received during the week
of 8 June
Holy Spirit's to-do list
CLOUDS ARE AGAIN GATHERING over
the Church of England's choice of a suffragan bishop for Reading.
Jeffrey John has been described as living,
at one time, in a committed relationship with another man. He
has announced himself as celibate and (officially) in agreement
with the bishops' statement on homosexual relations amongst clergy.
disclaimers have not dissuaded the more extreme evangelicals
from again threatening schism and attacking the C. of E. leadership.
AO should keep an eye on this as also on the election of an openly
gay bishop in New Hampshire which confronts the American church
with a partly similar issue. Lots of work for the Holy Spirit
to do nowadays!
Reverend Harold J. Wilson
Member of St Mary Magdalene, Oxford
Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM
9 June 2003
power of tolerance and love
OVER 30 YEARS I HAVE SHIED NERVOUSLY AWAY from
Christianity. This was primarily because I am and have always
been a gay man. And because I have never felt at home in any
Christian church, including not least the Roman Catholic Church
in which I was raised.
however, I have been watching with interest the situations in
British Columbia and in New Hampshire. Despite the ire and 'righteous
indignation' which have been inspired by certain events in these
two regions, I have been far more impressed by the amazing tolerance
and love which has also been forthcoming from so many individuals
within the Anglican / Episcopal Communion. This manifestation
of tolerance and love has made me reconsider my long-standing
fear of Christianity and my reluctance to get within a stone's
throw of any of its alleged practitioners (literally and figuratively).
Although I have no doubt that many will condemn and scoff at one of my motives
(a hope to be accepted for who I am as a gay man), I am seriously considering the possibility of seeking reception into the Anglican Communion.
But a desire for 'acceptance' is far from my only reason for considering such a change of heart. The understanding shown by Bishop Ingham
in BC and the election of Reverend Mr Robinson in New Hampshire have also caused me to investigate the Anglican / Episcopal Communion at
the deeper levels of its teachings and practices. I am discovering that the sort of Christianity I had once searched for and then abandoned
in frustration apparently really may exist after all. This serendipitous discovery is the more amazing in light of my decades-long suspicion
that such a loving philosophy was really a romantic myth intended to disguise a deceitful and hateful reality.
the final outcome, the recent manifestation of tolerance and
acceptance which I have seen in two regions of the Anglican Communion
has brought me to reconsider a long-standing abjuration of Christ
and His Church. If acceptance of gay men and women drives some
away, then it apparently also has the capacity to draw some near.
I cannot weigh the loss to the first against the benefits to
the second. But I am nonetheless grateful for the feeling that
at last I think I may be hearing a faint voice that seems to
be calling me home.
Still on the Quest
San Francisco, CA
10 June 2003
Robinson: Two views from New Hampshire
TO RESPOND BRIEFLY TO YOUR COVERAGE of the election of Gene Robinson
as New Hampshire's next bishop, as
a member of this diocese, I have been following the process of
very closely, both though my own parish's delegates to
the voting convention, and through the local and national press.
have met Gene several times over the past few years, and feel
very strongly that he is a man of powerful faith and conviction,
and that he will be an excellent bishop for our diocese. From
what I was told by our delegates and other members of the parish
that attended the election, the presence of the Holy Spirit
was truly felt by those in attendance.
am positive that our convention elected Gene because he was
the best choice for our next bishop, not because he is gay.
I feel sure that he will be confirmed at General Convention
this summer (I plan to be in attendance to see that happen),
and I know that he will continue the work of the Church in
New Hampshire and around the world.
is a historic moment, and as what would be termed a 'young
person' by many in our church (I am twenty-three), I have
hope that we will not dwell on the things which are irrelevant to
our future, but continue to move forward with the real
at stake in twenty-first century Christianity. These are
things such as the absolute grinding poverty of billions of people
all over the earth, the AIDS epidemic, and the violence
war threatening to overshadow our world. It is by tackling
these issues that we in the church can have hope for the
future because that process will bring us together as a global community,
and that is the only way towards the Kingdom of God.
St Thomas Episcopal Church
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
9 June 2003
• CAN GENE ROBINSON,
recently elected Bishop of New Hampshire, honestly declare that he will conform to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Episcopal Church? Episcopal
Doctrine holds homosexual behavior to be immoral. The Discipline requirement suggests an obligation to refrain from behavior that exposes
his office and the Church to conflict and division.
