Posted by: Fr. C. | October 7, 2017

Joint Synod 2017-Day 5 and Wind-Up

Dunwoody, Georgia,

The much anticipated moment of the week arrived just after 9:00 a.m. on Friday.  The heads of the Diocese of the Holy Cross (Hewett), Anglican Church in America (March), Anglican Catholic Church (Haverland) and Anglican Province of America (Grundorf)(aka the “G-4”) ascended the platform before hundreds of rapt onlookers.  There was silence in the hall as each bishop read a portion of the Declaration of Communio In Sacris amongst the bodies.  The crowd of young seminarians, lay people of all ages, assorted clergy and many veterans of the long years of the continuing Anglican movement in the United States looked on as each prelate signed the documents.

At once the crowd was to its feet in prolonged applause with shouts of “Amen” and “Alleluia”.  There was hugging and no small amount of tears as the emotional dam of 40 years let go.  Then, all of the people burst into the Doxology which reverberated off the walls of the hall.  One bishop allowed that he made it through the first words, “Praise God….”, before the lump in his throat prevented anything further.  In the aftermath, people rushed to have their pictures taken with the bishops and to ask autographs.

The Pontifical Mass that followed, was no less joyful and emotional..  Each of the four bishops took a role in the liturgy, with ++Hewett celebrating and ++Grundorf as the homilist.  The lines of all of the years faded in the face of the Holy Eucharist, and many long-savored enmities seemed to disappear at the Real Presence.  This author was graced to receive the Host from Bp. Paul Hewett, who so many years ago chanted the Litany at my ordination, and the chalice at the hands of Abp. Mark Haverland who has been my Metropolitan for many years.  I could not help but add my own tears to those of many in the crowd as I returned to my place.

Are there more bumps in the road ahead?  Of course.  The Church is filled with human beings.  Indeed, there was great disappointment at the absence of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, which had declined to participate.  We can only pray that a body such as the APCK, which professes the same faith as the “G-4”, will move past its present reticence.  As well, there are a number of technical, ecclesial and canonical issues remaining.  However, this moment proves that, through prayer and perseverance, these obstacles will be overcome, for with God all things are possible.

As the crowd began to dissipate, there was a reluctance to leave such a graced occasion, but folks gradually bade their farewells with a renewed sense of purpose and a new sense of unity.

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | October 6, 2017

Joint Synods 2017-Day 4

Dunwoody, Georgia

The buoyant mood continued here today as the various groups completed their individual business meetings.  Old friends greeted one another, and new friends were made and bonds formed.  There were many young clergy and seminarians in the crowd, an encouraging sign in a movement that many feared was “growing grey”.

The much anticipated banquet speech by Fr. George Clendenin (APCK) did not disappoint.  He took the crowd back 40 years to the Affirmation of St. Louis of which he was an architect and drove home the point that continuing Anglicanism did not form because of liturgical innovation, prayer book changes or even the growing wave of revisionism.  It began with the Episcopal church’s simple heresy of purported women’s ordination to the apostolic priesthood.  While the other aspects swirled around and formed a part of the 1977 separation, the attempt to reorder a scriptural and ontological reality was at the core, and the results have been sadly borne out over the ensuing years.

Fr. Clendenin pulled no punches as he recounted the heroes of the movement, and the problem of personalities that have resulted in the unhappy divisions. of the last 40 years. Clendenin called for a reordering of priorities toward the incarnate Christ and proclaiming the unbroken faith once-delivered in a world increasingly opposed to that message.  The crowd erupted in applause at several points, particularly when he raised the problems of cleresy especially at the episcopal level, and the speech (which we hope to reproduce tomorrow or Saturday) concluded with a thunderous standing ovation.

Tomorrow will bring a joint plenary session among all of the assembled groups, a solemn pontifical Mass and the signing of the long-awaited concordat of intercommunion reproduced below.  Tonight please pray for the unity of the Church.

Agreement Establishing Full Communion (Communio in sacris)

Among

The Anglican Catholic Church

 The Anglican Church in America

 The Anglican Province of America

The Diocese of the Holy Cross

We the undersigned, belonging to and holding the faith of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as received by the Church of England in the days of her orthodoxy, and as Continued by Anglicans in North America in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis in 1977, agree to the following:

Ø We acknowledge each other to be orthodox and catholic Anglicans in virtue of our common adherence to the authorities accepted by and summarized in The Affirmation of Saint Louis in the faith of the Holy Tradition of the Undivided Catholic Church and of the seven Ecumenical Councils.

