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Thursday, November 29, 2012

TULIP and Reformed Theology: Total Depravity

By R C Sproul 

The doctrine of total depravity reflects the Reformed viewpoint of original sin. That term—original sin—is often misunderstood in the popular arena. Some people assume that the term original sin must refer to the first sin—the original transgression that we’ve all copied in many different ways in our own lives, that is, the first sin of Adam and Eve. But that’s not what original sin has referred to historically in the church. Rather, the doctrine of original sin defines the consequences to the human race because of that first sin.


Virtually every church historically that has a creed or a confession has agreed that something very serious happened to the human race as a result of the first sin—that first sin resulted in original sin. That is, as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, the entire human race fell, and our nature as human beings since the fall has been influenced by the power of evil. As David declared in the Old Testament, “Oh, God, I was born in sin, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). He was not saying that it was sinful for his mother to have borne children; neither was he saying that he had done something evil by being born. Rather, he was acknowledging the human condition of fallenness—that condition that was part of the experience of his parents, a condition that he himself brought into this world. Therefore, original sin has to do with the fallen nature of mankind. The idea is that we are not sinners because we sin, but that we sin because we are sinners.

In the Reformed tradition, total depravity does not mean utter depravity. We often use the term total as a synonym for utter or for completely, so the notion of total depravity conjures up the idea that every human being is as bad as that person could possibly be. You might think of an archfiend of history such as Adolf Hitler and say there was absolutely no redeeming virtue in the man, but I suspect that he had some affection for his mother. As wicked as Hitler was, we can still conceive of ways in which he could have been even more wicked than he actually was. So the idea of total in total depravity doesn’t mean that all human beings re as wicked as they can possibly be. It means that the fall was so serious that it affects the whole person. The fallenness that captures and grips our human nature affects our bodies; that’s why we become ill and die. It affects our minds and our thinking; we still have the capacity to think, but the Bible says the mind has become darkened and weakened. The will of man is no longer in its pristine state of moral power. The will, according to the New Testament, is now in bondage. We are enslaved to the evil impulses and desires of our hearts. The body, the mind, the will, the spirit—indeed, the whole person—have been infected by the power of sin.

I like to replace the term total depravity with my favorite designation, which is radical corruption. Ironically, the word radical has its roots in the Latin word for “root,” which is radix, and it can be translated root or core. The term radical has to do with something that permeates to the core of a thing. It’s not something that is tangential or superficial, lying on the surface. The Reformed view is that the effects of the fall extend or penetrate to the core of our being. Even the English word core actually comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart.” That is, our sin is something that comes from our hearts. In biblical terms, that means it’s from the core or very center of our existence.

So what is required for us to be conformed to the image of Christ is not simply some small adjustments or behavioral modifications, but nothing less than renovation from the inside. We need to be regenerated, to be made over again, to be quickened by the power of the Spirit. The only way in which a person can escape this radical situation is by the Holy Spirit’s changing the core, the heart. However, even that change does not instantly vanquish sin. The complete elimination of sin awaits our glorification in heaven.

From here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Established Churches and Inward Drift

By Thom S. Rainer

All organizations tend to lose their focus and forget their original purposes over time. I call this almost imperceptible movement “inward drift.” The attitude becomes one of protecting the way we’ve always done it rather than looking back to the original purposes and reasons for existence. Numbers of stagecoach businesses failed, for example, because they thought their primary purpose was to make stagecoaches rather than to provide reasonable and rapid transportation.

The primary dangers with inward drift are twofold. First and foremost, the organization can forget the very reason it was created. Second, the drift is often imperceptible. Many organizations don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late.

When Inward Drift Comes to Church

Local congregations are not immune from inward drift. To the contrary, the vast majority of churches in North America are likely in crisis because of the negative impact of inward drift.

Some of the labeling of congregations is unfortunate. Particularly, when we speak of “traditional churches” or “contemporary churches,” we rarely come to consensus on a clear definition. My son, Sam Rainer, popularized the term “established churches,” a term I prefer to use today. An established church is simply a church that has been in existence for a few years and is thus susceptible to inward drift. Indeed most any church three years or older will likely begin to experience some of the symptoms of inward drift.

When an organization such as a for-profit business begins to experience inward drift, it will change or die within relative short order. The marketplace will not buy its goods or services if the company doesn’t address the needs and the hearts of the consumers.

An established church, however, can exist for years and even decades with inward drift. The church may not be making disciples. It may not be reaching the community and the nations with the gospel. But it continues to exist more as a religious social club than a true New Testament church. Its members and constituents are willing to fund the congregation since it meets their perceived needs and desires.

Signs of Inward Drift in Established Churches

The signs of inward drift in an established church are clear even though the members don’t often recognize them:

Most of the ministries and programs are focused on meeting the desires and needs of the members.

The budget of the congregation is directed primarily at funding the projects and even comforts of the members.

Conflict in the congregation is not uncommon since members are more concerned about getting their perceived needs and desires met.

There is little to no focus on evangelism, reaching out to the community, and getting the gospel to the nations.

Leadership is weak and reticent to address the problems, because that leadership emphasis could disrupt the status quo.

Addressing the Issue of Inward Drift in the Church

I recently drove through my hometown. I lived in the same house and the same town for my first eighteen years of life. But it had been more than a decade since I visited the town. I was shocked. Businesses on the main street were closed. Some were boarded.

Many of the homes I knew and loved had deteriorated greatly. The major industries had exited and left large vacant buildings. It was almost a ghost town.

Someone who had never left the town, though, told me that things were really going well there. They were serious when they said it had not changed much since I left. For me, the change was stark and shocking. For him, it was slow and imperceptible. When we fail to see the deterioration that is taking place, we will not see the need to make changes to reverse the course.

Such is the crisis in many of our established churches today. And it is that imperceptible inward drift that often makes it so difficult to lead a congregation toward healthy change. In my post this coming Saturday, I will address some of the possible steps to lead an established church toward change without destroying it in the process. I hope you will join me then.

