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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Negotiating with TEC II - The Chess Match Continues

St James Church Makes Historic Move

St James Anglican Church in Penn Hills vacated their building and moved out it was announced by our Diocese yesterday. click here for story Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette covered the story in her usual very balanced way in this morning's edition of that paper here . The TEC Diocese weighs in their own way here; interestingly they announce an "evangelical" priest, Vicente Santiago, a former rector who stayed in TEC is returning. I'd love to see a report on how many folks actually show up on Sunday. My bet it will mainly folks from other TEC parishes who attend to show their support of the TEC Diocese. And TEC blogger Lionel Deimel gives his pravda-esque spin here (scroll down) especially note that he implies they may have vacated because of money problems "they couldn't afford it" -- heifer dust! They walked because they weren't going to pay twice for a building they paid for once already. They believe their money would be better spent on mission not on maintaining a fifty year old building that is failing apart and that has no visibility in the community. And Deimel's headline is a laugher as well, "Third Congregation Settles with Episcopal Diocese", they didn't settle anything with TEC - they vacated their building rather than settle. Talk about doublespeak!

The beat goes on! And it looks like it'll be a long hot summer.

UPDATE July 4,2011 - Lionel Deimel reports on St. James Episcopal Church's restart service on July 3. Click here.

No surprises: it was as I expected it to be. I think Lionel was somewhat optimistic of their future prospects . I also think his putting the word "Anglican" in quotes was a bit pointed as if the congregation that vacated was something other or less than that. Get real Lionel.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Negotiating with TEC – The Waiting Game

We have heard absolutely nothing from the TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh on the pending negotiations in almost two months. Neither has our diocese. It appears it’s either "All's Quiet on the Western Front" or it's "The Calm Before the Storm." Who’s to know?

In our portion of the Vineyard, we have had an appraiser visit our property last week and we now await his report. We have also been in contact with the loan officer of the bank who handles the mortgage on the property. In my view, he didn't give us much info about our mortgage loan that seemed to be helpful to us. The Parish Treasurer has been asked by the vestry to give us the amount we've paid in principal and interest on the mortgage since the realignment vote of the Diocese in October 2008. The Junior Warden is assessing all the deferred maintenance items in the building and will soon give us a figure of their cost. The Property Subcommittee of the Task Force of the Future will soon begin to locate suitable alternatives to our property in the event we will be leaving the current St David's.

Keep praying for God to continue to pour out his blessings upon us and to guide and direct us in this and in all things.

Friday, June 24, 2011

When the Church Bows to the State: Gay Bishops in the Church of England by Albert Mohler

"American churches and denominations had better take note. When a church or Christian institution bows to the authority of the state on a matter of such direct biblical importance, it is destined to lose biblical fidelity." - Albert Mohler

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

As if the Church of England does not have enough troubles, word is leaking out of Lambeth Palace that the church is about to allow the appointment of openly gay bishops, so long as those bishops remain celibate.

The news has emerged in the form of a leaked internal memorandum prepared for the Archbishop of Canterbury by the church’s highest legal adviser. The legal guidelines are intended to bring the church into compliance with Britain’s Equality Act of 2010, even as the church is considering new criteria for the appointment of bishops. That law prohibits discrimination on the basis of several characteristics, including sexual orientation. The Equality Act has already been used to force some British churches to hire youth ministers and other workers who are openly homosexual.

Read it all here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hippies, Fathers, and Forgiveness

©2011 by Gordon Dalbey
Santa Barbara (CA) News Press 6/19/11

Late in the summer of 1969, I reached out hopefully, thumb raised high, beside a shady two-lane road in the redwood country of Northern California. My VW bug had died months before, and--as commonly done in that more innocent age--I was hitchhiking home from visiting a friend in San Francisco. Every sedan that passed me up earned a muttered curse, as I waited and hoped for an old VW bus—the preferred ride and sure bet to stop.

Suddenly, a long white Cadillac passed, and to my surprise, pulled over and crunched to a stop. Caught mid-mutter, I thought better of my curse as sunset loomed and ran up to the car. Peering into the passenger window, I was startled to see a gray-haired man complete with ponytail, tie-dye T-shirt and patched bellbottom jeans! I mean, like, groovy--my old man’s age, already!

