Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Close-ups of Meg

A few people pointed out it was hard to see Meg's face in the photos, so here are some close-ups.

If you want to see them even bigger, click on the pictures for a close up!

Thank you to Elizabeth Campion for dropping off some pink outfits today....we had a lot of blue around the house from the first 3 boys!

Margaret's Birth Day

We welcome Margaret Elizabeth Kelly, born at home on Saturday, 1/28/06 at 7:23pm. 8lbs, 10oz.
She and Mom are doing well! DEO GRATIAS!

To the right is Jennifer, Meg and the 3 midwives/apprentices who helped at the birth, led by Charlotte Sanchez (third from left).

Below is Andrew holding Meg.

Finally, here is a picture of Sam and Will singing "Happy Birthday" holding a "ZERO" candle for Meg. That is Jennifer's mom in the background.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

In the news again....

....this time about the Book of Daniel.

Here is the press release from Agape Press based on a radio interview I did with them. Where "Episcopal" is in brackets is where I said "Anglican". Most American readership/listenership would not know what that word means.

Episcopal Priest Pleased Book of Daniel Yanked from the Tube
By Jim Brown
January 27, 2006
(AgapePress) - An Episcopal priest says he's encouraged by NBC's recent decision to dump the controversial television series The Book of Daniel. He calls it a testament to what can happen when enough Christians speak out against blasphemy and irreverence on TV.
NBC pulled the show earlier this week amid protests from pro-family and Christian groups who felt the program was an attack on conservative Christianity. The show was written by a homosexual, and featured -- among other things -- heterosexual adultery, homosexual relationships, premarital sex, and an Episcopal priest addicted to prescription drugs.
Steven Kelly, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Detroit, says he is grateful so many believers complained about the show.
"Good Christians -- and even Christians here in the Episcopal Church -- were not only outraged by it, but contacted the sponsors and NBC and let them know how they felt about it," the clergyman observes. "I know NBC wasn't interested in making any sort of moral statement. Ultimately, to the major networks, it's all about money; and if they couldn't find a way to pay for [this program], then they most certainly would stop it."
In Kelly's eyes, the show highlighted an unfortunate reality -- that "a great deal of the Episcopal Church has gone the way of all flesh," he says.
"We're in the middle of a huge fight for the soul of our national denomination -- especially in light of our worldwide Anglican Communion, which is very faithful and Bible-believing," Kelly says. "The [Episcopal] Church in Africa and Asia is appalled at the progressive and inventive theology of the American Episcopal Church -- and this series just magnified the worst of what many Episcopal churches are about."
Over the past several years, the Episcopal Church USA has suffered membership losses and controversy over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop, internal debates over the issue of homosexual "marriage," the theft of millions of dollars by the denomination's national treasurer, and a drug and sex-trafficking ring operated by a priest in New York.
More than half a million members of the American Family Association protested The Book of Daniel by sending e-mails to NBC, and thousands of others called or e-mailed their local NBC affiliates.
Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More Super Bowl Views

Things continue to be set up for the Super Bowl. Here are a few more pictures of the neighborhood, as well as the rubble of what remains of the Donovan Building .

Most roads around the stadium are still open, but don't try to come down Woodward between Jefferson and Grand Circus...they start closing it down there to make snow for the Winterfest.

Also - there was an article in today's Detroit Free Press about the Churches and the Super Bowl. St. John's is photographed and I am quoted, although not completely accurately....my parishioners know that our 10am Service is NEVER over in just an hour! To see the article go to http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006601260561

