December 4, 2009
Beloved in Christ,
I hope that you and your family had a wonderful time together on Thanksgiving Day. It is one of the weeks that the AAC doesn't publish the weekly email update, but as I travel I find that so many people read our updates, and are disappointed if we skip a week, or if I am traveling and don't write a column, that it makes me feel a little guilty.
In today's news we note that The Living Church has released an article by The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner entitled "Misreading History," which pokes holes in Bishop John Chane's distorted presentation of marriage. Dr. Radner is a member of The Anglican Communion Institute (ACI). The ACI and its companion Communion Partners have pledged to honor the Windsor Report process, including the call of the Anglican Primates to halt lawsuits. This cessation of lawsuits is one of the moratoria called for by the Anglican Communion Primates.
It is surprising then, that one of the Communion Partner (CP) dioceses, Tennessee, and their bishop broke ranks with the rest of the CP dioceses and initiated a lawsuit against St. Andrew's Church in West Nashville, asking a state court to give the property to the diocese. It raises a question as to the extent of the Diocese of Tennessee's commitment to the moratoria and the Windsor Report process.
On the west coast, the TEC diocese of Los Angeles is preparing to vote this Saturday to fill two Suffragan bishop positions that are open. The question looming over the diocese is, will Los Angeles follow New Hampshire and elect a non-celibate homosexual as a bishop? Of the retiring bishops, one is a straight black male, and the other an Hispanic male who is gay (he transferred into TEC from Mexico).
Among the candidates are a white, partnered homosexual female priest, a white, partnered homosexual male priest, two straight women, one black and the other white, and two straight Hispanic men. This is quite "politically correct": with three men and three women, or three white candidates, two Hispanic candidates and one black candidate, or four straight and two homosexual candidates. With the cross currents of interest in the diocese, it is thought that the white female lesbian candidate, the Rev. Glasspool, might very well be one of the two elected. This election happens Saturday, so you might wish to check the internet Saturday afternoon PST to see if outcomes are posted.
While we are on sexuality issues, Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III of (Eastern) Massachusetts has granted permission for priests in his diocese to officiate at same-sex weddings. Yes, since the state of Massachusetts now permits same-sex marriage, priests aren't talking about blessing same-sex unions any longer, it is marriage in the Church that they are offering.
One item that is causing a great deal of concern in the Western world is a private member's motion in the Uganda legislature imposing draconian punishments for homosexual behavior and those who aid or abet it in any way. Some say it is in response to western homosexual recruitment in the schools in Uganda, but however the problem is described, the punishments which include the death penalty and life imprisonment seem beyond comprehension. It should be noted that the legislation is proposed by an individual and not by the government, and it is likely that wise leaders will see that the legislation is not passed. Great concern was raised in the past when the legislature in Nigeria had severe punishments proposed for similar behavior, but in the end no such legislation was passed or implemented. We pray that wisdom may prevail in Uganda and other ways will be found to address concerns over this issue.
Early last week before Thanksgiving, news began to surface about an incredible All Saints' Day Litany done at Saint John's Episcopal Church, Harrison, Arkansas. David Virtue broke the story about the Rev. Seamus Doyle, rector, and then one of our sources faxed us the actual litany used that morning. This litany is in the same category as the Druid Episcopal priests in Pennsylvania and the Seattle Muslim Episcopal priest, and as bizarre as these three instances are, they are an indicator of how the faith of the Jefferts Schori Episcopal Church is continuing to degrade.
The Litany moves from orthodox to heresy in the second intercession, where it progresses to, "Holy men and women who worshipped the All Holy One as Rama, Visnu or the Lord Krishna, forest hermits, ascetics and wise ones whose lives were incarnations of the holy books- the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita - " And then all respond, "All you Hindu saints; we praise you, for holy are you." Then the Litany moves to Buddhist saints. Also warranting inclusion are Confucius, Lao Tzu and Chanug Tzu and all Chinese (pagan) saints. Then special mention for the "Holy prophet Mohammed and all holy saints of Islam, all who surrender to the will of Allah: Holy Martyrs of Islam. . . " Does he also mean the "holy martyrs" of 9-11?
Then the litany touches on the Incas of Peru, "holy" Mayans and Aztecs of Mexico, the followers of the God of the Pygmies, etc. This Episcopal litany, used in an Episcopal Eucharist service, refers to the "holy Aztecs" - who slaughtered thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, cutting out their still-beating hearts and then throwing the lifeless bodies down the precipitous steps of the Aztec temples. Has the Episcopal bishop authorized this litany for use in his diocese? What is the Rev. Seamus Doyle thinking? You can draw your own conclusions, but first go to Virtueonline.org and read the actual text
of the litany that David Virtue has posted.
While we are on the subject of Episcopal Church outrages, we have to sympathize with Bishop Mark MacDonald who has served the Episcopal Church as Bishop of Alaska, and interim Bishop of Navaholand, and as a Bishop-on-loan to the Anglican Church of Canada under the Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's supervision. Now he is told by Jefferts Schori that his work with the Anglican Church of Canada will require him to renounce his Holy Orders in TEC. It must be understood that this new doctrine adopted by TEC is uniquely the Jefferts Schori Doctrine, and not something that has been true in the past.
When I served in South Dakota as rector of Emmanuel Parish, Rapid City, our bishop, Walter H. Jones, who was originally from Canada, was elected bishop of Rupert's Land and Metropolitan of the area, and he went back to Canada with the TEC House of Bishops' blessings. There was no demand that he renounce orders in TEC, and that was fortunate, since when he retired, he moved back to South Dakota, and was again able to function under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop of South Dakota until his unfortunate death a few years later.
I do not understand why even the uber-liberals don't see this new Jefferts Schori Doctrine for what it is - a departure from any sense of the church catholic. Bishop MacDonald is quoted as saying, "The Christological doctrine of the catholicity of the church is at stake." Read the entire article by George Conger and be amazed.
Now to things that move the church in the right way. A few months ago, I met with other bishops and leaders from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical communities in Manhattan to discuss the issue of marriage in our church and culture, and what could be done to strengthen the Biblical concept of marriage being a lifelong faithful union between a man and a woman. A statement now called the Manhattan Declaration is the outgrowth of that meeting. A number of issues that touch on marriage, including the value of all human life, including those not yet born, were of concern to those present. If you haven't yet read it, I would encourage you to go to the Manhattan Declaration site
, read it, and if you are in agreement with us, add your name to the list of those who have endorsed it.
One of the questions asked is, "OK, I signed it, now what?" That is a fair question. One thing, and the first thing, is to pray and intercede, for apart from the Lord's assistance we can do nothing. The second thing to do is to study and learn about these issues. The Declaration itself is a great guide to research into the issues raised, historically, theologically and politically. A third is to visit the FAQ tab on the Manhattan Declaration site
, so you can help defend the concepts to those who may have questions. Fourth, talk to your friends, neighbors, family, church members about this, and use email and Facebook, etc. as means to spark conversation. If you are a member of a civic group, see if you or someone else could discuss the Declaration regarding its impact civically and culturally. Additionally, be active in your political party to advance the issues that the Manhattan Declaration espouses. Talk to your legislators and make sure they are correctly understanding your perspective.
For the sake of the Kingdom of God, for our souls and for the church, it helps to be actively working on positive things in our life that advance Kingdom priorities; it brings a joy and peace that the world cannot provide.
Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson,
Sr.President and CEO, American Anglican Council