Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Some are fed up with bad church music

Regular readers know that Hymn #335† is one of the few additions that I believe worth preserving from Hymnal 1982. Yes it has a sappy tune – and difficult voice leading – but it effectively puts to music the red letter text of John 6:44-51. In doing so, it provides an appropriate communion or post-communion prayer that teaches the congregation the meaning of what they may be taking for granted.

When I visited Hymnal 1982 parishes from 1990-2010, I often requested it — as when I studied abroad for two months and asked to sing it the last Sunday I was there (before returning to my Hymnal 1940 home). Other than concerns about overuse, the respective music directors were always glad to oblige.

On the traditional music side, apparently not everyone cares for this hymn. A priest friend reposted this picture (“I Am the Bread of Life: new verse”) on Facebook

Trying to explain the post turned out to be more complex than I anticipated. It was originally posted August 24 to the Facebook group “I'm fed up with bad church music.” The posting (thus far) has 133 comments and 737 Likes from the group’s 11,030 members. But that’s only the beginning.

It was posted by John Kersey, president of “The Oxford Centre for Leadership,”  a training and mentoring program in the UK. His LinkedIn profile says he is also faculty at universities in Costa Rica and Dominica, and a professional concert pianist. However, he is also (as of Feb. 2015) the primate of the New York-based Apostolic Episcopal Church, established in 1925, which is “a western-rite extension of The Chaldean Catholic Church” whose ecumenical mission is “to act as a center for the reunion of Christendom.” Finally, he is head of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, a Catholic community (and “sovereign principality”) established in 1883 by French and Spanish Benedictine monks with ties to Syria, England, Africa, the U.S. and Jackson Browne.

Whew! I thought my life was complicated.

† The words and music for “Bread of Life” were written in 1966 by Sister Suzanne Toolan, RSM (b. 1927)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Non-Sunday worship

At Pray Tell, a Catholic monk from Minnesota, lamented the light attendance at Saturday’s services for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And I discovered that the Assumption (called the Dormition of the Theotokos) is a big deal for our Eastern friends — one of Twelve Great Feasts — as my Anglo-Orthodox (now more Orthodox than Anglican) book club was nearly deserted Friday as the Orthodox

It’s not a day I ever remember celebrating as a lifelong Protestant. August 15 is listed (by TEC and CoE) as a Holy Day for Mary†. I think it’s safe to say that the more Reformed wing of the Anglican Communion do not ascribe a supernatural assumption of Mary’s body into heaven, even if some individual Anglo-Catholic parishes do.

However, Father Anthony Ruff makes a more general point:
[Modern Catholics believe] holy days aren’t that important anymore, and liturgical time should not interrupt real time, which is what happens in one’s real (and very busy) life in the secular world.

We still kept the holy days of obligation in the tiny parish where I grew up in southern Minnesota. … But miss Mass? Not on your life.

The holy day liturgy said, more than any religion class or episcopal statement could, something about the claim the church makes on us.

“We have our own schedule,” the liturgy was saying to us, “and it’s not the world’s schedule.” Just think for a moment what that said about Christian identity and the church’s relationship to broader society. It said it especially strongly when two obligatory days fell inconveniently a day apart, Saturday plus Sunday, or Sunday plus Monday.

The holy days of obligation are there to form us in an alternative narrative. The liturgy tells us that it has its own integrity on its own terms. The liturgy is countercultural, not by behaving like an obnoxious culture-warrior, but simply by being itself.

That’s too bad. I wish we could put Ascension back on Thursday, and maybe even Epiphany back on the 12th day of Christmas. And tell everyone that God is still God, even on Saturdays and Mondays.
He is talking to me. There are only three church holidays I have regularly observed midweek over the past 30-40 years: Christmas, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (And I’m not very good about Good Friday). Yes, I’ve been to Holy Innocents and Epiphany services (it helps this is during a slow time of the year), and as a tourist to England we would always try to catch an Evening Prayer at the cathedral we visited. But I can’t recall a single Annunciation, Ascension or Transfiguration service. (There might have been an All Saints’s Day — as with Epiphany, there are good hymns.)

At the same time, there’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma. During my Lutheran period, our choir sang at Epiphany, so we were all there. I can’t say that most of the parishes I’ve attended have midweek services for Holy Days (except for Thanksgiving, a local favorite).

As a suburban Anglican, I don’t think it’s realistic to try to match the RCC (let alone the Orthodox) for the frequency or intensity of our midweek Holy Days. Instead, I would build up the adherence to the Daily Office – whether personal or corporate — and remind worshippers of these important days by using the collects and readings that are designated to educate us about these days.

