Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

stunning news received today about "Keith, my bishop protector"

Quincy Standing Committee Announces Bishop’s Retirement
Posted by Kendall Harmon on www.kendallharmon.net/t19

(Via email--KSH)

The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy, has announced to the Standing Committee his retirement as Diocesan Bishop effective November 1st, 2008. Bishop Ackerman has reached this decision after much thought and prayer. The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision.
While Bishop Ackerman is retiring from his administrative duties as executive officer of the Diocese, he plans to remain in the area of the Diocese for some time and will make himself available, under arrangement with the Standing Committee, to perform Episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the Diocese, as have Bishop Donald Parsons and Bishop Edward MacBurney, the VIth and VIIth Bishops of Quincy. Under diocesan canons, the Standing Committee will continue to act as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as they have since the Bishop's sabbatical began in late August. Day to day operations of the diocese will continue to be handled by the various officers and department heads. Bishop Ackerman wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of abandoning the diocese but will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support as asked by the Standing Committee.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Rector's Rambling for 10/26/08

Today, according to the ancient calendar which we use at St. John’s, is known as Christ the King Sunday. Although the new liturgical calendar has moved this feast day to the end of the Ordinary season (the Sunday before Advent begins), we keep it here for its original reason. It is the alternative to a more protestant observance of reformation Sunday.
In Lutheran and other churches today they will be celebrating Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral on October 31st, 1517. These theses were his list of grievances with the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
This day is marked as a great festival by reformed churches, but I would hope it would be with a twinge of sadness as well. For this date could also be marked as the beginning of the great divide of the Western Church. From this initial division spanned multiple divisions in Europe, and then England, and even down to our day throughout the world.
Although their grievances had merit, we pause a minute to think about how division and separation go directly against our Lord’s high priestly prayer that we all be one as He and the Father are one! (John 17:21) Division hinders our witness as The Body of Christ.
As Anglican (Episcopalians) we are in a unique position as a Church which retained the catholic sacraments and apostolic authority of the ancient undivided Church, while correcting many of the abuses that the reformation sought to fix. We are a ‘bridge’ between Roman and Protestantism, and offer the opportunity to prayerfully work for reunion as our Lord desires.
So today, rather than dwelling on the division, let us focus on Jesus Christ as our King and Lord! Let us crown Him with many crowns, and acknowledge His Rule in our hearts and in our lives.
Focusing on Him, we can be reformed internally while adhering to the Unity of the One, Catholic and Apostolic Church that He desires for us.
May we all be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. And may we say with St. Thomas “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:21)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

George Will on the current state of affairs in ECUSA

A Faith's Dwindling Following
By George F. Will
Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, 60, is not a Lutheran, but he is a Luther, of sorts. The former Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh has, in effect, said the words with which Martin Luther shattered Christendom and asserted the primacy of individual judgment and conscience that defines the modern temperament: " Ich kann nicht anders" -- I cannot do otherwise.
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh recently became the second diocese (the first was in Fresno, Calif.) to secede from the U.S. Episcopal Church since, but not entirely because of, the 2003 ordination in New Hampshire of an openly gay bishop -- Gene Robinson, a classmate of Duncan's at General Theological Seminary in New York in the 1970s. Before the Robinson controversy, other Episcopalians, from South Carolina to Southern California, had disassociated from the Episcopal Church and put themselves under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops who serve where the church is flourishing -- often in sub-Saharan Africa, where a majority of Anglicans live.
It is not the secessionists such as Duncan who are, as critics charge, obsessed with homosexuality. The Episcopal Church's leadership is latitudinarian -- tolerant to the point of incoherence, Duncan and kindred spirits think -- about clergy who deviate from traditional church teachings concerning such core doctrines as the divinity of Christ, the authority of Scripture and the path to salvation. But the national church insists on the ordination of openly gay clergy and on blessing same-sex unions.
In the 1960s, Bishop James Pike of California, who urged the church to jettison such "theological baggage" as the doctrines of Original Sin and the Trinity, was the last active bishop disciplined for theological reasons. Duncan doubts whether Pike would be disciplined today.
Duncan became a bishop in 1995, at age 47, in an Episcopal Church already roiled by dissension about the ordination of women, revision of the prayer book and other matters. But, Duncan says, "I wish it" -- the issue that finally precipitated secession -- "had been some other issue." He means some controversy, other than Robinson's ordination, turning on scriptural authority.
The shrinking Episcopal Church (2.4 million members, down from 3.5 million at its peak in 1965) is a small sliver of the worldwide Anglican communion (at least 77 million and expanding rapidly). Its travails are, Duncan says, yet another lingering echo of the 1960s.
The Anglican communion once was a "via media," a middle way, between Catholicism and Protestantism. Now, Duncan says, the national leadership of the Episcopal Church thinks of itself as a bridge between Protestantism and the culture. Duncan and other protesters agree with the late Flannery O'Connor, the Catholic novelist: "You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you."
Every 10 years there is a Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, presided over by the archbishop of Canterbury. This year only 650 of the nearly 900 bishops attended -- 150 of them representing only the tiny U.S. communion. The bishops from three of the Anglican communion's five largest provinces -- Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya -- boycotted.
Today, the typical Anglican is a middle-aged African woman. The burgeoning Nigerian church says that it has 20 million members; Duncan believes it may have 25 million but perhaps chooses to underreport so as not to exacerbate tensions with Nigerian Muslims.
In London, more Muslims attend Friday prayers than Anglicans attend Sunday services. Last December, on the Sunday after former prime minister Tony Blair was received into the Catholic Church, more Catholics than Anglicans attended services in England, an increasingly common occurrence now, five centuries after the Reformation.
"I think," Duncan says, "the 21st century will be for the archbishop of Canterbury what the 20th century was for the royal family." That is, an era of diminution.
Because Protestantism has no structure of authority comparable to the Vatican and because it does not merely tolerate but enjoins individual judgments by "the priesthood of all believers" concerning beliefs and obligations, all Protestants are potential Luthers. Hence it is evidence of spiritual vigor that Episcopalians in Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth will vote on disassociation from the U.S. communion on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, respectively.
The Episcopal Church once was America's upper crust at prayer. Today it is "progressive" politics cloaked -- very thinly -- in piety. Episcopalians' discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church's doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an "inclusiveness" that includes fewer and fewer members.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Rector's Rambling for 10.12.08

