Posts Tagged ‘episcopal church’

Perhaps you read my first three posts and and you thought to yourself “This sounds very different from how my rector described Anglicanism to me!”  “I thought we were a big tent?”  “What about the via media?”  You may even have had a t-shirt that encouraged people to join The Episcopal Church because “no matter what you believe, there’s someone else in The Episcopal Church who believes it too!”  You may feel this way especially if you entered Anglicanism in North America. I would wager that many Episcopal or Anglican confirmation classes would define Anglicanism as a sort of compromise position. In the 1840’s, this compromise position was termed the ‘via media,’ the middle way. More recently, this compromise position has been termed “Three Streams Anglicanism.”  This is the idea that in Anglicanism the three streams of catholic identity, evangelical truth, and charismatic experience come together. Those who identify Anglicanism in either of these ways would have a hard time with the sort of picture I’m painting here of different camps that have vastly different theological foundations. For them, Anglicanism doesn’t devolve into silly arguments over churchmanship or theology. We are a big tent! There is room for all here! (more…)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

“So, what are we now?”  I have been asked this question countless times in 2013.  Of course, by now, though I’m not quite sure how to answer it, I at least know what the question means.  It means, “Are we Episcopal?  Are we Anglican?  If so, what kind of Anglican are we?”  What lies behind that question, however, is more varied.

For some, it is simple curiosity.  They love being a part of Trinity, and the broader association of our church is less important to them.  For others, it comes out of a place of grief.  Our entire spiritual and religious life has been formed in The Episcopal Church.  We feel a bit like people without a country.  For still others, we are finding it hard to invite people when we don’t know who we are.  As varied as these concerns are, they stem from the same root.  Identity.

I think few of us really give the issue of our identity its due attention.  Who we think we are sets the course for our lives.  When people never get a secure sense of who they are, they can spend their lives in an aimless kind of wandering, never really knowing where they fit in.

Our identity begins forming early in life, and continues to do so based on who we are, what we do, where we live, what we like, etc.  I have a cousin who years ago dropped out of college despite the fact that he had walked onto the football field and was making decent grades.  When another family member asked him why he said, “You and me, we’re just not the kind of people who go to college.”  Despite having the ability and talent to succeed in college, his identity was wrong.  That’s why that question “So, what are we now?” is so important to answer well.

In his epistle to the churches, the apostle Peter addresses the identity of the church.  He tells them, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [Christ’s] own possession.”  Who are we?  Peter says we are a chosen, royal, and holy possession of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He says we are a race of people formed into a nation of priests who live in the service of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who are we?  We are Christ’s.  We are His treasured possession.  We are honored dignitaries in His service.  Before we are Smiths, or Jacksons, or Petersons, or Americans, or black, or white, we are Christ’s.

Having our identity in Christ makes all the difference.  When we understand that we are Christ’s, then we understand that we are not our own.  We were purchased at a heavy cost.  We are not a people who stand on our own merits, but we are a redeemed people.  We are not failures, rejects, or victims, but beloved adopted children, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”(Romans 8:17)  We are not individuals, but we belong to the body of faithful people throughout the ages, those who have lived by faith, not by sight.  We have a family joined together not with blood of genetic heritage, but by the shed blood of Christ.

Because this issue of our identity is so important, I’ve invited our Bishop to address just that at a luncheon forum following our 11 o’clock service.  Bishop Mark Lawrence will be addressing the question “Who are we?”  in a presentation followed by a brief time of Q&A.  But remember, no matter who we are, no matter what we call ourselves, no matter who we are related to, our identity is first and last in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read here…

The Diocese of SC has just released this information. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has sent confirmation to Bishop Mark and the Diocese of South Carolina that he has, in their opinion, abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  This conclusion has been based on three charges that have been anonymously leveled against Bishop Mark.  Ironically, two of the three allegations had been previously dismissed by the Disciplinary Board in a previous accusation made last fall.  However, it is apparent that they have resurfaced and the Disciplinary Board has reversed its previous decision declaring that Bishop Mark has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  This is an offense which, if confirmed, could result in Mark’s removal as the Bishop of South Carolina. Because of recent changes to the disciplinary canons of the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the Disciplinary Board hope to restrict Mark’s ministry among us until a vote by the House of Bishops to depose him. 

This news is as shocking as it is saddening. It would appear that the fracture between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church has reached a tipping point. I have already heard reports that Mark has backed out of peace deals initiated by The Presiding Bishop and Bishop Waldo. This is categorically false. In fact, Bishop Mark initiated these talks in the hopes of working together with the office of The Presiding Bishop to create a peaceful resolution to the situation created by General Convention 2012.  While Bishop Mark left an initial meeting with the impression that the conversation would continue, this Monday the Presiding Bishop notified him of the Disciplinary Board’s decision to seek his removal.  It is hard to interpret these actions in any other way than as a clear sign that only those who are willing to submit to a specific agenda whether they agree with it or not are welcome in this church. As an ordained priest in The Episcopal Church who has made vows before God to be faithful to this church, I have often witnessed and  felt this hostility, and it grieves my spirit.

In anticipation of just such an event, and given the reality of a history of intrusions into the life of this diocese (to include the employment of legal counsel to investigate Trinity Myrtle Beach), the Standing Committee had passed a resolution that in the event of this type of an incursion, the diocese “withdraws its accession to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and disaffiliates with the Episcopal Church by withdrawing its membership from the Episcopal Church.”  You can read the full resolution here.  I cannot comment on the full implications of this resolution beyond its plain meaning.  Certainly, the Standing Committee’s intent was to allow the Diocese of South Carolina to determine its future without the interference of any external entity.  This Friday, I will be attending an emergency clergy day in Charleston where I hope to learn more regarding this situation.