Ø We recognize in each other in all essentials the same faith; the same sacraments; the same moral teaching; and the same worship; likewise we recognize in each other the same Holy Orders of bishops, priests, and deacons in the same Apostolic Succession, insofar as we all share the episcopate conveyed to the Continuing Churches in Denver in January 1978 in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis; therefore,

Ø We welcome members of all of our Churches to Holy Communion and parochial life in any and all of the congregations of our Churches; and,

Ø We pledge to pursue full, institutional, and organic union with each other, in a manner that respects tender consciences, builds consensus and harmony, and fulfils increasingly our Lord’s will that his Church be united; and,

Ø We pledge also to seek unity with other Christians, including those who understand themselves to be Anglican, insofar as such unity is consistent with the essentials of catholic faith, order, and moral teaching.

The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Marsh    The Most Rev. Mark Haverland

The Rt. Rev. Walter Grundorf   The Rt. Rev. Paul Hewett

Posted by: Fr. C. | October 5, 2017

Joint Synods 2017-Day 3

Dunwoody, Georgia

The festival atmosphere continued throughout the day here at the unity meeting of four traditional Anglican groups here in suburban Atlanta today. Hundreds of voices shook the large ball room during the Matins and Mass  celebrated at 7:30 this morning by Bishop Chad Jones of the APA.  Friends old and new shared a meal together before heading into the respective business meetings of the ACC, ACA, APA and DHC.

Representatives of the Polish National Catholic Church were, indeed, present, along with observers from the Reformed Episcopal Church, Charismatic Episcopal Church, and several other jurisdictions and provinces.  At this time, this writer has not seen the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, although rumors of his presence circulated.

The business of the ACC Synod was relatively routine, but grew palpably electric at the point of the ecumenical report.  When the statement on Joint Communion was read, there was a loud motion for its adoption which included your reporter, followed by an immediate, thunderous,standing ovation by lay and clergy delegates.  The motion carried unanimously and by acclamation.

The only real questions centered around the issues presented by future organic unity.  It is apparent that the bishops fully understand the potential hurdles and will work to resolve them in a collegial manner and in good order.

To say the least, it is a momentous day for the Affirmation of St. Louis churches.  There was a note of sadness as the Anglican Province of Christ the King, which had been offered a seat at the table at least twice refused to participate.  In fact, rumors are circulating that the APCK bishops have forbidden their clergy to be present at this historical moment.  As there are several APCK clergy here and enjoying the fellowship, the rumor remains unsubstantiated.

Technical issues continue to hamper the blogging of this event, but I hope to have a full text of the communion agreement posted here tomorrow.  In the meantime, please continue to pray for the ongoing success of this remarkable gathering.

 

 

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | October 4, 2017

The Grand Convergence-Day 2

LukeEv

Dunwoody, Georgia.

If a number of Christians from various groups frequently working at cross purposes for 40 years gathering in prayer and harmony gets your attention, then today was a pretty good day here at Joint Synod 2017.  Folks from all over the country were gathering in an almost festive atmosphere.  Friends greeted old friends.  New friends were made. Exhibitors ranging from vestment sellers, to Anglican book publishers, to flourishing schools contributed to the carnival.

Bishops of the groups held meetings behind generally behind closed doors, while the working clergy and lay folk made introductions across the divides of the traditional Anglican alphabet soup, and a number of long separated acquaintances caught up on events.

Not surprisingly, there were no shattering announcements.  Folks across the gathered jurisdictions acknowledged the same common difficulties: aging and small parishes,  clergy shortages and educational shortfalls, lack of adequate clergy pay, the need for modern teaching materials, and appeal to a new generation.  These were discussed informally in sidebars and over meals.  The bishops circulated in the crowd and certainly heard those concerns.  Yet, the mood was very upbeat, and talk of the victories of the last 40 years was the dominant theme.

The take away from day 2 is anecdotal and best summed up in a few major points.

  1.  There are far fewer former Episcopalians than in years past. Many are from other denominations,  These folks are aware of the struggles in the separation from that body, but have no stake or interest in them.  They are happier and less prone to Angricanism.
  2. The passing of several personalities from the scene have made this meeting possible,  It underscores that the differences have been personal rather than theological.
  3. There are a number of young clergy.  Not enough, but more than in past gatherings.  They are attracted by sound liturgy, reverence, sound teaching and the mysteries of the faith.
  4. There is a growing interest in Anglican schools, particularly at the secondary level and among home schoolers.
  5. Clergy and lay folk have been moving back and forth across jurisdictional lines for some years no, and all but the most sectarian and hardened Angricans understand the need for and desire unity.

