Archive for March, 2016

Wilberforce Academy 2016: Apply Now!

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The Wilberforce Academy is aimed at students and young professionals with a passion to serve Jesus Christ in a variety of vocations including law, politics, education, media, arts and business.  Our aim is that delegates will be prepared for servant hearted, Christ-centred leadership in public life, having been equipped for a robust biblical framework that guides their thinking, prayers and activity in addressing the issues facing our society. We hope that they will also develop lasting…

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While the Church slept

Friday, March 18th, 2016

By Dr Lisa S Nolland, Solas: It’s true that many Christian youngsters can still be convinced by the traditional understanding of heterosexual ethics (i.e. no sex outside marriage). However, a disturbing reality is that increasing numbers have become ambivalent about homosexuality or are now gay advocates. Being marinated in all things gay from nursery to university does the trick. As lesbian activist Patricia Warren noted: “Whoever captures the kids, owns the future” (1995). In the main…

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“CORE DOCTRINE” IS A TRAP

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

By the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey
https://americananglican.org/

(Pictured above: the trial of Bishop Walter Righter, 1996)

The Anglican Communion’s Primates (the leaders of each province) imposed “relational consequences” on The Episcopal Church just a few weeks ago. One of those consequences was that The Episcopal Church could not vote during the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting on matters pertaining to “polity and doctrine.” Today, those consequences are proving themselves worthless faster than the Primates could have anticipated.

At the conclusion of the January Primates’ meeting, Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC), remarked that TEC incurred “consequences” for having changed the doctrine of marriage — and he added that it was a fair assessment on the part of the primates because TEC had indeed changed the doctrine of marriage and had no intention of turning back.

But at the February meeting of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, Presiding Bishop Curry gave a more nuanced explanation. He told them that he does not consider marriage to be a part of the Church’s “core doctrine”. While Presiding Bishop Curry conceded that other Anglican Primates considered marriage a core doctrine of the Church, he did not share their views. Moreover, the Presiding Bishop stated that TEC will participate fully in next month’s Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka because “what the Primates said applies to the Primates; it does not apply to ACC.”

“Core Doctrine”

For those who’ve been fighting these Anglican battles over the years, the term “Core Doctrine” might bring back some memories.

“Core Doctrine” is a term the Court for the Trial of a Bishop used in the (in)famous trial of Diocese of Newark Assisting Bishop Walter Righter in Stanton et al v. Righter (1996). In 1990, Bishop Walter Righter ordained a man named Barry Stopfel to the diaconate. The Rev. Stopfel was living with his homosexual partner when he was ordained. I’m familiar with the Righter trial as I assisted, in a small way, the prosecution.

Ten TEC bishops brought a presentment against Bishop Righter on two counts: first, for teaching a doctrine contrary to that held by the church (that is, marriage as between one man and one woman only), and secondly for violating his ordination vows to “conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the church” by ordaining a practicing homosexual to the diaconate.

In a 7-1 decision on May 15, 1996, the court dismissed the charges against Bishop Righter stating that the Episcopal Church “has no doctrine prohibiting the ordination of homosexuals,” and that Bishop Righter did not contradict the “core doctrine” of the church. It went on to say that “sound and trustworthy biblical scholarship has identified the basic contents of the [core doctrine].” They are:

• God in Christ fulfills the scripture
• God became incarnate in Jesus Christ
• Christ was crucified
• Christ was buried
• Christ rose again
• Christ was exalted to God
• God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit
• There will be a day of judgment
• Therefore repent

But this is such thin gruel that one struggles even to imagine what repentance would look like! Repent from what? What will “judgment day” be about? How did Christ rise again–metaphorically? Existentially? Wishfully? Or bodily? How did God in Christ fulfill the scriptures? In fact, what are the scriptures the “core doctrine” identifies as having been fulfilled by Christ? Unlike the 39 Articles, there is nothing here about the content of the Scriptures, their authority for our life and practice, the person and work of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross for our sins, his bodily resurrection, justification by faith in Christ alone, or even the ancient and Catholic Creeds as essential to the faith!