† Footnote: On Friday, Issues Etc. rebroadcast an August 15, 2013 broadcast — with the Missouri Synod's director of worship — on why the Lutheran church remembers the Blessed Virgin Mary on this date. Rev. Will Weedon noted that the Protestant Reformers rejected the idea of Mary (and the saints) hearing our prayers as intercessors between Christians and God. However, he said, the Lutherans [like the Anglicans] continue to commemorate the saints in their annual liturgical calendar.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Bringing ICCA back to California

There has been considerable interest here in last month’s International Catholic Congress of Anglicans. In the past week, I’ve given brief summary presentations on the ICCA to two groups in the San Diego deanery of the Diocese of Western Anglicans. Saturday’s was to (mainly) laity hosted by Fr. Lawrence Bausch of Holy Trinity (at his Lutheran-owned sanctuary) — the new president of Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA).

Thursday’s presentation was before the deanery’s steering committee (all the clergy and a few laity). This latter (slightly longer) presentation is posted to Google.
The report is mainly a summary of my earlier posts to this blog, including the 350 attendees — among them 24 US bishops. I tried to summarize the major themes of the congress, focusing on the undivided Catholic church, and conciliarity among Anglicans and between Anglicans and other Christians. (I also mentioned how much I enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy corporate worship over the four days of the conference).

Seminary Education

I highlighted two topics of particular interest. One was the on the future of theological education. On Thursday morning, there was an official session featuring the head of Nashotah, Trinity and Cranmer (REC’s Dallas seminary) seminaries. At an (unofficial) Tuesday night session, the head of Nashotah outlined its vision while seeking financial support from attendees.

As Fr. Bausch pointed out Saturday, as the seminary goes, so goes the church. The leftward drift of the ECUSA seminaries anticipated the subsequent drift of the national church. In other words, as the seminaries turned out poorly trained (or intentionally corrupted) clergy, those clergy went out and shifted the thinking of the broader church.

In my opinion, the need for properly trained clergy seems even more urgent in today’s context. This is not the established church of 19th century England, or even the 20th century ECUSA that brought a disproportionate share of American senators and presidents. Today, fewer laity (or even clergy) were raised in Anglicanism, and many laity (unlike any time in US history) grew up without prior knowledge of (or even exposure to) the church. Against errors of poorly trained clergy, the natural balance provided by experienced vestry and other laity will be absent in many parishes.

While the seminaries of the Continuum are directly under control of local bishops, the ACNA’s two favored seminaries have alumni and other ongoing ties to TEC. Although drift by these seminaries seems unlikely, in 1950 none of us could have anticipated what would happen in the next 50 years at GTU, Seabury Western, CDSP and other TEC seminaries.

The LCMS faced these same issues in the 1970s: in the Seminex crisis of 1974, it stood firm for doctrinal consistency over the protests of faculty (and media) seeking greater freedom to depart from the denomination’s teachings.The LCMS today continues to enjoy the benefits of its resolute stand 40 years ago.

Church Planting

The other topic of special interest was about church planting. An official session Wednesday afternoon by Fr. Chris Culpepper and Fr. Lee Nelson talked about why Anglo-Catholics need to plant churches. At an unofficial session on Monday, these two and others talked about what FiFNA and other groups can do to support church planting.

In the next few weeks, I hope to post more news on this latter topic.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mending Episcopal Schism Among American Anglicans

Anglo-Catholic worship was so much easier when I was a kid. Anglican worship meant the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, so you would shop around for a place that had at least some high church worship.  But the theological innovations of the 1970s fractured Anglo-Catholics, perhaps permanently — first in 1977 with the Continuing churches formed out of the Congress of St. Louis and then the ACNA launched in this century.

ICCA made impressive progress in addressing this fracture, with the broad representation of US Anglo-Catholics across a wide range of jurisdictions. We had the Schism I (Continuing Anglicans aka Continuum), Schism II (ACNA), pre-Schism (Reformed Episcopal Church) and non-Schism (a very small number of TEC clergy). Of course, there were also at least five African bishops and one retired English bishop (Michael Nazir-Ali).

There is schism both within and between these schisms. The 19th and 20th century secessionists (i.e. REC and Schism I) don’t ordain women to any order (including deacon) and most use the 1928 or 1662 BCP.

In the final sermon Friday, REC Bp. Ray Sutton joked that they agreed on almost everything and got along on almost nothing. The Continuum is badly fractured: according to Wikipedia estimates the big four (ACA, ACC, APA, APCK) only account for 2/3 of Schism I. This ongoing fragmentation has made a running joke of the claim to be the true apostolic church: several referred to “alphabet soup” and the need to mend these division — at least within the Continuum.

