Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 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 impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Happy King Charles the Martyr Day

Today on the English Church calendar is celebrated the Feast of the Martyr King, Charles I. He hasn't been added to the American Calendar, even after several attempts, due to various factors including the creeping puritanism (which is really individualism cloaked in religious garb) and the idolotry of the god of democracy (Charles dissolved Parliment when it overstepped its bounds). But he is a Martyr for keeping the Church of England as a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church rather than allowing it fall into Presbyterianism.

Blessed Charles Stuart - PRAY FOR US!
Here is a history of Charles from the website for the Society of Charles, King and Martyr.
http://www.skcm.org/SCharles/scharles_main.html
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King Charles the Martyr was the last saint to be canonised by the Church of England.
He is honoured as a martyr because he died for the Church. He was offered his life if he would abandon episcopacy but he refused for this would have taken the Church of England away from being part of 'the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ and made Her into a sect.
So we venerate him for his sacrifice and see in it inspiration for us today.
In the words of Dr. Mandell Creighton, Bishop of London 1897-1901 and a noted ecclesiastical historian: ‘Had Charles been willing to abandon the Church and give up episcopacy, he might have saved his throne and his life. But on this point Charles stood firm: for this he died, and by dying saved it for the future.’
Immediately upon the Restoration of Church and King on 19th May, 1660, the Convocation of Canterbury and York, now being free to assemble and act, canonised King Charles and added his name to the Kalendar of Saints at the revision of The Prayer Book (see example on main SKCM page).
It came into use with the authority of Church and State in 1662 and since that time parish churches and chapels have been dedicated under the title of S.Charles (often as King Charles the Martyr).
S.Charles is also honoured for his strong personal piety and for his protection and patronage of the Church.
His reign saw the beginning of a revival of the Religious Life in the Church of England and the first attempt at Community Life (after the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII), which began at Little Gidding and was encouraged by S.Charles.
He oversaw many schemes for the Church: the restoration and adornment of churches and cathedrals, the founding and advancement of charities, the improvement of the liturgy and the re-introduction of the episcopacy in Scotland. His reign witnessed, albeit briefly, a Golden Age for Anglicanism especially in spiritual and devotional writing which is still much appreciated today.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rector's Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 2007

Here is the Rector's Report, slightly edited for grammar, from yesterday's meeting. I did not read it into the record because I didn't want it to influence the debate on the resolution following.

Once again I thank God for all the blessings and mercies he has shown unto us here at St. John’s!
2006 was filled with exciting events around St. John’s, and involving St. John’s! The Super Bowl and World Series keep the neighborhood hopping, as well as St. John’s (particularly our feeding ministry to the Detroit Police Department during the Super Bowl). The renovations to the Façade and Garden kept the Vestry and Office Staff busy, but the results were glorious!
And there were many spiritual highlights this year as well: revamped Sunday School Curriculum, The new Children’s Chapel, 18 Baptisms, the food drive for Gleaners, a full weekday liturgical schedule, The Alpha Course, the revival of the Evangelism Committee, and many people finding St. John’s and joining us as members – this is just to name a few!
But there are storm clouds on the horizon. Starting locally, and moving on to the national and international Anglican Church: the irregularity of attendance on the part of some parishioners, issues with the Diocesan Ad Campaign, the economy causing some parishioners to move away for employment, and the increasing apostacy of The Episcopal Church, especially concerning General Convention and its aftermath are just a few of the troubling signs facing us.
But friends – we have a choice to make. We can allow the bad things to distract us, or we can continue forward in faith, knowing that Jesus Christ is in Charge and can use even the most dire of situations to glorify Himself! Yes, we need to stay on top of the various situations that affect us, but we cannot allow them to consume us and keep us from our primary purpose to know Christ and make Him know!
But St. John’s is taking leadership in the Diocese, and moving on with the Gospel message of salvation! As I said in an email last January………………….
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).

May God keep us faithful and holy in the year to come!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My old military unit in the news



The Prince of Wales was in Philadelphia this past weekend, and they were escorted by my old National Guard Unit - the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary. The Trooper escorting the Prince in the picture to the right is in the unmounted dress uniform, (the mounted uniform would have riding pants and boots - shown below).

