled them to come to a better space.


Q You both seem to be kind and generous and nice people. How might it be possible to repeat the interaction you have had you have had among people who are not that nice?

TB The quality of friendship is a common heart. Can this be replicated? What can be replicated is desire not to live in fear. They are a son and daughter of God. The other issues are not defining realities. If you start there and reach out there is no telling what might happen. There are some principles we can learn – things we are not doing.

In living into this conflict we are living into the mystery of Christ. It is not a problem to get around so that we can get on and do the real gospel thing.

SJ How much of what we share is based on our individual temperaments? The substance is allowed for by our temperaments. The methodology can be adapted to any sort of temperament. Reconciliation is the gospel. It is a commitment to be who you are, if the other person can feel the authenticity.

Q. Can you see the change cascading down?

TB At Truro we have more seekers in the Alpha Course.

SJ Other voices have got involved other than the lawyers. I want to cleanse the wound. God is involved in this so I trust that God has all of this going on at the same time. I do believe that the Holy Spirit has all of this going on at the same time.

WM Do you not think Shannon should repent?

TB Yes. How does one repent? The kindness of God leads to repentance not the wrath of man. My tribe have been wrong about a lot of things. The Episcopal Church stood up for civil rights in Mississipi, not the Evangelical Protestants.

My history causes me to be humble. I want to hear how he has come to this place. This is not just about two individuals. We are pastors of a church. It is about how we disagree and make decisions about differences. This is different from two individuals who have a disagreement.

SJ The church is always going to have disagreements. We have not handled this disagreement well. We have made it more destructive than it needed to be.

Ten Thousand Reasons

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning,
It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name,
Sing like never before,
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger,
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind,
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come.
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name.

Tonight at the Cafe: Audrey Assad

In light of an interesting day.

Faith in Conflict Conference opens at Coventry

Here is the first talk from the Faith in Conflict Conference at Coventry Cathedral in England:

The Exasperating Patience of God by the Rev'd Sam Wells.

Sam Wells is Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College, London. He is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford, attended seminary at New College, Edinburgh, and studied for his Ph.D. at Durham University.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

David Porter: Reflections on a Journey

Canon David Porter writes an insightful post of recent developments, from here:

Over the last five years life has brought some unexpected developments, not least the events of recent weeks as I have taken up responsibilities at Lambeth Palace as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation. This is a part time secondment from Coventry Cathedral which itself is to be the focus for the new Archbishop’s commitment to reconciliation. As a practical expression of this responsibility by Coventry I am to provide support to ++Justin, a former Canon for International Ministry at the Cathedral and my predecessor in this post.

We first met in April 2005 at a consultation in Coventry arising out of the Lausanne consultation in Thailand the previous autumn where I had represented ECONI on the reconciliation track. The Thailand event was a formative experience for me and the declaration signed by those present in the reconciliation working group hangs on my office wall. It lead to our sabbatical in the US at Duke Divinity School where my wife and I enjoyed five months in 2006.

Coventry Cathedral had played a full part in that consultation and little did I realise in 2005 that I would be working there within three years. It was in fact my second visit to Coventry, the first in 1997 with a group of Southern Baptists who were developing a reconciliation ministry and network which still has links to the Coventry Community of the Cross of Nails. It was one of them, Phyllis Hardin, who sent me the information on the job at Coventry to see if I knew anyone suitable, the assumption being they would need to be Anglican and ordained.

++Justin was one of many Anglican friends who warmly brought me in to their circle in a job in which I have found much fulfilment and fun in serving God and the church. Dean John Irvine and the Residentiary Canons at Coventry went out of their way to make me part of the team and bring my Anabaptist convictions and pragmatic approach to this opportunity for ministry.

Now that role is to be developed. While an initial focus will be on the ongoing conflicts within the church over deeply held differences, the ultimate aim is to look out to a world torn apart by violent conflicts, and enable the church to live as the children of God, peacemakers.

The challenges that lie ahead are certainly daunting. One thing is certain, I will get many things wrong. Yet I can’t help but sense that God is in this journey as he was in the journey I took just over 35 years ago when my life in Christian ministry began.