To be sure, these are scattered impressions based on a day of “walking and talking”, but the mood is that this a moment long in the making, and long overdue.  Rumors, of course, swirl, and the major excitement is focused on the possible attendance by Bp. Jack L. Iker, of the Diocese of Ft. Worth and bishops and clergy of the Polish National Catholic Church.  These have not been confirmed at this writing, but their presence would buoy an already enthusiastic crowd.

The business meetings of the various provinces begin tomorrow.  Tonight, it was moving to hear hundreds of voices at Evening Prayer, particularly in the concluding hymn,

  1. The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
    The darkness falls at Thy behest;
    To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
    Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
  2. We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
    While earth rolls onward into light,
    Through all the world her watch is keeping,
    And rests not now by day or night.
  3. As o’er each continent and island
    The dawn leads on another day,
    The voice of prayer is never silent,
    Nor dies the strain of praise away.
  4. The sun that bids us rest is waking
    Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
    And hour by hour fresh lips are making
    Thy wondrous doings heard on high.
  5. So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
    Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
    Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
    Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway. Amen.

This writer left with a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes.

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | October 3, 2017

A Christian Challenge

Dunwoody, Georgia

At the multi-jurisdictional Anglican  Joint Provincial Synod, it was learned today that the Foundation for Christian Theology, the 501(c)(c) organization former publisher of The Christian Challenge magazine, has been reorganized under new leadership.  The FCT plans to resume publication of the Challenge in both electronic and limited print-run formats.

Founded nearly 50 years ago by the late Dorothy Faber and headed by her daughter Auburn Faber Traycik, the Challenge chronicled the decline of the American Episcopal Church and rise of the so-called continuing church, an assortment of traditional Anglican groups following the 1977 Affirmation of St. Louis.  The magazine ceased print publication by 2010 with the decline of in the health of the editor-in=chief.

The re-launched Challenge will focus on news and commentary related and of interest to traditional Anglicans.  It is hoped, as well, that the renewed magazine will serve as a neutral ombudsman and rallying point for news among the various traditional Anglican groups.

More details will be released in the next several weeks as website and social media outlets are completed.

Posted by: Fr. C. | October 3, 2017

The Grand Convergence-Day 1

Dunwoody, Georgia

Here we are.  some 40 years after the Affirmation of St. Louis, the crowd is beginning to assemble in the largest attempt at unity in continuing Anglicanism since the disastrous APCK-ACA-ACC pilgrimage in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, more than ten years ago.  It was a moment that resulted in disappointment and, ultimately, reprisals by the APCK against its priests who had helped organize the event.

Many have left continuing Anglicanism in its wake to seek safe harbor in the East or Rome, and a few, including this writer have remained to see what, if anything, God might have in store for faithful Anglo-Catholics in the United States.

The foundational work for this event has been opaque.  Obviously, bishops and senior members of the Anglican Catholic Church, Diocese of the Holy Cross, Anglican Province of America and Anglican Church in America have been working quietly for some years to bring this event about. Certainly, the profusion of purple in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza this evening is testimony to the importance of this event.  However, the actual extent of the aim of the bishops’ discussions remains unclear beyond stated goal of formal communio in sacris among the four groups, something that already occurs in fact.

Will these groups move beyond alliance into organic union of the claimed 300 member parishes?  Will there be consolidation of administrative functions?  Will there be uniform standards for clergy education and formation?  Tomorrow, meetings of the bishops will resume, but, for now, there is much that remains to be seen at this point. Perhaps it is sufficient to the day that, after 40 long years, people can gather together in harmony to affirm the same roots, the same theological foundations, a truly common Book of Common Prayer, and the same heritage from the English Church in the happy days before heterodoxy and heresy.  However, given the presenting issues that relate to the very survival of this bit of Christendom, a larger effort is necessary.

The hour grows late here in Georgia in so many ways.  It is time for prayer and rest.  Pray that all may be one as Christ commands us.

Blessings,

CHN+

 

 

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | November 29, 2016

Two-In-One

russian-orthodox-army-8

It’s a church.  It’s an embassy.  No, it is both!

On November 25, the Russian media outlet Interfax reported that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will pay visits to France and Switzerland from December 3rd to the 7th.

He initially will pay a pastoral visit to the diocese of Cherson, and on the fourth of December he will perform a consecration of the St. Trinity Cathedral at the Orthodox spiritual-cultural center in Paris. Then, on the seventh of December, Patriarch Kirill  plans to lead a ceremony in Zurich on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus in that city.

The Russian Orthodox Spiritual-Cultural Center in Paris originally opened on October 19 of this year. It boasts a 4,200 square meter complex with four buildings in the in the 7th arrondissement of the French capital.  In addition to St. Trinity Church, the buildings include a cultural center on Quai Branly, an education center in Rue de l’Universite, and an administrative building in Avenue Rapp.

