Friday, December 11, 2009

Salt and Light

Salt and Light
Deacon Dale Matson 12-11-09
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13-14).
In our weekly office meetings the clergy will sometimes discuss some of the bigger issues of the Christian life once the business of the Cathedral is conducted. The question this week had to do with the extent that Christians should be caught up in the cares and concerns of this world. Our Lord encourages us not to worry (Matthew 6:31) but does this mean that we ignore the concerns of this world? St. Paul states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
As Christians, we are engaged in a cosmic struggle with evil. We are called to be Salt. Salt is both a flavor enhancer and a preservative. Certainly prayer is an important tool of the spiritual warrior but so is testimony. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).
There are two caveats I would offer when we take the time to care about what is going on in our world. The first is a question. Is this concern a distraction or is it an issue that requires that you go beyond concern to action? In the smaller issues perhaps modeling what you want to see is the best approach. For example, instead of scolding folks about littering, in the letters to the editor, you could pick up litter on your morning walks. This is a Christian witness and prompts others to do the same. It is not the hypocritical self righteous Christian scolding of the non Christians once again. It is important for the Christian to also play a prophetic role in society. This means that when big issues arise such as an unjust war or violations of human rights one should speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This can be done through financial support, correspondence, signing petitions and living a life that reflects that value. We may pray but sometimes we must also act. The late Thomas Merton, a reclusive and silent Trappist Monk believed the Vietnam War to be immoral and was moved to publicly write and travel to speak against it.
Merton was motivated by love to speak against the war. This is where we are called to be the light of the world. The light is the “why” part of change. If we offer the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others, they will gain ears to hear and eyes to see. Their hearts will be changed and their minds will follow. John Newton, who wrote the Hymn “Amazing Grace”, was the captain of a slave ship. Following his conversion to Christ, he was an outspoken opponent of slavery. “I once was lost but now I’m found.”
[Bishop]” will you persevere in resisting evil…..” [People] “I will with God’s help.” Amen

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ecclesiology and Accountability

By Dcn Dale Matson

Father Dan Martins has an excellent series on his blog about Ecclesiology Ecclesiology is the doctrine of the Church. It consists of the questions the Church asks itself about itself. Fr. Dan notes that Protestants tend to see the individual believer as the precursor of the Church and Roman Catholics tend to see the Church as preexistent to the individual believer. As Anglicans perhaps we can see merit in both perspectives. There are some difficulties that emerge however when we only see the individual believer as preeminent and in some cases sufficient. This view has led to an individualism that encourages autonomy and ultimately leads to isolation and lack of accountability.

There are areas that serve as unfortunate examples that result from this individualistic Ecclesiology no longer being balanced by seeing oneself as a part of a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Fr. Martins discussed this regarding the failure of The Episcopal Church to continue to see itself as a part of a larger Church in an article titled “An Emerging Secondary Infection” (Sep. 10th 09).

My concern is with another problem that emerges. How do we as Christians defend ourselves and confront society if our faith is individual and our life is autonomous? Is our prophetic voice solitary? This concern emerged recently with the issuance of the “Manhattan Declaration”. It deals with the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife and the rights of conscience and religious liberty. My concern is not for those who signed the declaration. My concern is not even for those who will not sign because they do not agree with the declaration. Of those who identified themselves with a denomination, the original 168 signers identified themselves as Baptists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox, Lutherans and Presbyterians. As of this writing the list of signatures is approaching 200,000. I include myself as a signer. My decision was based on personal agreement but seeing the name of my Archbishop Robert Duncan on the list was also a permissive moment. By identifying myself as a Deacon, I was saying that my signature was in accord with my church.

No, my concern is for the individuals who will not sign because they are not in doctrinal agreement with other people who signed. There are even people who have publicly stated that they did not sign because to do so would be an admission that some from other denominations were actually Christian. These are people who agree with those who signed on the three issues in the declaration. This is not an “altar and pulpit fellowship” issue. For the individuals who did not sign because of doctrinal disagreements with other signers even though they agreed with the declaration, I would ask this question, “Have you truly discerned the body”?

Monday, December 7, 2009


By the Rev. Jim Wilson, PrayNorthState

The first Great Awakening swept the eastern seaboard in the 30s and 40s of the eighteenth century after Christ. It literally formed the American character, shaping a distinct people of God where before stood expatriate Englishmen. It made possible rising as a nation to mount a principled defense of the liberties we would later defend with arms, and forged a constitution as the godly document it became. But it largely bypassed the Anglican churches because we feared the messiness of revival. This is documented in my own Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, to name just one resource.

Over the half century following independence from Britain the Anglican churches were in survival mode. We labored under the external stigma of association with British colonial government, and the internal stigma of desire to be simply a more evangelical expression of the older church. Bishops Henry Hobart and Alexander Viets Griswold did much to shore up the Church by their example. They rode thousands of miles on horseback taking sacrament and Episcopal presence with them. Hobart met weekly with ordinands – mentoring them – and wrote periodicals to defend the faith. They were rector bishops carrying that model as far as it could be carried; it did not ultimately succeed because the Church was still in survival mode when they died. Hobart had worked himself to death by age fifty-five; Griswold was able to abide for a longer season.

In 1835 the General Convention acted with immense courage. They let go of the model of churchmanship and leadership inherited from England – in which a bishop was called only when a diocese was ready. Looking to the apostolic age they consecrated Jackson Kemper for the Northwest Territories. Kemper carried Bible, Prayer Book and sacramental equipment in one saddle bag and vestments in the other. He baptized, confirmed and ordained – establishing churches and seminary into the bargain. His clergy – fresh from the woods themselves – did what he did and established their own churches and seminaries. Although Kemper is revered as the lone horseman evangelizing the people of the forests his real achievement was in raising up disciples to follow in his footsteps. He made no effort to be all things to all – he did not operate as a CEO or any of the other things we expect bishops to do today that have little to do with apostleship. He did what God called Peter and Paul – and Patrick and Columba – to do; his ministry is credited with transforming the fledgling residue of a colonial church into the vibrant expression of an indigenous albeit catholic body.

We do not need another Jackson Kemper for today – that was then and this is now. But we do need a man to undertake his historic role for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin as we approach the time when Bishop Schofield will retire. We do need God to show us what that means in our time and place. And we need courage enough to raise and send him into our midst – and us into our recovered identity as Anglicans.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at

Sunday, December 6, 2009


December 5, 2009

Contact: Robert Lundy
Communications Officer
American Anglican Council

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected a partnered lesbian as Bishop Suffragan today and demonstrated The Episcopal Church’s further departure from biblical Christianity.

“Unfortunately, this election provides further clarity to the rest of the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop David Anderson, president and CEO of the American Anglican Council. “Should the rest of The Episcopal Church consent to this election, there can be no more pretending that The Episcopal Church holds to Anglican Communion doctrine and 2,000 years of biblically based Christian teachings. Not only have they elected another non-celibate homosexual bishop, but they repeatedly defy the moratorium on same-sex blessings called for by the Windsor Report.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Liturgical Renewal

The newly formed North American expression of the Anglican Communion, ACNA is in new territory. This is true in liturgics as much as every other area of our common life. Recently I have heard numerous voices expressing deep suspicion directed at the 1979 Prayer Book and calling for a return to the 1928 BCP or even a return to the 1662 Prayer Book (though some call for a kind of “modernization” of the language of the 1662 Book). The reasons for this desire are no doubt many, ranging from the well known and sustained attacks on the theology of the new prayer book expressed by the Prayer Book Society in their publications, to a kind of general angst that connects the '79 prayer book with the theological misadventures of the past thirty years in the Episcopal Church. Recently I read an article telling of the duplicity of Urban T. Holmes, exposing his alleged cover-up when challenged by traditionalists that the new prayer book under his oversight represented an enormous change in theology. Furthermore, a great many seem to think that by jettisoning the '79 prayer book the new Province will somehow be made safer from a return to the heresies of TEC.