From  here 

Monday, November 26, 2012

TULIP and Reformed Theology: An Introduction

From  R C Sproul 

Just a few years before the Pilgrims landed on the shores of New England in the Mayflower, a controversy erupted in the Netherlands and spread throughout Europe and then around the world. 

It began within the theological faculty of a Dutch institution that was committed to Calvinistic teaching. Some of the professors there began to have second thoughts about issues relating to the doctrines of election and predestination. As this theological controversy spread across the country, it upset the church and theologians of the day. Finally, a synod was convened. Issues were squared away and the views of certain people were rejected, including those of a man by the name of Jacobus Arminius.

The group that led the movement against orthodox Reformed theology was called the Remonstrants. They were called the Remonstrants because they were remonstrating or protesting against certain doctrines within their own theological heritage. There were basically five doctrines that were the core of the controversy. As a result of this debate, these five core theological issues became known in subsequent generations as the “five points of Calvinism.” They are now known through the very popular acrostic TULIP, which is a clever way to sum up the five articles that were in dispute. The five points, as they are stated in order to form the acrostic TULIP, are: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

I mention this historical event because it would be a serious mistake to understand the essence of Reformed theology simply in light of these five doctrines—the Reformed faith involves many other elements of theological and ecclesiastical confession. However, these are the five controversial points of Reformed theology, and they are the ones that are popularly seen as distinctive to this particular confession. Over the next five posts, we are going to spend some time looking at these five points of Calvinism as they are spelled out in the acrostic TULIP.

From here

The Rev Harold Lewis Rector of Calvary Church Pittsburgh Retires

When the Rev. Harold T. Lewis became rector of the mostly white and wealthy Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside in 1996, the city was reeling from racial turmoil, and Father Lewis, who is African-American, was expected to be a leader in addressing social injustice.

But circumstances have led him to retire as a renowned advocate for Episcopal canon law.

Five years before the 2008 schism in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, he filed a lawsuit to stop anyone from taking property out of the Episcopal Church.

"If you had asked me when I was ordained ... if I would ever sue my bishop, I would have said you were crazy," said Father Lewis, 65, who retired Sunday.

Read it all:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I've Come to Understand and Believe

I surrendered my life to Christ in 1981 in the context of attending an Episcopal Church.  Fortunately it was pastored by a deeply committed evangelical and spirit-filled priest Christopher Leighton and his equally committed evangelical assistant Larry Hill. see here and here.   My wife and I came to Christ and became equally committed to evangelical Christianity with a charismatic strain.  It served us well. 

During my subsequent ministry as Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, as Director of Administration and Finance at the South American Missionary Society (SAMS) and as a student at Trinity School for Ministry my evangelicalism grew in depth and understanding.   Raised as a 1950s mainline Methodist and later involved in the “decision theology” of American style evangelism, I leaned toward Arminianism as opposed to reformed theology (Calvinism). 

After graduation from TSM, ordination and some time as a parish pastor, I was exposed to the radical grace and the difference between law and grace as promulgated by then Trinity Dean Paul Zahl.  Paul had me read On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard Forde.  Reading it was eye-opening and like fresh water for a thirsty soul.   It renewed my belief in salvation through grace alone by faith alone, and the atoning work of Christ on the cross,

Further, I began to realize I was really a reformed Anglican, convinced by the teachings of the continental reformers Luther and Calvin and Anglican reformers such Cramer, Latimer, and  Ridley, and Anglican evangelicals such as Ussher, Lightfoot, Moule, Ryle, Stott and Packer.  Although I have great respect for John Wesley as an evangelist, I cannot buy the cooperative aspect of Wesleyanism.   For me it’s all God --- he doesn’t need our help.     
Lately I have been listening and reading the works of present day reformed preachers and teachers R C Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper and Tim Keller.  They have cemented my beliefs in reformed theology. 

For the next while I will be reposting a series of six short articles by R C Sproul posted on his blog Tabletalk about the essence of reformed theology through the lens of TULIP.  It succinctly explains what I have come to understand and believe.                         

Christ the King Sunday

Today we celebrated Christ the King Sunday at Christ the Redeemer.  Our preacher was Christopher P. Leighton the second rector of our former parish St. David’s and now rector of St. Paul’s Darien CT.   At our eight o’clock service we sang music themed for the occasion, the old Fisherfolk tune “Jesus is Our King” and hymns “Come Thou Almighty King” and “Crown Him With Many Crowns” yet to break up the theme a bit "O Christ the Same Through All Our Story's Pages" to the familiar Irish tune Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) was offered as an anthem by David Ball during communion. 

During the Adult Ed hour Christopher and Janet and Gale and I shared of our history together at All Saints’ Aliquippa from an evangelistic perspective and Christopher and Janet shared about their evangelistic outreach to the neighboring community of Norwalk CT.  Christopher shared about their planting of 10 “Anglican mission stations” (outside of TEC) scattered throughout the state of Connecticut.  St. Paul’s has also brought litigation in the state courts to determine the legality of the imposed trust of the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in Connecticut.   This is because St. Paul’s property is valued at $12 million and the Diocese of Connecticut and TEC is not going to willingly relinquish a claim to it and in favor of their congregation.    

At the 10:30 service at the end of his sermon Christopher made an appeal for those who would like to surrender to Christ the King to stand –the whole congregation stood.  He then asked those who’ve done this for the first time to raise their hands and five did so.  Praise God!  It will be our job to follow up these commitments and we surely will.   All in all it was a great Sunday. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Thanksgiving at the Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer in the South Hills
 The Anglican Yinzer wishes you a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.
We all have much to be thankful for. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Churches

Yesterday afternoon Don Bushyager and I attended the gathering of 75 or so folks at True Anglican Church in Monongahela for a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the opening of their new church building on East Main Street.  In addition to Don and me, Anglican clergy from Brownsville and Uniontown attended as well as the Church of Christ, Methodist,  and two Baptist clergy from Monongahela.  It was a pleasant surprise to see old friends and erstwhile Anglicans, Darrin and Trish Ford, from Donora among other guests from the community.   

