Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Two Perspectives, From Inside and Outside

Crow can be a healthy dish.

In previous postings I presented the subject of the 2004 pilgimage to Fond du Lac, knowing exactly and only what we were supposed to see from inside the Province of Christ the King. I have stated rather boldy that position as fact. Having received better information, I am aware that the ACC had made clear their position ahead of time to (now retired) Archbishop Morse, and that this information did not go further as it should have (I know that Bishop Florenza was not informed at all, and expected the ACC bishops to receive alongside the others). The picture is very clear, and what happened was a case of manipulation. Throughout the APCK, the whole affair was chalked up to having learned from experience the bitter lesson: There is no point in trying to unify the jurisdictions. I am sorry to say, I do not think that was an accident.

This does not mean that I have reversed my view that the ACA should be treated as a full partner in going forward to promote unity in the Continuing Church. Neither does it reverse my position that the ACC needs to beware of further manipulation in coming to the aid of the APCK for a temporary new relationship that is really meant to further isolate the ACA because of Bishop Rocco Florenza and his diocese. But, I know that progress will not be made without discussion that involves theological clarity, and goodwill from all concerned, both the ACC and the TAC-ACA. I have seen, very recently, a very different attitude in very significant men in the ACC. It is different from what has been presented locally by a few priests, and what was presented in rather harsh and rigid comments by one priest on this blog (very much the opposite of our own Fr. Kirby, who has consistently represented the ACC intelligently, and charitably).

However, with a new Archbishop in the APCK, that jurisdisdiciton should cease to be, to a very unfortunate degree, too much of a personality cult. But, will they become truly collegial? The exclusion of Bishop Florenza from the voting process is disturbing; however, that was done by the retired Archbishop. Again, it pains me to speak this way, because I have had only affection and respect for the retired Archbishop as well as for the new one, having enjoyed our few times when we met face to face, and when I spoke to Archbishop Morse over the phone on several occasions. And, I do not want to detract from the good things he has accomplished, including his very effective personal evangelism as a college chaplain on the very difficult Berkeley campus.


Bishop Florenza has not had an easy time making his decisions, and did not come to them rashly or quickly. Much will be made of his comments about unity, and I know in advance that people will write comments calling the whole matter into question. However, I believe that his conclusion is valid; he does not see any possible way to work toward unity strictly from within the APCK unless the habits of decades are unlearned. Furthermore, he must act as a shepherd to protect those under his care from harm, and this protection has proved, over and over, to be very difficult to give, sometimes impossible, strictly within the APCK.

21 comments:

apckmusician said...

Dear Fr. Hart,

I'm assuming you meant to say that Bishop Rocco "does NOT see any possible way..."
I think the word "not" got lost in cyberspace.
Bishop Rocco does know what he is doing and his actions are, in the very best sense, those of a Good Shepherd of souls.
Bev T.

Ohio Anglican said...

Rehashing Fond du Lac,Deerfield Beach, etc.; and making unkind observations of personalities on any or all sides will never bring about unity in the Continuum.

What will bring about unity and goodwill is when all in the Continuum begin to take seriously the Great Commission. The Continuum needs to seriously begin to explore the necessity of evanglism. Calling oneself a faithful catholic, and not working for evangelism, is a huge contradiction in terms. To be truly catholic, one must be evangelical in spreading the gospel and winning souls to Christ.

When all of the members of the Continuum are working in a spirit of evangelism, trying to win the world for Christ, then, and only then, will the differences disappear and unity will become a reality.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Thank you Bev T. I have made the correction.

There is something in what Brian (Ohio Anglican) says. If we have evangelistic priorites, we will work out all differences much more easily.

Ohio Anglican said...

I think there are positives that are happening/have happened that are putting them Continuum on the right course. As the positive developments continue, unity will become a reality. Prayer is the key, however. Without sincere and fervant prayer, nothing will improve.

One positive I see is that many in the Continuum are starting to focus on the positives of what WE ARE. In the past, on the heels of the break with ECUSA, the Continuum was focus more on what we were not - ECUSA, which brought a negative tone to our thinking and practice.

Now, with the passage of 30 years, that is changing. In our little parish, we often are blessed to have 3 generations of Anglican Catholics in the pew together: Grandma (who with her late husband left an apostate ECUSA in 1977); two children and spouses (the children were fairly young in 1977 and remember little about ECUSA, only that they left it and started a new church); the grandchildren only know the Anglican Catholic Church (and probably don't even know it was ever even connected to ECUSA).