A history lesson here for younger readers to understand what’s coming: The hippies were the sons of the World War II warriors. My own father, a career Navy officer, almost lost his life--and thereby, mine--to a Nazi torpedo that demolished his carrier stateroom before I was conceived.

Fighting a war may be good for a nation, but not for a man’s heart. Veterans often find it hard to talk about their painful experiences, and therefore, even harder to hear a little boy’s heartfelt cry for Daddy. What’s more, my father’s generation had been boys during the Great Depression, which taught them to stifle a boy’s desires. No costly ice cream for you at two cents a scoop!

Like most of my peers, I learned early not to admit or express pain to my father. “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about,” as dads in those days threatened. We feared not only Dad, therefore, but also our wounds—indeed, our own manhood as modeled by Dad. We despised our fathers for teaching us that it’s unmanly to be real.

In the sixties, the Vietnam War and its life-or-death threat of the draft crystallized our anger. “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” we chanted at rallies. “Bring the war home; kill your parents.” I tried hard. My parents lived on the East Coast in an all-white community, so I fled to California and lived among African-Americans. Dad was career Navy, so I dodged the draft and joined peace marches. He drove a Chevy, so I puttered in my VW bug. He ate Wheaties; I ate granola. He had short military hair; mine hung to my shoulders. He ensconced in suburbia; I crashed at any commune with an empty couch.

Meanwhile, back in the Redwoods--confused but grateful--I hopped into the Cadillac beside my aging hippie wannabee and we sped away. Quickly, the generation gap closed as together we mocked “capitalist militarism” and traded radical political views.
“My wife should have dinner ready by now,” my host interjected after a few miles, “want to come up to our place and crash for the night?” Having no other pressing plans, I shrugged. “Sure.” Another word to my younger readers: Don’t try this today.
Hours later, as we sat organically-fed and chatting cross-legged on the floor of his A-frame, my new friend hospitably lit up a joint and offered it to me. My body has never tolerated mood-altering substances well—at my first beer in college I slid off the barstool—so I declined politely.

At that, my host’s eyes misted. “I...I’m sorry,” he managed, wiping a tear. “This is so sad. I can’t help it—I just have to tell you that you…you remind me…of my son.” "Really"?,I offered. “Why does that make you so sad?” Turning away, he lowered his eyes. “Well, my son…I mean, he’s…he’s been such a disappointment to me.” I hesitated, wondering what sort of dastardly deed this young man might have committed to prompt such grief in his father. Did he rob a bank? Murder someone? “Why…I mean, like, what did your son do?” Uneasily, I held my breath. My host sucked deeply on his cigarette, held it, and then exhaled, “He joined the Navy.”

Years later, while pastoring a church in Los Angeles, I was chatting with a rabbi friend and before long began telling him angrily how my father had disappointed me. Himself in my father’s generation and a Holocaust survivor, he listened graciously, then asked, “Why didn’t your father give you the love you needed?” After exhausting my long list of grievances—each followed by a matter-of-fact “No” from my friend—I sighed and yielded. “I guess…because he never got much love to give me.” In that humbling confession, I stepped at last beyond a boy’s blaming to a man’s taking responsibility for his future.

As “flower children,” my generation tried to escape adult restraint and recapture the innocence of childhood denied to—and therefore by--our fathers. Even as we cursed them, our cause often seemed so righteously humane and unassailably just. Dad, however, was as often unyielding. Forgiveness simply wasn’t in his vocabulary—neither to ask for nor, therefore, to give. You know why: you can’t give what you never got.

Today, long into the untrustworthy years beyond 30, I'm a father myself. Working hard to end this generational wounding, I’ve found ancient wisdom is remarkably apt. “Honor your father and mother,” as the Hebrew Commandment declares, “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). I’ve come to appreciate not only the explicit promise here, but the implied warning as well. “Whatever you don’t forgive your father for,” as an older and wiser man once cautioned me, “you’ll do to your son.”