The Holy Spirit was present and active!  We listened to readings from Holy Scripture, prayed and sang a combination of staid Anglican hymns like "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus", old gospel hymns like "It is Well"  and "His Eye in on the Sparrow" and renewal choruses from the 1980s like "Glorify Thy Name" and "Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place".  And the Rector, John Fierro, preached with fire in his belly!   The service was a real testimony to the hard work and commitment to the gospel by the people of the former St Paul’s Church who left everything behind and moved into the former Italian Social Club.  It was also evident this came to pass in large part because of  John's 14 years of faithfully preaching the gospel and lovingly caring for the people in his charge.  Church leadership guru, John Maxwell, in an oft quoted phrase sums up John's ministry in the Mon Valley,  "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  John cares and his people care for him and they follow his leadership.  

As we drove through Monongahela on West Main Street we passed by St Paul’s Episcopal Church.  The sign in front proclaimed: “Open to All  -  Closed to No One”.   This seems to be the meme of the congregations occupying former Anglican properties.  For example, our former electronic sign at St David’s often flashes:  “St David’s Warmly Welcomes All”.   They seem to be suggesting that the Anglican parishes somehow don't welcome everyone to their churches and now somehow the newly occupying Episcopalians have corrected that alleged deficiency.  

Last Saturday Bishop Mark Lawrence in his speech to the Special Convention of the  Diocese of South Carolina explained this mistaken perspective quite clearly:  “But I must say this again and again. This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church.  Its about what we shall tell them about Jesus Christ, his mercy, his grace and his truth – it is about, what we shall tell them when they come and what we shall share when we go out.”

Just sayin',  DDW

Saturday, November 17, 2012

SC Special Convention Overwhelmingly Affirms Departure from TEC

Worth Reading the Entire Address - DDW+

The following address was given by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina, at St. Philip's Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith….”  Hebrews 12:1—2a

When this Diocese last met in a convention at St. Philip’s, it was September 16h, 2006.  I was one of three candidates for the XIV Bishop of South Carolina.  In my opening address the week before, I spoke these words to the assembled clergy and laity:  “We meet this morning in this lovely city of Charleston.  Inside the walls of this great old historic edifice—we can only hope the wisdom of the years might seep into our minds that we might rightly appreciate the present, and more importantly imagine an even greater future for tomorrow.”  I purposely referenced the past, present and future in this opening sentence.  So too we meet here today, our hands reaching back to bring the rich heritage of the past with us and with our feet firmly placed in the present—and with our hearts seeking God’s grace for an even greater future for tomorrow we are facing reality as it is, not as it was nor as we wish it were, but as it is.  Before, however, turning our minds to consider the future, I need to say word about what in recent years we have come through.  For since that day on September16th this Diocese and I have passed through two consent processes for Bishop, and two Disciplinary Board procedures for Abandonment of the Communion of The Episcopal Church—the last without our even knowing it and while we were seeking a peaceable way through this crisis.    I have not done the research but I suppose two consent processes and two disciplinary board procedures is and may well remain unique in the annuals of the Episcopal Church.  You may remember that during that stormy first consent process I stated that:  “I have lashed myself to the mast of Jesus Christ and will ride out this storm wherever the ship of faith will take me.”  Well it brought me two years later here to the marshes and cypress swamps of the Low Country.  Where many of your relatives landed centuries before—some searching for wealth and others herded like cattle in the hulls of ships.   During these past years I have grown to love this land, set down roots in your history and, even more to our purpose, become one with you in a common allegiance to Jesus Christ, his Gospel, and his Church.  

Consequently, I trust you will understand that I have strived in these past five years, contrary to what some may believe or assert, to keep us from this day; from what I have referred to in numerous deanery and parish gatherings as the Valley of Decision.  There is little need to rehearse the events that have brought us to this moment other than to say—it is a convergence of Theology, Morality, and Church Polity that has led to our collision with the leadership of the Episcopal Church.  I hope most of our delegates and clergy who have heard me address these matters know in their hearts and minds that this is no attempt to build gated communities around our churches as some have piously suggested or to keep the hungry seeking hearts of a needy world from our doors.  Rather, let the doors of our churches be open not only that seekers may come in but more importantly so we may go out to engage the unbelieving with the hope of the gospel and serve our communities, disdaining any tendency to stand daintily aloof in self-righteousness.    Indeed, let us greet every visitor at our porch with Christ and while some of our members stand at open doors to welcome, still others will go out as our Lord has directed into the highways and byways of the world—across seas and across the street—with the Good News of a loving Father, a crucified-yet-living Savior and a community of wounded-healers learning, however falteringly, to walk in step with His Spirit.   Let not God’s feast go unattended.  This is our calling and our mission. 

But I must say this again and again. This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church.  Its about what we shall tell them about Jesus Christ, his mercy, his   grace and his truth – it is about , what we shall tell them when they come and what we shall share when we go out.

We have spent far too many hours and days and years in a dubious and fruitless resistance to the relentless path of the Episcopal Church.  And while some of us still struggle in grief at what has happened and where these extraordinary days have brought us, I believe it is time to turn the page.  The leaders of the Episcopal Church have made their positions known—our theological and creedal commitments regarding the trustworthiness of Scripture, the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ, and other precious truths, while tolerated, are just opinions among others; our understanding of human nature, the given-ness of gender as male and female, woven by God into the natural and created order, is now declared by canon law to be unacceptable; our understanding of marriage as proclaimed in the Book of Common Prayer “established by God in creation” and espoused by Anglicans around the world hangs precariously in the life of the Episcopal Church by a thin and fraying thread; and our understanding of the church’s polity, which until the legal strategy of the present Presiding Bishop’s litigation team framed their legal arguments, was a widely held and respected position in this church . Now to hold it and express it is tantamount to misconduct or worse to act upon it – is ruled as abandonment of this church.  While one might wish the theological and moral concerns were on center stage, it is the Disciplinary Board for Bishops misuse of the church’s polity that has finally left us no place to stand within the Episcopal Church.  So be it.  They have spoken. We have acted.  We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago.