The unit is the oldest military unit in continuous existance in the United States (they escorted General Washington in the Revolutionary War) and when not escorting dignitaries, they serve as an active Cavalary Unit of the PA National Guard Troop A, 104th Cav. 52 Brigade, 28th Infantry Division. When I served (the 1980's) it was a mixed unit of armored cav and scouts, but now has been changed to a scout unit.

I was trooper number 2243 in the 233 year history of the unit.
A history of the unit can be found here

Happy Birthday Margaret

Today my daughter is ONE! Here is a montage Jennifer made (not quite finished) for Meg's first year.

The Annual Parish Meeting today

I think it went pretty well. The 4 candidates to Vestry were unanimously elected, running unopposed. The financial reports and ministry reports were well received. A budget was passed for the coming year.

We had one resolution presented, to have the vestry investigate the situation in The Episcopal Church, and develop contingencies for Episcopal Oversight if our current situation changes. There was an hour long discussion. It became obvious that it is the mind of the parish that we are not happy with the theological direction of the National Episcopal Church, and the vestry should certainly be aware of the situation. But it was also the mind of many that a formal Annual Parish Meeting resolution would be a 'drawing a line in the sand' for which the parish did not want to do. A friendly amendment softened the wording, but in the end a supporter of the resolution suggested it be withdrawn by the petitioner since members of the vestry assured the assembled body that the situation would be investigated. So the person who submitted it withdrew the resolution to avoid the unhappy conundrum of voting yes and having it misconstrued as an action plan to leave the diocese, or a vote no being a vote against Traditional Anglican Faith and Practice.

Thank you to all for all the positive contributions to the discussion.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Look what started today!


Today they began the project that has been planned by the State of Michigan and the Federal Highway folks for the past 3 years. Woodward Ave Bridge over I-75 is going to be rebuilt so the it is 5 inches higher over the freeway (to meet federal standards).

We knew this project was coming because our own parishioner, Tom Mullin, works for MDOT and has stayed on top of the planning for us. Last week he brought me a copy of the work plans. They will close 1/2 of Woodward and tear it down and rebuild it...and then do the other side.

We will have full access to the parking lot via Montcalm Ave (it looks like you won't be able to turn left onto the serivce drive, or cross Woodward, on the service drive. But there should be no problem to enter the parking lot on the other side.

Plans are to have it all done before Baseball Season begins.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A busy, but fruitful week!

This past week has been a good one.

I had lots of appointments (some weeks I have no appointments with parishioners, other weeks plenty!) both in and out of the office. I met a parishioner from long ago, who contacted the Church in order to be buried from the parish she was married at in 1949. Pray for Kathleen Hunter who is terminal and not expected to live longer than a few months. I also saw long-time parishioner Gar Williams who has been moved to a physical rehab facility to gain some strength in the hopes of returning to his regular senior facility. Also anointed another parishioner before his surgery, and was 'on-standby' for another parishioner's mother-in-law about to have emergency surgery. Her own parish priest was finally contacted and arrangments made for annointing and communion before surgery. Planning as started for Lenten programs, Marriage Prep, and the next Alpha - all to be announced soon. All this in addition to the regular week's work to be done. It was a good, fulfilling week.

We also had the Alpha Course Graduation Dinner on Thursday.

Personally, my New Year's resolutions are still in tact. I ran 4 days this week and swam 3. I got a chance to go to my first Red Wings game at the Joe. On Wednesday I celebrated a personal milestone - 18 years sober....one day at a time.

Deo Gratias to the Good God for all His Mercies!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One month away.....

February 16th -
pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland, FL for first Spring Training workout

February 21st -
First full squad workout.

Spring Training...bring it on!
Opening day is April 2nd!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

First Game at The Joe



What a great opportunity I had last night. A friend invited my son Andrew and me to see the Red Wings game last night. It is my first Red Wing game at Joe Louis Arena! Yes, that is right...the last Red Wing game I went to in person was at the old Olympia Stadium! That was over 30 years ago!


It was great fun, and especially because the Red Wings beat the Montreal Canadians 2-0.