Between my Irish Presbyterian upbringing and emerging from theological college a convinced Anabaptist, there was a sojourn of deep significance which changed me more than anything in my life, apart from my journey in partnership with my wife. I lived in Lahore, Pakistan, working with BMMF at St Andrew’s Church an old railway workers’ church with an English speaking congregation.

Part of the Church of Pakistan it was Anglican in practice and it was here I preached my first sermon, wearing a cassock! Rev Sid Iggledun, a CMS missionary from Sydney was my mentor and responsible, along with Jim Tebbe from the US, for my returning to the UK to study theology. A friend from that time Irfan Jamil is now the Bishop of Lahore.

At each stage of transition in my ministry there have been significant people who have been God’s gift to me in opening avenues of service and growth in faith. During lent I want to think on them, giving thanks, maybe finding time to write a blog or two on some of them.

++Justin is the latest in this lineage of friends in Christ who have seen something that I really don’t fully recognise and opened a path to grow in faith and continue in service. That they have been there at all gives me some hope that what lies ahead is of God, despite all that may tempt me to think otherwise in the days and months ahead.

Read it all here.

Anglican Unscripted: Catch the latest news of the Archbishop of Canterbury's appointment of Canon David Porter as Director of Reconciliation

In this week's episode of Anglican Unscripted, George and Kevin cover the latest news including the search for a new Roman Catholic pope, updates on the GAFCON conference next fall, and the appointment of a new "Director of Reconciliation," Canon David Porter, Canon of Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral.

This is not the time for myopic vision when it comes to reconciliation.  When I was in college, I studied theatre and writing in London during my junior year.  Here is a list of what happened in London in that period leading up to and after I left London:

10 October 1981: a bomb blast on Ebury Bridge Road next to Chelsea Barracks kills two people and injures 39. 
26 October 1981: a bomb planted by the IRA in a Wimpy Bar on Oxford Street kills Kenneth Howorth, the Metropolitan Police explosives officer who is attempting to defuse it. 
20 July 1982: Two bombs in Hyde Park and Regent's Park, London by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) kill 11 members of the Household Cavalry and the Royal Green Jackets. Seven horses are also killed. 
17 December 1983: Harrods was bombed by the IRA. Six people were killed (including three police officers) and 90 wounded during Christmas shopping at the West London department store. (See Harrods bombing)

I can remember what London was like in those days - I had never experienced what it felt like to live under threat of terrorism and would not know it again until after September 11, 2001.

How is it that now there is peace when it seemed so certain that such peace could never happen? As hard as things have been for so many in the Anglican Communion, and for some the decisions of one province continues to have profound consequences on others in other provinces, we are not like those that have no hope.  

During this season of Lent it may just be the time to reflect on God's call to us to be ministers of reconciliation.  What does that mean?  Where do we begin?

This season of Lent would say we begin here, in the sanctuary of our own hearts.  A time to set out into the wilderness. That is where Kendall Harmon is with his own journey.  Let us also begin.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tonight at the Cafe: In the name of love

Lambeth Palace appoints new "Director of Reconciliation"

Canon David Porter
In one of his first official acts as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has appointed Canon David Porter in a newly created position on his staff called "Director of Reconciliation."

Canon Porter, who will continue to be the Director of Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, will assume the new role at Lambeth Palace on a part-time basis.  According to Lambeth Palace,  the new position was created to "enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world.

Canon Porter's "initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion," the Lambeth Palace statement said.

“I am delighted to welcome Canon David Porter, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry, who will join my personal staff part time as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation," Justin Welby said in a statement. "David brings a wealth of experience in reconciliation and peacebuilding from his work in Northern Ireland and through the Community of the Cross of Nails in Coventry.

"Conflict is an ever present reality both in the Church and wider society. Christians have been at the centre of reconciliation throughout history. We may not have always handled our own conflicts wisely, but it is essential that we work towards demonstrating ways of reducing destructive conflict in our world - and also to setting an example of how to manage conflict within the Church."

In addition to his work at Coventry Cathedral, David Porter has served as the chair of the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and has served as a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council

Here is Canon Porter discussing his work at Coventry Cathedral:

UPDATE:  Here is more on Canon Porter's background, from here:

Since September 2008 David  has been the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, England.  An experienced community relations activist, peacebuilding practitioner and community theologian he has thirty years experience in regional, national and international faith based organisations.

