Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Charlotte North Carolina Schools remove "Jacob's New Dress", but add one that might be just as bad.

Controversies over what is taught in public schools are nothing new. Recently, our liberal neighbors across the border have come under fire for trying to add a pro-transgender children's' book to the first-grade curriculum.

Here's how WSOC reported it,

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - "The Amazon summary for the book 'Jacob's New Dress' describes a story about the unique challenges faced when someone doesn't identify with traditional gender roles.
In the book, Jacob wants to wear a dress to school.
The book was supposed to be part of an anti-bullying lesson for first graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during Child Abuse Prevention Month.
But not everyone was in agreement.
CMS board member Rhonda Lennon said that a concerned teacher spoke up about the book.
That concern made its way to Raleigh and lawmakers contacted the CMS Board of Education, which didn’t know about the book selection.
'Apparently, we were the topic of conversation for most of the General Assembly off and on yesterday,” Lennon said. "I think there are ways that we could have incorporated that kind of communication and that type of a curriculum with our students to make sure people are treating everybody respectfully without really going that far and it just feels like we went too far.'
Lennon said after all the discussion, the book was pulled Tuesday morning."
So, what was put in its place?
"Instead, students will read 'Red: A Crayon's Story,' which is about a red crayon that sees itself as blue."
Which, in my opinion, is just a backdoor way to present the same message that self-identification trumps any external source of characterization. In other words, putting a blue cover on a red crayon or a red cover on a blue crayon is essentially the same as putting a frilly dress on a little boy or a pair of greasy coveralls on a little girl.

"Red: A Crayon's Story" is a favorite of the transgender community. The following is from Gay Star News,
"Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue.While everyone around him wants him to do ‘red’ things, and draw things like strawberries, Red just ends up all blue. He can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries!Finally, after being given a brand-new perspective, Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue.Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall can be written in many ways, but especially as a tale to explain transgender people to a young child."
Of course, the LGBT community has their panties/briefs/boxers/thongs in a knot as WSOC reports,
"Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality NC, responded.
'Every student should have the right to learn from and understand diverse perspectives of the many backgrounds that make up a large school district like CMS,' Sgro said. 'It's sad that some are unwilling to allow students this opportunity and seem to stop at nothing to push their extreme views about LGBTQ people on children at any cost. Let's be very clear, children don't have closed minds, but sadly yet again, adults have proven that they do. The only thing controversial about these books is that it seems some have blown their understanding of the intent of this curriculum way out of proportion. All students deserve to have their experiences represented in the curriculum taught to them, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, ability and class.'"

To WSOC's credit, they balanced the story with an opposing viewpoint,

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of N.C. Values Coalition added a statement on CMS’s attempt to mandate transgender curriculum.
"As Charlotte's City Council passed an outrageous ordinance last year that made it necessary for the state to correct the mistake with HB2, Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools were working on rolling out a new anti-bullying policy that seeks to indoctrinate students in the school district by normalizing transgender behavior.
"The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic, not to encourage boys to wear dresses. CMS is failing our children. In the recent 2016 state academic ratings, 43 of 165 CMS schools achieved overall pass rates below 50 percent and a majority (59 percent) earned a grade of C or below when measuring student proficiency and growth. These lessons found in the book, Jacob’s New Dress and My Princess Boy and other transgender curriculum that are not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.
There is no question that this attempt by CMS staff to mandated training is nothing more than putting a dress on CMS's Gender Unicorn. We encourage CMS to refocus on their mission of maximizing academic achievement instead of advancing this controversial curriculum."

I always wondered why the gender unicorn was naked and sexless.

Things were so much easier when I was in first grade and we learned how to read using the Dick and Jane books and the most controversial thing was Dick's name.

If they used those books today, I bet someone would change the names,

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Turning a Blind Eye: Défense de cracher

Back in high school, my French teacher had a sign over the chalkboard that read "Défense de cracher" which means,

No Spitting!

Monsieur Berard always got a laugh when new students asked him what "Défense de cracher" meant. It was a good icebreaker as many of his students had limited previous exposure to the French language and were probably a bit apprehensive about taking his class. Once the meaning of the sign was revealed, the students could see that our teacher was a good man who we could love and learn from.