But having been to events at The Palace in Auburn Hills in comparison, I can see why many folks want to replace Joe Louis Arena with something better - more bathrooms, bigger seats, more luxury boxes, etc. And of course I have an added desire for this new stadium - it would probably be build up here behind the Fox Theatre or even better where the Old Motown building stood across the street. Either way it means parking income for St. John's! Wouldn't a handsome brick arena, sort of like the old Olympia, look nice in the neighborhood?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Interesting stuff found on the 'net about St. John's

I have a 'google' alert set up so that I get a daily email if google finds anything on the net with St. John's, Detroit in it. This popped up many mentions of the Church with the Tiger Playoffs/World Series last Fall.

Recently it returned two items off of Google Books.
One was from a series of lectures given at the University of Michigan, endowed by our founder Governor Baldwin (it was called the Baldwin Lectures), and included a lecture by the then rector of St. John's, Fr. Woodcock. It can be found by clicking here


The other was a published sermon, given during the Civil War, by our first rector, Fr. (later Bp. of Wisconsin) William Armitage, called Unselfish Patriotism.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A couple of GREAT saints this week!

With all the highly publicized legal wrangling going on between parishes/dioceses in the Episcopal Church recently, it was interesting to see what two bishop-saints we commemorated at the Masses at St. John's this week.

St. Hilary (which in ancient times was a man's name) was one of only two bishops in all of what is now France to hold the fullness of the catholic faith, when all the rest of the bishops were arians and semi-arians (heretics). Hilary was right, but in the minority so he was voted out and sent into exile. He was eventually exhonorated and returned to his See. His most famous convert was St. Martin of Tours.
Take heart Traditionalist Bishops in ECUSA - you can be right and in the minority and voted out!

Bl. William Laud was S. King Charles I's Archbishop of Canterbury who was insistant on keeping the Church of England in the fullness of the catholic faith to which she was the legitimate heir in England. The Puritans sought a deeper 'reformation' that included the continuing self-interpretation of scripture which has eventually morphed into New England Liberal Congregationalism and Unitarianism (heresy). Bl. Wm. Laud was beheaded for his faithfulness - but of course he was right.
Take heart Traditionalist Bishops in ECUSA - others may gain earthly power over you, but that doesn't make them right.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How to explain away scriptural truth.

So, how do you explain away a basic Christian doctrine that Salvation is uniquely through Jesus Christ? Afterall it is abundantly clear as contained in scripture John 14:6 - Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me." Note he is THE way/truth/life (not "A" way, etc. but "THE" way, etc.) and NO ONE goes to God the Father except by Jesus. Seems pretty upfront. Affirmed as doctrine by The Church throught all ages.

But if you are the new person in the position of Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, then you explain it away this way in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
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"I certainly don’t disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way it’s used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then you’re not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way – that’s certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So I’m impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding."
Asked about the rest of Christ's declaration: "No man cometh unto to the father but by me," Jefferts Schori continued.
"Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus," she said.

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God help the Episcopal Church if this is the doctrine our leadership proclaims.......
found here http://www.biblebeltblogger.com/biblebelt/2007/01/presiding_bisho.html#more

Monday, January 08, 2007

Solemn Proclamation of Moveable Feasts

As is the tradition to be published on or near the Feast of the Epiphany (two days ago) here is the moveable feasts for the coming year, using the traditional format, and more modern below it. Note the Traditional version refers to Septuagesima (the beginning of the pre-lenten Sundays and Quadragesimae (also known as the first Sunday of Lent). The Sundays are numbered in anticipation of Passion Sunday, the Sunday before Palm Sunday.
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Noveritis, fratres carissimi, quod annuente Dei misericordia, sicut de Nativitate Domini nostri Jesus Christi gavisi sumus, ita et de Resurrectione ejusdem Salvatoris nostri gudium vobis annuntiamus.

Die quarta Februarii erit Dominica in Septuagesima. Vigesima prima Martii dies Cinerum, et intiaum jejunii sarcatissimae Quadragesimae. Octa Aprilis sanctum Pascha Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum gaudio celebrabimus. Decima Septima Maii erit Ascensio Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Die Vigisima Septima Maii Festum Petecostes. Septima Junii Festum saratissimi Corporis Christi. Die secunda Decembris Dominica prima Adventus Domini nostri Jesu Christi, cui est honor et gloria, in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Let it be duly and solemnly noted, dearest brothers and sisters, that just as we through the bounteous mercy of God, have rejoiced in the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, likewise should we proclaim the joy of the glorious Resurrection of this same Saviour.

