Hallo again to all.
As much as we honoureven lovethis funny old Anglican Communion, the wranglings and spats that occur now and then within our 554 dioceses can drive us to distraction. When you find yourself, say, fed up about matters of sexuality, the ordination of women, the expense of bishops, or [your favourite pet peeve here], we have the answer: Blame it on the Big Vicar. (Warning: potted history coming up.)
And just who is this Big Vicar chap? If we can't identify him for certain, there is no doubt he set sail in 1701 for the Americas from Great Britain, to carry across the seas the principles, doctrine, dogma, and worship of the Church of England. If there was any official launch to the Anglican Communion, the founding of 'The Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts' in 1701 is as good a date as any*.
The story really starts a few years earlier with the Reverend Thomas Bray. In the 1690s he had written what became a runaway best seller (four volumes of lectures on the catechism) and was rewarded, perhaps oddly, by the Bishop of London with an invitation to sail for Maryland to evangelise. He agreed, on the condition that he could take lots of books with him (or send lots of books ahead of him). The bargain was struck and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge began in 1698. The books and the ministers separated in 1701 out of administrative convenience, but the story of the two venerable institutions is interwoven. You can read more on the web sites for the SPG and the SPCK.
In the 300th year of the founding of SPG, we salute the men who began this imaginative venture, the men and women who supported it (and support it still), and the group of founders who met one Friday evening in The Cockpit (yes, a pub) to formalise the bylaws and design the seal. Even if the charm of the SPG seal is due to a bit too much alewe doubt that the minister they envisaged sending was actually that large and we suspect that the inhabitants of the New World weren't really shouting in Latinwe wouldn't alter a jot or tittle of it. We hope that we in our own time can think creatively and imaginatively about spreading the gospel to foreign parts, however we define that concept.
Certainly Pierre Whalon, in his latest column 'The Travail of Planting New Churches', does so. He offers some specific advice for any parish thinking of founding a new church. Pierre's comments are directed in particular to the Episcopal Church in the USA, but many ideas will carry over to other provinces.
In our News Centre you will find a minor flurry about funding English bishops, about the election of a new Archbishop in Australia, the 'church and state' issue in several countries, and advice about choosing godparents. The Mellows Report has been released in Britain (if you don't know what it is, go look in the News Centre), and AO's Europe correspondent Simon Sarmiento has analysed its recommendations for information technology for bishops.
We frequently ponder what we at AO can do to continue to bring you even better news and information about the Anglican Communion. We've realised there is no one place one can turn to for online listings of clerical vacancies throughout the communion, worldwide. We have begun such a page, but we should very much like a volunteer to help us with this project. It would require a reasonable knowledge of HTML (ideally, a familiarity with Dreamweaver software) and a good Internet connection for some in-depth research into every Anglican diocese online. If you're interested in assisting, let us know. 'Transiens Adiuva Nos', we say, 'in a Posture of Expectation' ... Come over and help us!
See you next week.
Last updated: 10 June 2001