This Sunday's Gospel reading from John 9 relates the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth. Later, after gaining his sight, the man met Jesus, recognized him as Lord, and worshiped him. Jesus' method of spitting on the ground, making some mud, and applying the mud to the man's eyes might make my Ophthalmologist squirm, but the miracle of healing the blind and the theme John uses of removing spiritual blindness should resonate with many in the pews this morning.

Unfortunately, the people who are not in the pews today are the very ones in need of a spit of mud in the eye.

Who will carry the good news to those who choose to not worship the Lord today? Who will tell them that there is a beautiful new life to experience if they simply let Jesus heal them of their blindness?   

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lay Pastoral Caregivers: Should Priests Delegate Pastoral Care Duties?

Looking back at a post aimed at pastors titled "How Pastoral Care Stunts The Growth Of Most Churches" by Carey Nieuwhof from November 16, 2015, makes me think of certain failures I have witnessed in the Episcopal organization, the most important of which is the failure for a parish church to grow in spite of a growth in the surrounding population. While the failed theology of the Episcopal organization is reason enough (I could never recommend this denomination to a new convert), one has to look at what local leadership is or is not doing to bring people to Christ. Raising up evangelists is one thing, another important part of a church ministry is the development of disciples from within who can take on some of the pastoral care needs of the church freeing the priest/minister/pastor to focus on growth. Episcopalians are not alone in this failure. Nieuwhof in the process of promoting his book, thinks failure to delegate pastoral care is a major factor holding churches back,

"The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending..."
"If pastors could figure out how to better tackle the issue of pastoral care, I’m convinced many more churches would grow..."
"When the pastor has to visit every sick person, do every wedding and funeral and make regular house calls, attend every meeting, and lead every bible study or group, he or she becomes incapable of doing almost anything else..."
"Message preparation falls to the side, and providing organizational leadership for the future is almost out of the question..."
"Caring for 30 people personally is possible. Caring for 230 is not. Many pastors burn out trying.
The pastoral care model most seminaries teach and most congregations embrace creates false and unsustainable expectations..."
It’s ironic. They very thing you’re great at (pastoral care) eventually causes your exit when you can no longer keep up."
For many years I worked 24/7, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Getting called out at all hours of the night and then being expected to perform at a 100% level the next day is tough, and while most younger people can keep that up for a few years, I know how that can lead to burn out especially if you are over 40. People in that situation should realize that something has to be done in order to bring in associates or the church will never be able to grow. With the average Episcopal Sunday attendance running around 58, most parishes can barely afford a full-time priest who just cannot do it all (although many think they can). A small church usually believes that their options are to either dig deep into their pockets and bring in a church growing assistant priest/minister/pastor, or a perhaps a deacon who can take over the pastoral care duties while the existing leadership focuses on growth. Those church-growers who want to serve as an assistant are few and far between, and deacons are the Bishop's men/women and not always consistently available.

Nieuwhof figured that changes were needed in his ministry and looked to lead instead of continue as a pastor to a pastoral size church.
"The goal of Christian leadership is to lead, not to be liked.
If a church is going to grow, congregations have to let go of the expectation that their pastor will be available for every medical emergency, every twist and turn in their lives, every family celebration and every crisis.
That’s a tough sell for many congregations, but if a church is going to grow, it has to happen..."
The average pew sitter expects his or her pastor to be there whenever they experience a change in their status, and that is unrealistic. Even Moses, Jesus, and the Apostles delegated authority to others,
"So how do you deal with this?  Have the courage to shift care to the congregation.
The best answer I know of for pastoral care in a larger church is to teach people to care for each other in groups.
Groups based care isn’t just practical. It’s biblical.
It’s thoroughly biblical: going back to Exodus 18, when Jethro confronted Moses about doing everything himself.
Even Jesus adopted the model of group care, moving his large group of hundreds of  disciples into groups of seventy, twelve, three, and then one."
The idea of creating lay pastoral caregivers is nothing new, but in my experience with the Episcopal organization and the Community of Hope lay chaplain training program, well trained, licensed lay chaplains have been underutilized by their rectors, rectors who continued to shoulder most of the load to the neglect of putting more effort into church growth. Those rectors or their parishioners were guilty of not "letting go" of the old model, not accepting that,
 "98% of pastoral care is having someone who cares. It doesn’t have to be the pastor.
2% of the time you’ll have situations where the need of a member exceeds the ability of the group to help..." 
While we were successful at a local level of creating pastoral care teams which were great at organizing meals and snacks for funerals, the rector continued to handle most of the pastoral care and the best our church could do was to slow the decline.