Ash Wednesday is to be observed on t he twenty-first day of February, marking the beginning of the most holy Lenten fast. With great rejoicing, we will celebrate the Paschal Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ on the eight day of April. The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ is to be celebrated on the twentieth day of May, while the Solemn Feast of Pentecost is to be celebrated on the twenty-seventh day of the month of May. The Feast of the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ is to be celebrated on the tenth day of June. The second day of December shall be the First Sunday of the Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
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Thank you to St. Josephat and Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit for publishing these in their bulletin.

Finally, the Truth in the Washington Post!

The Washington Post finally printed the fullness of the truth about why the parishes in Virginia are leaving the Episcopal Church. They got it right because it is written by a priest and layman (Fr. Yates and Oz Guiness) of the Falls Church.

Although I don't agree with their conclusion that leaving and trying some sort of unproven, uncanonical rearrangement of oversight (even if the 'progressives' play lose with the canons, two wrongs do not make a right) is the proper arrangement. ECUSA, and the Diocese of Michigan, is still worth fighting for while the godly Bishops and Archbishop of Canterbury make prayerful consideration of what the future holds for the Episcopal Church.
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Why We Left the Episcopal Church
By The Rev. John Yates and Os Guinness
Monday, January 8, 2007; A15
When even President Gerald Ford's funeral at Washington National Cathedral is not exempt from comment about the crisis in the Episcopal Church, we believe it is time to set the record straight as to why our church and so many others around the country have severed ties with the Episcopal Church. Fundamental to a liberal view of freedom is the right of a person or group to define themselves, to speak for themselves and to not be dehumanized by the definitions and distortions of others. This right we request even of those who differ from us.
The core issue in why we left is not women's leadership. It is not "Episcopalians against equality," as the headline on a recent Post op-ed by Harold Meyerson put it. It is not a "leftward" drift in the church. It is not even primarily ethical -- though the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop was the flash point that showed how far the repudiation of Christian orthodoxy had gone.
The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. Some leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry or with their fingers crossed.
It would be easy to parody the "Alice in Wonderland" surrealism of Episcopal leaders openly denying what their faith once believed, celebrating what Christians have gone to the stake to resist -- and still staying on as leaders. But this is a serious matter.
First, Episcopal revisionism abandons the fidelity of faith. The Hebrew scriptures link matters of truth to a relationship with God. They speak of apostasy as adultery -- a form of betrayal as treacherous as a husband cheating on his wife.
Second, Episcopal revisionism negates the authority of faith. The "sola scriptura" ("by the scriptures alone") doctrine of the Reformation church has been abandoned for the "sola cultura" (by the culture alone) way of the modern church. No longer under authority, the Episcopal Church today is either its own authority or finds its authority in the shifting winds of intellectual and social fashion -- which is to say it has no authority.
Third, Episcopal revisionism severs the continuity of faith. Cutting itself off from the universal faith that spans the centuries and the continents, it becomes culturally captive to one culture and one time. While professing tolerance and inclusiveness, certain Episcopal attitudes toward fellow believers around the world, who make up a majority of the Anglican family, have been arrogant and even racist.
Fourth, Episcopal revisionism destroys the credibility of faith. There is so little that is distinctively Christian left in the theology of some Episcopal leaders, such as the former bishop of Newark, that a skeptic can say, as Oscar Wilde said to a cleric of his time, "I not only follow you, I precede you." It is no accident that orthodox churches are growing and that almost all the great converts to the Christian faith in the past century, such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, have been attracted to full-blooded orthodoxy, not to revisionism. The prospect for the Episcopal Church, already evident in many dioceses, is inevitable withering and decline.
Fifth, Episcopal revisionism obliterates the very identity of faith. When the great truths of the Bible and the creeds are abandoned and there is no limit to what can be believed in their place, then the point is reached when there is little identifiably Christian in Episcopal revisionism. Would that Episcopal leaders showed the same zeal for their faith that they do for their property. If the present decline continues, all that will remain of a once strong church will be empty buildings, kept going by the finances, though not the faith, of the fathers.
These are the outrages we protest. These are the infidelities that drive us to separate. These are the real issues to be debated. We remain Anglicans but leave the Episcopal Church because the Episcopal Church first left the historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, "Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wow, Jennifer did a great job

Jennifer put together the photo montaque below. Meg's Birthday is Jan 28th.