The Court in the Righter case struggled to articulate where we might find this “core doctrine,” and the best it could come up with was that the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (CLQ) of 1886, 1888 is “a reflection of an understanding of core doctrine.” The CLQ is often cited as encapsulating the fundamentals of doctrine among Anglicans and the reference point for all ecumenical discussions. However, its implications are gutted when reduced to “a reflection of an understanding.” What is that but a wisp of an opinion?

Quite bluntly, Presiding Bishop Curry is resurrecting a 20 year old term to further dilute the teaching of the Anglican Communion. The message from TEC is that if it’s not part of the “Core Doctrine” of the Christian faith everyone should agree to disagree and just move on. You see, “core doctrine” is yet another attempt by TEC to refashion Anglicanism into something that is entirely other than Biblically faithful.

This is the problem with the term “core doctrine” and how Presiding Bishop Curry is using it. It can mean anything you want it to mean, or need it to mean, for your purposes. It has no objective standard or rule against which it can be measured–other than the thin gruel the Righter Court stated in its bullet points.

The one thing the Righter Court made absolutely clear is that, according to the leadership of TEC, Anglicanism is NOT confessional:

“We are not a confessional church which has carefully articulated and identified the entire scope of its teaching and the disciplinary consequences for the violation of its teaching… Holy Scripture is the story of our relationship to God. It is not at heart a rule book of doctrine or discipline. It is the foundation on which and by which all doctrine and tradition are to be tested.”

And yet Anglicans all over the world hold dear Article XX of the Thirty-Nine Articles, which states that “It is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another.” God’s word written is more than a “foundation” to test doctrine; it is the ultimate standard for our faith and practice, as Anglican theologians from Cranmer to Hooker to Packer have recognized up to the very present.

I’m afraid the handwriting is on the wall. With TEC present, look for efforts at the upcoming ACC-16 to take Anglican identity away from its biblical and confessional roots. Look for an emphasis in the discussion on “The Bible in the Life of the Church” curriculum for watering down of the authority of scripture in favor of the authority of “context.” Look for a renewed discussion of the meaning of “core doctrine”–perhaps even an assignment to the Inter-Anglican Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) to do a study. And then to incorporate its findings into a new round of “Indaba” and “good disagreement” that renders Anglican doctrine without any boundaries at all.

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: St. Brendan’s in the City, a New Model for the Anglican Communion

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

 

By Sarah Frances Ives
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org

While many church leaders wonder how to attract younger members to the Anglican Communion, a vibrant parish in Washington D.C., called St. Brendan’s in the City fills its pews with many in their 20s and 30s. These young adults serve on the vestry, care for the education program, and pray about the future of the Christian faith. St. Brendan’s in the City offers a distinctive ministry close to the Capitol Building in Washington DC and could become a model for future parishes in the Anglican Communion.

What do worshippers find at St. Brendan’s? The parish uses a Capitol Hill sanctuary and worships in the evening at 5 PM. As the sun sets, worshippers of all ages, races, and cultures ascend into the dignified brick edifice to pray the ancient Anglican liturgy with heart-felt conviction. Joyful singing welcomes both the frequent visitors and long-time parishioners at the beginning of the worship service. Engaging sermons and heart-felt prayers fill the hour. The service offers a tender and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in varied and happy ways. This parish offers the sweet flavor that the Anglican Communion rests in the hands of Christ and all is well.

The young priest, Richard Treacy, occasionally talks of his native Ireland. He humorously describes sitting in evening prayer services in drafty and chilly churches, while sensing the presence of Christ. He offers wise and courageous sermons as he interprets scriptures so he may shed the light of the gospel on the experiences of his vital congregation. He says, “We live our lives with the pursuit of faith in the center of them.” Treacy’s sermons persuasively guide the congregants into new and profound understandings. One Sunday evening, Richard preaches, “When we focus on Christ, we have our identity in him reaffirmed. We are nourished and sent weekly into the world to bring risen life, hope, and light to people.”

St. Brendan’s openly extends its arms to the city surging around it. This church, under the pastoral care of Bishop John Guernsey and a member of ACNA, has succeeded in an area where in recent years an Episcopal Church, St Monica’s, closed and sold its buildings.