Meanwhile, the chasm between Schism I and II is even more daunting. Yes, the Anglo-Catholic parishes and dioceses joined ACNA with one diocese (now several) actively if not aggressively ordaining women. ACNA’s unresolved resolution of WO was the elephant in the room. There are three possible outcomes — the current stalemate continues, the factions get a divorce or (least likely) the male clergy view wins out — and only the latter two would satisfy Schism I.

On the one hand, there seems to be jealousy among some Schism I clergy — who have toiled in relative obscurity since correctly diagnosing the ECUSA malaise almost 40 years ago — at the visibility and favorable press that ACNA has won. Having a national unified denomination certainly helps, as did ACNA’s successful efforts by Bp. Bill Atwood to build ties of communion and fellowship with the GAFCON overseas churches.

On the other hand, the Schism I clergy and laity have been proven correct. The path that TEC was on in 1978 was leading exactly as they predicted, and (in retrospect) there wasn’t much to be gained by waiting — in fact, leaving before the Dennis Canon was actually a better strategy. (This is not to deny the numerous errors in executing the Schism I strategy).

Personal Ties Among the Episcopate(s)

While at ICCA, it was clear that many of the Continuum and ACNA clergy had never met: I found myself introducing Anglo-Catholic clergy (particularly within California) who would have been close colleagues if not for the current jurisdictional mess.

The greatest opportunity came with the episcopate, i.e. the bishop from the various jurisdictions. According to the program, the 23 North American Anglican bishops almost exactly balanced between ACNA (10) plus ex-TEC (2) and Continuing (7) plus REC (4):
  • ACA (Anglican Church in America) 1: Stephen Strawn
  • ACC (Anglican Catholic Church) 2: Mark Haverland, Stephen Scarlett
  • ACCC (Anglican Catholic Church in Canada) 1: Shane Janzen
  • APA (Anglican Province of America) 1: Chandler (Chad) Jones
  • DHC (Diocese of the Holy Cross) 1: Paul Hewett
  • UECNA (United Episcopal Church of North America) 1: Peter Robinson
  • ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) 10: Keith Andrews (Western Anglicans), Bill Atwood (International), Foley Beach (South), Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh), Bill Ilgenfritz (Missionary Diocese of All Saints), Rich Lipka (Missionary Diocese of All Saints), Clark Lowenfield  (Western Gulf Coast), Eric Menees (San Joaquin), Alberto Morales (Quincy); Stephen Leung (Anglican Network in Canada)
  • REC (Reformed Episcopal Church) 4: Royal Grote, Winfield Mott, Sam Seamans, Ray Sutton
  • TEC: Keith Ackerman (retired) 2; William Wantland (retired)
The other 10 bishops participating were as follows:
  • PNCC (Polish National Catholic Church) 1: Paul Sobiechowski
  • UK 3: John Fenwick (Free Church of England), John Hind (CoE, retired), Michael Nazir-Ali (CoE, retired)
  • Global South 6: Michael Hafidh (Tanzania), Fanuel Magangani (Malawi), Brighton Malasa (Malawi), James Min Dein (Myanmar), Valentine Mokiwa (Tanzania), Stephen Than Myint Oo (Myanmar)
Co-host Bp. Keith Ackerman toiled tirelessly to get these bishops to get to know each other, through informal and formal meetings, celebrating together and serving on the drafting committee together. I counted 23 purple shirts at a quick informal gathering that Ackerman called on Tuesday morning (not include Beach).
Their number dwindled as the week went on. At the opening evensong Monday night I counted 16 bishops processing and three purple shirts in the pews. At the closing Holy Communion Friday, the numbers had dropped to 11+2 (Nazir-Ali only processed as the Tuesday morning celebrant) with many of the Continuum bishops having already left.

Some of the non-Anglo-Catholic bishops made only brief appearance. ACNA primate Foley Beach showed up to preach at Tuesday’s first communion service and then left for the airport. His predecessor Bob Duncan — of Anglo-Catholic liturgy but evangelical view of Holy Orders — stayed much longer, leaving on Thursday. While their respective sermons emphasized common aspirations and challenges of orthodox-minded Anglicans post-2003, the Schism I bishops (understandably) saw little prospect of being in communion with them.

Skunk in the Room

Some of the bishops were more used to getting along than others. Ackerman, Ilgenfritz, Lipka and Menees, Morales and Wantland from the ACNA, Sutton from the REC, and Hewett and Jones from the Continuum are all members of the FiFNA Council (i.e. governing body). Bp. Jones in particular seemed to go out of his way to be conciliar in his address to the Congress, while Bp. Sutton seemed to have the most experience working with both camps.