So is the '79 prayer book the bastard child it is alleged to be? Did it lead to the unhappy state of theological mire TEC finds itself in today? These are questions best left to someone with considerably greater liturgical training than myself and are difficult, if not impossible to answer in any case. Yet I do have a concern, a dog in this race. My concern is that liturgical renewal not be lost as an Anglican pursuit. In order to frame my concern, I need to express my thoughts about what being an Anglican means to me, how I came to love Anglicanism as an expression of the Christian faith and how liturgical renewal should have a place in that wonderful and lovely kind of Christian faith.

I joined the Episcopal Church in 1980 and so have never worshiped with the 1928 prayer book. (I do hasten to say that I consider that a loss!) Due to the particularly “take no prisoners” approach to pastoral care the bishops were employing at the time, by 1980 the '28 prayer book had been expunged from all of the parishes I ever attended. I was at that time a thoroughgoing charismatic community church convert who went to Oral Roberts University (where else?). Unaware of the danger to my conviction that the Early Church was “just like us” in the free form charismatic movement, I studied the Early Church Fathers under one professor who was Eastern Orthodox and another who was Baptist leaning towards Orthodox (Fr. Ted Williams and Professor Howard Irvin, respectively). My eyes were opened.

The one Father that particularly converted me in heart and mind was the unforgettable St. Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, was on his way to Rome to be devoured by wild beasts for the crime of being a bishop. Since bishops in those times were not princes of the Church gowned in purple, but rather “the off-scouring of the world,” this godly man had probably never spoken to more than a few pagans at a time, so he actually burned with passion over the coming opportunity to speak or at least to act the part of a Christian before 50,000 certified Roman Pagans! It was an ancient mass evangelism opportunity absolutely relished by the old man. So I was sure he must have been a Baptist!

Then he spoke of having given a prophetic word in one of the churches that was so accurate that it was thought he had colluded with their controversial bishop. Ignatius replied:

Some there may be who wanted in a human way to mislead me, but the Spirit is not misled, seeing it comes from God.....When I was with you I cried out, raising my voice—it was God's voice-- “Pay heed to the bishop, the presbytery, and the deacons.” Some, it is true suspected that I spoke thus because I had been told in advance that some of you were schismatics. But I swear by Him for whose cause I am a prisoner, that from no human channels did I learn this. It was the Spirit that kept on preaching in these words: “Do nothing apart from the bishop; keep your bodies as if they were God's temple; value unity; flee schism; imitate Jesus Christ as he imitated his Father.” (To the Philadelphians)

So I figured Ignatius was a Charismatic Baptist!

Yet I was unprepared for what followed. Nothing in my Lutheran upbringings, certainly nothing in my charismatic training could have prepared me for the discovery of how catholic Ignatius was. I protested (of course!). I complained. I assumed some anonymous catholic had interpolated these foreign and altogether anachronistic doctrines into the text! Yet there was no exit through that door. Evidently all serious scholars believed the text was original and dated to A.D. 90-110. Here he was, this bishop of the church in the city of Antioch right in my path! The problem for me was that if he was not taught by St. Paul the Holy Apostle himself, then he surely was taught by someone who had been! So imagine my misery. This Ignatius was counseling obedience to the bishop, respect for the deacons, and honor for the presbyters! (Establishing strong evidence for a very early three-fold ministry). He called communion “the Eucharist” and dared to call it “the medicine of eternal life.” He declared that Christ Jesus was baptized “in order to hallow the waters.” He cried out:

My eros has been crucified and there burns in me no passion for material things. There is living water in me, which speaks and says inside me, “Come to the Father.” I take no delight in corruptible food or in the dainties of this life. What I want is God's bread, which is the flesh of Christ, who came from David's line; and for drink I want his blood: an immortal love feast indeed!

As he proclaimed these things, the Protestant, Charismatic, comfortable assumptions of my youth, like undermined citadels, began to crumble to ruins. I recalled in my childhood asking my mother about the small Episcopalian church near our Lutheran church in Tampa, Florida. “Mom, who are those guys,” I asked. “Oh them! They're almost Catholic”, she replied, and that Solomonic appraisal had served me well for the next 20 years of my life, delineating the ecclesiastical starting point of the dangerous slippery slope of dreadful apostasy ending at the feet of the Pope!

I must say, however, if Ignatius was a catholic, I had never met a catholic like him....He also said things like “Try to gather together more frequently to celebrate God's Eucharist and to praise him. For when you meet with frequency, Satan's powers are overthrown and his destructiveness is undone by the unanimity of your faith.” (Eucharist as Spiritual Warfare???) He yearned to proclaim the gospel to every creature under heaven; no, he positively lived for that cause! He prophesied, he believed in all the powers of Christ in the gifts of the Spirit. He talked more like a holy roller with catholic leanings than any catholic theologian or bishop of the modern period that I had ever read! So what would I do with this lion in the road...with this “Spirit-filled baptocharicatholic”? I have never been one to dismiss new truth by merely saying, “well, that is just not our tradition.” Resolve the dilemma. After all, did not the damned mentioned in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians perish because “they refused to love the truth and so be saved”? (2 Thessalonians 2:10) Ignoring truth was not an option and, for me, Ignatius was an “inconvenient truth” if there ever was one. As E.V. Hill once remarked about the man who converted him from hatred to love, “That man's love beat me down....” Ignatius and other ancient authorities, had beaten me down.

I explored Eastern Orthodoxy along with nearly a dozen other Oral Roberts Seminary graduate students who were on the same path. Unlike some of these fellow students, I could not jettison the charismatic elements of the faith found both in Holy Scriptures and in the early fathers; yet the Eastern Orthodox clearly frowned upon any expression of charismatic gifts in the context of the Divine Liturgy. Furthermore, this was before I had heard of the Orthodox Church in North America (an American expression of Orthodoxy) and I found the encrusted ethnic elements of the Orthodox church to be a daunting barrier to a young man of American Anglo-Saxon descent.

The Roman Church was simply not an option. My readings in the early church Fathers only served to deepen my conviction that 19th century dogmas of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception of Mary (to take only two examples) were serious distortions of doctrine. I had also become convinced that the East is right about the filioque in the Nicene Creed and the attendant rise of unbiblical Papal privilege. My sojourn with the Orthodox only deepened my conviction that “the Great Modern Council,” (what would be the 8th Ecumenical Council) needed to be called between the Roman Church and Orthodoxy to revisit and by the grace of God heal the abomination of the 1054 Great Schism, putting everything on the table and refusing to adjourn until the kind of agreement arrived at during the Nicene Council could be repeated in our time. Since that was unlikely to happen in my lifetime, I did not seriously consider the Roman Church for a church home. That left Anglicanism as the next great expression of catholic and patristic faith. Here was a church that could conceivably combine all the elements that made Ignatius and his fellowship so winsome. The Anglican communion was catholic! It celebrated the Eucharist Sunday by Sunday (at least all the churches I was familiar with!)...just like Ignatius! It had the three-fold ministry of the catholic world dating back to Ignatius and past him into the New Testament Epistles. It worshiped with a liturgy, just like the synagogues of Jesus' time and, though it is unproven, very probably like the earliest churches Ignatius led or visited. Yet it also was charismatic, at least permissively. Was it not the church of Fr. Dennis and Rita Bennett, with a strong charismatic renewal movement? And though the church in the United States was really a pretty poor example, at least one could not deny that the rest of the Anglican Communion had shared with Ignatius a passion for taking the gospel everywhere in the world with both great enthusiasm and a host of martyrs.

