Search This Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

IHOP pancake chain drops suit against IHOP church

Thu Dec 30, 10:19 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The pancake chain that sued a church for using its nickname without permission appears to have flipped its legal strategy.

The International House of Pancakes restaurant chain, known as IHOP, has ended its trademark infringement lawsuit against the International House of Prayer, citing "on-going mediation discussions" with the church.

Read it all

Friday, December 24, 2010

St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

HELMETTA, NJ:New Precedent Set in Episcopal Church Property Settlement Wars. St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

By David W. Virtue,,December 23, 2010

In a landmark decision, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has settled out of court with St. George's Helmetta allowing the parish to leave the Episcopal Church, keep its property and join with another Anglican jurisdiction.

Details are sketchy, but it is understood from a source that a down payment of $30,000 was made by the parish with periodic payments to be made over the next several years.

NJ Bishop George Councell, a liberal, has shown himself to be gracious in demonstrating that deals can be cut without expensive litigation costs. VOL was told by a source that his chancellor and Episcopal leaders at church headquarters in New York City were not supportive of his actions, but he stood up to them and settled with the parish.

The parish will retain all its church buildings and tangible property with complete independence from The Episcopal Church (TEC). The congregation has affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Robert Duncan.

In early January and February of 2008, the Episcopal congregation, known as St. George's Church in Helmetta, NJ, cut its ties to TEC and the Diocese of New Jersey over theological differences.

Fr. William Guerard, St. George's parish priest, however, maintained an amicable relationship with Bishop Councell throughout the division.

The priest transferred to CANA as an ordained Anglican priest without being required to renounce his ordination vows - unlike many other Anglican clergy from other dioceses who have left TEC for CANA and other Anglican jurisdictions.

Beginning in January, 2009, St. George's Anglican Church began negotiations with the Diocese of New Jersey which ended in an agreed monetary settlement.

Reflecting on the settlement, Fr. Guerard said, "Our constant prayer throughout these two years has been for God's will to be done. We are all thankful that this has been accomplished peacefully, and we pray it will set a precedent for other churches going through similar situations.

"Let us return to the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus our Savior who has come to bring us light, peace, and salvation."

"We are extremely grateful that the congregation of St. George's Anglican Church is able to retain its property. This is an incredible blessing and witness to others that Christians can resolve these matters amicably. We are also thankful that the church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the Diocese of New Jersey. I trust and pray that St. George's Anglican Church will continue to serve the Lord through mission and ministry for many years to come," said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.

Final sale of St. George's church property took place on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.

Bishop Councell was unavailable for comment.

CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes over 600 congregations.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Five Significant Facts about Church and First–Time Guests

Thanks to Kendall Harmon of Titusonenine for this

by Rick Ezell of Intervarsity Press.

Healthy and growing churches pay close attention not only to their members but also to those who are not yet a part of the flock. New people are the lifeblood of a growing church. We want to ensure that nothing impairs or cuts off the flow of new people to the church.

Pastors need to be aware of five significant facts about first-time guests looking for a church home.

1. Visitors make up their minds regarding a new church in the first ten minutes of their visit. Often, before first-time guests have sung a song, viewed a well-produced video or heard a well-crafted sermon, they have made up their mind whether or not to return. But far more time and energy is spent on planning the worship service than on preparing for greeting and welcoming first-time guests. The church's ability to connect with these guests is not dependent on the pastor but on the front line of people who represent your church.

Are parking attendants in place?
Is there appropriate signage?
Are your ushers and greeters welcoming?
Is the environment you take for granted user-friendly?

2. Most church members aren't friendly. Churches claim to be friendly. But the truth is that most church members are friendly to each other, but not to guests.

Observe your members. Do they greet guests with the same intensity and concern before and after the worship service as they do during a formal time of greeting in the worship service?
Do the three minutes before and after the service demonstrate whether church members really care about visitors?
Encourage your most gregarious and welcoming members to be unofficial greeters before and after each service.
Don't make promises you can't keep. My wife attended "The Friendly Baptist Church," but no one spoke to her before the service, and the information-booth attendant was anything but friendly.

3. Church guests are highly consumer-oriented. If Target doesn't have what I need, I just head to K-Mart. If you don't have adequate parking or your people are unaccepting and unfriendly, guests will look at another church. Or worse yet, they may give up their search altogether. Pastors and church leaders need to look at their churches through the eyes of a first-time guest. Many retail outlets use the service of one or more "mystery shoppers" to analyze and critique their customer service. Churches would be well served to utilize a similar service.

4. The church is in the hospitality business. Though our ultimate purpose is spiritual, hospitality is important. Church members can extend hospitality to guests by offering to sit with them during the church service, giving them a tour of the church facilities, inviting them to lunch after service, or connecting with them later in the week.

5. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Are you consciously working to remove barriers that make it difficult for guests to find their way around and to feel at home with your people?
Do newcomers have all the information they need without having to ask any embarrassing questions?
Are your greeters and ushers on the job, attending to details and anticipating needs before they are expressed?
You may be the most skilled preacher and your church may have excellent small groups or the best children's ministry in the city. Your first-time guests will never know unless they make a second or third visit. Will they come back? It all depends on the impression you're making. Make it the right one the first time.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Hat-tip to Steve Wood of St Andrew's Anglican Church, Mt. Pleasant SC and his "Trading Grain" blog for this encouraging article.

By James P. Allen of Rivervalley Christian Church

The time has come for ministerial jealousy to cease. There should be no spirit of competition between denominations and certainly not between churches of similar doctrinal persuasions. In 1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 people in America, but today there are less than 11 churches for every 10,000 people. The only hope for America is for us to plant new churches within every neighborhood and every sub culture. Let's consider some of the other reasons why we need to plant new churches.


Bruce McNicol of Interest Ministries is quoted in the magazine "Christianity Today" as saying, "Among evangelical churches, those under three years old will win ten people to Christ per year for every hundred church members; those 3 to 15 years old will win five people per year. After age 15, the number drops to three per year."

Lyle Schaller, in his book 44 Questions For Church Planters, writes, " churches are more likely to reach more people and to grow in size than are long-established parishes. Perhaps the simplest explanation of this pattern is that new congregations are organized around evangelism and reaching people not actively involved in the life of any worshipping community. By contrast, powerful internal institutional pressures tend to encourage long-established churches to allocate most of their resources to the care of members. One result is that the vast majority of new congregations in the United States reach their peak in size during the first two or three decades of their existence and then remain on a plateau in size or begin to shrink in numbers."

New congregations have a higher level of commitment toward evangelism. They realize that their survival as a church depends on constantly reaching new people.


One fallacy that Satan would instill in the minds of established churches is that a new church starting in their area will hurt their attendance and income. Fear is one of the first tactics the enemy will use against Christians to keep them from doing what God wants them to do. Losing church members to new congregations is a common fear expressed, but one that should quickly be dispelled.

No church is going to be effective in reaching the entire community. Just as a radio station will not reach all people and must target a particular group to gain an audience; churches will always be more effective reaching one target group. The exciting thing about starting new churches is that they are often able to reach people that have been unreached by all other existing efforts of established churches.

Another fact that should expel fear of loss is a testimony of a church that has started neighboring churches. Dan Betzer, a pastor in Fort Myers, Florida related at a minister's retreat in Monroe, Louisiana, the story of how his church mothered its first church. With a growing desire to see an Assemblies of God church across the river from Fort Myers, Dan prayed for God to send someone to pastor this new church. After months of prayer, a young man walked into his office who said the Lord had called him to pastor a new church across the river. Dan hired this young preacher and placed him on his staff for a short period, so the people of the church could get to know him and develop confidence in him.