Happy Birthday Margaret




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Saturday, January 06, 2007

What a difference a year makes....

Last year, January, was a very busy month! Bishop Biggers came to visit in the first weekend. The aweful Book of Daniel was all the controversy, cancelled after only a few episodes due to lack of sponsors and viewers. Preparations were well underway for the Super Bowl, including the restoration of the large Fox Theatre sign on top of the building and the demolition of the old Motown second HQ (the Donovan Building) across the freeway from St. John's. The Steelers were rushing their way through the playoffs into the Super Bowl (this year they didn't make the playoffs, and Coach Cowher resigned). The Priest, Vestry, and many parishioners at St. Andrew's in Livonia left the diocese of Michigan. We buried Adele Huebner and I published her great testimony of faith, read at her service. We had our Annual Parish Meeting and I published my Rector's Report. And of course my darling Margaret Elizabeth was born at the end of the month! To look at January last year go to
http://stjohnsdetroit.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_archive.html

This year there is still controversy as Episcopal Parishes in Virginia and California continue to flee, putting pressure on other Traditionalist parishes. But there is no Super Bowl around the Church, no buildings coming down (that I know of), but we do have our Annual Parish Meeting. But the 'excitement' level is certainly lower so far.... But then it is early in the month!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Interesting instructions from Chinese to English

For Christmas we received a wall clock that gets a regular resetting via radio signal from some Atomic Clock somewhere. The instructions to set the clock the first time is two pages long, and written in very tedious, poorly written English. Jennifer and I got some great belly-laughs while trying to figure it out, so I thought I would share it with you. All grammar mistakes and spelling are theirs......

"After inserting battery, the hands start to run to zero position (it takes about 5 minutes and 45 seconds) and then walk for 1 minute (in the discharge completely condition). Second hand walks one step a second, minute hand walks 1/6."

"This period lasts 4 to 8 minutes. Receiving fail, it cathes the memory time and do the receiving on every odd number until receive the right time. Once received succesful, first the hands run to 12:00, then find their correct time to running."

"When alarming, press the light/snooze button, the light blinks 3 seconds and stops alarming. Then alarms again after 5 minutes, it will last 15 minutes. After that time, the snooze is invaluable, only the light blinks 3 seconds."

"But is does the receiving action when goes to the odd o'clock. At the same time, it checkes the signal strength or not. If enough strength, it stops to receive and takes 4 ~ 8 minutes."

Yes, we did get the clock to run and walk....and it keeps perfect time now.

Real Episcopalians

Recently an article was published in the Washington Post about the parishes leaving, insinuating that the members are not "REAL" Episcopalians...for a variety or reasons. This sets up questions about the legality of the vote, and of course the diocese keeping the property!
See the article here.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010301952_pf.html
The same article was sent to the St. John's email list with a highlighted quote that 2/3's of the members are Methodists, Presbys, or Baptists.
Here is my reply.
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It is a very interesting quote by the Washington Post, who has been distorting stories by claiming the issue in the parishes in Virginia is human sexuality, when that is only a symptom of the real problem - lack of biblical authority in the Church. Those 2/3 of the folks may have Methodist/Presby/Baptist background - but are members of the Episcopal Parishes being discussed. How refreshing to hear that people are finding Jesus in Episcopal Parishes!
Besides which, Canon 17, Title 1 says membership in ECUSA is not based on Confirmation but baptism and being recorded on the rolls. Confirmation is encouraged, not required - considering there were no Bishops in the Colonies until after the Revolution, it is clear Confirmation is not a sacrament required. "Expected" as the canons state doesn't mean required.
http://www.episcopalarchives.org/e-archives/canons/CandC_FINAL_11.29.2006.pdf
As per the Diocesan Canons and St. John's Operating Policy, any baptised person over 16, who has been regular in the worship of this Church for the last 6 months is eligible to vote in the Annual and Special meetings of the Parish. They are members of the parish even if their background is not Episcopal/Anglican.
Perhaps more interestingly, if only 1/3 of the 2000 and 2500 people who attend Sunday worship at those two parishes in Virginia are to be considered "members", that means 667 and 1000 people in those parishes are 'real' Episcopalians - almost more on a Sunday in the pews at the smaller, and certainly more in the larger Virginia parish, than any of the two largest parishes in the Diocese of Michigan put together. (Christ Church Cranbrook about 400, Christ Church Grosse Pointe about 350 according to the reports to the national Church found at http://12.0.101.92/Charts.aspx )
Lord, bring 1800+ more people on Sundays to St. John's to join us in knowing Jesus, loving and serving Him, striving to be obedient to Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture - even if they are Methodists, Baptist, Presbys, or nothing at all, before they come. They will learn Anglicanism by using the prayer book and worshipping (Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi - or what we pray is what we believe - the 1928 BCP does a great job of teaching Anglicanism). I'll encourage them to be confirmed, but DEO GRATIAS if they are active in the parish even without it! So let's get on with doing the work of the Body of Christ - bringing people to Jesus and being made saints!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Disappointed in President's funeral liturgy at Cathedral