Thankfully, even now, the times—as the hearts of men--are a-changin’. By grace, I’ve known both love and forgiveness in my adulthood. And so, long before he died last year at 93, in my heart I forgave Dad for all he wasn’t able to give me, and myself for expecting God-like perfection from him. What’s more, I visited him and asked him to forgive me for how I’d dishonored him years ago. I told him how much I respected him for struggling through overwhelming circumstances in his life. I thanked him for teaching me to question appearances, to be grateful for what you have and share it with others, to live with both faith and perseverance. Years later, I released a long-held tear at Dad’s retirement home when two little boys finally enjoyed an ice cream together as men.

However tardy and uncertain, I did my best to honor my father. For my gift this Father’s Day, therefore, I’m banking on the ancient promise. I’m asking not only to live long, but for a heart to live grateful for all I’m given. To heed the warning, I’m asking the same for my son. If the Commandment holds, that means he’ll need to honor me. Maybe I’ve helped him do that by honoring my dad.

Gordon Dalbey is the author of Healing the Masculine Soul (Thomas Nelson, 1988, 2003) and Broken by Religion, Healed by God (Civitas, 2011). A former Peace Corps Volunteer (Nigeria), high school teacher (Chicago), and pastor (Los Angeles), he holds an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and an M.A. in journalism from Stanford. A Santa Barbara resident, he speaks internationally and may be reached at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Someone recently described me as being tenacious. This word can have both positive and negative connotations. An online dictionary defines it in a generally positive way thusly: ardent, dogged, pertinacious, zealous or persistent and generally negative as obstinate, unyielding, dour, stubborn, or unregenerate. I know at least one of these synonyms doesn’t apply to me – I am not unregenerate.

As for tenacity, Lionel Deimel, an officer of the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, wrote in a post about me on his blog,“Wilson has been an uncompromising supporter of Bishop Robert Duncan’s plan for “realignment.” He has also been a strategist whose purpose has consistently been to defeat the forces of moderation and progressivism at diocesan conventions, no matter how minor the issue at hand”. And Jim Simons, rector of St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Ligonier, on his blog described me as “a strident supporter of the realignment.” Interestingly, for many years Dr. Simons and I worked together to defeat the very forces Lionel describes. It sure is interesting to see how I morphed from being an ally to being such an uncompromising and strident politico. Politics sure makes strange bedfellows!

When it comes to biblical truth and orthodox doctrine, I am doggedly uncompromising and zealous to defend it. This week I am taking a DMin course titled “Evangelical Theology for a Pluralistic Age” and taught by the Very Rev. Prof. Justyn Terry, PhD, dean of Trinity School for Ministry. He said today evangelicals have always been in conflict with the Spirit of the Age and with those in the Church who would embrace that same Spirit. Nothing is new under the sun.

One of my Anglican heroes is J C Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool in the late 19th century (pictured above). He, too, was a tenacious exponent of the evangelical faith and an ardent defender of Protestant Anglicanism yet he was said to be as pastoral a bishop as lived in that day and age. He was a zealous advocate of all the clergy of his diocese, ritualists, liberals and evangelicals alike. My friend Bruce Robison, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Highland Park has a link on his website where you can find a daily quote from the bishop, click here .

Another of my Anglican heroes is the early 19th century missionary to India, Henry Martyn. He too was known as tenacious. In fact, on his deathbed he was heard to say, "Let me burn out for God". An indication of his zeal for the things of God.

If I am ever compared to Bishop Ryle or Henry Martyn, I would consider it a high honor and I would die a happy man.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our Anglican Heritage