On his last day with them, Dan allowed him to preach the morning service. The planned altar call was for everyone who was being led of the Lord to become a part of the new church to rise from his or her seat and walk out the door with the new pastor. Dan had thought that maybe 35 people would become a part of the new church, but to his amazement, 135 people followed the new pastor out of the building. Half of the choir left, one deacon left and many other tithers. As they were walking out Dan said he was calculating the tithes that were leaving and realized that $5,000.00 a week was walking out the door. He was devastated and walked around the rest of the day in shock.

All fear left him by the next Sunday. He looked around the church and it seemed just as full as the week before, the choir was full again and within a couple of months the income was back to where it was before the new church started. Dan went on to explain how God will bless those churches that will follow His leading and give as He directs them to give.

Peter Wagner said, "Some are reluctant to start new churches for fear of harming those churches that are currently located in the target community. They feel that doing so could create undesirable competition between brothers and sisters in Christ. I mention here that in more cases than not, a new church in the community tends to raise the religious interest of the people in general and if handled properly can be a benefit to existing churches. That which blesses the kingdom of God as a whole also blesses the churches that truly are a part of the Kingdom." He went on to site that in the town of Ewa, Hawaii a Southern Baptist church was planted. This church plant raised the spiritual level so high that the Roman Catholic Church witnessed a 100% attendance growth and the local Congregational church saw an attendance increase of 155%. Lyle Schaller has made a similar observation about planting a new congregation in the midst of existing congregations of the same denomination. He said, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, congregations usually benefit from intradenominational competition. While it is impossible to isolate one factor as being decisive, the presence of two or more congregations with the same denominational affiliation usually results in a higher level of congregational health and vitality than if one congregation has a denominational monopoly in that community."

Brad Boydston, a church planter with the Covenant Church said, "As strange as it might sound, one of the best places to start a Covenant church is where one or more already exists. A new Covenant church will raise the visibility of the existing church and will in turn receive the support and encouragement of the established congregation." After interviewing various church planters, we have determined that the new church is able to keep one in ten they are able to reach. The other nine out of that ten often start going to, or return to, other congregations.


Many established congregations have a lack of room for more leaders. Although most pastors struggle with finding adequate leadership to minister to their local congregations, there are often many people who feel their ministry gifts are not needed in their church.

Planting new churches spurs opportunities of ministry to people who want to be better used of the Lord in ministering. How often do we witness churches with several people called to preach sitting quietly on the pews of established churches, because they have not been given opportunity to use their gift? Perhaps one of the reasons this problem exists is because God has not called many of our present preachers to pastor established churches, but to go out and plant new churches.


It has been said many times that the United States is the melting pot of the world. Today over 60% of our nation is composed of other cultures than white Anglo-Saxon. If we are going to be effective in reaching America, we should realize that establishing new church plants is the only way we will reach all types of people.

Many speculate that the unchurched population of the United States is exceeding the 70% mark. No longer can we be referred to as a Christian nation. Every major cultic group has targeted the United States as their mission field. The largest Muslim mosque is not in the Middle East somewhere, but in California. Brazil is the only country in the world that receives more missionaries than the United States. Now countries we have reached through our missionary efforts are sending Christian missionaries back to reach us. Without doubt, we should continue sending missionaries to the unreached people groups in the world, but America now needs our attention. It is time we start sending missionaries to the unreached cultures in our own cities.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coalition forming for a win-win settlement in Virginia

From Baby-Blue Online -- Thanks Mary Ailes for sharing this. If anyone from TEC Pgh is interested in pursuing a similar course here, please contact me ASAP

As the next round of litigation is heating up in Virginia on the fate of nine church properties, a coalition of prayerful Episcopalians and Anglicans is forming to pray and seek ways to find an amicable settlement between the The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and nine Anglican churches. "Virginia Laity for a Win-Win Settlement" has all ready launched their website called "Seeking Common Ground in Common Prayer" that aims to provide helpful information, encouragement, and insight on how the different sides in the Virginia litigation between the Episcopal Church/Diocese of Virginia and nine Anglican churches that voted to separate from The Episcopal Church four years might approach a "win-win" settlement.

Virginia Laity for a Win-Win Settlement are "Virginian lay members of Episcopal and Anglican parishes who believe that the current litigation between the Anglican District of Virginia, the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church (TEC) must end," they write at Seeking Common Prayer in Common Prayer. The organizers of the website/blog are Kathryn Peyton, a member of St Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, and Dan Van Ness, a member of Truro Church in Fairfax.

What are some of the reasons why a win-win settlement is the best alternative to prolonged and costly litigation? From the blog:

There are lots of reasons for looking for a win-win settlement:

1. Litigation costs money we could be spending on mission.
2. Litigation turns people into enemies. We all have heard of situations where a dispute between neighbors divided the neighborhood when the case went to court, or when families were split apart by a bitter divorce. The same thing can happen in parishes as we have learned in the four places where there are both Episcopal and ADV congregations.
3. Litigation between Christians causes scandal. 1 Cor 6:7 says, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.” As former Secretary of State James A Baker has said, “Squabbling over church assets is the wrong way to resolve this impasse. The predictable result of continuing this battle will be public conflict without end in sight, to the utter dismay of most Episcopalians.”
4. Win-win settlement allows creative solutions. Courts must apply the law and the result can be unsatisfactory. For example, some of the pieces of property in dispute have multiple deeds. It is possible that a judge or jury would determine that the wording of the deeds means some parcels belong to one side and others belong to the other. Furthermore, in negotiating a win-win settlement it is possible to find solutions to problems created by the separation that aren’t even part of the litigation (like figuring out how to deal with the conflicting claims to be part of the Anglican Communion).
5. Win-win settlement is faster. If there is a trial for this second phase of the litigation it is possible there will be no judgment until Summer 2011. The appeal process took an additional 18 months in the first phase, so litigation may not be over until 2013 or later. While we might need the help of a mediator to do it, negotiation could produce a win-win settlement by Spring 2011.

Here at the Cafe we are very excited by the forming of this coalition and pray that it will flourish. To God be the glory.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

War On Christmas Spreads To Lincoln Tunnel

The first picture is of the billboard sponsored by the Catholic League near an exit of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City.

The second picture is of the billboard sponsored by American Atheists near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, NJ.


By Robert Smith, NPR 12/11/10

Holidays are time for traditions, and one of the biggest American traditions this time of year is arguing about religion.
Some years, a community is torn over a manger on the lawn in front of city hall or a missing menorah.
This year, the season's biggest religious controversy is in an unlikely place: the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York.
For the last three weeks, New Jersey commuters entering the tunnel have had to sit in traffic and contemplate the sight of a billboard with a picture of a nativity scene, a star and three wise men. Its message: "You know it's a myth," courtesy of a group called American Atheists.
Drivers can mull over this challenge for the few minutes of purgatory it takes to cross under the Hudson River. Once they make it through the tunnel into New York, however, they'll encounter another billboard, this one from the Catholic League.
It's the same nativity scene, but this time with a retort: "You know it's real."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Diocesan Resource Center

An interesting thing happened to me this afternoon. I logged on the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church USA's website and tried to find the Diocesan Resource Center. After a rather convoluted search, I found the Resource Center webpage. I tried to access the on-line resources catalog to find a certain DVD. I was denied access because the webpage has now become password protected. And behold, guess what, I was not informed of the new requirement nor was I invited to submit a password. As a former member of the Resource Board, we were assured by the Rev. Lou Hays prior to our voting to approve the move the Resource Center from St. Peter's Brentwood to St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon that parishes from both sides of the re-alignment would have equal access to the resources since most, if not all, of the resources were acquired prior to 2008, many by the expenditure of diocesan funds. It was this assurance from Fr. Hays that persuaded me to vote in the affirmative for the move. Oh well, denied access.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friends of Manute Bol Remember a Gentle Giant

My friend and colleague Tom Prichard, mentioned in the article, founded Sudan Sunrise and worked alongside Manute Bol

From the Living Church December 5, 2010 Issue

When Manute Bol died at age 47 in June 2010, the former NBA star from South Sudan was doing the thing he loved best: helping his beloved people of South Sudan.

