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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just Do It.

Redeemer Parish now has eight weeks of worship and ministry under its belt in Canonsburg.  The first Sunday (Pentecost - May 27) was our kick off and our largest service -- we had over 145 in worship.  One surprise visitor that day was the Rev David Rucker the rector of All Saints Anglican Church Penn Hills.  I invited him to vest and process with us and to minister at the Lord's Table.  David was moved mightily by the Holy Spirit that day and as a result proposed sending a team from his parish to be with us on Sunday to experience Holy Spirit inspired worship.  We were glad to host them but I was more than a little anxious that we might not live up to his/their expectations.  What if the Holy Spirit doesn't show up? What if our services are duds?  What if the atmosphere was just a one timer because we had just moved into a new facility?

This Sunday will be their fourth and final visit and I will be preaching.  Last Sunday their organist/pianist Todd was our instrumentalist.  He played and a group from our parish sang -- it was a marvelous combination and the Holy Spirit didn't disappoint us -- He showed up!

David and I will be talking soon about how we can sustain the close relationship our two parishes have enjoyed these past weeks.  We will explore having a pulpit exchange and maybe we could provide a mini-"Faith Alive" type weekend  for them.  We will see.

I believe a growing edges for our diocese, now that we are out from under TEC and have a new structure in the ACNA and a new mission focus, is how do our parishes recover fellowship and ministry together.  It is very easy to fall into a pattern of isolation and minister as separate "silos".   It is also clear that if we are waiting for the diocese to provide the direction and the impetus for us to minister together we will be sorely disappointed and will be waiting a looooong time.  We need to take the bull by the horns and just do it or perhaps better said, let Jesus do it.
 1 Thess 5:24"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it"  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TEC GenCon - Trannies, SSBs, No Covenant, CWOB, We're Outta Here and Useful Idiots

I have been reluctant to write anything about the General Convention of my former denomination, the Episcopal Church, which concludes today in Indianapolis.  Why?  Principally because "I don't have a dog in this hunt" anymore and I don't want to simply "be lobbing in shells from the outside" (two cliches in one sentence!)  I did spend the first 27 years of my Christian life in TEC as opposed to the last four in the Southern Cone and the ACNA so there is a long history and still some interest -- just not an investment in the results. 

Like the Gaderine herd of swine, the Episcopal Church is flying headlong over the proverbial cliff.  First they opened the ordination process to transgendered persons, then they approved "provisional rites" for the blessing of same-sex relationships, next they refused to take a stand one way or the other on the Anglican Covenant, finally they gave tacit approval of offering Holy Communion to unbaptized persons in contravention of the clear words of their canons, their prayerbook and the Bible.

Yesterday as a result of these actions most of delegation of the Diocese of South Carolina and their diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, left Indianapolis and went home early concurring that it was no longer business as usual and they could no longer participate in these affairs.

A few conservatives at this convention tried valiantly to derail the revisionist express train but the revisionists would not be deterred.  They had their agenda and that was that.  In the House of Deputies the Rev. Neal Michell of the Diocese of Dallas and the Rev. David Thurlow of South Carolina in particular stand out as fighting the good fight with all their might.  About a dozen conservative bishops released the "Indianapolis Statement" opposing the above mentioned actions of the convention.  Unfortunately, however, the time, for pious platitudes is long passed.    

The newly reconstituted Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh seemed to be rather quiet at this convention.  Although largely comprised of so-called conservatives they did not seem to be speaking for or against much of anything on the floor of convention.  Pittsburgh Deputy, the Rev. Dr. James B. Simons, was elected to the Executive Council for a six year term.

The Soviets in post-war Europe had a name for folks like this -- they were called "useful idiots".  This term was applied to respectable people, even opponents, who went along with the Soviet agenda unwittingly and so provided cover and even respectability to that agenda.  Unfortunately, the conservatives remaining in TEC, unless they differentiate themselves like South Carolina, at some point will become "useful idiots" for the TEC revisionists.  That point may have come to pass at this General Convention.    

UPDATE: Apparently, today the HOB amended CO29 the resolution on Communion of the Unbaptized to keep the practice canonically illegal in TEC.  TEC has dodged a bullet on this at least for the next three years until the next GenCon in 2015 when it will surely consider it again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jesus answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female" - Matthew 19:4

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department."

This is a photo sent to me today from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting this week in Indianapolis. Hard to convince me that TEC still qualifies as a Christian Church.

I attended the 1994 General Convention held in Indy -- 18 years ago, how time flies!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rectory and Church Moves

At noon on Saturday June 30 I left the St David’s rectory for the last time leaving behind one set of keys and two garage door openers.  The house was empty save a few items that had been there when we moved in over three and one-half years ago.  It was a nice house albeit a weird layout but it was convenient to the church and it had a fenced in back yard for our dog Sherman.

The rectory move last Wednesday June 27 was a bit more tedious and challenging than the Church move on May 24.  The move from the rectory was our third move in four years.  And each house was smaller than then the one we moved from so that we had more stuff to fit into less space.  Even though we inundated the trash collector with large amounts of trash each Thursday in May and we made at least a dozen trips to Goodwill we still are dealing with more than we can possibly put to use.  The new garage is full of stuff we have to deal with if we want to be able to park a car in it before winter.   Plus we moved during the worse heat wave of the summer this far -- four days of  90+ degree heat.

To complicate matter I had a wedding rehearsal on Friday with the wedding service in Saturday.  The wedding should have been at St. David’s Anglican Church but when we were planning the affair last fall I couldn’t guarantee the couple they could be married at our church given the fluid situation with TEC.   The groom had been baptized and confirmed at St David’s.  His mother had been buried from there just a year ago which made this very sad for the family.  Fortunately the Rev. Karen Stevenson and the good people of Trinity Church Washington allowed us to use their church.  We were very grateful.     

As part of the church move we left everything behind except for personal property (mainly the contents of my office and Rege Turocy’s Healing Room).  We rented a U-Haul truck and a half-dozen guys loaded it up in one hour.  This was part of the legal definition of relinquishment –we hand it all over to TEC.

I had made sure over the preceding weeks that everyone who had personal property at the church had an opportunity to remove it.  In fact I had provided a bulletin insert which stated:

Please note the following distinctions and act accordingly: personal property as it relates to this church is any item that belongs to you and may currently reside at this facility. It may include something you have brought here and left here or something you have loaned to this church for the church’s use.  If you want to keep your personal property, please take it home before we vacate on May 31st.

Church property is something that you may have donated to this church for use by the church and or something you have been given a receipt for in monetary value as a gift-in-kind -- usually for income tax deduction purposes.  These items are church property and cannot be removed for any reason.  Removal of church property from these premises without the expressed agreement of Christ the Redeemer Parish and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is absolutely prohibited and could be the cause of a dispute in the transition process into which we have now entered.

If you have questions about these distinctions please see any vestry person or clergy.   

Christ the Redeemer Clergy, Staff, Wardens and Vestry

The long and short of it is we have completed the last aspect of relinquishment and we no longer have to deal with TEC, -- we are gone, gone, gone, solid gone.  Rick Warren at the ACNA inaugural Assembly at Bedford TX in June 2009 said (Bishop John Rodgers used these quotes of Rick in a letter to our parish as we left our church building in May 2012) "They get the steeple, but you get the people" and "They get the buildings, but you get the blessing."  Amen.