Signs of authentic Christian relationships abound at St. Brendan’s. During the giving of the Eucharist, prayer teams reverently wait in the back of the sanctuary for any who wish individual prayers for specific needs. At one evening service, the prayer leaders pray openly for an extraordinarily sick parishioner. “Lord, he is suffering after this operation for a brain tumor. Heal him and surround him with your presence in his hospital bed.” And faithfully the congregation awaits Christ’s intervention to heal.

St. Brendan’s also actively assists at a well known nonprofit in Washington DC, Central Union Mission. On one Sunday Richard introduced a man from the mission who told of his spiritual regeneration after years of drug addition and incarceration. At St. Brendan’s he speaks with sparkle about his new hope of starting a bakery business making muffins.

While spiritual needs receive intense care, the financial needs of the congregation are handled lightly. During a singing of a hymn, if a worshipper wishes to offer a financial contribution, he or she walks forward and quietly places something in a waiting basket. Yet on a recent Sunday, a vestry member quietly stood up and thanked everyone again. “We have met our budget this year,” she peacefully stated.

The congregation draws mainly from 20 and 30 year olds who flood into this parish seeking a deeper and more satisfying communion with Christ. They come alone, in couples, or in family groups. Their conversations deal with careers and ministry and meaning. Some go into international ministry.

Celebrations and meals abound. Richard’s wife, Lisa Treacy, announces a Christmas meal and visitors flood into the reception area. During Epiphany, after a time of Godly Play, kids run back into the congregation, excitedly telling parents of the Three Kings Cake waiting them. Along with many young adults, families also bring their children for the education. Crowds of small children happily worship until the prayer for Godly Play calls them upstairs. The diversity among the children testify to the international concerns of this congregation. Almost half of the children attending St. Brendan’s arrive from domestic and international adoptions. At the passing of the peace, families blended together from different races hug and offer a taste of the Kingdom of heaven where all races and tribes will be joined together throughout eternity. Christ’s mercy is omnipresent at St. Brendan’s.

And all of this happens in Washington DC, a city known for conflicts and divisions. On one Sunday when I visited, Richard preaches, “St. Brendan’s is grounded in the city. We pray that we feel the need and pain and see the opportunities in this city. ”

The peacefully diverse flavor of St. Brendan’s gives to us a sweet taste of what is possible in the future Anglican Communion: a worship full of the reception of the Holy Spirit; a sermon helping us take our experiences and offer them to Christ to receive back a new infusion of wisdom; and a community that nurtures the faith for new generations.

St. Brendan’s in the City kindly and effectively offers a new model of what an Anglican parish could be like in future generations. This church practices genuine reconciliation, a quality not often present in our lives. The person next to me is indeed my brother and my sister in Christ, though our lives may differ substantially one from another.

The peace within this church community not based on similar political beliefs or way of life. Looking around, worshippers see people different yet dwelling peacefully together. Father Richard preaches, “We are all profoundly different but we need each other.” He continues, “Our congregation includes apostles, prophets, those with gifts of healing, and those who have seen miracles.” Following this, brief moment of quiet reigns. He pronounces softly, “Christ is for you all.” Some heads nodded in agreement, while others close their eyes in interior prayers. Truth accompanies his words.

What is this charism of this parish? St. Brendan’s in the City offers the consoling oil of dwelling in the kindness of Christ who has adopted us as his children; of believing that Christ yearns for a closer companionship with us; of accepting that the rigors and challenges of life are met with faith and power; of believing that Christ asks us to respond to human need of any kind; of standing openly in Christ’s presence and asking him to heal us and to bring spiritual gifts; and of accepting the flames of fire offered on the day of Pentecost. As this parish reconciles races and cultures and theologies, people dwell together under the guiding presence of Christ.

Come visit St. Brendan’s in the City when in Washington DC and experience the powerful presence of the living Christ. And while you are there, taste and see the future possibilities in our own beloved Anglican Communion.

For more information, visit StBrendansDC.org

Sarah Frances Ives is a freelance Anglican writer and author. She holds a Ph.D. in Church History

The Anglican Church of Kenya Will Not Participate In the Upcoming ACC Meeting

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

The Anglican Church of Kenya
To the Bishops, Clergy and all the Faithful of the Anglican Church of Kenya

from the Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Bishop, All Saints Cathedral Diocese Nairobi

Statement on Anglican Consultative Council 16, Lusaka

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I am deeply committed to the unity and restoration of our beloved Anglican Communion. It was for this reason that I and brother Primates from GAFCON and other orthodox provinces were willing to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to a meeting of Primates in Canterbury earlier this year, despite the representation of Provinces with which the Anglican Church of Kenya is in a state of broken communion.