Therefore, in 1980 I left ORU and traveled to Trinity Episcopal Church, Portland, Oregon where I was confirmed and three years later, ordained as a deacon and in 1984 as a priest. I lived, tragically, to watch the Diocese of Oregon unravel and deconstruct nearly everything that drew me to Anglicanism including effectively tossing the Fathers of the church into the dustbin of history.

I have told my story because I came to Anglicanism with a patristic vision of a church in which the various forms now so disparate could be again unified, as in the life and expression of Ignatius. The patristic era belongs to us all: Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant. It was the time of the undivided Church of Jesus Christ and remained undivided for over a millennium. Perhaps by returning to our roots (and was that not the purpose of the Reformers?) we may again express and live a Christian faith that is universal and whole and therefore healthy and humble. Though not without it's problems, the 1979 Prayer book was also an honest attempt to return to our liturgical roots and develop expressions of liturgy that were compiled from ancient forms and faith. In my opinion, this is good! With Ignatius in mind, let us proceed. We have to ask the question of our new province, what will we become as we seek our identity beyond the Episcopal Church?

So where indeed do we go from here? Back to the '28 prayer book? Back to 1950's Episcopalianism in the good old days before the heretics? Way back to 1662 and the Elizabethan prayer book so that all modernism can be stamped out and held at bay with a liturgy that clearly says who we are and what we shall remain until the Lord's return? Do we swear off from the intoxicating wine of liturgical renewal for good and forever?

Is that really what Anglicanism is?

In my opinion, it may seem safe. It may seem secure. But I suggest that path may be the safety of a cave; ultimately perhaps even of a tomb.

After all, what was really the point of the Reformation in England. For nearly everyone but the Puritans, was it not to reclaim the “Church in England”? Did it not hinge on the argument that before A.D. 1000 the Church in England was not under the direct control of the Pope? Before the seventh century, had it not been in communion with, but not under any control of the emerging papacy? Had the English Christian kings around the first millennium not insisted that the Pope had no temporal authority in England nor even ecclesiastical authority sovereignly to appoint Bishops? Furthermore, there was the Celtic Church which was indigenous to the British Isles. These anonymous saints were the true founders of “The Church in England,” were they not? If all this is true, then a true Protestantism in England would be continuing to reform itself even today. Why would it stop with the 16th or 17th century? Would Thomas Cranmer really be happy were he to be told that his work and his words were the foundation of a wholly new church, let alone a particular denomination among many? Would he or any of the reformers be happy to be told that their work and vision had become the canon, the very foundation of the theology and the practice of the Anglican Communion? I truly think not! I think they would be appalled to find themselves idolized thus. I suspect they would point behind themselves and tell us to continue to reform the church of Jesus Christ in England until it was reformed to the church of the Fathers and ultimately to Jesus and the Apostles themselves.

I remember a discussion I had with a fellow “examining chaplain” in the Diocese of San Joaquin. I was astonished to hear him insist that the Anglican church began in the 16th Century! All this time I thought the Church of England began with Jesus the Christ and then spread through anonymous missionaries to England sometime in the second century after him! I thought we could claim the great saints Ninian and Columba and Patrick! But evidently they actually belonged to the Roman Church in his mind! If he were right, then we are not in any way a catholic church, nor a patristic church, nor do we have anything but a particular style to offer the world and the rest of the church; evidently merely an “English style” or an “Anglican ethos” expression of church. How sad that would be. Yet how unnecessary! No, I am told Cranmer searched all the manuscripts he could lay his hands on of ancient worship. He scoured the early Fathers. He borrowed prayers from East and West to put together the English Book of Common Prayer. Though we are not “Cranmerians,” we can certainly follow his example and search again, and create again with even greater depth and diversity of texts (Cranmer, for example could never have read anything from Ignatius of Antioch!) So I say, if the 1979 Prayer Book tried but fell short of liturgical renewal we should not banish the effort, but renew it with greater study and effort and purer motives (IE: no liberal agenda smuggled into the work!).

But first, let us backtrack a bit and look at what may lie behind the desires of many to recreate the 17th century church in the 21st.

Here are some salient reasons for that longing as I can see it:

  • Traditionalists simply love the language and meter and stately prose of the writing of that period. Without a doubt we cannot match the beauty of that language. Unlike modern English, the ancients wrote and spoke to create beauty and poetic power as well as clarity of expression. This is clearly not so much the case anymore. Nevertheless, this desire for ancient language in worship does lead to a curiosity. Were they to get their way and we all worship from the 1928 or 1662 Prayer Books, Anglicanism in America would hold the odd crown of being the church whose liturgical expression was written in the most inaccessible language of any modern church (including Rome except in the few places that are returning to Latin!) We would need classes for our people to understand Elizabethan English! This only proves the theory that many confuse “ancient” with holy, in much the same way that orthodox Jews in Jerusalem are the only Jews who will refuse to speak Hebrew on the street since it is the language of the Holy Books! (After all, Yiddish was created for street talk! Right?) Perhaps I am wrong, but I really do not believe we want to be seen as the most inaccessible of all the churches of Christ in our worship language 400 years after having been the first church to dare to revise and then print the liturgy in the language of the people! To me that seems a betrayal of Anglicanism, not it's natural expression.

  • Some believe the cause of all the heresies is the '79 prayer book. If we return to traditional prayer books there will never again be a wave of heresy such as we just experienced. While this argument seems convincing somewhat, we have to ask wider questions. Was the '79 prayer book really that powerful in directing human thought? Or have we simply witnessed yet another surge of deconstruction resulting from adherence to elements of the Enlightenment that are still progressing onward toward oblivion? After all, the Enlightenment was breathtaking for science, but an unmitigated disaster for philosophy, art, humanities and religion. The spirit of Voltaire lives on and many influenced by that philosophy still seek to destroy all faith, belief in miracles, and everything “unreasonable” in life. It is the triumph of the head over the heart instead of standing before the Lord with they mind in the heart. Though it is undoubtedly true that liberalism has a foothold in the '79 prayer book, it is also just as true that the vast majority of that book is thoroughly orthodox. Having said that, I would be very happy to move on from the '79 book if that does not necessarily mean moving away from liturgical renewal.

As mentioned above, part of the problem of liturgical renewal is that modern people have a terrible time writing good liturgy! Our form of English tends to be either highly intellectual or highly sentimental. Neither will do for liturgical expression. One needs the language of the heart. Words need to move not the feelings nor the intellect but the heart. Therefore liturgy must deal with the subjects of the Bible and express both sin and redemption, both deep inner yearnings of the heart and the changing of the will, both the darkness within the heart and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. Christ lives in the human heart according to the Scriptures...what are modern people to do with that? They must retool their own language and liturgy to engage the heart: therefore liturgy can be a weekly lesson in that pedagogy. It's no good reliving the heart-language of another people; we must find expression of it in our own style. The fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control, humility and faith are NOT the topics of many conversations around the office or on the playing field. Our best hope in restarting the conversations about things that really matter is to form our prayers around these things. I think one of the reasons the Tolkien Trilogy was so phenomenally successful was this very thing; we were taken back...way back into a time when men and women spoke of things from the heart. The Lord of the Rings is neither sentimental nor blandly intellectual. It is the stuff of heart; blood, virtue, testing, failure, redemption and, ultimately, love -- not love of self, but sacrificial love. One could almost forge it all into a new religion, right there in the theater. Though The Lord of the Rings is, of course, pure fiction, yet the characters and their language and their world are not. They are clearly patterned after the great ancient sagas in their expression and laid over the framework of the Christian Redemption story in their shape. This “food for the heart” was greedily snapped up by modern people who did not even understand their own famished hearts' longing. We never talk that way to each other---no, not even to God. How sad. Liturgy must address this. Therefore our liturgy must be ancient and modern, produced by “scribes of the Kingdom” who “bring out of their treasures things both old and new.” It must be in the language of the heart, yet engage the mind. So it must be poetic (like much of the Bible!) and epic in scope. For such is our faith and the Story of God. I think we can do this, though it may take some time.