“A Tribute to Manute Bol,” held at The Catholic University of America on Nov. 9, found friends and colleagues remembering the 7-foot-7 giant-hearted Dinka who inspired college students to make a difference for the world and raising money to complete his dream of building 41 schools in Sudan.

The tribute was sponsored by Sudan Sunrise, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian ministry that began as a network of Americans partnering with South Sudanese Christians who were committed to helping Darfurian Muslims.

In 1991, Manute saw Sudan on television for the first time. The NBA video Manute Bol: Basketball Warrior quoted basketball’s star blocker: “The Sudan government was killing my people. I say no, this cannot be right. I have to do something.”

He returned to Sudan and to overflowing refugee camps, where he saw a war-devastated land. The Dinka warrior said in an interview with Sports Illustrated years later, “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.”

Speakers at the tribute, including former teammate Charles Barkley in a recorded message, all mentioned the Sudanese ball player’s generosity. Manute’s earnings playing for Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia, and Miami — and even after his basketball career was over — provided relief and support for the victims of the National Islamic Front regime’s genocidal jihad. The basketball player saved probably thousands of lives.

In 1991 he heard about hundreds of “Lost Boys” returning to Sudan from Ethiopia, where they had fled three years before. They were cut off and being starved by Sudanese government troops. Manute hired helicopters to fly food and medicine to them and to bring in journalists who tell the Lost Boys’ story to the outside world. Through his Ring True Foundation, Bol also helped the former Lost Boys when they were resettled in the United States.

Manute was honored for his compassion not just toward his own fellow South Sudanese, but also toward Darfurians. Although Darfurian troops killed 250 of his family members, he believed that they had been manipulated and lied to by Khartoum. His ability to forgive was a powerful testimony. Manute joined other South Sudanese Christians in reaching out to Darfurians.

He also joined advocacy efforts to end the genocide in Darfur, as well as efforts for reconciliation among all of Sudan’s marginalized people, through his partnership with Sudan Sunrise. Manute and the others believed that only true forgiveness, which does not excuse or deny wrongdoing, but still chooses to forgive, brings freedom to both parties.

Sudan Sunrise quotes Manute as saying that “the key to peace is education.” His project with Sudan Sunrise to raise funds and build desperately needed schools in South Sudan will contribute to reconciliation between Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional religion by bringing children together for an education.

Manute’s Darfurian friend, Dr. Abdelgabar Adam, responded to his vision of reconciliation. Now 200 Darfurian university students have volunteered to help build the schools. The Rev. Tom Prichard, founder and executive director of Sudan Sunrise, said it’s a two-man job to create compressed-earth bricks for the schools. For each brick, one Christian and one Muslim have worked together.

Manute used his fame to raise awareness about what was happening in Sudan. He told Congress, the State Department, and audiences across the country that 10,000 people were dying every day in South Sudan and other areas of conflict. He gave the State Department photos that he had taken in the refugee camps.

Speaker John Zogby exhorted the Catholic University students attending the tribute to be like Manute in their care for the poor and defenseless of the world.

Despite Manute’s tremendous physical pain — severe, crippling arthritis and other illnesses, exacerbated by a near-fatal car accident in 2004 — he had a great sense of humor. One speaker who had the corner on funny “Manute stories” was Chuck Douglas, assistant general manager for the Washington Bullets (now Wizards). Douglas told how he was assigned by the general manager, Bob Ferry, to “help” Manute with adjusting to life in America when his culture shock was at a maximum.

Douglas said Manute had one day told him that he wanted “an electric train.” He drove Manute to the toy store, an excursion that was magical in itself for the Dinka. But when he showed Manute the electric trains, his friend protested that was not what he wanted. He wanted an electric train that was pushed around to clean the house. Douglas, just out of college himself, finally figured out that Manute wanted a vacuum cleaner.

The tributes to Manute, shared by those who loved him for his humor, his generous spirit, and his perseverance, introduced the Sudanese Christian Dinka basketball player to a crowd of college students who may have only known him as a name in the NBA.

The evening was an invitation to share in the work that Manute started by completing his 41 schools in Sudan. It was also an invitation to share in the faith, courage, and kindness that made Manute who he was. Manute would have liked that.

Faith J.H. McDonnell, in Washington

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Pulls iPhone App, Man. Dec. leaders write Steve Jobs

Dear Friends,

Some of you may be aware by now that Apple has removed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone/iPad application from the iTunes Store. This happened some time over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Manhattan Declaration app was accepted by Apple and rated as a 4+, meaning it contained no objectionable material. Yet Apple pulled the app shortly after a small but very vocal protest by those who favor gay marriage and abortion.

We are urging Apple to restore the App, and have written to Steve Jobs. We will update you with developments as they arise.

Immediate updates will be sent via Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned for more...


Chuck Colson
Dr. Robert George
Dr. Timothy George

Monday, November 15, 2010

Note to the parish in regard to Jamie and Sharon Forrest's Retirement Gala

What a wonderful celebration we had last night in thanksgiving for Jamie and Sharon Forrest's four decades of ministry, especially their 30 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and their 18+ years with us at St. David's. In the early years of his episcopacy, Bishop Duncan used to encourage us to "be ourselves at out best". This was so true for St David's on Sunday. The whole parish came together as family and honored the true senior pastor and his senior associate. It was an honor and privilege to be part of it all. There were over two hundred present for the reception and program including sixteen clergy from all over the diocese. I know Archbishop Bob and Nara were blessed to be with us and see how the Lord has been moving in our parish these latter days.

I want to thank all of you who contributed in any way for your generosity in honoring Jamie and for all your hard work, special thanks goes out to the those who cleaned up the the building and set up the parish hall, the reception committee, the photographers, the speakers and musicians, and our praise and worship team. And having Christopher and Janet Leighton return to honor Jamie and Sharon and to be part of our fellowship once again was a special treat. It was a wonderful to have him preside at the Lord's Table at both services on Sunday morning. One of our 10:30 parishioners commented to me, "Whenever Christopher comes to our church the Holy Spirit inevitably comes in power". Thank you Jesus

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Coexist Reality

h/t to Steve Wood - Treading Grain blog

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Resolution on the Election of the Rt. Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile, as Presiding Bishop and Primate

Following is the Resolution I proposed which was unanamously adopted at the 143rd Diocesan Convention of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh held today at St Stephen's Church, Sewickley

Resolution on the Election of the Rt. Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile, as Presiding Bishop and Primate
of the Province of the Southern Cone

WHEREAS Bishop Hector “Tito” Zavala was elected as the first indigenous Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Southern Cone, and

WHEREAS, Bishop Zavala (and his family) ministered among us as friend and priest for three years during his time of study at Trinity School for Ministry in our diocese, and

WHEREAS, the Diocese of Chile and the Diocese of Pittsburgh were linked for many years as companion dioceses, and

WHEREAS, the Province of the Southern Cone extended to the bishop, clergy and people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh spiritual cover and continuous support during our time of transition in the forming of the Anglican Church in North America, be it

RESOLVED that we rejoice with the Diocese of Chile and the Province of the Southern Cone and extend our prayers and blessings to their new Presiding Bishop and Primate and his family.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bp. Tito Zavala elected Primate, The Southern Cone

Bp. Tito Zavala elected Primate, The Southern Cone
November 5th, 2010

From Anglicans United

[Ed. Note: Canon Kenneth Kearon of the Communion office in London recently removed Bp. Zavala from the international committee on faith and order because he did not receive a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost letter. In that letter, the Province of the Southern Cone was ask if they changed their Constitution and Canons to allow them to take parishes/diocese in other provinces "under their protection." This House of Bishop's meeting is expected to respond to that letter. We will watch for the results. Re: Bishop Zavala, the province has been moving for 20 years towards the ordination of South Americans. Bishop Zavala is one of the first ordained and will be a terrific Archbishop for this province. South America has made great strides in turning the church over from Brits in leadership to indigenous men and women. It has been an exciting process to watch. Cheryl M. Wetzel]


From Bishop Frank Lyons

November 4, 2010

The tenth Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone of America, meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1-5 November, 2010, has elected Bishop Hector “Tito” Zavala of Chile as its next Primate replacing Bishop Gregory Venables.