Rector's Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 2006

After last year’s report about my fear that we had become stagnant, having hit a plateau in our growth, and worried that we had slipped into a malaise, I am grateful to report that once again we have begun to grow. By mid-summer God began bringing new people into our midst again, to be incorporated into the Body of Christ. It has been exciting to be a part of their new life in Christ and to see how those new lives are revitalizing us as well!
2005 was filled with many highlights: visits by Bishops Biggers and MacBurney, two glorious Choral Evensongs and the Corpus Christi service which showcased the talents of our Choir program, hosting of the Liberian Schools American Reunion, the Diocesan Healing Seminar for the Order of St. Luke, a successful Alpha Course, an Armitage Club fundraising dinner for the Cornerstone Schools, participation in the Just Give Me Jesus revival, hosting of concerts for several organizations, increased attendance at weekday and Sunday services, and the establishment of the Edwards Organ Scholarship. We have much to be grateful for, and look forward with anticipation to what the Lord has in store for us in this year to come.
One thing that the Vestry has begun discussing is our upcoming Sesquicentennial Celebration. On December 27th, 2008, St. John’s will be 150 years old. Already, informal discussions about possible events and activities have gotten us looking forward in anticipation. A speaker series, music series, special historical worship and social events, and the publication of a new parish history are all in the offing.
But as we look forward to that day, I have taken some time to glance backwards as well. Taking a few minutes each day to read old Chronicles and Vestry Minutes, and other documents in our archives, several things continue to impress me. St. John’s was founded as a parish, not a mission. Before a building was ever erected, or a common worship service held, there were enough people signed on that we were awarded parish status. Within a week of the opening of our first building, the Chapel, the pews were already over-subscribed and plans immediately had to be made to build a bigger Church 10 times the size of the Chapel! From the 1870’s (within 15 years of our founding) until the early 1930’s this was the largest Episcopal congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains! St. John’s was different from the other parishes in the diocese; prayer book catholic with ‘High Church’ ideals about the sacraments, the nature of the Church, and serving the poor. We were mission minded, founding 8 other parishes during those first 70 years!
The next 70 years were times of trial. A longtime member of this parish once told the Vestry, that a Rector here in the 1950’s, said he was sent to basically ‘stop the bleeding’ as Detroit changed and the parish shrank. By the 1960’s, and through the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, a great deal of energy was expended trying to uphold the faith once delivered to the saints, while the rest of our denomination was changing many of the foundations of Anglicanism. It all took a toll on St. John’s, the second 70 years being ones of decline, and eventually, a fight for survival.
We’re now at the beginning of our third 70 year period. Many of the urban problems that have plagued Detroit since the 1930’s continue, with new ones to boot. Many of the theological problems of the recent past, with their modern mutations, continue to erode the foundations of the denomination. And this old pile of stones, at the intersection of I-75 and Woodward, cries out for constant (and expensive) renovation and updating. But a corner has been turned. We are growing.
In thinking about that Sesquicentennial Celebration coming up in just under three years, I realized that the best thing we can do is to become big again. The best gift we can give is to become that large parish we once were as a gift to our Lord and His Church.
Today I am announcing a challenge to you, the people of St. John’s. For our 150th Anniversary we need to bring 150 more members to St. John’s! 150 more members for our 150th Anniversary! 150 more by conversion, birth and baptism, adoption, transfer from another parish, or by their own acclamation to be members here. Over the next three years we will focus on evangelism – sharing the faith with our friends. We will ask the Holy Spirit to give us boldness to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to those around us by word and deed. We will seek to serve others in Jesus’ name in order to show them the Love of Christ.
Why? Because God wills it! He wills that all come to Him and worship Him. We are called to be the vehicle to draw others to Him that He may be glorified. Growth begets growth. Remember how full the Church felt on Christmas Eve at the midnight service? 150 more members would make it feel that full on Sunday. Remember how heartily the hymns were sung, and that feeling of excitement of having people on either side, and front and back, praying and praising together? 150 more members would bring that to every Sunday. And those 150 more people will be 150 more to also invite friends into a relationship with our Lord in this place while the original group is still inviting – giving exponential growth!
And with all those additional people, think of the various ministries God can begin and sustain through this people of this parish. Think of the witness a large, traditional Anglican, bible-believing parish would be to a diocese that is shrinking under the weight of a failed modern/post-modern theology. Think of the number of lay diocesan leaders, and future ordained clergy, which can be produced by a parish that is dedicated to serving Jesus, and to bringing more and more people to Him, thereby influencing the diocese and the national denomination.
150 more members for our 150th Anniversary! Soon there will be a poster on the bulletin board listing those new people, where they came from and WHO INVITED THEM. We will be able to see the growth in numbers, and see just how many people come through the Alpha Course, and other ministries or courses in the parish. Most people will come here because people invite them. Individuals, inviting individuals and families to come to St. John’s, will make up the lion’s share of those 150 more members.
Yes, there are problems in the Episcopal Church and our world-wide Anglican Communion. Yes, there are theological problems in our diocese, and we are saddened to see those who were with us in the fight for the soul of the Episcopal Church feel compelled by their conscience to leave. But we cannot be derailed by such things. More than Episcopalians, we are Christians! And, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called know Christ and make Him known, and that will be our primary, positive focus – even here in the Episcopal Church.
I am not the first person to sense this explosive growth coming on. Several people have confirmed that sense that we are about to really grow! It is exciting and even a bit scary. But if we continue to trust Him and be faithful, He will provide everything necessary and more! All by His Grace and All to His Glory.

I am looking forward, God willing, to 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Who are you inviting to Church next week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Super Bowl Prep continues around St. John's

Exciting things are happening around St. John's as the preparations are being made for the upcoming Super Bowl in Detroit. Roads are starting to close around the outer perimeter as they set up security zones and tents for parties, etc. Immediately around the Church banners have been placed on the light poles and our fence wrapped with an attractive banner. Access to the Church will still be available, including Sunday AM, off exit 50 and the Fisher Freeway Service Drive entrance of the parking lot.

Good-bye Donovan Building

For 80 years The Donovan Building has stood catty-corner from St. John's, over the freeway (actually, the freeway came later). In haste to make Detroit look pretty for the Super Bowl, it is being torn down - after having been empty for 30 years when Motown Records moved to California. It will be a paved parking lot in time for the Super Bowl, and supposedly will be developed soon afterwards (they have been saying that since I arrived here).

It is sad to see beautiful buildings go, but then again it has been quite the eyesore for many years! The photo to the top left is after the first half of the building, an attached smaller building on the other side called the Sanders Building was removed to make room for the Donovan Building to fall. The second photo, on the right, shows the St. John's tower behind what is left of the Donovan Building last week. Below is the remains as of today.