This is the moment for a new movement that seizes upon opportunities.

We could return to liturgical renewal seeking a Biblical, foundational, patristic and modern liturgy. Let it be one Ignatius might love and St. Paul might approve. Like Cranmer, but with many more sources before us, could we not energize the poets among us who have not surrendered to the dry intellectual poetry of our time, nor the sentimental hash of popular culture and who can draw from these ancient sources a language of the heart that would give to us food for the soul for generations to come?

As we wait for this to emerge could we, like the early church, not leave the door open for many local expressions and allow the people of God and the artists of the Faith to write and reprise and edit and redact until timeless beauty begins to be revealed from “the Spirit and the Bride”?

We could just be an English exact and eternal replica of the place our 17th century fathers stopped on their road to renewal and reformation, beautiful and stately as that may be. Or perhaps we could continue their quest and discover the Spirit giving us the unique leadership offered to the humble living on the margins; the place of real discovery and innovation: the wellspring of prophets. We could return from our recent journey through the desert with words of the water of life.

At the very least, I would hope this plea would help to enable our leadership to offer a place for those who dream. If we must return to 1928 or 1662, would it be too much to ask those who suffered the outrages of the pastoral totalitarianism of the 1980's to give to others the drink of freedom denied to them? Could we allow that some or even most might return to the great prayer books of the past while others hear the voice of the Spirit say “Come” to the quest of “things old and things new” and find a new voice in worship of Almighty God? I, for one, would hope that the answer to these questions would be in the affirmative.

- The Very Rev Carlos Raines, Dean of Saint James' Anglican Cathedral

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Presiding bishop hides membership/attendance statistics

Here is an interesting excerpt from an interview posted by the Bible Belt Blogger:

By Frank Lockwood

October 8, 2009

[. . .] This morning, she responded: “if so, not yet. nothing has been shared yet.”

That didn’t match what I’d been led to believe by a very reliable source. So I asked Anderson and the Presiding Bishop about the numbers during the press conference. Here’s what they said:

BIBLE BELT BLOGGER: The ASA and membership figures for 2008 have been compiled. I’m wondering if those were shared with the Executive Council this week and what the ASA and membership figures show for 2008 for the domestic dioceses.

PRESIDENT ANDERSON: Yes. (Clears throat). Excuse me, yes, they’ve been, um, circulated to the Executive Council via electronic means but we’re not going to be talking about those per se. Our agenda’s pretty full and we’ll probably be taking those up in the future at our next meeting.

BIBLE BELT BLOGGER: Can you share, though, what the results are?

PRESIDENT ANDERSON: We don’t know. I mean we have it written out but we’ll be posting it I’m sure as soon as we’re, they’re, approved and available. But yes, you’ll be able to get them.

LOCKWOOD: But presiding bishop, can you tell us what they show?

PRESIDING BISHOP JEFFERTS SCHORI: I, I’m sorry. I’m not able to comment on that at the moment. I don’t have it in my head. . .

Please read the entire article here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Appellate Court Issues Order to Show Cause in San Joaquin

Sorry folks, I'm falling behind. Here is a legal update from The Anglican Curmudgeon:

"Word was received this afternoon [9-22-09] that the Fifth District Court of Appeal has formally accepted Bishop Schofield's petition to review the ruling and order entered by the trial court granting Bishop Lamb's and ECUSA's motion for summary adjudication. This means that the trial court's decision and ruling are suspended pending a determination by the Court of Appeal, and the entry of a new order either vacating the trial court's ruling, or directing the entry of a new summary adjudication."

Read the rest here at the Anglican Curmudgeon.


By The Rev. Jim Wilson, PrayNorthState

Michelangelo was once asked how he managed to produce the wondrous sculpture that was King David. He answered something like, “I just chipped away everything that was not David and left intact what was.” Recovering our Anglican roots is a lot like what the artist did with the slab of marble.

Who are the spiritual fathers of our Anglican clan? Columba would get my first vote. Well known for his quick temper, he fought in one too many duels and was told by his overlord that he could choose to face execution or the pagan Scots across the North Sea from his native Ireland. God transformed him enroute and his ministry was marked by patience, joy, and a tremendous gift for evangelism alongside the many signs and wonders that accompanied him. (He was known for having raised at least one woman from the dead and – when a warlord refused him admittance to the stronghold while the gates were locked – Columba simply prayed and watched the gates swing open and the warlord come to Jesus.) What are the pieces that are neither Columba nor Anglican that we can safely chip away?

Neither his quick temper nor the sense of entitlement that backs it are of the Lord; we know of neither gifts nor fruit of the Spirit that match. But the implicit repentance in his transformation is; the signs and wonders are; the simple prayer for gates and hearts opened is Book of Acts stuff. If we would be like him we need to lose our anger and entitlement and seek fruits of repentance, lots of miracles, and a simple prayer life.

Saint Patrick is another spiritual father. Kidnapped by Irish pirates at age sixteen, he was raised by wealthy British parents in a nominal Christian home. Cold, hungry, alone, and (slave) collared, Patrick began to hear a voice he identified as God’s own. When the voice told him to rise and walk because his ship was waiting, he traveled two hundred miles with no navigation but the voice. No one inquired about his slave status and – when the captain demanded passage money – Patrick disappeared for a few days and returned with the fee; he did not know how he obtained it. He returned home to discontent; meanwhile the Voice urged him to return to Ireland where – his Lord said – he had been prepared to lead the pagan Irish into the Kingdom of God.

The comfort and complacency in which Patrick was raised are not of the Lord but the slave collar is. A simple return to status quo is downright repugnant to the author of our salvation, but navigating by the Voice, utter dependence on the Spirit, and returning to the place of captivity that captives might be set free – that is what the Lord offers as His endowment. If we would be like him we need to reject the comfort of status quo and embrace our dog collars, the Holy Spirit, and the call to set captives free in person.

This chipping away of everything that is not Anglican – with our spiritual fathers as the model – could turn out to be a lot of fun. Patrick and Columba were both bishops. What might their stories – and that of Jackson Kemper – tell us about episcopacy in the new chapter of Acts that God would have us write?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


By The Rev. Jim Wilson

I attended a wonderful meeting in Fresno on July 31. It preceded the special convention of a day later; the sole purpose of the meeting was to seek vision for the new thing that God is doing in the Diocese of San Joaquin. The principal criterion for framing new vision seemed to be that we understand ourselves to be recovering identity rather than defending tradition. We have been expelled from Jerusalem – in the sense of Acts 8 and the persecution of the infant Church – and we are journeying to Antioch and the world beyond, but with our DNA both resurgent and intact.

What does it mean to be recovering identity rather than defending tradition? G. K. Chesterton once said that tradition is the living faith of the dead, while traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition, as one of the three legs of Hookers’ three legged stool, is a central component of our identity in Christ. But it does not need to be defended; when we focus our efforts on defending tradition we soon descend into idolatry of some aspect of the tradition. We devolve it into traditionalism. Recovering identity, on the other hand, is a feature of the ongoing process of asking the Lord to bring us into the fullness of our personality in Him – our authentic Anglican personality.

The city of Glasgow, Scotland, has a motto inscribed all over the region it crowns. That motto is, “May Glasgow be blessed.” But a look at the history of Glasgow reveals the whole motto is, “May Glasgow be blessed by the preaching of God’s Word and the praising of God’s Name.” The whole motto is both more explicit and more expansive. My own Scottish Highland clan – the Grahams – has a motto as well; it is everywhere inscribed on our heraldry and on our web site. “Nes oublier” is French for “Never forget.” It implies that we never forget a kindness or a cut – and there is some truth to that as Grahams have marched the halls of history. But the full motto is, “Never forget the clan ideals of courage, chivalry, and Christian service.” Again, the whole is at once more explicit and of much greater depth. A principle function of seeking new and prophetic vision for the Diocese of San Joaquin must be to recover the fullness of our denominational roots – the roots we see expressed in our spiritual fathers and mothers from saints like Patrick, Columba, and Bishop Jackson Kemper to Perpetua of Rome and Margaret of Scotland. What identity emerges from these personalities?

