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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10 Reasons We Have Not Reached the Unchurched

Another "right-on-target" piece from Thom Rainer 

 I am often amused when I hear myself identified as an expert in any area. If I am a perceived expert, it is because I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to thousands of people over the past few decades. They are the experts; I am little more than an interested reporter.

Though much of this information could be regarded as dismal, my ultimate assessment is not that pessimistic. I believe in the God of miracles. If my conclusions focused on human ability and goodness, I would have little hope. But my conclusions presume the God of creation is on His throne.

For now, let us focus on what is wrong. Let us look with stark honesty and candor at the ineffectiveness of most American believers when it comes to sharing their faith. And in the coming weeks, let us look at reversing the trend through God's power.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tom Rainer: Leaders Who Don't Delegate

The business leader just turned 50. He had advanced in his organization primarily through his relational skills. He was easy to like and most people felt comfortable with him. To this point in his career, his relational skills were sufficient. He had really been more of a manager than a leader. He thus depended on others to make decisions; he would carry them out with a good attitude and a good work ethic.
The First Sign of Problems
The problems began when he was promoted to a position that was clearly one of leadership. He was now expected to make decisions. He was to take initiative instead of waiting on others to move. He now had people who worked under him who waited on him to make critical decisions.
He failed. He seemed frozen in making decisions. He would not let others under him help him. He treated his new level of leadership as if he was still a manager who carried out tasks. He perceived it was his responsibility to do everything, rather than to see that everything got done.
He failed to delegate and thus he failed in his new job. Read it all
h/t to Robin Jordan of Anglicans Ablaze

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heavy Artillery: the newest Canon

This came by email yesterday from Bishop Stanley Ntagali of the Diocese of Masindi-Kitara. I am honored.  Bishop Stanley is to be enthroned as the Archbishop of the Province of the Church of Uganda on December 16.  I am slated to attend the enthronement.  
Abp Bob Duncan will be preaching.
Dear David,

You will be glad to know that today during our sixth Diocesan synod- my very last one as the Diocesan Bishop, I announced you as the honorary canon of St. Matthew's Cathedral in Masindi-Kitara Diocese. Four other clergy and a number of Lay Christians were announced as new Canons of the cathedral. They will be installed in the Cathedral on the 18th November 2012. This will be just a week before the consecration of Canon George Kasangaki as our second Bishop and my successor.  I congratulate you and thank God for you becoming our newest honorary Canon. You will be installed in absentia.

Many thanks and blessings.

Bishop Stanley 

Our Son Greg' Weds on October 27

Our son Greg and our daughter Hannah
 dancing at the reception 
Yesterday afternoon October 27 we celebrated the joining in Christian marriage our son Greg and his fiance Amanda.  Not only was it a wonderful day for them but it was for Gale, Hannah and me too.  Greg, age 35, our oldest of two children is also the first to be married.  The wedding ceremony was presided over by the Rev. Joseph Martin rector of the Anglican Church of Our Saviour in Glenshaw PA at the church.  Joseph was Greg's youth minister 20 years ago and also my seminary classmate and longtime friend going back some 25 years.  So that was a blessing as well.

Hannah and Gale looked stunning -- but you expected me to say that, after all I am the husband and dad.  The reception was held in the Rose Barn at North Park.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Measuring Our Apgar at Redeemer

On the new Pittsburgh Advance blog, Canon Mary Hays a few weeks ago featured a Christianity Today article, Your Church’s Apgar,here on measuring church health. It piqued my interest. I was much impressed with the author Kevin Miller’s development of a scale to measure congregational health much like the Apgar scale used to measure the health and viability of newborn babies. So I asked the church staff and the vestry read the article and then go-online and take the Church Apgar Assessment Survey here. That being done, we discussed our findings at the staff meeting on October 10 and the vestry meeting October 15 respectively. On a scale of 1 to 10 Miller suggests any score above 7.0 indicates a healthy church. A score of 3.5 or less indicates an unhealthy church and any score greater than 3.5 or less than 7.0 indicates a moderately healthy church.

