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This page last updated 7 August 2003
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking. Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

Please note that we edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

Like to write a letter of your own to us? Click here. It is our policy not to publish letters responding to other letters.

Letters received during the week of 27 July

'We should be doing church'

I READ WITH HORROR THE REVISED COLLECTS for the church year. I cannot believe that one would reduce the original beautiful language to tabloid press language. It seems to me, the church bent on self-destruction.

I just hope and pray that your House of Bishops rejects these revisions realizing that the communities of faith are supposed to be worshiping God not themselves. We must offer our best, whether it be language or music, to God, rejecting this nonsense of 'feel good' theology. In short as one bishop mentioned in a sermon, 'We should be doing church'.

Robert L. Macfadden
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Holbrook. New York, USA
29 July 2003

'Consider the basis of unity'

WITH STRIDENT VOICES THREATENING SCHISM over issues of moral theology and pastoral practices within the diverse churches that make up the Anglican Communion, I suggest Anglicans everywhere, whatever their views on these issues, consider the basis of unity adopted by the Lambeth Conference of 1888 - Resolution 11: That, in the opinion of this Conference, the following Articles supply a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion:

1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.

2. The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

3. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord--ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.

4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.

Donald F. M. Gerardi
Church of St Luke-in-the-Fields
New York, New York, USA
28 July 2003

A rhetorical technique?

I HAVE NOTICED A RHETORICAL TECHNIQUE popular among many in the Anglican Communion today. It involves the proffer of proposition X with the explanation that the matter at issue is not really a change to the substantive teachings of the church, but is actually a procedural matter within the authority of, say for example, the General Convention, synod, or the local bishop to change. For example, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA can use this technique to assert in a letter to his fellow bishops that the election of Canon Robinson as bishop is not really about the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals as bishops, but rather about the 'need to respect the action of the Diocese of New Hampshire.'

Likewise, Anglicans Online seems to have joined those using this technique when this week you proffer a number of excerpts from the councils of the early church, all of which support episcopal autonomy against 'outside' interference, but then write, “our purpose is to convince you that church governance has, since its very beginnings, been contentious.” I think that it is unreasonable to believe that you are not offering those particular excerpts for a substantive, persuasive purpose, while claiming objectivity to appear reasonable in your proffer. Otherwise, why haven’t you included any one of a number of possible quotes from the early councils about the suppression of unorthodox belief, irregular ordinations, or (dare we say it) heresy? The conflict racking the Anglican Communion is a substantive dispute that will not be settled, one way or the other, by ducking the issues. If you’re going to take sides, fine, but be forthright about it. I am very disappointed that you let your own bias interfere with what is ordinarily a wonderfully objective look at the disorderly communion that we love. As you suggest, I will certainly add the excerpts 'to the mix of what [I] know and what [I am] thinking about,' but you should know that you have lost a lot of credibility this week with a longtime reader.

William Barto
Truro Episcopal Church
Fairfax, Virginia, USA
29 July 2003

'I want my church back'

I AM NOT SURE IF THIS IS THE PROPER OUTLET to vent my thoughts, but alas, there is nowhere else to turn. I am truly, deeply saddened by the state of our church worldwide and especially here at home. It is truly a shame to allow a schism in the worldwide church over the singular issue of homosexual priests, but it appears that is going to happen.

Once again, Americans have decided to compromise the good of the whole for the pleasures of the few. I in no way am attacking homosexual rights or the ability of said group to enter into the communion of Our Lord, but rather I find it distasteful to allow an entire church to be destroyed on a worldwide scale merely to placate the behaviour and choices of a few.

If the conference allows [Ed. note: Convention] not just a gay priest but a sexually active gay priest in violation of the agreements of the Lambeth conference to become an active Bishop, I will no longer raise my children in this Faith. I convinced my wife many years ago to raise our children in the Episcopal faith instead of in her Catholic Church, I now regret that and pray that I am not forced out of my own church because of the sexual choices of the absolute minority. Perhaps we should consider another sacrificial lamb in this context, the priest himself, instead of the worldwide congregation. Are gay rights really so important as to justify this pending schism? I want my church back NOW! I will no longer tolerate this and am ready to leave!

James Lee Bright
St Michael's Episcopal Church
Dallas, Texas, USA
30 July 2003

Well, sometimes.

IS THERE A BLACKOUT in Minneapolis?

There is no online edition of the Convention Daily—not even PDF this time—[Ed. note: it's now available online and in PDF], the ENS coverage has been both thin and late, and the official GC site, unlike 2000, has no means to check the status of pending resolutions. Come on, guys, three years is two generations of Moore's Law, so your electronic coverage should be four times better, not half (or less) as good.

Unofficial coverage is no better: Anglicans Online is completely missing, the AAC's "A Place to Stand" and the Coalition's "Issues" haven't added anything in nearly two days (and not much before that), the Every Voice Network coverage requires a subscription, and CNN is only running recycled Associated Press stories from the secular press.

There is nothing from my Diocese (Texas). The New Hampshire diocesan site is now a day behind. About the only thing I could find that conveyed the real feel of the Convention was from the Rector of Holy Cross, Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, and that is written from a fairly ideological point of view. That leaves Center Aisle from the Diocese of Virginia, which is also thinner on news than it was three years ago.

I make a policy of ignoring anything David Virtue says, but right now he is the only voice audible to the Episcopal Church outside Hennepin County.

I am trying to follow your advice to avoid obsessing over instant news and analysis, but it is very frustrating that I cannot even get minimal information on what may have occurred in the past 24 hours, much less on the vital conversations that must be going on behind the scenes.

I continue to pray in the silence.

Dale A. Rye
St Richard's Episcopal Church
Georgetown, Texas, USA
31 July 2003

Our excuse: At AO, we're all volunteers. Of the two managing editors, one is a deputy at General Convention, working each day from 5.45am till midnight, and the other is in Chile. We're not sure what excuses the others have...

IS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TRYING to drive its members away from them? I think they are.

First it was ordaining women priest. Now they want to ordain a gay bishop and vote on same sex marriages. They are going too far and I, as many other Episcopalians say shame on what we are doing. Instead of building our church we are tearing it down. The church is driving more of us away each and every day I was born Episcopalian, married as Episcopalian, and all my children baptized Episcopalian.

If this happens on ordaining a gay bishop and condoning same sex marriages, I will no longer remain Episcopalian. I sang in choir, served on the alter, belonged to all youth groups and was proud of my church and what it stood for in the past. I am 71 years old and what days I have left on this earth will not be going along with the teachings other than what I was raised under. I think this is a sad day for all Episcopalians if this takes place.

A very concerned Episcopalian.

J Metzger
St Catherines
Tampa, Florida
3 August 2003

From the Minneapolis Convention Centre, noon, August 3rd

THERE WAS A EUCHARIST THIS MORNING at General Convention with about 10,000 people in attendance. It was beautiful, moving, unutterably consoling. I found myself several times with silent tears escaping from my eyes, as I wondered how many bishops and deputies might walk out of General Convention in the next few days.

Cynthia McFarland
Lay Deputy, Diocese of Central New York
Editor, Anglicans Online

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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