In these second and third generations, we are seeing a development of an identity as Anglican Catholics, and a desire to promote the positive of what we are. Happily, we are seeing serious planning and efforts at evangelism, outreach, and mission planting.

Similarly, the second and third generations in the ACC, APCK, etc., have no memories of the infighting between bishops during the first 30 years of the Continuum. When in future years it is mentioned to unite with another church with the same beliefs and practice, I believe the unity will just happen, because those in the pews, the clergy, etc., will expect it.

That is dependent on two things: (A) prayer (in our ACC Members Yahoo group, beginning with Lent this year, members made a pledge to pray for unity; and, (B) that we quit rehashing the past and look to the future. Rehashing the past is the sin the devil is trying to use to keep us divided.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

poetreader said...

One of the things that will emerge if we do ruvenate the evangelistic priorities is the realization that our sad divisions are a major barrier toward the fulfillment of that goal Pretty nearly the first question I get asked in Rochester if I reach out to either unbelievers or to Protestants is, "Why are there three of you?" Any conceivable honest answer disuades people from looking closer.

Yes, Brian, I agree entirely with what you say, and that is one of the reasons I am so dogged in shouting about unity. We NEED to find a way to achieve it, oir we fail.

ed

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

"In previous postings I presented the subject of the 2004 pilgimage to Fond du Lac, knowing exactly and only what we were supposed to see from inside the Province of Christ the King. I have stated rather boldy that position as fact. Having received better information, I am aware that the ACC had made clear their position ahead of time to (now retired) Archbishop Morse...."

His apology is accepted.

John A. Hollister+

Alice C. Linsley said...

Unity is a gift that comes from God, a gift of the Spirit won through Christ's Cross and Resurrection. Unity happens when we are so in love with God that no worldly thing holds our hearts. This is also when true evangelism begins.

Ohio Anglican said...

One of the obvious steps toward fulfilling the Great Commission, making evangelism a priority throughout all of the Continuum, and eventually achieving spiritual unity in the Continuum, is a need to include a strong emphasis on evangelism (and how to do it) in our curriculum for training clergy - deacons and priests.

Outreach evangelism, becoming "Good Samaritan churches", is mandated by Christ! (It is not an option).

Further, the scriptures designate this as one of the MAIN duties of deacons. As Continuing churches we must begin to train deacons to fulfill this mission of evangelism and outreach. By deacons, I mean career deacons, who will remain deacons, and continue this important evanglistic outreach.

We, as the Continuing churches, need to appropriately make deacons and use them as the scriptures indicate that they should be used. We should not continue the error of ECUSA and Rome as making almost all deacons to be "transitional deacons" - misusing this Holy Order as only a "trial period" before being made a priest.

Secondly, our priests must be trained in evangelism. In the beginning the Continuum inherited priests who were trained to be "caretaker Rectors" of established Episcopal Churches with large endowments and little need to try grow and bring souls to Christ.

We now need to purposely train our future Continuum clergy in evagelism. We need to give continuing education to the current clergy in evangelism.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Anonymous said...

Ohio Anglican,

Rome reinstituted the pemanent diaconate in 1967. There is almost 14,000 permanent deacons in the USA alone.

Ohio Anglican said...

Anonymous:

That is good to know. There is a need for permanent deacons.

The permanent deacons, however, need to be taught, and expected, to do real ministry and evangelism.

Many times there are those who wish to be made a deacon only to help with the Chalice and read the gospel on Sunday. If that is all they wish to do, they shouldn't be made a deacon. I believe there is a need for deacons to:
feed the poor through outreach programs/food pantries, visit the sick in hospitals, preach at and organize retreats and Bible Studies, conduct confirmation/membership classes, organize new missions, etc., etc.

The need is for active permanent deacons, not just guys who want read the gospel on Sunday.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

poetreader said...

Brian,

We differ often and strongly. On the matter of evangelism and the permanent diaconate, however, I do believe you are spot on.

Alice is right on. If we are in love with Our Lord, we will passionately want BOTH unity and evangelism. Neither is optional.

ed

Ohio Anglican said...

Ed:

I think we actually agree on a lot of things. We just word it differently and have a slightly different approach to unity.

I believe in it wholeheartedly. I just believe we must work at it carefully, rather than rush in, only to have a schism later.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S>

Thomas said...

"Rome reinstituted the pemanent diaconate in 1967. There is almost 14,000 permanent deacons in the USA alone."