The last word on The Book of Daniel?

After sending my on-line research to the American Family Association, which has lead the opposition to this dreadful show, they followed up on it and low and behold they released the following statement!

AFA Says NBC’s Pulling of “Daniel” Shows Power of Pocketbook
(Tupelo, MS) - The American Family Association (AFA) says that NBC’s decision to pull “The Book of Daniel” shows the power of the pocketbook.“NBC didn’t want to eat their economic losses,” said AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon. “Had NBC not had to eat millions of dollars each time it aired, NBC would have kept ‘Daniel’ alive. But when the sponsors dropped the program, NBC decided it didn’t want to continue the fight.”According to
WorldNetDaily, “effective immediately,” the show has been cancelled.“This shows the average American that he doesn’t have to simply sit back and take the trash being offered on TV, but he can get involved and fight back with his pocketbook,” Wildmon said. “We want to thank the 678,394 individuals who sent emails to NBC and the thousands who called and emailed their local affiliates.”NBC touted the show as a serious drama about Christian people and the Christian faith. It featured Daniel Webster as a drug-addicted Episcopal priest, his alcoholic wife, a very unconventional white-robed, bearded Jesus, a 23-year-old homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old drug dealing daughter and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop’s daughter. In the premier episode, Daniel's brother-in-law Charlie ran off with Jesse, his secretary. Later viewers found out that Jesse was also having a lesbian affair with Charlie's wife.According to media reports, the show was written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual, who described himself as being “in Catholic recovery,” interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation, and not sure exactly how he defined God and/or Jesus. “I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true,” he said.
American Family Association is a pro-family advocacy organization with over two million online supporters.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Only 3 paid commercials....

Should we start a pool to guess how many weeks it will be until NBC pulls its dreadful series, "The Book of Daniel"? Yes, I have subjected myself to watching it again, and it is getting worse (writing, plot, theology), not better. But most notably, of all the commericals during the hour, only three 30 second commercials were paid (ie...not for NBC shows, NBC coverage of the Olympics, or movies from Universal Studios owned by the same company). The only paid commericals appeared to be local feeds - The North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, Anderson replacement windows, and Marshall Fields Department stores. I give it two more weeks before NBC scraps if for re-runs of a Law and Order type show that will attract advertising revenue.
UPDATE - JANUARY 23rd - Adweek Magazine (www.adweek.com) is the advertising industry's journal. In yesterday's on-line version the "Programming Insider" Marc Berman confirms 'TBOD' lack of advertising. NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly is asked about it and....

“Well, Mattress King has stepped up and he’s going to sponsor the entire hour,” joked Reilly. “Look, we knew there was going to be fallout because advertisers take a cautious approach to risky shows. If the show performs, we find that people get comfortable and advertisers come back.” Unfortunately, few viewers are watching The Book of Daniel.

And later on in the article, when talking about programming changes at NBC we see this - "On Friday, an evening ABC and CBS have made great strides on this season, recent returnee Outrageous Moments will lead into the relocated Las Vegas at 9 p.m., followed by new Dick Wolf legal drama Conviction at 10 p.m."

Yes friends, that is TBOD time slot.

Later in the article they give the entire primetime line-up for NBC starting in March and TBOD is no where to be found. With a couple of Friday 10pm slots taken up with the Winter Olympics, it looks like TBOD has about 2 or 3 episodes left - which is about as many episodes as were originally produced (6). It would be interesting to see if any insiders will report whether the cast is being called back to production for more episodes or if NBC is ready to let it die.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Steeler Friendly at St. John's!

With the Steelers coming to Detroit for Super Bowl XL, I have already begun receiving emails from friends from Pittsburgh who are thinking about coming out for the game ( I served at a parish in that Diocese for nearly 5 years)! I hope they will all come to Church on Super Bowl Sunday! If my wife were not due that weekend with child number 4 I am sure we would have a happy household of guests crashing on the floors...but we will have to settle for seeing them at Church and the surrounding activities!

Yes, we will certainly be Steeler Friendly at St. John's...but will also welcome to worship with us fans from that other team as well!

That is Detroiter Jerome Bettis holding the AFC championship trophy. We look forward to welcoming Jerome home with his Steelers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Adele Huebner's Testimony

Today we had the Burial Office for Adele Louise Huebner. Adele came to St. John's in 2002 from a neighboring, formerly Episcopal, parish. I am grateful for having her among us the past 3 years.

At the service today her nephew, Peter Huebner, read the following Testimony, written by Adele in May of 1976. With Peter's permission, I publish it here as a testament to a life of faith.

May she rest in peace.
My Testimony
Adele L. Huebner

One word changed my life - the Greek word "Tetelastai". It means "It is finished" and is the last word uttered by Jesus Christ on the cross before giving up His life.

Now, I was raised a Christian: baptized, taught moral values by loving Christian parents, attended Sunday School as a youngster, and confirmed in one of the main denominations.