In June 2007 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the independent Consultative Group on the Past, to advise the British government on dealing with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Their report was published in January 2009.

In 1987 he co-founded ECONI which until 2005 acted as a catalyst for Evangelical Protestant involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process. Becoming its first full time Director, from 1996 he was responsible for policy and programme development. A political activist he contributed to media and government on key issues in the political and peace processes and to ongoing public policy debate on good relations, equality and human rights.

Prior to this he was Community Relations Co-ordinator with the YMCA in Belfast and until recently he was Director of the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland, a faith based research, training and resource organisation.

As a practitioner David is widely experienced in peacebuilding, group facilitation and training and has developed and managed a number of major social research and publishing projects.  He has particular expertise in political mediation and track-two dialogue. He was both part of an ongoing private dialogue with Irish Republican leaders and an advisor on the Loyalist Commission which brought together Protestant paramilitary leaders to work for peaceful change within their organisations.  During 2008/09 he was Chaplain to the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast.

He is a member of the N Ireland Community Relations Council and as a member of the Healing through Remembering project he serves on their Truth Recovery and Acknowledgement Sub Group.
In 2000 he was appointed a member of the Northern Ireland Civic Forum set up under the 1998 Belfast Agreement as a consultative body to the legislative Assembly, chairing its working group on peacebuilding and reconciliation.  For 13 years he was a member of UK Board of the Evangelical Alliance, serving as its chair for 2 years and as a member of the EA policy commission and a commissioner for the Faith and Nation Enquiry.

David previously worked for eleven years with Interserve, an international Christian mission working in South Asia and the Middle East. Over the years his peacebuilding and international interests have combined in work in other countries dealing with community conflict. This has involved teaching and workshops with groups in the Balkans, the Baltic States, Columbia, Egypt, and Sri Lanka as well as contributing to international consultations and conferences in Asia, Europe, UK and the United States.
An honours graduate in Theology from the London School of Theology, for eight years he was a Visiting Lecturer in Missiology at Belfast Bible College and has completed a Masters in Peace Studies at the University of Ulster. During 2006 he was Visiting Practitioner Fellow at the Centre for Reconciliation, Duke University Divinity School, North Carolina, USA. In March 2009 he was made an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies, Coventry University.

His particular interests are: the relationship between religion, politics and national identity; religion as both a source of conflict and a resource for peace; relating community peacebuilding to political processes; handling diversity in multicultural societies; and the theological foundation, moral vision, spiritual formation and practical outworking of reconciliation, particularly in dealing with the deep wounds of historical conflict.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today at the Cafe

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome to the 7th Annual CafeAnons Ball!

Shrove Tuesday is already proving not to be the typical Tuesday night, with Mardi Gras underway in some parts, while live coverage continues from the site of a cabin in Big Bear, California to the presentation of the State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress by the President of the United States.

So to get things started, we need to be sure the pancakes are arriving from the kitchen to all the plates here in the cafe.  There are many ways to make pancakes - but just in case you're not sure, here is a short less on making delicious pancakes for Strove Tuesday.

Ever wonder how Shrove Tuesday got started? Here's a short history:

For centuries, the English have celebrated Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, with merriment and antics and, especially, great quantities of pancakes. In fact, the fried flat cakes became so important to the holiday that is has also been called Pancake Day, or Pancake Tuesday.

Learning to make pancakes can start early.
Long ago, strict Christian Lenten rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products, so keen housewives made pancakes to use up their supplies of eggs, milk, butter and other fats. They could be easily made and cooked in a skillet or on a griddle.

Families ate stacks of them, and pancakes were popular with all classes.

The rich Shrovetide pancakes were eaten as a ritual or symbol of self-indulgence before the fast. Early English recipes called for wheaten flour, eggs, butter or lard, a liquid (water, milk, ale or wine) and flavorings such as white or brown sugar, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger), orange flower water, scented sugars or liqueurs.

The pancakes were fried in butter or fat and served flat or rolled and sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with preserves or doused with  alcohol. A special pancake, called a quire or pancake of paper, was made very thin and usually stacked. It was likened to a quire of "wafers" or writing paper.