Bishop Zavala becomes the province’s first Primate of Chilean extraction. The role of Primate is a three year renewable term in the Cone. Bishop Venables is not retiring, but will maintain his present position as Bishop of Argentina and Northern Argentina.

In another closely followed vote, the possibility of allowing women’s ordination to the priesthood in those dioceses that so affirmed to move ahead (local option) was turned down by the house of clergy; the other two houses voted in favor. [This simply means that local option on this issue has been maintained. The national canons will not be changed. C Wetzel]

The Province of the Southern Cone comprises the seven dioceses of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Northern Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

—-Bishop Frank Lyons is the Bishop of Bolivia

All Saints' South Fayette

Following is a letter published today in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I sent this letter three weeks ago but it was published only today having been held up by letters concerning all the hoopla surrounding the mid-term elections. Ironically the real 145th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh convenes today.

About congregation

I read with interest and affection Ann Rodgers' article "Episcopalians Calm in Rough Sea" (Oct. 15) on the gathering of the Episcopalians in convention on October 15-16. I was heartened to read Bishop Ken Price's encouraging words concerning his relationship with Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. I would contend that the facts about the composition of the new gathering in South Fayette, All Saints, are a bit inaccurate.

The article states the congregation "was formed in 2009, largely from people who wanted to remain Episcopalians after their former parishes left the denomination." I would contend the congregation was formed largely from members of St. Paul's Church in Mt. Lebanon for various and sundry reasons, none of which had to do with leaving the denomination.

The majority of the congregation continues to be composed of former members of St. Paul's. Note also, the pastor of All Saints, the Rev. Richard Pollard, is a former staff member of St. Paul's. Nonetheless, best wishes for success are extended to the clergy and people of All Saints.

St. David's Anglican Church

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rejoicing with Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile

Anglicans United rejoices with Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile and Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone over the successful rescue of 33 miners in Chile.

Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners said this morning after his rescue, “There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.”

Thank you all for your constant and faithful prayers on behalf of these men and their families.

Cheryl M. Wetzel

Monday, October 11, 2010


check out their website here
check out this awesome video ;

Dear Friends,

As you may already know, we are in the process of organizing a worldwide dance on Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011. If you would like to join us in this exciting event register your group by email at . In the email please provide your church’s name, home page address and number of expected participants.

When considering participation please keep in mind the following requirements:

The date of the event will be April 24, 2011

Participation is restricted to Christian churches. Minimum number of participants is 200 persons per registered group (if you are a small church desiring to take part, we encourage you to team up with other churches in your area) When applying it is understood that you accept the mission Statement of this event Your performance must be recorded with multiple HD cameras. The UptoFaith team will create a video from the clips received.

Join us as we “go tell the world” that Jesus Christ and the Church are alive and making a difference!

Please note that the information received will be kept confidential and will only be used for the organization of the UptoFaith Dance event.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Judge James Rules Again

Sharpsburg Legion in parking pickle over handicapped lot

Another boneheaded ruling by same the judge who ruled in the Calvary lawsuit - DDW+

By Mary Ann Thomas
Thursday, October 7, 2010

American Legion members are hopeful they can keep a handicapped parking lot at Post 106 in Sharpsburg despite a judge's ruling they have to remove it.

Gary Salitrik of Shaler, the secretary treasurer of the Legion on North Canal Street, hopes town leaders appeal.

"They're the ones who gave us permission to build it," he said. "We did everything they told us to do. Now we've got to rip it out."

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge M. Joseph James ruled last month that the Legion had to remove the parking lot it installed two years ago after residents at nearby Heinz Terrace sued saying the lot was illegal and unsafe.

Attorney Stephen Farino said his clients "think that the judge made the correct decision. And they feel it's for the safety of their neighborhood."

Sharpsburg solicitor Michael Witherel said he would advise council not to pursue an appeal.

"This is a matter between the Legion and the property owners on the street," he said.

During a 2008 meeting, Sharpsburg council approved the construction of the 20-foot-by-70-foot parking lot, with work beginning the next day.

Residents contend that cars parked in the lot have to drive over a public sidewalk where children walk and play.

Legion members and officials claim the handicapped parking spaces provided in the five-car parking lot are essential for disabled veterans who visit the club.

The residents appealed council's decision to allow the lot. The judge's ruling on Sept. 17 states that the lot plan violated the town's ordinances by creating a driveway "in excess of 25 feet and it doesn't comply with (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements."

Legion leadership is looking at what an appeal would cost.

The lot, which includes a deck and a new handicap-accessible entrance, cost about $25,000 to build, Salitrik said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christ Church Plano TX Making Canonical Transfer to ACNA and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Christ Church Making Canonical Transfer to ACNA
October 6th, 2010
Dear Friends,

Today I have an important announcement about our affiliation with the Anglican world. Since our departure from the Episcopal Church in 2006, the Vestry of Christ Church and our clergy have been careful to stay connected to the larger Anglican world through our bishops. We have been affiliated with the AMiA (Anglican Mission in the Americas) since January of 2007. It has been a very happy relationship. We have been well served and, by God’s Grace, we (our church and its clergy) have been able to make significant contributions to its mission and ministry. It has been a blessing to be there.

In the summer of 2009, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was born. Representatives of all the Anglican bodies within U.S. and Canada attended a conference in Bedford and launched the beginnings of a new “proto-Province” within the Anglican Communion. Then, as many here would remember, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan was instituted as the new Archbishop of the ACNA at Christ Church. Those who attended would surely agree with me: It was one of the finest moments I can remember at Christ Church.

It was at this Investiture that Anglican1000 was born. At this Investiture, the world “saw” the fullness of this new fledgling movement. There were dozens of bishops, hundreds of clergy, and still hundreds more laity. Many of us were weeping for joy to be part of a new united work that God was doing in our North America.

Recently, for reasons fully explained in a letter to the members of the AMiA, Bishop Chuck Murphy led the AMiA through a change of status within the ACNA. He and the Council of Bishops of the AMiA petitioned the ACNA to be a “Ministry Partner” rather than a full member of the ACNA. Much of the reasons for this have to do with the AMiA’s desire to stay fully linked with the Province of Rwanda and maintain their own missionary culture in North America.

In consultation with our Vestry and our clergy, I have asked Bishop Murphy to accept our request for transfer to the ACNA, in order to remain within the North American provincial structure. Bishop Murphy graciously heard my desire and will grant our transfer. Therefore, within the next week or so, our congregation, our clergy, and our parish will be canonically transferred to the ACNA.

Our long term plan is to work with other Anglican churches in the Dallas area and build a Diocesan structure in the Dallas metroplex, but that will take a few years to realize. In the interim we will be linked to the oversight ministry of the Archbishop of the ACNA and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Archbishop Robert Duncan. This Christ Church/ACNA/Diocese of Pittsburgh relationship will be a blessing for all of us. Already we are engaged in the important work of Anglican1000 (an initiative of the ACNA).