I am sure Rev. Robinson is an exceptional person in many respects. However,
a shepherd intent on dividing the flock, is a poor choice for Bishop. As Episcopalians, are we prepared to destroy our church in order to
make a symbolic statement in support of gay rights?
summary of TITLE III, CANON 22: Of the Election and Ordination
Article VIII Declaration:
person shall be ordained and consecrated Bishop, or ordered Priest
or Deacon to minister in this Church, unless at the time, in
the presence of the ordaining Bishop or Bishops, the person shall
subscribe and make the following declaration:
do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to
salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine,
Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church.
St David's Episcopal Church
Salem, New Hampshire, USA
11 June 2003
view from Palm Springs, California
ALL THE HUMBUG AND CONTROVERSY surrounding
homosexuality, I must write to briefly share my illuminating
belong to an Episcopal parish in Palm Springs, California,
which has at least 50 or 60 percent gay men, excellent
members. I am straight and most of us who are straight get along
with those who are gay. None of us have ever been propositioned
or hassled in any way. People go to each other's houses,
attend church functions, and otherwise socialize without any
difficulties. All members are fully accepted, regardless of orientation.
Our parish, the Church of St Paul in the Desert, should
be a model for many parishes worldwide. We demonstrate
the power and relevance
of God's unconditional love for all creatures.
John Nicholas Granet
Palm Springs, California, USA
Just what Sunday
FOLLOWING IS IN RESPONSE to
the "Letter to AO" from Pentecost Sunday by Heather Mina of Virginia
Beach, Virginia, USA, in which she wrote: 'You refer to Sunday
being "The Sunday after Ascension" rather than "Trinity Sunday." However,
my BCP lists Trinity Sunday as being the first Sunday after Pentecost,
since between Ascension Day and Pentecost, we have not yet received
the Holy Spirit. I am curious now, though, whether this "in between" Sunday
did formerly have a name of its own'.
think there was a bit of confusion here, so let me start by sorting
it out. Sunday, June 1st (the date of the original article) was
the Sunday after the Ascension. Sunday, June 8th was the Sunday
of Pentecost (BTW, Happy 454th Birthday to the beloved BCP!).
Sunday, June 15th will be The First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity
for the question of the proper name of the Sunday after Ascension...
In many places, especially in Roman Catholic circles, the Feast
of the Ascension (which fell this year on Thursday, May 29th)
is transferred to the following Sunday. Thus, in many places,
the Sunday after the Ascension is actually the Feast of the Ascension.
many places, the Sunday after the Ascension also bears the name
of the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Feast of the Ascension,
like other major Feasts, has historically been observed with
an eight-day solemnity called an octave, where the theme and
preface and collect of the day from Ascension are carried over.
As a result, the Sunday after Ascension may rightly be referred
to as "The Sunday of Ascensiontide" or "Sunday in the Ascension
Saint Alban's Primitive Catholic Community (Anglican Rite)
Anderson / Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
9 June 2003
RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION about
the Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost: Kilvert's Diary, the
journal of the Reverend Francis Kilvert in which he records his
day-to-day experiences in his rural Welsh parish in the middle
years of the
nineteenth century, generally refers to the Sunday between Ascension
and Pentecost as 'Expectation Sunday'. This was the only place
where I have come across the term but the Oxford Dictionary of
the Christian Church says that it is an old name for the day.
if you don't know Francis Kilvert and his diary you are missing
out on a beautiful piece of Anglican clerical literature. When
taking an ordination retreat a few years ago I read excerpts
from it aloud to the retreatants during their meals and they
couldn't get enough—of the book I mean.
St Paul's Cathedral
Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
13 June 2003
STARTED WRITING YOU LONG BEFORE your
'letters to the editor' column began. Not often, mind you. But
once in awhile. Today
I had to
write and simply say this week's lead editorial was outstanding.
Thank you. I am appalled by the invective I see in 'letters to
the editor' columns around and about. It seems to me that such
invective is a violation of the Gospel. Again, thank you.
Trinity Parish Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
email@example.com (until June 30)
9 June 2003
in the Aussie Bible
SEX IN THE NEW AUSSIE BIBLE. This
is the best I could find for you, I'm afraid.
