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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Penn State, Blogging and Me

I am a Penn State alum (BA History 1973), and my wife Gale and Son Greg are also Penn Staters. Only daughter Hannah went off the reservation -- and she has a better job than all of us! She is a Senior Fashion Designer at Ralph Lauren And I love the Penn State Nittany Lions. Until recently my ring tone on my cell phone was the Penn State Fight Song-- Roar, Lions, Roar! I am saddened disgusted, angry and flabbergasted at the recent events that have come to light at my alma mater. I am almost ashamed to say I attended PSU.

That being said, it has forced me to do some soul searching. I have to question how I spend my time for Christ. Does my blogging edify Him and build His Kingdom? Would my time be better spent building up my parish and raising up new leaders and evangelists? The answer to me is a no-brainer. I will be mothballing the blog at least for the foreseeable future. Thanks to all who have posted.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peace of Mind: Both Priceless and Price-less

My friend Bruce Robison of the TEC-Pgh Diocese informed me in a comment on my blog entry,“The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh" that the more liberal candidate Moni McIntyre defeated the more conservative candidate Jim Shoucair in the clergy order for the open slot on the Standing Committee by a one vote margin. This makes Bruce the only “conservative” cleric left on that TEC-Pgh body. Moni, Leslie Reimer and George Werner are the other priests. In 2009 three of the four Standing Committee clergy were conservative, now three of four are liberal. And Jim is probably among the most, if not the most respected of the conservative clergy in the TEC-Pgh diocese. And if he can't get elected, well . . . .! Bruce has said that electing Jim or Moni makes little difference, they were both very respected and supported. Maybe little difference for TEC-Pgh but perhaps a big difference for us.

It seems Jim Simons’ Grand Scheme for Pittsburgh to be a voice of orthodoxy in TEC has, in three short years, run out of gas. All I can say to the conservatives in TEC-Pgh: "How’s staying in working for you?" Other than ensuring a continuing national voice for Dr. Simons, I am not sure you gained much.

Bishop Price in his recent letter said: “the Episcopal Diocese will continue to invite all former Episcopalians to return to active participation in the Episcopal Church, and will continue to reassure all ACNA congregations who may be receptive to this message of reconciliation that if they did choose this path there would be no repercussions.” While I appreciate Bishop Price’s sentiment, I don’t agree that returning to the Episcopal Church represents a biblical understanding of reconciliation, as I understand it. Reconciliation is based on mutual respect and recognition. Offering us reconciliation while refusing to recognize our diocese and insisting on disaffiliation is disingenuous at the very least.

To put the shoe on the other foot, I could just as easily say to Jim Shoucair and the other conservatives in TEC-Pgh. "Let's be reconciled. You’re more than welcome to realign into the ACNA and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh even now. We miss you and we still love you! And we won't charge you anything nor will there be any repercussions either". That, however, is where the similarity ends. We don't claim your parishes property and never have and never will.

Please know our diocese not only has put the Episcopal Church in the rearview mirror, for many they’ve thrown that rearview mirror away. It’s all behind us and we’re ever moving forward – we’ve never been better. So come on over you won’t regret it one bit. You just have to get over not having that Cadillac pension plan and perhaps not being able to keep your buildings. It’s costly in that sense but you can never put a price tag on the peace of mind that will come your way.

UPDATED: Darien Church Seeks Judgment in Dispute with Episcopal Connecticut Diocese

Christopher Leighton the rector of St Paul's Darien has been my friend for over thirty years and is the former rector of the parish I pastor, St David's. He served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for over fifteen years.

Darien Church Seeks Judgment in Dispute with Episcopal Connecticut Diocese

November 5, 2011

St. Paul's Church, Darien, is seeking the advice of the Connecticut Superior Court at Stamford, in a declaratory judgment action regarding the legitimacy of a trust that the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut claims it has regarding the Parish's Darien church grounds and assets.

In a recent letter to St. Paul's, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, the Bishop of Connecticut, stated that St. Paul's property is being held in trust by the Diocese and the national Church, a reference to a church law known as the Dennis Canon. That canon law was not adopted until 1979 by the General Convention of the American Episcopal Church.