While I have strived to keep us from this Valley of Decision, having walked so long in its gloom myself—once forced to decide—my allegiances are firm.     The doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them and the solemn declaration “that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary for salvation” cannot be surrendered.   Nor can we embrace the new revisions to the doctrine, discipline and worship so wrongly adopted.  Whether we could or could not have stayed longer, or continued to resist in the face of these recent innovations need not detain us further.  An unconstitutional process has weighed us in a faulty canonical balance and found us wanting.    The Presiding Bishop’s legal team having entered with coy excuses and without canonical authority into this diocese some three or more years ago, now emerges from the shadows, stepping boldly into the light of day.  We must of course address them and their actions; but should they look to reconciliation and not litigation, changing from their prior practice of speaking peace, peace while waging canonical and legal war, we shall meet with them in openness to seek new and creative solutions.  Yet let this be known, they will not detract us from Christ’s mission.  We move on.  Those who are not with us, you may go in peace; your properties intact.  Those who have yet to decide we give you what time you need.  Persuasion is almost always the preferable policy, not coercion. By God’s grace we will bear you no ill.   We have many friends among the bishops, priests and laity of the Episcopal Church, and we wish you well. Furthermore, I bear no ill toward the Episcopal Church.  She has been the incubator for an Anglican Christianity where God placed me many years ago. Rich is her heritage and regal her beauty.  When I have quarreled with her it has been a lover’s quarrel.  For many of the precious gifts she has received from prior generations she has not maintained.  And she has left no place for many of us to maintain them either.  So I say free from malice and with abiding charity we must turn the page.  And I say this as well:  to all who will continue with us:  “Let us rend our hearts and not our garments.”  Let us be careful not to poison the waters of our communities with our differences with the Episcopal Church.  Rarely have the spiritually hungry, the seeker, the unconverted or the unchurched been won for Jesus Christ through church conflicts, denominational discord, or ecclesiastical excesses.  If we are to have the aroma of Christ we must live in his grace with faith, hope, and charity.  The apostle has described it well the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness (long-suffering) and self control. Therefore, we cannot allow either personally or corporately any root of bitterness, resentment, un-forgiveness, anger or fear to take us like untied and forgotten buoys in an outgoing tide, burying our hearts and mission in some muddy marsh or to float adrift in some backwater slough.  No, we shall turn the page with hearts wide open and love abounding for the chief of sinners – which is always us. We shall move on.  Actually, let me state it more accurately.  We have moved on.  With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished:  legally and canonically.  The resolutions before you this day are affirmations of that fact.   You have only to decide if that is your will and your emotions will follow.

Following Christ the Pioneer and Perfecter of our Future

So turning the page let us take a brief look at this next chapter of the Diocese of South Carolina.  We shall need, of course, the promises and exhortations of the apostolic word.   I began this address with verses from the Letter to the Hebrews.  After surveying in the 11th Chapter of his letter the luminaries of past generations who walked by faith and not by sight—Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David and many lesser known men and women— the writer turns the page for his readers to the present and the future.  Surrounded by these witnesses or martyrs from the past these early Christians must take their place in this great narrative of salvation history.  Shedding themselves of every hindrance and clinging sins and (may I suggest perhaps things they cannot take with them) they are to press on looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of their faith.  And so must we.    

Challenges and Opportunities within the Diocese:  Much speculation has arisen now that we are out of the Episcopal Church as to where the Diocese of South Carolina is going?  I have repeatedly said at gatherings around the diocese that this question has not been a topic of serious discussion among the changing members of the Standing Committee over the years, or for that matter among the deans, or within the Council.  It needs to be state again that our time has been taken up with keeping the diocese protected, while being intact and in the Episcopal Church.  And knowing that should push come to shove we would need to be prepared for numerous contingencies, we put in place various protections.  These are now profoundly helpful:  we have a pension plan for clergy and laity; insurance possibilities for our congregations; a diocesan health insurance program.  These do not allay every sacrifice or concern by any means, but they do at least fill a void that would otherwise be unnerving and almost unmanageable for many of our clergy and congregations.   Yet work remains to be done in these areas, and will be done in a timely manner.  Our challenges in this new landscape are many.  Some rather small, and others quite enormous—but so are the advantages. 

Having chosen to persuade rather than coerce we have a great meeting place—the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  He is the one who opens the great doors or closes them.  You may recall that the risen and glorified Christ spoke to the Philadelphian church in the Revelation of St. John the Divine: “Look, behold I set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”   I believe he has opened a door for us as well.  We know how to do mission.  We know how to preach the gospel; to make disciples; to share our faith with others; to do effective youth ministry; hold on to the essential doctrines of Christ while being innovative in reaching emerging generations; We know how to plant and grow congregations.  Do we have much to learn?  You bet. Will we learn it?  We will.   I ask you to imagine if this might be true  - that perhaps the greatest congregations in this Diocese of South Carolina have yet to be grown - maybe they haven’t even been planted. Some of us are getting long in the tooth and need to learn from and make way for younger leaders.   As for me I realize how quickly it has happened:  those words of the Psalmist that once caused me to think of retired priests and elder statesmen I now apply to myself: “O God, you have taught me since I was young, /and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. /And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, /till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.”  (Psalm 71:17-18)   When did that come to be about me and not someone else? The LORD spoke to Servant-Israel regarding her witness to the world saying:  “Behold, I do a new thing—before it breaks forth I tell you of it.”  It is a time for the old to dream dreams and the young to see visions.  If we can combine prudence and dynamism we can get somewhere.   So even while we keep the richness of a residential seminary clergy track, we need to explore new ways of preparing young men and women and even middle-age ones for ministry; especially those who know how to travel light.  It is a new day and new ways of proclaiming the old truths need to be adopted.