I can tell you this: the Body of Christ is in the greatest season of all time for walking out a Gospel of power and not of mere words (1 Cor. 4:20) and for drawing the prodigals home (Matt. 28:16-20). This season is best summarized in the words of Luke 1:17, in which the faithful are exhorted to walk in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and so prepare a people for righteousness. To do this we must be dedicated not to doing the Anglican thing better than the Episcopals do it, but to a radical re-discovery of what it means to be an Anglican Christian. The meeting on July 31 – as frustrating as it was to some who want to just “get on with it,” was an important step down that road to recovery. I can’t wait for the next step to begin.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


September 25th and 26th with Fr Jim Wilson at St. James' Cathedral, Fresno, CA

Friday 7:00-9:00PM

Saturday 9:00AM-5:00PM

The Body of Christ is in an amazing season today. There have been more miracles -- and more decisions for Jesus -- in the past half century than in the rest of history combined. Yet God has spoken that we now enter a season of even more dramatic expressions of His loving presence in our midst. But God's Word proclaims that this Holy Spirit activity has a very specific purpose -- to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and thus prepare a people for righteousness. Praying Home the Prodigals is an event in which we learn how to engage our children, our neighbors, and our friends, of all ages and cultures, as ambassadors of that reconciliation for which Christ died, rose, and for which He promises to return. That engagement will feature signs and wonders, but their purpose is at all times to gain our attention for His great compassion; His overwhelming zeal to bring us into His abundant life and leave no one behind.

Jim Wilson is the author of "Living As Ambassadors of Relationships" and "The Holy Spirit and the End Times: A Season of Unusual Miracles", both published by Destiny Image. He is a popular radio and television talk show host, and the president of Pray-North-State, an interdenominational ministry of cooperation, encouragement.

This event is offered without charge but please RSVP with the Cathedral office: (559) 222-3721.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Special Convention Report

On Saturday August 1, the Diocese of San Joaquin met in special convention in Fresno to consider officially accepting the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA]. The convention convened with prayer by Bishop Schofield. The assembly heard a report on the status of legal issues from Mr. Russell VanRozeboom, Chancellor of the Diocese, followed by a financial report from the Treasurer, Mr. John Hammel.

The convention adopted and affirmed the Constitution and Canons of ACNA and then modified the diocesan canons to recognize that The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin is a constituent member of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America.” The Convention acknowledged, by a separate canon, that our Bishop is “a member of the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone in Communion with the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding his full membership in the College of Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America.” Along with the Bishop, the clergy of the Diocese remain members of both Provinces.

Importantly, the Convention passed a resolution recognizing Archbishop Robert Duncan as both Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and, therefore, as the archbishop of this diocese. The Archbishop remains the Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

The regular meeting of Convention for the Diocese of San Joaquin is scheduled for October 23rd and 24th, to be held in Fresno.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jail and the Gospel of John

Jail and the Gospel of John
Dcn Dale Matson
We recently received a call that the adult son of our close friends had attempted suicide in his jail cell. Fortunately he was discovered by his cell mate who contacted jail officials and after time in the hospital, it appears that there was no permanent injury. I will call him David but that is not his real name. He has been in jail for months now because of an incident that is partially related to his diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder known formerly as Manic Depression. His mother told me that there had been problems with him getting the proper medication while incarcerated.
When I heard that he had attempted suicide I wondered to myself what I could offer David that would make a difference to someone who had given up to the point of attempted suicide. I have known him for years and found him to be bright and engaging during better times but quite put off by religion and not sensing any spiritual needs. Would a Bible be suitable at this point? The thought came to me that if I had only one thing to give him it would be the Gospel of John. For me this Gospel has a special place since God called me back to faith and the church as I read it. Jesus Christ is God and God is Jesus Christ. What a connection this Gospel made for me. As with so many things good intentions I have considered, this also slipped into the closet of my mind.
The following day I was completing my Saturday “long run” with the plodding pace that requires me to jog alone. As I was finishing my run, another runner who I had never seen before crossed the Eaton Trail and offered me what looked like a large tract or pamphlet. He only had the one and told me that he had felt that God has directed him to give it to me. It was a pocket edition of the Gospel of John. I was somewhat surprised and told him that I had the Gospel of John in my head and heart and was a Deacon in the church. It was such a surprise that I had not made the connection yet. As he began to jog away, I said, “Wait, I do know someone that I want to get it to” and told him about David.
After finishing my run I couldn’t wait to clean up and call David’s mother and tell her about this. She came over and I told her the story and gave her the Gospel to pass on to David. She was moved by this and I believe it gave her a ray of hope for her son also. This experience has been difficult for the family. Since this time I have had an opportunity to reflect on this and realize in God’s grace and sovereignty, how much he is the God of the prodigal son. God wants desperately to have people meet His beloved Son. He knows that if they do meet Him, their lives can be redeemed and transformed into His image. I almost missed the connection that God had so miraculously put in front of me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bishop William White and the Episcopal Church

Last night while I was reviewing the history of Bishop William White and the beginnings of the Protestant Episcopal Church, I came across two quotes that I found fascinating in light of the current situation in TEC – particularly after what has emerged simultaneously out of Anaheim and Newport Beach, CA.

Bishop White was the motivating force behind the establishment of a national Church in the newly formed United States and he was also chaplain to the Congress. Though he studied and was ordained in England, he was passionate about establishing the Church in America corresponding to the ideals and structures of the new Federation. Powel Mills Dawley wrote the following in “Chapters in Church History”:

“dioceses agreed to sacrifice some of their jealously-guarded independence in order to create a national organization. Actually, the Episcopal Church was a federal union of independent diocesan units, and each diocese a federation of independent parishes, rather than a single, closely-knit ecclesiastical institution.” [page 222]

Why did Dawley make this distinction? He did so noting the fact that the American clergy were very much concerned about not establishing a hierarchical Church like the one in Britain. Such was the concern for maintaining this independence that some of the clergy were opposed even to having bishops. Though the need for bishops – constrained under this new structure - was finally accepted by the majority. This is why they decided on a presiding bishop, as one who simply presided over the meetings and conventions, rather than an archbishop.

The framers of the Episcopal Church were interested in fellowship and unity but not at the cost of orthodoxy. Robert Prichard writing about the first conventions and prayer book revisions of the 1780s in “A History of the Episcopal Church” observed:

“Charles Miller, the rector of King’s Chapel, Boston, wanted, for example, to remove all references to the Trinity. When the conventions did not agree to do so, the congregation . . . distanced itself from other Anglicans, and became the first explicitly unitarian church in America (1786).” [page 86]

There are two sad ironies that come out of this as we look back: First, that The Episcopal Church has lost that sense of the American ideal of communities of equals (federalism) and has willing exchanged it for an oligarchy like that which they rejected over two-hundred years ago. And second, that much of The Episcopal Church now looks like the Unitarian Church with vestments and liturgy.

“The schismatic is the one who causes the separation, not the one who separates.” - J. C. Ryle, Charges and Addresses (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978) p. 69.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Motion to recognize ACNA now before Church of England Synod

July 13, 2009

by Mary Ailes

Kendall Harmon reports that the first motion for the Church of England to recognize the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) has picked up six Church of England bishops and at 121 sponsors. According to the London Times, this will "guarantee it a place on the next Synod agenda in February.

The motion reads:

"That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America."

This comes as the House of Deputies passes D025 that will officially recognize the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and overturn the moritorium enacted at General Convention 2006.