Pentecost Comes
A Week Early

This past Sunday June 5 was a great day to be Anglican in my world. At our eight and ten-thirty services we were blessed to hear the Rt. Rev. Rob Martin, Suffragan Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Marsabit in the far north of Kenya, preach God’s Word and pronounce God’s blessing in Swahili. Within this new diocese is the town of Sololo. Our parish, St. David’s, has provided funds for a water tower and water system for the new Anglican school located there. Sololo is about 90% muslim and/or tribal religions so they are really in missionary territory. The Rev. Deb Carr, who recently stepped down as assistant rector of St. David’s to fulfill a missionary calling, visited Sololo this past January and will return to minister for an extended stay at the end of August through early October. It was joy to hear Bishop Rob converse with our member Antony Irungu in Swahili. At our ten-thirty service our long time friend, Archbishop of the Southern Cone and Bishop of Chile, the Most Rev. Tito Zavala, attended, served with our altar prayer team and pronounced God’s blessing in Spanish. Bishop Tito was accompanied by the President and Mission Director of SAMS, Stewart Wicker, who addressed the congregation. Reflecting their global reach, SAMS now stands for Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders rather than their original name South American Missionary Society. Deb Carr will be going to the mission field as a SAMS Bridger.

After worship I attended a golf outing to benefit the Youth Ministry of Christ’s Church Greensburg at Hannastown GC. Our four man team from St. David’s finished tied for second in low gross score resulting in each of us receiving a $50. gift certificate from the pro shop. In a typical golf performance for me, I stunk out the joint but I did make a couple birdie putts for our foursome. It was very nice tract, beautiful weather, delicious BBQ ribs and chicken, great fellowship and it helped fund a well deserved need.

When I returned home, I went online and saw this great photo of a gathering in Albuquerque of the forming ACNA Diocese of the SouthWest. In the photo are old friends and former Pittsburgh clergy, Stephen Tighe, Stan Burdock, and Tom Finney as well as clergy Dan Klooster, Bishop Terence Kelshaw and Michael Kelshaw. What a joy to see the work God is doing in West Texas and New Mexico.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Schism in Lutheran church raises scriptural, financial concerns

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For the Elderton Lutheran Parish, the national church's 2009 vote to permit some gay clergy appeared to be a final sign that the denomination had pulled up its biblical roots. Last winter it left the 4.5 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for a new Lutheran body, as have seven other congregations from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod. Another four are in the process of voting to leave.

"There is no hostility toward the ELCA. Yes, it was difficult, but it was a matter of understanding who we are as children of God," said the Rev. Joyce Dix-Weiers, pastor of the two linked congregations in such a remote part of unincorporated Armstrong County that the mailing address is Shelocta, Indiana County.

"The ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was the tip of the iceberg. The question of how the church understands scriptural authority was the crux of the problem."

Read more:

A Group Called TOTTR

I wrote this piece in 2009 and came across it again today. Folks involved in the recent history of the Diocese of Pittsburgh might find it interesting --thinking especially of Jeremy Bonner a Pittsburgh based historian who wrote the most recent history of the Diocese in 2009.

Name and Brief History: The name TOTTR was originally coined early in the group’s life by the evangelical Episcopal clergymen who had begun meeting in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for support, prayer and ecclesiastical planning. Shortly after beginning to meet, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Alden M. Hathaway, upon learning about the formation of the group, exclaimed in a fit of jocularity, “Thunder on the Theological Right!” Hence the acronym TOTTR was adopted by the group as a moniker.

TOTTR as a group of clergy had been called together in the mid-1980s by William D. “Mike” Henning, then Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. Besides Mike the group was comprised of John H. Rodgers, Jr., Dean of Trinity School; Christopher Leighton, Rector of St. David’s, Peters Twp.; Mark Lawrence, Rector of St. Stephen’s McKeesport; Scott Quinn, Rector of Church of the Nativity, Crafton; and Jim Simons, Rector of St. Michael’s in the Valley Ligonier.

Callings to new ministries, over the years, changed the composition of the group. Original members John Rodgers, Scott Quinn and Jim Simons remained active when the group disbanded in September 2008. A major defining passage in the group’s history was the sad, untimely demise and death of Mike Henning due to stomach cancer in the late summer of 1994. In 1995 Jeff Mikita was elected to join TOTTR. The election of Jeff, newly ordained, was part of a strategy to disciple younger clergymen for future leadership roles in the Diocese. Jeff was the first clergyman of the group to leave TEC. He returned to the church of his childhood, the Orthodox Church and was re-ordained as an Orthodox priest a few years after joining.