However, the ACNA clergy and laity couldn’t stop talking about Wednesday night’s sermon by Abp. Haverland, head of the Anglican Catholic Church. (I happened to miss this evensong because we were wrapping up our church planting session and I never made it over there in time).

The sermon (posted at Philorthodox and Anglican Continuum) began with the assertion that the path of the Schism I parishes was more theologically sound and consistent than the Schism II.  This is not particularly surprising, and in fact the ACNA defense of their delay in leaving ECUSA has emphasized the pastoral and conciliar value of their choices of the past 30+ years, not their theological purity.

However, the part that everyone was talking about the next morning was the following, particularly one key paragraph (emphasis added):
I congratulate the ACNA for leaving the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.  Every one of you who made that change did a good thing and one, I hope, that you do not regret.  But that departure can only be a good first step.  For ACNA is really not a Church but a coalition of dioceses. The coalition is for some purposes only, and the communion of the dioceses is impaired and imperfect.  The ACNA has retained the central flaw of the recent Lambeth Communion because it permits member dioceses to ordain women to the three-fold ministry, and therefore implicitly claims that the central Tradition is not decisive and may be set aside.  ACNA is not a return to orthodox Anglicanism, but only a return to the impaired state of the Lambeth Communion that began in 1975 and 1976. 
Of course, the issue of women’s ordination has not yet been resolved in the ACNA. And the newest head of the ACNA last year defended the right of member dioceses to continue such ordination rather than wait for a resolution:
First, let me say that I think a voluntary moratorium [on ordination] would actually not ease the tension. I think it would pour gasoline in the fire. Part of that is, in our constitution and canons, we have left the issue of women’s ordination for each diocese to decide. A lot of people came into the ACNA in good faith that their perspective – including those who ordain women—would be protected and guarded. And, people who believe in ordaining women hold their position by conscience and can Biblically argue it, although I disagree with them. This issue is a very important thing to them, and so I think it would create a lot of tension.
Confirmation from the Grave

In large part, this tension within and between Anglican groups was precisely anticipated by Rev. Peter Toon in December 2008, only four months before his untimely death. He wrote a a brief summary of the two groups, published at Virtue Online:
Continuing Anglicans in America: what's the difference between "The Continuing Anglican Church" of 1977 and "The Anglican Church in America" of 2008
by Dr. Peter Toon

Here I want to compare and contrast in a very preliminary way, the two major secessions from The Episcopal Church [TEC] of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Seceders of the 1970s
The seceders from TEC of the late 1970s intended to create an expression of the Anglican Way as "The Continuing Anglican Church" which

Recent Seceders
To call the seceders from TEC over the last decade and specifically over the last year or two as Continuing Anglicans will be a shock and an offense to some people. However "The Anglican Church in America" came into existence on Dec 3, 2008, because of schism and secession. Within this Church are four former dioceses of TEC and many congregations which are either former TEC parishes or splits from TEC parishes. Obviously there are some participants who had not been involved in secession, the Reformed Episcopal Church for example, but the majority of the claimed 100,000 members were formerly of the TEC.

Regrettably there is very little dialogue and cooperation between the two expressions of Continuing Anglicanism in the U.S.A.
And one of his observations about the ACNA shows that the issue cited by Abp. Haverland and Abp. Beach was as true at its founding as it is today:
[The ACNA] Uses "Province" in a wholly innovatory way, causing it to mean "a hybrid of differing groups working in a specific, geographical territory in a semi-competitive way but cooperating in major matters."
I think “a coalition of dioceses” is a succinct way to summarize Toon’s point. Since the founding of the ACNA, the various dioceses seem united in their rejection of the TEC while differing over matters that divided the TEC from many in the Global South almost 40 years ago.

Looking Forward

The bishops of the ICCA seemed able to worship together, (in most cases) celebrate and take communion together, and continue the dialog that has been managed by the FiFNA leaders since the TEC’s first ordination of women in the 1970s. The Ft. Worth gathering didn’t resolve their differences, but it did introduce hundreds of clergy and laity across the aisle to people they wouldn’t have otherwise met.

As layman who has attended orthodox TEC, ACNA and Continuing parishes for the past 25 years, the differences between these groups seem exaggerated. Yes, since 2006 it is implausible for a parish (or individual Anglican) to claim to be Biblically orthodox while remaining in the TEC. But within the broad swoop of Christianity — let alone Western or global religious belief — these two groups of non-TEC Anglicans are more similar than different.

As demonstrated by the ICCA, they share the desire to retain an continuous link to the historic undivided Christian church, with beliefs and practices consistent with the Christians of the 1st millennium (if not the Nicene era). Their differences are far less than those held together by the Broad Church of the CoE for most of the past 450 years, or within the original Anglo-Catholic revival of the 19th century. So why can’t we all get along?