Message for Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
Libby was six months gone, God sent the same angel-this Gabriel
bloke-to a backblocks town called Nazareth, in the Galilee shire,
to a nice young girl who was engaged to the local carpenter,
Joe Davidson. Her name was Mary.
angel said to her, "G'day Mary. You are a pretty special sheila.
God has his eye on you."
went weak at the knees, and wondered what was going on.
the angel said to her, "Don't panic, don't chuck a wobbly. God
thinks you're okay. You're about to become pregnant, and you'll
have a son, and you're to call him Jesus. He will be a very big
wheel, and will be called the Son of God Most High. God will
give him the throne of his father-your ancestor-King David, and
he will be in charge of the whole show forever."
how?" said Mary. "Joe and I have done the right thing, we've
never... well, you know. I mean to say, I'm still a virgin."
angel answered, "Leave the mechanics up to God. This is heavenly
stuff. God's Spirit will come upon you, and the Big Brain behind
the Big Bang will manipulate the necessary molecules to make
it happen. So this little kid of yours will be as special as
it's possible to be, and he'll be called God's own Son. Look,
even Libby, your old cousin, is preggers-at her age! God can
do these things. In fact, Libby is in her sixth month because
nothing is impossible with God."
"God's in charge," Mary answered. "If that's what God wants, then it's what
I want too."
the angel nicked off and left her alone'.
The Sydney Morning Herald
10 June 2003
honoured that you thought of us
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
FOR BUSINESS ASSISTANCE
DO FORESEE THE SURPRISE this letter will bring to You as it come
from a stranger. But rest assured as It comes with best
intentions. However, your Address was courtesy of a
business journal at the World
trade Center in Cotonou. But after due Consideration
from your profile, I became aware and Assured of your credibility
of handling this trust and My future. Thus, after
my humble decision to solicit Your understanding and
in this Transaction,
as it will be beneficial to all of us involved. My
name is Mr. paul akah (Jnr.) from Tanzania.I am the
son of the late President of Tanzania christoper akah,
who died about two years ago? My father used His position
then to make for himself and us some Fortune. My father
died after a protracted illness.
know the rest!]
BININ REPULIC (COTONOU).
12 June 2003
PENTECOST EDITORIAL CONTRASTED THE EASE of
quickly written and public yet ineffective and impersonal blasting
e-mails ('letters') back and forth, and the apparent
ease of Pentecostal disciples to bring a powerful and life-changing
message to the world using only face-to-face 'messaging' (my
word). As suggested in the title of a recent small book, 'First
We Have Coffee.... then we Talk'. I, too, believe this is the
necessary direction of strategizing evangelism and restoration
through the Episcopal Church - and, really, any Church. And on
the content of the email barrage, as has been said, too, it is
easier to catch flies with honey....
make your point, however, I think you exaggerated or went too
far on a couple of points; I want to bring them to your attention
for your consideration.
Re: 'nor restricted themselves to writing it on scrolls', I remind
you of the story of Philip, one of the seven, who evangelized
the eunuch by referring to the very scroll from which the eunuch
was reading. This illustrates that the early disciples were not
devoid of the written word. In fact, they didn't have to wait
for anybody to write anything more. The life, death and resurrection
of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were simply
real-life confirmation of the prophetic word found in the written-down
Law and the Prophets. Know what I mean?
Re: 'Just imagine meeting An Original Disciple and ... thinking
"I wish I were more like this person!"' Alas, we can't imagine
reading a statement forwarded from an irate bishop and thinking
'I wish I were more like that person.' Sure, irate bishops sending
emails is not the best way to make their 'better side' known.
I do sense your use of the words 'irate bishop' as a pejorative
comparison with those Original 'Apostles'. First, (now it's my
turn to be facetious) there are lots of people who thank God
and the bishop (usually by email!) that a bishop woke up long
enough to be passionate about something; and Second, Peter's
confrontation with Simon Magus, Paul's confrontation with Peter
in Antioch, and the occasion of the deaths of Ananias and Saphira
illustrate the ability of those original Apostles to be irate,
if not justifiably and righteously. Perhaps those serve to prove
your point—they were powerfully face-to-face. But being irate
was not the point. Know what I mean?
you for being willing to stick your necks out every week with
thought-provoking editorials. May the Power of Pentecost be yours
in word and deed.
Reverend Robert Eaton
St John's Episcopal Church
Tulare, California, USA
13 June 2003
launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May
2003. All of our letters are in our