It seemed that this might be an opportunity to restore godly faith and order and, although the resolution agreed by an overwhelming majority of those present was not all we hoped for, it sent a powerful message around the world that the collective mind of the Communion was to remain faithful to the Scriptures and God’s purpose for man and woman in marriage.

In particular, the Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC) was required to withdraw its representatives from groups representing the Anglican Communion ecumenically and it was agreed that TEC should not participate in votes on doctrine and polity in the Communion’s institutions.

However, the Presiding Bishop of TEC has made it clear that his Church will not think again about same sex ‘marriage’ and he expects his Church to play a full part in next month’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Lusaka. This defiance of the Primates’ moral and spiritual authority has been supported by the Chairman of the ACC, Bishop Tengatenga, who has confirmed that TEC will participate fully.

There can be no true walking together with those who persistently refuse to walk in accordance with God’s Word and the Anglican Church of Kenya will not therefore be participating in the forthcoming meeting of the ACC in Lusaka.

An opportunity has been missed to use the ACC for good and it is increasingly clear that the GAFCON movement must continue to provide a focus for that godly unity so many of us desire.

An announcement from Nigeria is expected shortly. VOL will post it as soon as it becomes available.

END

Developing a Healthy Prayer Life

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

 

By Ted Schroder,
www.tedschroder.com

What would it be like to hear Jesus praying? What would it do to your own prayer life? That is what happened to the disciples. They asked Jesus, “Lord teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1) The Lord’s Prayer is not only a prayer to pray but also a pattern prayer. We can break its phrases down and let them lead us in prayer. What would I hear if I listened to you praying? A distinguished member of my congregation in San Antonio came in to ask me to hear his prayers to make sure they were appropriate. It was a humbling experience. Let me share with you some ideas on how to develop a balanced and healthy prayer life.

First of all find a time when you can be quiet and alone with God. Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) This can be in the morning, or lunchtime, or in the evening before you go to bed. There is no better way to begin the day than with God.

Read a portion of Scripture. Reflect upon God’s Word and ask what he is saying to you in it. What lesson does he have for you? What promise can you claim? What encouragement does it contain? St. Paul writes, “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Use an outline of prayer, such as the acronym ACTS.

A stands for adoration. Begin by becoming aware of the presence of God. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps.46)

Spend time praising God for his character and his works. Use a psalm, or a hymn. Time spent in such worship draws us to appreciate God’s love and goodness, fosters such qualities in us, and is a corrective to self-centeredness. Adoration nurtures reverence and humility in our souls.

C stands for confession. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”(Ps.139:23,24).

What patterns of behavior do you observe about yourself? Do you have the need to control your own life, and be independent of others? Are you guilty of being obsessive-compulsive? What is your addiction? Where do you get your value? Perhaps you are the product of emotional absence in your family of origin, and suffer from love deficits which make it difficult for you to affirm others, and be warm and loving in relationships. Know yourself so that you can work with Christ to develop into his image.

Admit your weaknesses, and sins of commission and omission: the things that you have done that you ought not to have done, and the things you have not done that you ought to have done.

It is valuable sometimes to examine your life by Paul’s Hymn of Love (1 Corinthians 13): “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12) Come to the Cross in repentance, and seek the cleansing of forgiveness based on the atoning sacrifice of Christ for your sins. Ask that the Holy Spirit would fill you so that you may produce in your life the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

T stands for thanksgiving. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”(James 1:17)

Review all of God’s blessings in your life and be grateful. We will never appreciate all that we enjoy unless we recall them to mind. Gratitude puts all our needs into perspective. We take so many things for granted in our lives for which we never give thanks. The ability to live and love, to walk and talk, to see and be seen, are gifts of God. Even when we are impaired or handicapped in any way we have so much for which to be thankful.