But it was when I was in confirmation class that I really started thinking about being a Christian.
After confirmation class one afternoon, I approached the assistant minister who was teaching us and asked, "What does it mean to be a Christian?" I'll never forget his startled look and then his reply, "Well...It means to lead a good life and be kind to others."

I didn't argue, but it seemed to me that his definition could apply equally well to Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and others who certainly would never claim to be Christians. It also seemed to me that "Christian" should have something to do with Christ - but I didn't know what, much less how it related to me personally.

Not wanting to embarrass anybody (myself least of all), I went through confirmation, dissipating my unease that I was doing something not quite honest by telling myself that confirmation was just a ritual that all my family and friends had gone through.

In the years that followed, I thoroughly enjoyed discussing religion with friends and dates, but found church services boring. As I concentrated on what the prayers and creeds said, I finally had to admit to myself that I could not accept them and, and therefore, could not say them.

I decided I was an atheist and might as well admit it. In discussing religion as an atheist, I found most people agreed with me - certainly, I met no one who pointed out another view convincingly.

The beautiful ritual and family companionship drew me to church on Christmas Eve and Easter. That was it, and as far as I could tell that was good enough for a lot of people.

My life was great: busy, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding in knowing a wide circle of people around the metropolitan Detroit area. I was perfectly happy. I was standing on my own two feet and rather proud of it. I was making a conscious effort to keep my priorities in order and trying to be fair and honest and loving.

My father had died when I was 16, and mother and brother and I drew especially close. Over the years my mother became my best friend and confidant. When she became sick with cancer, every moment with her became precious. The doctor allowed me to stay with her in the hospital and the night before died, in the small hours of the morning I prayed to God and knew in my heart for the first time in my life that, though I was an atheist, my Creator heard me.

At that time, I had committed myself to law school, so I was quick to admit that having to hit the books was my salvation when my mother died. I could not allow myself the luxury of grief. I forced myself to get on with life, get that law degree.

I had dropped my social life during law school, so when I started practicing law, I spent my spare time reading. I had been reading a The Bermuda Triangle when I came across a book at Hudson's Eastland entitled The Late Great Planet Earth. The blurb seemed to indicate a Christian context, but I bought it anyway. I was fascinated. I ran out to buy other books by Hal Lindsay and immediately dove into The Liberation of Planet Earth.

For the first time I learned that sin is not doing this or that, but is being separated from God, being disobedient to God's will for our lives. And God, being righteous, must punish sin. But God is merciful and so loves us that He doesn't want to punish us. So He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for our sin.

Then I came to that word. TETELASTAI! In the Roman World at the time of Jesus, when a man had committed a crime and been sentenced by the Judge, his offense and the punishment imposed was written on a piece of paper. The paper was nailed to the door of his cell. When he had completed his sentence, the jailer would unlock the door of his cell to set him free. Taking down the paper from the cell door, he would write the word "tetelastai" on it - the debt is paid; it is finished - and give it to the free man to show the world that his sentence was paid. Greek, the common language of commerce among the peoples of the time, has tenses we don't have in English. "Tetelastai" is a tense that really means "the debt is paid and the benefits for the debt, having been paid, continue into the future indefinitely."

When Jesus had completed the agony of His suffering on the cross and was ready to commend His spirit to His Father in Heaven, His last word was a cry of victory: TETELASTAI! It is finished. The debt is paid.

When I read that, a shiver went through me. It was as if my ears were unstopped and I heard for the first time. I knew Jesus had paid my debt. I understood that God was offering me His mercy, His forgiveness, His Love - to me personally.

What a gift! I accept Your gift. Your Son who died for my sin of not knowing You, of wanting to do my own thing.

My life hasn't changed drastically on the exterior, but my attitudes sure have. Miraculously, the Bible has become intelligible and meaningful, both to my own growth as a Christian and to my understanding the world about me. The beautiful ritual of the Church, now that I hear God speaking to me through the Bible passages which form the service, has become an opportunity for fellowship in Christ's brotherhood. I've met so many beautiful Christian sisters and brothers in Bible Study groups where we can learn and grow together. Now I know that I wasn't lucky or fortunate all my life, but I thank God for watching over and protecting me all those years when I wouldn't even acknowledge Him.

Most importantly, a sense of peace and contentment fills me. When situations irritate me - and they still do - I can ask my Lord and Saviour to calm me and drive out my resentment with His Love.

I always knew I didn't have a goal for my life; I was just drifting when others seemed to be working toward family, fame, fortune, whatever. But now I do have a goal, a reason for living - to let my Lord Jesus Christ work through me more and more every day. And I have a divine appointment with Him today, tomorrow, and forever, thanking Him and praising Him for paying my debt.

May 1976

Looking ahead to Spring

As we sit in another deep freeze here in Michigan, and we prepare for the upcoming Super Bowl, Sgt. Terry Lichonczak sent me some photos from Tiger Opening Day back in the Spring. Sgt. Terry was at the Mounted Unit, recently disbanded by the City of Detroit. Yes, that is me on the second horse from the left, with the Sarg on the left. I rode with the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary www.ftpcc.com in college, which came in helpful as Chaplain to the mounted unit here in Detroit until it was disbanded in October 2005.