Our staff of five averaged 4.7 with highs of 5.5 and lows of 4.0. The vestry of seven averaged 6.2 with highs of 7.5 and lows of 5.0. Taken together the combined lay and clergy leadership then averaged 5.45. A few observations: 1.) the everyday workers (the staff --which are three-fifths clergy) have a less rosy opinion of the overall health of the church than the elected lay leadership (the vestry), 2.) Both the vestry and lay leadership identified areas of concern that needed improvement and areas of successful ministry, 3.) Both groups recognized the overwhelming change the congregation has experienced in the past 18 months as the major factor that has affected all areas of congregational life.

Using the Acts 2:42-47 passage as the measure of health the vestry divided church life in the four components of the text and ranked them: the Apostle’s teaching, the breaking of the bread, fellowship and the prayers. The vestry identified parish teaching as one of the strongest areas of Redeemer Parish. We have learned lay and clergy teachers and a solid history of adult education and bible study. Interestingly the teaching this past week in our Sunday Adult Ed class led by lay teacher Kathy Bushyager and based on a DVD series by church planter, teacher and pastor Tim Keller called Gospel in Life – it’s an awesome series and I highly recommend using it --- was based directly on Acts 2:42-47.

We have many avenues for congregational prayer: Altar prayer ministry, intercessory prayer, monthly healing services, and the internet prayer chain all come to mind. Fellowship and the breaking of the bread (which we defined as large group congregational meals and gatherings such as potlucks, parish picnics, parish overnight retreats, etc.) were areas that have suffered in the realignment and relinquishment era that we’ve just been through. The vestry also agreed with me that the establishment of a viable small group ministry situated in the neighborhoods where our members live would help meet the fellowship and breaking of the bread need and improve our overall congregational health. The groups would also serve as the embryonic units for planting new churches throughout the South Hills. This was the charge Archbishop Duncan laid before us when he pronounced the formation of the Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer in the South Hills on March 25.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unity a theme at new Episcopal bishop's consecration

Amid the gothic grandeur of the consecration of a new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, a man in an overcoat and fedora suddenly held forth from the center aisle about a vision he said God had given him for a new bridge in Pittsburgh.

The speaker was the about-to-be-consecrated Bishop Dorsey Winter Marsden McConnell. The Yale-educated former actor, 58, teamed with diocesan youth to stage a parable about an engineer who couldn't persuade anyone to build his "Bridge of the Angels" but used its model to save many families from a fire that broke out amid the great Pittsburgh flood of 1936.

It brought the congregation of 1,000 to laughter and applause, and made a clear statement that Bishop McConnell is someone from whom to expect the unexpected. Bridges and unity were a running theme of the consecration, the first in Pittsburgh since a diocesan split in 2008 led by its last tenured bishop.

Read more:

Check out the bulletin at the link below.  Note the paucity of the "conservative" TEC bishops listed who attended.  Bp. Ed Little and that's it!

Download the Bulletin as a PDF here.

Archbishop Authorizes a Theological Task Force on Holy Orders

Archbishop Duncan has appointed the Rt. Rev. David Hicks, Bishop of the REC Diocese of the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic to lead a Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. The Task Force will lead the College of Bishops through a thorough study regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders.
At the inception of the Anglican Church in North America, the Lead Bishops unanimously agreed to work together for the good of the Kingdom. As part of this consensus, it was understood that there were differing understandings regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders, but there existed a mutual love and respect for one another and a desire to move forward for the good of the Church. This commitment was deeply embedded in the Constitution and Canons overwhelmingly adopted by the Inaugural Assembly (2009).
Read it all 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Billy Graham – Vote Biblical Values – Tues Nov 6

Billy Graham: Vote Biblical Values – Tues Nov 6

Billy Graham
The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

From Anglican Mainstream here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Episcopal Church takes hostile action against Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina: Declares "abandoment" from TEC; Special Convention called

I have taken this story from Baby Blue Online.  It is all over the Anglican blogosphere  

There are just no words.  From here:

On Monday, October 15, 2012, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina was notified by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that on September 18, 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops  had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church. This action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. That Convention will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Bishop Mark Lawrence
Bishop Lawrence was notified of these actions taken by the Episcopal Church between two meetings, one held on October 3 and one to be held on October 22, which Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence had set up with the Presiding Bishop to find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. The meetings were to explore “creative solutions” for resolving these issues to avoid further turmoil in the Diocese and in The Episcopal Church. A timeline of these events and their associated documents may be found below.