Even the church bells that rang early on Shrove Tuesday morning summoning everyone to confession and to be "shriven" became known as Pancake Bells. They also reminded all to use up the "forbidden foods" before Lent. An old London rhyme went "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells on St. Peter's."

Now we know!

Pancake Races
One of the traditions of Shrove Tuesday is to hold pancake races. Here is what Wiki says about that:

Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in England. It started at 11:00 am with the ringing of a church bell. On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan whilst running. 
The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to over a 415 yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wear an apron and a scarf. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service. 
Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25. A similar race is held in North Somercotes of Lincolnshire in eastern England.

Have you ever participated in a Pancake Race?

Well, if one has munched down stacks of pancakes and then took off running with pancakes in a skillet, well - this might be what comes next:

Just remembered that back in 2009 when we celebrated the Third Annual CafeAnons Ball, the president gave his first State of the Union Address.  It turns out that year he was very late for the speech.  Here's a pic of the Congress waiting - something they would find they do more of than anything else.

U.S. Congress waits for President Obama to arrive for the State of the Union Address in 2009.

Last night I was having dinner with friends who are starting their own blog.  We were talking about the perpetual subject of "moderating comments."  Do you or don't you?  If you do, how do you do it?  Do you make people register before commenting?  Do you make them give their real name?  Do you review the comments before posting?  Do you make everyone type system-generated random letters before posting?  Just what should you do?

Here at the Cafe we thought that it would be like a Cafe in real life.  Only in Cheers does everyone know your name.  In most cafe and pubs - yes, there are regulars who's names are known.  But there are many visitors who's name no one ever knows.  That's part of the charm of a cafe or pubs - a mix of the known and the unknown.  We wanted it to be a place where those on the left and those on the right could meet up and swap howdies.  However we didn't want anyone to meet up and swap blows.

So our official moderator is none other than this guy:

He has his favorite table by the door.  He has a lot on his mind so most often is not easily disturbed.  But if things get rowdy, he won't hesitate to get up from his chair and toss someone out the door - or window.

Sadly, many time they are the anons  - not always - but most often it does seem to their lot in life.  Some seem to forget that while we may not know their name (though we might know where they are posting from) someone does know their name.  Just saying.

Most of the time - a great deal of the time - Hagrid can just snooze his time-off away and while the conversations may get lively (we are permitted to toss pancakes but not chairs), it most often is still rather cordial.  And for that, we are grateful.

And so on this day, we say thank you - all you anons (who know who you are), thank you for dropping in, toasting your tankard, speaking your mind and most of the time keeping your cool.  Here is a song dedication for each one of you.  We've had some tough years haven't we?  And some of us go our separate ways for lots of different reasons - and yet this is truly my prayer for us:

So the State of the Union Address should begin soon, but all the live coverage seems to be pointed at Big Bear, California.  We did receive an question from an Anon about how we think the president will fare tonight.  Well, the Anon said more than that but we'll just send a stack of pancakes out to him and leave it at that.

So the live stream is changing from a burning cabin in the woods of California to the United States Capitol - not exactly the juxtaposition the president was hoping for.

The U.S. Congres gathers for the State of the Union Address.
Meanwhile, drama unfolds in Big Bear, California

One can only imagine what the Vice President is whispering

And now as a public service, we bring you live coverage of the State of the Union Address:

And interesting live commentary as usual from Stephen Green here.

Meanwhile - as if this isn't enough - Mardi Gras is underway in New Orleans.

Time for a musical interlude, then.

Of course, we can't have an event like this an not hear from you know who.

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams

So we'll sign off with this one - a favorite - from Mr. Dylan.  G'Nite all - and g'nite cafeanons.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Get ready for the 7th Annual CafeAnons Ball!

Yes, yes - can you believe it?  It's that time again - and it's our seventh year celebrating all ya'all (you know who you are) who post here anonymously and known only by God.  Not sure all our beloved anons remember that when they post, but there we are.

So hold on to your mardi gras hats and start mixing up the pancake batter as we get ready for the 7th Annual CafeAnons Ball right here at!