I stated at our recent Clergy Conference that I hoped we will maintain a comprehensive Anglicanism.  Should we lose an African-American congregation we shall look at planting another.  If we lose an Anglo-Catholic parish we will pray for what God will have us do; there are those from whom we can learn from here in this area.  As for multi-racial congregations surely that is a gift whose time has come - or perhaps is past time.  Imagine what this Diocese of South Carolina can accomplish for the Kingdom of God and the Gospel if so much of our common life is no longer siphoned off in a resistance movement.  What can our diocesan and deanery gatherings become when our focus is first and foremost on our ministry at home and Christ’s mission in the world?  If we can move beyond our parish silos and into relationships that foster mutual growth and mission a new day of possibilities awaits us.  I will be calling together a task force to link stronger parishes with congregations and missions in the diocese that may suffer the loss of members due to this departure from the Episcopal Church.  If a smaller parish has lost 10, 20 or 30 percent of its membership it may not be able to afford a full time priest.  So while continuing to keep the door ajar for disaffected parishioners to return,  we need to find ways to enable that congregation to continue to support their rector or vicar; and not merely in order to keep ply wood from the windows but in order to reach their community for Christ and to grow his Church.  That is what it is about. Let’s get on with it. This will be one of our first priorities.  We also need to re-configure some of our deaneries.  Some are functioning well and others are almost defunct in offering little if any real support for clergy or for drafting cooperative work for ministry and mission.  There is room for exciting developments and opportunities here.

Let me turn to the challenges and opportunities in North American Anglicanism for a minute:  South Carolina has been and continues to be a microcosm of North American Anglicanism—with all that is good and vital, and all that is most troubling.  In an address at the Mere Anglicanism Conference last January I noted that there were some six overlapping jurisdictions within the boundaries of our diocese all making claims one way or another to being Anglican.   With the exception of this Diocese of South Carolina, the oldest of these Churches is the Reformed Episcopal Church.  There are many REC congregations throughout South Carolina.  They reach a good number of people with a vital faith and a strong Anglican tradition.  They have a goodly heritage and a seminary just up the road in Summerville.  Then there’s the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) which has until recently been the mother church of their movement at Pawleys Island.  Recently the All Saints’ Pawleys Island congregation voted to associate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).  But AMiA has still other congregations scattered across the Low Country—some with bishops and some with rectors.  Then, just this year ACNA ordained a former rector of this diocese, The Right Reverend Steve Wood, of St. Andrew’s Mt. Pleasant as the first bishop of their new Diocese of the Carolinas, which includes North and South Carolina.  St. Andrew’s offers dynamic ministry and many within this diocese have kept bridges of relationships with these brothers and sisters in Christ and for this I give thanks. There are other Anglican bodies as well, some of whose bishops I know and some I do not.  As I have stated before this is all rather un-Anglican!  All these bishops overlapping one another - but to reflect on a more positive note we ought to at least to acknowledge that South Carolina may well be the most “Anglicanized” turf in North America!  Everybody’s talking about Anglicans. You know what happens when everyone’s talking about Baptists? They grow churches. Everyone’s’ talking about Anglicans. It’s our moment!

All this might be what lies behind the question often raised at the deanery and parish forums I’ve been addressing—“Bishop, with whom will we affiliate?”  My answer has been quite simply, “For now—no one.”  As any wise pastor will tell you, if you been in a troubling, painful or dysfunctional relationship for a long period of time and then the marriage or relationship ends, you would be wise not to jump right away into the first one that comes along and tie the knot.  You’d be wise take your time.  Nevertheless, I hope we can work with and for a greater unity among the Anglican Churches within our local region and also within North America.  We have many friends and bonds of affection that unite us and along with this—a common mission, Christ’s Mission and unity will deeply assist it. A century ago a son of this diocese, William Porcher DuBose, wrote these helpful words:  “The question, How to restore and conserve Unity must go back to a prior one,--What is the Unity in question?  Let us recall and repeat  in our Lord’s own words:  ‘I will not leave you orphans; yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but ye shall see me; because I live, ye shall live also.’….If then, in all our differences we are thus able to concentrate and agree upon the one necessity of being in Christ and of being one in Him, we must not despair of some ultimate Way to it.  If we will cultivate and prepare the disposition, the will, and the purpose—God will make the Way….let us, I say, once begin on that line, and the differences that do not eliminate themselves will be turned into the higher service of deepening, broadening, and heightening the resultant Unity.”  To this end I will appoint a task force to begin contacting, praying and working with these other Anglican bodies as they are willing and as God gives us the grace we will together seek a greater Anglican Unity within South Carolina or at least within our jurisdiction.    

I recall some other challenging words from the past. Those sardonic and haunting words of William Reed Huntington, whose genius over a century ago shaped the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral:  “If our whole ambition as Anglicans in America be to continue a small, but eminently respectable body of Christians, and to offer refuge to people of refinement and sensibility, who are shocked by the irreverences they are apt to encounter elsewhere; in a word, if we care to be only a countercheck and not a force in society then let us say as much in plain terms, and frankly renounce any claim to Catholicity.  We have only, in such a case, to wrap the robe of our dignity about us, and walk quietly along in a seclusion no one will take much trouble to disturb.  Thus may we be a Church in name and a sect in deed.”  I mention these cutting words for two reasons.  I believe we need to work in two directions at the same time.  First we need to allow ourselves to draw near to the throbbing needs of the world around us.  And while maintaining the four pillars of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, we need to creatively engage our culture not with the tired arguments of the past, answering questions no one is asking, but answering those questions in the sorrowing and aspiring heart of our society.