This past weekend was a sad one for me. My former diocese, Pittsburgh, voted to leave the Episcopal Church USA. I hate talking ‘politics’, but this is something that has been reported on in the secular media, and I wanted to report the story to you from the prospective of a priest who was formerly in that diocese.
The media dwells upon one of the symptoms of the problem in the Episcopal Church, the one concerning marriage between one man and one women and the Episcopal Church’s increasing acceptance of lifestyles deviant to that biblical standard. But that is only a symptom. Other symptoms include the deviation from catholic doctrine (we do recite in the creed we believe one catholic and apostolic Church) for the sacraments such as who may be ordained, and jettisoning by some of the universally accepted creeds (statement of belief).
The disease is an increasing acceptance of a secular world view influencing the reading of the Scriptures and how the local modern Church wants to reinterpret them (or disregard them all together). The Diocese of Pittsburgh at one time was a diocese that was in the Episcopal Church mainstream. But as the Episcopal Church moved further into theological novelty, Pittsburgh experienced a revival under evangelical bishops Hathaway and Duncan. In a geographic area where the population is declining, the Diocese was planting new parishes, reviving old ones, and building new buildings for congregations bursting at the seams of their old facilities. All this was done with a solid, biblical proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord as is taught in the Word of God!
No diocese is perfect, but my time in Pittsburgh was a time of joyful participation. I, and my parishioners, actually looked forward to Diocesan Convention for fellowship with neighboring parishes who shared like-faith if not worship style.
Pittsburgh felt the time had come to separate corporately from ECUSA and unite to another province of our worldwide Anglican Communion. The House of Bishops used a novel approach to the canons (church laws) and removed Bishop Duncan in anticipation of the diocese’s vote this past weekend. Now the legal wrangling begins over property rights, etc. And all this is being watched closely by our worldwide Anglican Communion, most of whose bishops agree theologically with Pittsburgh’s theological position on Jesus, scripture, and marriage.
Pray, Pray, Pray for the Episcopal Church—that we may be the Church Jesus desires us to be: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. And this is on HIS terms as revealed in Scripture.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Amen and Amen!

from the Zenit news service -

Cardinal Says Scripture Inseparably United to Tradition
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
Scripture and Tradition are inseparably united since they both come from the same source, says the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal William Levada, a delegate president of the synod on the word of God, affirmed this Monday when he addressed the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
"As the dogmatic constitution 'Dei Verbum' reminds us, there exists an indissoluble unity between sacred Scripture and Tradition since both flow from the same source," he said. "Only the living ecclesial tradition allows sacred Scripture to be understood as the authentic word of God that acts as guide, rule and law for the life of the Church and the spiritual growth of believers.
"This involves the rejection of any interpretation that is subjective or purely experiential or the fruit of a unilateral analysis, incapable of embracing the global sense that has guided the Tradition of the whole of God's people down through the centuries.
"It is in this context, the cardinal said, that the "necessity and responsibility of the magisterium are born."
"And we individual bishops too know well how great our individual responsibilities are as legitimate successors of the apostles and what is expected of us by today's society to which we are duty-bound to transmit the truth that we, in turn, have received," he added.