I realize that for nearly all in our church this will be truly a transparent event. Nothing will change. Our mission and our ministry will go on as it has gone on for 25 years now. We will have plenty of occasions to meet and welcome Bishop Duncan here in the future. Our 6th grade class will love him when he comes for their Confirmation ceremony. He is a good man and a Godly bishop…and now he is our overseeing bishop. We are truly blessed. This link allows us to continue to build our work here in the North Dallas area and to partner with other clergy and bishops and dioceses all over North America to expand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Personally, I am very thankful for the response I received from Bishop Murphy. And I give thanks to God for the long-standing relationship that I have…and that Christ Church now has…with the Archbishop, Robert Duncan. With the blessings we have been given here, we also have the joy of sharing as well. Christ Church will be able to transfer its financial pledge to the AMiA directly to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the ACNA.

Thank you for your trust and confidence over these past 25 years. We have seen God do great things here, and as we celebrate 25 years of ministry this year, we know that God is leading us onward!

In Christ,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Church's "Undie Sunday" a Success

What a great idea for an outreach ministry! I wonder if Shepherd's Heart would benefit with something like this for their ministry to the homeless of Pittsburgh?

From via the Hartford CT Courant.

MANCHESTER, Conn. - At first, the idea of "Undie Sunday" unsettled some members of St. Mary's Episcopal Church.

Tighty-whiteys and the Lord's house, after all, are not a natural fit.

"Some of the older people were saying, 'How can you talk about underwear in church?' - but once they realized there was such a need, everyone got around it," church member and collection organizer Lelia Druzdis said Tuesday.

Billed as "a project we can get behind," the collection of new briefs, boxers and panties took off, and laundry baskets in the church narthex quickly filled. By the end of July, St. Mary's members had collected about 1,200 pairs of underwear for homeless and needy men, women and children, Druzdis said. People also gave other items, including bras, and the Manchester BJ's Wholesale Club and Target store donated gift cards.

At the annual Cruisin' on Main event on Aug. 1, the church - touting the theme "What's under the hood?" - made a high-profile handover to Manchester Area Conference of Churches Charities.

"There was a lot of visibility of underwear that day," said Jacki Campion, MACC Charities director of volunteer and community services.

The idea for the collection sprang from St. Mary's outreach committee, which Druzdis co-chairs. She said she contacted MACC officials and found there was a constant need among clients for fresh underwear.

"People who come to the shelter often have just what they have on their backs," Campion said.

Also, customers of MACC's food pantry often need underwear, especially for their children, she said.

"It was an out-of-the-box project," Campion said. "It's not something you would normally think about, but it was something that we really could use."

The response was so positive, Druzdis said, that church members have decided to make Undie Sunday an annual event.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Legal Analysis from the Anglican Curmugeon

Faux Pittsburgh Loses Bid to Dismiss Appeal; ECUSA Wastes More of Your Money

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has rebuffed an attempt by the ersatz-Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, ECUSA, Calvary Church, and their adherents to dismiss the appeal taken from Judge James's order last January directing the real Diocese of Pittsburgh to hand over all its property and assets to the faux diocese, which I discussed in this earlier post. The appellees (including ECUSA, the faux diocese, Calvary Church, its rector Dr. Lewis, its senior warden and a parishioner) had moved to quash Bishop Duncan's appeal on the ostensible ground that it was taken too late.

The background is technical, but let me try to be brief. Last October, Judge James issued a decision which interpreted an earlier stipulation in favor of the faux diocese, as explained in this earlier post. That decision and order directed further proceedings: the special master previously appointed by the court was to confer with the parties and file with the court an inventory of all the property and assets which were subject to the turnover order; the court retained jurisdiction in the meantime. Once the master filed his inventory, Judge James held another hearing with the parties and entered his January 2010 order, as discussed and linked above.

On their motion to quash the appeal from the January 2010 order (which appeal also included several earlier orders), the appellees argued that the appeal was taken too late, because the October 2009 order had not been appealed from in time, and was now final. In answer, Bishop Duncan and his attorneys argued that the October order was not appealable, because it contemplated further proceedings in the trial court, and did not dispose of all the issues between the parties.

Yesterday the Commonwealth Court issued a memorandum opinion agreeing with Bishop Duncan and his attorneys: the October 2009 order was not appealable until after the court's entry of its January 2010 decision and order. It adopted one of the appellants' arguments, which had noted that the "petition for enforcement" originally brought by Calvary and its related individuals (before the formation of the faux diocese) had sought an accounting of the property and assets, so that they could be turned over. That accounting took place only pursuant to the court's directions in its October 2009 order. Thus the latter order could not have been final at the time, because there were still unresolved issues between the parties, namely, which assets were subject to the court's decision. The Commonwealth Court accordingly denied the motion to quash, in these words:
As part of the relief requested in its Petition for Enforcement, Appellees (who were the initiating parties) claimed they were entitled to "[a]n accounting of the real and personal property of the Diocese and its use since 2003." (Petition for Enforcement ¶ 23(a)(1), R.R. Vol. I at 184a.) Moreover, in the Supplement filed by the Appellees, they requested a court-appointed monitor to: (1) "inventory the Property and to oversee any expenditures or transfers of the Property (including cash assets) until assurance of use of the Property within the Episcopal Church is resolved" (Supplement ¶ 25, R.R. Vol. II at 425a); and (2) "conduct an accounting of the Property (real and personal) held or administered by the Diocese and its use since October 14,2005." (Supplement ¶ 27, R.R. Vol. II at 426a.) Additionally, in the Complaint-In-Intervention filed on behalf of The Episcopal Church of the United States of America by the Right Reverend John C. Buchanan on May 12, 2009, Reverend Buchanan requested the trial court to enter "[a]n order requiring defendant Bishop Duncan and the individual defendants . . . to provide an accounting of all real and personal property of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh held on October 4, 2008." (Complaint-In-Intervention ¶ 59(d), R.R. Vol. V at 1954a.) Indeed, the trial court acknowledged the outstanding claims regarding the accounting of the property at issue when it ordered, on October 6, 2009, that it would review the Special Master's inventory report "and [would] enter an appropriate order for the orderly transition of possession, custody, and control over said property." (Trial Ct. Order at 1-2, October 6, 2009.)
. . . [T]he trial court did not issue an order adopting the Special Master's Report and inventory of the real and personal property and decreeing the transition of that property until its January 29, 2010 Order. . . . Thus, the trial court's January 29, 2010 Order disposed of all claims by all parties and, as such, is a final order pursuant to Rule 341 (b) from which Appellants may appeal. We therefore find that Appellants did not waive their right to appeal.

Accordingly, the Motion to Quash Appeal is denied.
In a previous post, I noted that the Commonwealth Court had tentatively ordered oral arguments on the appeal for November 8, and I gave a link to the appellate court's docket sheet. On page 9 of that docket sheet, one learns that there had been an application made to the Court on June 10 to admit as counsel pro hac vice [for the pending matter] one David Booth Beers, Esq. and one Mary Kostel as co-counsel for the appellee Episcopal Church. The Court granted the applications on June 14, and noted in its order: "Jennifer E. Watson, Esq., the moving attorney herein, shall continue to be responsible as counsel of record for the conduct of this matter on behalf of appellee The Episcopal Church, by the Right Reverend John C. Buchanan."