From the late 1990s through its disbanding in 2008 TOTTR nominated or supported the nomination of every person, lay and ordained, elected to the diocesan Board of Trustees, to the Standing Committee, and as a General Convention Deputy. TOTTR also developed and implemented a strategy within the electing convention to insure the election of a conservative bishop in 1995.

A divergence of opinion in the group began in the fall of 2004 over the future of our evangelical witness within the Episcopal Church. Could we grow or even maintain such a witness in face of the liberal ascendancy and the onslaught of revisionism in TEC? At a meeting in the fall of 2004 all ten members agreed that TEC had no ability to reform itself but we differed however on whether to support George Werner in the upcoming diocesan elections for the General Convention deputation. In an interview as President of the House of Deputies George stated he had voted to consent to the election of the openly homosexual, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Only three of the members pledged to support George. George was not elected as a deputy or alternate.

The divergence surfaced again in the spring of 2007 over the issue of diocesan realignment. Six members supported separating from TEC and four members did not. TOTTR tried to maintain group cohesion in the midst of these differences but the gulf between the re-aligners and the non re-aligners widened. Increasingly the two factions acted more and more independently. The group decided after a particularly painful gathering in May 2008 to cease meeting. A farewell dinner was held at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier in September 2008

When the group ceased meeting its membership consisted of John, Scott, Jim, Geoff Chapman, Rector of St. Stephen’s Sewickley; Brad Wilson, Rector of Fox Chapel Episcopal Church; Jeff Murph, Rector of St. Thomas Oakmont; Peter Moore, retired Dean of Trinity School; Jim Shoucair, Rector of Christ Church North Hills, David Wilson, Rector of St. David’s, Peter’s Twp and Mark Zimmerman, Rector of Somerset Anglican Fellowship.

Purpose: The purpose of the group had been two-fold; to meet together 4-5 times per year for mutual support, edification and prayer and to work to maintain and expand a united evangelical witness and ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and in the wider Anglican Church.

Covenant: In order to accomplish the aforementioned purpose of TOTTR each member of the group pledged to maintain, as far as possible and under the grace of God, the following terms:

1. To attend the all mutually agreed upon gatherings from start to finish when able. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching". (Hebrews 10:25)

2. To care for each other by prayer through spiritual, emotional, pastoral and physical support between and during our gatherings. "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith". (1 Thess 3:10)

3. To come prepared to share personal, family and ministry cares, concerns, victories and defeats in an honest, open and transparent fashion. (In order to maintain an equitable time for each to share, this may mean committing our sharing points to paper beforehand.) "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace". (Ephesians 2:13-15)

4. To maintain as confidential all interactions unless released to do by the group or individual concerned."It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings". (Proverbs 25:2)

5. To agree to act in concert, when necessary, to maintain and expand a united evangelical witness and ministry in our diocese and the wider church. "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it". (Titus 1:9) "I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints". (Jude 3)

6. To pursue lives that are marked by Christian spiritual growth, especially by a whole-life surrender to the Lord Jesus, by holiness of character, by humility towards God, by faithfulness in family and ministry, and by genuine love towards all. "In our time together we will be ready to give and receive encouragement towards these ends. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend". (Proverbs 27.17)

TOTR Roster

Original Members

Mike Henning – died 1994
John H. Rodgers, Jr. - ACNA Diocese Pgh
Christopher Leighton – left diocese 1994
Mark Lawrence – left diocese 1997
Scott Quinn – TEC Diocese Pgh
Jim Simons – TEC Diocese Pgh

Subsequent Members

Doug McGlynn – elected 1992, left diocese 2003
Brad Wilson – elected 1992, left diocese 2009
Jeff Mikita – elected 1995, left TEC 2000
Jeff Murph – elected 1995, TEC Diocese Pgh
Geoff Chapman – elected 1995, ACNA Diocese Pgh
Peter Moore – elected 1996, left diocese 2008
David Wilson – elected 2000, ACNA Diocese Pgh
Jim Shoucair – elected 2003, TEC Diocese Pgh
Mark Zimmerman - elected 2005, ACNA Diocese Pgh


Dr. Jeremy Bonner comments here

Rev. Philip Wainwright comments here