Unfortunately for the Episcopal denomination, it appears that most people going into seminary are drawn to ministry because they have a personality profile that matches someone who is best suited for pastoral care rather than true Christian leadership, and when "called" to be a full-time rector will have a great deal of difficulty delegating that role to lowly pew sitters. That same personality type will condemn the rector to a career of frustration as they are forced into the role of "leader".

So, the answer to the question, "Should Priests Delegate Pastoral Care Duties" is "Yes", but priests should maintain a supervisory role and train and select their lay pastoral team carefully.    

Sunday, March 19, 2017

There are conditions to be met before drinking this water

Last Sunday's Gospel reading was John 4:5-42 in which Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Out of this relatively lengthy Sunday morning lesson, I have chosen to highlight just two sentences which usually go unmentioned in the typical sermon,

Jacob's well

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 
The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 
The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you* say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ 
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah,* can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.
 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving* wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ 
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
Jesus' initial response to the woman was to indirectly confront her with her sins, sins that she tried to hide.

Isn't that typical of how we respond to Jesus as well?

For years I treated this passage just as proof that Jesus could see my sins, but in light of the rest of the story it would appear that as a pre-condition to taking a drink of the "living water" we must fess up our sins, sins that Jesus already knows, and will forgive.

All of this has the making of an effective argument against communion of the unprepared and a strong argument for the Prayer of Humble Access.

How might you respond if when you approach the altar rail for communion the priest was to say, "Go call your love, and come back." ?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What is the problem with the "Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement"?

This year and the next are supposed to be years of revival in the the Episcopal organization (TEc). The first revival was held in Pittsburgh last month. So far there is no indication of anything of any substance having occurred. Where are the thousands of new converts? Considering the fact that the Episcopal organization is trying to pass off a false gospel on any unbelievers who might stumble into one of their revivals, no news might be good news.

These revivals sound more like social activism recruitment drives,
"The six Episcopal Revivals will vary in design, but most will be multi-day events that feature dynamic worship and preaching, offerings from local artists and musicians, personal testimony and storytelling, topical speakers, invitation to local social action, engagement with young leaders, and intentional outreach with people who aren’t active in a faith community."
One catch phrase that the Presiding Bishop has used to promote his revivals is "The Jesus Movement". What he means by this can best(?) be explained by TEc itself.
"What is the Jesus Movement?We’re following Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, with each other and with the earth. 
How do we join? First, we follow Jesus. We are simply the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, seeking every day to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Just like Jesus. 
What’s our work?We’re working on simple practices for each priority area – if it’s a Movement, then we should all be able to grasp the ideas and get on board. Then we’re mapping a strategy that inspires and equips all of us to join God and make a difference. 
The Jesus Movement takes you places. For the Episcopal Church, it calls us to focus on three specific Jesus Movement Priorities: 
1) EVANGELISM:Listen for Jesus' movement in our lives and in the world.Give thanks. Proclaim and celebrate it! Invite the Spirit to do the rest. 
2) RECONCILIATION:Embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus with each other   
3) CREATION CARE:Encounter and honor the face of God in creation 

  • INSPIRE Episcopalians to embrace evangelism 
  • TELL the truth about church and race 
  • DEVELOP creation care resources 
  • GATHER Episcopal evangelists 
  • REWRITE the narrative 
  • GROW local eco-ministries 
  • EQUIP all to be evangelists 
  • FORM Episcopalians as reconcilers 
  • PURSUE eco-justice at church-wide and local levels 
  • SEND all as evangelists 
  • REPAIR  and RESTORE institutions and society 
  • CONVENE conversations around climate and faith"
"Develop creation care resources", "Grow eco-ministries", and "pursue eco-justice"? Is that the evangelism Episcopalians will learn to embrace at these revivals?  Count me out..

"Tell the truth about church and race" can be said in one sentence, "Episcopalians are predominately white."

"Rewriting the narrative" sounds like more of the revisionism that has been such a disaster for the Episcopal denomination.