What does this mean for Trinity?  I can assure you that we will continue to be passionate about applying the Gospel to all of life and making disciples who change the world.  I can assure you that Trinity will continue to be a place where people of all walks of life are welcomed and embraced.  And I can assure you that I will do everything possible to keep Trinity together, informed, and prayerful about this crisis.  I would ask of the members of Trinity that we be very careful to prioritize our loyalties.  Our loyalty needs to rest first and foremost on the one “who loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20).  Trinity belongs to Jesus Christ.  Next, our loyalty to those with whom we sit face to face is infinitely important than the loyalty we have to any human institution or ideology.   Finally, we are called to labor together to fulfill the Great Commission.  If our relationship to any denomination frustrates our ability to fullfill our calling, we must reassess our alignment in order to be faithful to Christ.  If we keep these priorities in front of our faces, I am fully confident that Trinity will not only weather this storm but come out stronger on the other side.  

In the meantime, I covet your prayers for Trinity, myself as Rector, our Bishop Mark, the Disciplinary Board of The Episcopal Church, and The Presiding Bishop.

For those who are interested in the daily goings on of General Convention, John Burwell of Holy Cross Sullivan’s Island offers a great bird’s eye view here


I highly recommend this entire lecture to Episcopal pastors in the Reformed tradition. It is wildly enlightening in seeing how the popular sentiment behind the Anglo-Catholic revival (I say popular sentiment because most of the prime movers of the A.C. revival were orthodox, godly men) of England led us into the current syncretistic mess and allergy to confession that the Episcopal Church currently faces in the U.S. I personally found it of great historical interest (J.C. Ryle seems to be fighting a similar battle) in this regard and many others. I also recommend this lecture to those who are interested in deepening their understanding of the aesthetic, particularly in worship. Read the whole thing, because it is easy to be deceived by the excerpted paragraphs below. Kuyper is not rejecting the aesthetic, as he makes clear throughout the essay. Nor is he rejecting “high church” liturgies, in fact he helped republish an old high church reformed liturgy (Forma Ac Ratio, which was influential in the Episcopal prayer book) and goes out of his way to convey the “liturgical” aspects of historic Calvinism. I think what he is aiming at, to repeat myself, is the popular sentiment behind the need for symbolism. So read it carefully, and read it all.

Every one who, moving in the finite, becomes aware of the existence of something Infinite, has to form a conception of the relation that exists between both. Here two possibilities present themselves. Either the Infinite reveals itself to man, and by this revelation unveils the really existing relation; or the Infinite remains mute and silent, and man himself has to guess, to conjecture, and to represent to himself this relation by means of his imagination; that is, in an artificial way. Now the first line is the Christian one. The Infinite at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past by the prophets, and in these late days has spoken to us by his Son�this Son being not a silent mystery, but the eternal, creating and speaking Word. Paganism, on the contrary, being destitute of revelation, wants the symbol, and creates it in its idols, “having mouths but they speak not, having ears but they hear not.” Symbol means a fictitious link between the invisible Infinite and the visible finite. It is derived from sumballein; i.e., bringing two different spheres together. Symbolism is the grasping of something outward and material, upon which the imagination may put the stamp of the unseen and unspeakable. The symbol is the middle link, being related from one side to what you can see and grasp, and from the other side to what you feel, fancy and imagine. As soon, therefore, as the consciousness of the Infinite revives in the public mind, in antagonism to a God-given Revelation, the demand for the symbol necessarily and immediately declares itself. So it was in the Grecian world, so it is now. Of course there exists also an unconscious, ever-changing relation between the Infinite and the finite in the actual phenomena of life; but this relation, being always partial, successive and momentarily gauged, cannot satisfy the soul. What she is longing after is a comprehensive impression of the Infinite in its totality, in its all-pervading and all-permeating action; and this sensation no finite phenomenon is able to stir in us, just because it is finite. What the soul want to realize is a grasping of the Infinite as such; and such an infinite sensation Symbolism only can produce, just because it puts an invisible stamp upon a visible or palpable phenomenon. In the Freemasonry you see quite the same thing. Freemasonry aims at the Infinite, but rejects all revelation, and therefore it created from the very first, and still advocates, the most explicit and elaborated symbolism. Spiritism, on the contrary, is almost choked with thirst for revelation from the other side of the tomb, and consequently knows of no symbolical fancy whatsoever. (more…)

The new Anglican Church in North America claims 100,000 worshippers, in four dioceses and dozens of parishes.

It means in each country there are now two competing churches, both claiming allegiance to the Anglican Communion.

The American Church’s liberal stance on homosexuality has led some traditionalists, including some whole dioceses, to leave the Church. They have instead formed a range of new alliances, often with Churches in Africa. The move will reduce the rolls of the US Episcopal Church, which has 2.1 million members, and the Anglican Church of Canada, which has 640,000 members. The status of church property in the four breakaway dioceses – Fort Worth in Texas, Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Quincy in Illinois and San Joaquin in California – will have to renegotiated.

Growing body

During a celebration service in Illinois, its leaders unveiled a draft constitution for the new Church. “The Lord is displacing the Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, head of the breakaway Diocese of Pittsburgh, who heads the new group. “We are a body that is growing, that is planting new congregations, that is concerned to be an authentic Christian presence in the US and Canada,” said Bishop Duncan. But doubts remain as to whether or how it will be recognised by the wider Anglican Communion, says the BBC’s Religious Affairs correspondent Christopher Landau.

read it all here