On the same page 9, we learn that the Court had granted Bishop Duncan's attorneys a brief extension of time until July 15 to file their reply brief in the appeal. Then on the next page, we see that on July 6, the appellees filed their motion to quash, along with a supporting brief signed by, among others, David Booth Beers and Mary Kostel. This now gave the appellants a double deadline to meet, since the Court had directed a response to the motion to quash be filed by July 20. So they filed another request for an extension to file the reply brief until July 23, which the Court granted. Argument on the motion to quash was heard by telephone conference call on July 22, the morning before the reply brief was due. Does anyone else want to join me in concluding that the timing of the "motion to quash" was not a coincidence?

The motion, as we now see from the Court's disposal of it, was a waste of everyone's time. As the Court points out in its opinion, it was Calvary Church itself -- later joined by ECUSA in its own complaint in intervention -- which had asked for an accounting in its original petition, and which Judge James ordered take place following his October 2009 order. The contention that the October order was "final" was bogus, since the appellees had not treated it as final when it was handed down, but had met and conferred on the accounting, and then gone back to court to argue for the results to be incorporated in a truly final order. (If the previous order had been "final", there would have been no reason to enter the second one in January.)

Bogus as it was, the motion to quash did not require the talents of the Presiding Bishop's chancellor, David Booth Beers, or of her executive assistant for litigation, Mary Kostel, to appear and argue it -- in addition to counsel of record for ECUSA, Jennifer E. Watson, and counsel for Calvary and the other appellees as well. From a query made by five bishops to the Executive Council (which was not contradicted), we know that Mr. Beers charges over $500 per hour to ECUSA for his litigation services -- a "discount" from his normal hourly rate. Ms. Watson's hourly rate is most likely also several hundred dollars an hour, and no one knows what Ms. Kostel charges ECUSA, or whether she is on a salary, or what -- her cost is presumably buried in the nearly $3 million budgeted over the next three years for the cost of the Presiding Bishop's "staff."

But one can know this: the charges to ECUSA for getting its counsel specially admitted, and then drafting, filing and arguing this bogus motion were on the order of thousands and thousands of dollars. If the three ECUSA counsel were on the telephone together, the "argument" alone was costing ECUSA at least over $1000 per hour. (And what would be the point of being admitted pro hac vice just in time to file the motion to quash, if one were not also going to take part in the argument of the motion?)

The point here is not that New York and Pennsylvania attorneys are expensive; we all know that. The point instead is that no one is minding the store, or overseeing what legal work is being done for ECUSA and in its name, on an impartial basis. (Mary Kostel used to work under David Booth Beers at Goodwin Procter -- so how much objective oversight on legal strategies and expenses could she provide? If she is even performing some of that function, she would be overseeing someone who used to be her boss -- and who still, as the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor, has quite a lot of unchecked authority.)

In their response to the query made by the bishops to the Executive Council, two members of that Council (who are both attorneys) claimed that “We give you our professional opinion that the church is receiving extraordinary value for the funds it does spend.” That claim is very much open to dispute, as this little incident in Pittsburgh demonstrates. But there is even more that is wrong with this current situation. In a later post, I shall have a good deal more to say about it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Left Tackle"

Bishop John Guernsey writes wonderfully cogent piece on intercessory prayer, something he is eminently qualified to do. His former parish, All Saints' Woodbridge VA, became a "college" of intercessory prayer under his tutelage.

h/t to virtue online

Long before it was made into a movie, I came across the book, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis. It tells the fascinating and hilarious story of an inner city boy and the changing world of professional football. Michael Oher was the neglected son of a Memphis crack addict, who went on to play in college and, now, the Baltimore Ravens.

Woven through Michael's story-more in the book than in the movie-is the evolution of NFL football and the emergence of the importance of the left tackle. And it begins with a moment long-time Monday Night Football fans will remember: linebacker Lawrence Taylor's blindside tackle that broke the leg of Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann in 1985.

As the passing game became the dominant force in professional football, the quarterbacks who could throw the ball with pinpoint accuracy became the key asset of every franchise. That was predictable. What surprised everyone in the game, though, was the new importance of a previously ignored position, that of left tackle. Since most quarterbacks are right handed, as they stand to throw the football, opposing players coming from the left are attacking them from their blindside-hence the title-and the blind side is where they are most vulnerable.

So defensive coaches began to put their quickest, meanest, most aggressive, most athletic players on that side, to come at the quarterback from his blind side. And in response, offensive coaches realized they had to find players of enormous size, strength and agility and put them at left tackle to keep their multi-million dollar quarterbacks alive.

These left tackles are remarkable athletes, but unless you're a real football fanatic, you probably never heard of any of them. They labor anonymously and without recognition; they are noticed only when they make the rare blunder and allow the quarterback to be sacked.

But here's the fascinating thing: left tackles are the most highly paid position in National Football League after the quarterback. Not the dominant running backs, not the flashy wide receivers. Nope, it's the anonymous left tackle who is the most highly valued.

It is my view that in the church, the position of left tackle is filled by personal intercessors. While the focus may be on the clergy, it is the prayer warriors who are truly fighting the battle on behalf of those leaders. The priest in the pulpit is under attack as surely as the quarterback in the backfield. And how we need the prayers of the saints to cover our blindside.

The Apostle Peter needed others to pray for him. Jesus said at the Last Supper in Luke 22:31, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail."

The Apostle Paul needed others to pray for him. In Romans 15:30, Paul wrote, "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."

In Ephesians 6:19, Paul wrote, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

In Colossians 4:3, Paul said, "Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message."

And in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Paul said, "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men."

Peter needed others to pray for him.

Paul needed others to pray for him.

And as clergy and lay leaders in the Body of Christ, we need others to pray for us.

But sadly, there is often a reluctance on the part of leaders to seek the prayer we need. Many of us clergy were taught in seminary to keep our personal needs private from the flock.

For some is arrogance: I don't need their prayers.

For some it is fear: how might some abuse information I share about my problems or about my family?

For some it is a false humility: I'm the center of attention enough as it is. Why should people pray especially for me more than for everyone else?

Parishioners fail to pray most often out of ignorance. They simply do not understand how vitally important it is to intercede for leaders in the body of Christ. Added to that are lack of information about what to pray for, and lack of training in prayer.

In the best of times, clergy in America are in crisis. They experience burn-out, the result of years of trying to live up to unfulfillable expectations. Christian researcher George Barna reports that pastors in America have a higher risk of being fired than head coaches in the National Football League. Clergy are expected to be all things to all people at all times.

Clergy can be overwhelmed with feelings of ineffectiveness - there is tremendous pain in seeing individuals or even congregations stuck in the same problems, not changing, not growing in Christ, and feeling powerless to make a difference. Management guru Peter Drucker said, "Clergy are the most frustrated profession in the world."

One psychologist called clergy a walking Rorschach inkblot. People see in their clergy whatever is bothering them and they project onto their clergy a lifetime of unresolved issues with parents and authority figures.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle and our adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Clergy experience attacks:

Attacks on finances

Attacks on health

Attacks on marriage and family.

Attacks of fear and doubt.

Clergy need prayer. Yes, we must be people of prayer ourselves. That is vital. But we also urgently need the prayers of others. As leaders, we need to view prayer cover the way the infantry views air cover. We have to fight the battle on the ground, to be sure, but we'd be foolish to try it without that canopy of covering in the heavenlies.

For too many years, I failed to grasp how important intercessory prayer cover is for my ministry, for my family, for me. But I have repented and I've become very intentional about recruiting and encouraging those who faithfully and sacrificially pray and fast for me, for my family and for my ministry.

Such prayer support is not just for clergy. In the parish I served as rector, we would urge everyone who took on a ministry or leadership responsibility to seek out personal intercessors who will commit to pray for them and support them in their ministry as a member of the Vestry or as a Sunday School teacher or as a short-term missionary or youth group leader-whatever their role. It really is OK to ask people to make an intentional commitment to intercede for you.