"Repair and restore institutions and society" is a pretty ironic goal considering what the Episcopal organization has done in the past to weaken the institution of marriage.

"Convene conversations around climate and faith." The presumption is that everyone shares the faith in the climate change due to humanity theory.

I don't know about you, but I don't see anything in there about bringing unbelievers into belief in Jesus as Lord or spreading the good news of Christ born, crucified, and resurrected for our sins.

Since they are going about it all wrong, I predict that the Episcopal revivals will fall flat and that the great Episcopal decline will continue unabated.

Matt Kennedy who is Rector (Senior Pastor) at the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY explains the problem this way,
"Love God and love your neighbor is not the Gospel. It's the law. And no one can do it. The Episcopal Church's "Jesus Movement", Andy Stanley's 'attractional church', and a number of other church-growth gurus embrace the Great Commandment and the second like it as "the message" of Jesus and believe it is the key to renewal and growth. Jesus certainly preached the law, as we must as well, but what is the result when the law is the center of our preaching? We only condemn those who hear. We tie burdens on their backs they cannot carry. The first purpose of the law is to reveal sin (Rom3:20). The Gospel is about Jesus' life death and resurrection to save sinners (1Cor15:3-5). But preaching the bloody cross is much less seeker-friendly than preaching human potential." Matt Kennedy
Jesus is moving alright. It is just that the Episcopal organization is moving in a different direction.

They should probably call it "The Episcopal Movement" and flush it down the nearest gender neutral toilet.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: Born Anew?

This Sunday's reading from John 3:1-17 tells the tale of Nicodemus who couldn't understand how one can be born again.

"Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus* by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?"
‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.*
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
It seems to be a fitting lesson fitting for the day after the Diocese of South Carolina voted to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The DSC notification states that,
"Affiliation with the ACNA brings the Diocese into full communion with an organization of 111,853 members in 966 churches and 32 dioceses spread across Canada, the United States, and Mexico."
Many at 815 may feel like Nicodemus and question how this new birth can be possible, but the ACNA is about to add 20,000+ members with a strong tradition behind them. DSC's influence will be great on the still developing ACNA which doesn't even have a Prayer Book yet.

It seems that either the ACNA or the Diocese of South Carolina is going to be born anew. One can only pray that the Spirit remains with them/us in all of our efforts to grow into the Church that God intends.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Oops! ABC News Prediction from 2003: "Why Episcopal Conservatives Won't Split"

The trustworthiness of the mainstream news media has been a recurrent issue these days. There is nothing new about the problem as we can see from the bias evident in the following article from 2003 published by ABC News.    

Why Episcopal Conservatives Won't Split 

"— More than a dozen conservative bishops may have angrily walked out of the Episcopal Church's convention on Tuesday, but don't expect them to leave the denomination."
Oops is right. Many bishops did leave, taking their dioceses with them, and more pewsitters left the denomination altogether. Sunday attendance has dropped by 26% so our reporter might want to revisit her expectations.
"Why? Because they learned a lesson 27 years ago, when the church battled over whether or not to allow female clergy. After a huge fight that Episcopalians still recall and dissect, the church voted yes — and some of the conservatives said with much fanfare, 'Goodbye, we're starting our own church.'"
"...Yet today, few people even remember the names of the splinter churches they formed. They are tiny and without influence. Conservatives are well aware of the history and have played the gay issue quite differently."
Women's ordination and the 1979 Prayer Book revision were two of the reasons that "conservatives" left in the 70's. There was sufficient inertia in the pews and such tiny numbers of female priests that only a small number of people left the denomination. It has taken a couple of generations for female priests to be trained, "called" to parishes, and for them to take over a large part of the Episcopal organization. The real lesson from the past is that revisionist teaching introduces a cancer that slowly invades a Church body, spreading to vital organs, weakening resistance to other threats, and ultimately leading to death.