Some years ago after the General Convention  2009 I went with a group of conservative Bishops to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. But not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket, I also made an appointment with the Bishop of London. His offices are near St. Paul’s Cathedral, and not wanting to be late for an appointment with the Bishop of London I got there a little early. Since it was raining as it often is in England, I took cover under the portico of the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you’ve been there you know it is a conjunction of many streets coming in various directions. I watched the bustling crowd. I watched the people coming and going - cars and taxis and buses  - the heartbeat of a city. And I thought to myself, “How did it happen that I’m spending all my time with these ecclesiastical problems and meetings when for most of my life my heart has been to engage the culture with the Good News of Jesus Christ?” We cannot let this happen. Christ said to go out into the hurting world. When Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail he didn’t mean the church would stand in Alamo-like fashion against the world beating down at the doors of the church, he meant his disciples would go out where people were shackled behind prison doors of pain and suffering, broken relationships, addictions, hopelessness and that these gates of hell will not stand against God’s people. That’s our call. Because it’s Christ’s call.

Finally, I turn to our place in The worldwide Anglican Communion.  Our vision since 2009 has been to Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age: Helping by God’s grace to help shape emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Just this week I mentioned in my recent Open Letter to the Diocese that we have heard from Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, and diocesan bishops from Kenya to Singapore, England to Egypt, Ireland to the Indian Ocean, Canada to Australia.  They, represent the overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion and they consider me as a faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing and they consider this diocese as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Ah friends, this has got to comfort us as we await further guidance from God regarding future affiliation. And we need to continue conversation with the Provinces and Dioceses with whom we have missional relationships.  Just yesterday I received emails from bishops in Egypt, North Africa and Ethiopia assuring us of their prayers.  I thought my gosh if those in such hard-pressed environments should take an interest and intercede on our behalf is humbling. I woke this morning to see an email from Ireland, from Bishop Clarke saying we are in his prayers.   We are not alone.  Greater are those with us than any who may be against us. 

Nevertheless, this I assure you, there shall be lengthy and thorough conversation among the clergy of this diocese—our bishops, priests, and deacons—and our lay leaders before any decision will be presented before this Convention that would ask you to associate with any Province.   I remind you of an historical fact—this diocese existed after the American Revolution for four years before it helped to fully form the Protestant Episcopal Church in these United States and before that organization was completed.  It was a fifth year before this diocese ratified that relationship at our Diocesan Convention in 1790.  So for now and the foreseeable future, having withdrawn from our association with the Episcopal Church, we remain an extra-provincial Diocese within the larger Anglican Communion; buttressed by the knowledge we are recognized as a legitimate diocese by the vast majority of Anglicans around the world.  Truly, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. 

What then in conclusion?  Having turned the page, having gazed however briefly at the next chapter, the path begins to open up before us, “… let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Founder and Perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” These resolutions you will soon have before you are first and foremost a way for you to affirm the action of disaffiliation which the Standing Committee has legally and canonically taken.  Many of you have already decided in your heart and mind how you will vote.  Others will need more time.   But I invite you for just a moment to stand on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral at the heart of the bustling city with the needs of the world, or if you prefer stand at the corner of Meeting and Broad here in Charleston or outside the Walmart in Goose Creek or Moncks Corner, or sit in a vestry meeting after having been a Rotary luncheon in Florence and lean yourself into a throbbing and hurting world. Ask yourself how long do I want to spend my time, my energy and my soul in a resistance movement that has proven so fruitless. Is it not time to get on with a ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world? So in keeping with your understanding of God’s Word, the historic teachings of Christ’s Church, and the leading of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ call to make Disciples, it is time to take stock of what you think, and in harmony with your heart and conscience to act.  May God guide us all.  

“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.”  Jude24 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One Last Reflection for Veteran's Day

The author Kris Coppinger and her husband Tim were seminary students at Trinity School for Ministry (class of 94) during my time there.  This article was posted on St Michael's Church Charleston SC website.  Kris served as a curate there shortly after ordination and before her current service as an Air Force Chaplain.

[Name deleted] Air Field, Afghanistan

I just attended my second fallen comrade ceremony. This time only one casket – one too many. I got to go inside the aircraft as part of a group and render final respects. Salute the casket, kneel to pray, salute the casket, and then march out the aircraft. The young man’s middle name was Miguel. I didn’t know him like most of the people present at the ceremony, yet we went. It was the least we could do. As I write this I feel tears welling up. He was part of the team. A week ago he was probably laughing with his friends at some forward operating base. And now this. On my way off the airfield, as I was going out through the American hospital gate, I spoke with one of the security force troops manning the post. He is leaving our [name deleted] Air Field, Afghanistan in a couple of weeks. However, since his arrival 6 months ago, he has seen about 60 of these solemn ceremonies. When I heard that, I was angry and sad and proud all at the same time. Angry at this war and man’s inhumanity to man, sad at the loss of life and the loss of innocence for way too many young people, and proud of Miguel and others like him who gave their lives and proud of those who continue to stand guard.

I also know that this is only one step of the long journey home. He will be met by another chaplain at Dover AFB, Delaware. Then by another minister or chaplain who will preside over his funeral. Lives will change forever. I want to scream, “WHY?!,” but my faith is not weakened. Yet I do not have to like what I do not claim to understand. Thanks be to God for those who still care about the ideals of equality, democracy, and a safe world who are willing to put themselves in the harm’s way so that those ideals might ultimately triumph.

“Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give you thanks for all your servants who have laid down their lives in the service of their country. Grant to them your mercy and the light of your presence; and give us such a lively sense of your righteous will, that the work which you have begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.” (A Prayer Book for The Armed Services, 2008, p. 58)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ryan 2016

It’s the Culture, Stupid


Blogger David Fischler posted the following comment on the StandFirm blog in response the question "OPEN THREAD: To what factors and large-scale trends do you attribute the loss of the elections?”  I couldn’t have said it better.  