It reads in part . . .

Please read the entire article here.

Running the Good Race

Running the Good Race
Dcn. Dale Matson
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).
After a period of spiritual renewal the Lord revealed to me in a gentle way that my drinking, smoking and obesity were not the marks of an ambassador of His kingdom. It was a personal revelation and I don’t intend to generalize beyond that. At age 42 and at 235 pounds, I began walking a mile a day and then two miles with a goal to run a mile. One thing led to another and eventually I completed a marathon. This kind of training requires discipline, patience and focus. The byproduct is weight loss and a sense that most goals can be reached if one is willing to persevere. Many will attest that completing a marathon is a life changing event that transfers to other aspects of one’s life. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about me is that I am so ordinary. What I have accomplished has always required God’s help.
For those like me who believe that everything worth doing is worth overdoing, I discovered that there is also what is called “Ultramarathons”. These are distances of 50 Kilometers, 50 miles, 100 Kilometers, 100 miles and beyond. Perhaps the dream of most marathoners is to run the Boston Marathon but for folks who run Ultramarathons, The Western States 100 mile endurance run is what is referred to as the Holy Grail of endurance runs. The trail begins in North Lake Tahoe and finishes 100 miles away in Auburn CA. Like Boston, one must successfully complete another qualifying event first but there is also a selection lottery too. Not everyone who qualifies is selected.
The training requires absolute dedication with months of trail running in the mountains and 100 mile weeks. I also biked and cross country skied to build endurance and avoid injuries associated with too many running miles per week. The cutoff for the event is 30 hours. In 2001, I finished in 29 hours and 17 minutes on my third try following two previous failures in 1994 and 1995. Needless to say, it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
My life goal continues to with God’s help, to run the good race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. “ (2nd Timothy 4:7).

The Americans know this will end in schism

From the Times

July 15, 2009

Support by US Episcopalians for homosexual clergy is contrary to Anglican faith and tradition. They are leaving the family

by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham

In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States has voted decisively to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, of persons in active same-sex relationships. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”.

Granted, the TEC resolution indicates a strong willingness to remain within the Anglican Communion. But saying “we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules” is cynical double-think. We should not be fooled.

The article continues with insight on the sanctity of marriage from an historical and theological perspective.

Please read the rest of the article at Times Online

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Salvation is for communities, not individuals, says Presiding Bishop

Thursday, 9th July 2009. 4:31pm

By: George Conger for Religious Intelligence

US Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori has denounced as a “heresy” the proposition that individual believers can find salvation through Jesus Christ.

The grace of God is a gift to the community of believers, not for the individual believer, Bishop Jefferts Schori said in her opening statement to the 76th US General Convention, meeting in Anaheim, California from July 7-17. The presiding bishop set the tone and the agenda for the 10-day meeting of the US church’s triennial synod, loosening a broadside against conservative evangelicals, while calling the church to engage in social action.

While offering strong dollops of rhetoric to her supporters among the politically dominant left-wing of the Episcopal Church, the presiding bishop, however, is quietly pulling the Episcopal Church back from direct confrontation with the wider Anglican Communion --- pursuing a policy of consolidating the left’s internal political gains within the Episcopal Church while pursuing an entente with the wider Communion over the question of gay bishops and blessings.

Support for relaxation of the ban on gay bishops and blessings remains high among lay and clergy deputies to convention, but the mood of the House of Bishops at the start of convention was somber --- with little enthusiasm evident among the bishops to repudiate the call by Lambeth 2008 and the ACC for forbearance.

[. . .]

The few remaining traditionalist members of the House of Bishops were less encouraged by the presiding bishop’s remarks, with one bishop musing that the presiding bishop’s words were hard to reconcile with Paul’s statement that if one confesses with his lips and believes in his heart that Jesus is his Lord and Saviour; he will be saved, as found in Romans 10:8-10.

[. . .]

The Presiding Bishop’s “ignorance of the Bible and Christian theology is nothing short of breathtaking” the Dean of Moore College in Sydney, Dr Mark Thompson told Religious Intelligence.

[. . .]

For evangelicals “more serious still” was the presiding bishop’s “caricature” of a confession of faith that she said made salvation dependent “ on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus’,” Dr Thompson said.

The confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord’ was “certainly a form of words,” but “they are never simply words,” he explained. “They represent a fundamental orientation of life which includes a willingness to have our thinking and behaviour shaped by the One we acknowledge has such a supreme claim upon us,” he noted.

“Perhaps more time should have been given to considering how idolatrous is an institution which demands loyalty to itself above faithfulness to the word which God has spoken,” Dr Thompson said..

Please read the entire article here.

Episcopal Bishop calls individual salvation 'heresy,' 'idolatry'

From the Associated Press - July 9, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says it's "heresy" to believe that an individual can be saved through a sinner's prayer of repentance.

In her opening address to the church's General Conference in California, Jefferts Schori called that "the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

The presiding bishop said that view is "caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus."

According to Schori, it is heresy to believe that an individual's prayer can achieve a saving relationship with God. "That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy."

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seeking the Lost

Seeking the Lost
Dcn Dale Matson
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Because of the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor we are called to mission. Our mission is The Great Commission from Matthew’s Gospel (28:16-20) and it commands the disciples and us to seek and rescue the lost. Perhaps another way of saying this is that we as Christians are Christ’s ambassadors in the saving of souls. That is our spiritual assignment on this earth. Some take this very seriously as missionaries or evangelists. These folks go into the mission field and at times this puts their own life at peril. Nineteenth century missionaries to Africa included a coffin as part of their luggage.
I am also a deputized civilian who is a part of the Mountaineering Unit of the Fresno County Search and Rescue Team. It is also the mission of the SART to save the lost. The team is composed of a horse unit, a “Jeep” unit, a helicopter, mountaineering unit and a command center. There is always a sense of careful urgency in what we do because the longer a person is missing, the more they are at risk to the elements. This is especially true in The Central Sierras where most of our searches take place.
Search work is difficult (three miles of “bush whacking” is equal to about ten trail miles) and demands that searchers be fit, prepared and available. This means that I must have a day backpack and a three day backpack ready to go when I am called. It also means having a full tank of gas in the truck when I go to bed at night since most of the calls come when you least expect them. It also requires a willingness to set aside one’s schedule for the sake of the search. Searches today are conducted using grid patterns established based on and working out from the point last seen or the last known location of the lost individual(s). Each team member has a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that records the searcher’s route and is later downloaded into a computer. This way the Command Center can determine the extent to which an area has been covered by the searchers and they can estimate the probability of detection (POD) in a given search area.
We find some people, some find themselves, some don’t want to be found and some want to be found but unfortunately perish. This is quite like the work of an evangelist. We are told to preach the Good News. We hope this Good News finds its way to everyone. It is up to them after that. If only we had the same sense of urgency and commitment of resources for Evangelism as we do for the person lost in the forest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Archbishop Duncan to the people of San Joaquin

1st July, A.D. 2009

Dearest Friends in Christ,

I wanted you all to know that many outside your borders are praying for you in the present trying season. Please do not lose heart.

If there is anything we have learned it is that "There is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, O Lord." The just completed Provincial Assembly was testimony to what our God can do with the likes of us, especially if we do not waver.

St. Paul's counsel at the end of II Corinthians is so appropriate to all the things we have faced and will face: "Be watchful, Stand Firm in your Faith. Be Courageous. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love."

Thank you for having led the way among dioceses departing from the Episcopal Church. We have all benefited by your efforts. I will never forget the privilege of being present for, and speaking at, that seminal Diocesan Convention in 2007.

Please also know that Archbishop Venables and our brothers and sisters of the Southern Cone continue to intercede for us, even as they shift jurisdiction to these shores.