Another Church theft

Although not in Detroit, it is 1/2 block from the Detroit border. This is my old neighborhood (where we lived until last year), and the St. Ambrose Rectory, on the other side of the Church from the stolen lanterns, is across the street from the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department.


From the Detroit Free Press
Two lantern-shaped light fixtures outside St. Ambrose Parish in Grosse Pointe Park were stolen Monday, the Archdiocese of Detroit said today.
The bronze and copper fixtures, which St. Ambrose pastoral minister Chuck Dropiewski called “historic and priceless,” hung at the side entrance, facing the main parking lot and had lit the church since it was built in 1926-1927.
“Someone took the trouble to unbolt them from the church building, and because of that, we’re hopeful they can be recovered intact,” he added.
Anyone with information about the theft may call the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department at 313-822-7400 or the parish at

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

a sad life

Here is what a reporter said about a man in an article in the Detroit News.

He lives alone, disavows God and subsists on less than 500 calories a day.

...having recently purchased an electric car. It's not that he wants to save the human race, since he has little regard for the human race.

He takes this to mean that government has no right to stop smoking, mandate helmets or seat belts, ban abortions, homosexual marriage, drugs or helping someone kill themselves.
"Without these rights, life isn't worth living," he says.

He keeps a jug of sweet wine, but rarely partakes. "I like to be soused" he says. "When you're drunk, really drunk, you have no problems."

While idling -- and refusing to wear a seatbelt -- XXXXXX revealed this: "Life isn't that great."

Who is this man with such a sad, hopeless life?

Dr. Jack Kevorkian - the suicide doctor, AKA Dr. Death. Hailed as a hero for the 'right to die movement', and even allowed to speak in some protestant Churches on the subject.

The reporter continues...
Jack Kevorkian says he has never loved, never married, never had children.
He paraphrases the existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: "Sleep is wonderful but death is better still. Not to have been born is the miracle."
"I would rather have not been born," he says.

No wonder he wanted to help people die. He himself is a man without hope.
Lord have mercy upon him, and bring him to repentence before he dies.

For the full article, and a video, go to

PS - he is running for U.S. Congress.....


Saturday, October 04, 2008

With sadness...

From the Diocese of Pittsburgh (my former diocese)....
This is the second diocese to vote to leave - two more make decisions in November.
(Press Release) Deputies to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s 143rd Annual diocesan convention voted by strong margins on October 4 to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Vote totals on the key constitutional provision that opened the way for the change were as follows. A total of 191 laity voted. 119 voted in favor. 69 voted against, 3 abstained. A total of 160 clergy voted. 121 voted in favor. 33 voted no. 3 abstained. 2 invalid ballots were cast. “We deeply value our shared heritage and years of friendship with those still within that denomination, but this diocese could not in good conscience continue down the road away from mainstream Christianity that the leadership of The Episcopal Church is so determined to follow,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, director of communications for the diocese.

The passage of the vote by the diocesan convention, the diocese’s highest governing authority, means that the entire Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, including all of its congregations and clergy, is now part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The diocese expects a small group of 210 clergy and a minority of its 70 parishes to withdraw from the diocese and reorganize under the authority of The Episcopal Church. The diocese is committed to making such decisions of conscience as easy as possible for all those involved.

The Province of The Southern Cone decided in 2007 to offer temporary oversight and pastoral care to mainstream Anglicans disengaging from The Episcopal Church. They hope there will be a new Anglican province in North America for those Anglicans who hold to historic faith and order. In the meantime, scores of individual congregations and four dioceses either have, or are considering, accepting the generous offer of The Southern Cone. The dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy will both make their final decision in November.

“We are deeply thankful to the Province of the Southern Cone for offering us a clear way to stay within The Anglican Communion as the necessary work of building a new province goes forward. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Christians of many denominations and traditions both here in Pittsburgh and around the world that have prayed for us, encouraged us and stood with us as we have made this decision,” said Frank.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Pray for the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Their bishop has already been deposed in anticipation, and this weekend the diocese votes to most likely try to leave the Episcopal Church lock, stock and barrel. This will be with the exception of a few parishes who will stay, cooperate with the National HQ, claim to be the real Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and sue to get everything they can from the faithful who have realigned to another part of the Anglican Communion.

Pray for them.