Baseball is right around the corner. My son Andrew (8 y.o.) has an indoor camp this Saturday to get ready for the upcoming season!

Super Bowl traffic

The Downtown Shareholders met with the Super Bowl XL committee last night, to discuss preparations for the big game. I met Roger Penske, which was pretty neat. But more importantly, they talked about road closures surrounding the Church.

Starting immediately, the Madison exit off of I-375 will no longer be a good option to get to St. John's. St. Antoine, which becomes Montcalm as it goes around the football stadium, is already closed, as is the street between Ford Field and Comerica Park (Brush). Traffic coming up Woodward Avenue and down the service drive coming off I-75, exit 50, remains open, and this service drive entrance will be the only way to access our parking lot after February 1st.

As you can see from the graphic on the right, the Super Bowl security perimeter does not include St. John's, but things will slowly be cut off from the South on Woodward as we approach the big weekend February 3rd - 5th. For this weekend (January 22nd) all access points will be open (except around the immediate perimeter of Ford Field), and next weekend Woodward Ave from Jefferson to Grand Circus Park will be closed, but we will be accessible from the North on Woodward, and via the freeway service drive. On game day we will be accessible from the service drive only. And we will be finished and long gone before the game chaos really gets going (kick-off is after 6pm).

Update on the Livonia Situation

The Bishop of Michigan sent the following letter concerning the situation at St. Andrew's in Livonia. It is particularly interesting that Fr. Kannapell says "We have come to believe that no Episcopal bishop is theologically acceptable to our parish" and the bishop asks the Diocese for their prayers for the new mission's success.

January 10, 2006

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As I indicated in the email that most of you received over the weekend, the Rev. C. Allen Kannapell, who had served most recently as rector of St. Andrew's, Livonia, has been inhibited for Abandonment of Communion of this Church (Title IV, Canon 10, Sec. 1). I took this action with much sadness and regret.

In a letter to me, signed by All and members of the vestry, and in a letter to the congregation, Kannapell announced his intention to leave St. Andrew's and the Episcopal Church, and said that some parishioners will leave with him.

Allen Kannapell and vestry members have been in conversiton with me over the past year as they have contemplated leaving the diocese and the Episcopal Church. Fr. Kannapell requested that St. Andrew's Church be placed under the juridiction of an overseas bishop of his choice - an option that is not possible in accordance with the canons of the Episcopal Church. In the last several months, I offered several nmaes of conservative Episcopal bishops who could provide pastoral care to the Livonia Parish, in accordance with the provisions outlined in the document entitled, "Care for All the Churches", commonly know as DEPO or Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. However, in his January 5 letter to me, Fr. Kannapell refused oversight by any bishop of the Episcopal Church declaring, "We have come to believe that no Episcopal bishop is theologicallly acceptable to our parish."

Fr. Kannapell was given the opportunity to renounce his vows, which he refused. Therefore, I have inhibited him and place the Rev. John Henry as the temporary priest in charge of St. Andrew's Parish in Livonia. John Henry, a priest canonically licenced in the diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania, ahs been serving as assisting priest at the Church of the Holy Cross, Novi. He has also served congregations in Pennsylvania and New York.

The participation of the warden and vestry in actions taken to leave the Episcopal Church is interpreted as their abandonment of their duties, per Canon 1.17.8 of the Constititution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. I have therefore declared their offices vacant and deprived them of any further authorization to exercise the rights associated with those offices. The congregation of St. Andrew's will move to raise up new lay leadersip in the near future with the guidance of Fr. Henry.

I was blessed to spend this past weekend leading worship for the members of St. Andrew's who desire to remain part of the parish, part of the Diocese of Michigan and part of the Episcopal Church. For the immediated future, the worship schedule of the congregation will be maintained as usual. Clearly, a strong and determined Christian community that desires to rebuild the St. Andrew's parish was present this weekend. I ask your prayers as this community embarks on their new journey.

Finally, the decision by Allen Kannapell and others to leave the Episcopal Church is a prayerful choice. As members of the Body of Christ, we must honor the dignity with which they have taken action and offer them our prayers. Please do not engage in speculation or conversation that would denigrate the new mission Allen and others feel called to pursue. Rather, let us pray that God's mission will be furthered by the life and witness in which we all engage on our journey of faith.

The Rt. Rev'd Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stirrings in the Diocese of Michigan

By now many have heard about one of the priests in the Diocese of Michigan leaving the Episcopal Church and taking a good number of parishioners with him. Fr. Allen Kannapell is a friend and fellow traditional-minded Episcopalian. My wife and family have spent time with his family (we both homeschool) and I value his contribution among the "Hopeful Clergy" (a group of more conservative clergy in the Diocese). The news of their departure from ECUSA has been widely distributed by on-line reporter David Virtue. His article can be found here http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3474

The article was distributed to the St. John's email list, and there has been some fear that this is the beginning of a pogrom by the diocese/bishop to eliminate the traditionalists from the Diocese of Michigan. Below is my email response to members of our list.