What a great opportunity to show the nation something the Episcopal Church does well - worship. Nothing beats a cathedral choir, singing glorious Anglican Hymns, in the setting of Prayer Book worship (Book of Common Prayer, or perhaps occasionally the 1979 alternative), glorifying God and edifying His Creatures.

Today the National Cathedral hosted a memorial service for President Ford. Millions of people watched and/or listened on the radio both in the US and around the world.
They heard beautiful choral music, and the words of the Episcopal Liturgy. Everything was done decently and in order as far as the way the liturgy looked (eulogies are not a part of the prayer book liturgy, but the ones done were decent and short).

But unfortunately, there were two glaring issues with the service. One is one that only those "in the know" would notice. The other was a general embarrasment.

For the Gospel Lesson they chose John 14:1-6 (one of several choices in the 1979 book). But when it was read, they cut verse 6 in half. They left in
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life
and stopped there, mid-verse.
They left out,
NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME! ....the second half of the verse!

ARRGH! A great opportunity for evangelism to a captive audience! If no one comes to the Father but by Jesus, then people need to be right with JESUS: not muhammad, budha, or any new age incantation! JESUS! And if we believe that is true we need to be motivated by prayer, holiness, and sharing the good news to bring others to Jesus!

Then, as my juices were stirring from that omission (I was listening on the radio in the car), The Rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Springs, California preached his sermon. It started out with an interesting use of the Beatitudes - pretty well done (but interestingly even though it was a choice of gospel readings for the funeral, it was not the one used). But then he decided to use President Ford's death to air the Episcopal Church's dirty laundry. With millions of listeners/watchers, the priest said this....

Early this past summer, as I prepared to leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, President Ford’s concern was for the church he loved. He asked me if we would face schism. After we discussed the various issues we would consider, particularly concerns about human sexuality and the leadership of women, he said he did not think they should be divisive for anyone who lived by the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor. He then asked me to work for reconciliation within the Church. I assured him I would, just as he had worked for reconciliation within the nation thirty years ago.

God help us all! May He have mercy on the Episcopal Church for wrong doctrine and missing opportunities to proclaim Jesus as uniquely Lord!.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holy Name/Circumcision Day

Today is the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, also known as the Feast of the Holy Name. All covenants in ancient times were sealed in blood, and for the Jews, their covenant with YAHWEH was sealed by shedding of blood on the eighth day, when the males were circumcised. It is on this eighth day that they officially received their names. Jesus, in fulfilment of the law as a Jew was circumcised, and formally received the name given to Mary and Joseph by God - JESUS (Yeshua - God Saves!). He, of course, would seal the new covenant in his own blood on the Cross; a one, sufficient sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. And it is only by the name of Jesus Christ that we are saved!

This is an important mark of the Church. I have several friends (and even some current parishioners) who left their last parish because the decided to ask their priest/minister, point blank, "do you believe that the name of Jesus is the only name given under heaven by which you can be saved" or its caveat "Is Jesus uniquely The Way, The Truth, and the Life - no one coming to the Father except by Him" (both questions being from Scripture and affirmed by the 39 Articles of Religion) only to receive a less than enthusiastic response! They had to flee! At St. John's we worship His Holy Name - and believe both statements above to be TRUE!

The first paragraph from this post was originally posted December 31st, 2005