Now for the interesting bit.  The new center is part of the Russian Embassy in France and has diplomatic immunity.  Now that’s multitasking, “flat” administration or…something.  I forget whether this sort of thing is caesaropapism, papocaesarianism, or just a really blurred line between state and church.  I sure can think of any number of U.S. denominations who would have stolen the coins for this sort of relationship with the government, that is at least until the Donald was elected.

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | November 22, 2016

Russian-Vatican Cooperation on Syria

aone

The Russian news service is reporting that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia hopes to take further joint steps with the Catholic Church to restore peace in Syria.Since the February 2016 meeting between the Patriarch and Pope Francis in Havana, “there has been high-level talk in various countries about genocide of Christians in the Middle East, and this topic has now moved to the very core of the political agenda,” according to the Russian patriarch

Patriarch Kirill met today in Moscow with the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.  During the discussion, Patriarch Kirill stated that, “We are ready to further work with the Roman Catholic Church, with its representatives, in order to jointly do everything to end the suffering and for people to return to peaceful life.”

Expressing his hope for an end to the ongoing war, His Holiness added, . “For Christians it will also be important that churches are rebuilt and people can return to their normal religious life.”  Central to this effort, the Russian and the Catholic Churches have started compiling a list of churches and religious sites destroyed as a result of hostilities in Syria.

Posted by: Fr. C. | November 22, 2016

Blasphemy Charges in Indonesia

ashok

The Jakarta Globe has reported that Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was questioned by police investigators in a blasphemy case at the National Police’s criminal investigation unit headquarters on Tuesday morning.  Ruhut Sitompul,  spokesman for Basuki’s campaign, said Ahok was accompanied by legal counsel sent by political parties which back him in next year’s Jakarta governor race during the examination.

Ruhut stressed that Ahok has been cooperating well with the police, which have resisted public calls to arrest the governor after he was declared a suspect.

Ahok, an ethnic Chinese and a Christian,  is accused of insulting Islam after he warned people not to trust politicians telling them not to vote for him by quoting a Koranic verse during a speech in Pramuka Island.

Apparently, for a Christian to so much as quote the Koran, can result in blasphemy charges and counts of “insulting Islam” in Indonesia.

 

Posted by: Fr. C. | November 15, 2016

Down Mexico Way

The Associated Press is reporting that a priest abducted in Mexico Gulf region has been found alive, although he was tortured.

On Sunday, November 13th, the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico City announced that a priest who was abducted in Mexico earlier has been found alive, but “with notable signs of torture.”  The Rev. Jose Luis Sanchez Ruiz was the third priest abducted in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz since September. The other two were found shot to death.

Fr. Sanchez Ruiz’s  disappearance had sparked two days of unrest in the town of Catemaco, which is known for its faith healers and exuberant jungle. Bishop Fidencio Lopez said Sunday that Sanchez Ruiz “had been dumped, with notable signs of torture” at an undisclosed location.  The spokesman for his diocese told local media that Sanchez Ruiz had received threats in recent days because of his activism. Sanchez Ruiz had participated in a recent demonstration to protest high electricity bills, and the 54 year old priest had received threats after complaining about crime in Catemaco, according to a priest who requested anonymity for security reasons.

Townspeople angry over the kidnapping had set fire inside an eastern Mexican town’s municipal building on Saturday last, weeks after two other clerics were killed in the same state. Dozens of protesters had stormed the town hall in Catemaco earlier on Saturday and returned in the evening to burn part of it, demanding that the Roman Catholic priest be found alive. They also torched a police car.

Catemaco is in the eastern state of Veracruz, a region plagued by drug cartel violence.

“Seeing that there were no results in the investigation, they tossed fuel and set fire tonight in the municipal palace of Catemaco,” Father Aaron Reyes, spokesman for the diocese of San Andres Tuxtla, told reporters.  Reyes said the protesters are not linked to the church and used the priest’s disappearance as a motive to protest.

The priest was initially believed to have been kidnapped because the doors to his church were found opened “in a violent manner” on Friday, the diocese said in a statement. He was last seen on Thursday.

Mexico has become one of the most violent places for priests in the world. In September, two priests were found dead on a roadside a day after they were taken away from their church in another town in Veracruz. Prosecutors have detained two people and say the priests were killed by acquaintances after an argument.

That same month, another priest was found shot dead after disappearing in the western state of Michoacan. Fifteen priests have been killed in Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center, which tracks crimes against the clergy.

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