Thank you Paul for sending along the article on Fr. Kannapell and the people from St. Andrew's, Livonia. It is a sad situation all the way around. First of all, the author of the article that was forwarded, David Virtue, is an old acquaintance of mine from my days in Philadelphia. He does much good work in reporting things that don't get reported in the 'mainstream' church-run press. But David has a way of reporting one side of the story, and sometimes with exaggerations.

First of all, let me assure the people on this list that St. John's is not in trouble, is not being targeted along with other traditionalists by the Bishop's office, and we do not need to devise some extrodinary defensive bunker plan in case any of the above might happen. The situation in Livonia is one which has deteriorated over the last several months, if not years. The Rector and Vestry at St. Andrews actually began to make overtures leave the diocese last spring without informing the full parish. We had a family visit St. John's this summer who left there because these plans were only revealed to the parish after the bishop's office got wind of them, and they did not want to be a part of that.

After the original confrontation in the Spring, the Bishop's office became pro-active in keeping St. Andrew's in the diocese. They were offered Designated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight - which means they were offered the opportunity to have another bishop take care of their spiritual needs. However, what St. Andrew's wanted was to be completely assigned to another diocese, perhaps not even in the Episcopal Church USA, something that is not permitted in the Canons of the Diocese or National Church (Canons are the rules governing the Church). Despite the Bishop's attempt to work within the Canons and to offer care for the priest and parish of St. Andrew's, they decided last week to disassociate from the Diocese and the National Episcopal Church.

The Canons are clear that those who are clergy serving as Rectors, and members of the Vestry do so in allegiance to the Episcopal Church. Once that allegiance has been broken, the vestry and priest are liable to be removed (vestry) or disciplined (clergy). Fr. Kannapell sent a letter to the parish and the bishop, dated January 5, signed by Fr. Kannapell and members of the vestry, announcing their intention to leave unless the bishop "transfer jurisdiction of this parish to an overseas primate of our choice." Bishop Gibbs cannot do this without violating the canons of the Episcopal Church, and their decision to proceed tied Bishop Gibbs hands in what he had to do, canonically.

Yes, lots of things in the past 30 years have been done by others contrary to the Canons: the attempted ordination of women in 1974, ordination of those holding views of human sexuality contrary to scripture, marriage/partnership of those involved in that lifestyle choice and now the latest - open communion of those not baptised. But as I have to remind my children "TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!" I would hope that those of us who hold the the traditional biblical view of the Church would expect to make honesty and charity cornerstones of how we interact with the Diocese and would expect that we, and those who we interact with, will act in accordance with those Canons.

Friends, these are trying times in the Episcopal Church and our Worldwide Anglican Communion. Disagreements abound based in scripture, theology, and competing views of reality and human nature. In the coming years there is a possibility of great division in our worldwide Communion. BUT WHAT THE DEVIL REALLY WANTS is to distract us from our primary purpose to Know Christ and Make Him Known! We could spend a lot of energy wringing our hands, shaking our fists at the Diocese/National Church/Bishop(s), and devising plans to build bunkers, hide assets, or make plans to jump ahead of the decisions of the godly bishops around the world, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who are praying and discerning a way forward. But this is a distraction that can envelope us and prevent us from growing in grace!I have shared this with you before, and am not ashamed to say it again. There is one way to make changes in the Diocese and National Church. Rather than politicking, we just have to out-evangelize those whose message is contrary to the traditional apostolic teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! There is discussion about closing parishes in Detroit. Only a few parishes are growing in this diocese, and nationally the Episcopal Church is shrinking. But St. John's continues to grow; not just as a sanctuary for those fleeing theologically inventive parishes, but in the fact that many new people are coming to Christ: adults being baptised, and entire families too. This is the work of the Church! If we continue to be faithful, God will prevail in growing this parish and other biblically sound parishes that focus on preaching and teaching The Good News as Jesus has revealed Himself in scripture. Other parishes will begin to follow this example as there are changes in leadership in their parishes and they want to emulate the growth at growing parishes (change or die). Remember, in the 1970's the Diocese of Pittsburgh was among the most liberal. It is now among the most conservative. That change came by faithful witness, not jumping ship.

Already St. John's is an important part of the structure of the diocese - more now than since the the 1960's. We have parishioners who are on The Diocesan Council, Diocesan Commission on Ministry, the Deanery leadership, and the Cathedral Chapter. One parishioner (Cindy Grimwade) is first alternate to The triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Other traditional clergy and laity are being appointed or elected to leadership, and they are witnessing from leadership positions to the success that comes from submission to the Truth of our 'old time religion and biblical faith'.

Additionally, Bishop Gibbs has been exceedingly supportive of St. John's, more that any other bishop in recent history. He speaks about us as an example of growth, and has allowed us to have foreign bishops (Bishop Biggers) visit, and a more traditionally minded bishop (Bishop MacBurney) to celebrate and confirm. He told diocesan council that St. John's should be considered for a scholarship for a curate. We haven't requested Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, but Bishop Gibbs has made sure that we are cared for and supported. He is an honest, up front man. Despite our theological differences (and believe me, I don't see how he can believe some of the things the modern Church has adopted), we have an honest, up-front relationship and he doesn't hesitate to call me to the carpet when he needs and explanation from me, and vice-versa! This sort of honesty leaves room for Grace to take over and show us the way forward.

