Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bishop's Note: February 04, 2016 Spiritual Disciplines - Fasting

Bishop Eric Menees

Perhaps it's because I'm halfway to 108, but time seems to speed up, rather than slow down, the older I get. This year Easter comes early, and so Lent comes very early - Ash Wednesday is in just one week away!

Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing on Spiritual Disciplines, both for the season of Lent, and for a lifetime with the Lord. 

Spiritual Disciplines are those exercises/actions/habits that do not necessarily come to us naturally, but are designed to intentionally develop our relationship with the Lord. Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Disciplines, says: “God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.… They are God’s means of grace.”  (Pg. 6) 

As we enter into this Season of Lent - the forty days of preparation leading to Easter - won't you consider a new Spiritual Discipline?  These are not simply designed for a forty day trial - simply to be abandoned on Easter - but for a transformed life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

While there are a number of disciplines, over the next few weeks I'd like to focus on Fasting, Prayer, Service, Simplicity, Spiritual Direction, Solitude, and Reconciliation. 

In the church there are traditional days of fasting, which include Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting can be defined in many ways including forgoing all food and drink for 24 hours, forgoing food but drinking water, or forgoing food during daylight hours and only having a very small and simple meal in the evening. You should be wise and discerning regarding your own physical requirements - for example, people with diabetes or hyperglycemia should not fast. For me personally, I like to fast with no food but drinking water on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and then on Fridays I'll fast during the daylight hours and have just a very simple meal in the evening. 

So why fast? Fasting has a unique way of turning our eyes on God. In his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard says: “Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food.” (Pg 166) This is why fasting can be very significant when combined with intense or extended periods of prayer. Jesus demonstrates this spiritual discipline with his forty days of fasting while battling Satan in the desert, immediately following his baptism (Luke chapter 4).

As you fast, be sure to spend the time you'd normally sit down to a meal to sit down with the Lord for prayer. 

I pray you all a Blessed Lent!

Catechism Questions: 231 - 236

231.     What is vocal prayer?
In vocal prayer I pray to God using spoken words.
232.    What is thanksgiving?
In thanksgiving I express my gratitude to God for his grace, favor, providential goodness, and answers to my prayers.
233.    What is petition?
         In petition I make requests to God on my own behalf.
234.    What is intercession?
         In intercession I make requests to God on the behalf of others.
235.    What is meditation?
In meditation I prayerfully read and reflect upon Holy Scripture according to its intended meaning, with openness to personal spiritual direction from God. 
236.    What is contemplation?

In contemplation I lift my heart in love to God without any deliberate flow of thoughts or words.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bishop's Note: Walk for Life West Coast 2016

Bishop Eric Menees

What a thrill it was to be with brothers and sisters from all over the Central Valley, and especially from diocesan congregations: St. Anselm, St. David, St. John, St. Mark, and the Cathedral!

Catechism Questions: 228 - 230

228.    How should you “learn” the Bible?
I should seek to know the whole of Scripture, and to memorize key passages for my own spiritual growth and for sharing with others.
229.    How should you “inwardly digest” Scripture?
I should ground my prayers in the Scriptures. One time-tested way of doing this is to pray the Psalms, which formed Jesus’ own prayer book. As I absorb Scripture, it becomes the lens through which I perceive and understand the events in my life and the world around me, and guides my attitudes and actions.
230.    Are there different ways to pray?

Yes. Prayer can be private or public, liturgical or extemporaneous; personal prayer can be vocal, meditative, or contemplative. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Primates Communique:What Does Walking Together Mean?

Fr. Dale Matson

The complete text of the 2016 Primates Communiqué can be found here:

While most of the focus and discussions following the communiqué was on the consequences outlined for The Episcopal Church for departing from the historic faith and order of the World Wide Anglican Communion (WWAC), there was one phrase in particular that continues to nettle me (I was also concerned about new equivalency issues that were included in the statement and agreed to by the primates).

“Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ.” I’m not certain it was unanimous since the Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali left in protest on the second day.

Prior to the January meeting, GAFCON had stated in their September 2015 response to an invitation to a meeting that they would not attend any meeting also attended by The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada.

“Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.”

I am left with the following question. “What constitutes ‘walking together’ for the next three years?”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bishop’s Note: Response to Canterbury 2016

Bishop Eric Menees

January 19, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese of San Joaquin,

Greetings and peace to you in the mighty name of Jesus!

This past week the Primates (Archbishops) of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury, England to speak the truth in love, with courage and deep conviction. They gathered to discuss the impact of the actions of the Episcopal Church in departing from the faith once delivered and the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. This conversation began in 2003 following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, and then continued in 2007 at the gathering of the Primates in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where the Primates agreed to be under authority to God and His Word, and to one another, and not to act unilaterally. 

We in the Diocese of San Joaquin know first hand that there was no follow up to the Dar es Salaam meeting, and the lawsuits and depositions (defrocking) of over 700 faithful clergy ensued. This past summer the Episcopal Church caused further pain and suffering in the Anglican Communion with the approval of same sex marriage rites.

After visiting all of the Provinces of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury - Justin Welby - called a gathering of the Primates to address the wounding of our Communion by both the unilateral actions of the Episcopal Church, and the preparation for similar moves by the Anglican Church of Canada. 