So in response to Sarah Hey’s open thread question about the election, I said this:  I think what this election demonstrates,  more than anything else, is that we are finally and at the worst possible time reaping what we have sown over the past fifty years as cultural institutions from the public schools to the media to colleges and universities to entertainment have fallen into the hands of liberals, leftists, Marxists, secularists, and anti-religious activists. While religious, political, and cultural conservatives have been out making money or withdrawing into evangelical enclaves or bemoaning the decline in cultural standards, those who wish to fundamentally transform our society have stormed the ramparts and taken over every significant culture-forming institution. They have drilled their agenda into American heads virtually unchallenged, and now that agenda dominates the growing demographic sectors of our society, especially the young and racial/ethnic minorities.

Right under our noses, much of the population has been transformed into people who would vote for someone so completely out of touch with traditional American values as Obama, in part because they no longer know what those values are, in part because they positively reject them. Given that, it’s really no wonder they voted for him.

So, to correct James Carville, it’s been the culture, stupid, all along, not the economy after all. As people who reject Marx, we really ought to have known that.

I really hate being right sometimes: Glamour magazine has labeled the woman behind the controversial Obama campaign video equating first-time voting to losing your virginity the magazine’s “Woman of the Year.”  Glamour labels Lena Dunham, who appears on camera in the infamous video with sexual overtones, the Voice of a Generation.  Lena Dunham is a Woman of the Year because…“She’s incredibly brave, curious, and engaged…and she happened to hit on something universal. I will be tuning in forevermore,” says actress and friend Claire Danes.  Glamour, of course, is aimed at the same young women that Dunham’s ad targeted.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Year in the Life 2012

The annual video collage of pics from the parishes of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has been posted on the diocesan website.  Our parish, Christ the Redeemer South Hills, can be found at the 8:37 mark of the video.

Click here to view video:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Conservative Anglicans welcome new Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012, 13:18 (GMT)

The head of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has welcomed the appointment of Bishop Justin Welby as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a statement the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Reverend Dr Eliud Wabukala said the Fellowship's prayer for a "godly" leader "has been answered".

His appointment would give hope to those in the Anglican Communion "who long to see renewal, reform and genuine unity".

"Bishop Justin will bring to the Anglican Communion a special combination of gifts and experience. I know him as a deeply committed servant of Jesus Christ who honours the Scriptures as the Word of God and as a courageous peacemaker," the Archbishop said.

"I am confident that these qualities, together with his sustained involvement in business and finance, will enable him to articulate the lordship of Christ to a watching world as well as to a Communion in continuing disorder."

The Archbishop said, however, that it would be "unfair and misleading to suggest that one man can resolve the crisis which has beset the Anglican Communion in recent years".
Meeting in London earlier this year, the Fellowship stated its desire for the chair of the Primates Meeting to be elected by the Primates themselves.

He said: "Our proposal, while not intended to deny the honour due to Canterbury as an historic see, is an expression of the truth we hold as vital, that our identity as Anglicans stems first and foremost from adherence to the faith we confess.

"It is this which gives substance and integrity to our bonds of affection and our efforts to relieve poverty and promote development.

He added: "As the Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, I eagerly look forward to working with the new Archbishop of Canterbury as a partner in the gospel to restore much needed conviction, confidence and unity to the deeply fractured Anglican family."

From here:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Counsel on Preaching from Abp Ussher

On Preaching
Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656)
Episcopal Seal: Va mihi si non Evangelizavero.
from The Life and Times of Archbishop James Ussher 
(Green Forest: Master Books, 2005) pp. 113–115

 I       Read and study the Scripture carefully; wherein is the best learning and only infallible truth; they can furnish you with the best materials for your sermons, the only rules of faith and practice, the most powerful motives to persuade and convince the conscience, and the strongest arguments to confute all errors, heresies, and schisms. Therefore, be sure let all your sermons be congruous to them; and to this end it is expedient that you understand them, as well in the originals as in the translations.

II.     Take not hastily up other men’s opinions without due trial, nor vent your own conceits, but compare them first with the analogy of faith and rules of holiness recorded in the Scriptures, which are the proper tests of all opinions and doctrines.

III.    Meddle with controversies and doubtful points as little as may be in your popular preaching, lest you puzzle your hearers, or engage them in wrangling disputations,

IV.    Insist most on those points that end to affect sound belief, sincere love to God, repentance for sin, and that may persuade to holiness of life; press these things home to the conscience of your hearers, as of absolute necessity, leaving no gap for evasion, but bind them as close as may be to their duty; and as you ought to preach sound and orthodox doctrine, so ought you to deliver God’s message as near as may be in God’s words; that is, in such as are plain and intelligible, be in God’s words that is, in such as are plain and intelligible,  that the meanest of your auditors may understand; to which end it is necessary to back all practical precepts and doctrines with apt proofs from the Holy Scripture; avoiding all exotic phrases, scholastic terms, unnecessary quotations of authors and forced rhetorical figures, since it is

V.     Get you hearts sincerely affected with the things you persuade other to embrace, that so you may preach experimentally, and your hearers perceive that you are in good earnest, and press nothing upon them but what may tend to their advantage, and which yourself would venture your own salvation on.

VI.    Study and consider well the subjects you intend to preach on, before you come into the pulpit, and then words will readily appear themselves; yet think what you are about to say before you speak, avoiding all uncouth phantastical words or phrases; and so hinder their conversion, which is the main design of preaching. not difficult to make easy things appear hard, but to render hard things easy is the hardest part of a good orator as well as preacher. or nauseous, indecent or ridiculous express, which will quickly bring preaching into contempt and make your sermons and persons the subject of sport and merriment. or give any countenance to sin by word or deed.

VII.  Dissemble not the truth of God in any case, nor comply with the lusts of men, and so hinder their conversion, which is the main design of preaching.

VIII. But above all you must never forget to order your own conversation as becometh the Gospel, that so you may teach by example as well as precept, and that you may appear a good divine everywhere as well as in the pulpit; for a minister’s life and conversation is more heeded than his doctrine.

IX.    Yet after all this, take heed you be not puffed up with spiritual pride of your own virtues, nor with a vain conceit of your parts of abilities, nor yet be transported with the applause of men, nor dejected or discourage with the scoffs or frowns of the wicked and profane. 