The filing in the Superior Court specifically seeks to know the details of the purported theocratic trust, in particular the identity of its beneficiaries, and whether it may be enforced since it is a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. The legal issue to be determined is whether a civil court should regard a religious document as taking precedence over a parish's legal deed when a theological dispute arises. The issue brings into play the neutrality of the legal system in church matters, as well as the rights of parishioners as citizens, to determine their own course without government interference. The Parish contends that a theocratic trust cannot be enforced because to do so would violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article Seventh of the Connecticut Constitution.

St. Paul's, for its part, takes the position that it remains an "Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion" as it has for 53 years. The Parish's legal request comes in the context of a worldwide dispute, in which most Anglicans and many Episcopalians in Communion with them, including St. Paul's Parish, have affirmed themselves to be in sharp and basic disagreement with the American Episcopal Church regarding issues of faith and morals. The divisions in the Communion are over the role of Christ in achieving salvation and recent actions which would compel acceptance of minority views on human sexuality and the use of churches for performing same sex marriages.

St. Paul's Church holds a distinctive place in the history of the American church as a harbinger of spiritual renewal in an era of mounting secularism. Detailing this role, was a 1980 book by Bob Slosser, titled Miracle in Darien. The Parish now seeks to stay focused on its historic mission. It still desires to work in good faith with Bishop Douglas and any visitor designated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to help effect an amicable resolution of the legal issues.

The Rev. Christopher P. Leighton is the rector of St. Paul's. Fr. Christopher, a charismatic joined St. Paul’s in October, 1998, as the church’s fourth Rector. He is a native of Boston, Massachusetts.

UPDATE: The Anglican Curmudgeon comments on historic context and legal issues here

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is being held today by two diocese, the TEC-Pgh diocese and the ACNA Diocese. No matter to me as I am sure they are much different gatherings but both well intended.

Our ACNA diocese welcomed 21 new parishes, congregations and congregations in formation to be part of our goodly fellowship. We now stand at 82 congregations. the largest we've ever been, even before the minority of parishes that left us in 2008.

It was awesome to have folks from far and wide --nothing like diversity within unity! This morning Gale and I ate breakfast at the Comfort Inn in East Greensburg where we stayed with the white female pastor of an African American parish in Cleveland OH, the Rev Connie Harris. I have known Connie since the early 1990s when we attended a PEWSAction Renewal Conference in Virginia Beach. They just left their building in downtown Cleveland and are starting over in another former Methodist Church nearby. The new church is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, which Connie said was a sign to her people that God was directing their move. She told me the Senior Warden recalled the words of Martin Luther King Jr when they left: "Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty we're free at last!"

We began our gathering last night with an awesome service of Holy Communion led by Bishop Duncan in the basilica at St Vincent's College. Even this Anglican Protestant was impressed with the facility and the blended worship. It was truly the convergence of the three streams of Anglicanism --charismatic, catholic and evangelical. The convention banquet followed. We were shoehorned into the main room of the Fred C. Rogers Center for a rather good banquet meal. (similar gatherings usually feature the rubber chicken circuit type offerings). To me it's rather humorous that two of the newest facilities at St. Vincent's are named for deceased Protestants: Presbyterian minister and TV personality Mr. Rogers and Winnie Palmer the wife of PGA golfer Arnold Palmer. Both Arnie and Fred must have given heavily to the school.

As part of the awards and acknowledgements after dinner, all the new congregations were presented with Terrible Towels --always a hoot. Bishop Louis Brant of the RC Diocese of Greensburg welcomed us and brought greetings from his people . The evening concluded with the Rt Rev Neil Lebahr, wife Marcia and former Senior Warden Harry Parsons as the keynoters, addressing us on the convention theme, "After the Exodus". Neal is the newly installed bishop of the new ACNA Diocese of the Gulf in north Florida. Marcia is a native Pittsburgher, having grown up in Sewickley. All in all a great night.

My bud Deacon Tara Jernigan has a good report on the convention here

As does friend Dr. Jeremy Bonner here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Old Chestnut: Butt Prints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

author unknown