Yes, and those 14K represent the overwhelming majority of the world's "permanent deacons," making it something of an American curiosity. A lot of those men know about the amount of theology we'd look for in a boy about to be confirmed. A few are men with obvious priestly vocations who are kept from pursuing them by the celibacy discipline. All in all, the Roman diaconate is a sad and sorry mess that would be unrecognizable to the Fathers.

poetreader said...

'Fraid Thomas is about right. Rome, though the original intent was good, has not yet succeeded in giving an example of the permanent diaconate. In some places in the Orthodox Church the diaconate does seem to be operating somewhat as it should. Unfortunately the Anglican model has tended to be of a junior grade clergyman, rather than of a distinct ministry -- and I do agree with Brian that we need that distinct ministry.

ed

Ohio Anglican said...

Ed:

You are so right. In Anglicanism, deacons are used as "substitute priests" who give the communion from the reserved sacrament when a priest isn't available; or they read the gospel and hold the chalice.

But they truly are not being allowed/or being encouraged to do the ministry of outreach and evangelism laid out for them in Holy Scripture, and, by the way, in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The 1928 BCP makes the ministry of outreach and evagelism obvious both in the Epistle lesson for the service of Making of Deacons, and in the words of the ordinal itself.

If we in the Continuum chose to train deacons to do this office, I believe the results would be tremendous.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Looks like somebody's been reading Church History, the Didache etc., Naughty, naughty.

Thomas said...

Fr. Hart, permit me to drop a little hint about Anglican outreach, prompted by your comment and other things I've been reading here... When an evangelical Protestant (as I was) discovers the Fathers and other early Christian writings, and begins to realize just how "Catholic" the first Christian centuries were, the RC Church usually appears to be the only option. From my perspective at the time, the Orthodox Churches appeared to be ethnic enclaves, and the Anglican Communion a loony bin of all heresies. Traditional Anglicanism usually isn't considered simply because it is completely unknown.

Sandra McColl said...

Nice one, Thomas. I was raised in an ultra evangelical Anglican church (north end, for those who know what that means; Sydney outpost in Melbourne, for those who know what that means) in which liturgical renewal meant being 'more like the Early Church'. Now, it would appear that this Early Church thing had guitars, drums, amplifiers and 'liturgies' consisting of alternating singing along to said guitars, drums and amplifiers and all sitting around in a circle in discussion groups. Further, the content of what was taught was always around the Lesson 1 level and seemed to involve extempore biblical exegesis by people with no theological background and the occasional testimony. Oh to have had the Fathers when I was young, and I could have had a lot of fun.

D Bunker said...

It is intriguing to read the comments about the diaconate in light of what I happened to be leafing through last night. I would recommend Bradshaw's The Anglican Ordinal from the Alcuin Club Collections. He touches on several of the distinctive features of the Anglican diaconate dating from Cranmer's Ordinal. He makes not comment on the permanent diaconate (at least not in the first couple of chapters which is all I could manage before bed called).

Interestingly there was a move in the local TEC diocese many years ago (when it was still one of the orthodox few) to establish a permanent diaconate--the two permanent deacons I know have since left due to the slide into heresy hereabouts. They were involved in campus and healthcare ministries and, so, witnessed in a manner consistent with the Apostolic age of the Church.

Ohio Anglican said...

If we were once again to have deacons trained and used in various outreach ministries, as in the Apostolic age, it would be a wonderful blessing to the church.

I'm not opposed to the deacon holding the chalice on Sundays or reading the Gospel lesson, but they need to do more than that!! It is a two-fold problem: 1. churches don't have any plan or design of what a permanent deacon should do, and, 2. some candidates for permanent deacon only want to do the "up front" part on Sunday.

In the Anglican Catholic Church's Diocese of New Orleans, our religious community, the Community of the Good Samaritan, has just had its new program to train and commission Deaconesses approved by the Diocesan Synod. The program is headed up by Sister Anne, C.G.S., and already has one well-trained Deaconess ready to be commissioned.

The Deaconesses are being trained to do Christian Education, Sacristan Duties, visitation programs, lead and organize retreats and day camps for youth, and perhaps every duty one can imagine that will support the work of the parishes.

I believe this will be an enormous blessing to the ACC. The Affirmation of St. Louis calls for the training and use of the Deaconess. It is a wonderful blessing that it is now happening.

Brian McKee, nO,C.G.S.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

When some of the churches of the AC decided they could "ordain" women, it became necessary for them to do away with the real ministry of the deaconess. In England they presumed to redefine their role to make them into female "deacons." Thank God for the sanity to restore the ministry of the deaconess. Contrary to the Roman situation, for Anglicans it reinforces the fact, since this is a lay ministry, that W"O" has no real sacramental existence.