While I was not present in Canterbury, the news reports of the meeting give us cause for hope and pride in the actions of the primates from the Global South, GAFCON, and our own Archbishop Foley Beach, who was received as a full and equal partner. In true godly fashion, Christian brothers held one another accountable. They shared the pain and suffering that the departure from the faith has caused in their Provinces around the world, as well as here in North America, and in the end they imposed sanctions on the Episcopal Church. These sanctions remove the Episcopal Church from the governance bodies of the Anglican Communion for a period of three years and call upon them to repent and return to the faith and witness of Christ and the Anglican Church. While on the surface this may not seem like much, I believe that calling the Episcopal Church to re-examine their actions and, ultimately, decide to walk together or apart from their Anglican brothers and sisters around the world is significant.

I am grateful to God for our GAFCON and Global South Primates who were bold for the Gospel, and pray that we are all inspired to do the same. 

Below you will find hyperlinks to the statement of the Primates, an interview with Archbishop Foley, and different articles from religious and secular press. I commend them all to your prayerful reading and viewing.

Here is Archbishop Foley’s interview with AnglicanTV posted on January 17. 

Here is the GAFCON statement:

The official statement from the Primates Meeting:

Here is a news story from fox news:

 Your Bishop & Servant,                                   

   + Eric Menees

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bishop’s Note: Reflection on the College of Bishops' January 2016 Meeting

Bishop Eric Menees

Last week I had the great honor to join my brother bishops in Melbourne, Florida for our bi-annual meeting. The agenda was very full around the primary topics of the election of the 2nd Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes; the approval of the first draft of the Ancient Canon Eucharistic Rite, Marriage Liturgy, Liturgical Calendar, Sunday Collects, Sunday Lectionary, and Daily Office Lectionary; and Task Force Reports -- Holy Orders, Ecumenical, Marriage, and others.

I commend the Report of the College to your prayerful consideration. Simply click this link:

I pray you all a blessed week!

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Line In The Sand For The Anglican Communion

This is from an article posted by the Anglican Communion Institute here:
A Church of England Perspective on Anglican Arguments for Same Sex-Sex Marriage

Written by: Rev. Dr. M. B. Davie
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
Introduction: the development of the Anglican debate about same-sex relationships since 2000.

In my previous roles as the Theological Secretary of the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity and Theological Consultant to its House of Bishops and in my current role as the Academic Consultant to the Church of England Evangelical Council, I have been tracking the development of the Anglican debate about same-sex relationships over the past fifteen years. During that time the focus of the debate has kept moving.

When I started working at Church House, London, in 2000 the focus of the debate was still on the issues that had been discussed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, namely whether it would be right to offer some form of blessing to same-sex relationships and whether it would be right for those in a same-sex relationships to be ordained as Deacon or Priest.

In 2003 the election and subsequent consecration of Gene Robinson as the first Anglican bishop in a same-sex partnership moved the debate on to the question of whether it was right for those in same-sex relationships to be appointed as bishops (a debate that was also raised in a Church of England context by the proposal to appoint Jeffrey John as the Suffragan Bishop of Reading).

Post 2003 the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of those in same-sex relationships as Deacons and Priests has become a fairly frequent occurrence in large parts of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada and in 2010 Mary Glasspool became the second bishop in a same-sex partnership to be consecrated in the Anglican Communion when she became a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

However, since 2010 the focus of the debate has moved on again with the new focus being on the issue of same-sex ‘marriage.’ With an increasing number of countries beginning to permit civil same-sex ‘marriages’ the question has begun to be raised more and more insistently as to whether churches should not offer a blessing to those who have entered into civil same-sex ‘marriages’ or even conduct same-sex ‘marriages’ themselves.

The Scandinavian Lutheran churches with whom the British and Irish Anglican churches are in communion through the Porvoo agreement have all moved in this direction from 2009 onwards and since 2013 three Anglican churches have begun to move towards the introduction of same-sex ‘marriages’ with the Anglican Church of Canada being the first to move in 2013 and the Scottish Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church following them in the summer this year.

The Church of England has so far resisted the idea that it should move in the same direction, with the traditional Christian view of marriage being upheld in its 2013 Faith and Order Commission statementMen and Women in Marriage and in the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriageissued in February 2014.

However, since same-sex ‘marriages’ became legal in Great Britain in 2014 a number of Church of England laity and clergy have entered into them. In addition the majority report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality (the ‘Pilling’ report) recommended in 2013 that priests should ‘be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service’ and if this recommendation eventually becomes Church of England policy the pressure to move from this half way house to the solemnization of same-sex ‘marriages’ will become acute.

What all this means is that although the debate about the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination and consecration of those in such relationships have not gone away the new storm centre in the Anglican Communion is going to be same-sex ‘marriage.’

In this paper I provide an introduction to this debate by setting out and assessing the arguments for same-sex ‘marriage’ put forward in reports from the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. At the end of the paper I will give an overview of what I think we have learned about the key issues in the debate and the challenges facing the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bishop’s Note: Epiphany 2016

Bishop Eric Menees

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Epiphany throughout the church. I was blessed to be with my brothers in the College of Bishops at Christ Church in Vero Beach, Florida. In the service we were reminded by Archbishop Beach of the faithfulness of the wise men who traveled from afar searching for the one born to be King of the Jews.

How blessed we are not to have to search, but rather to have been sought out by Jesus himself, who regularly makes himself manifest to us! He makes himself manifest in word and sacrament; manifest when we gather for worship; and manifest when we take the Good News of Jesus Christ, in word and deed, to a broken and fallen world!

I pray you all a truly blessed Epiphany Season, full of Grace and Wonder, as you open your hearts and souls to allow Jesus to be made manifest in your lives!

God bless you all.