Received by email from the Rev C. Bradley Wilson

Bishop: Take your faith into the voting booth

Dear Friends in Christ,

Very often over the course of the last several weeks, I’ve gotten the question: “What should I do on Election Day?” My answer is always the same: “VOTE!”

To be sure, some people might be looking for a bit more, even to the point of wanting me to tell them who the best candidate might be from my perspective, or from the perspective of the church.

That, I won’t do. That, the church won’t do. That, neither the church nor I can do. The church is not a political party nor any part of government. Neither am I. The church is not here to gain political power. Nor am I!

What the church does, what I attempt to do over and over again whether in the midst of a campaign for a president, or for a senator, or for a member of Congress, or for a governor, or for a county or a city council member, is to at best teach what we — you and I — believe, and then to encourage that we reflect that belief in the public arena and especially in the voting booth.

If we — you and I — do not bring the perspective of our faith into how we cast our ballots on Election Day, we are failing ourselves, failing our country, failing our church and failing even God! If we buy into a twisted mantra that “separation of church and state” means that the voice of faith is to be silent on public issues, or worse to buy into the schizophrenia that I can espouse one thing in church but another in the voting booth, we have accepted a second-class citizenship never intended by our Constitution, and worse an abdication of our religious freedom given to us by none other than God himself.

As bishop, my responsibility is not to tell you for whom to vote. My responsibility as your bishop is to reflect with you on the Catholic principles that must inform our political voice, our political action, our “faithful citizenship.”

The most basic principle is a commitment to uphold the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception until natural death. That principle is the primary (not a secondary, not a compromised) moral obligation to respect the dignity of every life, of every person as a unique creation of God. To do less is to give license to evil, intrinsic evil, for which we, as members of the church, bear no small responsibility.

Under this umbrella of respecting human life are these egregious attacks on human life: (1) abortion; (2) euthanasia; (3) embryonic stem-cell research; (4) human cloning. To support any of these practices and to vote for any candidate for the deliberate purpose of adding support for these attacks on human life is a denial of the sacredness of human life, and worse, an act that cooperates with evil.

At the very core of all Catholic social teaching — whether that teaching concerns issues of poverty, justice, economics, religious freedom or human rights — is the sacredness and dignity of every human life.

The church has the obligation to help build a culture where the dignity and sacredness of every person — particularly the innocent, the poor and the vulnerable — is recognized as a paramount virtue.

The Gospel does not accept silent witness to the truth because Jesus was outspoken about the truth! The church, as the body of Christ, is required:

• To speak out for innocent human life, particularly the right to life of the unborn;
• To speak out for and with the sick and the dying;
• To speak out for marriage between husband and wife, between one man and one woman, and the sacredness of the family;
• To speak out for the poor, the unemployed and the underemployed;
• To speak out for the immigrant and the imprisoned;
• To speak out for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation;
• To speak out for all who are vulnerable, hurting or suffering;
• To speak out for peace and for justice.

And, finally, and certainly not the least of it all, the church must speak out for religious freedom, whenever and wherever it is threatened, for freedom is the cornerstone of all our liberties given to us as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Religious freedom is far more than just the right to worship. It is the right to live our faith freely in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our country, in our world, and especially to give voice to our beliefs in the voting booth. No one has the right to take away that right, the right of religious liberty, even if they think they have the power to do so.

Over these last few weeks, I have tried to share with you the perspective of faith as we approach Election Day. My recent columns in the Pittsburgh Catholic, all five of them beginning with the Oct. 5 issue and ending with this week’s, looked at the many issues that describe what it means to be pro-life in a month focused on pro-life. I hope you found them helpful. (If you didn’t see them, they are available on our diocesan website at

And so again — on this Election Day: “VOTE!” And when you enter the voting booth, don’t leave your faith, don’t leave your Catholic principles and beliefs, outside. Vote with a clear understanding that you have not only the right, but the absolute duty to do so as a responsible citizen of this country and as a cherished member of this church.

What will serve our nation, no matter what the outcome of the elections, is if you and I do the best to exercise our power to vote with the power of the truth.

Godspeed! God bless you as the faithful of the Church of Pittsburgh! God bless me as shepherd of the Church of Pittsburgh! God bless the United States of America!

Grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I am

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh

From here:

Hat tip to Tara Jernigan at Free Range Anglican for this message. 

Report of the 147th Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh held at St. Stephen's Sewickley - November 2-3, 2012

The Diocesan Convention of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has evolved into the gathering Archbishop Duncan had envisioned it would be shortly after realignment.  No more floor fights, no more debates over tedious legislation, no more contested elections --- but heavy emphasis on mission, evangelism and church planting.   The business meeting on Saturday was comprised mainly of admitting over 30 parishes, mission fellowships, and mission fellowships -in-formation and hearing reports from many of these entities.  We also bid farewell to two parishes –Holy Trinity Raleigh NC which joined the new Diocese of Carolina and Transfiguration Cleveland OH which is now in the Diocese of the Great Lakes.  Next year the many parishes we have in the Upper Midwest (greater Chicago, Wisc, Minn) will form a new diocese and the parishes we have in the San Francisco Bay area will form a new diocese as well.   The Archbishop also reported we now have over 200 clergy canonically resident in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Our parish Christ the Redeemer South Hills was admitted as a new parish although the convention actually "regularlized" the action of Abp Duncan in creating the parish last March.

The convention opened on Friday afternoon with a wonderful worship service having both traditional and praise music. The Archbishop gave his convention address during the sermon time it was centered on the Scriptures.  After the banquet Marsha Tallant and Melanie Contz were recognized for their long and faithful service to the diocese.  Marsha is retiring in January 2013 and Mel retired this past June.  Our new Assistant Bishop Frank Lyons also addressed us after the banquet and focused in the continual need Christians have to be refilled with the Holy Spirit.  We are “cracked pots” and we leak!   The convention also instructed the chairman to send words of support to the Diocese of South Carolina as they gather in their special diocesan convention on November 17.