Those personal intercessors are our left tackles, that most valuable position on the team. Their prayers uphold us and encourage us and protect us.

We all need brothers and sisters in Christ to whom we can say, along with St. Paul, "I urge you..., by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."

---The Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey currently serves as Bishop in the Diocese of the Holy Spirit, a diocese in the ACNA. Previously, +John served as Rector of All Saints, Woodbridge, VA and has been instrumental in the development and leadership of SOMA serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Has Something Changed Along the Way?

After reading Dr. Jim Simon's recent pronouncement at the TEC Executive Council Meeting to Canon Kearon, Sec'y to the Archbishop of Canterbury: "Currently, there are over 100 priests, deacons and one bishop canonically resident in the Province of The Southern Cone as well as another Bishop canonically resident in the Province of Rwanda functioning in our diocese without licenses and laying claim to some of our parishes", I thought it might be helpful to look back and compare what Dr. Jim previously has stated about parish property.

In a New York Times article published on October 5,2008, we read:"The Rev. James Simon, a conservative who is the remaining member of the Standing Committee, said he had heard from many people who hoped to avoid litigation with a compromise on the property issue, as a symbol of healing after the split. But Mr. Simon did not sound hopeful. 'I wish it were that simple,'he said".

Dr. Jim also posted on his blog on June 28, 2008 an apologetic piece he wrote titled, "Reasons for Staying in the Episcopal Church" His seventh of ten points is this: "Property Issues: Perhaps the most distasteful aspect of the proposed realignment would be the inevitable lawsuits which will arise over parish property. While many of us who wish to remain with TEC have no desire to enter into such suits, it remains to be seen how TEC will respond".

You make the call: Has something changed along the way?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ten Highly Effective Strategies for Crushing your Pastor’s Morale

I picked this little gem up from "Retired Pastor Ruminates" blog. He is a retired UCC pastor so some of it needs translation for the Anglican context but for the most part it works. Fortunately for me most, if not all, of this doesn't personally apply, Thanks be to God!

In the past most congregations’ attempts to demoralize their ordained leadership have been haphazard and ad hoc, although still surprisingly effective. In the interest of bringing more rigorous and systematic approaches to these efforts here are some of my modest proposals:

1. Schedule a weekly meeting for your pastor to sit down with the treasurer (or, better yet, the assistant treasurer) to “go over” every business expense. Be sure to inquire if certain expenses are legitimate, such as the purchase of a Marilyn Robinson or Gail Godwin novel from the pastor’s book allowance (“Should we really be paying for your chick-lit?”) Or a long-distance call to a neighboring pastor friend from seminary. Do such expenses really profit the church? And what about this big expense for 14 volumes by this Barth guy? Do you really need all of these? And his title sounds so, well, dogmatic!

2. Plan a regular talk-back session after worship so that members can query the pastor about her sermon, or the worship service, or about anything else, for that matter. It is always good to question why the pastor chose scripture lessons that are so negative, referring to such old fashioned concepts as sin, unrighteousness and repentance. Suggest more uplifting themes in the future. “And, by the way, why don’t we ever sing Christmas carols in Advent?”

3. Make sure to have an annual customer satisfaction survey where every member of the congregation fills out an anonymous questionnaire about their views of the pastor’s performance during the previous year. Make sure all the negative (or ambiguous) comments are read aloud at several meetings, and publish them without attribution in the church newsletter.

4. Vote to hold all meetings in the living room of the parsonage during the winter as a way to save money on heat, but be sure to pitch the idea as good stewardship of God’s creation so your pastor will feel too guilty to protest.

5. Cut the mission budget to balance the budget. Better yet, ask your pastor to choose between a raise in salary or an increase in the mission budget. This would be a good subject for an extended conversation at a congregational meeting. You can never talk too much about clergy compensation at a congregational meeting.

6. Set up a pastoral oversight committee to regularly monitor the pastor’s performance. Focus attention on any negative (or ambiguous) comments from the questionnaire (see # 3). Make sure to put into place measurable metrics and target goals for new members received and money raised. Hourly work logs are always effective as well.

7. Whenever your pastor goes away and returns from denominational meetings or continuing education events never miss an opportunity to ask, “How was your vacation?”

8. Make sure the pastor is made aware of the two biggest complaints, namely, that he is never in the office, and he doesn’t make enough home visits. That the two cannot both be true will not diminish their use as morale crushers.

9. Tell the pastor that there are anonymous complaints that a. your sermons are too long; b. your voice is too soft to be heard (especially by the deaf); c. your spouse is not involved enough (or too involved) in the life of the congregation; d. your child shouldn’t have been given the lead in the Christmas pageant; e. your lawn needs mowing; and f. you were seen in shorts at the supermarket. This is just a sample list. Use your imagination.

10. Constantly compare your pastor to his long-tenured saintly predecessor, with special attention made to his never asking for a raise for himself or his staff.

If your pastor balks at any of these attempts, just mutter words such as “accountability,” “transparency,” “standards,” or “professionalism. Pastors are loath to appear to be against any of these concepts so cherished by the managerial class.

(Picture: “The Scream” by Edvard Munch)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sad News

My longtime friend and mentor, Merle C. Hansen's wife Audrey died last night. She was in her eighties and had been in declining health in recent years as has Merle. Merle and Audrey were members of All Saints' Church in Aliquippa in the early 1980s while Gale and I were new members there. We were in a house group that met in their home and have stayed in touch ever since. The Hansens were used to moving. They moved 25 times while Merle was a naval officer and at least a half a dozen times since. He was the skipper of a diesel submarine in the 1950's and commanded the last submarine division comprised of diesel boats. He was also the officer in charge of designing the rescue of the USS Mayaquez, a merchant marine ship taken captive during the Vietnam War. He tells great sea stories.

The Hansens moved to Aliquippa because Merle was tasked with moving the Brotherhood of St.Andrew Inc. office from York PA to Ambridge in 1983. He was the Executive Director of the Brotherhood after retirement from the Navy. Christopher Leighton the rector of All Saints' convinced them to move to Hopewell Twp rather than Sewickley and become members of All Saints' rather than St. Stephen's -- quite a coup for young Fr. Leighton!

Merle was my mentor and trainer in Evangelism Explosion(EE)and recruited me to serve as his successor as the BStA Executive Director. We often taught the Brotherhood Evangelism Program "Articulating Our Faith (AOF)" side by side with a little help from Christopher Leighton -- the Three Musketeers or Three Stooges -- take your pick. Audrey and he were married for 55.5 years and last lived in a retirement community in Groton CT. Their son Mace was also a submariner (nukes) and now works for Electric Boat in Groton overseeing construction and refitting of submarines.
Christopher will be conducting a memorial service on July 17 at the retirement community.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

O, The Gall Of It All

I can’t believe the nerve! Today I received a mailing from the Church Insurance Corporation. This is a corporation affiliated with the Episcopal Church (TEC) of which the Church Pension Group is a part. This is the second communication I have received since my last pension assessment notice received in September 2009. On October 12, 2009 I received a personal letter from TEC bishop Ken Price, the Provisional Bishop of the TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh telling me that unless I informed him otherwise, he would assume that I wished to renounce my orders as priest. I did not respond to his letter so I received a subsequent letter on October 28 informing I along with 102 others had been “released” from my ministry as a priest according to TEC Canon Whatever. This letter was signed by two former colleagues --- Hmmmm, I know, like all good Germans, they were just following orders --- and Ken Price. It was copied to the Church Pension Group. On October 30, 2009, I was terminated (termination is their term) from further participation in the Church Pension Group. This came to me via my parish in the form of a termination notice, my last communication from them after paying into their 8 billion dollar fund for 14 years --- no personal letter to me ala Ken Price.