S stands for supplication. “Be alert and always keep on praying for all believers.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Pray for yourself, and your needs. Pray for your day, and any future plans. Remember your family and friends, and others who have asked for your prayers. Pray for our nation, for the work of your church, your Pastor, and other missionary work. Pray for your fellow-members in the Body of Christ. I have always been impressed by the words of Samuel to the people of Israel: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (1 Sam.12:23) Intercessory prayer is a ministry in itself. “Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” (Colossians 1:9) Intercession is a test of our unselfishness in prayer. You don’t have to know someone personally to pray for them. In God’s kingdom prayer affects the lives of others.

What should we pray for others? Paul writes, “Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you might live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

As Jesus prayed for the disciples that they would be protected from the evil one, so we can pray for others: “Holy Father protect them by the power of your name.” (John 17:11, 15) As I pray for others I ask God to put it in their hearts to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and that they may be guided in his Way.

Praying in these ways for others is a form of loving your neighbor as yourself. It is a means of proclaiming the Gospel. It is a form of serving. Make time in your prayers, for intercession. By so doing you will forward the work of the Gospel in the world, you will strengthen the community of the Chapel, and you will be effective in God’s service.

Sometimes it is a help to use books of prayers, the prayers of others, or hymns and songs. There are many books on the practice of prayer. I have a whole library of them. Some people find it helpful to write out their prayers each day. It serves to keep their minds from wandering and focuses them. Use the method that suits your personality and need. Remember,“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) What is your prayer life like? What would it be like to hear you pray? Resolve to develop a healthy prayer life?

The Rev. Ted Schroder is pastor of Amelia Island Plantation Church on Amelia Island, Florida

The Elastic Identity of the Episcopal Church

Saturday, March 5th, 2016
“Elastic identity” is not an idea that I came up with. Instead, it is straight from the mouth of the President of the Episcopal House of Deputies at the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church this February.

“The last time we met, just over three months ago, I said some things. I said some things about standing on the threshold and about longing for change and about embracing our elastic identity.”

Are any of you bouncing up and down, eager to join a church with an elastic identity? If so, there are several things about elastic that you should remember. For one thing, elastic tends to wear out. Old socks start to sag. Elastic loses its spring as it ages and when it is overstretched (unless it is perfectly elastic). It can also snap back and pop you if you or someone else gives it a pull. And, some of us are allergic to elastic; just the thought of it can give us hives. So forget about to embracing it as Jennings suggests.

None of this is about to stop the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings from stretching the metaphor,

“I said — I looked this up to be sure — that ‘The world might swirl around us, but we know who we are, and we can stretch our identity to accommodate the changes we need to make.’ And I said, ‘I’m pretty passionate about these huge changes fermenting below the surface of our common life.’ ‘I’m feeling pretty elastic this triennium,’ I said, “and I’m ready to get started.'”

The Executive Council should be feeling pretty elastic as they have been stretching the budget and watching membership numbers bounce steadily downhill.

A lot has happened in the Episcopal church recently, and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings takes the blame although she probably said the following with tongue firmly in cheek,

“So, it’s entirely possible that this three-month roller coaster ride we’ve been on was a result of me tempting fate. I said that I was up for some huge changes and a chance to stretch, and apparently the universe heard me. We’ve certainly have had a chance to stretch since November, haven’t we?”

She is only saying that she is willing to stretch and does not mean it because there are certain subjects on which she is quite inflexible. One thing is her response to the Anglican Primates who have resolved to not allow the Episcopal church to vote on matters of doctrine (which means no voting on the Anglican Consultative Council).
Read her firm refusal to comply with the Anglican Primates,

“…I want to thank you, Michael, for the wisdom and steadiness with which you guided us all through the recent primates meeting and its aftermath. While confusion reigned and rumors swirled, you helped us understand, to renew, that we are still full members of the Anglican Communion, that our mission relationships with Anglicans across the world are strong, and that what binds us together is far stronger than what threatens to separate us. I will take your spirit with me when I travel to Zambia in April as the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, where you can be assured that I will participate fully with a glad heart, a strong spirit and pride that the Episcopal Church fully affirms the dignity and worth of all of God’s children, including our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers.”

I think the elastic Episcopal church believes it is made of a secret form of elastic,”flubber”, and that it can not only rebound from its recent setbacks but rebound higher!

Tahnks to LP CoverLover

Flubber was fiction, and so is the elastic identity of the Episcopal church.