Faithfully and fraternally in Christ,

[+Robert Pittsburgh]

Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Anglican Leaders Join Supporters of the Anglican Church in North America


The leaders of three Anglican Provinces have recently joined a number of others formally supporting the Anglican Church in North America.

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer H. Anis, president bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East wrote: “Our prayers are for you and for the new Province to continue to stand firm in faith as you have always done. May the Lord keep your unity in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ in North America!”

Also writing to offer support was the Most. Rev. John Chew, of the Province of Southeast Asia. “Today you are making a very historic and apostolic stand. Please be assured of our full and deep communion in the Lord”

On June 23, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda “resolved that it warmly supports the creation of the new Province in North America, the Anglican Church in North America, recognizes Bishop Bob Duncan as its new Archbishop, and declares that it is in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America.”

Archbishop Peter Jensen of the Diocese of Sydney and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans wrote: “I send my warmest greetings and congratulations to the new Anglican Province. We recognise that authentic Anglican brothers and sisters have come together in a wonderful new fellowship in the service of the Lord Jesus. We pray that your faithful witness to the gospel will prosper and that as you live under the authority of God’s word you will maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Support also came from England. Bishop Wallace Benn and Archdeacon Michael Lawson sent greetings on behalf of the Church of England Evangelical Council: “We wish you to know that we consider it a privilege given by God that we are joyful to be in full communion with you all. We are especially grateful for your unity expressed among Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical traditions, and recognise that this is in part a fruit of the Jerusalem Conference where the Primates present encouraged you to form a new and orthodox entity in North America. You are of course in fellowship with 80% of the Anglican Communion who share with us in the historic orthodox faith. It is for this reason that we call on many more of our brothers and sisters worldwide to affirm that they recognise the authentic marks of the Apostolic church and true Anglican identity in your witness,” they wrote.

Anglican Mainstream Convener, Philip Giddings, and Canon Dr. Chris Sugden wrote: “It has been our privilege to stand with you in fellowship and prayer…We rejoice to see the Lord’s hand of blessing on you witness as he adds daily to your number those who are being saved.”

Anglican leaders from around the world have welcomed the formation of the Anglican Church in North America. A total of nine Anglican provinces sent formal delegations to the Inaugural Assembly in Bedford June 22-25. Many others sent personal greetings to Archbishop Robert Duncan.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Backpacking and the Kingdom of God

Backpacking and the Kingdom of God
Dcn. Dale Matson
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33).
On a recent backpacking trip with my sons on a portion of the John Muir Trail I was reminded how much one has to pack to comfortably sustain oneself in the spring season Sierra Wilderness. It amounted to about thirty five pounds of gear carried in each of our backpacks for the four days we were out. This time of year it can and does even snow at the higher elevations. The basics of backpacking are warmth in dressing and sleeping, protective clothing and shelter from wet weather, food, water and navigation. If it were simply a matter of pure travel survival for four days, one could get by with just shelter and warm garments and a sleeping bag. There is plenty of potable water in the fast running creeks and rivers. Thus, one can either survive with minimal equipment or comfortably travel with a few added items. A fit and sound person can carry on his or her back an equipped and portable home. Even though this sounds like a lot of equipment to carry, it is minimal when compared to what we have surrounded ourselves with in the materialist culture that calls out to us that we are incomplete unless we have this or that in addition to what we already have. Those who have moved to a different home in the last few years still remember the rummage sales and throw away items. Moving is a wonderful opportunity to divest. In a way, the backpacker could be considered both a pilgrim and a monk traveling to a particular destination with simplicity.
Now, how does this compare with the totality of what each of us possess? Perhaps I could also say those things that possess us. When it comes to the point that folks have a home but need to rent a storage shed for their belongings, it seems that they have become possessed by their possessions. We are a society that is rich beyond measure even in our poverty. King Solomon himself would be envious of what any one of us has. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’" (Matthew 19:23-24)
Backpacking is a way of getting back to the basics and getting back to the Kingdom.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Constitution Passes: The Anglican Church in North America is Constituted

“We have done the work dear brothers and sisters the Anglican Church in North America has been constituted,” said Archbishop Robert Duncan on the ratification of the Constitution of the Anglican Church in North America . . .

Delegates to the inaugural Provincial Assembly gathered in Bedford, Texas, ratified the constitution of the Anglican Church in North America today, officially constituting the Church. The constitution is posted to the Assembly website.

Following ratification at 4:23 pm Central Time, Archbishop-designate Robert Duncan said, “We have done the work, dear brothers and sisters. The Anglican Church in North America has been constituted.”

Prior to consideration of the constitution, Bishop Duncan reported on the work of the College of Bishop this past week. The bishops completed the election of eight bishops for several dioceses and officially elected Bishop Duncan as the Archbishop-designate of the Anglican Network in Canada.

Nine provinces in the Anglican Communion have official representatives at this Inaugural Provincial Assembly: West Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya (Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi), Southern Cone (including Archbishop Gregory Venables), Jerusalem & the Middle East, Myanmar, South East Asia and Rwanda. For a list of bishops-designate, see the Assembly website.

In addition, a number of ecumenical guests are at the Assembly, including: Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church, Bishop Walter Grundorf of the Anglican Province of America, the Rev Dr Samuel Nafzger of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, and Bishop Kevin Vann, Roman Catholic Bishop of Fort Worth. For a list of delegations and ecumenical guests, see the Assembly website.

The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes into a single church. Jurisdictions which have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas; the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone. Additionally, the American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America are founding organizations.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Congratulations from Abp Venables

June 18th, 2009

To The Bishop and Clergy of The Diocese of San Joaquin
Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America

Dear Brothers,

Greetings in the wonderful name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to you on the eve of the launch of the new Anglican Church in North America. You are to be congratulated for your faithfulness in the Gospel and in your cooperation with the organization of the new Province. It is likely that it will take some time before the institutional structures catch up to the realities of the present day situation in the Communion. Until that time, you can be sure of your dual status with us in the Southern Cone. This is true not only for Bishop John-David, but also all of the priests and deacons who received licenses under my authority when your diocese came to us.

You may have heard negative things about your ministries and orders from some quarters, but I can assure you of your good standing and favour with me and this Province under me as Primate.

Last year, even Archbishop Rowan Williams himself assured me of Bishop John-David's status as a bishop of the Anglican Communion. Any other assertions are, in our view, completely unfounded. What is important is that people are brought to saving faith in Christ and to maturity in Him. We need your full energy to be devoted to that task. The harvest is indeed plentiful, and the workers few! Thank you for your faithfulness.

Yours sincerely,

+ G. J. Venables

The Most Rev. Gregory J. Venables
Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of South America

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Anglican Christians from the Central Valley to participate in historic event.

Bishop John-David Schofield and eight delegates from the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will be attending the first assembly of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which meets June 22-25 at St Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

Bishop Schofield observed, “The founding of this province opens remarkable opportunities for new forms of ministry, simplicity in structure and a return to the biblical emphasis of outreach by following the patterns and teaching given to us by Jesus.”

The Anglican Church in North America includes over 100,000 members from the United States and Canada. This number already exceeds the membership of 12 of the Anglican Communion’s 38 National Provinces. 232 Delegates representing 700 Anglican parishes from 23 dioceses and 5 dioceses in formation look forward to confirming Pittsburgh Bishop, Robert Duncan as the first Archbishop and Primate of ACNA.

ACNA’s governing documents provide a province in North America for orthodox Anglicans who have been alienated by the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. These older bodies have deviated from the beliefs and Biblical teaching, commonly held by the majority of Christians and especially Anglicans throughout the world.