Two of the three charges had previously been determined by a majority vote of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in November 2011 not to constitute abandonment. The Diocese has not received a signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges.

We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt peacefully to resolve our differences.  These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Certification of Abandonment is here.  Read the documents here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

True Vine in the Mon Valley

Yesterday the clergy from our District met for lunch at our new digs – Christ the Redeemer in Canonsburg, it was a blessed time.  The Rev. John Fierro the rector of the newest Anglican parish in Western Pennsylvania, True Vine Anglican Church, gave us a report of the dedication of the building by Archbishop Duncan on Sunday October 14.  It was a great day -- over 70 Anglicans were on hand to celebrate this momentous occurrence in the life of this storied parish. 

John’s wife Shirley wrote in an email, “Glory to God! We give HIM all the praise and thanks.  Today, True Vine Anglican Church in Monongahela, PA was consecrated by Archbishop Duncan. It was a glorious occasion and we are most blessed. Alleluia!”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Divided Pittsburgh Episcopal dioceses team to support ministry for homeless, hungry

An inaccurate headline.  The Anglican and Episcopal Dioceses have not "teamed" to do anything.   And the statement on other property issues was a statement between the TEC diocese and Shepherd's Heart  --the Anglican Diocese had nothing to do with it.  

Divided Pittsburgh Episcopal dioceses team to support ministry for homeless, hungry

By Craig Smith

Published: Monday, October 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Two factions that divided the Episcopal church in Pittsburgh four years ago as part of a national schism have agreed to work together to support a ministry for homeless veterans and others in need.

An accord between the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh clears the way for Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship to take title to all property at its Uptown location and to seek a more favorable financing of its debt.

The Episcopal Diocese considers the ministry of paramount importance, spokesman Rich Creehan said.
Attorney Andrew Fletcher, representing the Anglican Diocese, could not be reached for comment.

Shepherd’s Heart, which joined the Anglican Diocese, feeds the hungry, homeless, poor and addicted. The second floor of the church at Pride Street and Forbes Avenue includes 15 beds, a kitchen, living room, showers and a computer room. It provides transitional housing for homeless veterans.

An estimated 500 to 600 veterans are homeless on any given night in Allegheny County, said Michele Margittai, director of development and community relations at Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, a South Side nonprofit that helps veterans and their families.

Theologically conservative members of the Episcopal diocese left to form the Anglican diocese in 2008 because of the church’s stance on abortion and the ordination of a gay bishop.

“Fights in the Episcopalian/Anglican world are increasing, not decreasing,” said Bryan T. Froehle, professor of practical theology at St. Thomas University. “But doing things together like this is a good sign. … Doing some common outreach/community service efforts is terrific and to be celebrated.”

A joint statement from the two sides said the agreement shouldn’t be interpreted as a step toward mending their rift, and they continue to resolve property issues on a parish-by-parish basis. The agreement needs court approval.

The Episcopal Church USA contends parishes that leave forfeit control of church buildings and other assets. Those who broke away from the church argue that diocesan property belongs to the people who built and maintain it.Courts have upheld the church’s position.

Shepherd’s Heart began in summer 1993 as a mission program without a home. The Rev. Michael Wurschmidt, then a seminarian at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, was taking food, coffee, blankets and clothing to the homeless and needy. The first Sunday night service was in a storefront in 1995. Shepherd’s Heart moved to its current location, a former Roman Catholic Church, in 1999.
“More than 140 community partners, including 100 churches of all denominations, work alongside us in this ministry,” Wurschmidt said in a statement.