It is sad that St. Andrews Livonia and Fr. Kannapell felt conscience-driven to leave. It is sad that Bishop Gibbs had to invoke the due canonical consequence for their actions. It is sad that those who do not agree with our traditional position now have a suspicion that is this what all the traditionalists are plotting (and I have spoken on the phone with other rectors this week - no one is make plans to follow their lead). It is sad that there is one fewer priest (and possibly parish - depending on what happens to the remnant) to vote and give voice for biblical norms at our Diocesan Convention. It is sad that we have been distracted, albeit only temporarily I hope, from our primary purpose by worrying about this situation and how it might affect us.

So in a nutshell, the Vestry is not making any plans to leave, and neither am I. And I believe the bishop that he doesn't have any scheme to destroy traditional parishes through some sort of pogrom. The National Church will meet in Convention in 2006, and the International Bishops will gather in 2008. Maybe we will have some answers by then. Or maybe not - it took 300 years to settle the controversies that resulted in the Nicene Creed! Until then we are going to be faithful about preaching Jesus Christ - crucified, dead, and risen - becoming saints on His terms by a grace-filled life of prayer, sacraments, and service to others, and by sharing Him with others!

More changes coming to the neighborhood

Several changes to buildings in the neighborhood were announced yesterday. The Fox Theatre is restoring the tower signs above the building. The owners, the Ilitches, also announced development plans for several other of their nearby buildings. For that story go to http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060113/BIZ/601130398

Of most direct interest is that the old Motown Records HQ (originally called the Donovan Building), located catty-corner over Woodward and the Freeway from St. John's, will be torn down before the Super Bowl (ie...within 2 to 3 weeks) and converted into a paved parking lot. It will eventually be developed, along with the other empty properties next to it. It is a shame to see a great old building go, but it has been empty since 1972, when Motown Records moved to California. For photos of the inside of the building in its current state of decay, go to http://www.snweb.org/donovan.php

In the last 5 years there were schemes to put a Motown Museum in the building, and make offices or lofts, but apparently the money just wasn't there, and the eyesore factor with the world media coming to Detroit for the Super Bowl was too much to delay, so down it comes. I always had a fantasy that it would make a grand school building - St. John's Academy and Prep - but I suppose that will never come to fruition since we don't have a school and won't any time soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The heck with the blasphemy and irreverence...it is about the money....

As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, my wife and I noticed how few 'paying' commercials were on the blasphemous new NBC show, The Book of Daniel. Now here is an article from Adweek Magazine, the journal of the Advertising industry. http://www.adweek.com/
'Daniel' Tempts Few Sponsors
January 10, 2006
By Steve McClellan

Is the new drama too hot to handle?

NEW YORK NBC aired just 23 commercials spanning 12.5 minutes during last Friday's two-hour premiere of its controversial new series Book of Daniel.That's just over six minutes of ads per hour, or about half the usual load of commercials for network prime time, according to network and agency sources.The program, about a priest who's addicted to prescription drugs and his dysfunctional family that includes an alcoholic wife, gay son and a brother who embezzles church funds, has drawn criticism from conservative Christians.The priest, played by Aidan Quinn, also has regular conversations with Jesus Christ about managing life's little crises. The controversy prompted five NBC affiliate stations, mainly in Southern states, to preempt the show.The network filled the rest of the time that would normally go to commercials with promotional spots for its own programs, including several promo blocks that ran two minutes or longer promoting multiple shows. The comedies My Name Is Earl and The Office, around which NBC is trying to create a new "Must See" Thursday night lineup, were among the programs heavily promoted, along with the upcoming Golden Globe Awards telecast and Winter Olympics coverage.Among the commercials that aired was a 90-second "The Making of" King Kong from Universal Pictures, which is co-owned with NBC. The rest of the commercials were standard 30-second units dominated by the movie category.An NBC representative said the network had anticipated a shortfall in ads, given the controversial nature of the program. "Advertisers tend to take a wait-and-see attitude" with such shows, the rep said, who indicated advertisers might hop on board if the program performs well in the ratings. If the numbers are good, sponsors tend to advertise despite the controversy, the rep said.Daniel's premiere was less than spectacular, however, placing a close third in the ratings among adults 18-49 behind both CBS and ABC.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Go Steelers!

Okay, my blogspot is mostly about things related to St. John's parish, but I have to confess that I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I was in a parish near Pittsburgh from 1996 to 2001, after being a fan growing up (it was easy to like Mean Joe Green and Franco Harris in the 1970's compared to the then lowly local Detroit Lions). People in the Pittsburgh Area LOVE their football, and the team reciprocates that love. I would like to have the Steelers here for Super Bowl XL, in what will probably be Jerome Bettis' (a Detroit native) last game. (photos from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and www.pittsburghsteelers.com)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ugh...that "Book of Daniel"

One major topic of discussion at coffee hour today was the NBC TV show, The Book of Daniel. Much controversy was stirred up in advance of the show, to the point where the local affliate station even came to my church to interview me about it. To find a positive comment about it, they even had to take a comment out of context, edited half way through from one of my parishioners!