Three Christian leaders will be guest speakers at the four-day National Assembly. They are:

Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church, will speak on June 23rd. Warren, a longtime friend of orthodox Anglicans, has been repeatedly recognized as a key spiritual leader in America. Saddleback Church, founded by Warren in 1980, is an innovative evangelical congregation of 22,000 in Lake Forest California.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington and New York and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America [OCA], will speak on June 24. Originally an Episcopalian before joining the Orthodox Church in 1978, Metropolitan Jonah was elected primate of the OCA in November of 2008. Metropolitan Jonah’s writings on Eastern Orthodox spirituality have been published in numerous Orthodox Christian publications, including “Divine Ascent,” the journal of the Monastery of St. John.

The Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter is the Director of West Coast Church Planting ( for The Anglican Mission in the Americas and author of Christianity Beyond Belief. Hunter will speak to delegates and guests on the morning of June 25th. Hunter is an adjunct professor of evangelism and postmodern ministry at George Fox University, Fuller Seminary, Western Seminary and Wheaton College. Earlier in his career he served as the Church Planting coach for Allelon Ministries and the National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches.

More information can be found at ACNA

New Anglican Church poses dilemma

Challenges representation of denomination in U.S., Canada

The Anglican Church in North America will be formally founded next week, challenging the legitimacy of the U.S. Episcopal Church and posing a dilemma for the worldwide Anglican Communion over who represents Anglicanism in the United States and Canada.

When 232 delegates to the ACNA convention at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, approve the organization's constitution and canons on Monday, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan will become archbishop for this "emerging" 39th province of the communion, consisting of several groupings that have left the Episcopal Church over issues related to sexuality and biblical authority.

A ceremony celebrating Bishop Duncan's installation is set for June 24 at Christ Church in the Dallas suburb of Plano, the ACNA's largest parish, with more than 2,000 members. Also among the ACNA's members are 11 Northern Virginia parishes, including the historic The Falls Church and Truro parishes, which left the Episcopal Church to found the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

At a news conference in December, Bishop Duncan said God is "displacing" the Episcopal Church in favor of the ACNA. The Texas gathering is the conservative alternative to the Episcopal Church's triennial convention next month in Anaheim, Calif.

There is no precedent in the communion for a country to have more than one recognized province, and Episcopalians who back the move have maintained that the U.S. and Canadian churches no longer preach and believe historic Anglicanism.

Read the entire article from the Washington Times

Healing Prayer and Spiritual warfare

Healing Prayer and Spiritual warfare
Dcn. Dale Matson
It would seem that the church Sanctuary would be a place of safety and a place of peace yet it can be a place of conflict also. Following each of our Sunday services, parishioners with special needs are invited to the altar area for individual prayer and unction. There are as many reasons for prayer as there are individuals who come forward for prayer. Those of us who remain after the services to pray for others are people that could be referred to as spiritual warriors but we are in fact very ordinary and vulnerable people with our own share of burdens also. We are willing to be there not because each of us has a strong sense of Holy efficacy. It is not even that we have a stronger faith than others. We believe we are called by our Lord to be there and we are obedient to that call. That is simply why we are there. We know that many of the struggles our brothers and sisters face are spiritual battles at the core. This is not to say, however that individuals do not present with genuine physical or psychological difficulties. One of the additional problems each of us faces as intercessors are the spiritual attacks that each of us must deal with in our attempt to intervene on behalf of our Lord. There are those doubts that crop up in our minds. What are you doing here? What makes you think you can help things? You really don’t believe your prayers will have any effect do you? These doubts and personal attacks are from Satan and thus the battle is engaged. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us also and offers reassurance that this is where we need to be and this is what He would like us to be doing. It is a battle fought on two fronts. We are attempting to offer comfort to those who have asked for it and we are fighting off the negative thoughts coming our way. Who would guess that this kind of warfare would be going on in the church Sanctuary? It is also an opportunity to see the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation as different intercessors offer parts of a picture. One person may have a vision, one a word of knowledge and one, discernment. It is as if the army of the Lord has gathered as infantry, cavalry, and artillery to face the enemy each with unique gifts but each needing the other parts of the body to complete the mission. It is during these times that we struggle with our doubts, fears, inadequacies and distractions but it is also these times that we minister to Christ in the form of our brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit honors us with His healing presence and many are helped to deal with physical infirmity, psychological torment and in some cases spiritual oppression. Physical and Psychological illness can drain us of our faith and our hope. It is at these times that we through the power of The Holy Spirit offer can some respite.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Dcn Dale Matson
Fear may be seen as a kind of negative faith. If faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), then fear is the substance of things not hoped for. Job exclaimed, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25). Job was a righteous man but he was not a man of faith initially. For many fear is the anticipation that something ill may befall them and the best course of action in life is to avoid taking risks. The problem with this is that many folks have had to settle for second best on many occasions in their life. Fear has put up obstacles in the path of life and those folks have steered a course around those obstacles. How many times have you said, “I’m not interested in doing that.”, when if you were honest, you were really afraid to do something? Maybe there has been a desire to change careers, have children or for some even leave the house. We can be in bondage to our fears. Fear is not of God. “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I had a fear of flying that developed over time and kept me out of airplanes for twenty five years. I lived in Wisconsin and had an opportunity to interview for a teaching position at Fresno Pacific University. I needed to fly to make it happen. It would have been logistically impossible to interview any other way. With God’s help, I was able to face that fear and the rest is history. Since that time I have flown all over the world. I’m still not that comfortable on a plane but fear no longer keeps me grounded. So, how does one deal with this fear that can cause us to avoid a path that would help us to grow as individuals?
My mentor at F.P.U. was Dr. Bob Wilson. He was a fearless man and I remain envious of this quality in him. For years I believed that he was fearless because he had made peace with God following a diagnosis of a deadly form of Cancer. He had said to God, “Thy will be done.” He lived twelve years after his diagnosis. Over time I have come to understand better his fearlessness. Bob genuinely loved everyone and our Lord. It was not so much the passing through the dark night of the soul of the Cancer diagnosis; it was because he was a man with love in his heart. The most poignant Scripture passage for me in dealing with fear has always been 1st John 4:18. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” We do not pray to not be afraid. We do not pray to be fearless. We pray that God would grow in us the fruit of love.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Wounded Healer

The Wounded Healer

Dcn Dale Matson


Henri Nouwen authored “The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society” (1974). Briefly it is how our own woundedness connects us to the suffering of others in our ministry. As someone who worked in the human services profession for many years, it became evident to me that many in that field were attracted because of their own story of suffering. Perhaps these individuals were touched by the suffering of a family member with chronic physical or mental affliction. Thus their work as caregivers was a professional extension of the role they played in their family of origin. Perhaps they themselves were survivors of dysfunctional families and were abused in their family or later in a marriage. Whatever the situation, they met someone along the way who helped them to deal with their situation and the attendant pain. It is at this point that one is reminded of one of St. Paul’s statements. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforted us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:34). God has worked through His people to bring His comfort to others. How often has the abused woman been helped at a shelter for battered women and herself volunteered at a shelter later?

On a more personal note I can say that as a college sophomore I was struggling with feelings of loneliness and anxiety. I actually attempted to break my hands on a door because physical pain would have been a relief and a welcome distraction. I was treated at the University Clinic and found to have no fractures but a visit to the campus counseling center was recommended. As I told the Psychologist my problems, he looked at me and said, “You’ve been suffering a great deal haven’t you”? I don’t think I have ever cried as much as I did following his statement. He understood. I was not alone. From that moment I wanted to bring the same comfort to another that I was given. I eventually became a licensed Psychologist and School Psychologist. The children who were my best fit were those who were social isolates, anxious, shy and withdrawn. God has given me the gift of exhortation and it has served Him well as I ministered to those who needed it.

Last but not least, there is one more wounded healer. It is Christ Himself who asked Thomas the doubter to place his hand in His wound. Our God understands and connects to us through our woundedness and suffering because He has also experienced the temptations and the pain. He offers us His consolations as we experience suffering. We too can offer this comfort to others that we were comforted with.