Back to the article,
"Lesson One: Schism gets headlines (briefly) but not much else. 
Forming a new denomination would disconnect conservatives from the 73 million-member Worldwide Anglican Communion — churches in England and around the world — denying them influence, money and support. Individual parishes will also be reluctant to leave because the Episcopal Church owns the buildings and their financial assets. Instead, conservatives will look to affiliate with a church overseas so they can remain part of the official Anglican Communion."
What has happened is that "conservative" dioceses easily connected to the majority of world-wide Anglicans and were not really concerned about influence, money, or support. The Episcopal church has been able to retain some church buildings, but not all. This may have had some effect on the departure of some "conservatives" but many were willing to fight the TEc's lawyers in court.
"Lesson Two: It's all about the battle to define 'mainstream." 
"Today, women are accepted as clergy in most Christian groups, and those who opposed women's ordination appear in hindsight to have been on the fringe. And so, conservative Episcopalians in the current debate have been careful to present themselves as moderate, while portraying Episcopal church leaders as ultra-liberals who stole 'their' church out from under them."
There was no battle to define mainstream. Mainstream denominations are dying because they have cut a new channel and are flowing downhill in a new stream. Who wants the label of "mainstream" anyway?
"'This body, willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the church of Jesus Christ,' Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said on behalf of the dissenting bishops."
The quote does not do justice to the full damage to the faith from TEc's rejection of the Bible.
The Web site of the main conservative group — the American Anglican Council — welcomes visitors with this greeting: "We are mainstream Anglicans. We are orthodox Episcopalians. We're missionaries called to fulfill the Great Commission, to proclaim Biblical truth and to transform the Episcopal Church from within. We'd love to share our mission and ministry with you."
The AAC website thankfully took out that "mainstream" word.

This last bit left me scratching my head,
"Lesson Three: Play on liberal white guilt. 
Last time, conservatives opposing ordination argued that a rift would harm relations with the Roman Catholic Church. This did not persuade American Episcopalians, who were (and still are) the church of elites and intellectuals.
This time, the AAC has teamed up with Anglican leaders in Africa and Asia — where, they point out, Anglicans are growing the fastest — who say they will not associate with a church that permits a gay bishop."
I don't know how "liberal white guilt" plays into that, but some guy at the liberal General Theological Seminary (GTS) had it figured out,
"'What makes this battle interesting is that the conservatives know how to play upon white liberal guilt,' says Robert Bruce Mullin, an Episcopal Church historian at General Theological Seminary in New York. Mullin said the appeal to Third World Christian sensibilities is 'poignant' and smart, though he believes they will ultimately fail."
 So "conservatives" were suffering from "liberal white guilt" which caused them to associate with African bishops? What do you expect from a GTS historian?

To be fair, ABC News tried to include some balance in the article although it is still off base,
"Others disagree. Allen Guelzo, an Episcopal Church historian at Eastern College in St. David's, Pa., said the Third World alliance may give dissidents the leverage they need to actually split the Worldwide Anglican Communion."
That made it sound as though "conservatives" were the ones who wanted to split the Anglican Communion. Guelzo actually meant something entirely different,
"'People in Africa don't have this American clubbiness,' Guelzo says. 'They'll walk. They are the majority. So that gives an entirely new heft to dissident protests. If the African bishops really do proceed as they have threatened, then we have introduced an entirely novel situation.'"
At the end of the article the author makes her worst prediction of all,
"...Ultimately, conservatives and liberals alike will pray, cry, and yell at each other. They'll hold meetings and caucuses and issue pronouncements. There will be a gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and conservatives won't like it." 
"But the most likely outcome is that all of them — conservative, moderate, liberal, gay, and straight — will remain in the same church."
All of them will remain in the same church?


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Does The Revised Common Lectionary Contribute to Today's Gender Confusion?

Followers of this blog should be familiar with the problems Sunday churchgoers face when the only parts of the Bible to which they are exposed are selections from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Hearing bits and pieces of the scripture every seven days is bad enough, but when the RCL selectively edits out verses that might be confusing, controversial, or too harsh and judgmental for "Sunday ears" the net effect is to create a congregation of "tame" Christians, a group which would never be able to defend itself in the public square.

This Sunday provides another example of the curious (some might say suspicious) way that parts of the Bible get cut. Most pewsitters will hear Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7, but they will probably be unaware that Genesis 2.18-25 was dropped.

This is what people will hear today (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7).
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’ (Genesis 2:15-17)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” ’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (Genesis 3:1-7)
So what did the congregations miss, and why might it be important? They missed the story of the creation of the animals, the creation of woman, and God's intention for the sexes.