Though the Episcopal Diocese no longer will guarantee payment of Shepherd’s Heart loans when refinancing is completed, the diocese will leave its equity in the property in place as an investment for as long as the homeless ministry continues, the diocese said.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Christ Our Hope Anglican Church New Kensington PA

St. Andrew's New Kensington has changed its name!  It is now Christ Our Hope Anglican Church.   The rector, the Rev. John Bailey, signaled in the September 2012 edition of St. Andrew's parish newsletter "The Prophet" that a change was in the works. Click here and scroll to page 3.

Apparently on September 16 at a Parish Meeting (mentioned in the above referenced newsletter) this change was made.  The name change was made public in the Bishop's Visitation Schedule for December 2, 2012 published in the latest E+News and posted on the diocesan website.  Click here


Howdy Partner!

While formatting the story about Shepherd’s Heart and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh which was posted on the EDOP website, I came across the schedule for the Consecration of the new Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh next Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20. Click on link here

The meeting and lunch on Friday at St. Andrew’s Highland Park are listed for “clergy/spouses and partners”.  What does that mean?   Is this the new and improved Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh?  Dramatic and swift change for sure!  

TEC Settles with Shepherd's Heart

UPDATED:  10/12/2012

The following was posted on the TEC Pittsburgh website.  The key sentence in the entire posting for the parishes of the ACNA diocese is underlined and in bold.  

 Agreement Affirms Commitment to Shepherd’s Heart Homeless Ministry

The following is the text of a Joint Statement issued October 9, 2012, by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship:

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship are pleased to announce an agreement to promote and sustain Shepherd's Heart's ministry to the homeless, military veterans, and others in similar need, and to enable the Episcopal Diocese to have a lasting investment and involvement in that ministry.

Key features of the agreement pave the way for Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship to take full title to all property at its present location at Pride Street and Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood, including the portion of that property currently held by the Episcopal Diocese, and allow Shepherd’s Heart to seek a more favorable financing of its debt on this property. While the Episcopal Diocese will no longer guarantee payment of those loans once the refinancing occurs, the Episcopal Diocese will leave the value of the current equity in the property in place as an investment in the ministry of Shepherd’s Heart, for as long as its outreach to the homeless continues. 

The agreement builds on a long-standing support of the Shepherd’s Heart ministry by many parishes of the Episcopal Diocese, who, along with individual parishioners, regularly donate, prepare and serve meals to the Shepherd’s Heart congregation.  This has continued in spite of differences over whether Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship validly withdrew from the Episcopal Church in October 2008 and is now part of the Anglican Church in North America.  The agreement sets this issue aside in favor of mutually serving the homeless, the poor, and the addicted.  Both parties recognize the new relationship between the Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship is not of an ecclesiastical nature, such as would normally exist between a diocese and a parish, but one of cooperation and collaboration in a specialized ministry.  Because of this unique use of the Shepherd’s Heart property, the parties have agreed that this agreement should not be interpreted as a model for resolving other property disputes.

"More than 140 community partners, including 100 churches of all denominations, work alongside us in this ministry to homeless veterans and other homeless men and women of our region.  We were founded in 1993 and are grateful for this agreement and for the service of all of our partners," said the Rev. Michael Wurschmidt, Rector of Shepherd’s Heart and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“Our Lord commands all of us to love and serve the poor, so we are grateful to the Shepherd’s Heart clergy and lay leaders who built up this ministry, and we are happy to become a permanent part of their mission,” said Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr., of the Episcopal Diocese.

This agreement is subject to the approval of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the requirements of the Pennsylvania Nonprofit Corporation Code.  The Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship will jointly seek all necessary clearances from the civil authorities.

In working together to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the poor, the Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship humbly seek to be the “repairers of the breach” as described by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “If you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday.  And the Lord will continually guide you.” (Isaiah 58:10-11)

click here