Yes, I watched the show. Here is my critique, in several catagories.

LITURGICAL - I know it is a funny place to start, but a show proporting to show what it is like for an Episcopal Clergyman should at least have someone on staff who can advise on simple things like 1) the priest had the chausible on backwards (applique on the front rather than the back), and the priest in a green chausible and the woman dressed like a bishop wearing a white cope at the same service (should both be the same color).

ECCLESIASTICAL - First, it is taken for granted that women can be bishops, an issue that continues to divide the Anglican Communion. But perhaps in that east coast parish/diocese that is okay. Secondly...why in the world is the bishop at the parish two weeks in a row not preaching or celebrating? If a bishop is present they have perogative to do both or one. Why was she there at all?

THEOLOGICAL - It is quite offensive to have a character as Jesus Christ himself on the show, putting dialogue/words into Our Lord's mouth! Although there were a few very good lines (like when the character told the priest that "life is hard - but there is a great reward at the end"), for the most part it was a projection of what Hollywood wants Jesus to be - soft, affirming, almost effeminate.

IMMORALITY - this show has it in bucket-loads! From the priest whose first sermon justifies sin and temptation, to an exasperated statement to his gay son that since the Diocese of New Hampshire has an (unrepentant) gay bishop, the whole church should get with the times. Another son is promiscuious with an underaged girl (to which the Jesus-like character is not too concerned), and a daugher dealing drugs to buy (and later pirate) computer software. Given the chance to show the priest-character's dad (the retired bishop) being valiant and holy by caring for and being faithful to his wife with alzheimers, they have him having an affair with the women dressed as the current diocesan bishop. Oh, and let us not forget the scene when the priest is giving pre-marital counseling to a couple and asks "how are things in the bedroom?" and then gives them advice on helping with sex lives -before marriage - rather than calling them to repentance? And let's not forget that the priest is addicted to viacoden, and is getting the bishop hooked on his 'canadian headache pills'. This doesn't even go into the lesbian relationship of his sister in law and the brother in law embezzling 3 million dollars and no one calling the police!

BIGOTRY - this show has in abundance. The Italian Roman Catholic priest is connected to the mob. Anyone with a traditional idea is a moron or not with the times, and the teachings of the Church are disregarded completely as irrational or unimportant.

ONE THING WE DID NOTICE - (my wife and I) is that were weren't too many commercials for products (lots of long ads for NBC shows, but not many other commericals). Many companies are staying away from advertising on shows that will bring a boycott! Even if the show picks up in ratings (it was tied for second in that time slot, with a lower share than "beauty and the beast" got and was canceled according to the Drudge Report), if there is no advertising money, it will be pulled! Afterall, the networks real idoltry is the almighty dollar!

Finally, I think Ruth Holladay summed it up well in her 1/08/06 review in the Indianapolis Star www.indystar.com by saying
The bigger point is that "The Book of Daniel" deserves to die not because it was censored in advance, but because viewers recognize its shameless pandering to a low common denominator. First, the characters fail to engage us, despite their flaws. The problem is not that they are sinners but that their sins are so exaggerated as to be absurd. Everything that in the real world would be a source of pain is treated as a joke. Secondly, Jesus is a thoroughly modern man -- an affable, hippie like therapist dude in robes and long hair who basically wants approval. When the priest pulls out a Vicodin, saying, "I think I deserve one," TV Jesus has his sad joke. "Try a lime Lifesaver instead." No, try the New Testament.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

St. John's Welcomes African Bishop!

St. John's welcomes back Bishop Jackson Biggers, SSC, retired Diocesan Bishop of Northern Malawi (central Africa) and now assistant to Archbishop Bernard Malango of the Diocese of the Upper Shire (Malawi).

Bishop Biggers is a native of Mississippi, graduating with a bachelors degree from the University of Mississippi and his theological degree from The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.
After serving as a curate, then Father Biggers was a missionary to Malawi. He was expelled from the country in 1975 when the democratically elected government was overthrown through a military coup. He then served on the U.S. Presiding Bishop John Allin's staff and then as Rector of The Church of the Redeemer, Biloxi, Mississippi, for 14 years.
In 1994 a new government was installed in Malawi, and when the new diocese of Northern Malawi was formed, Bishop Biggers was chosen her first bishop.

For many years St. John's has been supporting the work of the Church in Northern Malawi through the connections of Frs. Kelly and Bedford and their common membership in the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) with the Bishop.
The Anglican Church in Malawi faces many challenges due to economic hardship and famine. But while diocesan Bishop Biggers confirmed at least 100 people per week, a sign of the growth given by our Lord to His Church for their faithful witness!
(photo above - Bishop Biggers conducting a retreat in 2005: photo below, the bishop and my son sharing an article on model rocketry)