Now this same corporation writes me a “Dear Friend” letter, dated June 2010, inviting me to buy an annuity from them - a Church Life IRA! This is thoroughly amazing! I wonder if they’ve offered a Church Life IRA to ACNA Bishop John Guernsey who amassed over 29.5 years in the pension fund and who was not permitted by Bishop Lee of Virginia to stay in the CPG to reach his 30 year threshold in order to retire with tens of thousands of dollars of additional pension benefits?

I am utterly agog that they want the very money that I am not permitted to continue my pension with to be spent on purchasing an annuity from them! Wowzer! It is signed “Best Wishes” by James Thomas, the General Manager of the Church Life Insurance Corporation. What Hypocrisy! I don’t know what they’re smoking up there at 445 Fifth Avenue in NYC but it sure ain’t Marlboro Reds.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The High Price of Collaboration

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:15 (ESV)

Jim Simons, a founding board member of the American Anglican Council, a former deputy to the Anglican Communion Network Executive Council now an appointee to the TEC Executive Council and a, if not the, leading candidate to fill the vacant vice- presidency of the TEC House of Deputies and one who claims he is an evangelical, has been quoted by Mark Harris on his blog PRELUDIUM: "I am Jim Simons, a priest resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh which, as I’m sure you are aware, went through a recent and painful schism. Currently, there are over 100 priests, deacons and one bishop canonically resident in the Province of The Southern Cone as well as another Bishop canonically resident in the Province of Rwanda functioning in our diocese without licenses and laying claim to some of our parishes. This is in clear violation of the canons and it is also not unique to our diocese. What if any disciplinary action do you anticipate toward provinces who engage in such jurisdictional incursions?" [the Rev’d James Simons TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh addressing Canon Kenneth Kearon at the TEC Executive Council Meeting June 18, 2010]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Last night the Peters Township Planning Board in a 3-2 decision granted St David's permission to reconstruct our sign (see photo-shopped image). We have wanted for some time to change the sign to reflect our status as an Anglican Church (no longer a member of the Episcopal church) and we wanted to have a changeable message board added to the existing sign. The Board had great anxiety over this because we are the first church to apply for a permit for a electronic message board sign. They are concerned over the impact to the residential nature of the community around us. The Board recognizes, however, the unsightliness of having multiple temporary signs adorning our lawn. This new sign will end the necessity of erecting temporary signs for every other church function.

We hope to begin this project in the next month

Monday, June 14, 2010


St. David's hosted a diocesan-wide Ultreya last evening. Ultreya is a Spanish word meaning "forward". It is used by Cursillo to signify a gathering of the Cursillo community and guests to build each other up in our Christian life and call to ministry. A4D is shorthand for Anglican Fourth Day, the ACNA successor, to Cursillo. The Cursillo name is trademarked and can only be used by those who have a license issued by the National Secretariat of the Roman Catholic Church. TEC holds the license, therefore, we became A4D.

About sixty gathered in our parish hall with, as I counted, folks from at least fifteen different parishes. About a quarter of the participants were A4Ders from St David's including all five of our newbies from the past women's weekend. St. David's is one of the stronger parishes in the diocesan A4D movement. The Lay Leader of the diocesan Secretariat in Kathi Marks from here as well as one of the two diocesan Spiritual Directors is moi. St. David's has had three diocesan Lay Leaders from our ranks Kathi, Don Bushyager and Ron Osucha (Ron was a larger-than-life, legendary, laymen. He died some years ago.). The rectora (lay person in charge) of last month's Women's Weekend was Ginger Machak. The rector of the upcoming Men's Weekend in March 2011 is Scott Smith. Interestingly one of the national leaders in the A4D movement is the Rev. John Nuzum. John now lives in Virginia but back in the day he was a Cursillo leader from St David's. In fact, he was the rector of the weekend I attended in March 1987 and many of the team members were from St David's too.

Jess Wylie a fairly new person to A4D (Anglican Fourth Day) gave an excellent lay witness which engendered lots of response from the gathering. She and her husband Jeff are from Holy Innocents Leechburg. Following small group gatherings' we joined together for plethora of snacks.

Lastly, I was handed a card from one of the participants. I opened it this morning. The writer was a young single mom from one of my former parishes. She wrote:

Dear David,

I want you to know that you have blessed my life so much. Although your being at A4D weekend #94 was about your church folks, God used your presence there as a reminder to me that he has placed all the right "fathers" in my life and will do the same for my son. DeColores!

What a blessing. It makes ministry all worthwhile.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hot Diggity Dog

Things are picking up with the blog. I got my first commentor to a posting who gave me some helpful advice. Both the commmentor and another friend picked up my blog through some miracle of google. I also made contact with a blog veteran to meet me this week in Ambridge to show me the ropes of blogging. How to post stuff and put pics in and links within postings, etc.

It's ironic but the model blog for me has been a combo of two TEC loyalist blogs, Three Rivers Episcopal a blog by former Standing Cmte President Jim Simons and Lionel Diemel's Web Blog. Lionel was my first commentor and welcomed me to the blogosphere. And Jim posts stories of interest to Episcopalians and Anglicans in Western PA. Perhaps the sturm und drang of the first 18 months of re-alignment is starting to disapate. Jim is no longer calling us lemmings and comparing Abp Duncan to Yertle the Turtle and Lionel no longer refers to me as a leading disident and of one of Duncan's principal henchman in the Great Schism. Hot Diggity Dog.

Lionel asked me how it is to be named David and pastor a church called St. David's. It's sometimes funny! I was in the local hardware store one day to have a key made for door in the the church. The sales clerk asked me for the name of the church so that she could bring up our account on the screen and to see if I was an authorized person to charge goods. She said " and your name is?" I said with a straight face, "St. David". w/o so much as a raised eyebrow she typed in "St. David" and then announced to me "You're not authorized sir" To which I said," try David Wilson" She piped up, still w/o a clue, "that works"

This week I am taking my second DMin course at Trinity School for Ministry. I enjoyed the first class on Biblical Theology taught by the Rev. Dr. Rod Whitacre. Tomorrow's class is being taught by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Thompson -- no relation to Tennessee politition and actor Fred Thompson or all American hoopster in the late 1970s David Thompson or Georgetown bball coach John Thompson.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Blog Moves Forward

I have begun the setup of the blog. Since I am not a techie (I am an old fart and a luddite); I didn't grow up with this stuff. This has been a trial and error process. It took me three attempts of typing to key in my Blog List. I keep asking my self, "Is this really worth it! Do I really want to blog???" I am meeting with an old friend, the former communications director of our diocese next week to get schooled in how to do a blog. That should help. He said, "Helping you to blog is like giving a 5 gallon can of gasoline and pack of matches to an arsonist." I wrote back, "more like a 10 gallon can and a blow torch!" Gosh, I have a tough reputation to overcome! I am really a lover, not a fighter yet the ultra-revisionists in Pittsburgh look on me as if I am to +Bob Duncan as Martin Bormann was to Adolf Hitler. And I have one minor meltdown on Standfirm in Faith and I am banned for life!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Why This Blog? Why Now?

I have resisted blogging for many years: Reasons not to blog - I thought it would take too much of my time. I didn't want to pressured (self-induced) to post stuff daily. Most of the stuff I would post has already been posted elsewhere. I don't trust myself enough to refrain from being snarky to those who oppose us (TEC) and even to our own folks (ACNA) Reasons to blog: No one from the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh is an active blogger and we in the ACNA diocese have important things to say. I want to link this blog to my parish website so parishioners and others will start interacting with the parish online. I want to improve my thinking and writing skills in order to aid in my DMin work. I have witnessed the effectiveness of other pastors in communicating thoughts and ideas online.