Its all in Genesis 2.18-25,

 Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones   and flesh of my flesh;this one shall be called Woman,   for out of Man this one was taken.’ 
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. 
If Sunday church goers miss out on the story of the creation of woman out of man, they might wind up falling for the sexual worldview of the current age which denies God's creative act and denies the purpose of the two sexes.

It is quite possible that the lack of adequate teaching from the Church about God's plan for the sexes is a contributing factor to today's gender confused society.

And the Revised Common Lectionary may shoulder some of the blame.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Powerplay: TEC Extorts Its 15%, Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida Caves

Oh, those tricky Episcopalians. They passed a resolution at their 2015 General Convention that I missed. Buried in Resolution D013 was the following wording.
(f) Full payment of the diocesan assessment shall be required of all Dioceses, effective January 1, 2019.
(g) Effective January 1, 2016 Council shall have the power to grant waivers from the full annual assessments of Dioceses within the limit established by the General Convention. Any diocese may appeal to Executive Council for a waiver of the assessment, in full or in part, on the basis of financial hardship, a stated plan for working toward full payment, or other reasons as agreed with the Executive Council. Effective January 1, 2019, failure to make full payment or to receive a waiver shall render the diocese ineligible to receive grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society unless approved by Executive Council.
The Episcopal pledge was not required in the past and many parishes who disagreed with the pro-abortion, pro-gay ordination, pro-same-sex marriage stances of TEc tried to not contribute to the larger organization by designating their diocesan pledge to be used solely for the purposes of their diocese. 

In times when the budget of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina was tight, some of us asked for a cut in the Episcopal pledge. All such suggestions were quashed by the Bishops at those times.

It appears that Resolution D013 was worded to give struggling dioceses a waiver. I suspect the rump dioceses, small groups of parishes that decided to stay in TEc after the majority of a diocese departed, were the intended beneficiaries of this largess. 

The reality of this resolution is slowly sinking in at the diocesan level, but TEc loyalists, like my past bishops, will probably succeed in furthering the progressive agenda by passing resolutions in support of paying the full ask from 815. The Diocese of Central Florida recently did just that.

From the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida comes the following,

Debate Heats Up Over Mandatory 15 Percent Assessment
February 1, 2017  
In an otherwise calm and orderly convention, the heat rose during the discussion period R-1 Episcopal Church Assessment, the mandatory 15 percent assessment scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2019.
After years of using an “asking formula,” the National Church changed the wording to “mandatory” with Resolution D013 at the 78th General Convention in 2015 and set by Resolution C001. In the past, under the asking formula, a parish suffered no consequences if it did not contribute to the National Church.
Currently, the assessment stands at 16.5 percent. Some parishes, which oppose certain rules set forth by the National Church, pay their money to the Diocese of Central Florida, but ask their money not be sent to the National Church. Those parishes will not have that option when the 15 percent assessment takes effect. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.
“I heartily support the efforts being made to find ways for us as a diocese to meet the 15 percent financial assessment voted on by General Convention,” said the Rt. Rev. Bishop Gregory O. Brewer during his State of the Diocese Address. “Among other reasons, because the financial funding brings integrity to the work for change. And the work for change brings integrity to the financial funding. The two go hand-in-hand. As it might be said crassly, ‘Put your money where your mouth is.’ And that’s what I’m committed to us doing.”
After heated and impassionate pleas from both sides, R-1 passed with a significant number of dissenting votes. 
To download the full resolution, click here.
I had to laugh when I read that classic bit of Episcobabble from Bishop Brewer,
“Among other reasons, because the financial funding brings integrity to the work for change. And the work for change brings integrity to the financial funding."
 There are a few reasonable pewsitters left in Central Florida, and one was actually quoted in the article,
“One word: mandatory. That’s a tax. I want to be able to give freely. It’s not too cheerful if they have your arm behind your back. I have no problem with the 15 percent as opposed to the 10 percent. It would make all the difference in the world to me if they took out that one word—mandatory.”
—Dr. Larry Warren, St. Andrews’, Ft. Pierce
 If I was a member of a church in Bishop Brewer's diocese, I would stop putting money in the plate because to give is to support the extortionists at 815 who are going to use the money to push their progressive agenda and who will continue to fund pro-abortion groups such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights).

Sadly, most pewsitters are unaware of where their pledge dollars are going.

Sad but true.