It's hard to believe this will be the seventh year of celebration!  Here are links to year's past:

Here are links to the CafeAnonsBalls from the last four years: 

Festivities start at sundown (eastern time) tomorrow, Shrove Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

In the meantime as we search for our party hats and beads and warming up for the pancake races, here is a tune from last year's celebration:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Carson speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast

Watch this amazing speech the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins HospitalDr. Benjamin Carson is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has an extraordinary personal story.  But listen to what he has to say to the National Prayer Breakfast last week:

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New Archbishop of Canterbury speaks out in strong support of traditional marriage, saying "the Anglican Communion is 80 million ... I have to look at the whole communion."

From here:

Newly elected Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has used his first public comments as leader of the world’s 80million Anglicans to reiterate his opposition to the Government’s gay marriage plans.

The former oil-executive turned evangelical man of the cloth was officially made the 105 Archbishop of Canterbury following a brief, legalese filled ceremony in St Paul’s. He had already been nominated for the job last year but today’s ceremony marked his official election to the post before his enthronement at Canterbury cathedral next month.

In a brief interview with the media afterwards Dr Welby was asked to comment on tomorrow’s vote on gay marriage – an issue that although the Anglican Church’s leadership has officially opposed many pew members are nonetheless supportive of.

"I have no idea how the vote will go, so I am not going to get into hypothetical questions,” he said. “I stand, as I have always stood over the last few months, with the statement I made at the announcement of my appointment, which is that I support the Church of England's position on this. We have made many statements about this and I stick with that."

Although much speculation had grown in the last 24 hours of the Archbishop publicly “challenging” the government over gay marriage, Dr Welby’s chose his words carefully and instead re-iterated the church’s official position. Last year the Church released a detailed paper explaining why they were officially opposed to the Government’s same sex marriage proposals.

Welby himself comes from a gently conservative but charismatic evangelical background and is known to favour the church’s official teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

Read it all here.   There is also a video available here.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
his mercies never come to an end
they are new every morning
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

"Greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War,” says new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Very very cool.  I don't think I would have ever dreamed that the Archbishop of Canterbury would spend the eve before assuming his new position teaching and praying with the Vineyard - as well as engaging in such easy-going humor.

A new day.

Bishop Welby is joined by his wife, Caroline, as members of the Vineyard movement pray for the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
NOTE: Justin and Caroline Welby's interview at the Vineyard in Nottingham, England is here.  You can see the video here.

From the London Telegraph here:

Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, said the financial crisis and a series of scandals had “toppled the idols” on which British society had been based for decades but could open up the way for a wider return to Christianity.

He said the current mood in the country offered the Church its “greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War.”

His comments, days before he formally takes over as Archbishop, herald a shift in the direction of the Church of England, with a more explicit drive to win converts rather than being perceived as simply managing decline.

Speaking to an evangelical audience in Nottingham, he said Christians should be unashamed to talk openly about their faith. He said the Church should “grasp the opportunity” presented by an expanding social role, through running schools and initiatives such as food banks, to spread the Christian message.

He told an audience at the Trent Vineyard church near Nottingham that while the economic downturn had a devastating effect, it could also open the way for social change.

“I think we are in the greatest moment of opportunity for the Church since the Second World War,” he said.

“In 2008 we had the most significant financial collapse in this country, in terms of the banking system, since the mid-19th century. One of the reasons the recession has been so deep and may be going into a triple dip is because there has been such a loss of confidence.

“But the side effect of that has been that the state has run out of the capacity to do the things it had taken over since 1945. All the idols on which our society was based have fallen, they have been toppled. They have been toppled by the financial crisis, by scandal. Trust has broken down.”

He said the “idols” included materialism and the belief in the economy’s capacity to continue growing, adding: “And the state as security can no longer provide what it [could].
“I grew up in a country in which the idea of a food bank was something you had in the United States of America, we didn’t have any. There are 50 . . . in my diocese alone today.
“These are things that we never imagined because if you ran out of money the state cared for you.”

He suggested that the state could no longer “replace” the Church in carrying out “works of mercy.”

“We are educating, in my diocese, 50,000 children. In the country as a whole the Church of England alone educates a million children every day,” he said.
“Are we going to take the opportunities that are there for the grasping to bring people to know and love Jesus Christ?”

Bishop Welby said all Christians should be prepared to actively speak about their faith. Founded in California in the early 1970s the Vineyard movement now has more than 1,500 churches around the world. Part of the charismatic strand of evangelicalism, it has an emphasis on the “gifts of the spirit.”